Archive | January, 2014

A little-known city of four million

25 Jan

China is full of massive cities that very few people have ever heard of. Here’s a city of four millionwhich most Chinese probably don’t know about. Hanzhong, not Hangzhou, is in Shaanxi province, and is in dire need of development and recognition, according to its head of foreign affairs. It has two KFCs but no McDonald’s or Starbucks, not exactly a bad thing. It has a few noteworthy attributes, such as a temple dedicated to and the tomb of the man who refined the paper-making process and a drinking culture “that enourages drunkeness.” Living standards are increasing and real estate is doing well. Seems like Hanzhong’s future is bright.

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Homeless in Chinese cities

14 Jan

One interesting characteristic of Chinese cities compared to major third world cities is the lack of slums or ghettos. This article raises that point, though it focuses more on the situation of poor homeless people living in sewers rather than why Chinese cities don’t have slums, which are common from Rio de Janeiro to Mumbai to Jakarta to Nairobi. Factors like hukous (household registrations), government housing for state employees, and rigid enforcement play a part, but ultimately I’m curious where the mass numbers of migrant workers live in major cities, or rather how they’re able to live in decent housing. There are poor areas of course, but not to the extent of having populations of tens or hundreds of thousands living among open sewers, improvised shanties, and overflowing garbage. The article explores the issue of homeless people using sewers as shelters, since they’re banned from parks and bridges. The writer even sees slums as being a solution since it means “a government can leave part of a city’s space to the poor, to create some sort of shelter for themselves.” I don’t quite agree about that but it raises interesting points.

China’s increasingly independent travelers

6 Jan

Some young Chinese are getting out into the world and traveling in a more adventurous way than their elders, even going so far as to take gap years. This is a concept taken from the West, such as in the UK where some youngsters take a year off after graduating from secondary school or university to travel. The Chinese who do take gap year holidays often do it later such as in their mid or late 20s, and the return to regular working life isn’t necessarily smooth. But it’s still admirable that more Chinese are willing to consider doing this.

In addition, there are Chinese travelers who want to take in culture and history for a more “spiritual” experience, as opposed to just shopping. This can include visiting temples, museums, historical sites or even tracing the routes of explorers. It’s a laudable way for Chinese to enjoy travel more, and another example that Chinese travelers are not just all into materialism and extravagance when they go abroad.