Brad Feld

Back to Blog

A Different View of China – Part 2

Apr 30, 2006
Category Places

Last week, I wrote post on A Different View of China from a close friend of mine who is spending the year traveling around the world with his family (wife and 11 year old daughter).  I think he’s got a delightful rhythm to his thoughts and sent me another rant which I feel compelled to share with you.  Remember – my friend has been on the road with his family since the beginning of the year so his thoughts are certain to be tinged with facing “the travel wall.” If you want yet another view, Rick Segal is also blogging about his trip.

I’m sick – lost my voice and I’m sitting in a room at the cheng do sheraton – they’re all the same to me now. (Wife) is surfing the bet and (daughter) is bathing. I ran out of books a few weeks ago – I’m now reading agatha christie that I borrowed from one sheraton – Ill leave it at this one when I’m done. Its not stealing if I move it one sheraton to the next is it? The foreign book stores don’t have the best selection.

It’s not that china is bad – there are just so many other places better to visit.

I love chinese food – but every restaurant is chinese food – and service is something they haven’t quite nailed yet. There are few if any other types of restaurants.

No nice cafes on the boulevards – no al fresco dining – just store after store selling the same stuff. How do they make money – there is zero difference between storefronts and product mix.

The streets are all clean – but traffic is crazy – traffic lights are more of colorful decoration than guiding signals.

The solution to every problem seems to be – more people.  Want to seem like a swank hotel – put a dude in a basement mens room that no one goes to to turn on the water and push soap in your hands. No bulldozer to dig a ditch – 5 dudes with pick axes.  We went in a private car to a restaurant and we parked in a new underground lot with about 60 parking spaces – there were eight people working there (one to push the button to hand you the ticket, another 2 to direct you where to park – another to collect the ticket and run it to the cashier,  two cashiers, and 2 security guards – the rate was 30 cents an hour to park and it was 40% full.  Crazy stuff wherever you look – on one area a million people jammed selling the same dried fruit for 80 cents a kilo and across the street a sleek high rise of condos is going up for millions of dollars a unit.

There is no middle ground – dinner tonight I’m sure will suck if we eat in the hotel and cost 80 bucks – 50 feet from the hotel door we bought the best food we’ve had in 9 days for 70 cents (3 loaves of bread and 8 dumplings! – 4 people were working at the stand – our hotel costs 350 US a night). The problem of eating on the street is you don’t know what you’re gonna get and you’re pretty sure it wasn’t prepared using the most hygienic techniques.  So what’s a dude to do – pay up for crap or risk it.

The parts that are built up are very modern and seemingly well kept. People litter a lot but there are just as many working to pick it up.

English isn’t widely spoken outside of the hotels and tourist stops – and there is no way to fake your way into a word like in Spain or France.  If you speak English you can earn 3 times more money giving tours.

I don’t fear china’s economic might – yet. They have to address a serious class gap, energy and pollution issues, and an infrastructure that can’t keep pace with demand.

(Daughter) just found the complementary condom in our room and was playing with it. It was red. She was telling me what it was for – she got it wrong – I’ll have (wife) handle that part of her education.

On that note – I’ll stop rambling.

And – a few minutes later…

The condom wasn’t complementary – it was 11 dollars! But we also got some tampons and disposable underware for (daughter) to play with:)