Some random China observations

Great Firewall of China. All the Facebook postings Ellen and I make are through a firewall work-around site. So is my morning New York Times reading. So is gmail, if accessed on the web and not via an app on the iPad or smartphone. One of the reasons I started the blog is that I can use WordPress in China. Bing works. Google not so much. Forget Netflix, YouTube, streaming (I imagine that the Netflix issues have as much to do with the hotel network bandwidth, but who knows).

Prices. Dinner for four: clay pot roasted eggplant, roasted 1/2 goose, vegetable fried rice. 25 dollars. 10 minute taxi from Shamian Island to our hotel. 3.50. Can of Guinness at the 7-11. 2.50 (yes, 7-11s are all over the place; tinier, by far, than the stores at home, but everywhere). The price of things at the hotel is higher and in line with what one might be used to at home. Case in point: coffee and a juice at Starbucks? 6.50. All you need to do is walk.

15 million. Guangzhou is a city of apartment blocks. Why? 15 million people live in Guangzhou. Quick, quick, run to the google and check populations for cities in the US. I can wait. And it’s not the biggest city in China. We drive along elevated highways through the city and building after building is an apartment. Laundry inevitably dries on the balconies on the third story, on the twenty third story. Older apartments are torn down to make space for new ones. 15 million.

No one wears hats. Have I seen a beard? (No wonder my daughter recognized me so easily.) Young people dress stylishly. There is a large feral cat population in the Yue Xiu park. Seat-belts in the front seat. Fart jokes are universal. HBO Asia plays American films that are not on the American HBO schedule. On a four lane highway speeds are designated for each lane. Everyone says hello to my daughter (she gives them no choice). A older Chinese man walked in the park wearing a Hampton VA t-shirt. In the pool, nearly everyone swimming laps does the breaststroke (with pretty good form). There are no napkins on the tables of Chinese restaurants.

It is time to get the girls up for our trip today.

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Brian Brennan

I am a writer and a teacher. I have lived in Philadelphia, Binghamton, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Northern Virginia. I have sailed on the ocean and flown over the North Pole. I write fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

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