Sunday, March 30, 2014
Guilin, Guangxi, China
"Guilin is in the subtropical zone, which is warm, humid and full of rain" So says the Sheraton Hotel guide for visitors and we cannot argue, it is certainly warm, humid and full of rain in fact it was pissing down at 8am this morning. Fortunately we we had nothing special planned for today so we had stroll round the town and a short boat trip between showers.

It is Sunday so there are more day trippers about although we are not too sure about the working arrangements of most Chinese as everything is open seven days a week (apart from the Forbidden City) and there did not seem to be a very well defined rush hour in either Beijing or Shanghai on any day of the week .

But on a Sunday there are more couples around with their child. A mixture of financial inducements, lack of spacious housing and peer pressure seems to make the one child per couple policy stick even though the rules have been relaxed a little recently.

Quote from Wikipedia "In 2012, for the first time, according to statistics released by China's National Bureau of Statistics in January, 2013, the number of people theoretically able to enter the Chinese labor force (individuals aged 15 to 59), shrank slightly to 937.27 million people, a decrease of 3.45 million from 2011. This trend, resulting from China's successful one-child policy of population control, is anticipated to continue for at least the next 20 years, to 2030."

Apparently population experts believe that 2.1 children per couple is what is necessary to maintain the population level, China's is now down to 1.5 so the population is likely to continue to decline.

It is very noticeable that any children you see are doted on by either their parents or grandparents and are beautifully dressed in designer wear. I thought we in the UK had lost the plot a little by doing everything for our children, taking them to school, not letting them out on their own etc but it seems much worse in China. When you compare it with somewhere like Tanzania where children aged three or four walk on their own by busy roads on the way to school and eight year olds are expected to manage cattle or fetch water on their own, and a considerable distance from home it is quite a contrast .

A few other observations which have no scientific or statistical justification and are horrible generalisations, after all it is like saying all Europeans are the same, but we have noticed:

Almost no one under the age of 30 in Beijing or Shanghai smoke but here in Guilin, further south and more industrial, you see young men smoking.

This may be famous last words but so far everybody has been very honest, taxi drivers seem to do everything by the book, when you try to over order in a restaurant the waiters talk you out of it, it is a refreshing change.

The Chinese do not queue, even when you are at the counter talking to the receptionist or sales assistant someone will barge in front of you and interrupt, the metro is a free for all. When you do have the persons attention there will be heads over both shoulders watching what you are doing, forget the red or yellow "wait here" line at passport control. We imagined everyone would be very polite like the Japanese but in China it is the reverse.

Anything modern or fashionable is written in English. Adverts aimed at youngsters almost always have some English text. The main TV news has two lines of text on the background behind "Fiona Bruce", one in Chinese the other saying "Live News" even though the whole programme is in Chinese.

We seem to be "persons of interest", a few times we have been asked to pose for photos with a young Chinese friend. I wonder what the caption for the photo will say, answers please on the comments section!!

Tomorrow we sail down river to Yangshuo through some spectacular scenery if we can see it through the rain. Log in to Gill and John Go East for further exciting news.
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