13.11.2012 62 °F
Early flight (left hotel at 5AM; aboard China Southern Airline; from Shanghai to Xi 'an - about a 2 hr flight. We’ll have a full day in Xi'an before returning to Shanghai tonight(11PM). Tomorrow, we begin the journey home.
I'm so glad I came. We've seen so much in a short time. Because I'm part of a tour; I understand I'm seeing tourist’s sites; which doesn't translate to normal life. I'm the most impressed with the sheer numbers of the population.
Everywhere we go there are massive apartment complexes - empty. They're being built for the future when the middle class will expand & can afford to rent or lease the spaces. I can't help wondering if this is a "Field of Dreams” - build them & they will come. If China's economy sputters these investors are in trouble. It will make our last 10 years look like a walk in a park. China doesn't have a large enough middle class to shoulder the burden.
Gas - about $6.23 per gallon - not liter.
Travel - among our 5 guides only 2 have left the country & only 1 has traveled to the USA. They all desire to travel to the states but it's difficult & expensive to leave China & even harder to get a travel visa from the USA because of our quotas.
Internet & CNN - still astounded that my blackberry isn't blocked. Fellow travelers with apple are having a hard time - am guessing it's due to the pissing contest between Apple/Google & China. Watching CNN the other night as soon as the commentator made a negative comment about China; there was a blackout. A few minutes later the program resumed.
Birth control - interesting how often the "one child per family" was discussed by the female guide in Beijing & is never mentioned by the female guide in Shanghai. In Beijing, Ling told us the law is now a "suggested law" because there aren't enough young people to support an aging population. A woman is supposed to be married & at least 25. Prior to 25; she must have permission & if it's not granted; she’s expected to have an abortion. According to Ling, in the cities, women mostly pay a fine - only in the outer provinces is abortion sometimes ordered. Ling was very proud of the rights of Chinese women. The information by the Xi'an guide is that if a couple both come from single children families they may have two children. In the country; if the 1st child is a girl; the couple can have a 2nd child.
Marriage 11/11 divorce - 30%. There are approximately 100 females to 120 males...soon too many bachelors.
Corruption - lots of surprise at the outgoing presidents harsh statements about the internal political corruption.
Congratulations re: Obama - yesterday, as we visited a garden we met a European tour group. They started congratulating us on President Obama’s election. Then some people from Africa joined in as did some Chinese. I was surprised; I think everyone in our group was.
Toll roads - 70% of the world’s toll roads are in China & are the greatest single revenues for the government. I was sure this was a joke but our guide says not. This can't be good - it's not new money - only money being recycled. I'm totally puzzled by China's economy. Why isn't exports the biggest revenue source?
Bargaining - I'm really not good & it’s almost mandatory. I'm so bad the sales people start helping me - which is beyond silly. One time I got confused & went up in price. The sales lady looked at me in shock & "oh no Madame, you do it backwards!"
China is land poor - only 7% of its land is arable & it's in the developer’s way.