» China: By Journalists Eyes VIII: The Jump To The Chinese Market 2.
China: By Journalists Eyes VIII: The Jump To The Chinese Market 2.
Visit of Beijing food market and edibles of all kinds, shapes, smells, often of unknown origin and a long life even more dangerously we were really stunned for a moment and quietly wandering Chinese traders staring at the blonde, which move at a rate of marathon runners. Phew. We are off and miraculously in front of us pleasantly familiar signs shucks "Starbucks Coffee".
I am a lover of authenticity, but now gladly welcome the Western culture and order a coffee, which can´t surprised me by anything other than its constant taste. Our self-appointed guide is a bit taken aback, and obviously would like to continue to recommend bargains. We will do our best but the sweetest smile, thanks to all helpers and doggedly sitting behind coffee a table looking with face, which should show that we will be there a long time. He understands that time means money, and with waving and disappearing in the maze of market streets.
Siesta and coffee refreshed us and we keep going on a coloured maze on our own. We passed the shops and stalls with various goods of traditional Chinese medicine - stopping the mountains between true and false saffron, dried tubers, rhizomes, bones and teeth, animal horns, antlers, paws, hair and skin. Wrinkled grandma is forcing us slyly completely stand "means" to increase male potency. (A comprehensive understanding of gestures whose meaning is clear). I am a little disappointed, that in a country with a policy of one child a store can succeed and actually work at all.
I want something to remember, look out small gifts, but the cat's paws or dried bull's balls really won´t take home. A few more gigs we find ourselves among the shops that seemed to be the spitting image of Prague's Holešovice market - so T-shirts, sweatshirts, knives, backpacks and all sorts of trinkets. The difference is that here clearly dominated by Mao brand! I want real Chinese original, so if any, and buy a set of lighters with a picture of a great leader.
With a more detailed tour of the goods we marvel too tricky Chinese counterfeiters. Just flip the letter M upside down and from Omega is Owega. Vests, handbags, and jewelry brand Pearlboy pink bunny motif with us also recall something important. Then I recall how last night I ordered Heineken and on the table landed a bottle of with logo of discreet typos - Heimeken.
I avidly seeking in clutter range of other "tweaks", but my colleague is quite noticeably begins to squirm. I understand. Have a couple of hours we're out, we drank three glasses of coffee and the body calls for its use. The hotel long journey, be gone before we find any public toilets. Resolve the issue to the "toilet??" And succeeding at the third attempt - crocheted hats friendly saleswoman shows us the direction. Frome the gestures we understand that it is not far.
Queue before the concrete booth shops indicates that we are on target. You wait patiently, women and men are separated our great relief. When you open the right door, two Chinese women come out and we were served. Surprise, gazing at the long concrete trough, over which several women sit side by side, talking casually, the two read a magazine, all the squatting, skirts or trousers at the knees. The last in line is then able to watch all the runoff.
The conversation continues no matter what stage of the exercise is a necessary one. We watch with horror a colleague to another, Chinese women have apparently not noticing us, the atmosphere around us as the hairdressers, just the smell of shampoo is missing. Us to be gone before you join, then squats with bated breath a long time ago, I close my eyes, I try to be quick so we can disappear in a second. As soon as I stand and get dressed, you hear a rumbling sound, ladies squatting scream, laughing and a bit shy in advance - comes out the chute flow of water, some ready to wipe up with paper soaked feet, no other process or do not want to see and disappear into the air.
Another confrontation with other manners around us have only strengthened and then when we see in the passage of one of the alleys baby with carefully edged hole in the pants to learn hunkers down on the pavement and use it as a potty, start laughing and I doubled as a mother really appreciate this "zonadefronteriza".
Text/photo: Andrea Fantová
I have written about one of Chinese minorities, the people of Hui (回族) in one of my previous articles. I praised their cuisine and their kindness and knowledge about the place of my origin.
Exploring the China is join with infinite variety of impressions, perceptions, experiences and surprises for Europeans often shrouded under a veil of mystery, many time but just ignorance. I did get out of this country dominating feeling - China is incredibly colourful. Colourful from drab uniform gray to a beautiful rainbow combination.
To leave the province of Qinghai and thus few days of life in the past, sometimes the century before, it was the more sensitive nature really hard. Local on many places the virgin nature, proud mountain ranges, deep green valleys, vast dry plains, miniature boxes, herds of yaks and colourful mix of nationalities, often pristine civilizations us captivated, amazed, left imprint on the hearts.
We are in Shanghai, in a metropolis shrouded by hundreds of "firsts" that is, in the largest Chinese city. One "the best" there certainly lacks – the historic one. Shanghai, unlike many other Chinese cities has relatively short history, after the Middle Ages, you won´t find any foot mark.
When I looked at the city in evening from promenade of colonial Bund, Oriental Pearl enchanted me with its graceful shapes, and I watched long how at it clothed in new and new colours in regular intervals. I do not know, which one suits her most...
The second day in Shanghai. I slept great, the apartment from Chinese Ministry in one of the most modern hotels in Pchu - tung district, hardly compares to the most luxury holiday model.
Till the start of the World's Expo remains less than 11 months. Here in Shanghai the word Expo is inflected to suffer. Sky blue mascot of Hainan - pao exhibition more than a year before the outbreak this exhibition´s madhouse smiles from windows, posters, winks from light boards, and I decided to bring one teddy home.
The first ever Chinese word that I learned, and it still did not forget, is the "pi-jo". If you seem familiar, you are right - though vastly different languages, for favourite golden-coloured brew has phonetically very similar name as Czech and many other Slavic languages. Drinking beer is a hobby that is definitely common with the Chinese.
In China, people drink really everything you can think of. Everyday drink is inherent tea, whether green or black, fermented or semi-fermented. Water and hundreds of species of non-alcoholic beverages are part of food as well as beer or very popular traditional rice wine. On the tables of local "higher" classes but there are also wine from grapes, until recently marginalized drink.
To move on the other side of Euroasia is nothing easy for those who don’t know how. Especially when they are going to have a personal contact with a Chinese family, business partners, or politicians and officials. For such a stay it is good to make some little preparations, otherwise you will experience more than one faux pas.
We have all this Christmas martyrdom behind us, more or less. New Year’s eve after-effects are the past now and everyday life came back again. Far in the east of our planet the holiday season is getting to its peak.
We had many formal meetings during our journey in China with government officials or top managements of some companies that tried to make themselves more visible through us, European journalists. In a hurry after these precisely scheduled meetings I always gathered prepared business cards and carefully placed them to my notes.
We all got used to all these superlatives surrounding China. I wouldn’t exaggerate if I said that she achieved some primacy every week.
If we set off to China it is almost imposible to miss out its capital - Beijing. Beijing is full of traces of history but Beijing also lives in the present and future in every of its wide avenues and narrow streets. Beijing is full of fabulous food, noisy traffic... And so on and on. Where would you look for peaceful moments in busy metropolis?
Profane language and pornography shouldn’t be on the Internet. We would certainly agree with that if only this wasn’t just a cover for endless clutch of the Chinese Internet censorship. Under the cover of a protection of national cultural heritage, and public interest and prosperity the Chinese government tries to hide its rough cleansing.
Classical Chinese carpets have described Marco Polo in his travelogues, but till today in the world are still not too much to seen and know little about them. I look forward to our visit carpet factories in the province of Qinghai, Xining on the outskirts of the city, to widen my horizons. The lives of local workers I try to plug deeply into the subconscious and try to see the beauty around.
We are still in the far northwest of China, in the region, which is interwoven with Tibetan culture and history. After dense doses our Beijing hosts are served us bait to persuade Europeans ignorant about the interest of the central government in the development of local underdeveloped economy, improving people's living standards while maintaining support all the attributes of the original culture
Again our bus is going on the new highway, which I'd read that it was probably built for only one reason - to make available the Tibetan Buddhist monastery Ta'er. And really, this time not waiting for us any boneshaker dirt road and conveniently parked outside the gates of a large complex at the foot of greenish mountains.
Qinghai Province fascinates me at every step, or rather at every kilometre. A mixture of Buddhism and Muslim world humbly exist together is incredibly interesting phenomenon, especially for journalists from far, accelerated, often impersonal and intolerant Europe. This time we are heading into the valley that lies in Rebkong area, the centre of Tibetan art in the province.
The third day we devoured spell of western China and the knowledge that we have somewhere "behind" Tibet is our "ugly," said attractive. There, under the auspices of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, certainly can´t go, but Tibetan culture we meet at every step.
Our bus finally stops at the end of a long, dirt track, in which about an hour ago has changed as if by magic a modern six-lane highway. My worries we will finish up on the roof, fortunately not materialized, we drove past woods and gouged out before us, football pitch right and green has left. Everything was dominated by ground shabby, battered gray building - school.
Our bus goes on the perfectly smooth highway, where we ones a time meet some man in a hat, with a scarf over his face and a broom in his hand - he is alone, far from him you can´t see anything of civilization, the high mountains on both sides, and he sweeps the shoulder.
Morning view from hotel window in Xining reveals a breathtaking backdrop. The city is surrounded by high mountains, over which the sun shines and I'm really looking forward for today's trip, which has sometimes copied the former trade artery between Asia and Europe - the Silk Road. The fact that I wet my feet in the Yellow River, it is still like science fiction.
China's hard work and discipline accompanied us at every step and a visit of Beijing Foreign Studies University just confirmed it. Here we had a chance to appreciate even more characteristic of Chinese - adaptability.
Finally Beijing. Our journalistic team has battled a series of security checks and we find ourselves in an endless airport lounge. The feeling that the local crowd have to absorb us was not correct. Then we see a smiling Chinese lady and in minutes everyone sit in a luxury air-conditioned bus.
China - land of unlimited possibilities, a country which, unlike the developed world is growing and whose economic growth in today's world seems like a miracle. Country with many cultural and historical monuments, a country, that sends a man into space.
From the bus window, we could see Beijing crisscross, authentic atmosphere of the streets and alleys and hundreds of thousands of people in them, but we sucked up in the role of hikers and then of course after "bedtime" is ended with an official dinner with selected potent and our tired guide disappeared behind hotel room door.
Being in China and not visit the Great Wall is equal to savagery. The official program that the Chinese government has prepared us is this trip only alternative and we have to earn deserve it. From early morning we sit in the Red Hall headquarters of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China and pretend to listen to propaganda papers enthusiastic speakers.
We "elect" could see the Chinese megalopolis through largely a luxury air-conditioned bus with a smiling dude behind the wheel. It is also part of local standard, certainly not just for a small group of natives and of course for wealthy tourists.
The first dining experience in China didn’t impress me too much. Five stars beautiful hotel, a lot of fuss on arrival our journalistic delegation - a bow and waving fans welcomed us beauties in traditional dress, from the table.
Ancient city of Xian, or Si-an is about 3000 years old. It is one of the most important places throughout Chinese history, since it is here that housed 11 Chinese imperial dynasties. At the time when Beijing was a mere village, golden Si - an shone by bright colours of temples, wide boulevards and architectural excesses.
World media today proclaims that the Chinese state television CCTV triumphantly finished its job and officially opened a new headquarters in Beijing. The futuristic-looking building that should symbolizes the emergence of China on the world stage, journalists dubbed it - thanks to the remarkable shape for her grace in the world called the Chinese "Great boxers."
Beijing is for us concentration of paradoxes. Endless skyscrapers, luxury living residences, shops of all tech brands on one side and then thousands of artifacts, ancient Chinese culture. We are interested in both of it, but the traditional one is but much more interesting.
Photo: Amy Challen a Jan Lidmaňský