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Tuesday, August 07, 2007


A few observations

I am enjoying China. I've been here about three weeks now and thought it might be worthwhile making a few general observations. This is nothing more than that. In the time I've been here I don't feel qualified to make any definitive comments.

It is quite different from what I had expected and quite an interesting place. I had come prepared to dislike it but I must admit I am enjoying myself. China appears to be on a headlong rush to modernize and join the western world. Building construction is going on wildly in cities, well the ones that I've been to, and I also see lots of road construction. The roads are in a sense ahead of their time because most of the population still ride bicycles or motorbikes. When China becomes really prosperous I wonder if the roads (not to mention the ozone layer) will handle everyone having a car. But at the moment traffic seems to flow well.

Public transport, mostly buses, is good here in Hangzhou. Buses are regular and zig-zag across the CBD so most areas are covered pretty thoroughly so long as you know the route.

I think that the rural areas are way behind. In fact I think there is less difference between us and the Chinese in the cities than there is between the Chinese in the cities and the Chinese in the country. I say this having seen the countryside only out of bus and train windows. But what I am reading supports this too. I would love to go and spend some time in a country village but I think the only way I could make that happen, unless I go to a tourist oriented place which I want to avoid, is to get a job teaching in a village. I doubt that that is going to happen.

Weather here can be extreme. Since I've arrived in Hangzhou the temperature has reached 38 or 39 almost every day. I'm told that in winter it can reach minus 10. That is a good reason that I wouldn't want to come here to teach. Not long-term anyway.

Recently I went shopping in an IT mall. It isn't all that cheap considering everything is made here. There's a couple studying here who come from Thailand and they reckon Chinese-made IT is cheaper in Bangkok. Among other things I bought myself a flash drive. It seems everyone else has one but until now I didn't feel the need. However, the one problem I have here, apart from language, is internet. I think basically what happens here is that China is happy to go it alone. Lets face it, they have over one billion people in this country, they hardly need the rest of the world. They can afford to ignore us. I think their internet works fine with Chinese sites but not so good elsewhere. Of course the Chinese sites are not often useful to me. Internet cafes aren't really set up for people like me who want to bring in their laptop and connect. It wouldn't be hard for them to do but once again they can't be bothered. There's not that many western tourists around. They cater to Chinese guys and a few girls who want to play games. I spent a whole day transferring files to the flash drive and then uploading them via another computer. Would take about half the time if I could plug in my own computer. In any case once again I'm regularly updating my flickr pages. Please take a look.

And finally, a quick comment on the government. I don't think it is any better or worse than we get through our democratic processes in the west.

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