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Published: September 8th 2017
We set off on this trip as a bit of a challenge, we are still eating, enjoying ourselves, seeing the sights, communicating with Baidu translator, by pointing, using GPS maps, taxi cards written in Chinese and relaxing when out and about with Hamish and Chinese friends. The major challenge of course is the language. There is some English in many key areas of the larger cities, airports, metros, some all important ATMs.
Plonka at the ATM, English says, “take money in 27 seconds”, standing there looking at a pile of moola at about elbow depth, waiting for it to be presented a little further out of the machine. At 27 seconds the little window closes and a receipt is presented, the machine gobbling up the money. Shit, take the money within 27 seconds, no cancelation of transaction, kind and patient bank staff explain on 3rd
return to bank that another lost his pile the next day, monies will be returned.
Toileting can be a major especially for the prudish or excessively fussy but knowing that like everything it becomes a matter of strategy. A van load of tourists in Lhasa, deep in conversation, united by one accord, not Buddhism,
politics, local customs it’s the trials and tribulations of toileting. From taking your own tissues, did you forget? Bugga. All paper in the bin, those of the wonky knee buggered in the squatter and wo to those with bad belly or too much fire and spice that will fuck up a strategic day, enough already.
Along with its massive, awe inspiring projects is Chinas massive, awe inspiring population and its ability to generally get along with each other, shoulder to shoulder, bike, scooter, car and pedestrian in such close confines, keep walking, don’t freeze up in the middle of the road, countless car, bike, scooter drivers already have you and your trajectory accounted for, as in any large Asian city. We have seen some massive crowds and along with it a massive infrastructure that helps keep the crowds and lines moving, at popular tourist destinations, railway and bus stations, airports. To be avoided apparently are a couple of short holiday periods each year for example Chinese New Year when massive numbers of the population move at once, as many as 250,000,000 people, perhaps worth being a part of, just once.
The government has already enough disgruntled minorities around
its fringes without pissing off the population general, keep the infrastructure up to them, keep the flow going, bring millions more every year into the middle class, 22,000 kilometres of fast rail, expressways from coast to all boarders.
China earns approx. $635 billion USD from domestic tourism, $165b from inbound tourism 65% of that from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, a poultry $57b from other foreigners. KK and I are totally insignificant in the streets of Chengdu, more of a nuisance factor and time wasters, standing round switching phone on, find Baidu, waiting, translating etc.
Not that we have struck outright rudeness, the people have been fantastic, the young man in immaculate English, can I help you, 5 minutes later drawn map and names, the harassed shop assistant turning up with my dropped 5RMB, another shop assistant who stopped the whole queue while she tried to get through to me that its unusual not to have rice on my tray, the smiles, hellos, the joy of living, exuding a vitality, the oldies generally fit , no oversized on the streets alive till late at night with people playing, laughing, eating, hanging out, the odd domestic along the way,
but absolutely nothing threatening day or night, KK at the moment lost in the little alley ways in the big city, comfortable and loving it.
Try that Chinese couple in Auckland, day or night.
Food glorious food, any style of Chinese or western you like and then there is Sichuan food, spiciest in China they like to boast. Many locals we spoke to say max once every 2 weeks, we knocked off 3 in a week, KK now considered hardened local status. Her mantra of when in China changing her taste buds, out buying Hot Pot spice packets to take home. Want to get together with anybody, it will be at a restaurant, roadside stall or more upmarket. Last night we discovered a special lamb BBQ, skewers hung in large terracotta barrel, just round the corner, that several groups had mentioned, just a taste, might look at a return later tonight.
My friend has been a major revelation, going to be lucky to get her out of China. There have been stories of people arriving at the airport, turned around and gone out again. Who would have thought she would love China and the Chinese, she has
been enamoured by the whole experience. Still the modern city of Shenzhen to go and the shopping mecca of Hong Kong haha.
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