Tom & Holly Travels
since 2004

你好(Ni hao)

            This trip is not for the non-adventurous. We are not even half way into the trip and we have two people with broken legs and one broken arm. We had to climb 97 stairs just to get from the ship to the bus to take us to the school. The internet on the ship is extremely slow when available making it almost impossible to upload pictures. We will upload some pictures to our web site next week when we are back in hotels.

    Yesterday afternoon we sailed towards the Three Gorges.  We actually saw grass, trees, water buffalo, and some large farms. I was wondering where they got the food to feed all of these people, especially, since unlike many of the countries we have visited; everyone in China is well fed. Most people we have seen, and we have seen millions through our bus windows, are ‘to die for’ thin, but healthy thin. It was fun looking at the country side. One of the people on the ship worked in LA for an environmental agency and has kept us apprised of the type of pollution we were seeing. He said that after we left the paper mill city, it was only haze and the pollution had blown down river. My lungs told me he was wrong, but I must admit the water did look much better. Good thing I came armed with inhalers and such.

    Later we went to a lecture on Chinese Culture and Customs. The Chinese name for this country means Middle Kingdom because they considered themselves the middle of the

world. I had no problem with that concept because most of the maps of the world, that our kids grow up with, has North and South America in the center of the map.

   People are taught to work hard but be humble. It is not good to wave your hand at the teacher and spout off answers. Now that doesn’t really fit with our field trip kids of yesterday. Today we are headed off to a school, so will let you know what I find today. Funny how all the non-teacher travelers thought the kids were “sooo cute” yesterday, and we teacher types thought they were typical brats running and shoving.

    Today’s school was much different and the kids were cute. They did not wear uniforms because the school could not afford it. Yesterday the kids must have been much wealthier because they all had uniforms including jackets. Today’s teacher had a ruler on her desk and was slapping the desk as we walked in. There were 50 students and very common to have 77 kids in one classroom. The school used to have 3000 students and today has only 800, so the one child policy is making a difference. Today, people are having more girls than before because if you have a boy you are responsible for his house, car etc. If you have a girl, she can either work or marry, so better.

    Family is very important. In the past, the larger the family the better. Chairman Mao really pushed for large families because he believed there would be a nuclear war so more people the better. Today it is the one child policy. We asked how they enforce that. At first this policy was very very strict. Also boys were thought to be better because they are the ones that pass on the family name and since your ancestry is important, makes sense to have boys. Abortion is widely accepted obviously. If you do have a second child and work for the government, you will lose your job and cannot be hired by any other government agency. Or, you can pay the fine of $20,000, plus you still lost your job. Of course they are realizing that if everyone has only one child this can cause problems later on, because it leaves one person to support parents and grandparents.

   We also learned the there is a mandatory retirement of 55 for women and 60 for men to make more jobs available for the young.

Some experiences simply do not translate. You have to go to know.Kobi Yamada

Confucius say – If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.

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Tom & Holly