Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hard Beds in China

After what seemed like a successful fix this morning, I am still having challenges connecting through my VPN in China. Nevertheless, I will try to get back into the swing of things with several posts responding to some readers' earlier comments or emails. So on from the Great Firewall to the topic of beds in China.

On a post showing the inside of a dorm room at Zhaotong Teachers College a reader left this comment:
Going through all the dorm room pictures, I noticed one thing in common: The mattresses on the beds are VERY thin. Is that common everywhere you go, or is it just for dorms? And if it is just for dorms, have you found any exceptions to the thin mattresses?
A number of other people also asked about the beds, apparently because they appeared to offer a less-than-soft surface for sleeping.

I have seen a rather broad variety of beds in homes and hotels in China. There is a relevant trait many share to varying degrees. According to Western standards they would be considered hard no matter how thick a mattress they may have, if any. For travelers to China who desire softer beds, foreign hotel chains in particular can be a haven. There are also some mid-range Chinese hotel chains that offer softer-then-normal beds which makes me wonder if they are becoming more common or preferred. Regardless, in many cities even the priciest Chinese hotels can have beds that don't feel much softer than the floor.

I will avoid delving into the topics of why hard beds are so typical in China, why many Chinese people may prefer them, and what the future may hold for beds in China. My main point at the moment is simply that hard sleeping surfaces are common in China--a point that may change perceptions of the dorm beds seen in the photos I shared. In an upcoming post, I will share a similar example where broader knowledge about life in China can make a difference in evaluating its dormitories.

Finally, there is one exception I have seen to the style of dormitory beds seen in the earlier posts. A couple of the college dorms I visited appeared to have beds with much thicker and softer mattresses. In all the cases I saw, they were dorms specifically for foreign students. But those dorms are another story.

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