Observations of China

I returned from my first trip to mainland China less than a week ago and, after spending eight days in four different cities, I have the following initial observations/thoughts:

  • Never once did I feel like I was in a Communist country (I kept thinking that Chairman Mao would be shocked, if not disappointed if he could see China today);
  • Most of China is cleaner than I expected;
  • China is crowded (obviously) and the traffic can be horrendous;
  • Yet, the transportation infrastructure is fairly sophisticated and in better shape than expected;
  • There are a lot of nice cars on the roads despite no good reason for many people to drive (see above);
  • The air in Beijing is probably the worst I’ve breathed in my life;
  • The Forbidden City is impressive;
  • Shanghai’s Mag Lev train puts the US’s trains to shame;
  • The people are nice, but customer service as we know it in the US does not exist in China;
  • What appears to be a housing boom and mass inventory overhang of unused apartments today will become necessary and occupied housing in the next 20 years;
  • Despite the glimpses of a developing, third-world country I viewed on my trip, I felt completely like I was in a modern, developed country everywhere I went;
  • Shopping in Shanghai reminded me of shopping in Japan 15 years ago;
  • Hangzhou is a beautiful city;
  • China builds new suburbs/developments at a rate and scale that is unmatched globally;
  • The Shanghai Acrobatic Circus is a must see;
  • Overall, China is a fascinating and spectacular country where old and new collide.