Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Impressions of China

Here’s a reproduction of the article I wrote on my trip to China for the Arthur newspaper.

I recently spent six weeks in China as part of a trip focused in part upon gaining an understanding of the current state of communist China. Since returning, various people have asked me for my impressions of China, and so I have undertaken here to sketch some of what I learned about the country, based upon my own study and observations and upon conversations with various people, ranging from party officials to academics to working people.

One thing that I’ve learned about China is that any discussion of its politics, society and economy quickly elicits controversy and strong opinions. In sketching my impressions here, though my remarks will undoubtedly fall on one or the other side of various heated debates. I aim simply to present China as I experienced it, and to attempt to encourage understanding of a fascinating country which is rapidly resuming its historic position as the world’s leading society. (more…)

On a bus in Tegucigalpa…..

Came across this video the other day while looking through old pictures (double-click to play/pause)……

It shows what bus travel in urban Honduras is like. Old school bus, loud latin pop/dance music, dust, young men drivers, noise, bumps, air horns, dudes hanging out at the front, etc.

Two books by Paul Theroux

From November 14, 2007:

“I recently finished The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. The main character is nuts but inspiring for his inventiveness. He makes me want to learn about how to use metal, machining/threading parts, welding, etc. Right now I don’t know anything about how to use metal, or rather how to make it do what you want it to do.* And motors and shit!** What’s that about? Basically I was inspired by the knowledge and skills that the father character had which he could use to fuel his inventiveness/problem solving. There’s got to be a mountain of scrap metal out there, if you know how to use it…

From December 13, 2007:

Just finished Dark Star Safari also by Paul Theroux. He has a unique, unapologetic, take it or leave it style/voice. At first I was put off, but then came to trust his opinions, reaspect his observations. And wow, one hell of a trip [from Cairo to Cape Town, mostly by land]. The book is a travel log, and besides being interested in the story/trip itseld, I was interested in the author himself as the main character. His life as an author, travelling. His friendships with people in his youth who now, 40 years later are famous people. I am enamoured with the idea of having life long correspondense with people/intellectuals, like he has with V.S. Naipaul, Naghib Mahfouz, and the South African woman author whose name I forget.  I think that being in touch with people like this throughout your life would make you feel connected to a movement, or at least to a generation, a time period.

Other thoughts based on the book:

The idea of being a teacher with the goal of leaving someone (a student) who would take your place.

Theroux’s criticism of NGOs and the idea that aid/aiders are making things worse in Africa, because people become reliant, not self sufficient, they don’t own their own problem. Some/few Africans will teach or doctor in their own country for a low wage when they know that foreign aid agencies will provide/subsidize foreign teachers and doctors. And that Zimbabwe was the best country he visited as a result of having been shunned by foreign agencies; Zimbabweans have had to do things for themselves…It makes you wonder about all development work, about what we are/should be doing here in Honduras. How to apply what he says about aid in Africa to the context here, which seems very different–less desperate poverty and disease, less population, less AIDS, a different culture, etc.

I am thinking now again that if we in the west truly wanted to do something to act upon our urge to help people in other nations, we should lobby our own governments to have better trade policies, and to force our companies to follow the same ethical conduct that they would here (i.e. mining, fruit companies, etc.). This trade policy shift would probably harm us economically/financially though so it would be hard to rally popular support..In this vein I am tempted to support Capitalism, in so far as we have never seen how unfettered Capitalism would actually work, since so far the “free market” has never been free but rather has been consistently and intentionally tilted in the favour of those who are already wealthy..

*I still don’t…

**I did, however, recently receive two little motors for christmas…