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China First Impressions

“Have you written any blogs yet?” “Yes, I have written 4 blogs but I haven’t posted any.” “What did you write about?” When I read the list of topics from the draft blogs out loud, I realized just how pathetic and trivial the inner workings of my mind are. As I headed off to sleep, I promised myself I would simply concentrate on my first impressions, and force myself to post something on the 6 hour bullet train to Ping Yao.

Based on the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony, I had imagined a nation of approximately the same height, clothing, and sized people. Not true. Everyone seems to look entirely different; even their hair color and style is very different. They are taller than I thought. Geoff is about the average height for men with a large variation between the shortest and tallest. I also imagined everyone in China very thin. Not true. I would say a large percentage of people are slightly over weight. Nothing compared to American obesity standards, but many of the people I have seen could lose a couple of pounds.

Also, it is not nearly as crowded as I imagined. There are not masses of Chinese people running around everywhere. The airport was deserted when we arrived, no traffic on our 7 pm drive to the Brickyard Retreat, north of Beijing, and their freeways run smoother at 8 am on a Monday morning going to the train station than the 405 does heading out of Los Angeles at 10 pm.

China has us beat on surveillance. They not only have fixed cameras but also round cameras with roving lenses. They seem to be proud of their surveillance and have signs to tell you are on video. They already have us on film violating many rules. Not sure if we will be rounded up before we leave but we could be.

This maybe why Google and Facebook have been blocked in China. China probably felt surveillance was a government job, not to be used for marketing purposes like in the US. Even gmail account doesn’t work here. My phone works and I can get text messages using internet, but no gmail. The Chinese are not as obedient to their government as I thought and not all that intimidated by the cameras. Our driver this morning was even driving on the freeway shoulder to get us through traffic. He came across a police officer who had pulled someone over, got back into the right hand lane, then took a look over his shoulder after he passed the officer, and started driving on the shoulder again. Most of the cars on the freeway were also speeding.

We have been here for four days and spent two of them hiking the Wall. This post would include all sorts of great photos if my IT guy would ever get out of bed early enough to help me. You’ll just have to image us following the Chinese tourists past the “Caution! No Entry” signs and along the unrestored parts of the Wall.

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