Earlier today (that's Sunday, May 20th), I went for about a 2.5 hour walk around West Lake and shot some more photos. Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my time at the China Internet Developer Conference where I spoke and got to talk to various people about technology, China, and living in the Bay Area. I even got my picture taken with Jack Ma but don't know whose camera was actually used. Maybe that'll end up on Flickr too.
I still have one day left in Hangzhou (and a bit of shopping to do), but I've observed and learned several things in the last couple of days. Here are the things I've managed to remember, in no particular order...
- Hangzhou is crowded. But everyone tells me that it's nothing compared to Beijing or Shanghai. Even so, there are just a lot of people everywhere you go.
- Navigating the crowd around the lake can be tricky, because I'm walking at my "walking with good music on the iPod" pace and everyone else is going much more slowly and seems to have no idea that I'm there. That second bit is quite puzzling.
- People here seem not to think much of the Great Firewall. The technology savvy folks I talked to said that those who really want to get around it know how to, so it kind of doesn't matter.
- If Hangzhou is representative of other similarly sized (or larger) cities, China is truly in the middle of a renaissance. Looking around, it's not hard to guess which of the stores and large buildings are less than 5 years old. And there's a lot of new demolition and re-building going on.
- Hangzhou is quite vibrant and alive at night. Somehow that took me completely by surprise, even though I've had similar experiences in Tokyo and Taipei.
- As the pace of Internet adoption here continues to increase, there's a very real chance that the Internet will be more Chinese and English before too long.
- Kids in China don't seem as attached to their mobile phones as those in, say, Japan do. Sure, they have them and use them, but it's not nearly as intense.
- There's a lot of natural beauty in this area.
- As an English-only speaker, the language barrier here is certainly an issue. But from what I've been told, that's likely to be far less of a problem in another 5 years or so.
- I've seen very little evidence of poor and/or homeless. Then again, I'm in a place that people from all over China flock to. So they're either well hidden in areas like this, or they simply don't exist.
- There are far fewer scooters on the road than I expected.
- I've seen fewer US-basedfast food chain stores here than I expected. I've also seen very few overweight Chinese folks. I suspect these are related.
- I'm told that there's a crazy efficient courier/delivery network in China.
- The food in this region is excellent. I've really enjoyed nearly ever dish I've tried (which is no small number). There's little spice in most of it, but the variety of textures and flavors is quite good.
- I need to eat with chopsticks more. It had been a while and I'm a little rusty.
- The roads here are well maintained, but there are some serious traffic flow and apparent problems with signs and good markings in places.
I'm sure there's a lot more I could write, but that's all that comes to mind right now. If I feel so inspired, I'll follow-up in a day or so. Maybe during the 14+ hours of flying required to get myself from Hangzhou back to San Francisco via Hong Kong...
Posted by jzawodn at May 20, 2007 03:47 AM