My mom arrived back from China this week.

Her father (my grandfather) was hospitalized due to something growing in his liver. But it wasn’t anything serious, only minor surgery was performed in order to ‘cure’ it.

Warning: following this ‘Read more’ tag is a whole lot of text with no ‘tl;dr’ at the end. Only read if you’re prepared.

My Aunt (father’s side) tells my mother that the hospital’s living conditions are quite good. That set up some expectations for my mom, seeing as she has spent quite some time in Canadian hospitals.

But she tells me she was utterly surprised at the state the hospital was.

When we imagine a hospital room, we imagine a small square room, with a window, a bed, desks, chairs, machines and a curtain to separate two patients. The window will be the view of the beautiful sky, and the wonders that the city outside the hospital holds. There will be a small desk to the side of the bed for things to be placed on for easily access, and another desk for all the ‘Get well’ gifts. The bed will be a 3-fold, so it is able to position itself to better the patient, and will be on wheels. On the bed will be pillow(s), blanket(s) and possibly a patient. There will be a button to call for help, and there will be hand sanitizer for visitors to clean themselves with.

The Beijing hospital is quite similar, with only the basics. There is a bed, a desk, some chairs, machines and a curtain. But that window shows the view of a polluted, darkened sky, the desk will be small, the bed will not be able to fold and does not contain pillows, and blankets. There is no hand sanitizer to prevent contamination, utensils, bowls, cups and the like are all to be brought from your own home.

It doesn’t seem like the hospital even tries to prevent the patient from getting worse.

My mother tells me an anecdote about her first visit there.

Upon seeing him, she fell on her knees and cried.

She said she pitied him. With his new frail, pale structure compared to what he was last year.

She poured him water to drink. My grandfather who was lying on the bed at a 180 degree angle had to move his back until it was about 90 degrees before drinking the water through a straw without spilling. Normally, such a task would be simple, effortless. But when one is 80+ years old with an aging body, that task becomes quite daunting. My mom saw the difficulty he left through to get a drink of water from the straw, and went out to buy a set of 200 bendable straws for 2 yuan (1 Canadian dollar is about 6 yuan). Bendable straws make it easier, there’s no need to get up again.

My grandfather was ecstatic over the straws.

It made him happy for the remaining day.

200 bendable straws for less than 50 cents Canadian, made someone happy for 16-ish hours.

And this is from the ‘wealthy’ country of China, in it’s capital Beijing.

Still during the first day there, my mom found out about the water system.

The water there has apparently gotten much, much dirtier, and drinking out of the tap is basically forbidden. Even when I went to visit 3 years ago the tap water was already a bit murky, but could still be consumed, now it’s even worse.

It’s gotten to the point where there are two category water falls in: water for consuming, and water for use. To get the first kind, one has to travel to the nearest water pipe thing (not really clarified), which are quite frequent, and pay about $2 per litre of water. The other kind of water is just the tap water, or any dirty, undrinkable water.

But it isn’t this that gets to me, it’s the little things.

Like how the 4L water boiler we had given to my grandmother and grandfather (mom’s side) overflows. It overflows because they fill it past the maximum capacity of 4L. Because 4L isn’t enough water to sustain them for half a day.

Like how water purifiers are golden jewels. The ones that go on the tap don’t work very well because of the bad pipelines. The original water doesn’t come out at a very high pressure, so when the purifier is on, and requires more pressure, no water comes out. The purifiers that are like a huge jug with a section in the middle where the water is purified are the best kinds. Things like these are worth more than what a citizen’s life would be (this is a reference to the low financial punishment for the murder/death of someone).

Like how bottled water prices have skyrockets to 6$ a bottle because that is ‘clean water’. Which is less clean than the tap water that flows in Vancouver, whom many people are afraid of drinking outright.

Like how when purchasing and kind of bottled liquid, one has to stop and decide if the store is even selling actual products. There are too many fakes to even be able to find a genuine product. One also has to fear if the liquid has any other ‘extra’ chemicals added to it.

And to them, this is a perfectly normal lifestyle.

When I compared their lifestyle, to the lifestyle I have in Canada, I feel immense guilt.

I use a tap water purifier in my household for water, even though pure tap water is just as clean. I remember some months ago, Vancouver’s tap water was voted most clean in Canada. That’s a pretty amazing feat, considering how difficult it is to actually get clean water in China.

And IB still tells me that China is a very well off country, and cannot be done for our Global Families project.

This is not all though, I have more to comment, but 950~ words is enough for one sitting.