Mar 21, 2019

China notes

Recently returned from a trip to China with my partner. (Finally taking Tyler Cowen's advice, though we didn't quite make it to Dali.)

We went to Shanghai, Zhangjiajie, Chengdu, and Kunming. Also had long layovers in Hong Kong, but didn't make it into the city due to logistics (the layovers were overnight & we wanted to find a place to stay close to the airport – Tong Fuk is pleasant & has a lovely beach).

Assorted thoughts:

The trip really helped flesh out my model of China as a real, diverse place, rather than as a vague monolithic “other.”

The food was generally very good & cheap. It was easy to follow a vegetarian diet everywhere we went, though we always had to specify that we didn't eat meat.

Coffee, on the other hand, was mediocre & expensive. (It seemed to be a luxury good catering to the new middle class + foreigners.)

Infrastructure was for the most part really good (lots of systems were built de novo in the 90s & 2000s so they feel more modern than what we have in the US).

People were generally friendly, polite, and helpful to bumbling foreigners.

There seemed to be a lower background level of anxiety than the coastal US, though my assessment of that may be confounded by being on vacation.

Lots of vaguely dystopian notes (facial recognition crosswalks, anyone?), but in general everything functioned so smoothly that I sorta stopped thinking about it.

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