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Too many people in Hong Kong!, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Texas Mike with random thoughts on China, which didn’t fit into other blogged subjects. As with all entries, feel free to argue with, question or add to any points. With our internet situation improving by the day, we should be able to read comments now:

– Waiting in line is truly a foreign concept to the people of China. Generally, they seem to prefer mass chaos to kindly and patiently waiting for one’s due turn. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking museums, elevators, McDonald’s or even the public toilet. Six inches between you and the one in front means you are not waiting and should be overtaken. I made use of my large elbows and long arms when jockeying for position at trains and airports. I will not complain about a long line again.

– I’ve had the priviledge of flying quite a bit domestically, but I was not prepared for the experience of air travel in China. Per a previous post, the attendants are extemely helpful in an intimidating serve-you-now kind of way. Best be prepared to answer quickly. And the in-flight entertainment (choice cartoons such as Tom and Jerry) are broadcast with sound for all to hear – no headphones needed. Overall, I was very pleased and prefered air travel here. The flights were very comfortable and all of them took off on time. (Shoot, maybe the no-line practice does work after all…)

– English teachers are in demand. We discussed the phenom at length with some teachers we met from San Francisco on their second trip teaching stint in China. 300 million students are studying english, roughly the population of the States. Crazy. And to think, I couldn’t really say more than 5 words in Mandarin after weeks here.

– Schools are also very competitive, especially when we talk higher education. For many minorities and southern Chinese, it is very rare for the children to go to school. Our guide in Chengdu was one of 2 in his 10,000 person village to complete university. And talk about pressure. It is not uncommon for villages to pool $ together to send their brightest (singular) student to university. Only the best of the best go, and the teachers said there are no grading curves. No matter how smart some are, they will fail. Apparently, there is an acceptable quota of student suicides per semester (6) before school practices are even reviewed for harshness or unfair judgements. Shocked me – but maybe it’s not uncommon from top schools in the states?

– So, we’ve all heard about China’s growing economy, and their huge population (and problem therein) is well documented. And we can attest, literally every city and town we visited is under construction. Wish I was the owner of a construction company or crane distributor. Building goes on 24 hours a day. Up north around Beijing, it’s due to the facelift for the Olympics. Everywhere else, it’s got to be growing pains. And get this – they use bamboo as scaffolding. Built by hand, every branch for even the tallest buildings you can imagine. It’s nuts to witness, and makes you wonder what kind of building regulations protect workers here. We took pictures which we’ll post soon.

– Smoking is not just socially acceptable, it’s socially expected if your male. Upon refusing (usually two or three times), the men just don’t know what to make of me. It’s synonomous with shaking hands in our culture, as cigarettes are offered upon meeting and sharing a conversation. Hong Kong is the exeption, as it is with most customs and generalities from the mainland.

– Chinese TV is really different and hard to describe. Aside from the entertaining animation, there’s also a plethora of soap operas, game shows and just plain weirdness. I appreciate the effort that goes into recreating the sets for the soaps, as many are set in ancient China – long hair, flowing elaborate dresses, decorated temples and that extreme male facial hair. (I’m working on mine). My favorite gameshow combines the greatness of bowling with blackjack. Draw two cards, and bowl for the rest until you get close to 21! Good stuff; no language skills needed.

– Hong Kong is busting at the seams with people, people and more people. After living in New York and experiencing Mardi Gras several times, I didn’t think I was prone to people-weariness, but it hit me hard on Saturday afternoon. People everywhere, and just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. Never seen anything like it at their Times Square shopping mall. It was like an incredible game of asteroids, but not fun. And can you possibly fit more real estate in Hong Kong – vertical is the only way to go, and there’s not a lot of room left there either. And to think, the land was once considered junk land surrendered by the Chinese to appease the British. “Land restoration” is an amazing thing. Nice work, UK.

Anyway, thanks for entertaining my ramblings. More to come. I am keen on rambling, as most of you know.

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