Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Archive for September 29th, 2010

Drying Machines in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


Most people in China do not have drying machines for their clothes, actually I know of no one who does. So, in China they still dry their clothes the old fashioned way, as pictured here. Actually its more environmentally friendly and adds a little charm to the place…

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Shanghai Construction

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


I went to Shanghai recently and was in a posh area. But… This being China, their quality control and construction measures are all the same. Take a look at this structure facing the building, it is for the workers to stand upon, presumably to protect them. Before I had passed by, I watched part of it collapse…

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Closing of a Business in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


es, I hate to report it, but today is a sad day. well, sad for some soul-less owner of a local business. Yes its true, one of the four local ‘massage’ parlor/barbershop/house of ill-repute has closed its doors, lets have a moment of silence….
This post is not to make fun of prostitution of any sort, but bring it to light. Let me say that prostitution is illegal in China, but in front of my place there are about 4 ‘massage’ parlors that are adorned with soft pink lights, supposedly these are the ones that offer special services. So why is this one closed? The real question is why are they allowed to operate? The answer to that is easy, culture, greed and corruption. The answer as to why this specific place has closed its doors while the one to the east of it and 150 yards is open probably falls within the same spectrum of answers, greed, corruption, and probably a greater emphasis on the latter.
The sad thing is that I live in a residential neighborhood, and its not cheap either. But on a nightly basis I see little kids running around and inevitably they scurry past this one ‘massage parlor’, I just wonder what they think, or if they just become immune to it. The really sad thing is that prostitution is found in every country, but usually if its illegal, they try to hide it, make it seem like its an ‘under the table thing’. Not here, not in Beijing, not in China…

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Closing of a Business in China- A Sad Day…

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


Yes, I hate to report it, but today is a sad day. well, sad for some soul-less owner of a local business. Yes its true, one of the four local ‘massage’ parlor/barbershop/house of ill-repute has closed its doors, lets have a moment of silence….
This post is not to make fun of prostitution of any sort, but bring it to light. Let me say that prostitution is illegal in China, but in front of my place there are about 4 ‘massage’ parlors that are adorned with soft pink lights, supposedly these are the ones that offer special services. So why is this one closed? The real question is why are they allowed to operate? The answer to that is easy, culture, greed and corruption. The answer as to why this specific place has closed its doors while the one to the east of it and 150 yards is open probably falls within the same spectrum of answers, greed, corruption, and probably a greater emphasis on the latter.
The sad thing is that I live in a residential neighborhood, and its not cheap either. But on a nightly basis I see little kids running around and inevitably they scurry past this one ‘massage parlor’, I just wonder what they think, or if they just become immune to it. The really sad thing is that prostitution is found in every country, but usually if its illegal, they try to hide it, make it seem like its an ‘under the table thing’. Not here, not in Beijing, not in China…

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Chaos in China-China Photo

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


Dawanglu….

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Patience of Job in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


This lady seems pretty cool and sweet. I would have loved to have spoken with her (the lady perched on the concrete slab, the one with her feet dangling). There she sits so pleasantly and patient, not a care in the world.
Chinese are like that, so very patient. I guess having over 1,300,000,000 people will do that to you. Imagine waiting in line behind 1,300,000,000 people to go to the restroom, or for a bus.. you get the picture. So my guess is that this lady is pleased, she has lived through the starvation of the great leap, the horror of the cultural revolution and has either supported or hated Mao before the communists took over in ’40. All in all, she is still alive and kicking and seems to be very fit. To me she should probably be commended, but its china, they will probably steal her land and force her to live in a shack and feed her dog food! hahaha just kidding I wanted to ruin the ‘feel good moment because at times I get a little rambunctious). But really the lady was cool, the sight of her brought me peace, and this is one of the beautiful things about China.

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Chinese Parking Lot

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


OOps, my bad, its not a parking lot per se, but the sidewalk, but its China. This is an odd but common site. The city has too many cars so people park wherever they can. Check out the photo, there are two rows of cars illegally parked on the sidewalk..

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Quality Creep in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


Here is a story, the genesis of my hair problems, and the much more important bigger issue of quality creep in China, but first let me go back to that fateful day a month ago…
flashback
Here i sit at the Chinese ‘hair salon’, I am stretching that term to its widest possible usage, and being quite magnanimous in so doing. but anyway, here i sit on a hot august day in Beijing. I need a haircut, my head looks like a two year old Chinese made sofa, crap sticking out all over my wavy curly locks in total disarray making me look like the unibomber.
So I need a haircut, and badly. Tomorrow I have a big business meeting and want to go into it looking like a human, and not a subspecies thereof, so i wait.
As I wait, i get pissed, not pissed at waiting per se, all though I hate to wait. But pissed at myself and this place, this freaking hair salon. I hearken back to the days when i first came here, when i was a new customer and as is usual with the Chinese (spoiler alert), they love to suck you in, to get your business, they spare no expense in doing so. When I first arrived they would wind that little waterproof cape around my ample midsection and never giggle at how it made me look like a blue sausage.. I was never want for drink, at the merest smacking of my lips i was offered the finest chalices filled to the brim with the most refreshing H20 china has to offer. If I had not eaten, a small vixen would be placed at my beck and call. She would feed me grapes as if I were the king of Siam, shoot them directly into my gaping maw and coo softly into my ear while giving me a free massage..at the slightest sign of perspiration the little vixen would pout her lips and daub at it with the finest silken cloth…. ah that was then and I was a newbie, a neophyte, a new customer, new money…that was then…

Today I sit in this Beijing furnace awaiting my ‘hair stylist’ to do his thing, to cut my ample locks. I have been told it would only be 5 minutes, that was 63 minutes ago. needless to say, I’m pretty pissed now.
I feel thirsty, clear my throat, shuffle my feet, the tiny little women who once catered to my every need, now offer me the respect reserved for a growth or a lesion, something that is to be avoided at all costs. Upon arrival to this salon an hour earlier, one of the men whipped the plastic cape at me and chuckled as it struggled with wrapping it around my ample belly which at that moment was jutting out making me look like Ignatius J. Reilly in Confederacy of Dunces . Having accomplished that task I was ushered/pushed to the rear of the building, under the hottest lamp in the place.I was shown 5 fingers and told to wait. I reached for a magazine and my hand was smacked, it was in Chinese and they knew I didnt read Chinese, the guy hefted the book and placed it next to the owner who scowled at me. To my left was the water cooler and rather than risk sure dehydration i hazarded a grasp for a cup and some liquid refreshment, the magazine nazi hurried over again, shoved my hand away and grabbed a cup from the trash then lumbered to the sink poured in some water hurried past and shoved the cup in my face. Slurping it like a wilder beast in the Sahara, I glared at him, he didnt care, I was now an old customer, they neednt worry more about me.
And then it hit me, this is China.
Back to now and reality…
The story is telling in so far as this really is China and this is what the book Poorly Made in China by Paul Midler is all about. The book is great and just to let you know its only about 300 pages and in each page, he summarizes the good and bad of being in China, thus making this blog redundant, but I digress. In summary the book talks about how China is made or geared towards luring in customers and they excel at it. They offer us tax incentives, low set up costs, low ‘beta product costs’ have the KTV’s which allow the foreign men to rent body parts by the hour, they use English names so we dont have to figure out how to pronounce Xiao, they give us tax breaks, they will bend over backwards to get our business, to get that one new customer, and quite honestly, they may be the best in the world at doing so….
The problem is that you then experience what they call “quality creep”. What this is, is a Chinese phenomenon of lowering the level of service or quality of goods that you receive from them as time goes on- thus the analogy of my hair cutting story.In the beginning you get the platinum treatment and products, in the end you get the shaft. To them, its all about the money and the here and now, the future will take care of itself, after all, if they can make just a little more cash, they can buy citizenship to Canada, or Australia or the USA, so tomorrow is a long ways away. Consider them like the charming drunk who convinces your sister, cousin etc. to marry them, he dotes on them hand and foot, enshrines them in Roses and Chocolates then once married he can be found in a drunken stupor on the kitchen floor, or worse yet, the front lawn or the porch, embarrassing the whole family…yeah… let those images sink in…(and if you can relate, then a bout of ACOA counseling may be in order)
So, in China they do the dance, convince you, get you to commit and then its too hard or inconvenient to pull out, so you stay, after all you have sunk in several millions of US dollars so how do you tell your boss you fouled up? China has a great business model..
So there I sat, tepid toxic tap water in my hands, rings of sweat beading under my mars and back, huddled in the corner like a skid row bum… I thought of the book Poorly Made in China, allowed the guy to wash my hair and then informed them that no I didnt need a hair cut today, I was looking for a new stylist as I was leaving a saw another newbie, he had the look, he was quickly ushered into a chair that was to be mine, they swarmed upon him, massaged his shoulders, his face was blissful,,,, I smirked and kept on walking… oh if he only knew……..

Posted in Ranting in general | 2 Comments »

Beijing Street View

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


Photo taken yesterday…

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Horrendous Traffic in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 29, 2010


As the country grows so does the problems with her infrastructure.

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