You don’t flush your paperwork. You don’t wear shoes inside one’s home and your nose definitely won’t get bored. These are just some of the things that make China, well, uh, China and nine-thousand miles off the beaten Midwestern path. Here are a few others:

Only in China can a doctor put a needle in your arm and you feel a shooting pain in the arch of your foot. I felt as if I stepped on my nail. But guess what? My knee stopped hurting. Go figure.

Only in China can you find a shoe washer than also cuts hair. I’m not sure, but I think the name of his business is Gee Your Hair Doesn’t Smell Terrific. He does a great job washing shoes, and yes, you do wash shoes here. Many neighborhood businesses resemble remodeled one-car garages.

Only in China will the cereal aisle be outside of the store. Freshly puffed cereal is purchased by weight, the varieties resembling Frosted Krispies, Sugar Smacks, and overgrown Fruity Pebbles. The triangle things remind me of a sweetened version of that retro snack called Bugles. But don’t expect a free prize at the bottom of the bag.

Only in China can a pharmacy resemble Sam Drucker’s store on Petticoat Junction. This is the pharmacy in the TCM (Chinese Traditional Medicine) hospital) that I’ve been visiting lately. The hospital is smokey, smelling of mugwort as this herb is often burned. The heated smoke has properties to ease body pains and uh, make clothes smell.

Only in China will a brand of cat food be so horrible, that even stray a stray kitten puts it nose up to it. This kitten live under a bridge near my home, and I feed them during my morning walk…or at least I try. Ferrel cats are welcome in China as they help with the rats, and actually prefer the taste to whatever I tried to feed them from the can.

Only in China can you get on a bullet train and arrive in a place even more “Onlier” than the one you just left. This is Sapa, Vietnam, a quick train ride from Kunming, Yunnan. Road hogs are usually oxen; outdoor seating is not your typical sidewalk cafe.

Only in China do people exercise to slow down instead to rev up their cardio. Just one of several Tai Chi groups in my neighborhood on any given morning. And no, they don’t wear Lululemon.

Only in China can you find a supermarket without express lanes but still accepts payments using QR phones on your phone. I created this video of my weekly shopping trip for a curious friend.

Only in China can you go to a recycled clothing store and find something from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In. Well, OK. Maybe in Chicago’s Bucktown.

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