Category Archives: Nanyang

Long Long Road Ahead – G40

G40 is the code for Shanghai – Shaanxi National Expressway. It starts from Shanghai and run about 1500 km and goes from about 31.23°N, 121.5°E to 34.27°N, 108.9°E. That is almost one time zone difference (15 degree).

It is pretty handy to get back to Wendy’s home town Nanyang from Shanghai. Along the way, we started from G42 and went across G15 and G2 in Shanghai, G25 and G3 in Nanjing, G35 in the middle of no where and G45 near east of Xinyang, G4 at Xinyang and finally G55 in Nanyang. That is basically the traverse of the China National Highway System.

This shows the benefit of consistent naming convention. You just need to follow on route to get to somewhere far away. Just keep driving and driving.

It also replace the original G312, just as I-40 replaced US66, the story Cars was telling. We have the same feeling. The exit to G313 was everywhere along the road. G312 goes right across the towns while G40 just bypass them.

Social Environment in Central China

I am in Nanyang for 3 days. Some observation of the social environment:

  1. People have plenty of time
  2. It is very family oriented
  3. Food is the center of people’s life

Let me explain them one by one.

People have Plenty of Time

I guess it is the impression only for people like Wendy and me who just came from Shanghai. We are not not tourist, and we live in part of the family. So we saw normal people’s life. Some one only go to work for half days, and many of them don’t have work. When it is sunny, people bring chairs to the public spaces, and talk, or just sit there. When it is cloudy, people get back to room, and sit on small chairs, chatting. One out of several days, people may be busy enough to get a table to play Mahjong.

For people who work, the schedule is quite different. They go to work at 8:00 AM in the morning , and get back to home for lunch at 12:00 in the noon. The afternoon session starts at 2:00 PM and ends at 6:00 PM. In summer, people can have a good sleep during the noon time, since they need to go back to work at 3:00 PM.

This is not something new to me. That is how life should look like when I was in Luoyang, and I believed everyone in the world lived the same life. It changed a lot after I moved to Shanghai 13 years ago, and this trip just refreshed my memory. It didn’t change in the last 20 years.

It is very Family Oriented

Family is the center of many people’s everyday life. In the last few days, we have lunch together with 6 – 12 people, on the same table, or in rotation. Rotation means the dishes are on the small table, and 6 of us eat our lunch, and someone finish lunch first and gave room to other family members. That is the life of big family. Two or three families (with parents and their one two two children, and even grandchild, Yifan) gather together, and have lunch and dinner happily. The life is waved by the family relationship net, and by "family", we mean the "big family" or the family with the same grandfather. In Shanghai, and many other countries, the same family may already been split up to smallest unit (parent and children), and bigger family (aunts, uncles, grandparents…) only gather occasionally. In many places in China, the gather of bigger family is the day to day life. 

So is the family property. I use other family members electricity-powered motor is just as I use Wendy’s. :-)

Food is the Center of People’s Life

Food is great here. People spent enough time on food (if not 100% of time). Most things people eat are hand-made by family members themselves. In the morning, aunts prepared the breakfast, and we had them. Then they started to prepare lunch already. At night, people prepare the food for the next day. Food cost is a major cost of people’s salary.

This is China

To be more exact, this is still not China. Life in Shanghai is part of China, and life in Nanyang is also part of China. Many people try to find only one type of life that represent the whole China. I don’t think there will be such a "China lifestyle".

Street Scenes of Nayang – Part II

This is the second part of the Street Sences of Nayang Series. This is the first part:

Street Scenes of Nanyang

At the corner of Qiyi Road (July 1 Road), and Gongye Road  (Industry Road), I saw a giant blue high-voltage electronic tower. This is pretty rare in China cities, since the high-voltage lines go just in the middle of road, along the road. The other thing I noticed is the traffic light. Nanyang completely abandoned pure traffic lights, and replace them with left, forward and right signs. However, the traffic is still a mess, even in Shanghai standard. I will talk about it later.

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The low head jam is a common practice in many cities in China. In Luoyang, for example, people built the jam to keep the water there, and for a bigger "lake" on the river. The jam’s only propose is to hold the water a little bit, without stopping it. The jam on the White River (Bai He) looks successful from the scenery perspective, but I am not sure about the impact for environment.

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This is a typical "unit apartment". These types of apartment building is pretty popular since 1980s in China. People who were able to live in these apartments are regarded as "rich people" already. One of Wendy’s uncle has one such apartment. The 70 sq. meters apartment cost him 3000 RMB (400 USD) to buy back in 1980s. (The price is not per sq. meter, it is for the whole apartment)

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This kind of electricity-powered motor is very popular. You can see them everywhere. This afternoon, Wendy and I was very happy to ride one (borrowed from family members), and traveled on two bridges in Nanyang. I rode it, and Wendy sat at the back – it was an adventure. We finally got back safely after 1 hour, and used up all the electricity in the battery.

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Glass shop: most shops are randomly opened on the pedestrian, and those shops with fixed room are more luxurious.

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This is the traffic on the road. I told Wendy, Nanyang reminded me of a city outside China – the capital of Cambodia. I am not kidding. Traffic in Luoyang is the same, and for most cities I have been to in China are like this. Shanghai has one of the best traffic rules in China, although it is still often described as "Scary" by my foreign friends.

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Pineapple vendor on the street. A tri-cycle, a knife, and some relationship with the local Administration of Industry and Commerce will do the job.

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Another noodle shop – many people eat there. We had wonderful dinner in another shop, similar to this. I am still completely full after 4 hours. The noodle is really tasty! "Is it clean?" Good question… That is all I can tell you.

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What you call it in other places? BBQ?

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On the street, food are everywhere, and you can always pick something you like, provided you are OK with the hygiene standard.

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Crazy Taxi on the street.

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As other cities, fashion business always get up-to-date to what is most trendy in coastal cities. They label them as Guangzhou, Shanghai, or Hong Kong fashion stores.

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Why I Spent Time to Post These Photos?

Because of the picture I saw here. Pictures are so powerful (if well taken). They can help people to understand a country, and to reserve the smell, the feeling for the future.

As I stated at the beginning of Nayang Series:

I don’t think I know China. Although I lived in this country for 30 years, and lived in Luoyang for 17 years, in Tongchuan of Shaanxi Province for one year (when I was very young), and in Shanghai for 13 years, and traveled to all major cities frequently, and even stayed in city like Beijing for 2 months, there are still so many places I haven’t been too. The even bigger challenge for me to understand my own country is, to visit a place physically does not mean to understand the life there. I know Luoyang much better than any other city since I lived there, and of cause, Shanghai. Nanyang is the third city in China that I have a chance to get closer to learn because of Wendy.

Hopefully, the 6 days will contribute to this blog, so people will see another part of China, and add more Nanyang flavor to people’s perception of China, other than the strong flavor of Shanghai, on this blog.

I just want to record the "fact" which is the basis of understanding.

Street Scenes of Nanyang

First two photos of my trip in Nanyang.

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In any of the residential area, the walls look like this. The ads are for pluming works, and relocating. The lack of good management for public property is a key problem in Henan, and in China (overall).

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Update April 20, 2008

Sometimes writing a blog means that you have to keep your promise and try to post a blog entry no matter how hard it is. I am in Nanyang now, and don’t have Internet access. Fortunately, I still have a China Unicom CDMA card in my laptop, but I have to tolerate the slow speed. The two photos I posted last night took longer time than I expected, and I felt asleep before Windows Live Writer report complete of post.

Today, let me explain what I meant by the two photos.

Photo 1: Popular way to Get Around

The first photo is about the tricycle seen everywhere on the street of Nanyang. There are taxi, and taxi is more and more popular every time I am back. The first time I came to Nanyang, only tricycles were available to hire.

Photo 2: Advertisement inside Residential Building

The sticker with telephone number of relating and pluming work (sometimes with fake certificate of all kinds) are everywhere. This is the entrance of where Wendy’s Uncle live. Not just this wall, all the three walls are covered by the stickers. No just that building, all the building I visited are the same. No only in the buildings, the numbers can be seen in most of the public walls along streets. Better governing is needed for this town to be more beautiful.

Flight from Shanghai to Nanyang, Henan

Thanks to China Southern Airlines, we have direct flight from Shanghai to Luoyang (my hometown) and Shanghai to Nanyang (Wendy’s hometown). Today, I took the flight for the first time with Wendy and Yifan.

Small Aircraft

The airline is using CRJ airplane, a very small one. It only have about 50 seats, and there are three seats per row (numbered as A, D, and F). We do worried about turbulence and safety of the small plane, but it turned out to be pretty good. I took some photos.

The Airplane

Look, the door itself is steps, and you only need 5 steps to get onto the plane.

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This is within the aircraft. Although there are only 3 seats per row, the seat is pretty standard, and not in mini-size.

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The parking indicator of CRJ.

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The flight was great. Very smooth, and very convenient. After using the 5 staircase to get onto or out of the plane, I don’t want to use the big ladder of Boeing 737 or 747 any more.

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People may not care, but a small airplane plus a small airport like Nanyang makes it so convenient for passengers. That means, 3 minutes after landing, we are able to see our family members waiting in the small terminal. Luggage? Just a few that the round rolling pickup counter didn’t event rotate for one circle before everyone get their luggage.

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Here, we are at Nanyang Airport!

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Nanyang Airport (NNY) only have one runway without taxi way. So it looks funny for me for the plane to land on the runway then made a U-Turn ON the runway to get back to the middle, where the terminal is. This design is good enough for an airport with just less than 3 flights per day.

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On My Way Back to Nanyang

Today (Friday), I am on my way back to Nanyang, Henan Province. It is about 1000 km west of Shanghai and 4 hour’s train ride from my hometown Luoyang. Nanyang is the hometown of Wendy. Due to some family issues, we have to get back together with Yifan. I will stay in Nanyang for 6 days starting from today, and get back to Shanghai on Wednesday. For me, it is the third time I am in Nanyang – a city in central China, and it is the third very good chance for me to understand China better myself.

Who Knows China Better?

Recently, during the discussion on this blog, it seems they key question people asked was about "who know China better, people in China or from outside?" It seems so simple a question that how can people outside a country claim to know a country better than people who live there? Most of the cases, people believe so, but when there is no freedom of speech and strong power of propaganda, the question is not that easy to answer. Western media tend to think people in China don’t know truth at all, and even if someone claim that they know the truth, they are simply brainwashed. The debate goes on and on…

I don’t think I know China. Although I lived in this country for 30 years, and lived in Luoyang for 17 years, in Tongchuan of Shaanxi Province for one year (when I was very young), and in Shanghai for 13 years, and traveled to all major cities frequently, and even stayed in city like Beijing for 2 months, there are still so many places I haven’t been too. The even bigger challenge for me to understand my own country is, to visit a place physically does not mean to understand the life there. I know Luoyang much better than any other city since I lived there, and of cause, Shanghai. Nanyang is the third city in China that I have a chance to get closer to learn because of Wendy.

Shanghai does not Represent China and Culture Shock

I devoted my last 5 years to report to the world about Shanghai, and many reader thanked me to help them understand China better. I would want to add a note that although Shanghai is true China (just like a leg of the elephant in the story), it does not represent China. For my friends in Shanghai, I want to remind them that Shanghai is not China.

In my Chinese blog, I am often attacked by people outside Shanghai about some point-of-views. I know they do have the reason to disagree with me, since it is for sure the life and thoughts in different part of China is very different.

We talked a lot about culture shock for westerners coming to China, but for me, the culture shock between different parts of China is no less than the western-eastern culture shock. For example, the difference I observed from my Nanyang trip today (although it is the third time) is no less than the difference I noticed from my last San Francisco trip. I will try to record some of the difference in the next few days.

In the next few days, Wendy, Yifan and I will spend very long time with her family (I am not sure whether I should disclose it, but Wendy’s grandmother just past away, and it is the local tradition that everyone in the family must get back no matter how far away they are, and how busy they are. Since Wendy’s grandmother is already almost 90 years old when she past away, there are not too much sorrow as others. In China saying, it can be regarded as the "leaving with happiness" for respected people who enjoyed long life). My other goal is to take the first hand opportunity to learn China better. I was trying to do it with sensation in the last few years, but the more I learned only revealed the more I don’t know.

Just as the Tibet discussion in the last few weeks, but very few of us (no matter on which side of the camps) have ever been to Tibet ourselves. Being part of a big family in Nanyang is sweet for me, and I want to learn more, and share.

Hopefully, the 6 days will contribute to this blog, so people will see another part of China, and add more Nanyang flavor to people’s perception of China, other than the strong flavor of Shanghai, on this blog.

Please stay tuned, and ask questions to me. I hope the questions will be more related to central China (Henan Province), so the question may help to guide me to observe things I may not notice.

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Above: Nanyang Airport, and a small terminal.

Nanyang Trip Report

In the last two days, I travelled to Nanyang (Wendy’s hometown) to visit her parents and family. We took the second day to Baotianman (宝天曼). It was fatanstic travel. Due to the limitation of Internet access speed (via GC75), I can only upload two pictures about the trip:

The Tianxin Cave (天心洞).

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The water fall of Baotianman.

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As you know, during travel, it is not easy to sort all the pictures taken and write full travelogue. I hope I can upload more after I am back to Shanghai. I start to miss my car in Shanghai and the newly built garden in the new apartment….