Hump Week, Brainwashing ......................

Trip Start Jun 25, 2012
Trip End Sep 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
Wanda Plaza

Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hump Week, Brainwashing and plain old stinking thinking!

Have you had one of those days (or in this case, week) where the start and the end are a ways away and going back or forward are wishful but not practical options? Well, for the MAASKE family that is where we were this week.  After traveling for almost 60 days we have finally taken pause and all feel like we had enough BUT know we can't get negative as it has a compounding effect (like strangling one another).  This has been a great experience as all 6 of us have 'added' and 'taken away’ from our mutual experience and is a great ‘family building’ exercise (not yet unanimous).  We have been working hard to all focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have.  

For Example:

1.      Monique (age 10):  "Dad I’m so glad you are bald because it is so easy to find you in a crowd".
2.      The great thing about living in a smoggy city is that it really doesn’t look like 15 million people as visibility is limited.

I suspected something was up when all four children begun complaining about ear aches.  After days of complaints and attempts at remedies we ended up at the Emergency room of a Chinese hospital.  We got a great deal being admitted of only $1 but 50 times that for the 189 pills and 3 bottles of ear drops!!   I had a funny feeling and knew our days would be ‘limited’ when ‘someone’ in the family took to sniffing family members for bad odors!  (we need odor control with such small living quarters)

We are in another large city but large here in China is way bigger than most of us can imagine.  We come from a small town of under 10,000 people to living in an apartment the size of our kitchen on the 20th floor in Chengdu with over 15 million people!  It’s no wonder the locals refer to the city as "People Mountain".

            I don’t know if it’s all the smog or the constant noise here but I have come to realize the less I think about things the more I can see how we get/let ourselves be brainwashed.  Nobody likes to know they are being brainwashed.  What else can I call it so everyone understands especially here where ‘being PC’ (politically correct) is different.  Walking down the street ‘openly and aggressively’ picking your nose is completely acceptable BUT using a tooth pick (and not hiding it) is considered rude – but I digress – back to brainwashing.

FATTY AND SKINNING WENT TO BED; SKINNY ROLLED OVER AND FATTY WAS DEAD.  You may or may not know this little ‘riddle’ but what we thought would be the outcome is not necessarily so.  This has been the case for me as I take time to ponder and reevaluate many things I know and do – another benefit of extended travel.  NOTE:  I’m not saying one way is either Right or Wrong – I’m just saying………….

o   Science has proven (and all of China practices) that when you are hot you drink hot water or hot tea.  All those milk, water, beer, coffee, pop advertisements are simply marketing gimmicks so strong that we would rather have a cold beer than lower our body temperature.

o   If cell phones held to your head cause cancer then there is a chance we will catch up to the Chinese academically because they use their cell phones so much you would think they are pillows!

o   Why have we been programmed now that the sun is bad and we must drown ourselves in pharmaceutical chemicals (aka Sun block) when EVERYONE else just covers up?  However, every commercial we see is someone well-tanned?  Mixed message?

o   Dietary Lies?

    o   In the West when we go into grocery stores we have rows filled with cereals and many other high carbohydrate foods yet here you find rows of fats, oils and other greasy foods.  Yet we in the West are fat and the Chinese are skinny.
    o   We just went out with friends for Chinese Hot Pot and the restaurant provides everyone a ‘side bowl’ of oil to dip your deep fried bacon in!  The food is so greasy here it runs down your chin and it seems the less fat I eat the fatter I’m getting!

o   One child policy 

    o   We have been brainwashed that this is BAD yet the Chinese people understand the importance of this Government policy – you need to just go visit India.
    o   The facts are IF you can afford to take care of another child than you can pay and have as many as you can afford.  
    o   Fact:  many Chinese really don’t want more children as they can have a good life (lots of things) with only one child.   What if our government said if you want more children you have to make sure you can afford them?

o   To get married here – you better own a home first.  Has this thought been in our Western mindset in the past 65 years?

o   Communism
    o   We in the West have been brainwashed that communism is bad (enabling us to hate most of Eastern Europe, Cuba and China).  Yet the richest and best jobs belong to members of the Communist Party (Government).
    o   The people actually believe that the government has their best interests (generally speaking) at heart whereas I don’t think anyone in the West would say that about their governments.
o   Isn’t it also ironic that it is the highly successful (ie RICH) communist government officials and cronies that our governments invite to immigrate to our countries?

o   Current events and the American Propaganda

o   Interesting watching the conflict between China and Japan (and S. Korea and Japan) intensify completely propagated by the US.
    o   We are watching the news from BOTH sides and it is clear the US is trying to ‘destabilize’ the region so that China does not get too powerful and challenge the US (at least that is the US worry).
    o   Ask any Chinese and they don’t want conflict.  They want to keep going to work and getting richer (not righter).  The Chinese realize (but the US and Japan do not) that China would only hurt their own people with any conflict with any country AS THEY PRODUCE MOST EVERYTHING consumed around the world.  The Chinese can’t afford to have more job losses.
    o   Does it not seem curious that the land given to China by the US as part of the Japanese surrender after WWII is now open for discussion and the US is now “Indian Giving” the land back (or siding with) Japan.  Ain’t politics interesting?
    o   The Chinese believe White is better (great for me) – here they buy creams to make themselves look whiter and avoid sun at ALL cost and consequence.

o   More is better!  Not.
    o   I think the less you have the more you appreciate things. 

o   In the West, we let our dogs and cats ‘deposit their excrement’ wherever and whenever they want but could you imagine the looks if we allowed our children to go ‘dump’ wherever the need arouse (and save on diapers)?  It’s totally acceptable here!

o   Factories now leaving China because labor costs are too high

o   With so much pressure from the West to pay workers more factories are now leaving China because labor costs are too high.  Now the Chinese unemployment is on the rise.

Other thoughts:

o   Drivers here suck – green or red lights don’t matter, direction, speed, everything seems ‘optional’. 
o   Only in China – could a 13 year old wear a t- shirt that says: Nigger, Frog, Faggot, Wop…
    o   It is common to see ALL staff standing in formation in front of their business every day for a ‘pep talk’ so as to make sure people get the best service possible.
    o   The other morning Janice and I went into the grocery store only to be greeted by 20 or so very well dressed staff (looked like a pageant contest) who all bowed and said good morning and welcome in unison!!  The customer “is always right” felt real for the first time in a long time!

o   Chinese birthday – you are 1 when born because zero is not a number.  Great – now I’m older and Sabrina is 2 years older because she was born before the 1996 Chinese New Year.  Our 16 year old is now 18!

o   People flock to Starbucks, McDonalds, and KFC paying prices almost as much as we do at home.

    -It takes hour at minimum wage to buy a coffee at Starbucks in Canada BUT it takes 10 times that in China for the same drink.

o   Why do Chinese come to Canada to buy their electronics?
    o   It’s cheaper!  Even though the product is made here it is much cheaper in North America than right here!
    o   All Apple iPod’s are made right here in Chengdu yet it is far cheaper to order online from Canada ( and have it shipped from China to Canada than have it shipped back from Canada to me here in China.
I wish I could show you a picture of what we see over and over all day here……if I could you would see a Chinese driving an unlicensed electric scooter, smoking, YELLING on his cell phone, with no helmet, weaving in and out of people, cars not paying attention to the merging buses, with their daughter/son drooped over his knees sleeping, his wife sits ‘side saddle’ behind  him on their way to a Sichuan Restaurant for Hot Pot so spicy hot that your lips tingle for 3 hours after you have finished eating and have consumed the equivalent of a year’s ‘grease’ consumption.

One thing we see ‘eye to eye on’ here in China is a well-deserved rest in the afternoon – that is what is next for me.  We hope you get your rest and have a wonderful week.  Our next stop is the main reason for this adventure – seeing/sending off our daughter – Sabrina.

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