Nobody told me.
I left my comfy bed with its wrap-itself-around-me-while-I-sink-into-it-blissfully-mattress and travelled 4,000 miles south to China.
Would I have come if somebody had told me that Chinese people like to sleep on rock hard beds? Probably, but would I have given it some serious thought before I packed my bags and left England? Oh, for sure.
The common belief in China is that ultra firm mattresses give better support to the back, promoting a good night’s sleep (now I sound like an advert, sos) and are therefore better for your overall health.
So this is the reason why so many Chinese people live to be 200 years old? Except that they don’t.
Traditional Chinese furniture is far removed from comfortable.
It’s beautiful to look at, sure, but not so great to sit on for long periods. It’s made of wood which seems to come from the toughest tree in the forest, the one which took 20 men and six months to saw down into submission. And, if the sofa that this tree gave up its life to make, has any cushions on it at all to protect your butt bones, guaranteed the cushions are THIN.
Added to to this is the fact that the settee will have a straight back also made from the same unyielding wood, so there’s no possibility of slouching, reclining or even chilling. Once you sit down, you remain at attention at all times.
Under normal circumstances, you could escape the torment of Chinese chairs and sofas by lazing around on your bed, but really, there’s no difference.
If you’ve only experienced the welcoming softness of a Western bed or deeply padded sofa cushions you can’t know what I’m talking about. Indeed I didn’t know till I got here.
Like I said, nobody told me. Not a word, not a whisper.
They mentioned the language barrier. Being stared at and having my picture taken, making good friends and the kind of people to avoid. They talked about the difficulties of being a vegetarian, but nobody mentioned just how hard (there’s that word again!) it would be to get a good night’s sleep.
How can I describe it?
When you lay down the mattress doesn’t give, it kind of pushes back.
When you toss and turn seeking some ease, you soon give up, after quickly realising that there is none.
When you flop wearily onto the bed after a long day the solid mattress feels like it’s just slapped you in the face.
Do you get it yet?
Find a piece of hardwood 6 feet by 5 feet and lie down on it. Now stretch. Turn over. Lie on one side then the other. Comfortable yet? Nope?
Congratulations, you’ve just experienced a typical Chinese bed.
For my solution see the picture below.