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Sadness of the Hanging Monastery

August 5, 2010: Yesterday, we visited the hanging monastery outside of Datong. It is breathtakingly beautiful, yet also, in a way, sad. The monastery was built about 1400 years ago up on the side of a cliff, and contains several temples of various sorts with statues of buddhas and other gods in them. It’s not…

On losing things

One day, in a strange city, my husband took out his wallet in a telephone booth to find a number he had scrawled on a bit of paper and stuck inside. Or maybe he was looking for small change in his wallet. I don’t know. What I do know is that he put his wallet…

Fatalism

As we left Yangshuo (fantastical landforms, bamboo rafts on rivers, lovely ecolodge, Chinese cooking class) on our way to Guilin to catch the night train for Guangzhou so we could catch the ferry the next day to Hong Kong, I realized that China has, at least temporarily, affected my general tolerance for risk. This occurred…

Chinese Business Opportunities

Here are three hot business opportunities for anyone entrepreneurial enough to take them. I’m not taking them because I’m an idea person, not an entrepreneur. Beds: More and more Western tourists are traveling to China, yet the hotels still use Chinese style (i.e. very hard) beds. Many Western hotel chains are already here; I’ve seen a…

Random Notes from China

Accommodations: We pre-booked all of the transportation, transfers and hotels before we left. I just didn’t want the stress of having to figure out train or bus schedules or go from hotel to hotel looking for a room, like we did in our younger days. Especially not with two teenagers in tow. The hotels have…

Chinese Tourists

Everywhere we’ve gone so far, there have been very few foreign tourists like us. Most of the tourists — and in some places all of the tourists — are Chinese. Sometimes they’re in pairs or families, sometimes in groups. When they’re in a group, even if it’s just 5 or 6 people, they hire a…

Cleanliness and Filth

I’m puzzled by Chinese attitudes toward cleanliness. The cities we’ve seen so far: Beijing, Chengde, Datong, Pingyao and where we are now, Hancheng, are dirty, loud, crowded places. People spit loudly and copiously on the street. There’s litter. Everyone smokes, everywhere. Look at the short film I’ve added here and you’ll see what I mean:…

Intercultural Understanding and Chinese Beds

When I started teaching a class in intercultural communication this past year at the teacher training college, I didn’t actually know anything about it. Or rather, I didn’t know any of the theory, but I’d had a whole lot of practice. I had plenty of anecdotes to share, for example, about differences in expectations and…

Conspicuous Consumption

In my last entry, I mentioned how it seemed to me that the Chinese have wholeheartedly embraced conspicuous consumption. Visiting the Forbidden City the other day emphasized that for me. You could say that the emperors of pre-revolutionary China were the originators of the concept for this part of the world. They represent the ultimate…

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