Since I started making posts about living in this crazy foreign land, I’ve really tried to focus on the majestic and interesting aspects of living abroad. While I don’t think I’ve been misrepresenting my experiences here thus far. I’ve decided it’s high time to put some of the stranger elements of sight-seeing here out there.
For the last month or so, my school was entertaining a group teachers from a sister college in Canada. While this Canuck teacher scourge was upon us, we were were made to endure harsh treatments such as longer lunch lines, and agonizing small talk. The administration at our University decided we should give meaning to the phrase “the old college try” and make a display of camaraderie to strengthen the bond between schools. So one weekend last month, they decided to take the previously mentioned plague as well as the old favorites (the regular teachers) on a trip to Jinzhou to see the 2013 World Landscape Art Expo. (Jin-Joe) For free!
The school rented a big bus and even hired a peppy Chinese girl named “Lulu” to be our tour guide as we made the journey to Jinzhou. It’s just a shame the girl could barely speak English without giggling furiously into the PA system. We drove through rice paddies, and down back roads and highways and finally through some sprawling plains not unlike the ever-enchanting Ohio.
Lulu donned her florescent pink extendable flag and portable PA system and exited the bus. We were promised by Lulu (repeatedly) that this expo was going to illustrate world culture and celebrate flowers from all over the world.
But it did not.
When we arrived, the entrance gate was like something you might find if a Seaworld park had met and fell madly in love with garden section of a Lowe’s Hardware and now they had decorated a 7 sq km bedroom while planning their next little bundle of joy. Actually, that’s exactly how I would explain what I saw at this show..
As far as Lulu’s assertion of “flowers from all over the world” goes, it was a pretty lackluster. The show was broken up in to many different countries or regions of the world. Mexico had a big metal structure resembling a carousel and a lot of rocks. The Netherlands was about the only one that had anything unique and it was just tons and tons of tulips with a big windmill. The show was also split up into a real hodge-podge of sections some had dinosaurs, there was a big glass tower just called “Flower Tower” that somehow was praised as a symbol of the glamour and dynamism that is Jinzhou. .
The Expo featured some of the most mundane flowers I have ever seen. The landscaping wasn’t so great either. I don’t really know what we were expecting but it sure wasn’t this. Perhaps, the magic was lost on me because the flowers could all been seen growing in my mom’s garden. Perhaps, the flowers are crazy unique to Chinese people. But maybe, like a lot of sight seeing places in modern China, it’s common to over-hype the fun, mysticism and beauty of an area with photoshopped to oblivion images just to convince people to escape the hustle and bustle of their over-crowded city.
It’s not that China doesn’t have wonderful and unique things to offer a foreigner. It’s just that you need to be careful of what it suggests you should see.