The entire staff of The Ebb & Flow Institute have now returned safely from the Peoples Republic of China, and have been debriefed by all the appropriate debriefing personnel. Thus we can report to you, the VC reader on the portions of our trip that have been declassified.
The staff and I stayed in a private residence in the city of Hangzhou (pronounced Hangzhou
). I was told prior to our trip by a Chinese national that Hangzhou is the one city in China that people would move to if they could. He also told me it was a city with very beautiful women....,on that I will not comment at this time, nor will I question his judgement.
I can see why people want to live there, it is the most beautiful large urban city I have ever been in. It has nice clean tree lined streets with wide bike paths on either side to support all your urban transportation needs. It seems that no matter where you are, you are a short walk from great restaurants and shopping where you can buy all the pirated goods you can afford. And thanks to the monetary policy of the communist party, your American dollar can buy an amazing amount of fine silk, tea, or fake NBA gear.Some scenes from Hangzhou
This is a street in Hangzhou. I don't remember its name, it sounded kind of Chinese though, I remember that.
Overlooking West Lake and Hangzhou from the top of Leifeng Pagoda, an historic buddhist temple thing the commies have been kind enough to restore.
West Lake he hua which is about to bloom.
This is me, Pile achieving enlightenment. The path to prosperity is to build a temple and charge admission. Twice.
While we were in China the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (pronounced SCO)
was meeting in of all places Shanghai. The SCO consists of Russia, China and some of the stans, (Afghani, Yerkamaka...etc...), that get together once a year and congratulate themselves for all their cooperative cooperation in cooperating to counter-balance the free, democratic nations of the West. This cooperation consists mostly of being non-western, unfree and undemocratic and cooperating together to see that as many nations as possible stay that way.
Normally I wouldn't give the SCO a second thought, but this year they had invited the nutjob president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at their gathering. This was being talked up in the local media as a chance to improve relations with a country that is very influential in that region of Asia. Puke. I had to do something. So I did.
The next morning my interpreter (pronounced interpreter
), the lovely and talented Dr. Wang and I set out for Shanghai using modes of transportation that I have always felt were best left to other people. First we rode bicycles for about 15 minutes to the Hangzhou train station. There we bought tickets for the standing room only Huhang Peasant Express. This was about 2 1/2 hours of indescribable transportation, where people kept staring at me. I did stick out like a sore thumb on this train, being what they call měi guó (pronounced měi guó
), one who doesn't give a flip about the World Cup, which is on tv 24 hours a day in China.
After arriving in Shanghai we took the subway to check in at the US Consulate's office. You know, just in case. Then we were off, traveling by bus so I could get my picture taken with this statue of a Very Important Dead Communist.
Note, the artistic political statement in this photograph made by cutting off the top of the commie's statue head.
Then more pictures here, where my interpreters purse got shanghai'ed.
Alas, all this use of public transportation failed. The SCO went ahead and granted Ahmadinejad a certain level of respectability by giving him a forum from which to tire us with his mixture of hatred and nonsense.
On the way back to Hangzhou we were able to get tickets on the soft seat Huhang Express. Very nice. If you are ever in China and have the choice of paying a little more for a soft seat train, do it.
There isn't much that I am allowed to tell you about the purpose of our trip. The high level top secret negotiations. But I will tell you what I can. I was invited to tea at a tea farm on a Sunday morning. This seemed pleasant enough. After a couple hours of getting to know each other we were served lunch. It was obvious the Communists were trying to unsettle me. There were 500 hundred year old eggs, fried duck tongues, sparrow gizzards with eggplant, stinky tofu (pronounced horsebarn), fish guts with pork and a few other things. Frankly I got tired of asking. I just ate. What the commies didn't know was, Pile will eat anything. Once.
During the meal I was introduced to a rather appealing Chinese custom. You stand up, propose a toast and say gān bēi (pronounced cheers
). The catch is, not everyone drinks, just the person making the toast and the person being toasted. And it is not just a drink, it is the whole glass. I was also outnumbered four to one.
It was becoming apparent that the PRC was taking these talks very seriously. But they had not done their homework. I was given the choice of beverage, and I chose pí jiu (pronounced beer
). When I learned that my Chinese counterparts were all retired PLA fighter pilots, I quickly began insisting on no foam. Commies can be sneaky that way.
My interpreter informed my that not only were they pilots, they were claiming to be wáng pū kè fēi xíng yuán (roughly translates to ace pilots) who knew four kinds of English. Except for the one who was not drinking, he made no such claims.
I knew I had represented my country well, when my interpreter whispered to me that she didn't think they knew any kinds of English, and that in fact they seemed to be having a great deal of difficultly speaking Chinese.
It was a good day.
Gān bēi gentlemen.Coming soon to an Internets near you.China and the Internets. Taking a Chinese vacation with the Chinese in China.Pooping in the Peoples Republic.