I thought that I would be writing this post in June, drafting my first paragraph before I processed photos that chronologically were taken before ones posted two moths ago. But it’s been a hectic summer, and so China — or more precisely the photos I took while there — has had to wait. My first stop on a warm but windy Sunday to start the trip, however, was the airport, a place I’ve become all too familiar with. Ironically, I was there to learn even more about it: MUC offers various tours of its grounds operations, and despite having lived here for two years this was the first chance I could experience one.
Not having visited China for several years, my primary image of the country has been formed by Western media. After my visit, what impressed me most was how much it had modernized, albeit in a very Westernized definition of the term. Behind the cultural customs is, at least now, a country that has seen incredible growth and remarkable transformation. This is nothing new; this is exactly what Western media reports and has been reporting. The Shanghai Pudong International Airport, for instance, has modern, striking lines and an open atmosphere, something arguably unconceivable maybe a half-century ago in this ancient country.
However, a lingering question, not so cleanly addressed and not so conspicuously under consideration: will it all last?
My first post about China was about the calm parts of the trip — quiet moments where I could enjoy my surroundings or ponder my growing unfamiliarity with Mandarin. Typically, this gave way to a far more bustling and intrusive realization about my native country. There is a sense of raw energy when traveling around China that isn’t as ubiquitously prevalent in the US or even Europe; it’s urgency and claustrophobia and anxiety and curiosity and ambition all stirred into one giant hotpot.