How I spent the rest of my time in China

I realize I'm long overdue for a new post to this blog. I'm wrapping up a month-long tour through China and haven't shared much about it to anyone. The reason for this being my time in this country has been anything but pleasant. China wore down my spirit.

As I mentioned in my last post on Northern China, I've had a challenging time communicating with the locals. But more than that, I began to notice everyone I encountered had a general sense of melancholy, anxiety, and misery emanating from them. As a temporary visitor, I'll never fully understand all the reasons for this. All I know is whenever I'd ask about it, the typical response was that people are stressed out from work. They're under constant pressure to succeed at work, buy property, and get married. In China, a man's marriage prospects are directly tied to their income level. The pressure caused by the country's economic boom must play a factor as well because people tell me this general mood of melancholy among the people is a new phenomenon. My tour guide put it best when he said it's easy to tell I'm not a Chinese native because I always have a smile on my face - something you'll never see on a local.

The country's complicated relationship with the West is another sore point I learned more about on this trip. For example, it's no secret to the Chinese what a disproportionate amount of profits from sales of the Apple iPhone will go to the US. Apple will earn an estimated $319 per iPhone sold while Foxconn's labor cost to produce that phone stands at a meager $15. [1] There's no doubt Apple could increase wages for the labor force given the enormous profit margin. As it stands, the Foxconn employees complain their wages are below what they need to make ends meet. Even more, it's China who's left to deal with the pollution caused by the manufacture of the phones. All this leads to an animosity with the West which I found myself in agreement with.

So with all these unhappy thoughts swirling around in my head, my tour took me to a place called Ping'an village. It's a picturesque little village full of ethnic minorities who terraced the nearby mountains to grow rice. The village was discovered by tourists about five years ago and heavy development ensued. Today, the locals make more money selling housing and supplies to the travelers than they do growing rice.

The stop was a badly needed reprieve for me. I spent four days there taking in the quiet beauty and reviving my soul. And for the first time in over two weeks, I was inspired to take nice looking pictures again. 

More photos from Ping'an:

Now I'm crashing at a friend's apartment in Hong Kong. This place is a country apart from mainland China. I suddenly entered into a whole new part of the trip both because of the change in environment and because of the people I'm now surrounding myself with. My friend introduced me to the ex-pat scene in Hong Kong and filled up my itinerary with activities like going to a horse race, a jazz bar, and clubbing. It's not at all the backpacker life I've gotten used to and it reminds me of home. I'm really liking Hong Kong.

Wandering the streets of Hong Kong

 View from Cheung Chao island, one of many tiny little islands you can visit around Hong Kong

I'm leaving China in three more days - flying into Hyderabad to spend four weeks in India. One day I may find myself in China again. If that happens, I hope I can walk down the streets and see at least a few people with smiles on their faces.

[1] Horace Dediu, "An iPhone profit paradox",, February 29, 2012.


  1. I happened on Google + and found your blog! Your posts are so thoughtful and nice to read. I'm so so so so jealous!!!

    Very sexy picture on the beach. You turned so orange in India!

  2. WTF I guess I don't know how to use this. The comment is from Jeanette!