September 9, 2010

Ten Trip Thoughts on China

1. Facebook and Twitter are still blocked in the country, but I noticed some Chinese kids in the hostel lounge accessing Facebook. When I asked them how they did it, they told me to install a sofware to circumvent the Great Firewall of China

2. I was able to tweet using tweet-to-email service but I could get updates from people I follow; with Facebook, I can monitor and reply on my wall activity through email 

3. The last time I was in a really large crowd was in 1995 World Youth Day; being around 500,000 Chinese can be a bit agoraphobic. Maybe because of the sheer number of people, jostling people out of the way seem to be an accepted behavior.

4. I'm guessing that 99.999% of the crowd in the 2010 World Expo is Chinese; I can only see a handful of foreigners loitering in the expo venue

5. It pays to learn a city's subway system. It's a fast, efficient way to travel. Cheap too. 

6. I had reservations going to China because of the Rizal Park incident that happened prior to the trip, but my fear was unfounded. I did not encounter any hostility or discrimination from the Chinese.

7. I am starting to think that I have an "Asian" face, because I get mistaken for a local in almost every city that I visit in Asia, including Shanghai. People would just assume that I speak the language and would still continue talking to me even if I am staring blankly at them, miming that I can't understand a word they are saying.

8. Going up the Pearl Oriental Tower on a Sunday evening is not a good idea. The jostling crowd and the din ruins the experience.

9. I rediscovered the history lessons I took in high school and college during the trip; visiting the French Concession and the Bund district made me remember and appreciate the significance of the "spheres of influence" that Western powers had in the late 19th century over China. Those tidbits of history would have remained as insignificant factoids until you visit a place that puts a "face" on it. 

10. The Expo is like the Miss Universe pageant, only nations "compete" with the looks of their pavilions. The pavilions from other countries may dazzle with their over-the-top architecture, but in the end, a visit to your country's exhibit will remind you why you call it home. 

No comments: