"Nin Hao" (pronounced knee-how), Chinese for hello and "xiexie" (pronounced she she) is for thank you. That is about the extent of my Chinese after a few of weeks touring China. I wanted to share a few "pics" in case you never get around to visiting "the land of the sleeping giant......". I was lucky enough to visit quite a few cities and I came away with the feeling that whatever I thought China would be, it was not. Sure there are the pagodas, palaces, and plenty of history but what really struck me is that I felt like I was looking at the future! Is the giant awakening?
There are people everywhere. Even out in the country you will see a person in your field of vision. You almost don't notice it a first but eventually you realize you are never alone. It isn't in a threatening way. It's just so many people. Beijing has a population of 20 million, Shanghai has 24 million, and the largest city in the world (that you have never heard of) Chongqing has 33 million. These huge populations make for dense living. Apartment buildings are 40 stories high while office building can be upward of 100+ stories high. You have to put all these people somewhere, right? It doesn't feel nearly as crowded when you are walking around. It's kind of like shopping during the Christmas rush. Only it's constant. Since they have had and continue to be in a building boom, there are cranes everywhere. Most of these skylines didn't exist 15 years ago. They are a little like Houston, where we tear down the old to make room for the new. The exception is Shanghai, in the "Bund" area, where you can still see art deco and more traditional turn of the century buildings next to new construction. It's an eyeful where ever you look!
The street are clear of litter and any trash. Street sweepers, manual and automatic, can be seen everywhere. Depending on the weather, the polution can make the cities look and feel dirty. In these large cities, if there is a square foot of exposed ground it will have a tree or a plant on it. I'm assuming it is to pump up the oxygen. You have a lot of folks breathing that air. They are concerned with global warming and are now active in converting their cities energy source from coal to other methods. They are real big on damns.
Western clothing is the mode of dress. Nice sneakers, jeans or pants, and a brand name blouses, dresses too, just like us! Their style is tailored, clean, not a lot of pattern and to my surprise no jewelry. That could be a hold over from the ridgid communistic regime. You see a few older woman with pearls and some men with wrist watches but no wedding rings. Odd, when you think that this is the land of pearls and jade. You can find "Forever 21" and "The Gap" in any shopping area. Of course Starbucks, KFC, and Walmart is there too. Everyone was carrying a cell phone! It really gives you the sense that we all on earth are in one global village.
I think I always felt that the Chinese were very reserved and intense. It still sounds like yelling when they speaks. I guess with that many people you just want to be heard! After you are around them longer you realize they have a terrific sense of humor. They have long standing traditional customs that they adhere to but, in with that, they are very current. They are very superstitious. Just about every single digit number is a lucky number. It's like old and new collided with such force that this new China is what you got. It was totally fascinating to get a glimpse of this world that is so far away but so relatable.