We completed the packing of our models and equipment at the field on Wednesday so we had earned a “sleep-in” on Thursday to rest our weary bones. The Chinese rice liquor at the official banquet last night made sure that some of us rested well and long. After a late breakfast we set off to find a local market we had heard about and where I had obtained the battery cart and supplies 10 days ago. After a few hours of walking the streets we met the South Africans at a local McDonalds and they gave us directions to the market.
If you think about the biggest flea market you have ever been to in USA and then TRIPLE that you would have a bit of an idea of how big this market was. It was simply full of hundreds and hundreds of permanent small stores, roadside displays and small item manufacturing and repair places for scooters, engines, cars and machinery. Some stores were selling cloth stitching bedding, pillows and curtains while their customers waited. There was a wooden folding stool manufacturing business and merchants selling just about anything you can imagine under the sun. The alleyways between the stalls are shared with pedestrians, bicycles, motor-trikes and small cars. The constant honking of horns warns of their coming and the need to “beware.” It was truly a leisurely day spent picking up a few odds and ends and taking in the chinese culture and some genuine chinese food along the way before returning to our rooms to pack our bags in earnest for the trip home in the morning. Our flight leaves at 7:30am fro Jinan so we must rise at 3:00am in the morning and board the bus by 4:00am to reach the airport in time.
It has been a long two weeks in china but every minute of it has been an enjoyment and we all feel very blessed that we have had the privilege of being here for this world championships.
Now it is time to return to our normal lives and for one can tell you that this trip has been an immense eye opener regarding China.
The people have been friendly everywhere we went in Laiwu. There wasn’t a single moment that we felt uneasy or afraid and people tried very hard to please us even though many interactions were had without either party able to speak the others language. We communicated by writing english or writing the price. Many Chinese can read english even though they can’t speak or understand the spoken word. They were often happy to haggle and in a very good natured way. We often noticed how happy they are in general – always laughing – sometimes at us and sometimes because they were embarrassed. They were also amazingly respectful to us and in some cases looked at us and spoke to us as if we were gods.
The chinese people in general and the organizers of the contest certainly went to extraordinary efforts to make this contest a success. Of course none of it would have occurred without the tremendous input by Roman Voitech who has worked tirelessly for months to help the chinese pull it off. And pull it off they did with class and style. If I ever have the opportunity to re-visit china I certainly would like to come back here to Laiwu.
Now it’s time for bed for our early start to the airport. (in 1.5hrs)