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Our experience with this interesting country is extremely limited. During our around the world 25th anniversary trip in January of 96 we visited the old Canton Province of China. Our launching point was Hong Kong. We took a Jet Ferry from Hong Kong, which at the time was still linked to Britain, to Macau. We then then crossed over into China for an organized day tour.
Our trip included a visit to a duck farm, a visit to the home of the founder of modern day China, a visit to a really nice school and lunch at a surprisingly upscale restaurant.
Our tour guide explained that people dont make a lot in China. In fact he was told what job he would do in life. Since his English was fairly good, the government told him he was going to be a tour guide operator. He was in his 20s and said that nowadays, up and coming kids in China have a bit more to say about what theyre going to do in life. Still the communist system doesnt offer much incentive for productivity. Our guide explained that he makes about $20/US per week and whether he works his butt off or just sluffs off, hes going to get the same pay. So even he admitted that theres no reason for Chinese workers to bust their butts. Most in China ride bicycles. Our guide said it would take ten straight years funneling every "red" cent (pardon the pun red, get it?) of his check into a saving account to buy a used car!
Observations from the trip are these. The Chinese people we came in contact with were happy and seemed content with their lot in life. There seemed to be little if any resentment toward the U.S.---at that time anyway. And they were extremely happy for us to spend our Hong Kong dollars on their trinkets (we brought home some neat stuff including a teapot carved out of low grade jade and some other goodies). And yes, its absolutely true what youve heard about the Chinese love for dogs and cats---ON THE TABLE!! One restaurant we passed was called THE ANIMAL INN in English and for obvious reasons!
As we toured the countryside in our mini-bus we passed by "Michael Jackson Village." Seems a few years ago the crotch grabbin,' one gloved wonder had dropped by for a visit and the locals were so impressed they named a village after him!
One other interesting thing about that part of the Peoples Republic of China. Youve heard of the Asian or Hong Kong flu, right? Most of the flu that eventually spreads our way each winter originates in the section of China we visited. Somehow it starts among the duck colonies (there are many duck farms in that area of China) and then gradually spreads.
Traveling along in the countryside was interesting. Instead of tractors, most Chinese use water buffalo to plow their fields. The water buffalo is considered a good friend of the family, until he turns about 12 years old. By that time hes slowing down in the field and winds up serving the family in a different way--on the dinner table.
If you ever get over to Hong Kong wed highly recommend a trip to Macau and the Chinese mainland.. Youll need a visa for China and can get it goin a day in advance as you book your trip after arriving in Hong Kong.
Currency in China is the Yuan. We exchanged some Hong Kong dollars for their bills and brought some home for our money collection. (Some of the bills are teensy-tiny and really crumpled up and disgusting!). Believe it or not, they drive on the right in China. You must have a passport and you MUST have a VISA outside of Hong Kong and Macau in China.