Well ok, I am not young. And it is good advice for anyone, young, old, male, female, etc. I had the opportunity to travel to China for business. The unfortunate aspect of my travel was that it was all for business and thus was not able to sightsee and travel around as I would have liked. But I was still amazed. China is a place in major transition and the evidence is obvious and everywhere I went. My time was spent primarily in Guangzhou, once known by the name Canton in the West.
I arrived by boat from Hong Kong (another amazing place that I barely got to see). The ride up was framed by freighter after freighter of goods heading to places all over the globe. Upon arrival, I took a shuttle from the outskirts of the city toward the resort where the ISO/TC198 Sterilization Standards meeting was being held. Along the ride, the area reminded me of second and third world countries I have been to. Lot's of people on scooters, modest appearing buildings with service businesses, etc. Very clean, but rustic. The closer we got to the city, however, the more evidence of modernity.
By the time I arrived at the Chime Long Resort, I felt like I could be anywhere in North America - most specifically, it reminded me of Opryland. The center city of Guangzhou is a dramatic canvas of a place in transition. Beautiful, new, gleaming highrises of luxury condos sit next to others that are old, run down and likely destined for a meeting with a wrecking ball.
Walking the streets (which I wish I had had more time to do) similarly was evidence of a society in transition. Everywhere, residents are on cell phones, talking, texting and surfing. The commuter rail system is brand new, highly efficient, and features non-stop advertising on the integrated video screens for various consumer products. The shopping districts are huge, feature many beautiful indoor malls as well as the intrigue of extensive pedestrian walking malls. And the people are shopping.
There are still some reminders of the political reality in China (Picasa, Youtube and Twitter are all blocked, for instance), but the overwhelming impression is of a society quickly moving into the 21st Century. Freedom is a powerful force and I think what I saw is a hopeful sign for the future. I am glad I had a chance to see it.