I am an introspective person by default, but traveling along makes me doubly so. Especially when in a country where even the first through third most popular languages are ones I don’t know.
China is a brutal country. Not in that it is rife with violence, but in just it’s demeanor. To be fair, I’ve only been all over Southern China, traveling through and staying in various factory cities in and around Shenzhen; and, in those areas, life is raw and brutal. The driving is suicidal, but then everyone has heard that. Everything everywhere is coated with a fine layer of dirt and dust, rendering a view of the cities in a near sepia tone, sucking the saturation out of even the Hello Kitty backpacks. The streets and neighborhoods look as if they were recently bombed…there are dirt roads leading off of the relatively smooth paved main artery, with dirt parking lots that are festooned with piles of just. rubble. I know what the reasoning behind it is, but everywhere I go, without exaggeration, has just piles of bricks or mounds of dirt or miscellaneous pieces of twisted metal piled high for some reason. No one ever seems to be doing anything with said piles, they don’t seem to be building supplies, they’re just there, pockmarking the landscape with detritus.
There are outdoor pool tables everywhere.
Storefronts are row upon row of little concrete boxes with a large roll-up door. There are no outer walls, or doors to enter, it’s as if someone dropped a facility of storage units and people just moved in. There’s no obvious zoning laws in effect, with machine shops grinding away at metal bars, showering sparks on to the dirt lot right next to small noodle bars.
It’s just raw and brutal and alive; which, to me, is the strangest part. China has literally thousands of years in history on the US. Yet America is nearly defined by it’s cushy lifestyle. Why not also China? In my mind, they’ve had the time to perfect it…unless, of course, it all comes down to money.