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March-April 2015

A different planet from the West.

Over 60 days in China, I cycled from the Vietnam border to Shanghai, then flew to Beijing for a few days. Outside of Beijing and Shanghai, I met no foreigners. It was quite the adventure. This was the final, and most difficult, country of my Global Cycle Tour.

The country is crowded, rainy, and full of just... stuff. Cranes, trash, motorbikes, junkyards, dams, tourists. There was hardly a space of just trees or nothing. Everywhere you go, there are people and their impacts.

Unlike other countries, China is acutely aware of the downsides of an enormous population. Unlike the stereotypes outside of China, the Chinese are actually appreciative of the One-Child Policy. Over and over and over again, the Chinese told me 'Sure, the Policy was tough, but what is the alternative? Imagine China being even more crowded than now!' I didn't hear any Chinese bemoaning having a small family. In fact, many people were proud to discuss their country's meteoric rise in standard of living, owed in large part to smaller families which allow increased money and time towards education and other quality of life indicators.

Regardless, I was both disgusted and fascinated by this strange land. In markets, they sell the juiciest cucumbers right next to freshly killed dog. There are finely dressed men sleeping in public squares everywhere. Everyone spits in bathrooms. The train stations and public infrastructure are amazingly modern and clean. And, for me, the weather was excellent - blue skies most days. I like China.

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