Why is it snowing on May 4? This "winter" does not want to end. There are many reasons we live in Canada, the awesome weather is not one of them!
It’s the second day back home. There is laundry to do, groceries to buy and sleep to catch up on. I am thrilled to be able to brush my teeth with running water. Brushing my teeth with bottled water in China did make me aware of how much water I waste brushing my teeth.
China is a fascinating country. The people are very proud and hard working. It is an odd mix of communism and capitalism. One of our guides said if communism is symbolized by red and capitalism by white, China is pink.
As our first guide George put it, China is governed by one party and that is the communist party. Although they don’t call themselves communists. The government owns all the land in the country and they can make you move out of your home if they have other plans for the land. People do not vote in China. The president is chosen by a small group of government officials. The current president/chairman is Xi Jinping and he is trying to clean up all the corruption in the government. This is no small task. The Chinese government was notorious for spending lavishly on restaurants, hotels and celebrations. The hospitality industry has taken a hit since the new president has decided to get rid of the waste. This was to our advantage because high end hotels are now giving tour groups good rates. That’s why we stayed in the amazing Pan Pacific in Suzhou.
The Chinese are hard workers and incredibly industrious. They do not get many holidays and if there is money to be made, they work. Our guide told us the Chinese live to work vs. North Americans and Europeans who work to live. I wonder why? Why make a lot of money if you can’t enjoy it?
There are a lot of people in China! The one child/couple policy for population control is still in place but it has been relaxed a bit. Rural families can have a second child if the first one is a girl or disabled, if the parent was an only child they can have an additional child, twins are OK, foreigners are exempt, etc. The penalty fee for going against the policy is three times your last year's income.
We were told that it is illegal to find out the gender of a baby through an ultrasound, but if you know the right people… Having only one child creates other problems – the singletons are often very spoiled by parents and grandparents causing other social issues and because of the Chinese family structure of supporting generations, one adult child has the pressure to look after two or even three generations of parents/grandparents.
China allows 10 Hollywood movies in to the country/year. Of course all the movies are edited to Chinese standards of decency. Avatar was removed from the theater because the government was afraid it might evoke a revolt. Although the official message was that the movie might stifle the local film economy.
Other things I learned:
I am very glad to have had the opportunity to glimpse in to the Chinese culture. For me the ChinaPac tour was perfect. The guides were excellent and we didn't have to worry about anything - food, accommodation, transportation, admission to sites, group check in at the airport - everything was taken care of for us. Even a wake up call every morning. It was a trip I will never forget!
Traveling makes me realize that I am fortunate to be able to take time off to explore different places. And, we are very fortunate to live in Canada. Even with snow in May.