Tuesday, June 07, 2011

food for thought and action


China is the land of no Facebook and no Blogspot.

It's also the land of cheap silk, mulberries, tea, smog and fast trains.

I went to Hangzhou and Shanghai for a few days after my first visit 18 years ago, with my mum in tow to help translate questions. Quite expectedly, a lot of things have changed, the two most notable being clean sit-down toilets in sparkling new airports and super-fast trains. The less obvious ones were affordable and well-maintained public transportation system in major cities, as well as a burgeoning entrepreneurship culture.

I took the CRH trains, saw a lot of new buildings, eight-lane roads linking small towns. Also, in Hangzhou we came across several very well-meaning people who were willing to help and didn't mind spending a bit of their own money on lost tourists - a university couple paid for our taxi, a young career girl paid for our bus fare.

I also managed to misplace a pocket camera in an airport, only realising it wasn't with me once we were about to board the plane. We discussed the matter and I stuck to my guns that I was gonna take back the camera than leave it: not only I'd get an earful from the camera's owners, it'd also mean I would've lost the pictures I took as notes. So I ran as fast as I could to the immigration barrier, spoke pidgin Mandarin and found that it was sitting nicely on a policeman's desk, just across the desk where I had left it (it seems like a lot of people left things there.) To my surprise, it was there, unopened, and the policeman just asked me whether it was mine before handing it back. It was pretty obvious from my state of appearance that it was something I had been looking for. I was really impressed that nobody swiped it and I got it back.

After we landed in Cengkareng and whilst we queued to get out of Customs, my mum spotted a Customs agent (note: not an official) crumpling a no-longer-needed piece of paper before chucking it on the floor. She chided and told him to take care of the country, he grumbled and told her to mind her own business. It seems like he wasn't happy being told off in his work domain, even though what he did wasn't appropriate.

When I came back home and reported to my grandma where I've been ("went to a foreign country"), she asked me how it was. I said the country had gone leaps and bounds since then. She then asked me whether we are behind. To which I said, yes, we are very much behind, we must work extra hard to catch up with the progress.

I also thought about the use of mulberries as a silk fibre waste product. Silkworms are fed leaves from mulberry trees, and its fruits are a by-product that's used for the food industry. I came across mulberry juice and mulberries in my travel, and believe that if I want to make the use of silk fibres greener, I better consume its fruits as well.

So, that's my £20 of thought. It ain't worth only two cents.

1 comment:

johnorford said...

i've seen japanese guys leave wallets etc on the floor while drinking in a cafe. in... cgk : ) so there!