shanghai postcard #26: no shoes in the house

Warning: This post mentions a bunch of disgusting, contagious, and otherwise nasty things seen on Shanghai sidewalks. 

Still with me?

So, you probably know that most cultures in Asia (including China) are opposed to wearing shoes in the house. Today, I'm going to tell you why.

On a recent 1/4 mile walk to and from the grocery store, I avoided (and sometimes narrowly avoided) stepping in all of the following:

  • Phlegm balls (3+)
  • Fish scales, blood, and entrails
  • Detritus from the butchering of frogs
  • Metal shavings
  • Sawdust
  • Dead rat
  • Hairballs of unknown origin
  • Poop (3+)
  • Baby pee (diapers aren't a thing here)

By extension, some amount of these and similar substances is present on every sidewalk here - and thus it's also on the bottom of my shoes. 

In its defense, China is generally a fairly clean place. There's a sweeper on every block who sweeps up leaves and generally keeps the trash under control, but Shanghai is dense. Also, the majority of food shopping happens on the street, and that produces a lot of icky waste - all stuff I'm happy to leave at the door.

And while you don't wear shoes inside, you do wear slippers and house socks.

House socks make me especially happy, because they're really fun to knit, and wearing socks indoors without shoes is a great way to show off your hand-knitted socks.

What about you? Do you wear shoes inside your home?