A Realm of Contrasts
I am constantly amazed at all the diversity and contrasts that exist in even just a brief glance around the city here. It seems like the basic nature of the Chinese here is just to contradict itself on many levels. There's one picture I've taken here that illustrates this contrast very well. The picture was taken during the first week we were here down on Golden Street (one of the main shopping areas). A large section of the photograph is dominated by a little shop for Daphne, which is a fairly well established company, one that wouldn't be associated with more of a developing company, but right next to this image is a roped together, wooden ladder. For me it shows how China is trying to imitate the more "established" or "developed" countries, but at the same time can't even provide for the basic technology such as a manufactured, metal ladder.
Once again, I am completely stunned by the sheer amount of contrasts that can be witnessed in such a simple activity as eating an evening meal. Tonight, a few of us went out to a restaurant that would have cost around $100 USD per person back home, but we only ended up paying an average of $15 per person. Just analyzing the atmosphere at this location the impression that it is very classy is created, an establishment where you felt you should be dressed in your most formal wear. Though this is how we felt, glancing around, what did we see? There were people dining at tables in shorts and polos, blue jeans and t-shirts, while the serving staff was decked out in suites and full length dresses.
Compared to some of the other meals we've had while here in China, $15 USD is quite expensive, but none of the other locations we’ve been to were quite like this one. Instead of looking over a menu, we went to a section of the building that was set aside for fish tanks and counters to pick out what we wanted from the creatures that were displayed. Many of the creatures were still alive, such as the turtle, frog, lobster, snake, and even little scorpions. The main reason we had ended up at this restaurant was because some of us really wanted to try turtle and snake, but we had to settle on only the turtle for tonight. Since we would have received a whole snake that had up until that point be alive, it would have taken too large of a chunk out of our wallets, even here in China. This meal will have to be the last of such for at least a little while just so I can make it the rest of the couple weeks with enough food, but it was well worth it for the experience.