So I didn’t think I’d ever see the day come that I would be in a Buick with 4
other people driving through the Chinese countryside at 140 km per hour. How
fast is 140 km hour anyway? Do I even want to know?
Another on my list of I never thought I’d be there… China. We started in shanghai. Having been to Tokyo twice I found it quite similar. We were staying in a very nice hotel
(the shangrila) so of course my experience with and exposure to the culture were
We are now n the road between Zigong and chengdu. If it wasn’t for the intense pollution and haze, parts of the drive would actually be quite pretty. But with all of the intense industry throughout the country there is an intense haze and somewhat acrid smell that just hangs n the air. I find it quite depressing… Thinking that much of what is driving this environmental abuse is our desire in america and the rest of the world for cheap stuff…
We have attended two of the famous lantern festivals as a part of this
research trip. The first was in Yu Garden in Shanghai. Yu Garden is a type of
tourist themed shopping area combined with a traditional Chinese garden. There
is a separate small admission price for the garden, but if you ever go to the
area it’s totally worth it. Don’t be put off by the tourist nature of the
shopping area and leave. Go all the way to the back and experience the garden.
During the Chinese New Year season there is a very nice installation of what are
referred to as lanterns. In reality they are more like large, interior lit light sculptures. Well worth the visit.
The second festival we attended was in Zigong. Although the display is large, it is actually quite tacky and not very cultural… I would not recommend that western tourists make the trip to see this. The town is what is referred to as a tier 3 city, meaning that there
is no real cultural value to the city… No history, cultural sites, etc. It is a rough city with few hotels friendly to westerners.
So back to the drive… We’ve slowed down now. We have two travelers with us that speak Chinese so there was a bit of a “scene” as we had them ask the driver to slow
down. After a bit of arguing back and forth, we’ve slowed down to about 110 to
120 km hour… How lucky is my life that I find myself in these situations? I
truly don’t know that I could have ever imagined half of the things that my work
had allowed me to do…
So… Should one experience china? So far my vote is no. Due to the cultural revolution followed by the explosion of industry, etc. there just isn’t much culture left. It’s just a rough dirty place. Go to Tokyo. Go to st Petersburg Russia. Go to Barcelona and Florence and Tuscany. But skip china.