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Impressions of China

March 13, 2012

I’ll use this post as a running list of my impressions of China (or at least Shenzhen).  As a preface, Shenzhen (SZ) is the wealthiest city in the country and fairly wealthy even on international standards, so what I’m seeing here probably doesn’t represent much of the country as a whole.

Here are some starters:

1.  Air quality.  I was expecting a truly horrible situation but so far it doesn’t seem too bad.  I saw some real-time stats comparing SZ to Beijing with SZ being a whole lot better.  When we ventured about 50 miles out of town to the industrial district it was pretty nasty, however.

2.  Pedestrians.  There’s a clear pecking order: cars, motor bikes, bicycles, pedestrians.  With no safe havens for the latter — not even on the sidewalks.  So taking a leisurely stroll isn’t a happenin’ thing around here.  I saw an electric motorbike plow into a pedestrian in a crosswalk ( and we had the green light); the pedestrian then apologized!

3.  Internet.  It sucks.  Sorta hard to figure out in the most technologically advanced city in the country.

4.  Song birds.  Way more than home, so waking up is a treat.  Maybe it’s because there don’t seem to be any pet cats.

5.  Smoking.  I was bracing myself for a full frontal assault on my lungs like I always suffer in Europe.  Au contraire — it appears that fewer Chinese smoke than Americans.  While it’s not verboten to smoke in restaurants and coffee shops it just doesn’t happen much.  Cool.

6.  Driving.  I’ve seen some wild stuff riding my motorcycle through a bunch of Asian countries — but the Chinese are bat shit crazy when they get behind the wheel.  An unavoidable consequence are a ton of collisions.  I haven’t seen any horrible ones, but lots and lots of totalled cars.

I’ll add more as I add them to my notebook.

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