No secret to any of us that just about everything we buy is made in China, so why then so many poor people? There are two groups of people, the very very rich and the very very poor. There is also a middle class of sorts, so China is working to solve their problems. Government corruption contributes to the problem, but it is difficult to solve when you consider that China only has 10% of the fertile land to plant and 22% of Earth’s population. Our friends from Canada pointed out that the entire population of Canada is less than one city in China. There are approximately 2,000 people per square mile in China and our biggest US cities are only 400 people per square mile. Unfortunately, in order for China to produce all of the products that we buy from them, they are polluting their cities something fierce. Shanghai for example is the largest container storage facility in the world with over 30 million containers passing through per year.
In 1949 the life expectancy here was only 35 and today is 75, so progress is happening. Our cruise director on the ship tells some interesting stories. For birthdays when he was growing up your present was one boiled egg hidden under your rice or sweet potatoes. He had no new clothes all the way through high school as one needed a government coupon to buy clothes, so all of his clothing was passed down brother to brother. He told us that he used to work for CITS, China International Travel Service, so he worked for the Communists. And today he works for Viking, so he now works for capitalism and calls CITS, “Communism is totally sh_t.”
As you can see he is very outspoken. He told us that if he talked like this just a few years ago, he would have “disappeared.” One of his brothers does work for the Communist Party which numbers 18 million in China, so it must make for some very interesting family reunions. His total hate for communism comes through in every talk, although he is very dedicated to China. He says there is a saying in China amongst the younger generation: “Your mother may be ugly but she is still your mother,” and that is their feeling towards China. He has another brother who works in a factory and is middle management. He makes $2,000 a month. The factory people live in dormitories and rarely are allowed to go home. Last year 13 workers committed suicide because of the stress. So trying to survive in China is difficult at best.
If you are a farmer your citizenship is for farming only. The only way you can change your citizenship is to go to the university. Once you have graduated you are not allowed to go back to farming. When our cruise director lived on the farm with his parents, the family had one acre of land to plant, one sixth of an acre for each of the six family members. When each boy left for the university, that boy’s one sixth of an acre of land was given away and the family ended up with only two one sixth of an acre plots. The government owns the land, and they do what they please.
Under the one child policy the ratio of men to women is now for every 119 men there are 100 women. This will cause serious problems in the future. By the year 2020 there will be 40 million more men than women, so the men will either have to become monks or the women will start having concubines.
The younger generations of women are enjoying capitalism, and are moving from the farms to the cities. Our guide said the girls would rather cry in a BMW than smile on the back of a bicycle. He said only good news is played on the state run TV, however with the spread of the internet the Chinese people are starting to realize how much corruption is really going on within the government.
Today, we visited the relocated city of Fengdu. We walked up 120 steps to the city. The number of steps can range from 50 to 220 depending on the flood stage. When our local guide’s house was destroyed, it took eleven years before she could move into her new one. The government did not give her enough relocation money, so she has to pay a mortgage to the government.
She took us to a local farmers market and it smelled soooo good. The spices were amazing. Some of the unique things we saw were pig’s ears, pickled chicken feet, live eels, esophagus, tongue, etc. You put all of it together in a pot of boiling oil to cook it. The meat was nicely cut but laying out on wood tables. The hog was slaughtered this morning so the meat was fresh. I don’t know how long it stays fresh when it is 110 degrees outside in the summer, but… The Chinese say that they eat everything that flies except airplanes and everything in the sea but submarines. Holly had pig’s ears, pig’s tail, and dried tofu for lunch today, but passed on the chicken’s feet and 1,000 year old egg. Someone tried the egg and I asked how it tasted. The answer, “It takes how it looks – green and moldy.”
Tonight because we have traveled with Viking so many times, we are invited to the captain’s farewell dinner, and are invited to sit with the captain, who doesn’t speak a word of English but the hotel manager will be there and he does. Huang, our tour guide, gave us the invitation but asked us not to tell anyone because our friends will be jealous. He really didn’t want us to accept it because of this. Interesting how humble the Chinese are. I had mentioned this way of thinking previously. We of course will run out now and tell all we know. We ugly Americans!
To truly experience a country and its culture you have to travel to it or read a thousand books.Daniel Peng Emerald Cruise Director
Confucius say – The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
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Tom & Holly