We're not sure how to break this to you. So we'll just say it: People in China go to Ikea just to hang out. And sleep on the beds.

When dealing with the most extreme and bizarre practices of foreign cultures, it's often best not to judge. Grotesquely stretching women's necks with a series of metal rings? Outsiders wouldn't understand. Setting old people adrift on ice floes to die? It's just their way. Chinese people using the Beijing Ikea like it's some theme park, spending hours and hours there hanging out like common homeless people, but ostensibly for pleasure? It's not something we could or would desire to understand, no. Nevertheless, the LAT reports:

"It's the only big store in Beijing where a security guard doesn't stop you from taking a picture," said Jing Bo, 30, who was looking for promising backdrops for a photograph of his girlfriend.

Sure, it's tempting to believe that our friends in the Far East have already fast-forwarded directly into our dystopian nightmare future in which soulless big box stores are offered to a zombie-like populace like a fast food menu to replace any dangerous, free-thinking "culture." But who are we to judge?

Imagining the possibilities here is one of the reasons Bai Yalin drove an hour and a half from her apartment to spend a day at the store with her 7-year-old son and two teenage nieces. There are few other indoor spaces, she said, where she can entertain the children free on an oppressive summer afternoon.

Bai mapped out a five-hour outing. First, they had hot dogs and soft ice cream cones at noon. Then they enjoyed a long rest lounging on the beds. Bai kicked off her sandals and sprawled out on a Tromso bunk bed. The 36-year-old homemaker made herself comfortable and even answered passing shoppers' questions about the quality of the mattress.

Fuck it! These people are crazy. I will swallow cyanide if America ever gets to the point that we forsake the outdoors in favor of whiling away long hours lounging in corporate chain stores while... oh, Barnes & Noble.

Global dystopia, huzzah!
[Pics: pmorgan, Mana Dili]