Two Weeks in China

chinese-lanternNothing psychology related this week, just some eye candy from China. It took some planning, but I managed to visit during the worst weather in decades. We drove past the infamous Guangzhou train station and, from the highway, saw tens of thousands of people stranded thanks to bad weather in other parts of the country. It didn’t help that Chinese New Year is approaching. This is like traveling the weekend before Thanksgiving, but with 1/5 of the world’s population.

We avoided the delays and travel riots by little more than a day, though I did see a scuffle at the airport in Guiyang. Angry cursing sounds the same in any language. Here’s what we confronted at baggage check:

I think that living with so many people must build patience. I’m spoiled by my elbow room and the ease with which things get done here at home. Still, there is a certain efficiency in such a crowded culture. With so many people pitching in, things get done.

I saw few delivery trucks but countless people lugging items to and fro. Need to move five bags of potatoes to the other side of town? Easy: just load up the delivery Moped and hit the sidewalks. Much quicker than UPS.

With a fair number of people on the street toting one thing or another, everything seems to find its destination.

And there is no shortage of people willing to do dangerous jobs. Here in America, OSHA would probably demand that this man be harnessed into mechanized lift for which he had received several hours of operational training:

You have to admire the intestinal fortitude. Note the genuine Craftsman Bucket-O-Fire in the background, well within the drop zone of any pipe fitter who should happen drop in. My shop teacher would have had an aneurysm.

The real reason for the bucket? It was bloody cold. At a park in Guiyang, the frost made for an amazing landscape.

The park is home to roving bands of monkeys who will mug anyone they suspect of carrying food. This little guy (or gal – I didn’t check) was every bit as cold and miserable as he looks. He was shivering and pensive, perhaps wishing he had his own bucket of fire.

More amazingness:

Back in Guangzhou, we snooped around a quiet alley that probably sees few gawking white guys like me.

I’ll take this over a tour bus any day. These are the places where the sights and sounds of a culture show themselves: a baby crying, someone’s carefully tended flowers, and the occasional fire safety poster:

Remember, parents, make sure your kids are standing up when they smoke.

Anywhere you travel, there are local delicacies and they can be pretty strange. These little eels are soon to be roasted on sticks and eaten like popcicles. Shockingly satisfying!

If that doesn’t quell your craving, how about some chicken paws.

Who knows what exotic snacks lurk within these walls:

I wasn’t brave enough to try any of these, but I’m in no position to criticize another person’s culinary delights. One of my favorites is fried pork rind. Pretty revolting, when I stop and think about it. Maybe the ability to turn barely edible pieces and parts into delicacies is a commonality across cultures.

We were blessed and fortunate to return home without incident. At the end of a long journey, there’s only one thing left to do…

Unwind yourself. NOW!

Happy new year.