Thursday, January 25, 2007

China, a land of Contrast

I have been travelling around again, and have been in Hangzhou and Shanghai so far. In Hangzhou, there was a beautiful lake and huge bike trails and where all the scooters are electric, and I came from a place with horrible air and trucks working around the clock. Now, in Shanghai there are toilets with heated seats, which wash and massage your dirty parts, where most of China requires squatting and doesn't have toilet paper. The down side, of course, is the costs here are much higher, and there are McDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza hut, KFC, and every other chain around every other corner. In an effort to be modern, Neon, cars, and excess have replaced culture and history.

I will write more as I have time.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Off to discover China

After spending some time at home, I have organized a trip to fly to Shanghai, use the train system for a couple of weeks, and fly back from Chengdu. This should involve stops in Beijing, Xi'an, and TaiShan, and whatever happens along the way. It was important to do this now as the closer you get to Chinese New Year, the harder it all becomes. I have had a good time so far shopping, exploring Hong Kong, and having massages. Now I will be off to more adventure. I will update when I can, and hope to have excellent pictures when I return.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

In China now, where pure capitalism is evident daily

I have officially moved in with my parents again. I never though it would happen, but it is only temporary. It is strange being here because though things are cheap, you have no consumer confidence in even the stuff that is expensive. Quality is often poor. Another thing is the internet, which often doesn't work and is different. For instance, the blogger page can only be accessed in Chinese, which is ok since I am familiar with it, but I cannot understand what 编辑文章 means.

The great news is it is the perfect place to relax because doing things takes so much time and preparation, that it is often best to just relax. I have had several massages, have done quite a bit of shopping with my mom and sister. Now that I am settling in slowly, I have been able to get some pictures up (the one below is my mom and I SPR coffee, a coffee shop which has ripped off everything from Starbucks. Keep in mind, where my family lives is one of the few remaining places on earth where there is no starbucks.)

In the meantime, it is not at all obvious that this is a communist country. My dad and I went to get our hair cut and on the walk there he commented that since the last time he went, several new restaurants had opened, on the street mind you, as well as little shops offering all the strangest things. Here, the minute there is any sort of demand, a shop opens as very little is needed to subsist. Another example of how market driven the area is the rampant closing of western restaurants and shops where a recent Shell Oil community was just relocated. The shops opened to cater to the foreigners, and closed when they left.

After walking with my dad, the hair cut was phenomenal. It comprised of an excellent head massage which lasted for nearly an hour, and comprised several hair washes and conditioning. Then I got a neck, arm, shoulder, and back massage before finally being seated for my haircut. That only lasted about 30 minutes. The whole procedure cost less than $2. I can get used to this.