Past, Present and Future (?)

On the way to school the other morning, we saw a cement truck parked at the front gate. It reminded me of my father’s car. In 1968 he bought a brown Dodge Coronet 440. It was the last car he ever bought – he had it until I got rid of it for him in 1994. Anyway, by the mid 1980s he was repairing it with brown MacTac (just not an exact match) – both inside and out! Ah well, back to the cement truck – I always thought they had to keep that big drum turning, but apparently not in China as it just sat still waiting for something.

A cardboard carton can serve as a darn good fender.

A cardboard carton can serve as a darn good fender.

I am not saying that Terry had a frustrating day at school today but here are the last two emails I got this afternoon:

1. “I am pissed off and fed up and need some exercise.  Are you up for it?”


2. “freakin kids and their freakin parents!”

Here’s an example. Some of our Grade 11 students are encountering some difficulty with the curriculum and don’t appear to have the resiliency to suck it up and study. Somehow or other they got the idea that they can get into a North American university with  a Chinese certificate after grade 11 and they have come to the conclusion that they can quit this year.  In reality, if they don’t pass all of our courses, they are screwed. Sadly, they have also convinced their parents of the Chinese certificate thing so they aren’t being pushed from their parents. Monday evening could be interesting – Terry has a meeting with all the parents and they will get the truth. I’m looking forward to Tuesday morning.

(Ed. note: I sent this email to Tim today: [Sorry, no photos]

Good morning. You’re a worldly kind of guy, well travelled, familiar with Chinese culture etc. etc. Thought maybe you could answer this. Yesterday at 3:45 or so, Terry and I  were waiting at the bus stop at the mall to catch the bus to Metro. We noticed a number – 20 or so – young ladies getting out of cabs, all in short dresses and stilettos and going up to the fourth floor of the building on the corner. (We know because they took the glass elevator.) This morning I notice that there is a sign that says KTV 4F on the building. Now I thought KTV was a kind of karaoke family thing, but they didn’t appear to be family type girls. What’s the story?

His response:

They are KTV girls.  KTV can be a casual outing with friends, family or more elaborate entertainment.  Most KTV places employ pretty girls that for a fee will drink, dance, sing with you.  This is often a part of business entertainment.  I refer to these girls as the “drinking wenches” as a large part of their role is to make sure you ganbei frequently and your glass is immediately refilled.  They are predictably flirtatious but the occasions I have observed have been confined to that.  I’m sure that at the right place and for the right fee much more is possible, as is the case in western cities.  Being as we own guns and Sherrie knows how to use them my reputation is sterling.  They parade the girls out as in a beauty contest and you make your selection.  “I’ll take number 23 please.” )

I was in Shanghai yesterday and once again, I had to go around cars that were just parked on the sidewalk. Well, they were just outside the dealership, which is next door to a Starbucks.

How often do you see a new Lamborghini, Maserati,  and Bentley on the sidewalk?

How often do you see a new Lamborghini, Maserati, and Bentley on the sidewalk?

From the sublime to the ridiculous. We went for a walk in our neighbourhood the other day. What do you think this shop sells?

If you said women's clothing, congratulations,  you were right!

You’re right, it is women’s clothing. 

This guy was one of FOUR people his age – middle teens, we think, on a scooter. He had the coolest hair though.

Like the lightning bolts!

Like the lightning bolts!

And the last stuff from Geoff: They may be made in the USA but they are likely only sold in China.

Yum Yum, Chocolate and Strawberry Popcorn!

Yum Yum, Chocolate and Strawberry Popcorn!


I read the China Daily every other day or so as I supervise our Reading Room during the lunch period.  It is clearly the government voice to the people.  Sometimes the editorials verge on embarrassing as they gush on about China’s glorious future and happy lives for everyone, but it is really good for keeping up with what the government is doing.  I trust you have seen the stories about Premier Li’s trip to Africa.  He has pledged to contribute to  connecting all of Africa’s capitals by high-speed rails and another 10 billion DOLLAR loan for infrastructure.  Amazing!  Infrastructure is something China does very very well.  They plan for the future in a big way, thus it is possible to be driving down a 4-6 lane road, complete with planted boulevards and sidewalks, with no businesses or residences in sight.  They do not wait for 40 or 50 years after a roadway has become overcrowded and obsolete to improve it (lower mainland freeway, anyone?) but build ahead of where they want the population and work to be in the future.  It is truly astonishing.  It does not surprise me in the least that they will be able to fulfill their promise to Africa, thereby single-handedly lending them a necessary hand-up to build their economy while creating a future export-import market that is potentially vast.   The leaders of this country are brilliant in many ways.

Another of their recent announcements has a similar ring to it.  China is going to build a rail link to Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myranmar, Singapore and Malaysia.  The last I looked, Singapore and Malaysia were islands!  Technically, Singapore is ON an island but same same–a tunnel will be necessary.  Size does not seem to be an issue here.  We know that Laos, Thailand and Myranmar are currently very unstable countries and no doubt will benefit from this enterprise but how much of those very different cultures will be lost?  So glad that we went to Thailand last year!  I don’t think there are any plans for a tunnel to Richmond but I’ll let you know.

On another note, walking home from RT Mart, our Chinese grocery store, we spotted two new shops in the neighbourhood.  It appears that West and East have definitely met:  A doggy day-care and a weight reduction studio.  We stopped in the latter to see if I could get a pedicure but the woman explained to me in Chinese–all of which I understood, by the way–that before, she was an ungainly monster, but NOW, after the “plan,” she was reduced to her current svelte self.  She did look very trim and she showed me her ‘before’ picture.  We think she had maybe 15 lbs to lose.  There aren’t a lot of overweight Chinese around but it doesn’t look like you have to be in order to be worried about it–another example of how the western world has sadly infiltrated here.

I know some of you worry about Geoff’s thing with the shoes.  Don’t.  He usually asks permission to take the picture and mostly people cooperate.  True, he would probably have been arrested back  home but the women here are much more understanding. Flattery will get you shoe pictures.  Truly, though, have you ever seen such a variety of amazing and fascinating shoes?  If only I could wear them!

The Shoe Blog

These were pretty cool. Certainly they were something one would wear to catch a train.

Sparkles, beads and golden heels. Great shoes to party in - but to travel?

Sparkles, beads and golden heels. Great shoes to party in – but to travel?


5 thoughts on “Past, Present and Future (?)

  1. Joan

    KTV Girls.. . . . Interesting! Love most of the shoes, but I sure couldn’t wears them!
    I’ll stick to my Sketchers and Tomms.

  2. lois

    The teen with the red hair and studded jacket…Mao is likely rolling in his grave. WHERE did I go wrong? :-}

  3. kenrhaycock

    Two comments on infrastructure:
    [a] it was the Chinese who built our railroad, but that is another story;
    [b] our only local example is the Canada Line (granted already needed) which is leading to many new developments at the stations.
    I was so impressed by the new train stations on the outskirts of town, knowing that people would be moving in that direction. We spend in the moment (better education this year but not so much next year) rather than in investment.

  4. Lynne

    A bridge to Vancouver Island anyone?? It would have been completed 50 years ago if this was China!

  5. Judith

    One month to go…really?! you’ll have to get used to NOT “snapping “pictures 0f people on the street…’ll have to get used to not checking out feet too….how boring it will all seem! although… you may be able set up a photo display at your local farmers market and start a new career?

    looking forward to seeing you two again, love nad hugs, Judith


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