Thursday, June 6, 2019

A trip to China - Day 3 - We're off to the Great Wall, via a Jade Factory

Day  3 - We're off to the great wall

The trip to the Great Wall is going to take a while and since we are leaving early, about 8:00 and the time for peak hour for traffic, it gives our guide some time to talk us about China, history and current day, and answer questions about everyday life in China.

It seems they do not have it any easier than we do when it comes to house prices, cost of living, taxes, petrol, cars, which are considerably more than we pay, children, education, though it might be rather less, child minding, and the usual government services like pension, hospital and other medical care, and the typical retirement age, which like in Australia, is increasing in age.

And it seems that life coexists somewhere between socialism and capitalism, which seems best for the country and its people.  Oppression and lack of individual freedoms doesn't match the impression we are given in the media, or from the odd case of infringement that occasionally hits our newspapers.

My view of China has changed significantly since being here. Of course, the internet is here, but without the usual social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and the government might be responsible for making it impossible to use the internet in this hotel, but, I think its more of a bandwidth issue, and needs someone more qualified to fix it.  People don't look oppressed, they just look like you and me, dressed in formal wear or designer casual, and nearly everyone I saw under the age of 30 had a cell phone.

So much for social history, we are within a short distance and we are getting an introduction to the next place we're visiting.

On the way the Great Wall we are going via the jade museum, so called, but more a small factory and a very large sales showroom.  It's owned we're told by the government so there should be no problems with quality and after-sales service.  I doubt the Chinese government would want to have complaints levelled against it when this tour is a key part of many, many groups arranged by Trip a Deal.

Negative publicity has a way of destroying something very quickly, and the internet outside China is a very powerful determinant of what people will spend money on.  And Trip adviser is only too happy to help spread the word.

The Jade Factory

The brochure says today we will, after breakfast, on the way to the Great Wall, stop at a Jade Museum to learn the history of jade. In Chinese, jade is pronounced as “Yu” and it has a history in China of at least four thousand years. Observe the skilled artisans at work as they create their intricate designs.  I can’t wait.

But, first, you are dazzled by the ship and is nothing short of magnificent.

So, armed with the brief introduction, on the bus ride, and a story about how a jade bracelet saved a friend from serious harm by the tour guide, she hands us over to a local guide, read staff member, and she begins with a discussion on jade and we watch a single worker working on an intricate piece, sorry, there are two workers, and the second is working on a dragon.

Then it's into a smaller showroom and we are taken through the colours, and the carving process in the various stages, without really being told how the magic happens, then it's out into the main showroom where the sales are made, and before dispersing to look at the jade collection, she briefly tells us how to tell real and fake jade, and she does the usual trick of getting on of the tour group to model a piece.

Looks good, let's move on.  To bigger and better examples.

What interested me, other than the small zodiac signs and other smallish pieces on the 'promotion' table was the object tour guide told us about on the bus while stuck in a traffic jam, the good luck bangle.  If anyone needs one it is my other half, with all the medical issues and her sometimes clumsiness.

There are literally thousands of them, but, they have to be specially fitted to your wrist because if it's too large, you might lose it if it slips off and I didn't think it could be too small.  Nor is it cheap, and needing a larger size, it is reasonably expensive.  But it is jadeite, the more expensive of the types of jade, and it can only appreciate in value, not that we are interested in the monetary value, it's more the good luck aspect.

We could use some of that.

But, just to touch on something that can be the bugbear of travelling overseas, is the subject of happy houses, a better name for toilets, and has become a recurrent theme on this tour.  It's better than blurting out the word toilet and it seems there can be some not so happy houses given that the toilets in China are usually squat rather than sit, even for women.

And apparently, everyone has an unhappy house story, particularly the women, and generally in having to squat over a pit.  Why is this a discussion point, it seems the jade factory had what we have come to call happy happy houses which have more proper toilets, and a stop here before going on the great wall was recommended as the 'happy house' at the wall is deemed to be not so happy houses.

Not even this dragon was within my price range.  Thank heaven they had smaller more affordable models.

After spending a small fortune, another bonus, free Chinese tea.  Then it's onto the Great Wall experience.

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