[Photo ©2010, Guangdong Province, China]
While in China I was part of a tour group. I have always disliked tours because they give you enough to not know anything – you have no time to soak it all in. I was at a major disadvantage because the tour was in Thai and Chinese, both languages I know little of. Unfortunately many places I was at I have no idea what or where they were precisely. I also was warned of many negative things before going to China, mostly about my well-being. None of those things happened, I felt pretty safe and I don’t think I was taken advantage of, maybe because I was part of a larger group. The things I wasn’t warned of were the things that stuck more vividly in my mind.
I couldn’t believe how many people smoked and how they could smoke just about anywhere, hotels, restaurants, etc. It reminded me of when I was growing up in the 60s! I was also amazed at the amount of garbage strewn about and the disregard of where and what people threw to the street. All that said I didn’t see the expected air pollution. I guess being close to the South China Sea helps to cleanse the air or push it away. I was disappointed also that in many areas they were striping away mountain sides in total disregard to make way for industrial areas, a future disaster in the making.
I was also surprised at the amount of Capitalism within a Communist country. I guess I’m being naive but I wondered what Mao would say, is he turning over in his grave? Sure, it seems like everything is from China these days but when you see McDonald’s and KFC, amongst others, I’m just wondering where their ideology went. I also saw beggars, mostly older people, and not just a few. Has this new Communism left these people behind? What became of the respect of elders and where did the commune part of communism go?
Being the lone non-Asian, read American, in a group of tourists made me a focal point where ever we went, I stuck out. Besides the stares many people used what little English they knew on me. From hotel maids in the elevator to people on the street I had been approached with nice hellos. When I did respond in English I found out quickly that they knew little more than hello or were too shy, well both sides were on equal footing here with language. It was nice that people were welcoming and intrigued.
This quick tour made me realize I want to go back. I also realized few non-Asians bothered to go to Guangdong province, maybe because it was more industrial than touristy, I’m just guessing. I saw an area in China that was not just hurtling into the future but into the present. I need to go back before too much of the past is gone.