Being in Nanchang was very interesting. It's the capital of Jiangxi province. Our hotel was right in the city, in the thick of the masses of people again :) It was similar to Beijing in ways, but not really. Beijing seemed much more like an American city to us. In Nanchang, you knew you were in China.
Chinese cities are fascinating to us. There are skyscrapers and neon signs blinking, fancy hotels and shopping malls... and then streets lined with little shops that you would never see in the U.S. They are sort of set up in sections. You will find the "corner store" section--a row of little shops all selling things you might find at a 7-11. But they are all selling the same things. I wonder how they stay in business. Then there is the manly section of the street with shops selling automotive parts, hardware, people fixing bikes, and stuff like that. There are bathroom fixture sections, carpet sections... and mostly they are all selling the same kinds of things. I will post a picture if I can find one. It is all so interesting. It is also different to see the fancy buildings next door neighbors with much older ones. Interestingly, it is really safe to be out and about there. Even at night in a downtown area, you don't have to be afraid of getting mugged or anything. The crime is very low. I loved that part! Scott and Corrie and I would stroll down the street and take in all the sights and sounds. The people are very into exercise there, and you often see them, especially retirees, out doing tai chi or aerobics. One night we walked by a group of ladies having an aerobics class with music, right out on the sidewalk. It was fun!
I mentioned before that there are tons of people. Well, there are also tons of vehicles! In Nanchang our guide told us that they have a law now stating that depending on what number is at the end of your license plate, you can only drive your car on certain days! Say, if your plate ends with a 7, you might not be able to drive on Tuesdays! I don't think that would go over well here... Our guide in Guangzhou told us that they tried that same rule there to reduce the number of cars on the roads, but it backfired on them. With the improved economy, the people were simply buying second cars (with different numbers on the plates of course)... so it didn't work, and they did away with that little bit of legislation there. Anyway, there are many, many cars and motorbikes, cabs, bicycles, and buses. And the rules of the road are loosely followed. The interesting thing is, they don't really have road rage. People are much more patient with each other. Also, safety is not much of a priority. People pretty much don't wear helmets on their motor bikes, even with all that traffic everywhere, and you will even see little kids riding on the bikes with no helmets, too. They don't have to ride in car seats, either. Seems so strange to us, but to them it's just the way it is.
In China they have some different rules of etiquette, too. One of them is that it really isn't rude to stare. Well, they did quite a bit of staring at us, anyway, and our guides told us it was perfectly polite there. So, I did my share of staring back at them. Well, not staring...but definitely watching! I tend to be a people watcher wherever I go, so of course I was curious about what the people in China are like. Well, one fun thing about them is that clothes do not have to match. Really, they do not! I thought it would be rude to take pictures of random people on the street, so I don't have examples, but ladies there would be wearing maybe a blue skirt, black nylons, and yellow shoes. I kept thinking I wished we could just put any colors together and be good to go here in America! Loved it! Also, those people LOVE their phones. Now, I know the people here have some pretty strong attachments to their phones as well, but seriously. Almost EVERYONE was staring at their phones...everywhere. I'm probably exaggerating, but not much. Many ladies wore very short skirts and very high heels. They had some interesting shoe and clothing styles, too! Some things I had just never seen the likes of in the states. They looked very suave with their clothing ensembles, manicured nails and their phones. I felt pretty dumpy in my t-shirts and capris! Okay, the funniest thing that kept us laughing was the English words on people's shirts. I don't mean to be disrespectful in the least, but really, it was funny. Many people had English phrases printed on their shirts. Sometimes the phrases did make sense, sometimes there would just be random words in a jumble. Or sometimes a phrase would kind of make sense...but then not at the end. Something like "Pretty cat often." It made me think of all the Chinese writing we see on things in the states, and really it could say anything and we wouldn't have a clue!
Let's see... one of my favorite things about China is their amazing parks! We went to one in Nanchang, and one in Guangzhou. They are so thoughtfully planned out and beautiful! Flowers and trees, bridges and water and winding pathways. Truly lovely. I would go there every day if I could. The interesting thing was that we did not see any children's play equipment at them like we do in the states. There is exercise equipment for adults, though, that looks like kids' playground equipment! With things kind of like monkey bars and such, but including people-powered exercise bikes and ping pong tables. The one we saw in Guangzhou was packed with people when we were there. I wish that trend would catch on in America! I would love to hop on an exercise bike outside in the fresh air in a beautiful park...chat with a friend and not worry about getting hit by cars or having to ride uphill!
What they did have at the parks for children were amusement park-type rides! I guess they figure kids don't need the exercise like adults do. They run around enough as it is, perhaps. Nope, they had rides like you would find in the kiddy section of Six Flags or the local carnival when it comes to town. Lucky kids!
I could go on and on and on about my fascination with China! The very fresh chickens hanging to choose from in Wal Mart, the Chinese restaurants that don't really serve the kinds of "Chinese food" we have here in America, the adorable children (I don't know how many times I said "oh my goodness, that little girl (or boy) is soooo cute!) And oh my, how they are just as fascinated with little blonde children. There were some blondies in our group when we got to Guangzhou, and those kids were stared at and sometimes scooped right up and hugged and even carried away (a short distance) by a sweet, well meaning Chinese grandmother to be shown to someone else!
So, in short, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Nanchang. Our hotel was lovely, we ate every day at the nice western restaurant inside, and walked down the busy streets and the lovely park with all the local people, not minding being stared at at all. :) We and sweet Corrie were stars! Well, she's so precious, how could anyone keep from staring at her, anyway?
The view from our window
The ice cream at KFC. It had beans in it! And some little gel-balls that we had no idea what they were. :)
One of the "corner stores" where we always bought our drinks. There was a really adorable little girl in this store all the time with her grandparents who run it . :)
The building next door to our hotel