by Brent Gill
SPRINGVILLE, IN RETROSPECT
September 15, 2006
A brief look back at the meaning and importance of what has been presented in descriptions of the daily travels.
When we boarded the bus in Shanghai at the transfer terminal, we were surprised to find multiple screens of LED TV's playing above the strap-racks we held onto. Technology greeted us there.
This young woman works 40 hour weeks, for 13 months, 4 rows a day, to create this beautiful carpet. Her pay per month is $90.
Along the street in Beijing during early morning traffic.
From our hotel room, looking out over the city of Beijing.
With the numbers of population present, they have plenty of people for the menial jobs, such as this lady who was cleaning the State Park. She obviously did NOT like me taking her picture.
Along the Grand Canal in Beijing, this man was cooking right along the street on this open burner.
And these doughy meat-filled dumplings are done.
Many buildings showed the mark of lack of upkeep.
The city of Hangzhou from the Howard Johnson Hotel window.
Two examples of utilizing the means you have to transport the maximum. This is in Shanghai, near China Town.
One final image. I got a good chuckle out of this translation on this sign on a door out of the "visitor" area of the garden near China Town.
The winds of change in China have been a virtual typhoon. Fifteen years ago, the area across the Yu River from the Bund District in Shanghai was farmland. Today it is a city of tall contemporary buildings. The nation is permeated with the latest technology. Cell phone use is as pervasive a part of life as it is in any U.S. city. Satellite TV is available. The internet is easily accessible. Yet everything is not as contemporary as it might first appear. The image of abject poverty within site of modern high-rise construction is difficult to embrace.
Our government-licensed tour escort often spoke in glowing terms of how “the government” had done wonderful things for millions. In glowing terms he described how the government can so quickly start improvement projects. A subtle comparison to the sluggish pace of other governments was obvious.
An individual cannot own property. They can only lease it from the government. Once leased, they may do anything they choose with the ground, whether it is to farm or build a house.
If the government wants to utilize the property for another purpose the owner is relocated. Millions of people living in the canyons behind Three Gorges Dam were moved to a new city on higher ground with no regard for their wishes.
It was common to find houses bordering a busy street destroyed for street expansion. Power shovels were parked in the construction area. Evidence of partial removal of the wreckage of the houses was apparent. On the surface, it seemed as if the government was indeed taking care of business.
When earth is disturbed it has one appearance. If that disturbed earth is not moved for a period of time it has an entirely different look. These projects had not been worked in many days, possibly even weeks. There were no trucks to haul away the rubble. The power shovels rested quietly.
The houses had been torn down immediately. The original owner had been relocated to a much nicer apartment building. It was the original owner’s right to rent the property to another family who might like to improve their life by occupying the old house. The solution was to destroy the housing immediately after being vacated.
Our trip through Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai was an opportunity to learn much about China, her people, and their customs. Our itinerary was designed to hit major tourist highlights and afford ample shopping opportunities in government-owned outlets. They set the prices and there was no opportunity to bargain in those businesses. In return, we were assured of the honesty of the merchant and quality of the product.
We did get the chance to purchase from street vendors, and some stores that were not government owned. All of these outlets allowed haggling over price. However, the shopper must always remember “Caveat Emptor,” “Let the buyer beware.”
Reflecting on the many memories, sights, smells, and sounds, the human mind requires time to assimilate this into a measure of understanding. Conversations with various Chinese revealed tidbits of information. After reflection and thought, these various pieces begin to become a mosaic of knowledge.
China has indeed endured amazing change in recent years. With the information available on the internet and through satellite TV, the next few years will bring an even greater transformation. But the old traditions are still honored. It will take multiple generations, with the inevitable dimming of these ideals, to give consent to such change.
Only in China could labor be persuaded that $90 per month was progress to be desired. With a population of 1.3 billion, their greatest asset and their greatest liability, is the total number of inhabitants.
Visit China if you have the opportunity. Learn about the China of yesterday. Experience the China of today. Watch for the China of tomorrow. The swirling typhoon of change is unrelenting.
Now that this series of posted tales are at an end, it is my sincere hope that through my eyes, my camera, and my words that you have come to understand the China of 2006. It is truly an amazing country. If my efforts have brought to you a little enjoyment, then I am doubly pleased, for I not only got the opportunity to take the trip, but now I get to share it.
As has been said at the end of each of the chapters, if you have any questions, or would like to point out something that I missed, please feel free to contact me through out web site.
If you have an organization that would like to hear and see a presentation on China, get in touch with me through the web site. If we can work out the logistics, I would be honored to accommodate you.