August 29th, 2011


Sunday evening cooking things in our shorts

Ha! We survived sort-of China. We are now back in Hong Kong, it's 34 degrees, the little air conditioner is struggling to maintain anything lower than about 30. We are well fed and well rested but have sore feet. Turns out Joel is better at shopping than me. Also, China is quite different from Hong Kong, mostly in a good way. Except for some funny rules..

I will make a proper post tomorrow since people wanted photos and such, but I did want to say two things about my first experience of a country with a reputation for being closed off and unfriendly:

1. The border crossing was easier and less scary than going to the US. Not an armed guard in sight, the staff were pleasant and friendly (if a little lackadaisical about efficiency), and nobody tried to touch us in funny places or bark orders at us for not knowing exactly what to do first time*. Given a choice, I'd travel to China again before going to the US.

2. Front page news in today's South China Morning Post was the intention of the Chinese government to make it legal to detain people indefinitely without charge if they are suspected of terrorist involvement.


More tomorrow..

* I suspect the international reputation of kiwis for being friendly and harmless if a bit thick might have something to do with this.

Short, pithy captions are not my strong point

It's developing into something of a tradition when Dr Wheel and I visit each other, that we save up our money and spend a couple of days booked into a hotel pretending to be posh people. Last time we spent a weekend in a boutique hotel in Thorndon, about 10 minutes from my home. This time we went to Shenzhen, which is technically in China but administrated separately since 1979 as one of China's economic experiments in open trading. It's probably not representative of China (although tbh I doubt anywhere in particular could represent such a large and varied country), but it's certainly markedly different from Hong Kong.

Folks asked for photos.

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Shenzhen folk seem less limited by social conservatism than Hong Kong folk too. In Hong Kong I get stared at a lot by folks who avert their eyes when I smile at them. In Shenzhen folks smiled back, a couple of women commented in halting English on the "beautiful colours" of my hair, and one lady asked to touch it and laughed that she had thought it was a wig.

I think I like Shenzhen better than Hong Kong. It seems more relaxed. I would like to visit China again, with more time and more freedom to go more places.

Long post is long. If you read it all, have a cookie.

Also, I want to go to Russia - specifically, Murmansk. In the next 18 months. I'm putting this here as one of those "I said it, now I have to do it" things. Surely they have festivals in Russia?