Trip Start Jan 01, 2006
Trip End Jun 30, 2006

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Flag of China  ,
Sunday, May 7, 2006

Sorry no pictures to upload as the internet cafes in Beijing don't allow it. Oddly it seems there are lots of internet cafes in Mongolia - so luck we shall upload some China pictures from Mongolia (weird eh).
China: Things we will never forget (Lessons learned)

Pollution: The low point in our adventure happened in Hong Kong when we both developed an upper respiratory infection due to the pollution. We were shocked to learn that poor air quality could make us so ill. We have gained a new appreciation for blue sky and sunny days. Also, we notice when we can see an object clearly that is more than 500 m. We are planning to investigate "The One Tonne Challenge" that we saw advertized in Ontario with Rick Mercer. Here is a quote from the Government of Canada's "One Tonnne Challenge" website.

The One-Tonne Challenge
The One-Tonne Challenge program has been discontinued.

We appreciate your interest in the important issue of climate change and suggest that you visit the following sites for information:

Child Slavery: In Xi'an we witnessed child slavery for the first time. It is horrible. Two sisters were doing "spinning" head stands by gripping a contraption with their teeth, doing a head stand and, with NO hands for support, they spin themselves upside down. The first time we saw this we were amazed that they could do this and we gave them some money in the large pail in front of them. We did not know at the time that the same little girls (aged 5 and 7) performed from morning until after 10:30 pm non-stop. Imagine!!! The next day we saw other examples of child slavery. One little street performer hadd a wire wrapped around his neck and he was holding his breath until his face turned blue. We walked by in disgust as other people watched him do this without stopping him. David asked our tour guide why no one stopped the parents/guardians of these children from abusing and exploiting these children? This activity would be stopped immediately in Canada. Our confrontational tour guide said "You know -- China is not paradise and this is how they earn money!" We told her that it was wrong and it should stop. She asked us why we did not do anything to stop it ourselves. David answered that we are visitors to China and it is not our place. I (V) told her that I would have picked up the bucket of money in front of the little girl just to identify the parent (criminal). BUT this would only result in the child being beaten or worse (I guess). The next day - when I saw one of the two little girls again, I bought her a cup of watermelon and put it by the money bucket. I also put a yuan in the bucket. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a well dressed man watch me do this. I wonder if this was the parent. When we walked by half an hour later, she was gone. I need to know...

* What would you do if you saw this?
* What can I do to stop this from continuing?

I'll never forget these little girls (especially their exhausted look after spinning all day long). Seeing these children is a statement about their society. If their society can not protect their very youngest and most vulnerable members - what does their future hold? I will write letters to the mayor of Xi'an and other government officials to:

* stop this activity by removing these victims from their parents
* give the children the opportunity to attend school
* most of all - all the children to feel safe and not exploited

If you are interested in helping, email me (V) and I will send you the letter along with the addresses.

Things we will miss in China

* Panda Research Center in Chengdu
* Terracotta warriors in Xi'an
* meeting other travelers in pubs and at cultural attractions (for example, Tom from the UK who taught English and exported MP3 players. He is 20)
* $3 CDN manicures
* Holiday Inn Beijing, the pool, the gorgeous room with a king size bed and large bathroom (throne toilet)
* Chairman Mao
* Tiananmen Square
* Forbidden City
* Beautiful and cute Asian children
* $9 CDN haircuts (total for David and Veronica) including a 20 minute head and shoulder massage
* Bumping into fellow Canadian travellers in Beijing

Things we will NOT miss in China
* Pollution especially in Hong Kong and in the Yangtzi River valley
* Respiratory Infection and the 10 different types of meds for the two of us to take
* Pushy and rude Asian tourists especially on the Yangtzi River cruise boat and in women washrooms. The older Asian women are much more aggressive than the men - by far!
* Lip sinking Sichuan Opera
* Tina (twit head, bubble brains) tour guide who made China a grind for us. The tour did not begin for us until the 5th last day when we visited the Panda Research Center in Chengdu. Grrrrrrrr!
* Sleeper trains with 6 sleepers per birth and very hard mattresses
* One star hotels with dirty sheets
* smokers
* squat toilets on trains or elsewhere, especially the ones rated 2 (out of ten). A rating of 2 meant: no toilet paper, dirty and smelly (you need to hold scented toilet paper by your nose or a cigaret), no door, no water, and no soap.

Tour Group: Team B

Peter and Mia: Newly weds from Melbourne Australia. Peter is a construction contractor/manager and Mia is a receptionist. They decided to join this tour two weeks before it started. They are passionate about travel and do it as often as they can.

Madeline: Bubbly Australian who is an Artist with a BA. She writes children books that encourages imagination and creativity. She is pursuing her Masters degree in Philosophy part time. She is the tour group's resident translator. She picks up Mandarin so easily - everyone is the group was in awe!!! We imagine that she will move to China in her future.

Peter (Photo Peter): The second Peter on our tour from Melbourne. He is responsible for Crown Casino TV and AV in Australia. Prior to joining our group, he was in Macau for a ground breaking ceremony for a new Casino. He brought with him a very large Canon Digital SLR with three different lens and its own packsack to hold his "precious". He had more lens at home. David was initially afraid to hold his camera for two reasons: He would want it and he didn't want to drop it :)

Margaret and Katherine: Fellow Canadians from Edmonton. Margaret is a graduate from Optometry at the University of Waterloo. She is an Associate Optometrist in Edmonton. Katherine is a Food Specialist working for the Provincial government. They are traveling to Shanghai for a week before returning to Canada.

James and Kathleen: Friends since birth (they were born the same day at the same hospital). They are from the UK and have been traveling since last September. The tour of China represented the last leg of their journey. They are continuing to Japan to visit friends for a month before returning home. We believe James would make an excellent tour guide for many reasons: He is friendly, out going, and loves travel.

Janeen: Read head from Tasmania. She is an administrator from a university. She develops and markets new grad courses for the university.

Lauren: Very quiet, very organized, and intelligent Australian. She quit her job as an events co-ordinator to travel for a year. She started her journey in Japan in March.

Veronica and David
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