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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Guide Of Where Not To Go In China

My Daughter and her friend had signed up for a mainland China tour. The fact that they were the only two who had signed up for it should have been a clue. From the pier they took a bus to a train station, when they got to the border they had to go through immigration - that just wasn't much fun! Since they came in on a Naval ship they did not get a passport stamp in Hong Kong, so immigration were like "how did you get here???", their tour guide was Chinese so he could explain everything and got them through. The first place they stopped was Shenzhen, China to a park that had mangrove trees. While the tour guide was talking about the trees, a group of people started gathering around the group looking at the girls really strange. They were talking to the guide in Chinese. The guide explained to the girls that they were a poor farming family that had come to the city for the Chinese New Year and the girls were the first white people that they had ever seen. My daughter and her friend were completely amazed by their reaction. The children that were with them, were looking at the girls with their mouths open and when they were leaving they would come up to them and poke them and touch them. It was a very unusual experience. The next stop was a museum. This museum had the famous terracotta warriors and horses. My daughter got to touch what they call the "8th wonder of the world" and after a good scolding in Chinese she realized that was a BIG no no. From the museum they went to mall where they could look around for a couple of hours and then meet up later with the group to go back to Hong Kong. Well... they called it a "mall" but my daughter described it as "scary". It was a 8-10 story building with no heat. Apparently there isn't heal in Hong Kong or China except for the really nice hotels. People just wore gloves and coats inside. Anyway the the mall had teeny tiny (No bigger than your bathroom) shops just one right after the other. The shops all sold the exact same stuff, t-shirts, purses, belts, watches none of which had any quality. The owners of the shops sat outside their store and tried to get them to come in so they were constantly bombarded. There were a lot of beggars there that followed them for hours because they had nothing better to do. Even after the girls gave them money they continued to follow them around. This mall was NOT in a touristy area and the girls became increasingly more uncomfortable as they were they only Americans around and everyone spoke only Chinese. Because they were on a group visa they couldn't go back, they had to wait for the entire group. My daughter describes it like the Tom Hanks character in Big, where he goes to the city and is in this crappy hotel and he is so scared he just curls up in a ball and cries. She said that is exactly what she felt like. Coming back into Hong Kong proved to be more of a challenge than leaving. They got stuck again in immigration and both girls were taken back into the interrogation room. There were together so she says it wasn't too bad but from a Mother's perspective, and after seeing the movie Broke Down Palace, I'm glad I didn't know about it until after the fact. They asked them questions... Where they were from.... What ship were they on.... How long were they going to be in Hong Kong. The girls really thought they were not going to be allowed to go back through. Her words exactly are "I'll never go back - EVER". The entire time she was there she said she felt like there was a dark cloud over them, like it was evil. She said she couldn't really describe it and maybe it's because it's communist, but it seemed like a very sad country.

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