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Reflections From A Road Trip In China

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

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Reflections From A Road Trip In China

Postby momopi » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:38 pm

http://www.businessinsider.com/reflecti ... ina-2010-6

Reflections From A Road Trip In China
Mario Cavolo | Jun. 2, 2010, 12:40 PM

This week starting the 27th of May is a very special time for us to remember, pay attention and share with others. Why? Because with our decision to move back to Shanghai from Sanya, my wife and are embarking on a China cross-country drive. While there are many of us foreigners living in China, not so many have or make the opportunity to get behind the wheel of car for a true road trip. So it is an experience worthy of a few memorable words. While anyone might easily be in danger of mindlessly driving the 3000km from Sanya to Shanghai, my wife and I realized we were blessed to not be in a hurry and so able to enjoy and embrace the experience, rather than embarking on the journey with a "let's get it over with" attitude. One of the best parts of the plan was that on May 26th, I passed my driver's license exam with a cool 96 and so, after 11 years in China, that afternoon, they handed me my official Chinese driver's license at the Sanya Traffic Bureau! Otherwise, we were going to fly the route as usual and let the road trip wait a couple of months until I got the driver's license sorted.

Indeed, the layers of real China, the daily China, and even the majestic China, unfolded before us this past few days along the Google-mapped 3000km north-south journey we had laid out. I knew we would drive through China's classic, old communist-tinged hellhole cities along the way, cities with no more charm than a dirty mop. Yet before you nod your head in agreement that so many Chinese cities look boringly and uninspiringly the same, let me tell you that these hellhole cities, places like Zhan Jiang in Guangdong and Nan Kang in Jiangxi, are teeming with industrious, hardworking people quickly reminding me of the sadly deteriorated American and European work ethic. China will rise. China will kick the world's ass for the next several years because hundreds of millions of her people are either embracing opportunity or are simply out there ignoring the rather undesirable environment around them, sucking it up, accepting life as it is and working their asses off 14 hours a day 7 days a week because that is what life requires to survive and save for a rainy day.

Indeed, the world's economic rainy day seems upon us and who is more than obviously standing on top and why? China, because no matter what list of complaints we wish to espouse, and no matter plenty of unfairness and imbalance we do witness here, this country is to be admired for getting the job done, for its people who are willing to steam a bun or shine a shoe on the street for nothing more than a few yuan that will feed, shelter and educate the family. Not to mention, as an example of feats to genuinely admire such as the development and execution of utterly superb subway system in Shanghai, easily one of the world's best. It is those same Chinese we watch in a group who can't seem to make a decision on where we should all go to eat or accept responsibility to make a decision who are somehow getting things done so admirably and definitely. In America, some bureaucratic committee would still be discussing the project pros and cons.

The ferry boat from Haikou meandered for a couple of hours to Hai An at the southern tip of the mainland, where I fired up the trusty Shanghai Maple hatchback, fully equipped with the recent stereo upgrade for the journey (I had four 6" two way speakers installed in the doors) to head for our next stop 150km up the line to the city of Zhan Jiang. We had been warned that this stretch of road would be the worst of our journey and let me say that it was far worse than I had imagined. In my 34 years of driving planet earth, I have never driven a more miserable, rotted and dangerous road, let anyone even dare to call it the main thoroughfare of the region, which it unbelievably is.

Arriving in Zhan Jiang we find the flavor of new China, new car brands filled with new money people pulling up to check in as we did ourselves, at the England Holiday hotel, a brand new wonderfully decorated 5 star Chinese hotel offering rooms at only 238rmb per night. The next day's drive covered close to 1000km to our destination of Ganzhou, a true industrial hellhole not worth further mention except for its location in the midst of the beauty of Jiangxi province. We discovered China's majestic beauty, slicing through rich, verdant green mountain and farm lands at 120km per hour along the new expressway lanes that are crisscrossing the country. As we headed from Ganzhou on the next day's 800km stretch into Zhejiang, the beautiful landscape continued on unabated each and every hour, a perfect accompaniment to the Oscar Peterson and Enya music we brought along to set the mood.

China's new hotels all seem to have this modern suite type design with office area, free internet and open style, modern bathroom/shower areas. Further along and heading toward Hangzhou on our journey, we stayed in two similar four star hotels in Quzhou (158rmb/nite) and Yong Kang, Zhejiang province. Along the way, we passed along the north side of Guangzhou, then onward past Huizhou where the expressway twisted northward up into Jiangxi province.

We spend the most time in the cities of Quzhou and Yong Kang, both located in Zhejiang province. Quzhou impressed us very much as a city for "living"; like a baby version of Hangzhou, complete with a classic China walking street and bisected by a beautiful and clean riverfront. People were busy. People were happy. People were doing their thing. In addition, nice local apartments were going for 5-8000rmb per square meter giving us the impression that the city of Quzhou would make quite the nice spot to settle down and raise a family in a clean, modern city surrounded by the lush mountain landscapes of Zhejiang. Like so many people who allow themselves to get lost in daily life, especially the daily life of Shanghai, we never knew that such beauty was there to enjoy and appreciate.

We would have skipped Yong Kang along the way to Hangzhou except for a fortuitous phone call from my concert agent telling me that we had booked a concert performance with China's famous Tian Ma Music School on Tuesday June 1st in Yong Kang. And so here we are at the Yi Wei hotel with my name running across the electronic ticker banner as the hotel's VIP guest and undoubtedly the only foreigner in town. Tian Ma's school here has over 1000 students and my concert performance last night was part of their 10 year anniversary celebration here in Yong Kang.

So what is there to learn and apply from our road trip experiences? This road trip, almost at its end, has so far stripped away the veneer, prejudices and cliches which plague our perceptions of real life in China. In turn, this serves to free our minds and emotions to make better judgements, to move forward both personally and in our business pursuits with greater meaning, clearer understanding and finer appreciation for the country in which we live.
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Postby globetrotter » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:23 am

China will kick the world's ass for the next several years because hundreds of millions of her people are either embracing opportunity or are simply out there ignoring the rather undesirable environment around them, sucking it up, accepting life as it is and working their asses off 14 hours a day 7 days a week because that is what life requires to survive and save for a rainy day.


The question is for how many more years into the future? If China stalls like Japan, Inc. did in 1989 then the new generation will slump behind a PC and don i-Pod's and tune out the word and buy expensive clothing and accessories. If, on the other hand, China maintains its current growth rate for only 10 years, then it will surpass the USA as the world's No. 1 economy.

I also maintain that the Chinese do everything far far cheaper so that with a PPP per Capita GDP of 6,000 the lifestyle in China is more like 15,000 in other countries. They just don't waste money on all of the nonsense that other countries do. I personally see the growth over just the 6 months I have been here. More new autos, more new e-Bikes, more small apartments with large lcd flat screeen tv's and large computers. It is an astonishing thing to witness firsthand and one of the reasons I came to China.

When I talk with people back in the States I tell them what to do. No one listens and heeds my advice.

-Save 40%
-Send your kids to engineering school
-No more BS degrees
-No debt
-Downsize your lifestyle expectations -40% or so

The Chinese are willing to work harder, longer and for lower pay than Americans. They will beat the USA at its own game of being industrious and hard-working.
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Postby Repatriate » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:19 am

globetrotter wrote:The Chinese are willing to work harder, longer and for lower pay than Americans. They will beat the USA at its own game of being industrious and hard-working.

A few things that I think are sinking America and killing the middle class are the punitively high taxes and the fact that the government is bloated and wastes billions of taxpayer dollars on defense spending, wars, and pork barrel projects. It's impossible to grasp how much waste is going on here because most Americans are only allowed a glimpse behind the curtain. I do think it's non sustainable in a lot of ways. Plus if you raise objections it turns into a political clusterfuck with Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other pointing fingers when in fact politicians on both sides are actively engaged in looting America clean at the behest of corporate lobbies.

Plus the ironic thing is everytime defense spending gets a boost they start cutting education and social infrastructure..stuff that actually prepares America for the future.
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Postby globetrotter » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:23 am

Middle class taxes are definitely killing the US working and white collar class. One benefit, a big one, to living and working overseas is that the first $91,400 is tax free. This benefit/perq will likely never go away as it is a gimme to the State Dept and overseas gov't appointees. It also helps to launder blackbag guys when outside the USA. No taxes, no one audits you, no paper trail.

The US Defence spending is now One Trillion Dollars a year and the Bailouts and HC Bill are $3 Trillion in total. The Bailouts were, in effect, interest payments on a credit card the country ran up. The balance is still there, btw. Trillions wasted. The USA could have built a new Shuttle program (current one is $30b a year) many times over, gone to Mars, colonised the Moon and Mars, built hi-speed rail between all the major transit hubs and a whole of other tech goodies but they blew it on a credit card interest payment.

What did China do with its Stimulus? Did they pay off debt? Why no, they spent $586 Billion on 16,000 miles of 300 kph high speed CRH rail and other infrastructure projects. China has a 431 kph maglev from the Shanghai airport to its eastern subway station connection. Maglev costs about 5X CRH so they are not going to put in Maglev in the whole country.

Do you know how much CRH the USA has? 456 miles from DC to NYC to Boston, the Acela. It only goes 120 mph tops in places having tracks and train weights pushing down the 150 mph max speed possible. Average speed is 80 mph. China CRH averages 120 to 200 mph.

USA Number 1...oh wait...
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Postby momopi » Thu Jun 03, 2010 3:12 pm

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/China-to- ... al-finance

China to bid on US high-speed rail projects
Minister: China to bid for US high-speed rail projects; building lines in Venezuela, Turkey
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Postby Think Different » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:22 pm

globetrotter wrote:Middle class taxes are definitely killing the US working and white collar class. One benefit, a big one, to living and working overseas is that the first $91,400 is tax free. This benefit/perq will likely never go away as it is a gimme to the State Dept and overseas gov't appointees. It also helps to launder blackbag guys when outside the USA. No taxes, no one audits you, no paper trail.

The US Defence spending is now One Trillion Dollars a year and the Bailouts and HC Bill are $3 Trillion in total. The Bailouts were, in effect, interest payments on a credit card the country ran up. The balance is still there, btw. Trillions wasted. The USA could have built a new Shuttle program (current one is $30b a year) many times over, gone to Mars, colonised the Moon and Mars, built hi-speed rail between all the major transit hubs and a whole of other tech goodies but they blew it on a credit card interest payment.

What did China do with its Stimulus? Did they pay off debt? Why no, they spent $586 Billion on 16,000 miles of 300 kph high speed CRH rail and other infrastructure projects. China has a 431 kph maglev from the Shanghai airport to its eastern subway station connection. Maglev costs about 5X CRH so they are not going to put in Maglev in the whole country.

Do you know how much CRH the USA has? 456 miles from DC to NYC to Boston, the Acela. It only goes 120 mph tops in places having tracks and train weights pushing down the 150 mph max speed possible. Average speed is 80 mph. China CRH averages 120 to 200 mph.

USA Number 1...oh wait...


The USA used to be the most forward-thinking, cutting edge country around. That ended in the 80s. We have now become a reactionary, short-sighted second-rate country that prefers to keep its populace in the dark about the truth. Mushrooms, I think they call us...kept in the dark and covered in sh!t. Don't forget the other major cause of government waste: the government bureaucratic class of slacker civilians. Working the minimum 40 hours a week (at most), 3 hours/day of smoke and coffee breaks, guaranteed job security, producing nothing, but getting pay and pensions on the backs of the taxpayers. And this president has promised to double or triple the size of it. Who's going to pay for all that? The "rich" Americans, who are the target of the new and more oppressive tax laws are going to get the hell out. They didn't get rich by being stupid and slow on the draw. I just see the debt hole as getting bigger and bigger, and one we can never get out of. We will go out with a slow, sad, drawn-out whimper, like the Roman empire of old.
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