My trips to China have always been a wild experience mixed with excitement and confusion. Even as a native Chinese who grew up and had most of my education there, China’s dazzling speed of changes makes me feel that I am in a foreign country each time.
Most of my encounters in China have been with old and new friends, local entrepreneurs, foreign investors, government officials, returnees, multi-national executives, Stanford alumni, etc. It’s interesting to see a wide variety of perspectives from these people. Again, they are mixed with excitement and confusion.
Looking at the bright side, China has attracted the best entrepreneurs, business people, and in the recent years, flooded with investment money. Someone from a prominent venture capital firm told me that Shanghai (I assume Beijing too) is like the Silicon Valley a few years ago with most innovation and exciting start-ups going on. Hopefully, it will learn from the Silicon Valley and not end up waking up in another bursted bubble. But who knows?
Talking to the taxi drivers is one of the good ways to find out the real stories of people’s lives. The taxi drivers in Beijing and Shanghai, who are making $300 per month on average, are the mouths of the cities. One big complaint I often heard is that the widening gap of the rich and poor. Life for some people is better, but for the majority it becomes harder. This time, Beijing’s tax drivers complained about the terrible traffic – it’s unbearable. I found Shanghai is much better than Beijing in this regard.
Having been living in California for more than ten years, the blue sky and fresh air are the things I missed the most when I am in China. One of my friends told me that the Bay Area is the most beautiful place she has visited (she has been to many foreign countries including Europe). I remembered I was thinking about Highway 101 and ugly constructions along the side when she said that. But after three weeks in China, my eyes were brightened by the green color and beautiful landscapes when I got off San Francisco International Airport. Everywhere I looked is like a picture in the dream! I couldn’t wait to roll down my car window on the ugly Highway 101 to breathe the fresh air!