Observations on China

8 12 2009
Capitalism!!!!

Capitalism!!!!

Free from the internet censorship, here are some reflections looking back.  We really enjoyed our time in China, the people are great, but the government is kooky.  China is nominally a communist country.  First-hand, it seems more like a free market economy with little or no effective oversight run by an oligarchy called the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP.  They are pursing what they call ‘scientific development’ (rampant industrial and economic growth) and yet they still insist on using arcane Communist terminology and imagery in their slogans about peasants, workers, the Revolution, etc.  The peasants and workers are nominally the “true” Chinese, but these days the real Chinese are busy buying name brand clothing, eating junk food, and accumulating as much personal wealth as possible in the bustling urban centers like Shanghai, Beijing, etc.  The country seems to be undergoing a spiritual crisis as they abandon the party lines about “the glory of the workers” for the new ‘God’: money. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hanoi, Vietnam

1 10 2009

We made it to Hanoi (no problems with any typhoons) and now we are free of the “Great Firewall of China” and the censored internet.  Many thanks to Jason’s sister Amy for (in addition to an excellent wedding cake) helping us get around the censorship in China by copying and pasting text and photos from emails so there were updates for this blog while we were in China. Read the rest of this entry »





Yangshou

26 09 2009
Yulong River

Yulong River

We arrived in the beautiful karst region of Guiling/Yangshou.  Jason had been to Yangshou a decade ago,and the town has become much more popular with tourists, with good reason.  The scenery has stunning karst peaks, rice fields, bamboo groves and calm rivers.  Yangshou has changed, with many more restaurants catering to westerners and the ubiquitous chains of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken have moved in plus a multitude of other places offering “wood fired pizza”, hamburgers, spaghetti, western breakfast, etc.  Additionally, as more Chinese move into the middle class and begin to take more vacations, the large Chinese tour groups flooding out of tour buses,  led by flag-waving, bullhorn wielding guides have become a common component of the street scene in Yangshou. Read the rest of this entry »





Kaili

20 09 2009
Miao village

Miao village

We left Yunnan and headed east to the city of Kaili in Guizhou province. The goal was to visit traditional Miao villages in the area. The Miao are linguistically and ethnically related to the Mong (Hmong) people who live in Thailand, Laos Vietnam, (and now agricultural areas known for growing strawberries in California). The Miao in China are known for their colorful clothing, ornate silver jewelry and embroidered baby packs.





Naxi Architecture

18 09 2009
Naxi frame

Naxi frame

Yunnan province is known for the Naxi culture, but as city planners, we also were interested in Naxi architecture.  Naxi traditional buildings are known for their quintessential tile roofs and wood framing, in addition to their resilience during earthquakes.  Many of the traditional Naxi buildings withstood a recent earthquake, so the government has been encouraging builders to continue to use this style for new buildings.  On a bike ride into the countryside north of Lijiang, we observed many new Naxi style buildings being built. Read the rest of this entry »





Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge

16 09 2009
Lijiang

Lijiang

We stayed in the small, historic town of Lijiang before doing an overnight at the Tiger Leaping Gorge.  Lijiang is a well-travelled tourist spot, and the traditional portion of the town was used in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for some of the shots.  We also visited a small village north of town, and visited a fairly well known traditional doctor. Read the rest of this entry »





Kunming

10 09 2009
Brand-new Kunming

Brand-new Kunming

We made a quick stop on the main city of Kunming in Yunnan province after our train down to the southern part of China.  It is another rapidly modernizing city in China, with a vibrant (to the point of being too much) redeveloped core mixing old and new buildings and structures.  The city is known for nice tree lined streets, and as city planners, we noticed many recently redeveloped plazas and squares where large, mature trees were incorporated in the design and preserved, which is a nice change in China. Read the rest of this entry »