Today will be my final post on my thoughts and observations from my trip to China. Again, no card to share, just a few stories.
So, my comments today are on three areas. First, transportation in China. Second, workers in China and Third, food in China.
Transportation. Who would have known that almost all the taxi cabs in China/Shanghai are Volkswagen's. Not me. I heard that VW is working hard to penetrate the chinese market and from what I could tell they were doing a great job. Riding in a car in China is a real experience. It was VERY different from Singapore. In Singapore, no-one broke any of the traffic laws. No speeding and no running yellow lights even. Everything was clearly marked and everyone followed the rules. Not so in China. Everyone crosses into on-going traffic and ignores solid yellow lines. Everyone runs yellow and very red lights. Beware pedestrians. If you have a cross-walk green, all turning traffic will not even slow down for you.
The bicyclists and moped riders do not wear helmets either. I am amazed that there were not multiple deaths during our rides. We decided to take the bullet train to the airport for our trip home. The cab driver was funny because there was the recent bullet train accident. When we said we wanted to go there he did hand gestures indicating a crash. My co-workers and I figured it was about as safe as the cab ride. The actual accident was in another part of China, not this train. I tried to do hand gestures to tell the cab driver that God would protect me. When I indicated prayer he laughed. Below are the pictures of us on the bullet train. It got to over 400 km an hour.
Here I am pointing to the speed. It got going even faster after this photo was taken.
Next topic: Workers. It seemed as if there was a job for the most mundane things. In our hotel and the lobby of the office building they had a man whose only job was to hit the elevator button to go up. In the hotel breakfast area there was a man whose only job was to put toast in the toaster. At the stores, there were a lot of clerks standing around, even for a store without a lot of traffic. Maybe because they have so many people they'd rather give them all jobs than have them on a public welfare program. It was amazing to me though all the people ready to serve. It felt that for a job that in America would require one worker, in China it almost always had 3. There were two hostesses for the breakfast. There were 3 workers at the convenient store. There were 4 doormen at the hotel lobby to get you a cab......
Lastly: Food. The food in Shanghai was very good. We ate very plentiful meals the whole time. Many of the meals had several dishes. It was common for there to be a lazy susan in the middle of the table and many, many different dishes brought out. It seemed impolite to not try a dish, so over the time I learned to take a small portion since there would be 10 other dishes for me to try. I was surprised at how rich the food was. There was lots of pork and chicken. In general the chicken and pork had a lot of skin on it and bones. It was not uncommon for them to put a full thing of chicken in their mouth and then spit out a bunch of bones. There was also not a lot of veggies and many dishes had a lot of oil. I imagine, like
America, what people eat at home is not the same as what they eat out.
Lucky for us we were not exposed to many unusual or 'cruel' dishes, but they did tell us about them. One dish that they described for us is called 'three screams.' For those with a sensitive stomach, you may want to skip the below description, but this is probably the grossest sounding food I've ever heard of...
The sales manager in the Shanghai office described it. It is called "san zhi er" (three screams).
The diners would order mice that had just been born and a plate of sauce. The baby mouse would scream first when a diner seized it with a pair of chopsticks. It would scream a second time when it was dipped into the seasonings and its last scream was emitted as it entered the diner's mouth. I am soooo glad this was not served at our table.
Well, I am sitting in the San Fransisco airport. My flight to Shanghai arrived safe and sound in the US. Now I am 2 hours delayed to get to Boston. I'll be so glad to get home to see my family and sleep in my own bed. Thanks for following along with me on my Asian adventures. I probably won't have any other interesting stories for you for a while. I think I am done with my overseas travel until at least 2012. Thank God. It's great fun to go away, but I am very happy that it's not a lifestyle.