Dave's Travel Journal

A vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking. - Earl Wilson


Under Construction

man waitingWe decided to take a shortcut back home and wandered through a wasteland of destroyed buildings. Huge crane-operated jackhammers blasted concrete boulders, boulders that were once pillars and walls of a four story tenement apartment building. Backhoes scraped at the jackhammered rubble, revealing iron rebar for the scavengers. One woman in a billowing dress and plastic slippers stirred a caldron of soft metals.  It was propped upon cinder blocks above a wood burning fire, her make-shift stove. Orange tongues licked the container's edge.

alley road
Nothing is wasted here. Even after a building is taken down (and there are lots of them coming down) ants of people scurry through the dust and unstable debris to hunt for recyclable materials: iron, plastic, paper, cardboard, and glass. All of it is collected, bundled, and hauled off. Families set up camp next to the destruction site with their own portable stoves, makeshift beds, and wheeled carts. Together with their children they scavenge night and day for weeks in exchange for a few jiao (pennies) of discovered material.

"What happens to the people that were living in the buildings?" I've asked a hundred times. I get different answers. Some say the government gives them some money to move further out of the city. Others say they find a place among relatives in an already confined room. Still others say there is nothing they can do. China's rebuilding program has accelerated like a time-lapse movie, people get in the way.

jackhammerIn ten years all the buildings in the city will be replaced with high rise apartments that only the wealthy can afford. In just six months rent has increased 20 percent.

When the wealthy move in, so do the companies that cater to them.  There are now five Starbucks Coffee Shops in our area. I decided to check one out. It looked like an American Starbucks:  important people sitting at impossibly small tables, typing madly into their WIFI computers, texting/talking to business contacts, gulping hot black liquid, etc.

But . . .  I waited 10 minutes to get a cup of the day in a paper cup AND it cost me four dollars. In America a cup of the day costs a buck ninety and it's served in a pre-heated mug within 60 seconds. I will not be going back anytime soon.

I think I'll boil my own coffee on a make-shift cinder block stove over a wood burning fire and charge admission to watch the buildings come down.

...dave
The road to success is always under construction. - Lily Tomlin

3 Responses to “Under Construction”

  1. # Blogger mandachino

    I like your style of writing, especially in this one. You painted a very colorful picture. Did you get a shot of the lady in the billowing dress? We would like to see it. You know, I just visited the Starbucks too. It must be the NOISIEST Starbucks in the world. And the coffee was BITTER!  

  2. # Blogger daveterry

    Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post. I'll see if I have a pic of the lady. if so, I'll post it here.

    You're right. Some of these places are just too noisy to yell on your phone!

    ...dave  

  3. # Blogger daveterry

    mandachino: Sorry, I couldn't find the "billowing dress" lady but found the huge jackhammer!

    ...dave  

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