Pearl River, the Delta, and Canton (China, not Mississippi)…

20180701_114935Hong Kong the Air-Conditioned Nightmare…

July in Hong Kong is hot sticky syrup languid lethargic sweaty crowded cramped colic putrid protuberant, bodies stacked on moldy mattresses on elevated platforms the underneath of which has never been cleaned, inhabiting warrens and rookeries in nameless mansions of the homeless, countless cribs of the incredulous, trite testimony to the temptations of time-keepers, dubious debts to the denizens of doubtfulness, humans reduced to automatons sucking electricity for sustenance, the breakfast of champions, until…

Chill! A cold blast from the refrigerators of a million industrial units, humming in unison, the Christmas carols, reindeer and New Year anthems that herald the arrival of winter, blast out of the open doors of thousands of shops and studios and multi-level department stores full of the trappings of satisfaction and convenience, gifts and clothes with ribbons and bows gift-wrapped for that special occasion, sure to be repaid in kind if not kindred, a place in the sun in the ‘burbs with a three-car garage, consumeristic gleanings no subtle barrage…20180704_095357

But Macau is more subtle…

…and different in the same sort of way that you would expect a Portuguese colony to be different from a British colony, Latin and Iberian, with small city parks scattered around the business district, very un-Asian, but well-used by the locals, and the locals only, as there are few non-Asians here, no commonwealth people from the subcontinent, nor any from Portuguese Africa, either, as that was never the plan, apparently, just maybe a few Portuguese immigrants from Europe itself, here to uphold the legacy if nothing else…

I like Macau, even if the cribs are a bit more dear than those of Hong Kong, you’re bound to get more for your money here, if not the obligatory Wi-Fi guarantees that should be de rigueur in 2018. And the food is cheaper, too, even if no obvious Portuguese influence, hearty Cantonese fare available at three bucks American, don’t think you’ll find that in HK whether Chinese or Indian, and here you’ll even have room to stretch your legs. But supermarkets are the only trade-off, so must be some causal connection to explain the dearth…

20180705_103948Zhuhai butts up against tiny Macau…

making an easy crossing into China, and vice-versa, the alternative to Shenzhen and Hong Kong, if you want a slightly sparser alternative to those densely populated burgs, the Gongbei district right there a lively walk on Lianhua’s pedestrian street, though none of the open-air bars that the Wiki-travel guy boasted of, must be out-dated information, otherwise not so much to do…

So I planned to go back to Macau for the day just to download a VPN to circumvent the Great Firewall of China, but finally blew it off, hate to be separated from my stuff, as you just never know what can happen, so found a niche in the border wall where I could get 3G from Macau and did the whole schmear right there, works brilliantly, and the best part is that I have 10 GB per month free! Thank you, Windscribe…

20180709_105941But the real surprise of the Pearl River delta…

…seems to be the Big Burg itself, Guangzhou, aka Canton, China’s third-largest city, and always the one most attracted commercially to the exterior, due to its status as the original port, and its connections to Hong Kong as China re-emerged from the shadows of communism in the 1970’s. Well now they’re the tattered cousins, illegitimate sons of the northern mandarins, and as independent as that distance from the centers of power would suggest…

More importantly: they’re friendly! Wow! That’s the last thing I expected, but there it is, a wonder to behold, over and over, people not only chatting me up, but chatting me up in English! Which is good, since, as Cantonese speakers, their mandarin may be not so much better than mine. What else? They’re not so attached to the Ali-pay of elsewhere, and the women smoke. WTF? Yes, but the men seem to smoke less, so that’s a reasonable trade-off. They’re not such fashion hounds, either, in other words: less economic and social miracle here, for whatever reason…

20180709_095144China doesn’t call itself ‘China’, of course, but ‘Zhongguo’…

…the Middle Kingdom, i.e. the central government, and that’s an important part of the dynamic I suspect, in any and all transactions. You can’t do much without flashing your ID card—and telephone number. I bought some meds, and they asked me for an ID card! WTF!!?? I flabbergasted, of course (that’s transitive), and they said a passport would be okay (did she really think I was a PRC citizen?)…

Fortunately there’s no such drama buying hibiscus sabdarifa, already sourced in HK, Zhuhai and Guangzhou, too, like a magic salve for overworked hearts. China is in love, even if that is love of self, and each other, open to foreigners only on its own terms, but still love, so that’s a beautiful thing, even if it won’t last. It never does. They simply don’t need us ‘rich Westerners’ anymore, if they ever did, and if you want them, then you’ll have to go the extra mile—on high-speed trains, of course…. 🙂

20180626_122653So yes, the high-speed trains are nice, but they come with a price. And the food is hot and fresh, but what once cost a dollar is now up to three, and that’s okay with me, I guess. But the $10 room is fast disappearing in China, and that is a fact, but you can still do pretty good, if you book far enough in advance, and/or bargain for bulk. The only real problem is that many hotels can’t or won’t take foreigners, for reasons unknown, and not always indicated on the top booking sites, so whether this is a deal-killer is still open to debate…

And there are few Ph.D.’s in English at Beijing U age 15, if that makes you feel any better, but they’ve all got the app, lol, English language support probably less than anywhere else in the world. But there are attractions here. I’m just not sure what they are anymore, now that the rooms are getting expensive, and the tribal peoples are all moving to the city, the only thing saving them the same thing that is killing them—tourism. I persevere…

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