Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A A Day in China: A glimpse at the two sides of China!

 Oh my gosh...there really are two sides to China...a real working man's China and a luxurious expat/successful citizen China. I know, you heard that before, but this is the way it is out here where the rubber meets the road!  The choice you can make as an expat will be which China do you want to live in or are you wise enough to stand with one foot in both?  I, personally, prefer to straddle the line between the two.
Glasses Market
Yesterday, for example, we got on the subway system here in Pudong (eastside of Shanghai) at the Science and Technology museum terminal.  We traveled across Shanghai, changed train lines, were pushed and instructed by local people to finally arrive at the Chinese glasses market.  A market for eye glasses and opticians filled one floor of a very large building.  YEH 3 Optical (?) has every kind, color, quality of eye glasses you could ever want...and I mean every kind!  We wander through the vendors and selected one for no logical reason.  For us the idea that no one rushed out to grab our arm may have been the tipping point.

My daughter-in-law and I selected glasses.  Sunglasses for me and reading glasses for her.  After bargaining with the vendor we settled on a price...280 rmb for two complete pair AND they were to be ready in 30 minutes.  Now, in US Dollars that works out to be less than $50 for two pairs.  Can you believe that?

This was not a basement operation in a dark alley  This was a huge market for the Chinese people, the working living real people.  I am still just gobsmacked over it.  We were offered upgraded "U.S.A." lenses.  My daughter-in-law had the reflective coating placed on hers.  But better yet, they fit and work like the glasses I bought in the states.  I did a little math in my head and realized that, if I were to buy several pairs of glasses, I could pay for an airplane ticket to visit my family with the money saved by shopping in this market.

Because the average income for a working citizen is very small, their market prices reflect what they can afford.  It is all relative.

Nanjing Lu at night
On the other side of the coin, there is that expat/wealthy world.  We traveled across the city back to Pudong so my son and his wife could see the dentist.  We were greeted in a beautifully appointed office, cleaner that anything I had ever seen.  A technician cleaned their teeth and a French dentists examined for problems.  Their insurance paid for the visit.

We picked up our car at the subway and traveled to a spa where we had hair cuts.  Mine was one of the best I have every had.  We luxuriated as one young man washed your hair and gave you a head massage, another cut and styled the hair and a third dried the hair.  Another stop took us to the Dragon Fly spa where my daughter-in-law has a membership.  We had a facial wax.

A cocktail at a Mexican restaurant across the street was followed by a taxi ride to People Square and a walk down Nanjing Lu to savor the evening air and the sparkling lights. A short taxi ride took us to the Bund and dinner at the latest Lost Heaven location just across the street from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  We wandered over to the hotel after a dinner in a most beautiful restaurant that served authentic Yunnan cuisine.
My son and I... Waldorf Astoria Christmas Tree

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel is one of those legendary spots that reflects an era of understated elegance.  The Long Bar, our next stop, is one of just a few bars with that name around the world.  Here the very influential mix with the likes of us and all are treated to wonderful service.  My after dinner drink was a liqueur with "Vanilla" and "Madagascar" in the name.

So there you have it...a day straddling the line between the two cultures of China.  We are very lucky that we have been given the privilege of experiencing both.

Waldorf Long Bar Lounge/Pub
Have a wonderful day.

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  1. I'm really enjoying your posts about your experiences on this trip!

  2. I am enjoying your posts as well. I worked at HKIS over 20 years ago. Your journey reminds me of our trips into the mainland. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for stopping by. Stay posted for more blogs from Vietnam. We are loving our time here.



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