Hotels in China

Hotels in different cities are always a hit or miss. A hotel may be rated 4 stars or 3 stars, but the actual place can turn out to be totally different from the ratings. One must start with the level of the city. If the city is a level 3, one would expect the hotels in the city to be extremely well done and be considered of top-class quality. In Beijing, the hotel the Davidson in Shanghai group stayed at was a 4 star hotel. The hotel turned out to be the palace of a previous prince in Chinese history and had been renovated to be a hotel for tourists. The hotel was actually small due to the architecture, but the place was clean besides the snow, the bathroom was built western style, Wi-Fi and a computer were included, and the whole place was well-heated. Heat is important because it is extremely cold in Beijing and considering that Beijing winters can be brutal. Also, the breakfast was a traditional Chinese style with some Western foods. Everything was fresh and cooked instead of being heated up. The hotel was deserving of the 4 stars it received.

However, in Nanjing, the hotel was not deserving of the 3 stars it was given. The place had the decorum of the 80’s or 90’s. There was a western style bathroom but the rooms were not heated and there was no Wi-Fi or computer for guests to use. Nanjing’s temperature is not as cold as Beijing, but there should still be a functioning option to heat the rooms, and although the thermostat had the option, the heat did not work. Furthermore, the hotel was actually very dirty and needed to be cleaned. The breakfast was not worth eating and many students ended up going to McDonalds or KFC for breakfast because the food looked inedible. This hotel was not deserving of 3 stars. An argument could be made that because the hotel was not meant to be as great as level 3 city hotels, but next comes the case of a level 2 city that had a hotel that was deserving of its 4 stars.

In Xi’an, a level 2 city, the hotel was definitely deserving of 5 stars instead of 4 stars. The hotel had great décor and the architecture was beautiful. The rooms were spacious, had Wi-Fi, Western-style bathroom, cleaned very well, heating and a TV that had English channels! This hotel was a franchise, which could explain that a lot of money was poured into it. Still, the Xi’an hotel had great service, an impressive dining hall for breakfast that served Chinese and Western style food as the Beijing hotel did. The city was not as technologically advanced as the hotel. This is how impressive the hotel was.

Lastly, Suzhou is also a level 2 city that also shows a hotel that deserves 4 stars instead of the 3 stars it received. The hotel is also a franchise and was actually brand new. However, the style of the hotel was a Western style room with everything the Xi’an hotel had to offer and some great amenities. For example, there was an ironing board and iron for guests to iron their clothes and look great.

Therefore, hotels ratings should not be trusted, but instead a person should scout out the place before deciding to book the place because of Web reviews. A friend who has actually stayed and enjoyed the hotel should be found instead of just trusting reviews. A tour guide is also helpful, if the company has been reviewed well and even though it may be more expensive, the quality is worth it.

Heat! Praise the Lord!

Heating in China is a topic that most people would not consider unless they are staying during the winters in the northern parts. However, even in the southern part of China, the temperatures still go down to the low 40’s Fahrenheit or 4 degree Celsius. While most people from countries that have winter would call that type of temperature as normal in winter and say that it is not so bad, people from the southern parts of countries with no winter are freezing in their rooms.

In America, most dorms have heaters and the electricity bill is billed into a student’s tuition, so there is no worry about turning on the heater for prolonged amounts of time. In China, heating becomes an expensive energy usage issue. Electricity is still an expensive thing to use, and since Shanghai does not reach ridiculously cold temperatures as Beijing, most places do not have heating. Fortunately, Tonghe, the dorm that Davidson in Shanghai students are staying at, has air conditioning units that convert into heaters and help keep students warm at night. Still, the idea that most places do not have heating is a look on how modernity has not been completely achieved in China. Shanghai is one of the more advanced cities in China. Yet, if there are places here that do not have heating, one can only imagine how inner China faces the cold.

In comparison, Beijing seems to be fully prepared and used to the super cold winters. While in Beijing during the fall, the temperatures were already in the 30’s Fahrenheit or -1 degrees Celsius. Yet, the hotel Davidson students were lodging at, had heaters for all the room and even heated the hallways. Yes, the hotel is a fancy place and should not be considered a fair place to compare. So, I and fellow students, Nicky Coutinho and DJ Seabrooks randomly went to a hole in the wall restaurant at midnight for some food because they were hungry. The weather was sleeting at the time but as we entered the place, one could see how even those with no heaters were able to keep warm. There were plastic covers at the front door to keep the cold out and there were iron stoves in different parts of the room to keep the place warm. Although the place was not as warm as the hotel, we were comfortably protected from the cold and not chilly.

Therefore, I would like to say that heat is an expensive commodity that not everyone can afford and should be appreciated greatly. Many people in China still do not have heaters and still use old methods to keep warm. It is not bad for them, but as Thanksgiving draws near, I would like to say I am thankful for heat.

Game Center

On Guoding and Siping road, there is an arcade called Game World. Most arcades are aboveground or have flashy designs to attract customers. However, Game World is an arcade that customers need to go downstairs for. It is located in the basement of the shopping center next to an Internet café. The arcade had recently been going through renovations and was not fully functional for a couple of months. But now, all the games at the arcade work and some of them even give tickets for prizes. The arcade has many genres of games, from sports games, like shooting basketball hoops, to shooter games like Ghost Squadron. The most popular games for young adults are the racing games. For children, there are kid games like the Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. There is also a gambling table at the back of the arcade that only adults go to try and win money. Unfortunately, for safety issues, there are no pictures of the gambling table. The fact that there is an arcade is a pleasant surprise in Shanghai because it makes the gaming culture become different. Most children in America have their own game consoles and can afford to play games whenever they want and wherever they want, as long as they have power and a television. However, in China, space is limited and even though the economy has been improving, people are not all lining up to buy game consoles. There are so many fake consoles that Chinese companies have been making to look like certain brands, such as Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo. Furthermore, since the Internet speeds in China are so slow, the PC gaming community is not able to keep up with gamers that have high connection, like South Korea. Therefore, instead of playing super-fast high graphic games, there are gamers playing League of Legends, a free PvP (Player versus Player) game that does not overclock anyone’s computer because of its low maintenance. Globalization is affecting China, but the transition of what some people think of China turning into America is not happening anytime soon in the gaming world. Arcades are still a popular place for young people because it involves hanging out outside instead of staying inside and playing console games.

Taking Pictures of Foreigners

On the Nanjing trip, there were foreigners form different parts of the world. There were the Americans from different states, there were the Europeans from different countries like Germany and Denmark, and there was Nicky, the lone Comorian from the Comoros Islands. In the United States, Asians are glanced at and people move on with their daily lives. I do not know what happens in Europe, but I am under the impression that they do the same. In China, foreigners are looked upon as if they were some rare species that need to be documented. Throughout the whole trip, there were Chinese people coming up to the group and asking to take pictures with the white and black people of the group. These pictures would escalate form one or two people asking, to groups of Asians joining the picture to take pictures with the one or two foreigners.

None of the Asian foreigners were asked to be in the group picture because they look the same as the rest of the Asians. This may sound stereotypical, but there is some truth to that statement. It IS very uncommon to see white or black foreigners in China, and so they have become a type of attraction. Some Asians are too afraid to ask and would just take pictures from afar. But many were bold and would take pictures right in front of people’s faces. Most of the foreigners in the group enjoyed the attention and took many pictures. Others were offended or were tired of people constantly taking pictures of them and would move out of the way. The question is, why are foreigners such an interesting thing to see, that people flock over from wherever they are to take pictures of them?

Maybe it is because there are 1 billion Chinese people in the country and it is nice to see people who do not look similar. In the United States, there is a variety of people and so life does not seem boring. In China, everyone is similar, even the ethnic groups. In the rest of the world, this does not seem to happen as often. Maybe Asians just find foreigners more fascinating because they do not have the chance to view them as often as people in the rest of the world do.

Parks in Taiwan for Children

In Taiwan, there was a point in the Davidson group’s journey that we became little kids again. We stumbled upon a playground in a park near the government buildings of Taipei. This was the first time that we saw structures that were meant to be played on. In Shanghai, most of the parks are just open fields of grass with benches under trees. This is meant for the different types of people who come to the park, such as the old grandparents with their Tai Chi, water calligraphy or dancing. They need all the space they can get to do their activities. There is usually no play set for the children to have fun on. In the park that we went to, there was a jungle gym, two sets of swings, a four person see-saw and a set off pull-up bars. Davidson students clamored up the jungle gym, started swinging on the swings, and riding the see-saw. It was an incredible amount of fun, although it would have been great if Dr. Lozada and Dr. Rigger had joined us.

I believe there was more equipment for children because there is no one-child policy in Taiwan. People are allowed to have as many children as they like, and as a result, they have more friends or siblings, and require more equipment to play with. There are more people in China, but right now there is a slower birth rate because many people are looking for the perfect person to marry or further their education and end up getting married later with less chances of producing children. Taiwan has a similar problem, or what some people call “economic one child policy (Lozada).” In a meeting with interns for the Democratic Progressive Party, a woman was telling us that she had to first provide for herself, then her parents, and then she could start thinking of marriage. This may be starting to happen to many young people in Taiwan because of their culture emphasizing filial piety, but I still saw multiple children in families in Taiwan instead of the usual one. There were many twins as well. Economic stability is important for most of the young people, but I think that once they have reached that point, the young people will have more than just one kid. I think they will start to enjoy having children and end up having more than one.