Not quite the China you see in on the Travel Channel, or the China you saw during TV coverage of the Beijing Olympics. This is the China of gritty Coastal cities, where millions come to earn their living, and send their money back home to the families they left behind in little villages in the West.
Welcome to Dongguan. Where a permacloud of pollution floats overhead. The streets are a free for all of buses, cars, motorcycles, and every concievable type of bicycle contraption you can imagine. I am always amazed at the amount of stuff they can pile onto a bicycle.
Store fronts are a row of garage doors. You rent a space, open the door and you are in business. Machine shop? Welding Shop? Grocery Store? Auto repair? Furniture Sales? No problem. Just put your stuff inside and you are open for business. Or if you can’t afford a garage, just spread your stuff on a blanket on the side of the road, sit on the curb and viola!
This is pretty common in developing nations all over the world. I would like to make some grand statement about human scaled economy, but I’ll pass. The fact is this is just how it is, and I don’t begin to understand it, or make a value judgment about its benefits and drawbacks. China is too big for me to wrap my little mind around. It can be a bit overwhelming, and intimidating. Only by making small, one on one connections with people can we begin to understand. With over 2 billion to choose from, it might take me a little while.