July 6, 2010

exhausted but happy i get myself together to return to the US. on my last night in Asia i go to see a Chinese fortune teller.

July 4, 2010

Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, is the place where Foxconn has gotten publicity for the horrible working conditions in it's factories and that is where i land. it's dorm houses 500,000 migrant workers. talk about immense - the dorms alone houses more people than in most American towns. it is raining so it is not a good ferry day and instead i opt for the bus.

in line at the border crossing from China to Hong Kong i meet an American living in Shanghai. he is married to an Australian and they have two small children. he is doing some type of visa run. he gets pulled aside as we get to the immigration desk and i breeze past.
travelers get nervous at new border crossings. traveling independently we have to find the border, face the border guards, cross the nomans land inbetween, face new border guards and negotiate the gauntlet of potential scams all without the buffer of a packaged tour. we thrive on this. overland crossing of borders is like a rite of passage and the more remote the more esteem conferred on the traveling party.

when the American gets back on the bus he sits next to me and admits he is starved for some american talk. perfect. i hit him with questions and he talks nonstop for about 45 minutes giving me China 101 on the culture [or lack thereof], the education system [focused on rote memorization not critical thinking skills], healthcare [they take care of their sick], perception of westerners [not good] and on becoming a world power [he's happy to get paid in RMB]. lastly, i ask him if he thinks Chinese people will embrace western culture as they become a leading global power or if westerners will embrace Chinese culture. he thinks about this for a moment and responds that every major city in the world already has a China Town but there aren't any 'West Town' in Chinese cities.
there is a downpour that does not seem to want to end. two weeks ago in Hoi An I made a delivery of items i no longer need for homeless kids. a nalgene bottle, the black shirt Marti gave me, books and my umbrella. this storm is socked in and i have just crossed a boder, here's list of my immediately need to do. in the rain, go find a money changer or an ATM, get enough cash for lunch and an umbrella, sit someplace i can dry out and assess the area. i am up beat but no one enjoys dragging around bags looking for a hotel in the rain.
here in Shenzhen i see Starbucks for the first time since leaving Chang Mai, Thailand.

July 1, 2010

i do a good job

i only have a few days in China before i need to jump a flight to take me over towards Hong Kong. i feel the people are curious about Westerners and with the country moving away from isolation i am interested to see how the culture changes. there is a lot more English than i was expecting. a small girl about four years old walking next to me tells me ' i do a good job' with an emphatic hand pump. i smile because she is adorable and because this is a sterotype of China worker mentality.

the constant spitting i could do without but the one cultural difference that drives me crazy is that they are constantly telling you that you are wrong over stupid stuff.  in the hotel girl insists that she gave me the voucher for breakfast but i know she did not.  at the ticket counter in the airport they say the flight number i give them is not correct but when i get my boarding pass the flight number i gave them is printed on it. it is more than a language barrier and long term has to be debilitating.

i meet some high school kids from Oklahoma and ask them about the highlight of their trip. their eyes light up, they get really animated and tell me about how the teacher they are traveling with took them to a store where they could buy pirated dvds. also, they are excited to because Kunming has 3 KFCs. on the food i agree with them because it is all quite flavorless. i think how proud the parents will be and how glad they spent the money on a China trip when the kids tell them about the highlights.

having been warned repeatedly about the food in China i have brought my friend, the laughing cow, along with a stash of nuts and a few apples from Vietnam.  the cow is getting a lot of people through SE Asia.

i keep checking access to my blog hoping that China will magically give me access but they don't. when i was trying to get onto facebook in Vietnam i did a Google search on getting access and found that the best way was to set up a vpn. since i was not planning on staying very long i decided not to take the time to set it up. to facebook or not is a ongoing discussion among travelers. when you are traveling and every day you search out food in a new city, find a new place to sleep, if you are lucky work and talk alongside the locals and each experience is extraordinary the content you see posted on facebook becomes so irrelevant and meaningless that most travelers get disgusted with it.

it's Saturday morning in the US so that means Skype time with my brother. i try to elicit some pity because i am down to my last few days before leaving for the US but this backfires and i get no sympathy.  we are talking about getting to Hong Kong from China i mumble something about expats, visa run and a free shuttle to the ferry.  in fact, i briefly read something on the internet but really have no idea what i am talking about and my own indifference to logistics shocks even me.