By Tanya Stowe
We started in Beijing and had four domestic flights as we crisscrossed the country, finally flying out of Shanghai for the U.S. We visited the terra cotta soldiers and the Three Gorges Dam. We even took a four-day cruise up the Yangtze. I have so much to share! You’ll be reading many future posts about China but for this blog, I wanted to share my overall impressions.
The people were friendly, kind and welcoming. There is still a bit of novelty surrounding all western visitors. My husband is a photographer so he was always away from the group taking shots. He often found himself the object of many selfies…even when he didn’t know it. He’s six-foot-two and white headed so he tends to stand out. I would often look back to check on him and see a local standing close…with him in the picture…as they snapped a shot of themselves. One smiling older man was disappointed as my husband unknowingly walked away before the man’s wife could click her phone camera.
Beijing has a population of almost 22 million people. Shanghai has more people packed into a smaller area. We visited one town and the tour guide said, “We are a small city…only 150 million people.” It’s common knowledge that China has a massive population but to see it working day to day, to watch hundreds and hundreds of people flowing in streams is another thing all together. It’s mind-boggling.
It’s also humbling to watch this massive force of people all marching in one direction with one common goal.
When the government started their massive dam project it cost them over 2 billion dollars just to move villages away from the low-lying banks of the Yangtze to higher locations. This incredible project was completed in a relatively short span of time. They built modern apartment complexes and allowed villagers to move in with little to no cost.
Some were resistant to leaving since many of the villages were over 500 years old. But their standard of living was vastly improved since many of their ancient homes had no running water or electricity and improved roads meant better health access.
One of the members of our tour commented on what would have happened in the U.S. if a project like this had threatened a 500-year-old site. There would have been protests and government reviews and legislation. The whole process would have been slowed, maybe even stopped. The villagers might never have moved into their new, healthier homes.
Still…those villagers had no choice…no place to go nor a safe method of protest. Here we have choices. We have ways to voice our disapproval, to protest and maybe make a difference. We are not marching in one common direction nor do we have one common goal. We have many directions and many goals. Sometimes those goals are so diverse, they cancel each other out. That’s the price of freedom.
This massive project controlled deadly flooding, improved the quality of life for millions and provided power for an immense country. It created a new industry. Tourism is changing the world’s perspective of China and its people.
In our country this project might never have happened. That, my friends, is a humbling thought.
Tanya Stowe is an author of Christian Fiction with an unexpected edge.
She fills her stories with the unusual… mysteries and exotic adventures, even a murder or two. No matter where Tanya takes you… on a trip to foreign lands or a suspenseful journey filled with danger… be prepared for the extraordinary.
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