...which represents impressions, opinions and possibly insights gained during a twenty day
tour which selectively dipped into a very large and complex society.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

July 14: Lacquerware showroom

In my limited experience with tour companies, it seems that all of them manage to procure customers for local stores that purport to sell authentic native crafts, fairly priced. On this trip the luxury items included silk rugs, pearl jewelry, jade statues and lacquered furniture. At each store a few demonstration persons were toiling away, at some cost to their eyesight and posture, to satisfy the curiosity of the tourists. But the most important function of these shops, particularly in third world or hybrid countries like China, is to provide tourists with clean western toilets. Although, in China, most of the goods displayed in these showrooms were well beyond the means of the average tourist, a sufficient number of sales of the lower priced items seemed to keep these rest rooms in operations even in these hard economic times. The "lacquerware factory" also offered an interesting array of colorful patterns to photograph.

July 14 (Cont.): The English lesson

Every Chinese child is required to learn some English in elementary school. I don't how well enforced this rule is or how successful it will be. But it's clear that China places a high value on learning English and that it is an avenue to better jobs.

This evening we stayed at a bed and breakfast. At night there was music and dancing in the village square, with American tourists, including the "Student Ambassadors" group we had encountered at the night club, mingling and communicating with the locals. The language barrier is huge, but both Jen and I were approached by two Chinese teenagers who spoke quite good English. As noted earlier their main interest in the US was contemporary pop music and the NBA. The generation gap, more than language, seems to have been the major barrier to our communication.



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