Saturday, October 16, 2010

Back from China

Well . . . here we are just back from China. As I write this we have been awake for nearly 36 hours. Our day started at 5am this morning, or should I say yesterday morning in Shanghai, and it has taken over 18 hours with a connecting flight to Beijing to catch our flight home to Vancouver. I find the airport security checks in China more stringent than here in North America. They have no regard for personal privacy. They will think nothing of opening ladies purses as if they were their own and just empty the contents for everyone to see. I see the faces of other travellers and know what they are thinking by their expressions but no one dares to say anything as we just want to get home.

I have much to say from my observations of what I believe to be true about life there. There is a big contrast between rich and poor and modern and old. There does not seem to be middle ground. The middle class does not appear to exist. There is much poverty which is hidden from public view. Slums are covered by huge barriers but our bus allows us to view over. I do not believe that foreigners are able to rent cars and from our few days on the road and looking at the road signs I don't think it would be wise anyway as all the signs are in Chinese. You would not be able to find your way without a guide. Motorcycles are NOT allowed on the freeways, tunnels or on the many bridges. No one seems to abide by traffic regulations and traffic signals are just there as suggestions.

Traffic is gridlocked in all the big cities. I thought Vancouver was bad but this is much worse.


The population of Canada is around 35 million and Shanghai is a city of 22 million, Beijing is around 20 million. Traffic is very agressive and this is how it works. If you want to change lanes you just pull a little ahead of the other car and move over slowly without signalling. Another method is to just honk your horn and go for it. All day long you hear the sound of horns. Scooters are the worst. They stop for nothing. If you are crossing the street and you are in the way, they just honk and expect you to move out of the way or slalom around you. Scooters go any direction they want. Going the wrong way on a one way street is very common, or just ride on the sidewalk and honk your horn at pedestrians at the same time.

I had hoped to post some photos during the past couple of weeks but did not know about the Great Firewall of China. The Government has blocked everything that allows free expression such as Blogger and YouTube. I don't think they know about free internet. They charge for internet access based on time.

I don't know exactly where we went but we left early every morning and didn't get back until late every night. It was very tiring with all the walking and the tight timetable. Over the next while I will gather my thoughts and sort out my photos.

We weren't the only ones that were tired as evidenced by this local family

(Forbidden City, Beijing, China)

Little did we know when we planned this vacation that we chose to visit during their National Holidays. This is the time where every one in the country decides to take holidays at the same time and make their pilgramage to Beijing to pay respects to Chairman Mao. Everywhere we went we were met with massive crowds and huge line ups

(Dragon Well Tea Plantation)

When ever you are in an area of large crowds they set up security check points. All bags have to go through airport type scanning machines and if you have pocket bulges you have to show what you have in your pocket. I had to open my pocket to show them my camera lens. We even took the subway and again, all bags have to be scanned before you are allowed into the station. Their subway system is very well thought out. In Beijing the fares are low to encourge less use of resources.

The scenery is very beautiful and they have many historic cities which cater to tourists

(Wuzhen, Water City)

While their cities are very modern and use cutting edge technologies to minimize energy use, others stick to more tradition methods, like this fisherman in one of the many canals

(Traditional fishing, Wuxi, China)


  1. I am really looking forward to seeing the rest of your posts about China. I will be fascintated to read your take on the country and its regimes. I love the Great Firewall Of China comment! I

  2. Hooray, you made it home safe. It is always fun to go on vacation, but "there's no place like home."

    Great pictures. I too am looking forward to more pictures and narrative on your experiences.

  3. Welcome to the free world again. I guess we are really blessed to live in a country that is free of censorship, and offers so much open space. Looking forward to reading your vacation report.

  4. Welcome home! Great pictures to whet our appetites. Eager for more to come when you are rested! :) -Lori

  5. Welcome back Uncle Bob,

    Back in the land of the free where you can read what you like, China's the same as Turkey, the censorship used to drive us potty!!

    Looking forward to your photos, so get a move on....One post per hour should be OK!!



  6. Yes, welcome back to the free Internet (at least for now). I guess your not taking travelswithmymotorbike's suggestion of one post per hour but maybe you are waiting to recuperate. I too am looking forward to stories of your adventure.


  7. Glad you & Mrs. Scoot are back. I've missed both of you. Welcome home!

  8. Bobscoot - Welcome back. Interested to hear your comments. I haven't much experience in China, but from what I saw your remarks are right on - no middle class (but some VERY wealthy), scooters all over the place, and gridlock. You didn't mention the pollution though.
    Am looking forward to your pics after you recover from the jet lag.

  9. I echo the others in welcoming you back....foreign travel can be quite enlightening sometimes. I know I appreciate some things about the US much more having seen how things are like elsewhere....then again, some parts of Europe...sigh.

    I look forward to your pictures and stories.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  10. Welcome back Bobskoot. Very nice commentary and photos (especially the last one).

    The traffic there sounds like a combination of New York City and Los Angeles - change lanes by force and use the horn a lot.

    Looking forward to more!

  11. Bob,

    Thank goodness you have returned properly - house renovation in the Balkans blogs have reached saturation point!


  12. I wander away from the blogs for a while and what do I find? You're not even in North America anymore!

    Time to grab a cheap Coke and catch up.

  13. Dear Bobscoot:

    I can hardly wait to see your candid shots of life in China. Welcome home.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  14. Group Reply:

    sorry to be so tardy with my replies. It was always my intention to answer all of you individually but after we arrived back to Canada we must have picked up a bug on the plane (recirculating bad air). All was fine until a couple of days later, then it hit, so for the rest of the week was a washout.