posted by Amy
Time to sum up China. I really cannot claim to be able to make generalizations about a country as huge and diverse and important as China, but I will at least attempt to sum up our time there. I loved it. For those of you who knew me back in my college days, I was something of a Sinophile. I was very interested in China. I wanted to go live/work/study in China, but Tiananmen Square and martial law prevented the trip. Actually, I would have still gone, but Mom and Dad, who never said no to any of my ideas, said no to that one. Anyway, all these years later, China did not dissapoint.
I found the people to be very welcoming and very interested in us. No matter what you read in the papers, Chinese people love Americans. Even with the huge language barrier, people still wanted to stop and try to talk with us. And they love children. They loved our children and we were constantly told how lucky we are to have three daughters. But don’t we want a son? By the way, the Chinese one child policy does have loopholes. If you live in the countryside, and you have a daughter as your first child, you can try again for a son. You are allowed two children if your first is a girl. I don’t think this is true of the city folk. Also, if you are one of China’s minority groups, you can have an extra child. Finally, if you are willing and able to pay the fee, which also varies by where you reside, then you can have a second child. Our guide in Xi’an, Clarence, had a son and then saved up something like 3000 dollars and had his daughter. He said, “I think it is worth it.” His friend who lives in Beijing, however, had to pay 30,000 dollars for his extra child. And believe me, Chinese kids are cute. They have to be. They are their parents’ only child and four grandparent’s only grandchild. I am sure there are some interesting social implications for all this attention and caregiving. There were several Chinese people I met who thought the policy was very successful and wondered why India wouldn’t want to do this too. What is India going to do with all those people?
Yes, it is true that people in China push in line. I was never bothered by that. David was, although I reminded him that Israel was the same way, He denied that truth.
The expats we met along the way in China were living a great life. If you can imagine feeling like a pioneer in the middle of 1.3 billion people, that is how they feel. There is a real optimism and an anything is possible feeling in China right now and these young expats are starting businesses left and right and doing things they probably couldn’t do back home or in Europe. On the other hand, they see things changing so fast, they know what they appreciate right now will not last forever.
So, in summary:
Favorite food: Beijing noodles
Favorite People: Debbi and David Zylberman, Craig Tafel, Uncle Ira and all of our friends at the Beijing Downtown backpackers accommodations (the only place you should stay if you are thinking of going to Beijing) our great guides, Clarence, Chairman Li, Lily , new friends Norm, Sarah and Casey and Sarah’s mom. Ines and all her bike friends- Lao sun and Lao jiao.
Favorite historical site: Terra Cotta Warriors
Favorite activity: Rikki – mudcaves, David – trick biking with Ines and friends, Maya- Great Wall, Eva – trying weird foods, Amy – being bold enough to ride the uber-crowded subways in Beijing.
Least Favorite thing: the pollution, bad air quality
Next stop Thailand.
* Thank You China