China 2013

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China is a land of great contradictions. Within the far-reaching borders, there is a diversity of accents, ethinic practices, and living conditions, and yet, the official perception is "one": one land, one people, one rule, one way. It represents the world's second largest economy (soon to be the first?) with an annual rate of growth ("only") 7% last year, a rate that economies in the West may never see again. And yet, this is a country that is attempting to replicate the 100+ years of (western) industrial revolution in a generation ... and the pollution in the large cities is staggering. But Westerners would be wrong to conclude that the Chinese are (only) greedy. The truth is: they just want electricity and the freedom to move about in a car. And so their economy grows ... crane by crane, skyscraper by scyscraper, (coal-fired) smokestack by smokestack ... but the costs associated with this great growth are unsustainable in relation to the costs on the health of their citizens. That all said, the Chinese are a warm and hospitable people (yes New Englanders, we may take a lesson). The pictures to follow show but a small part of a wonderful trip in April 2013; in flying lingo, an "open-jaw" trip from Boston to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Shanghai, and back home to Boston.

[Click on any of the images for a closer view]

Taxi anyone? This was my first impressionable image in Hong Kong. FYI: I picked the one in the 31st row, 14th column, "Yohoo ... taxi! (出租车)" After a quick sleep in Hong Kong, I took a shuttle just north to the sister-city across the mainland border in Shenzhen. (You don't need a VISA to fly into Hong Kong, but you certainly do to enter mainland China. Hong Kong is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Macau, just west of Hong Kong). Notice the picture on the right above. As I was riding, taking in the beautiful rugged hills of Hong Kong's shorelines, I notice the guy on the left was *not* paying attention! "WTF! He's not even watching the road! Playing on his cell phone, looking out the window?" Oh wait, we're in Hong Kong. The guy on the right is driving (phew).

Given that this was my second trip to China (see pics from my first trip, April 2012),
Great Wall | Peking Duck Dinner | Terracotta Warriors
I was feeling alil' braver. I set out on the metro, hoping to find an outdoor book fair that I heard was taking place in the city. (You can see my concierge "Jack" below who marveled at my tee-shirt that said, "Wicked big Pats fan." He had never heard of the Cowboys or Packers, just saying). I never found the book fair ... but I sought after some green space and found a nice park. While Hong Kong and Shenzhen are no where near as polluted as Beijing, Xi'an, or Nanjing, you can see the dense smog as I looked across the harbor from Shenzhen back to Hong Kong.

While in Shenzhen (and later in Nanjing) I did a couple of gigs for our Admissions Office, meeting with students who are interested in Wheaton. Robert insisted on taking me down to the shoreline and to the city's nicest park where we enjoyed a great walk and chat. The Boston Marathon bombings were fresh in my mind, so I stopped to enjoy the start of a group's "run" down the boardwalk. (The translation of the bike sign: "Hey you! Yes, you! If you are riding a bike, go left. If you are not, you can ignore this sign.")

In Nanjing, just as I had guessed, the hotel room numbers are all in binary (base 2): yup, Room #9 (ahh, home). A Wheaton student's father picked me up and dropped me off at the contemporary art museum. My host wanted me to see the painting of an aging Mao and his hand-picked successor; in previous times, this painting was not allowed to be shown since it showed Mao in less than prime condition. I loved the painting of the young children. I wish I had met them in person.

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