China — First Impressions
To enter China, we had to catch the Hong Kong metro to the north-most city, right across the border from China. Then we went through the exit process for HK and walked across a bridge over a river. On one side was the Hong Kong Administrative Region, on the other, the Peoples’ Republic of China. In between, there were barbed-wire encrusted 20 foot high walls rising up out of a 30 foot wide river. This was a serious attempt to keep people from crossing from one to the other. It will be tougher getting back out of the country than it was getting in.
Everything here is under construction, much as it was in Hong Kong. On the train trip from Shenzen to Guanzhou, we saw dozens of large construction projects going on. Railways being put in, highways and overpasses being constructed, underground infrastructure being installed. Everywhere, it seemed, there were piles of raw materials and piles of debris. Most of the work is being done by batallions of workers, with primitive tools and sparse machinery.
We have also gotten lots of stares from people. Some look friendly and inquisitive, and a very few have been glaring and suspicious. We have had people run up and take our photos and asked us to pose with them for photos. We are apparently quite a novelty here. It is an interesting feeling to be gazed at when walking around. Not bad, it just makes you pay attention to what you are doing and saying. You realize that you may be the only white person these folks have ever seen and want to make sure to leave them with a positive first impression.