Home > Cities traveled > Day 34: Confucius, you’re a bitch!

Day 34: Confucius, you’re a bitch!

May 18th, 2011

My couchsurf hosts, Shen and Laura, believe that the modern Chinese educational system is broken and that it is destroying their son’s mind; turning him into some kind of robot that only knows how to give the desired results for specific questions but doesn’t know how to think for himself and how to solve problems. They’ve pulled him out of school for a while and are trying home-schooling but, in the end, he must pass the same standard examinations for each grade. And my hosts believe that this is all the fault of Confucius who bastardized the teachings of Lao Tzu (Taoism) and created people who are hypocrites.

I caught this on audio during an animated dinner conversation that we were having with another visiting couchsurfer, Daniel.

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My hosts (and now, friends) are not conventional Chinese, or at least, don’t fit any expectations I may have had. It’s excellent. I think, from all that I have seen in China so far, their penthouse apartment, in Dalian overlooking the harbor, has been the best sight with the best view. I’ve spent a lot of relaxed time just reading/writing/thinking in their living room and on their balcony.

Of course, I did get out now and then to tour Dalian. In contrast to Beijing, Dalian is a quiet, kicked-back, and modern sea-port city in northeastern China. It was actually built up by Russians first, before the Japanese took over, and then the Chinese. There is construction going on everywhere (though not as much as Vladivostok) and everywhere you look you can see new buildings, that are less than 30 years old, sprinkled with older colonial Japanese and Russian buildings. Public transportation is very convenient with buses and trams running everywhere. One tram line even uses a few original trolleys from what must be the early 1900s. I found it fascinating that 99% of the trolleys are operated and driven by women.

All in all, however, Dalian has still left me with many uneasy thoughts about the pace of growth and the sacrifices we make to our living conditions, health, and even traditional culture to keep up. I saw complete towns being constructed in Dalian on land that was probably once beautiful coastline and just nature. And when I say towns, I really mean it. For the number of skyrise apartments that I saw being built in one area, I estimated that it would easily house 10,000 apartment units! There are a couple pictures of the architectural model for the construction zone in my Dalian set. Who is going to come live in all these new buildings? They’re on prime coastal property and run for several thousand dollars per square meter.

I’m very conflicted about the price to tradition and culture. I went for a hike one day in the local hills and came across a cemetery that had a bulldozed road going right through the center of it. There was garbage everywhere, bulldozers, trucks, and even people wandering through. I imagine that the missing graves where the road now is were not all relocated. As I walked around the cemetery, I even came across some human remains which are in the pictures (consider yourself warned).

My lasting impression is of Golden Pebble Beach where construction dug up many beautiful geological formations (ok, they’re basically rocks). The construction is still going on. The rocks have been collected into a Rock Garden of sorts that is surrounded by new construction. I went rock-climbing on the rocks and was struck with the manufactured-ness of it all. Even amidst the rock garden, there were cement stairs and walkways. I must admit, however, that it would have made an awesome site for paintball.

View my full picture set on Flickr.

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  1. from SD
    May 19th, 2011 at 10:38 | #1

    I didn’t know that Confucius was a woman. A new discovery!
    If you study about Confucianism, you may learn many philosophical, moral, social and political ideas, but many of his teachings don’t get along with Marxism.
    There is no perfect human being in this world. This goes for Confucius as well.
    He was a human being who had ego just like us.
    There is no perfect “ism” in this world because each “ism” has pros and cons.
    There is no absolute perfection in this world because this world has limitations and is changeable.
    I can see the world which is constantly moving, changing, and showing its dual face.

    Back to Dalian…
    Sandy, the forth picture is peculiar. (^_^;)
    Did Micky Mouse borrow a pink bow from Minnie?
    I love the retrospective streetcar!

  2. jason
    May 20th, 2011 at 02:47 | #2

    I loathe suburbia. It’s inefficient and dehumanizing. But it’s cheaper than the cities. I grew up in a planned suburb where you could find one of four houses of all the same style. Next to it was a condominium complex where there was only one style of house. Next to that, there used to be a large forest which is now an office park. The term “park” for offices makes my head spin. Park: a protected area, in its natural or semi-natural state, or planted, and set aside for human recreation and enjoyment. So contradictory to the notion of an office.

    I remember when they razed the forest and it was a sad day. Such a waste to take out the forest to put in a bunch of one and two story pre-fab office buildings. There’s something majestic about cities and they’re full of offices.

    Apparently, my great-grandfather apparently made his money through land speculation, however. And my grandmother did her bit of it, too. The house my mother grew up in still stands but the peach orchard she would ride her horse through is now another depressing mid-west suburb. I suppose one could say a peach orchard is just as depressing as an office park given that there used to be a forest there, too. All of this happened within a half-hour drive of downtown St. Louis. And progress pushed west. There’s often growth for growth’s sake and that’s not all bad. People find opportunity by building businesses and infrastructure to cater to the expansion. But it can be reckless and it’s always sad to see cheap, human-made crap displace a thriving ecosystem.

    Something surreal: google ’empty chinese cities’ and you’ll see examples of unnecessary growth. I’d be curious to see what you find on the other side of the Great Fire Wall.

    Good travels. I love hearing about the culture and counter-culture.

  3. Brian E.
    May 24th, 2011 at 15:39 | #3

    Hope all is well! Boy, I have a lot of blogs to read in order to catch up! Love the photos and details of your travels!

    Please take care! We ALL miss you!


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