Instead of greeting dawn at nearly 6:00 a.m. as we had in Toronto, the sun streamed into our room (and our children’s–they were 6, 4, and 2 at the time) at 5:00 or so. It didn’t help that there were just thin curtains in the kids’ room, and the bedrooms were on the east side of the apartment.
What was the reason for this disorienting dawn? Turns out, China has no time zones.
Take a look at China on the map.
This isn’t a small country. There should be time zones–if China operated like other countries. Apparently, the story is that there once were time zones, but they didn’t work, so they were abandoned. So what happens instead is the culture of the places changes. In the west of China, people get up late and go to bed late. Here, people wake up early–a market in our neighbourhood opens at 4:00 a.m.–and go to bed early.
Here’s a picture out our bedroom window at 4:30 a.m.
I won’t show you a picture of 10:00 p.m., because it would be too dark. All the lights are off (and there isn’t an abundance of streetlights, either).
In the summer, there’s little need for anyone to tell us what time it is if we wake up early. We don’t even have to open our eyes. Because around 4:30, the chirping of the crickets rises into a crescendo just prior to being drowned by the hum of cicadas. Then a man somewhere on the mountain sings out loudly with a Tarzan-like yell. (It’s a thing. People do it here. We don’t understand why.)
No alarm clock necessary. (Not that anyone in their right mind would set an alarm for 4:30 a.m., but you get my point.)
So if I’m yawning while I write this post (after 10:00 p.m., I might add, ours the only lights in the neighbourhood that are on), you’ll excuse me, right?