HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC

Impressions of China

San Francisco | Beijing 1 | Beijing 2 | Beijing 3 | Beijing 4 | Xian 1 | Xian 2 | Guilin |  Chong-Qing
Yangtze River 1 | Yangtze River 2 | Yangtze River 3 | Shanghai 1 | Shanghai 2 | Shanghai 3 | Observations
(click any image to enlarge)

China Observations

  • The terms huge, biggest, most, all spring to mind when one sees China. The monuments of ancient China might be explained by the fact that the emperors were both spiritual and temporal absolute rulers of a vast nation rich in resources. But even today, the desire to have the biggest, best, tallest, most, still exists.
  • The people are concerned with their life on earth rather than focused on a better afterlife. The terms luck, happiness, long life, and wealth appear in all parts of the culture. Attaining these attributes is sought through a widespread culture based largely on superstition. Buildings configuration, colors, days or years of birth and wedding, even stones, in fact, most everything is bound up in a wish for a better daily life. The beliefs of the old China are largely carried to the present.
    • The most prevalent form of this focus on the present is the obsession with money. What is good or happy is defined in these terms.
  • The Chinese are reputed to be very smart and the evidence all around one in China is that they are. But there is a very large peasant base that is not so intelligent. These people are almost primitive in their existence. They practice "survival of the fittest" in their day to day activities, from shopping to walking. Politeness for these people is a foreign concept.
  • The crowds on the street would not faze a New Yorker but might intimidate others. What is interesting is the use of the sidewalks as a place for bicycles and mopeds. It reminds me of hiker/biker trails and is equally unsafe. Interestingly, not all bikers use the sidewalks, some use prescribed bike paths or the streets. The rules are unclear - possibly even to the inhabitants.
    • Pedestrian walkways painted in the street and green crossing signals appear to be mere suggestions for the automobiles and meaningless to the bikes and mopeds.
    • Three incidents with the bicyclists in Shanghai will illustrate the dangerousness of this situation.
      • I was clipped from behind walking on a sidewalk. Although not hurt, the bicyclist didn't even slow down.
      • At a crossing some forty or so bikes and moped were waiting for a light. A group of Chinese were crossing and a bike decided it wanted to make a right turn. He also decided that he had the right of way (the light was green for pedestrians) and plowed into the group. I thought I would witness my first fist fight.
      • A moped was crossing a street and a biker going coming along the street decided to cut him off causing the moped to do a panic stop and crash his moped. He was hurt and the bike damaged. Nobody appeared to notice and the biker rode blithely away.
  • With all the crowding on the streets and in the tourist areas, there is almost a radar-like avoidance of each other. I was shoved or jostled less that a half-dozen times (a couple when I was walking with a cane). Interestingly, every time it was by a woman.
  • There are lots of things that are idiosyncratic things that are noticeable but not notable; for example, there are men walking around the streets in pajamas, or everybody spits on the street all the time (I guess if I lived in the pollution I would too).
  • Maintenance is a real issue in China. It is always more satisfying to spend scarce resources on a spanking brand new structure rather than fixing one that already exists. In a country that is trying to become a recognized and has scare resources, maintenance is given short shrift. The buildings that are ten years or less old have stopped drains, pealing walls, poorly resealed tile, and concrete patches.
     

San Francisco | Beijing 1 | Beijing 2 | Beijing 3 | Beijing 4 | Xian 1 | Xian 2 | Guilin |  Chong-Qing
Yangtze River 1 | Yangtze River 2 | Yangtze River 3 | Shanghai 1 | Shanghai 2 | Shanghai 3
Observations


HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC