China End

Our last morning. It is rainy and windy. A perfect day to pack and head for the airport. We have just figured out most of the electronics in this hotel room. You need your electronic pass card for everything from opening the drapes to getting the elevator to stop at your floor. If you pull it from the port before opening the exit door, suddenly the lights go off, the drapes close and you are left stumbling around in total darkness… sort of like your honeymoon night. However, our bellies are full and we have stuffed every hotel freebie they won’t charge us for in our luggage and are ready to check out in a couple of hours.

China has been an experience and an eye-opener. Our youth should all take a trip here to see what they are competing against. Discipline, ambition and work ethic of 1.4 billion people is insuring this country is or shortly will be the leading power of the world. Anyone who ignores or scoffs at the power and potential of China is whistling in the dark.

Shanghai for example a city of 23 million plus people (five times the population of the Greater Toronto Area) was basically built in the last 20 years. Infrastructure that includes dozens of skyscrapers, bridges and tunnels of magnificent proportions handles 4 million vehicles while in North America our cities roads and bridges are decaying and we can’t even fix our potholes. By the way to control traffic you pay a tax when you buy your car, depending which city you live in. Not much in most cities – up to 10 per cent of cost, but in Shanghai it is C$17,000.00! Electric scooters are everywhere and have no tax or licences requirements. Gasoline bikes are discouraged and taxed or prohibited depending on location. No noisy Harleys! Traffic is heavy but moves pretty well.

Undoubtedly China has its problems, environmental, social and economic, but it is certainly addressing them and their pride in their achievements, history and culture are everywhere. When the English established its concession in Shanghai in 1843 following the Opium Wars, they put a sign in their Shanghai Park ‘No Chinese or Dogs’. The sign still exists reminding the Chinese of their historical maltreatment by the imperialist powers of the west over the centuries. Everywhere you get constant reminders that the ‘Asian Giant’ has awakened. We ignore it at our peril.

Still the Chinese people are friendly, open and polite. They have made giant strides to welcome us and communicate in our language. We in return speak basically no Chinese. We might be wise to get beyond “Hello and Goodbye”. In Canada we have grumbled for years about the dominance and ignoring of our culture and economy by the U.S. The new reality is across the Pacific. We in the west are in for a real shock!

The highway to Pudong Airport, one of two in Shanghai, is lined with new projects from buildings to bridges. The sides and boulevards are lined with newly transplanted trees. There are a couple of short detours around road construction sites, but traffic moves

We are at the Shanghai Airport, through security (very strict everywhere) and straight to the Burger King. The only sounds are “Mmmmnff, Chomp, Chomp! Pass the ketchup, Sllllurrrpppp!” Nobody asked for any stir fry. Our guides informed us earlier that obesity in the younger population is becoming a concern with the proliferation of fast food joints. You do see a few pudgy kids but I only recall seeing one really obese Asian person during the whole trip.
Our cravings now sated we are busy counting our Chinese money and considering what last minute purchases we might make. See you back in snow country.

We are finally back in Winnipeg and after sleeping round the clock, visiting for a few hours and then hitting the sack again, I am sitting up in the wee hours of Monday morning trying to work off the jet lag. The only negative part of the whole trip was the long flight. Eleven hours Vancouver-China, the layover in Van and the 2.5 hours Wpg-Van. Hopefully my driving back to Rainy will not be as wild as what we saw in China. You may have to keep an eye out for the Pearl on the roads for few day as well.

Time to work on the several hundred pictures. Bye for now,