Yesterday we left Hong Kong, and made the journey northwards into the ever thickening gray cloud to the city of Dongguan. The air pollution is astounding. My eyes burn if I am outside for any length of time. Not that I go outside. Jeebus is it hot. I don’t believe I have ever been so hot in my life. On Sunday the air temp was in the mid 90’s and the dewpoint was 81 degrees. I didn’t think the dewpoint could get to 81 degrees.
I could go on for pages about the size, speed of change that is occuring here. The country is in the middle of a rapid acceleration from the dark ages to the future. Everytime I come here there is a new high rise, or block of luxury apartments going up next to a stained cinderblock Mao era tenement. This pace of growth is simply not sustainable, and yet they have been sustaining it for over 10 years now. The scale of the urbanization kind of discourages you from making any attempt to be environmentally conscious. Really, any green initiatives we implement in Minnesota is a drop in the bucket compared to the pollution that spews out of China on an hourly basis.
For dinner last night, our colleagues took us to the Maojia Restaurant. Yes, it is named after Chairman Mao. Apparently, he was born not far from here, and the restaurant specializes in the native cuisine of his hometown. Entering the restaurant you are greeted with an oversized bust of the mad man himself. The effect is somewhat surreal. It’d be like walking into the Hitler Coffee Shop in Germany, or Joe Stalin’s House of Borscht in Moscow.
After dinner I did my part to promote and encourage Intercultural Awareness. Dick Nixon would have been proud.