Monday, June 18, 2007

[The Life of Shaun #130] Some numbers

Let me give you three numbers:


The first, as most of you probably guessed, is the population of China.  But sometimes numbers this big are too much for use to take in, we can't grasp it - so the other two are to help illustrate what the first number means.

270 is the number of cities in China with populations over one million.

45,000 is the number of "towns" with over 100,000 people.  That's not a typo - 45,000.

The numbers in China are just ridiculous.  When I moved to the UK I'd hear all these numbers bantered about here, and coming from America these numbers seemed quaint; how quaint America's numbers must be to the Chinese.

Another example - there was an article in the paper while I was there about some flooding.  It affected nine million people.  Nine million!  I am trying to imagine the hullabaloo that would happen if a flood effected nine million people in America, or Britain, or anywhere else in the West. 

That was the main thing I got from being there, just how big it really is - it felt almost childish and simple to be coming back to a country of 60 million and to realise how truly insignificant that is - you get almost that many with China's three biggest cities.  And also the realisation how important China is becoming, and how it will be pushing Europe more and more into the shadows unless the EU can get its act together and Russia can figure out how to do something besides pump oil out of the ground.  There's hope for Europe if the capitals cede more control to Brussels as the American states have to Washington, but thinking about the chances of that, definitely enrol your kids in Mandarin in school, not French.

The trip was amazing, China is a fascinating country and I have seen just the smallest part of it.  I definitely will go back and get out to the countryside more and see what that's all about.  As it is, Shanghai is stunning and vibrant.  Beijing?  Not so much.

I have posted the pics:

Beijing -->

Shanghai -->

There might be more than you want to look at - I posted a lot for other students at school - but here are a few good ones in addition to the ones I sent while I was there:

1. My favourite sign in China -->
2. Our table at dinner at the Great Wall - this was my fave night, it really was awesome, both for the location and the 'last hurrah' with most of the class -->
3. A lighted faux pirate ship (what else?) in front of Pudong (the area where our hotel was), viewd from The Bund (our hotels the one lit up in gold, second from the right) -->
4. A painting of "Mao" in a gay bar I went to -->
5. A huge, room-sized model of Shanghai 2012 in the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum -->
6. A cool building on whose 88th floor we had cocktails -->

It's good to be back in London - I am doing marathon laundry and ran a few errands on Exmouth Market.  Thursday I am meeting with the agency I've decided to do my research project with, London Citizens; it's a non-profit organisation that is looking at providing financial services to the underbanked in London, particularly immigrants.  Seems like it will be pretty cool and it looks like I might get to meet some pretty interesting people.  Then Friday it's off on my next adventure - Greece!  I will be in Athens for seven days to see my family and then we're all off to and being joined by more family and friends in Mykonos for Lisa's wedding.  I am so looking forward to it!

That's it from London for now - hope this finds you all well.


Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK
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