Thoughts and Observations

1. I had the idea that things were inexpensive in China. It turns out that is an oversimplification. Without a doubt there is a lot of cheap stuff available here, but for the most part, these things fall into the simple category “junk.” So, if you want to buy a lot of dollar store quality merchandise for $.16 instead of a dollar you are all set. However, the higher quality items are at least as expensive here, and often more expensive, as in the U.S. Eating out is the exception. In general it is very inexpensive to eat in a restaurant, especially if you are a vegetarian. Last night we went to a Thai restaurant with a friend and spent about $50 for 5 dishes, steamed rice, 2 freshly squeezed mango juices and one mange milkshake, a large beer, and a fairly disgusting durien-fruit dessert (we try to order something new every meal). We were all very unhappy with what we thought to be an exorbitant price for a reasonably sized meal.
2. I have developed a growing feeling over the course of our first month here in China that this nation is in many ways culturally-decimated. Japanese occupation, communist revolution, cultural revolution, unbridled “man eat man” (the more brutally forthright Chinese variation of dog eat dog) economic development and breakneck industrialization – these forces have conspired to squash most physical manifestations of 2000 years of Chinese civilization, art, and everyday culture, as well as destroy and obscure the natural beauty of the land. I mean obscure literally and figuratively. If all commerce is moved out of the sidewalk shops in the old neighborhood s into mammoth shopping malls, the natural world doesn’t matter. If the air is so polluted that you cannot see the nearby mountains (true both in Beijing and Guangzhou), they are no longer part of your vision of home. Where is China?

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One Response to Thoughts and Observations

  1. Janna Clar says:

    If you have a chance to get further away from big cities, you will see some other sides of China, including still-surviving manifestations of milleniums-old civilization. Oh, and ride the train to get there!

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