This blog is part of our Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice series offered this Fall.
You know the ending to this phrase already. It doesn’t bear repeating.
I’ve just returned from China.
I have coined a new phrase, for me anyway. Regarding China, “you have no idea”.
I was on the economy tour. We saw everything that you can in a compact time frame. The Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Water Cube, Tiannenmen Square, the Canals of Suzhou, and many factories. I now have a lifetime of treasures in jade, pearl, silk and cloisonne. I saw the skyscrapers of Shanghai. I ate really bad Westernized versions of Chinese food. I used primitive forms of toilets. I got a sore throat from the smog. Personally, I had a great time.
I didn’t take my normal devices with me on this trip. Perhaps there was a fear that the Chinese government would steal my passwords and take sensitive information, so I left my phone and my laptop at home. Even so, I couldn’t leave my human resources perspective in Toronto.
We all apply our experiences to new situations. It was no different for me in China.
It is a big country. There are a lot of people. There are few rules of the road. On the street you take your life in your own hands. You have no idea.
How do people find employment? How are they chosen for their professions? How much of a chance do the Chinese people have to move up in the world? How do they still make money in old-style manufacturing when the costs of the basics are so high. I asked both my guides these questions and didn’t really get straight answer. The terms “fortune” and “luck” were repeated regularly. You have no idea.
The construction industry fascinated me the most. After you read this blog, Google the ghost cities of China and you’ll get a glimpse of what I am writing about. See in China, you aren’t allowed to Google, or Facebook, or Twitter–so the average person there probably doesn’t know or realize how significant the development is. The smog masks the scale. Honestly, no words I type here are going to adequately describe the pace of development in China. Pick a high rise building design, and then replicate it 100 times in a 10 block area. Then pick another design and do the same thing. And so on, and so on. For miles and miles and miles. One guide said that the national bird of China is the Crane. You have no idea.
The wealth there is incredible. They have so much money and they don’t know what to do with it. Buildings of gold. A building that looks like a bottle opener. A train to the airport that goes 431 kms/hour. Oodles of BMWs and high end cars. In the places that the Chinese government wants you to visit, there are malls that sell nothing but Rolexes and high end jewelry. Communism at its finest. You have no idea.
Meanwhile there are still people living in the grittiest conditions imaginable. There are homes with no running water where the villagers use public toilets and showers. Some of these people actually invite you into their home for lunch. Their graciousness was memorable and a highlight, but as for the sights and smells you experience getting there, you have no idea.
I’m a North American girl. A farmer’s granddaughter. I have a heritage. I am educated. I’ve never gone hungry, or had to go without something that I needed. I haven’t suffered. I can vote, run a company, lead a revolution, complain, rant on my blog and travel when I choose. I can watch television without the screen going black whenever there is news of Hong Kong. I don’t have to say only nice things. But for others in this world, well, you have no idea.