Monday, June 9, 2008

So, you know that time I went to China??

Well, I went. I don't think any number of photos or words can ever truly explain my experience or the intricacies that define China. It was life-changing. Many people may experience a similar feeling when traveling abroad. This was my first experience leaving the US. The only thing I know for sure about my future is that this has taught me that it is vital to see other countries. I think it's so important for my children to see some of the world. I think the reason that people in other countries dislike Americans is because we have it so good, yet we still find so many reasons to complain. I keep trying to tell myself that I've only seen the "big city" side of China. I still have no idea. I feel I caught a glimpse of the vastness of our world. I think it's amazing that most people in China have never been to America. They only know the America they see on TV. They know the Paris Hiltons and the Brad Pitts and the George W Bush's of America. They see our politicians fighting and our music videos. I think we must seem like make-believe. Anyway, I'm going to try to give a brief idea of what I experienced in my 12 days in China. What I did not include is the company visits I got to participate in. We visited Microsoft Research Park, Ericsson, Lilly, China Construction Bank, The Shanghai Deep Water Port, and a couple Chinese companies. It was really cool to speak with these Chinese business people and get a glimpse of the corporate world in China. The following photos are selected in an effort to briefly outline what my activities entailed in order of appearance. I hope you enjoy. Let me know if I can answer questions or delve deeper on any subjects.
So, I flew to China. We flew over somewhere cold and white. I think it's Siberia.
One of our first places of significance was our visit to Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City.
It's not forbidden anymore....they even let Americans in. I didn't tell them I was from Georgia though.
We ate several of these "traditional" Chinese meals. My only problem with the term "traditional" is that these meals are huge, and rediculously expensive for what the Chinese have to spend. So, I guess it's like if you plop down all the crap we try to force-feed ourselves on Thanksgiving and tell someone its a "traditional American meal". The food was awesome though. Except the baby eels dried with salt. I thought they were little french fries and stuck a large clump in my mouth. They were later featured in a thick clear soup. I don't mind eel, but these baby ones still have their eyes, and are tough like clams. I think it just caught me off gaurd at one point, and for possibly the first time in my life, I lost my appetite.
The Great Wall...It's pretty amazing. And the Chinese people that try to sell you crap atop the Great Wall....MAN!!! They must get up everyday and say, "If I'm going to put forth the effort to climb all the way to the top of the wall today, then I'll be darned to heck if I'm gonna let one tourist get off the wall without buying one of my 'I climbed the wall' plaques!"
Here I am as high up as the Beijing Olympics billboard that they stuck shamelessly on the side of the mountain. The Chinese are really proud of the Olympics. Actually, the Shanghainese are really pissed that Beijing is getting the Olympics. So, they made up some big event their calling the World Expo that is happening in 2010. They even made this really bad mascot for it that looks a little like a blue Gumby with a toothpaste swirl on his head. You can probably check it out if you Google "Shanghai World Expo." But, you shouldn't look it up. I say we ban the Expo.... Selfish Shanghainese.
These two photos were taken from the Summer Palace, a few miles north of Beijing. This was the most beautiful place we saw in China (In my opinion). Its a sort of vacation spot for the Chinese Emperors during the 18th and 19th centuries. From the tops of the hills, you could see an amazing view of the Beijing skyline. There were boat rides on the lake, but the wind was too heavy and the water too choppy, so we didn't get to take a boat ride.
We saw a Beijing night show that was a two hour summary of a complete history of Beijing. Pretty cool. The top one is Gingis Khan. The bottom one is three ladies...maybe concubines. They kept their clothes on for the show though. It was PG......13. :)
I thought this photo was important to express how much hotter the flight attendants are on domestic China flights. They also served us a huge, hot meal on our 1 1/2 hour flight from Beijing to Shanghai. What now Southwest?!? I think they were brainwashing us with Chinese propaganda on the TV screens.

This lady is scooping silkworm cocoons out of near boiling water. These cocoons will be unravelled into silk thread to make blankets, pillows, blouses, teddys, thongs, sensual bull whips....that's all I can think of that's made of silk.
I wish I had a picture to show, but I also got to see an alternative use of the silk-worm cocoons...they grill them on a stick. The only people I saw eating them were stupid American tourists that had been dared to do it. The Chinese so have us figured out.
This guy rows a boat down the river. I don't know why.
This is a view within the Humble Administrators Garden in Suzhou, a few miles outside of Shanghai. It was the second most beautiful place we visited. Beautiful Stone formations and Pagodas overlooking peaceful ponds and plant life. While the scenery was fantastic, the public restrooms were the most depressing thing I'd ever seen. The toilets were holes in the cement that you squat over. There was no water connected so nothing had been flushed in days...maybe weeks. Not pleasant.
Shanghai has a lot of cracks on their sidewalks. Toddler cracks that is. These are the pants that Chinese kids wear while potty training. They just squat and go where they want.
Yep. That's Bin Laden. And it's a pic of him smiling with the World Trade Center burning behind him. Thank you to my brave peer, Jolean, for having our guide explain to the salesman that he was offending people from all over the world. He took it down and apologized... but probably put it right back up after we left.
Some quick honorable mentions:
I saw a Chinese kid vomit out of the window of an Audi.
I saw a Chinese guy get in a fight with a cab driver. No fists, just grabbing and pushing.
I saw old people doing Tai Chi in a park.
So, that's China in 500 words or less....maybe 1000.

Nathan's Slackerness

For those of you who are wondering why Nathan hasn't posted about his trip yet, feel free to send him a harassing email to the following address:

Thanks. :)