Wednesday, April 13, 2005

WED April 13, 2005

We just finished our second full day of visiting the booths and factories in Yiwu city, Zheijang Province.

Walking aisle after aisle after aisle of factory products, after a while it all starts to look the same. Even the kitchen products start to look like cheap radios. But we have found some interesting products and are getting some good new ideas. It was much warmer and sunnier today, maybe 75 degrees.

My partner Lily is tutoring me in my Chinese (she says I am much improved) as we go along and I am helping her with her pronunciations and word selection in English.

I feel bad for her though because she has to interpret everything for me and one of my other partners, Mr. Zhang. So while he and I get to stop talking she never does.

This becomes especially difficult for her at lunch and dinner.

Every time I come here I am more and more amazed by this country and its people.

Some societies are aging, tired, at, or past their prime. Not China, for fifteen years the engines of capitalism, artistic expression, diplomacy, technology and information have been warming up and then shifting into 1st and 2nd gear. China is clearly in 3rd gear now, just wait until they hit 4th and 5th.

Yes, there are still issues about one party rule, corruption, freedom of expression, religion and press. But I really believe the Chinese government has been correct in slowly changing things a bit at a time.

This is a vast country of 1.3 billion people and one only needs to look at the disaster zone that is Russia to see what the instant collapse of one system replaced by a shoddy new system did there to see what could have happened here.

China s economy is light years ahead of Russia and it is beating India (a democracy) three ways from Sunday.

With economic freedom everything else is changing along here.

Here the people are so full of energy, industry and optimism its hard not to be affected by it. It is perhaps the most entrepreneurial and energetic society I have seen outside of the US. I have been very lucky to have found my calling working in and with China.

The people never seem to get tired. Always moving, always talking, always eating always engaging each other. They display a closeness with each other and a communal spirit and shared set of goals that is unmatched any place I have been.

The food has been amazing as usual. Some samples of what I have eaten so far:

Perfectly tender glazed roast duck served on soft, thin, hot pancakes with thick plum sauce and scallions.

Sichuan Hot Pot. Beef in a thick brown sauce with three kinds of peppers swimming in onion, bamboo shoot and green leaves, quite hot and quite filling.

Yunnan long thin noodles with scallion, spinach and softly cooked flour paste squares covered in sweet sauce.

Cornpie. Large kernels of corn covered in a light batter to keep them together forming a round pie, covered with a sprinkling of sugar.

Steamed flounder served whole in a brown garlic sauce. Fresh from the tank to your plate.

Chopped pork and beef with peppers, diced finely and served over thick white pancakes, rolled fajita style to eat.

Flash fried shrimp on skewers. Seasoned with a curry like herb. The flash frying makes it easy to eat them whole off the stick. Shell, heads and all.

Two more days of business here in Yiwu, then I move on to "The Venice of China" the ancient and beautiful city of Hangzhou, for a weekend of touring and resting.