Monday, August 22, 2005

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No bugling in Jinan. None.

(I am uploading pictures at the little restaurant down the street, and I can understand the words of everyone around me. We will be at the Zoo Tavern on Eastlake around 8:30 or 9 tonight. To drink beer. Not in a bottle! And not Tsingtao!)

Driving in China is interpretive. In the cities there are, in fact, lines on the road, but all of the drivers seem to treat them as suggestions. The only traffic rule seems to be not to run anyone over, and even that appears to be open to interpretation. As a result everyone uses their horns constantly as a means of alerting the other drivers to the fact that they will be swerving around with complete disregard to the laws of physics. I am usually a nervous passenger, but with this sort of reckless abandon in evidence I can do nothing but hope for the best. It doesn't even seem worth it to worry.

Jinan, where my friends live, is also under construction. It's a pit of an industrial town, but since it's only a couple of hours by train from Beijing, they are in the process of trying to clean things up. I don't have a chance to really look around, though, because the day after I arrive we head off by train to Hangzhou.

In the grocery store one woman tells another (in Chinese), "Americans have nice color." I decide to be flattered. Potato chips come in about a million flavors, things like "Italian Red Meat" and "Mexican Barbecue Flavor."

Now and again, through the window of the train, I see farmers who have their wives pulling the plow.

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