Let the Sun Shine In

The other day we went to get some photocopies done and the owner’s daughter was there drawing on scrap pieces of cardboard. I took some pictures of this cute little girl’s drawings but something about the drawings was nagging at the back of my brain.

It struck me later that there was no sun in the drawings. No big ball with rays of light coming out of it. No quarter circle in the corner of the drawing depicting the sun. In Guangzhou, due to the pollution in the air, you never see the sun and the sky is almost always grey . I wondered if this child had coloured crayons, would she make the sky grey?


Osaka Botanical Garden

Today in Osaka it was 20°C

Today we visited the botanical gardens in Osaka and it was lovely. It felt so good to walk around under a beautiful blue sky as compared to the grey polluted skies of Guangzhou. I can’t remember the last time it felt so good to be outside.

In an earlier blog (a whole lotta love to give) I mentioned how Chinese grandparents spend their retirement raising their grandchild. My friend David said his in-laws are just waiting (in his house 24/7) for him to produce a grandchild for them to take care of.

There are 5 senior citizens in this photo taking pictures of flowers. Enough money in camera equipment to buy a luxury car.

In Japan, it looks like the grandparents spend their retirement enjoying themselves. The botanical garden was full of seniors sketching, painting and photographing landscapes. They walked around and chatted together and even played a sand lot version of a 9 hole golf course.

I am far from retirement but will be a grandfather within the year. Like the Chinese, I want to love my grand children to death. Like the Japanese, I want to enjoy my leisure time too. How to accomplish both as my favourite past time is fishing?

I have to expose my grandchildren to the elements of fishing, boats, lakes and the outdoors right from birth.

Cigarette and soft drink companies use a technique called “branding”. They get young kids “hooked” on their product for life by getting them to use it at a young age. Years later they don’t even question why they want a Coke or Player’s filter, they just subconsciously buy it.

What can I introduce my grandchildren to for them to want to spend hours with me in a boat, on a lake, completely bored to death? I think a little bit of beer in their milk bottles should do the trick.


Today in Guangzhou it was 25°C in the shade and overcast

Guangzhou, known in  western society as Canton, is the capital of Guangdong. It is a busy trade hub for China and has perpetual smog due to the manufacturing industries. Its official population is listed at 10.5 million but is easily a few million more. The vast majority speak Cantonese, Mandarin being a required second language. It has wet winters and long humid summers. The rainy season is generally from May to September. The best time to visit is late autumn (October-November) and early spring (March-April).

Guangzhou is known for the very best Cantonese cuisine and boasts the largest number of restaurants per capita in China.

The above information was gleaned from Lonely Planet, China, 2009 edition.

I can enhance this information with my own personal observations.

The sky is always grey and the night is almost starless, due to the constant smog. The city is really clean, exceptionally so when you consider the population is almost a third of Canada’s. Everyone is very friendly and helpful, many eager to practice their English no matter what their level of proficiency. Many of them say they can only speak a little English whether they can only say hello or are completely fluent. They get a kick out of watching foreigners, at least me anyways. The women dress well, usually in beautiful dresses wearing shoes of every style and colour imaginable. The food is inexpensive and very good but I find dishes with meat always come with bones. The Metro is amazing. Modern, clean and very affordable.

Other than having a lot of visible security personnel around the city, you would never think you are in a communist regime. Most of these officials are just for show; they can be caught sleeping on the job often. I have seen people argue with them and win, continuing what they were doing in the first place. The choice of consumer electronics here is mind boggling. Capitalism is something else with stores sprouting up at a moments notice anywhere and everywhere. Business is dog eat dog, no protectionism here. Nothing stops anyone from opening a fruit market right next to yours or selling chicken from a street wagon right in front of a KFC.

The biggest negative for me so far is the Chinese pedestrian and auto circulation. Drivers will ignore red lights, slowly crawl their way through any crowd of pedestrians crossing the street and wander all over the streets. People will walk right in front of you at any time and suddenly stop anywhere at any place. It is not unusual to find entrances or exits bottlenecked because 2 or 3 people have decided to stop and wait for “who knows what”. Bicyclists will ride through crowds of pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. Honestly, walking in China really has to be experienced to be (not) appreciated.

It is going to be fun living in GZ for the year.


Car plate

I have a good friend who wears many hats. One is Mr. Safety, one is Mr. Environment and there are many more. He would like this car plate from Beijing. The car cannot be moved on Thursdays because it’s plate ends with a 9. A car with an 8 as a last digit cannot move on Wednesday.

I mentioned this to a visitor from France and he told me they have the same thing over there in certain regions. People buy 2 cars with different plates to get around the no drive day. I guess money does buy a certain happiness.