April 25, 2013 Saying Good Bye to China

This is Michael, our China Tour Guide.  We had a wonderful trip and he kept us safe and entertained.  He was thoughtful and paid attention to the details. At the end of our trip we tossed in to give him a tip....I think he would find we were all very pleased with him and our gratuity would indicate that.  Thanks Michael for a wonderful experience.

This is Michael, our China Tour Guide. We had a wonderful trip and he kept us safe and entertained. He was thoughtful and paid attention to the details. At the end of our trip we tossed in to give him a tip….I think he would find we were all very pleased with him and our gratuity would indicate that. Thanks Michael for a wonderful experience.

It was over one year ago we looked at the brochure and thought this might be an interesting trip to take.  Here we are a year later and we are leaving China.  Did the trip live up to expectations?  Absolutely. We have seen and experienced so much in just a short time.  Our senses have been bombarded with stunning visions, our ears assaulted with traffic noises, the smells from unidentifiable sources, the tastes of different food and we’ve been touched by the people we’ve met. We’ve travelled by foot, by plane, by bus, by train, by rickshaw, by sampan and by ship. We’ve been entertained by professionals, every day people and certainly by the traffic.  We’ve been surprised by the differences and equally surprised by how similar we are.  All of us are taking away special moments and unforgettable experiences and everyone’s will be different.

Marlene was Mable's roommate for the trip. I think they were well matched.  Both were fit as a fiddle and a great sense of humor. Marlene is very kind and considerate of others and so glad she was on our journey with us.

Marlene was Mable’s roommate for the trip. I think they were well matched. Both were fit as a fiddle and a great sense of humor. Marlene is very kind and considerate of others and so glad she was on our journey with us.

We would like to thank Triple D Tours of Lethbridge ( Bob & Donna) for putting together this trip and for all their organization efforts both before and during this tour.  Thank you to our China guide Michael.  You are very good at what you do and you contributed  a great deal to the success of our experience. To all of our local guides and drivers.  Thanks for sharing your stories and keeping us safe in an insane environment.

As I close off this trip’s blog I will take this opportunity to share some experiences and thoughts.

Our country of Canada has barely 400 years of history, China can trace theirs predating Christ. During the cultural revolution many of China’s historic places and relics were destroyed or abandoned. Today’s China appears to embrace their history and are preserving ( to some extent) their past and restoring and bringing life back to many of their treasures. However they will place expansion and growth ahead of preservation and one only needs to look at the Olympic Plaza in Beijing and the Three Gorges area as examples. The government owns all the land and if they decide to build or flood an area, the people have no say.  Compensation for loss may not be fairly distributed. It appears growth at any cost for China.

Busy Beijing Airport

Busy Beijing Airport

I wondered often about those people ( who would be my age) that were raised during Mao Zedong’s rule and raised through indoctrination…I’ve wondered how they have coped with change. The Chinese young people have access to education and technology and value many of our western life styles, this must provide a difference in values with their grandparents. I saw many things I think the Chinese have got right – they value family and close friends very dearly.  They eat a healthy diet and exercise is just part of their life.  I hope they don’t embrace the western food and lifestyle too closely.

China’s economy is booming and the state seems to provide a great deal for many of it’s people.  People retire early at 55.  Housing and health care for seniors is subsidized. They have a public education system but parents have larger expenses for the child as they progress with their education. All our guides tell us how happy the people are now and everyone seeks a happy life.  Don’t we all?  While we were never confronted with being in a “Communist” country it is obvious that our guides have very strict limits in information sharing. When looking at a variety of tours offered foreigners, they all look pretty much the same.  I think we saw what the government wants tourists to see.  I have no illusions we saw the real China.

I am writing this post on June 3, 2013.  Tomorrow June 4 is the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising where many people were shot, killed and imprisoned.  Just yesterday the last prisoner of that uprising was released from jail. For those  of us who watched the uprising, I  am sure we will never forget the young man standing in front of oncoming tanks, and just standing there blocking their way. I mentioned in a prior post our guide claimed no knowledge of such an event and he likely didn’t know about it.  The Chinese government have arrested a small group who petitioned to be allowed a small ceremony to mark the anniversary of the  uprising.

Fresh air and improved visibility - great - we're at the airport leaving China!

Fresh air and improved visibility – great – we’re at the airport leaving China!

All internet searches for the uprising have been blocked in China.  Certainly using the internet   to find more information on the places we toured has proved a challenge.

We met and saw many lovely people getting on with their life and pursuing their dream much like here in Canada.  I hope their government lets them do just that.

Our last hours in China were spent packing and waiting for the bus to take us to the airport and give us one last look at Beijing.  The weather was changing and it was windy…finally just as we are leaving….the air pollution has dissipated and we actually have a clear view!

Here is our group photo taken at the Great Wall. Left to right starting with the back row: Michael (our guide) Fred, Dakota, Don, Pat S, Jon, Margaret ( Marie) L, Pat Mc, Bob ( Triple D Tours), Next row down - me ( in purple) Pat M, Harry, Sherry, Marlene, Donna (Triple D Tours), Front row, seated - Allyn, MaryAnn, Dawn, Mable, Brian (behind Mable) Pat E, Karen T, Marie ( Sweet) Tan, Sandra, Dirk, Ian and local guide.

Here is our group photo taken at the Great Wall. Left to right starting with the back row: Michael (our guide) Fred, Dakota, Don, Pat S, Jon, Margaret ( Marie) L, Pat Mc, Bob ( Triple D Tours), Next row down – me ( in purple) Pat M, Harry, Sherry, Marlene, Donna (Triple D Tours), Front row, seated – Allyn, MaryAnn, Dawn, Mable, Brian (behind Mable) Pat E, Karen T, Marie ( Sweet) Tan, Sandra, Dirk, Ian and local guide.