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Tag Archives: hospitality
Well, I’m done. I got back to Atlanta at 6am Wednesday. Drove home. Sat with my beautiful wife for a bit. Took a nap. Went to Longhorn for a steak supper. Came home and played Assasin’s Creed II for a bit – then to bed. I slept for 10 hours.
So about China. Everything I am about to say is only about the few cities I visited, the experiences I had, and the people I met. China is a HUGE country, and no generalizations should be made based on my one week in one area of one province. That would be like judging all of America by a visit to St. Louis.
- Have you seen a country dirt road about 5 minutes after someone has driven down it? That’s what the air looks like in Yiwu, China. There’s a continuous non-stop unrelenting haze in the air. All around, buildings are being built or torn down, and the accumulated dust of construction, solids of air pollution, and the inverted atmosphere means gray haze all over. Every car needed to be washed. Every breath felt dirty. I used to see those pictures of Chinese people with face masks and wonder what that was all about. Now I know. The next time there is an international protest about how much America pollutes, I would hope those with the loudest voices would direct their hue and cry to China instead. I couldn’t wait to get to Los Angeles to breathe fresh air!
- The people are beyond hospitable. No matter where we went, we were treated like Very Important People. At one point, one of the young men in our group was carrying my camera bag for me. Any time we tried to buy our own meals or even pay for our own soveneirs we were told it is the Chinese way for us to accept the hospitality of our hosts. It was nice, but it also laid the groundwork for an impossible standard to live up to when they visit us!
- Traffic rules? What traffic rules? Cars drove down sidewalks. There was a constant cachaphony of horns. Vans, cars, scooters, bicycles, tricycles, busses, and trucks all competed – not co-operated – for the right of way. Red lights were run. Cars turned left in front of each other. Lanes were straddled. It was a madhouse! Yet in all of that maddness, I saw only two traffic accidents. Somehow the total anarchy leads to order. If everyone drives that way, is it really madness?
- Most American “poor” are not poor. I don’t want to diminish the plight of our impoverished, but I saw people living in broken buildings with no doors, drawing drinking water with buckets from ponds used to wash clothes, irrigate gardens, and catch the run off from the streets. If the 5 star hotel I stayed in said don’t drink the water, what do the Chinese poor do for water?
- There were gardens everywhere – nor ornamental flower gardens, but for sustenance. Without the food grown in those gardens, many Chinese wouldn’t have a thing to eat.
- There wasn’t a hint of egg roll, egg drop soup, General Tso’s chicken, or fortune cookies at any of the the Chinese meals I had!
All in all it was a very good trip. I enjoyed the kindness and humor of our hosts. The airports were run efficiently. The service at the hotels was impeccable. I hope to go back again soon, but next time I’m flying business class – no more economy for me!
(Saturday January 16 – 7:10am – China time)
Thanks to Chip back at home for calling me and waking me from my well-deserved slumber! Actually, he timed it right, and it isn’t his fault that my head hurts and my tongue is fuzzy.
Our man in China, Thomas, invited us to supper last night. Of course we accepted. But it wasn’t a simple supper at a local noodle shop. Oh no. It was an informal and very nice supper with Thomas’s client, Mr. Li – and Mr. Li’s friends and family. All in all, about 10 folks around a big round table in a private dining room of a very nice restaurant.
Mr. Li speaks no English, but with me sitting at his left, and Thomas nearby to translate, we were able to carry on a decent conversation. I quickly learned to drink Chinese white wine – a lethal clear alcohol with a hint of sweetness and moonshine. It is to be drunk as a shot, and with a toast. And the reason for my fuzzy tongue is that there were many toasts. Mr. Li was persistent in keeping my glass filled, and though I valiantly protested, I quickly learned why he was a wealthy man. He doesn’t take “no” for an answer!
The food was very good. There was no General Tso’s chicken, no shrimp fried rice, no lo mein noodles. In fact, I haven’t seen any of the dishes served on any American Chinese restaurant menu. Food was placed in the middle of the table on a large rotating platform. Mr. Li would roll something by, spoon it up, and put it on my plate. I never asked what anything was. I just tried it. The only dish that I didn’t like was the sea cucumber in brown sauce. It wasn’t bad, but the flavor was unremarkable and the texture was akin to chewable rubber.
Our Western table manners took a hit at supper. There is much slurping, indiscreet expectorating of bone or gristle, belching, and maybe the worst to our Western sensibilities, a lot of smoking. The no smoking rule we have in US restaurants was a brief topic of discussion. To Mr. Li, it seemed silly. “A good meal needs a good smoke”.
I am supposed to give a 3 minute speech this morning to honor Mr. Li and his opening of the America’s Best Inn. i was stumped on what to say, and how to stretch it out to 3 minutes, but after experiencing the hospitality of Thomas, Mr. Li, and his friends and family, I will have no problem expressing my delight in having the America’s Best Inn in Yiwu China as part of our hotel family.