Ok, so I know it's been a long time since I have posted anything but it is tough to get on the internet and when they are charging you by the minute and you don't have much money it seems cheaper to just write things down on paper and recall them later.
So I have decided to post excerpts from my journal somethings I won't put online just to protect the innocent but I will try to give you an idea of how much fun I had.
This is day 1:
Day 1 (1/12/2008- Zhengzhou, China)
So, I leave about 9:00am in some broken down ride that Mr. Dai, the superintendent of my building, arranged. The car is a Geely ever heard of it? I didn't think so. It looks like a mid 90's S class that didn't take its vitamins as a kid, and its mother disciplined it with a wrench instead of love.
Mr. Dai, one of the nicest guys I have ever met, decides to tell me the driver (his buddy) needs me to pay before I get to the airport so the police don't harass him. Just like everything else in this country, all it takes to get things done is money.
So I hop in his hoopty and set off on my adventure that is supposed to take me up the fabled East Coast of China from Hong Kong in all its majestic glory to Beijing who thinks it is the next D.C.
Lonely Planet calls it the treaty ports tour because all the places I am visiting (minus Beijing) were concessions given to the colonial powers after the Opium wars. It involves everything that I love, drugs, war, colonialism and the beach. From Hong Kong, I will travel across the mouth of the Pearl River to Macau the former Portuguese port and now considered the Vegas of the East (it isn't really though) up the coast and back “into” China to Guangzhou (British, French), up to Xiamen (British, French, Japanese), onto Shanghai (British, French, German), and Finally Beijing. Considering how I have never really traveled by myself I didn't really know what to expect but lets just say I felt a mix of excitement and fear.
Back to the Geely, a wonderful maroon ripoff of a car and flash to ten minutes away from campus on my way to the airport. The temperature is -3C (24 or so F) and of course it has rained/snowed the night before and so everything is covered in a thin layer of ice, including the roads. Salting doesn't occur here they think that salt is only good for putting heavily into your food. So it's more like skating as opposed to driving down the road. And no more than 1 mile from school my driver decides to turn a corner and low and behold the bastard coming down the other road forgot there was ice on the ground and literally slid into us. Not too fast but fast enough to cause a bit of damage. Here I am thinking great I'm gonna miss my f#$%ing flight because these idiots learned how to drive after my little sister did.
The driver gets out and starts yelling at the other driver who in turn starts yelling at him. Meanwhile a small crowd begins to form not only because of the small accident but also because of the white guy sitting in the back of the Geely. Finally 10 minutes after the accident the other driver pulls out his shoelace ties it to the bumper and kicks it once to show it's not gonna fall off and boom thats it. Again we are off to see the wizard........
This got me thinking what are the odds that anywhere but here that the police would not be called, names not exchanged, insurance not called etc. To explain this you must understand Henan. Henan province in central China is just bizarre, I live in a dump, but my school has a nice campus. It has the worst reputation in China, they say that the Henanese are all liars and thieves, it's not true but I could see how the stereotype could come into play.
On the way to the Airport we drive through places that don't exist on any map, past one room schoolhouses, chicken farms, some emperor named Jujubes garden and all of a sudden arrive in this amazing airport that seems to grow out of the ground like all the crops that surround it.
Sitting in this western styled brand new airport, I begin to understand one thing, if foreigners are expected to see anything in this country it will be ridiculously nice. The airport compared compared to the city it serves is like night and day. It looks European or Japanese but definitely not Chinese.
Suddenly, these memories of civilization come over me. Maybe, it is the lack of garbage on the ground, or the fact that nobody was spitting on the floor, or smoking in my face, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I was having a normal experience. One that was not noteworthy for any reason, and you would be amazed at how good that felt.
China maybe growing fast but it still has a very long way to go.
Day 1 (Zhengzhou Airport)
Have a great time at the airport and then I am off in two short hours I will be in the south of China in the boomtown of Shenzhen and then on my way to Hong Kong. The excitement is palpable and I really can't believe that I will be having Mexican food in less than twelve hours and I won't have to squat in a bathroom for a long time.