Hydrated and healthy?

So much bottled water!

There are a ton of things I could write about at this moment, from the security guards everywhere (many funny hats), to the Chinese nightlife (trust me, it will come later), to adventures in bargaining at one of China’s top electronics markets (fake Apple products EVERYWHERE), to the excruciating dictation quiz I have tomorrow (noooooo….), but what enters my mind now is the topic of health.

I like drinking. Water, that is (how clever…). Over the past few years, I’ve tried to self-impose a strict standard of staying hydrated. Along with a better diet and exercise (and I now sound like the start of a weight-loss commercial), it definitely has helped my health. I feel more energized and awake. Life is good. Here, however, is a different story.

China’s water is not quality. You definitely can’t drink water out of the tap, and one statistic claims that up to half of the bottled water sold in the country is tainted. This makes hydration a somewhat difficult task, but on top of these practical reasons, there is a cultural block:

The Chinese tend to not drink beverages with meals.

Every restaurant I have been in, whether that is one of the standard campus cafeterias or the exquisite Da Dong, I rarely see diners consuming drinks. Everyone is happily scarfing down their heavy chicken, beef, or pork dishes with rice, and almost no one has anything to wash it down with. The most common beverage is, of course, hot tea. When foreigners are around, one will occasionally find soft drinks, but this is not prevalent.

This is just one of the many anomalies about China’s health I’ve  found. I am fairly concerned about my diet throughout the trip, as most of the food that we’ve consumed is hearty and fatty. I don’t know the exact nutritional breakdowns, but the standard dishes include large pork or beef dumplings, stir-fried chicken or beef with rice, or other fried foods, most of which are in very heavy and oily sauces. The only fresh veggies I usually find are bean sprouts.

At the same time, most of the Chinese I meet seem very healthy. How everyone keeps so fit, I don’t know: it still remains to be seen. You rarely see anyone running outside (with the smog, I can’t blame them) and usage of the University’s gym costs about 470 RNB for 3 months (around $75). My roommates play softball (at 8:30 on a saturday morning, try and get a Claremont student up for that!), but otherwise don’t seem to do much activity. An anomaly indeed.

So that’s an interlude for you. I’m hoping that I stay pretty healthy over the course of the semester.

Time for another cup of tea.

On another note: 

I’ve started posting pictures of my travels on flickr. You can find the latest pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathanfrice/. It’s been giving me a bit of trouble, so the pictures are uploading slowly. I’m going to try to put them on a sidebar here as well. Enjoy! (Eventually, my mandarin will get to the point where I’m sharing a bit more of it with you here…..eventually)


About Jonathan Rice

Fulbright Fellow, Pitzer College alum, and communicator passionate about telling stories that make an impact.

Posted on 09/18/2011, in College, Commentary, General, Pitzer in China - Fall 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. … i had a similar hydration problem in Korea. they drink tiny cups of water with their (very spicy) meals. plus, it was so hot out that i was always thirsty as it was. i never figured out a solution except to just keep getting awkward refills and ignoring the “wow, you drink a lot of water.” comments. >_< i hope you're able to find a better solution to this!

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