Sunday, October 30, 2005

China : The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I have lived and worked in Xiamen, China for the last 4 months. Its been an amazing experience, to say the least. I shall try and articulate my experiences/thoughts on what I liked and disliked during my stay there.

The Good

  • The people are simply great. They go out of their way to help others (including the “Laowai” --- Chinese for foreigner), even if they don’t speak the same language. There was this one time when Conrad and I wanted to board a bus but we didn’t have the exact amount of cash. Looking at our dilemma, an old Chinese lady (a complete stranger) actually offered us the required amount!!
  • The infrastructure is mind-blowing (compared to that of India).The public transport system is really clean and nice; Roads and sidewalks are wide and well made. The big cities like Shanghai and Beijing are well connected through subways. Shanghai in particular is simply awesome. It’s a well planned city with loads of high rise buildings and some amazing shopping malls. It’s also got the Maglev train which runs at 432 kmph!!
  • When it comes to food – the Chinese are definitely on top of the food chain. Meat constitutes the main part of their diet. Though this is not particularly great for vegetarians like me, the carnivorous humans :-) seemed to like the food a lot.

The Bad

  • Software piracy is quite rampant in all parts of China. One can get any DVD (Movies, MS Windows, Adobe Photoshop, games… literally anything) for 8 RMB (approx. 1 USD). You’ll find stores selling these pirated DVDs everywhere, not just in some shady streets. I don’t understand what the government is doing about it.
  • “The great firewall” can lead to some frustrating times. Quite a few blog, news and web hosting (geocities, bravenet, netfirms etc) sites are blocked. I haven’t blogged in 4 months since blogspot is blocked in China L. Google news was blocked until a month ago. Hope the government realizes this is doing more harm than good.

The Ugly

  • I personally hate “Chinese traditional medicine” for what its done (and still doing) to the populations of tigers in the wild. The Chinese make use of tiger bones to prepare some of their “traditional medicine”. This has encouraged poaching and pushed the south China tigers to the brink of extinction (there are only about 20 left in the wild!!). Now, the Indian tigers are being killed to satisfy the demand. The Indian forest department is making an amazing effort to save the tiger from extinction; it hurts to see that this is a losing battle because of the “medicinal” products from China. I hope the Chinese are educated about the evil effects of their “traditional medicine” before its too late!

That said, I still miss China a lot. I’ve made some really nice friends out there (Thoughtworkers and the locals) and really liked hanging out with them. Looks like there’s a good chance that I would have to go back to Xiamen for a couple of months :-). Hopefully this time I would get to see a panda.

PS :- Some of you may regard this post as unprofessional. I never intended it to be “professional”; It’s simply a collection of my experiences/opinions. I apologize if I have offended you in any way.


ShareKhan said...

I dont think you have to justify what you blog about :P If you have any doubts, go read the bile blog, though that is another extreme.

thekua said...

It's nice to read about other people's experiences on projects, and is just another aspect to being a TWer. A nice summary and I certainly took no offence to your post.

WolfDancer said...

Hi, Just a food of thought.

The "Chinese Traditional Medicine" is not just some Chinese killing a lot of tigers and get bones. It is a totally diffierent way of maintaining human health by keep it balanced.

And the real reason for those tigers' close to extiction was no way because of the "Chinese Traditional Medicine", but the people who are trying to make money out of the tigers.