Dinner in Shenzhen threw up the usual collection of the unfamiliar.
To me it wasn't much different from the meals I'd been having all week or on past trips but the Chinese guys in our group were unimpressed. They went and no doubt had another equally incomprehensible meal afterwards.
This trip involved various lectures, meetings and site visits.
What would such an educational trip to China be without a visit to a noodle factory?
Not just any noodle factory mind you.
The BIGGEST noodle factory in Asia
Pictures strictly prohibited.
The noodle factory was as interesting as a noodle factory could be. It was part of a new " Eco-Mega city" being build from scratch about 80 km from Beijing. The building has been going for some time now and whole sectors are already completed.
Problem is there is virtually no one living or working here.
Everything was on a BIG scale, right down to the meeting table we were ushered into to hear the pitch.
Part of the empty complex we toured was a show-piece studio where one day ( it's hoped) academy award winning art will be churned out. Like everything else we saw (apart for the noodle place) it was empty. Aside from the cool 3D sound stage and animation equipment, this poster caught my eye.
What interested me was the portrayal of the America GI .
Rather than saving your babies, it appears he wants to eat them.
How things are perceived depends very much on the vantage point on which you stand.
One of the few touristy things we did was a trip to the Summer Palace. Its first iteration came in the Jin Dynasty when emperor Wanyan Liang moved his capital to Beijing between 1122 CE and 1162 CE. During the reign of Quian Long, Emperor of the Qing Dynasty in 1750 the structure was enlarged and took on its present name. It was subsequently sacked and rebuilt twice over the next 150 years (during the Anglo-french invasion in 1860 and Boxer rebellion in 1900). In 1888 it became the summer residence of the Empress Dowager Cici (a very nasty piece of work but that's another story) who extended the palace and enlarged the surrounding gardens.
The Summer Palace was built as an escape from the bustle of Beijing but as these photos attest, the modern era has brought the smog that so bedevils the capital.
In my last post I talked briefly about the Hong Kong government's attempt to marginalise the Falun Gong. In my swing back through the city at the end of my trip I saw more of the same.
The city workers and Falun Gong guys were conducting a shuffling dance, one guy pulling his card board display along the pavement whilst the "green shirts" followed slowly behind covering the placards with their banners.
This shuffling dance took place in silence lending a surreal aspect to the proceedings.
Farcical is the description which comes to mind.
On the mainland there wouldn't be a protest as most Falun Gong advocates are in prison or hiding.
Hong Kong still claims to protect free speech but it seems to me city employees carrying banners to cover up signs is a little at odds with this.
As I said in an earlier post, I know very little about the Falun Gong.
What I do know seems weird and cult like so none of this should be construed as advocating their cause.
Not sure what this little protest and counter protest represents but I've a vague sense its not good.
That's it for today.
I'm back in a cold, grey London.
Stay well everyone.