Water, Water Everywhere . . .

. . . but be careful what you drink. A friend told me that she recently edited a grad student’s thesis paper examining water quality in China. Bad news. Most of the drinking water people get delivered in jugs is impure. It contains pollutants and gets contaminated as it’s processed.

I was skeptical before since a big jug only costs 10 yuan while a small bottle costs about 2 yuan. You can find some for 1 yuan on the street, but I’m just a bit leery.

So if you live in China, it’s a good idea to boil the drinking water that’s delivered.

I also read that a lot of the tea here is contaminated. Yes, the tea for which China is so famous.

I read in City Weekend Beijing May 6 – 15th p. 14 that Greenpeace has found carcinogens and pesticides in Chinese tea. Tenfu, Lipton, and several other brands use a lot of pesticides. Red Iron #81 had 17 different pesticides causing cancer, infertility, genetic disorders and harms unborn children.

Where’s the Chinese Ralph Nadar?

Yes, I know that there’s fracking and bad water in the U.S. too, but I guess I see more things getting done about that. Where’s the outrage here? People seem to expect this sort of thing, which perpetuates the problem.


Beijing Taxis: A Justified Rant

Eighty yuan!

There’s a lot to like about Beijing, but their taxi drivers aren’t among them. Now I grant you I’ve had a few nice taxi drivers in my trips to Beijing, but I’ve also had horrid ones. The new trick is that a taxi will stop when you flag it down, but will keep his door shut not letting you get in until he’s found out where you’re going and decided if you’ll allow him to not use his meter so that he can Shanghai you (“Beijing you” should be the new term.) After a long day waiting an hour in an unnecessarily disorganized ticket line and then walking through the magnificent Forbidden City, my companions who were over 65 (one of whom had the extra weight of a cast on her arm) needed a cab back to the hotel.

We didn’t want to go on a crowded bus so we walked to the corner past the Forbidden City and tried to get a cab. The few that stopped asked us where we were going. None, until the last one, would let us in the cab. We weren’t that far away so we weren’t desirable rides. If we’d gotten a cab at our starting point, it’d been about 25 yuan more or less.

After each rejection, I took a photo of the license plate of the offending cabbie. I’m ready to write my complaint letter. I just need to know where to send it.

On our last attempt we were able to get into the cab. I naively thought that would give us the edge we needed. Take us here with the meter. The jerk never gave in. We sat and sat. He had no cab identification whatsoever. I did take his photo for what that’s worth.

There were Chinese people who were trying to get cabs and after a conversation, outside the cab, were left on the curb. So it’s not just foreigners who’re seen as marks.

We wound up walking a while then stopping, flagging a cab and trying to convince the driver to use the meter as he’s supposed to. They all wanted over $12 for a ride that should cost $3. None of us were so tired that we were willing to be cheated on that scale. In the end we found ourselves at The Grand Hotel. We stopped for a drink and then the bell boy got us a cab. The fare was 14 yuan. A big difference. The moral of the story is use public transportation and get a hotel near the sights.

A Word to the Wise

Note: I’m not a doctor, but . . .

I just learned that a good friend’s health issues are due to eye drops with quinolone prescribed in November. She had some eye problems. Her doctor gave her antibiotics from the quinolone family. She had just gotten to New York from Japan so she attributed the dizziness and mobility problems with jet lag. After awhile her mother suspected it wasn’t jet lag. When she returned to her home in Sweden, she continued to have problems running and walking.

My friend runs miles daily and at first she thought she’d just over done it. Now her doctor says that it’s a side effect of the drugs which can harm the nervous system and that she should not have gotten these eye drops to begin with. This active young woman now can’t walk more than 30 minutes a day. She may get worse for a while and may never recover fully. It’s heartbreaking.

She’s got a young son and she always loved running and walking. She had a relatively minor eye problem and now doesn’t know what to expect. Her doctors aren’t sure if she’ll ever be able to walk and run as before. She wakes up in the middle of the night because her nerves are going crazy.