Natural disasters and interesting people
Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
188Trip End Mar 16, 2009
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To date 62,000 people have been killed, 356,000 injured, 23,000 are still missing and staggering 45 million people have been affected by the quake
A week after the quack the Chinese government declared 3 days of mourning and a minute of silence on each of the days at the time the earthquake hit (14:45). During this time all traffic came to a stand still blew their horns, not the typical minute of silence we were used to but sill very emotional. All over Guilin and Yangshou the Red Cross was collecting money for the relief efforts. The most amazing thing to come out of this tragedy was to see how the people and the government came together to assist in the disaster, an example to all.
On a less sombre note the rest of China seems to be caught up in the hype of the Olympic Games. Many shops have begun selling the official paraphernalia and many TV channels are showing the previous Olympic Games and inserts on the new Olympic venues like the 'birds nest' stadium. There seems to be an immense sense of pride in the fact that they will be hosting the Olympics and this is not surprising considering the long history of change and struggle China has been through.
After being in the county for almost two weeks now we have begun to get a better understanding of the Chinese people and culture
We were however often approached by a few young people who wanted to practice their English. Many of whom are studding English at university level with aim of getting a job with an international company or to further studies abroad. One such conversation went on for more than an hour with a young girl in Yangshou as she wanted to hear everything about South Africa and we were just as curious to hear about how the young Chinese perceive the country and its rapid growth
Food thus far has been quite an experience. As you would guess each region is famous for certain dishes and specialities. For example Guilin is famous for its snake as well as wild cat, bamboo rat and snake-bile wine. So far we have avoided any nasty surprises and endangered species but one or two meals where we did not have English menus left us wondering what we actually ate. Most the food however has been delicious and cheap even with the liberal use of oil. Beer which is very popular in China it typically served in 600ml bottles and has a very low percentage of alcohol, on average about 3.5%. We found them very refreshing and affordable at around Yuan10 - 15 in a restaurant and even cheaper from the supermarket. The best we've tasted so far is a beer called Tsingtao which was originally brewed by the Germans in the early 1900's before it was reclaimed by the Chinese who kept the brewery going.
"Tipping is not a town in China". You might have read this little notice that was often jokingly posted in bars as a reminder to patrons who didn't tip. We've discovered the truth and really isn't in China Tipping nor do you tip in China
Another interesting thing we have noticed is how the two of us walking down the street creates so much interest with Chinese people. We of course think we look pretty normal but to an average Chinese person we must look very strange and we often find them staring with amazed looks. Since the majority of Chinese men are short don't seem to lose their hair it must be odd to see a tall, wide eyed, pale faced man with a bald head walking by. And Inge-Marie doesn't escape the staring either, I often see girls look her up and down as if trying to memorise what she is wearing, might be that her dress sense if foreign or intriguing to them. I think that even though most of the world's fashion ware is manufactured in China they are still designed overseas and most likely all exported and seldom found locally.
After first visiting the smaller cities excluding Hong Kong of course on our China tour it will be interesting to see how they differ from the real big cities of Shanghai and Beijing.