around in the morning when
the MV Explorer and into Hong
this moment had been building for days and the night before I found it
extremely difficult to allow my brain to go into sleep mode. I had
about Chinese culture from various professors, read through guide
painted a picture in my head of what to expect.
I departed the ship I found myself in a truly global city. The ship’s
lead straight into an up-scale mall with expensive watches and
jewelry waiting to be bought by rich tourists. My first impression was,
could be New York.” I
fifteen minutes and never escaped the stores. Dior, Prada and Coach all
appearance in this global city. Thirty minutes into the city I knew I
visit mainland China
in order to see a more traditional form of Chinese culture.
took me one hundred and eighty U.S dollars to buy a round trip ticket
I had to take a very advanced ferry to the airport and then a
flight. When I made it to the mainland I found myself in a different
Every car on the street was from the 1980’s. I didn’t see any Bentley’s
Mercedes like I had in Hong Kong. Although I
was in a
city with lots of tourism, nothing seemed like it had been built
Most of the buildings were made of cement that was crumbling around the
The sidewalks had huge potholes and if you didn’t watch your step you
easily trip and fall. All these sights can be partly explained by Sean
Gallagher in Beijing’s Urban Makeover: the ‘hutong’ construction.
“Under the rule of Mao Tse-tung, during the Cultural Revolution, very
construction took place throughout the country" (pg 1,
hotel I stayed in for fifteen dollars a night, which was considered
had to have been built twenty years ago.
day after arriving in Guilin
travel companions and I took a ferry boat ride down the Li River. As we
followed a line of boats, businessmen riding on bamboo rafts approached
trying to sell jade Buddhas. The only English they knew seemed to be
Hello!” which they would yell in order to get our attention.
the river boat ride we went to a “minority people’s village” called
The village had people dressed up in tribal outfits while performing
traditional dances and making tradition crafts that were for sale.
While it did
seem a bit like a tourist trap, I found the houses where the villagers
far cry from the new skyscraper apartment buildings in Hong
After visiting this village I felt that I had seen what ancient Chinese
might have been like for these people.
ten o’clock that night I was headed once again for the global city of Hong
Kong. When I arrived back from Guilin
I entered a city with skyscrapers illuminated by color-changing lights
expensive shopping areas. I felt as if I was in a different world from Guilin.
Yet both these worlds were found within the same country and represent
culture. Through my experience of visiting China
and seeing such different parts of the country I found that guide
professors, and my expectations could not prepare me for
discovered between a transnational city and a vernacular city.