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China 2012

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China 2012 - Page Text Content

S: CHINA 2012

2: Olympic stadium | Ol | Olympic building, now IBM

3: BEJING Hotel DongFang is located within the third ring road (of six) of Bejing. While it was once the height of luxury in Bejing and the location where Chaing Kai Chek announced the creation of the Communist Party in 1918, today it falls within the economy hotel designation. We have arrived after a big wind swept away the pollution and the weather entered the 70s, but the hotel is still on winter schedule and all rooms are still heated (AC is not scheduled for a while). The bed is hard, I chose the rice husk pillow, the room has a musty smell despite the one opened window, the shower inevitably floods the bathroom floor. The elevators are very slow and crowded (so far German and Indian tourists). Only tea, no milk or sugar, is offered in the room and the minibar contains one can of coke and one beer. Still, the hotel offers a lovely history of the hotel which is written only in Chinese. I overlook both a small hutong neighborhood of short long buildings divided into houses and 20 story or higher apartment buildings. You can distinguish the apartment buildings by their balconies and AC units hanging precariously outside. In addition to the usual don't drink the water and don't brush your teeth with the water warnings, we have been advised to boil some water each evening to use in the morning for tooth brushing. We are also advised to carry toilet paper. The Bejing airport and monorail were completed for the Olympics (2008?) and are ultra modern and like every other international airport. The same architects must travel the world building airports and skyscrapers. Our flight with United traversed the North Pole, the crew was American, the food oddly asian influence, the snack bbq sandwich and hagen-daas vanilla ice cream. The new toilets at the airport include a squat toilet in the lineup. I never changed my watch - noon at home is midnight in China.Hotel DongFang is located within the third ring road (of six) of Bejing. While it was once the height of luxury in Bejing and the location where Chaing Kai Chek announced the creation of the Communist Party in 1918, today it falls within the economy hotel designation. We have arrived after a big wind swept away the pollution and the weather entered the 70s, but the hotel is still on winter schedule and all rooms are still heated (AC is not scheduled for a while). The bed is hard, I chose the rice husk pillow, the room has a musty smell despite the one opened window, the shower inevitably floods the bathroom floor. The elevators are very slow and crowded (so far German and Indian tourists). Only tea, no milk or sugar, is offered in the room and the minibar contains one can of coke and one beer. Still, the hotel offers a lovely history of the hotel which is written only in Chinese. I overlook both a small hutong neighborhood of short long buildings divided into houses and 20 story or higher apartment buildings. You can distinguish the apartment buildings by their balconies and AC units hanging precariously outside. In addition to the usual don't drink the water and don't brush your teeth with the water warnings, we have been advised to boil some water each evening to use in the morning for tooth brushing. We are also advised to carry toilet paper. | Our group leader Hui looks young, but has worked in HR for IBM and been a tour guide for 6 years. Our group contains some interesting characters. Sunburned Ray from Tucson, aircraft mechanic and rather deaf, Shirley who mediates, enjoys martial arts and teaches for ILR in NYC, her husband Robert who ran the Energy Foundation (the largest NGO in China with 30 employees and 40 million dollars), Tom who taught classes on communism in Texas, Pat and Jan, mother daughter team, Joan, accountant, and Val, prof of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers, flamboyant blind Roger, a physical therapist with long hair and a kilt, his more conservative looking dietician wife Darlene and me. 12 people. Today, March 28, begins with Tai Chi in the street in front of the hotel. The sky is white and I can no longer see the very tall buildings I saw yesterday. | Olympic building, now IBM

5: Temple of Heaven Bejing

6: Tienemen Square Bejing

7: Tai chi moves include parting the mane of the white horse and spreading the wings of the crane. At the Temple of Heaven we see retired people (age 55 is retirement age!) exercising, playing cards, dominoes, chinese chess, and knitting as they sit atop the walls. The Temple of Heaven is a round building built in 1640, the Temple of Earth is square. The forsythia are blooming, the magnolias coming into bloom. I see many house fans atop the surrounding roofs and a few hot water heaters and only one satellite dish. Enthusiastic ping pong players are batting their balls early at the outdoor court. Tianemen Square is the place to visit in Bejing and we see many tourist groups from China. Long lines slowly snake their way into Mao's mausoleum, heaps of their bags guarded by their tour guides. Everyone is stylishly dressed and coiffed. A great outdoor wall is the screen for projected images of China. We learn to decode license plates. Blue plates with white lettering are privately owned vehicles, yellow plates with black lettering are public transport, white plates with black lettering are military, black plates are embassy plates. The first character on each plate is the symbol for Bejing. The boys family is expected to purchase the apartment/condo for the new couple. The boy must have 5 Cs - condo, car, career, cash and cute. In the old days it was bicycle, wristwatch, sewing machine for marriage. Boys are most desireable and many girl children are sent to orphanages. Couples pay $20,000 for a second child. The most desireable jobs are with foreign firms, then chinese firms, then government jobs, which,while lower paying, offer housing, health care and the opportunity for gray money. Downtown Bejing is modern, with new high rises in the building stage. The government restored and cleaned up downtown before the Olympics, going as far as tearing down old hutongs and replacing them with new stone buildings that copy the old ones. | Hutong doorway

8: The great wall

9: Bejing March 29 Bejing's highways were designed for 2 million cars, but currently the car population is at 4 million and climbing. Until new technology conquers the traffic problem (one suggestion is a 2000 person bus like a giant centiped above traffic), the city is attempting to control the number of cars allowed into the city each day. Odd and even license plate days did not work, charging 6000 yuan for a license plate did not work, so now the government posts a list of plates allowd in the city each day and monitors license plates with a camera system. You check in the morning to see if you are allowed to drive in to the city, and if you are caught driving illegally, you receive a 30 yuan fine every 3 hours and receive notificationon your smart phone. Still, we spent 90 minutes travelling from the second ring road to the fourth ring road in 'medium' traffic. Traffic moves slowly enough that no collisions occurred when we encountered traffic entering the exit ramp from the opposite direction. In China, everything is negotiable. I was concerned about navigating a city where I could not read the road signs, but many signs include roman letters, perhaps another legacy of the Olympics. The Great Wall winds up and down the mountainous border with Mongolia. Wide enough for 5 horses or 10 soldiers, the steep walk left my legs quivering. Down was just as difficult as up. We walked the statue lined avenue to the Ming tombs. Standing animals guard the tombs at night and seated animals guard the tomb during the day. In addition, 4 generals, 4 civil officials and 4 meritorious officials stand in attendance. Our Peking duck dinner was not as exciting as I had hoped. We did have the duck breast pancakes but the accompanying duck dishes were not unusual, the duck soup was watery and the fried bread with sugar not tasty until dessert. Tonight the opera!

11: The cricket collector Lunch with a hutong family

12: Sacred way at the Ming tombs

15: Forbidden city

17: Forbidden city

19: LUOYANG April 1, 2012 The steps up to the train station and the walkway across the street, were absolutely jammed with people, many carrying the modern equivalent of the burlap sack across their shoulders, like 100 pound bags of potatoes. The plastic grocery bags in their hands filled with instant noodle cups, thermoses and containers of tea eggs. Train journeys can be 24 or more hours and hot water on the train is free. On our 6 hour trip many people sat or stood in the corridor (smoking) and under the sinks. We had numbered seats. Not as crowded as the airlines, but close. A small table shared by 6 people served for food or card playing. China is industrializing. Highways are being built in empty spaces, rail lines are being laid (8, 10, 12 rails wide), and high rises are being erected to create phantom cities. I don't know if the people will be moved from the cities to fill the buildings or if people will migrate to these new cities in the countryside. Will industries be moved or is this all infrastructure for western industry to build factories? Is the building paid for by the government? I can't imagine this being private speculation because there are no people here. The roads are empty. In the west, the area would become crowded and then development would happen to accomodate the demand. Here, development is happening and someone will create demand. What if the global economy fails to furnish demand? China feels very western in style, high ways, semi trucks and shipping, bright lights, high rises, pollution | Longmen Grottos

20: Hai Shu Wan agrgricultural village

21: dumpling dinner | Luoyang city apartments

23: XIAN An American tour group of young people has arrived and even before checking in, they are turning on their ipads and iphones and suddenly the network has stopped working. I was awakened this morning by a phone call, and of course my first thought was that Stephen was calling. No, the tour bus was waiting for me and I jumped into my clothes, locked my safe and ran shoeless for the elevator. Good thing I slept with my watch on. Later today I was told that I had missed the squat toilet, and peed all over the floor, to the consternation of those people waiting in line. Squatting down is fine, but getting back up again very difficult unless I can hold on to something. The squat toilet is not handicapped accessible. My room is very nice, but I had trouble with the AC. A snowflake does not mean cold air, it means hot air. And a sun does not mean warm air, it means cold air. We have encountered some interesting translations from Chinese, breakfast bowel, battered cod piece. Our guide Hui's real name is Hongying. She was named during the cultural revolution, when all names were patriotic. Hongying means Red Brave. Google runs through Hong Kong, Facebook is blocked in China, the Chinese equivalent to google is baidu.com. We are told that any tourists who google Dalai Lhama in Tibet are sent home on the next flight. We are visiting Xi'an during the spring Tomb Sweeping festival. Everyone works Sat and Sun to have Mon, Tue, Wed off from work and school, so the museums and streets are teeming with people. For the tomb sweeping festival everyone purchases paper money, clothes, computers, and iphones (we joke with instruction manuals), draws a circle on the ground by the tomb, inscribes the ancestor's name within the circle to be sure the offerings go to the correct person, and then burns the offerings. Today you can even send offerings online if you cannot travel home to the gravesite. When I explained in our discussion that some Americans keep the ashes of their loved ones and pets in their homes, Hui told us this is very bad luck. Buying offerings and then not burning them is also very bad luck. I explain that since we are from a different culture Chinese bad luck does not follow us. In the evening after our 16 different kinds of dumplings (plus cold dishes and desserts) dinner, we walk back from the drum tower and can scarcely move down the streets. Foods of every type and flavor and smell accost us and we can only remember Hui's admonition 'you do not eat any street food'. Toddlers wear pants that are split open at the crotch, so we catch many glimpses of baby butts and lots of peeing on the floor. The terracotta warriors were made from many molds for body parts. They are hollow and each head is handmade and distinctive. Each is marked with a personal name and a quality control stamp. Originally they were painted brilliant color. Almost a year after the warriors were finished and sealed in the ground, the uprising peasants entered the hallways and burned the wooden roof. The original farmer who dug a well and discovered body parts sits today in the museum and signs books.

24: Great Mosque Xian

25: How many english words do you need to know to read a newspaper? How many chinese characters do you need to know to read a chinese newspaper? The estimate is around 3000. To pass the Chinese equivalent of the TOEFL, the HSK, to study in China you must know about 10000 Chinese characters. How are Chinese characters entered onto the computer? You can enter up to 5 strokes per character. Pin ying is also used and children are taught the roman alphabet to write pin ying. Pin ying has its problems as the word wu has 50 chinese characters and you must choose the correct character for your meaning after you enter WU. Chinese has 4 tones - rising, falling, rising then falling and no rising or falling. Susan asked for the bookstore today but used the wrong tone and instead said last year. Simplified Chinese is less descriptive. The writing system was changed in the seventies. Hui asked why we could not simplify English to be easier for her to learn. The old character for noodle included wheat and noodle, the new character is only noodle. Speaking of noodles, we have eaten taro noodles, rice noodles, stretched noodles, wide rice noodles, glass noodles, shaved noodles and sweet potato noodles. | Drum Tower Xian | Modern square at drum tower

27: CHONGQING Instead of visiting the ghost temple with 300 steps, we 'old people' visited the relocated farmer in his 500 square meter home built in 1999. He proudly showed his fruit trees, his fish pond, his grape vines, his balcony garden. The countryside is populated by grandparents and grandchildren. Our famer's sons all work in the city and send money home. We advised Hui that calling our excursion educational instead of old might be more politic. Fengdu (plentiful harvest) is a suburb of Chengqing with a farmer's market full of vegetables, fruits,spices and interesting mushrooms which were used in our hot pot dinner last night. All the foods, meatballs,sliced pork, oyster mushrooms, dried tofu, are added to boiling stock and fished out to be dipped in a mix of tahini, soy sauce, sesame oil, szewan pepper and hot chili. I have to wash my shirt daily from all the sauce I have splattered slurping noodles. The tour boat is five star, but the bath room and vanity table very fifties. A brass band heralded our arrival on board. A group of 5 Norwegian mothers and 6 chinese daughters all adopted at the same time from the same orphanage are also on our boat. The girls are around 10 or so. Chongqing's zoo has eight pandas and we saw seven, including a young panda who will move to Calgary next year. Ray now has two more nicknames besides hey you 'where' s ray' and watch your head 'what head'. Kilt wearing Roger likes a good discussion and he can be upset if the guide gets a direction or historical fact wrong. He maps places and timelines in his head. We passed a driving school. The Chinese theory of learning to drive is that you learn to drive a large truck. Then you can drive anything. The Yagntze Rivers flows west from the Himalayas east to Shanghai, but is not navigable the entire 4000 miles. We started from Chongqing, the largest city in China at 33 million inhabitants. Chongqing, Furnace City, is located in a basin filled with smog and heat surrounded by mountains. The everchanging lights on the high rises at night is very lovely. In the old days boats were pulled along the Yangtze by naked trackers, men in harness pulling along the shoreline or on narrow ledges carved into the mountains. For water and power generation, the river is kept at 175 meters deep. We are seeing it at 165 meters deep. 40% of the three gorges dam project cost went to relocation. 1.3 million people were relocated, most outside the three gorges areas. The relocation buildings along the river appear quite sizeable, but most families had to pay about 1/3 of the cost. Many window and door frames are empty of windows or doors as families wait for the children to send money home to improve the house. Many families relocated to cities in 8 story buildings with no elevators. The families along the river take a water taxi for transportation, carrying their goods to market or children in baskets down steep paths. Soon we will pass through 5 locks dropping us down 175 meters in about 4 hours. The locks are gravity fed, with water from the first lock filling up the second lock, then filling up the third, etc. Passing through the locks is a noisy process. The diesel engine strains to keep the boat still and the gates creak. Going down 10 meters takes only 10 minutes though progess through each lock seems to take about 50 minutes. Two barges and two cruise ships are in the lock, with very little clearance. At one point I was almost able to touch the rail of the other cruise ship and I did touch the wall of the lock.

28: on the train | Morning tai chi on the square | Learning mahjong

29: Passing through the locks on the Yangtze

30: Leaving Chongqing

31: Relocated farmer

33: Yangtze River

35: Stick men unloading luggae from the boat

38: Vendors at the bus

39: We are in the sleeper car, where each person has a bed to lie on, three on top of each other. Three civil engineering students are shyly talking to us. They are fascinated by Susan's Chinese translation program on her ipad. We have room to spread out, not crammed 5 across with people standing for 6 hours. The floor is continually wet and slippery because the toilet is a squat toilet, flushed by turning on a spigot on the wall that drains into the toilet, leaving the floor quite wet, and the water is then tracked through the car. WUHAN Wuhan, our departure point, is a center for car manufacturing and and education. We will pass through an area of tea and orange production. Before departing, we attended a concert of traditional Chinese instruments, including a full set of 64 two tone bells. A high ranking 'marquis' was buried with the full set of bells, zithers, 13 young female musicians and his dog. His casket has a small doggie door for the dog to enter each morning to wake him up to hear the musicians play. CHANGSA In Wuhan, we stayed in a five star hotel used by the government. The government officials like Audis. Tonight, in Changsa, we are in a business hotel, with cigarette burns on the carpet, a karaoke floor, a sauna floor that is not for women and a massage floor that we are warned not to enter. Beautiful young women line the doorway to greet the businessmen. At 2pm a lovely young lady in a very short dress is carrying drinks in to a private room. Condoms are for sale in my bathroom, along with women's panties. | Traditonal music concert with bells

41: Old Confucian school

42: A heavy noisy rain today in China with thundering dragons, spring rains here can last 50 days. The Hunan provincial museum boasts a mummy and artifacts from the Han Dynasty (about the time of the Romans). Prepared millet cakes and other foods were preserved with the mummy and some amazingly preserved delicate silks that the museum director claims were woven on a drawloom. The tomb yielded 7 tons of old coins. Archaeology in China is funded by the government under the Chinese Cultural Artifacts law and the landowner/contractor is also required to contribute to the archaeological dig. The museum plans to build an expansion 10 times bigger than the current museum. Hu=lake nan=south bei=north Tea is served for meeting, the good kind with loose tea leaves. Lecture on rice growing: 5 reforms in rice production have increased yields. Initially rice had only one season, from May to Oct. The first change was to two season rice, increasing yields by 40%. But farmers had trouble with the overlapping harvesting and planting seasons. The second change was to dwarf rice with larger panicles that meant less rice lost in harvesting. The third change was to a hybrid rice that increased yields by another 50%, the fourth change to a hybrid rice that was easier to hybridize and increased yields to 10 tons per hectare. The hoped for 5th change is for a super rice that will yield 15 tons per hectare. Guides and translators all say they need more time with native English speakers, not many opportunities.. As children leave the country for the city, the farmers are renting out their land, so that plots of land are joined together and farmed with machinery. From my hotel window, I see high rises and roofs of 3 story buildings, a small lake and bridge that belong to a gated community and the main 8 lane road outside. A one lane road parallels the big road, shared by pedestrians avoiding closed sidewalks due to subway construction, bicycles and motor bikes. From above, no signs of life except on the highway. But from below, each block of housing has shops along the first floor. | University test gardens

43: Hui's talk on taxes: Taxes on groceries 13-17% plus city construction tax of 7% plus 3% education tax for 27% total tax. If you don't ask for a receipt the merchant may give you a gift and pocket the taxes. Restaurant tax 5.5%, cosmetics 30%, Hui paid 646000 RMB for her parent's apartment, and a total of 728,000 RMB with decorating. Her parents home was torn down, and the family refused to move for two years. Bricks were thrown thru their windows, doors broken down and finally 'night soil' put in their water supply to force them out. The developer finally offered them almost enough money to purchase the new apartment, Hui and her husband made up the difference and paid for the decoration (floor, lights, stove, cabinets). Hui's father works at a textile mill and charges up the electric carts at night to be ready for the next day. He would like to retire and he is the appropriate age (55-60) but the factory is reluctant to retire workers and pay their pensions. Her fathers friend (age 61) has not been able to get approval to retire. Hui's father earns 900 yuan/month, Hui earns 1600 yuan/month. Her wages were cut when tourism declined after 2008. The Yangtze river cruise that we were on refused Chinese passengers until their western customers declined in 2008. car price has 11% tax plus 17% VAT plus 7% city construction tax plus 3% education tax 38% tax made in China Italian brand leather jacket is 1500 yuan (maybe $70 in US) 5x more expensive in China toll highway is expensive $70 no chain supermarkets = pay market to carry your product plus bar code fee plus advertising Walmart and Carrefore are popular western stores. The Chinese perceive them as better quality than Chinese stores. We see only western dress, western hairstyles and many western logos and writing on clothing -people paid salary plus cash since income tax is charged only on salary Chinese seem indifferent to us, not hostile, but not curious. Some do respond to hello, especially children. Exercise is a public activity, out in the square. Tai chi, jazzercise, cracking whips to spin tops Our visit to Mao's birthplace is cancelled due to the closing of the train station for remodelling. The trip would have involved a two hour bus ride, a 30 minute visit, and a two hour bus ride back. Instead, we go to visit Yue Lu academy, a Confucian school, on the Hunan Univ campus and have a two hour bus ride back in bad traffic. The academy is a lovely peaceful retreat from urban China, full of gardens, round doorways, curved roofs and quiet spots.

45: KAILI The guides teach Tai Chi in the morning and Chinese language in the evening. The tour company encourages them to speak to us as friends. Hui says that she wants to speak truthfully, not the propaganda that we can see is not true. Last night she spoke about the Falung Gong movement. We are worried that she will be in trouble for speaking frankly, but she feels safe. Although Facebook and Twitter are blocked, Chinese in offices with computer access have software to get around the barriers. Everyday they search for news and compare notes with each other. The official news is discounted and not believed, in fact people believe the opposite. The top political opponents to Falun Gong have been removed and perhaps the new chairman will be more sympathetic. The Buddhist temples are run by a party member, but the govt is worried about religions they cannot control that are not overseen by the party. Falun Gong is very active handing out flyers and cds to counter the official media coverage. The latest controversies are the harvesting of organs before killing political prisoners and Falun Gong and the staged immolations of Falun Gong. Hui's colleague's doctor father told them of the organ harvesting. Hui became very emotional describing the lack of opportunity for young Chinese. She knew a family of Falun Gong followers who were killed in prison, leaving young children behind. And a farm family who drank pesticide when they could not afford to send their children to school. Any Chinese who want to travel abroad must put up a very large sum of money as a guarantee of their return. During the SARS epidemic, while the official word was no deaths, the university students were not allowed to leave campus for one month. Western books and banned books are available to travellers to Hong Kong. I am on the train to Kaili, in a sleeper compartment by my self with one man sleeping above. I have just learned to turn off my ipad, saving lots of battery life. I have the lower berth, so if one of the upper berths wants to sit, I must share my seat. The lower berth could easily seat three, and we have two fold down seats by the window. Right now, I am enjoying the train travel I envisioned, sipping tea, and watching the countryside. Good thing, the train trip will be 10 hours. We stocked up at the grocery store yesterday. Train employees come through selling fruit, hot food and snacks. On our last trip we enjoyed a long sales pitch selling towels (shamoo) and this time we enjoyed another performance. So much work to sell a towel for 20 yuan. A good bathroom now is one with toilet paper and a better one has toilet paper in the stall. I still haven't learn to squat down far enough to reliably hit the toilet. Pants must be both pulled down and pulled up to keep the legs from getting wet on the floor. Minority groups of guizhou 56 ethnic groups (including Tibetans), We hear this number over and over. Now we are in an autonomous region at a higher elevation. The minority groups are allowed to have more than one child and get extra help to get into college. Silver is popular here because silver will scare away ghosts at night . The Miao people believe that they descended from a butterfly.

46: Traditional medicine hospital

47: We visited the TMC Hospital this morning, Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and Hui showed me all the ingredients in my neck relief medicine, including the earthworms and wood louse (about the size of a quarter). We saw patients receiving acupuncture, cupping with bamboo cups, moxibution and massage. They claim to cure most problems within 15 to 20 treatments at 50 yuan each. On to the Miao villages, where we are greeted with one bowl of wine and one waterbuffalo horn of wine and entertained with dancing. At the Stone Bridge village we saw mulberry bark shredded and hammered and I tried making a large sheet of paper. Too thick. The paper is piled up, pressed, then put onto the walls of a kiln to dry. The paper is archival for 500 years and popular with museums and artists. The road to the villages winds through the mountains and consists mostly of hairpin turns and much horn blowing from the driver at every turn. The group began singing Red River Valley and O Canada. Tonight we walked out to the square, the traditional gathering place. At least three competing dance groups blared different music through loudspeakers and dancers exercised or danced ballroom while the children zoomed through the crowd in electric cars. The Chinese do neon so well - colored tears dropped down one building, another had gold and silver roofs, others pagodas on utility towers that looked like magic palaces in the air, or colored lights shot up or across buildings in ever changing patterns. Extremely short shorts like hot pants are very popular on the streets with very chic high heels. The butt shows as well as the tops of nylons or tights. Day 3 We visited the Sunday market containing hoes, water buffalo bells, clothes, shoes, fortune telling, meat. The visit to the wine shop included a tour of the fermenting room which also serves as the family bedroom. Sticky rice is boiled, cooled, fermented 30 days and then distilled. The men clustered around the snake oil dealer (complete with dead snakes and alligators) and the women around the electric wok seller. The sales pitches are loud and enthusiastic and remind me of the chaos of the state fair. Customs are different here. The cleaner cleaned my room even though we are checking out today and they seem to clean the room three times a day. The people who left laundry had lots of confusion, the dirty laundry left in another room, then not delivered unless the person is there and has correct change. The cleaner today took my papers I left on my desk. | Papermaking

48: Miao village

50: Mulberry paper village

53: Guyáng Our 3 hour trip from Kaili to Guiyang included 2 toilet stops, the first large and clean and the second tolerable, with short dividers between stalls and the handicapped (western) toilet out in the open. Shirley, who hates the squat toilets, managed the trip without visiting either one. Guiyang, the autonomous region capital, is just a 'small cozy heaven' of 4 million people , traffic and skyscrapers. Many roads have pedestrian bridges to cross the many lanes of traffic, and some intersections appear to have a UFO hovering above, containing not only the pedestrian traffic but shops as well. At night, Guiyang is neon. We attended a professional dance performance highlighting minority peoples traditions, a wonderful mix of ballet and great scenic videos of Guiyang, and an odd mix of Las Vegas, Michael Jackson dressed MC, some humorous audience participation number that went over our heads, some dancing out in the audience, acrobatics, a very muscular man who walked on knives and fit his body through a ring about 18" wide. Something to appeal to everyone. Janet and her mother appeared onstage and Tom was offered rice wine. The theater building is shaped like a piano. As we drive, people do look at us. I wave if I see them watching, and usually they wave back. At night we can see that some cars have sizeable TV screens in the front dashboard. Everyone seems to have a cell phone, even the Miao women selling on the streets and every driver seems to check their cell phone at every stop light. Dinner tonight was a mix of east and west, some excellent looking sashimi which we passed up, some bread that everyone tried, frozen yogurt that I would not have eaten at home (Chinese yogurt is a sweet drink and very good), lamb chops, duck, spaghetti, pizza, some chinese dishes and some desserts.The Ramada is located right across from the regional newspaper office, very modern building. Because Guiyang has a cooler climate, the wealthy from. Bejing and Shanghai are buying summer apts here, driving up the cost of living. I did not sleep last night and did not expect to manage another day on the bus, so I stayed home. I've had several visits from housekeeping as they are redoing their phones. Hui took my camera on the trip today and wanted to be sure I did not need to go to the hospital. A day sleeping late, talking to Stephen and reading and drinking tea has been very pleasant. Massage is not available until tonight and I seem to be the only guest around today. Out for a walk soon. 13 and 4 are unlucky numbers, so unlucky that sometimes the room number is skipped or a 4th or 13th floor is labeled M or A in the elevator. China is great on public toilets. I passed several on my walk today. Occaisionally they charge a fee. In the alleyways vendors walk with their baskets calling out their wares. Knitting is also popular with the shopkeepers or women sitting in the sun. So far I have seen only very uninteresting yarns. I purchased what looked like an applecake for a snack. It turned out to be a round mocha eclair.

54: Tea farm | The countryside is populated by grandparents and grandchildren

56: Overhead walkway with shops Shanghai | The Bund Shanghai

57: Pink Pearl Shanghai | Housing in Shanghai

58: Apple store shanghai

59: Balancing on swords

60: Yu Garden

62: Male lion | Female lion

65: SHANGHAI Shanghai is built on a human scale. Half of the housing is 3 to 6 story buildings with no elevators, and some streets are lined with trees. On the other hand, elevated highway runs right past housing in the middle of the city. The city has 23 million inhabitants, about 1/3 migrants. Our group took the very modern and clean subway to Pudong to view the skyscrapers and the old Bund district across the river. The odd 'Pink Pearl' reflects pink mirrors in the daylight but is a light show at night. At night neon takes over the Bund district, outshining Times Square. Yu Garden is surrounded by a maze of shops and restaurants and a river of tourists. Inside the temple is lovely, but not quiet. I found another neighborhood of shops and restaurants inside the hutong, but it was similarly overrun by tourists. Every subway stop seems to have a food court and people are constantly eating on the street. I don't understand why they don't look fat like us, with all the bread and snacks. Sometimes the snacks are a cucumber or an ear of corn or a sweet potato, but most snacks are western desserts and fast food. I negotiated the subway, changing two lines. Some lines are better marked than others with the pingyin names large enough to read. At each stop, the next stop and the last stop are marked so that you can board the train in the direction you want to go. The trains are fairly crowded Saturday with everyone out shopping. Sunday dawned warm and sunny, so I headed out into the French Concession area to the Shanghai Museum of arts and crafts. The museum is located in a French villa and most of the grounds are garden. Many lovely examples of carvings are displayed, and many artisans were working on their crafts. I think more demonstrations are available during the week. However, it was really another shopping opportunity. After my tour, I took the subway to the South Bund Soft Spinning Market, thinking I might see some interesting fabrics. Well, the Soft Spinning Market is a maze of small stores with premade garments and fabric. You find a garment you like, you choose fabric, you get measures and in two days you have a 'bespoke' garment. More shopping. I attended the Shanghai Circus World performance because the guidebook rated it much more highly than the performance we saw with Road Scholar. The shows were very much the same in content, but the Circus world performance was flashier. I saw the same contortionists, the same strong man spinning a large pot on his head, the same people jumping on see saws to spring a person up onto a human pyramid or into a very tall seat, the same jumping through rings, the same spinning of plates. However, due to a better stage and more resources, I also saw men spinning in cages and a fantastic ending of flying motorcycles inside a sphere. At one point at least 7 motorcycles were going parallel to the ground and at 90 degrees around the sphere. It was wild.

66: Fish , bird and insect market | Arts and Crafts museum

67: Buddhist temple near hotel | Highway in front of hotel

69: I made my arrangements to visit the humble administrators garden and the silk museum in Shozuo tomorrow and hit the post office again. The taxi driver got lost and reset his meter when he realized his mistake. The PO is only 3 blocks away, but no one seems to know about it. Then I headed out to the Insect, Flower and Animal market, full of crickets, grasshoppers, fish in tanks, some rabbits, baby ducks and chickens. Sometimes I wasn't sure who was destined for pets and who was destined for food. Lunch was the most delicious dumplings xiaolongbao with thin wrappers and rich broth inside with the filling. I decided to try the tea market and reached a part of town with no pinying signs. Somehow I expected one store, but the tea market was hundreds of stores displaying and selling tea. I stopped at two who said hello and spoke some English and will be bringing home some great teas, especially an expensive wonderful white tea. Now I am headed out for my blind massage to round out a busy day. My last day in Shanghai I took a tour out to the gardens of Suzhou and the Zhou Zhuang water village. The gardens were lovely, if crowded and rainy, all rock and water. Azaleas are in bloom and just a few iris. The water village is a 900 year old village with many inhabitants removed so that their homes could be turned into shops and restaurants, but the stone buildings remain and the arched stone bridges. A boat trip along the waterway was peaceful and scenic. An american painter painted the double bridge scene, the painting hung in Deng XiaPing's office, and the villages fate as a tourist site was sealed. It seems to be of the few sites in China where the old was preserved as a whole area and it works well as a draw for tourists who want to imagine old China. We drove through much industrial zone, including Suzhou and back through many areas of homes along waterways, with some houseboats and fishing boats, so I got a look at yet more of China. At the silk factory, silk cocoons are boiled, then threads from 8 cocoons wound together (8 being lucky), then 8 sets wound into reeled silk skeins. If the cocoon has two larvae inside, they are not reeled but pulled out into sheets (silk hankies) and the sheets pulled by 4 women from 4 sides into giant sheets and laid down for silk quilts, with up to 100 layers of silk. I've forgotten all the calculations of how many silkworms go into a silk quilt. The looms we saw weaving were 100 year old jaquard looms.

71: Zhou Zhuang water village.

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  • By: Eileen D.
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  • Title: China 2012
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  • Published: over 4 years ago

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