A colleague noted, to Helen, earlier this week “When we arrived, it was too hot to do anything, then it was too cold, and now it is too wet!” He isn’t that far wide of the mark, but the past couple of days have been nice. The weather hasn’t stopped us doing a lot, but it certainly “dampens” the enjoyment of some events.
ANZAC Day, this morning, wasn’t one of them. About two hundred folk gathered at the Shangri-La hotel, on the south side off the Pearl River, to commemorate the day. It was really nice. The New Zealand Consul had a lovely story about a colleague who came across two medals in a Beijing flea market. One had belonged to a New Zealand soldier from WWI, but the other was awarded to a numbered Chinese labourer, one of 95,000 (!!!) brought by the British to the Western Front, in WWI, to dig trenches, etc. The NZ Consulate people were able to put a name to the number, but not a story, apart from a general anecdote by a New Zealander who had met some of these labourers at the time, and noted that, apart from language, there were few differences between them. It is also recorded that some of these Chinese labourers had also taken part in defending the trenches from the German advance. How these two medals came to be on the same table in a Beijing market will remain a mystery.
So, as we number down our days in GZ, we have not diminished our fondness for the city. There are aspects that are very different to Australia. For example, banking: I had one successful attempt at transferring money back to Australia. Unlike what I had been told, the process was very simple, although tedious. The China Construction Bank is very “methodical” in processing transfers. It involves a lot of sitting and waiting, and then signing bits of paper and entering PIN’s, but it is quite straightforward. It was much easier than our dealings with a well-known, western, offshore bank, which which we parted company because of its ineptitude.
As in any country, when you “go local”, you meet nice people. We shop at our local shops and markets, and can therefore, interact with familiar faces, even if we cannot speak the language. Some vendors are excellent at anticipating our desires, and go out of their way to accommodate our difficulty in communicating. I hope that foreigners in Australia receive the same degree of understanding that we do in China.