I am sitting in the 747 that is has reached a cruising altitude of 41,000 feet with its nose pointed eastward and taking me, once again, far away from the land of my birth. Just like many times in my life, I will be thrust headlong into the mouth of the lion. In fact, I prefer to say in the mouth of the dragon. For, I am on my way to the oldest land in the history of the world. I am on my way to China.
Author Steven Clark Bradley
Shenyang, People’s Republic of China
Saturday, February 25, 2012
I arrived in Shenyang, China on Saturday, February 25, 2012. I had already spent five hours in Seoul, South Korea waiting for my connecting flight to Shenyang. I was totally impressed with Incheon airport in Seoul. That transportation hub had to be the most pristine place I had ever seen. I have worked with lots of Koreans. I have always found them aggressive and hard to work with. They’re really very tough and nationalistic about their culture. Nevertheless, I have to say that the very nationalistic and proud people I have known over the years have used their aggressive natures to build a capitalistic nation that has benefited all of their people.
Yet, I really could not really appreciate how clean and organized the Koreans are until I had a chance to draw an effective comparison with what I immediately saw only one hour later in Shenyang China. All the brightness and cleanliness I saw and appreciated in the airport in Seoul was brightly underscored by the dinginess of the Shenyang’s airport. The walls were pale, the floors were dirty and the place was totally unorganized.
It seems to me that the world has believed a load of hype about the power and evolution of the communist nation of the People’s Republic of China. Though it seems that China is growing, and it is amazing to see so many building projects, in fact, China is still a third-world nation. The number of people who looked poor and homeless and frail was not much different than I expected or have seen in many third-world countries I have been in. As I rode down the streets to the university where I would spend the next weeks of my life, I was amazed to be in the oldest abiding culture on earth.
I was thrilled and frightened at times by the drivers here; they have no respect for the millions of people walking down the frozen streets of Shenyang. They drive right through the crowds of walkers with their horns screeching and blaring. The people seem to be in danger for their lives, but they all seemed oblivious to the potential threat barreling down the road behind them and one by one simply shuffled to the side without even looking back. I guess they had simply grown accustomed to the mayhem all around them.
Something I had already noticed from living with Asian people in California for the past seven years was the way they walk straight ahead and never move to the left or the right. They never move aside for oncoming walkers and sometimes they seem to run right into each other. The difference between them and the American people is that if anyone did that to Americans, you’d have a fight ensue immediately. Yet, to their credit, The Chinese people run right into each other and never say sorry, never get angry and just keep on walking to their desired destinations. I realized immediately that those trudging through the streets truly have no choice but to walk forward without concern for those trudging the other way because of the throngs of people heading to their homes, stores or places of work. It was an amazing thing to watch and something I will never forget.
I arrived at my apartment at the Chinese institute of Engineering, I realized that many of the things I had heard about the unorganized and dirty nation that has made the world believe they were advancing. Truly, by what I saw in my apartments made me realize that the world had believed a load of lies. The place was dirtier than any place I have ever stayed abroad, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey. The floors were filthy, the furniture was all broken down and nothing was even close to hygienic or livable. I complained immediately and was told that it was at least eighty percent clean. I had to laugh because that demonstrated to me that China’s standard of cleanliness was well below that of Korea or Taiwan or even Bangladesh, for that matter. I spend the first five hours cleaning and trying to make my new dump at least a clean one.
Still, to their credit, the one great asset that China has is their friendly, kind, generous people. Though the government controls virtually every major industry in the nation, those areas that are controlled by private companies are worlds apart compared to communist controlled places, such as the university where I will work in Shenyang. The private sectors of the country, and they are few, are what has attracted the world’s attention and investment. I will see things, live things and eat things that I shall never forget for sure. I am in the land of the dragon. The dragon is emerging, but north nearly as strongly as the liberal world press would like us to believe. This was day one for my North to South tour of china and I have already experienced things that will be eternally burnt into the memory of the most intelligent of idiots!