Monday, July 21, 2008

One World One Dream

A few notes and pictures from China.

- Although you read quite a bit about the growth of religion in today's China, you still see few outward signs of it. Sure, you can find the odd church here and there like this one in Shanghai.

But the Chinese seem to treat them as more curiosities than anything else. Since the government isn't all that keen on religion, most of the supposed "boom" has occurred in underground, non-government approved churches which may explain why the short term visitor doesn't encounter visible evidence of it.

- One does see a lot of evidence of China's desire for unity.

And much of that is linked to the Olympics and the motto of "One World, One Dream." You see that slogan everywhere from a wall in Shanghai.

To a tourist trap temple in Nanjing.

The Olympic rings and the mascots (who frankly kind of creep me out) are also ubiquitous as seen in this park in Nanjing.

Are the Chinese people themselves excited about hosting the games? I guess so, although I question how much of that is genuine excitement and how much is being artificially ginned up because they're being told (literally) that they should be excited.

- One of the hardest things for a good ol' Midwestern boy like yours truly to adjust to when visiting Chinese cities is the crowds. It seems that wherever you go at any time of day, there is a crowd. At times it can be crushing.

For trips of relatively short distances I prefer travel by train over airplane. It's usually not as much of a hassle to get on, the atmosphere on board is much more laid back and carefree, and you can enjoy the view of the countryside on your journey. In the case of my trip from Shanghai to Nanjing, said view was of mostly smoke bellowing industries, but it still was interesting.

Train travel in China however--like every other activity--involves crowds. Crowds at the station before you leave.

And crowds once you arrive at your destination.

The train trip itself was pleasant. The pre and post portions were a bit too busy for my tastes.

- Let's close with a few final pictures.

The old and new in Shanghai, home to some of the world's most diverse and interesting architecture.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign. In this case in Nanjing.

Leaving Shanghai:

Through a window lightly in a temple/market in Nanjing:

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