Wednesday, October 25, 2006

China 2004

Well, about the people, they are small and apart from that, well, they like to spit in the street (though its illegal in Hong Kong), don't queue, have a minimal sense of personal space and privacy, are very friendly, intense, sociable, extrovert, materialistic, assertive and also very curious about seeing westerners. This last point, however, depends on where you are in China. The more remote you are the more curious because they don’t see that many tourists. I didn’t really manage to have that many conversations with Chinese people. Those I did speak to were mainly female students of English wanting practice or else art students trying to sell their paintings. In Yangsguo, though, I spoke to more Chinese people because it’s such a tourist Mecca. The food was great and I finally managed to learn how to use Chopsticks properly. I didn’t want to come back. I wanted to continue down into Vietnam, Laos and Burma.

In Beijing I stayed in a hostel, having a nice compartment of a larger room to myself and one other person. It had proper toilets too, which were things I was often anxious to find throughout the trip. After Beijing in Xian, another hostel. Only in Chengdu did I start having a room to myself because it was so cheap (5 pounds). A hostel again in Lijiang, a room up the mountains at the Gorge, through which the Yangxi flows and then a really nice air-conditioned room in Yangshuo. Just a shoebox room in Hong Kong, though, and a shower that you have to take literally standing over the toilet because the room is so small.

It would have been nicer maybe to spend more time in the countryside, among genuine rural Chinese and away from the modern cities. I'm glad I didn’t go to Shanghai. What would have been the point, it being so westernised? One of the highlights for sure was taking a cycling trip with a great Swedish guy and a Chinese tour guide along the Yulong river (tributary of the Li river), which included Bamboo rafting, swimming, and having lunch with his family. However poor the Chinese are they all seem to have TV's and of course they were all glued to the Olympics, in which China did so well. Actually I wasn't really aware of that much poverty. Even though the welfare elements of the Communist system are being eroded I would guess that China looks after its poor better than for example India. They all SEEM to love Chairman Mao when you ask them about him and it was an eerie religious experience going to see his fake looking, waxy body in his mausoleum in Beijing, watching children placing flowers in front of him.


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