Last week, a handful of you stopped by to enjoy my lovely view of China. I’m taking you back there for a different look at what China is like. The every day side of China. Please make sure your tray tables are in their full, upright, and locked positions.
As with before, words can only do so much justice. You have to see pictures to really experience another culture. That is, of course, if you can’t immerse yourself in it in person. More than the beauty and architecture and history, I love to take in the nuances of every day life in another country and culture.
Because my brother lives there and his wife is a native, we got a few glimpses into every day life. And because my brother is a businessman there, we got to accompany him on a few business and see another side of China.
Just to remind you, we were staying in Hangzhou, a beautiful city about 3 hours south of Shanghai. It’s in a region very well known for Longjing tea, an excellent green tea. If you’ve tried Lipton green tea, forget everything you know. You’ll frequently find vendors smoking the tea in the streets and selling it. The smell is divine.
And the park across from the hotel was always gorgeous because you always saw maintenance workers. They were always clipping or sweeping or I don’t know what.
And speaking of sweeping, what do you think of this broom? It’s what they all use. I’m wondering if we need to export some of our American-made brooms over there.
And while cell phones were rampant, you could still find these. Know what they are? Telephone booths. Or the modern day Chinese equivalent of it.
Walking down the street, you’d see random cats and dogs, like this one. I don’t know if his owner was one of the nearby street vendors but he was such a calm sedated dog just enjoying an afternoon under the table.
You could even buy Chinese junk food. I especially like the sound of the Fairy Horns. I hear they’re delicious.
And there was always soda nearby to wash down your snacks. In fact, everywhere we went, we drank Coke. Or beer. But that’s another story (for next week).
My brother lives in an apartment in the city but is currently have a house built. By currently, I mean it’s been under construction for years. He took us an hour west (or east, I really have no idea) to see his house and I got to see some interesting Chinese architecture. I also saw their interesting construction techniques. In this picture, the casement windows on the large window are open. But the windows open in. Because the workers didn’t think to make them open out.
The houses are made from poured concrete and brick. Obviously when they have to make room for pipes, they use their craftsmanship to make sure everything is perfect.
We headed further out for a side business trip. We were treated to a farmer’s restaurant meal (lots more about this next week). And we started to see how the other half lives. Nearby, we visited a true “Made in China” factory.
Here my mother and I are touring a factory that makes film projection screens. Clearly, they have no OSHA here because the fumes were about to knock us over. I didn’t fear for the workers because it was an open air building with a view of the mountains. I think the part that struck me was that, even in the middle of nowhere, these people felt fortunate to have jobs. Most of them lived in a true rural setting deep in mainland China. They worked at the factory to make money to send home and went back to their families for about two weeks out of the year.
And for your final glimpse into the every day life of the Chinese, we spied a newly married couple have their photos taken just after we returned from our bamboo ride down the river.
To really get a flavor of Chinese culture, though, you have to experience the cuisine. And oh how I experienced it. I almost came back a vegetarian. Next week: what chinese food in China is really like.