During my week off in October 2018 I visited Qingdao with one of my co-workers. The first leg of the trip was by bus, which smelled strongly of cigarette smoke even though nobody was smoking on the bus. The second leg of the trip was by train, which also smelled bad. My hotel room, which came with an ash tray, also smelled like cigarettes.

That night we took a tour of the Tsingtao Beer Museum, which was okay. The next day we toured a German prison where Japanese immigrants were tortured in the early 1900s. There was a NO PHOTOGRAPHY sign, which was ignored by everybody. The prison was extremely small. The tour lasted mere minutes. Instead of leaving the prison in its original condition, they robbed it of its authenticity by painting every wall. It’s over 100 years old, and yet it’s all glossy and shiny looking. The genocide museum in Phnom Penh looks the same now as when it was being used to torture Cambodians during the Khmer Rouge. This is the same complaint I had about the Underground Grand Canyon in Yishui. It was one of the most disappointing tourist attractions I’ve ever visited. First of all, the name is misleading. It’s not an underground canyon–and it’s certainly not grand! A more accurate name would be “A Tunnel.” But comparing it to the Grand Canyon is what sells tickets. When you buy your tickets you’re greeted by low-budget animatronic dinosaurs. Then you ride a rail car to the entrance. The tour guide only speaks Chinese, so I learned nothing. They made the tunnel tacky by adding multi-colored lights throughout it. The stalagmites looked plastic. There were gigantic, very fake-looking bats hanging from the ceiling. Qingdao has a cathedral that only functions as a tourist attraction. You have to buy a ticket just to walk inside it, so we admired it from the outside for free.

You’d think with so many products in the US with “Made in China” labels that China was good at making things, and they are–when it’s for Americans. Apparently they care less about making nice things for themselves. My TV freezes if I scroll through the channels too fast. My computer at work freezes if I scroll through any website too quickly. Multiple desks and chairs in my office have broken just because someone leaned on them the wrong way. The power in my apartment has gone out twice this winter–both times while I was taking a shower.

Have you had any disappointing experiences with things made in China? Why do you think China likes things that look fake?