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Photos of Bali, Singapore, and Shanghai   www.flickr.com/photos/globalyouthspeakout/
Go to sets. There’s a  focus on homes. Enjoy.

12-26 Went to the Chico airport at 5. They said the 2:30 people were still waiting for their plane, to come back at 7. I gave them my # and went to look at Christmas lights. The best were near Emma Wilson school, very colorful, with music, and moving displays. Felt I should go home, walked in the door, and got a call to get to the airport right away. Luck is going with the flow, listening to guidance. Made it in time, spent the night in SF. Going in business class saved the day, thanks to frequent flyer miles and buying all necessities on credit card that gives 2 miles for every dollar. I watched 3 movies, Eat Pray Love because it features Bali, but didn’t find it an engrossing film. Saw a Japanese film about the 1770s and an imaginary era of female shoguns; love traditional Japanese architechture, and  then saw Robin Hood. Ate traditional Japanese food. No wonder they have the world’s highest longevity, mostly fish and vegetables. So much better service than American airlines, hot towels, slippers, really attentive gracious flight attendants. Two hours to walk around in Narita, Japan. Surprised they missed the two water bottles in my back pack. Lots of high end store–Gucci, Coach, Tiffiny–didn’t see anything very beautiful, in my opinion. Then 7 more hours to Singapore. I read Sharon Promislow’s Maeing the Brain Body Connection, good review of body-based tools to deal with stress without getting short-circuited. Will use with my kid’s class on the topic starting in January. Stayed in the airport in a transit hotel, no going through customs, simple but all I wanted was a bed and shower. Met Susan and guide Anthony this morning. Sue was relieved to be here in time after spending 12 hours delayed in Beijing.

Singapore was once part of Malasia, Brit controlled. A Brit named Ruffles developed the island of Singapore, then a Chinese prime minister continued the shaping of an island state. Lot of high rise apartments, didn’t see any signs of poverty. Very strict; entry papers said drug trafficers would be killed. Our Indian tour guide, Anthony, took Susan and I on a tour of the city. We saw Hindu temples evidence of the Indian population, Muslim neighborhood with Malay influence, and a Buddhist temple with lots of Chinese devotees. We went touring with a delightful family from Chenai, India, mom dad and 14-year-old. Of course I asked her to be part of the global youth book. I asked her if her parents had a love or arranged marriage; she said both because they are distant relatives. Lots of Indian tourists here on holiday to shop and see the sights. Now my first time in a bus. class lounge. Wow, free Internet and food, shower, way cool. Fly to Dempasar tonight.

The second time in Singapore I saw more than just skycrapers and high rise apartments, some luxurious mansions, townhouses, nothing like our single-story houses because land is so scarce. They reclaim some from the sea. People complained about the cost of living, how hard everyone has to work. It’s clean and crime is low, but one man told me the saying you can die in Singapore but don’t get sick because the government doesn’t pay your health costs. They subsidize housing for some, but an apt. is still $200,000 Sing. dollars, worth about 1.4 less. You can look at most women and tell if they’re Muslim from Malaysia–wear head scarf, Tamil-speaking South Indian (wear tunic and pants, or Chinese–more stylish. Most of the school kids I heard weren’t speaking English, even though it’s the school language. Kids take another language depending on their ancestory.

Singapore claims the largest orchid collection in the world, very beautiful varieties displayed in their botanical garden. They even have a butterfly garden in the airport, will post a few beautiful photos along with the others on my flickr site. The theme of the trip for me is the incredible beauty and abundance of nature’s creativity, the fish, coral, flowers, butterflies. It’s so sad that humans are devestating this magnicent art, no different than the Taliban blowing up ancient statues of Buddha. I had more time here because I was informed that I needed a visa to get into China. For $250 I got an expedited visa, yeah! I took the bus to see a Malay village, houses similar to Bali with the pointed roofs. I had lunch, was the only woman sitting with the men. I guess Muslim women aren’t supposed to mix like that. Will get to Shanghai at 10 PM, will be met by my Chinese “nephew” who I know from the book, eager to meet him. He’s a Gemini ballroom dancer, inquisitive like auntie.

Shanghai is 23 million, high rise apartments as far as the eye can see. Climate change is in place, was told it snowed for the first time in the last three years, including the last two days I was there. Very cold! An interesting mix of modern and ancient architecture and ways of living.  I interviewed a middle-class Shanghai couple with a son 16. They live in a 3-bedroom, 2 bath apartment with his parents. He works as a technician for Volkswagen and she’s an aiya, a cook and cleaner for Americans who teach at an international school. They met at a violin factory where he was her manager, love at first sight, both attractive. He’s a Shanghai native and she isn’t. Their Taiwanese boss was married, had 3 girlfriends and wanted to add her to his harem. He stood up for her, and they both quit work. I asked the secret of their marriage success and they said mutual respect and concern for the other’s well-being. At one point his parents had a 3-story apartment, but the government tore it down and gave them a much smaller place. Some marriages are still arranged, like her brother’s son’s. At first he didn’t like his wife, although she was in love with him, but he learned to care for her over time. They have two sons and have been married 4 years.
About education, you have to have a residency card to go to the good schools here, unless you have money and can pay to get in. Migrant workers’ children may go to private inexpensive schools run as charities. They told me about a 17-year-old who applied to get a low-income scholarship but wasn’t accepted and so has never gone to school, cried a lot about it. You have to get 540 on the entrance exam to go to an academic high school. Otherwise you go to vocational school. Their son got 514 so he’s repeating a year of middle school–a student needs to get a certain score on the exam. If you’re off by one point, you don’t get in. It costs money to go to school, more for university.bGoing to a top university guarantees a good job. To work for the government, you’ll want to join the CCP.
I asked what they think of the one party system. they said the CCP established the New China, so they should be in power. They’d heard of the previous premier’s harmony policy but not of the new leader’s 8 shoulds and shouldnts. If someone is critical of the CCP, a party member will come and have tea with that person and talk with them. They don’t like the rising fuel prices or the tearing down of so many buildings which adds to the ongoing pollution problem.
The government cleaned up the pollution for the Shanghai Exhibition, shutting down factories, etc. but it all started up again after the Expo. It’s so smoggy some days they don’t want to open the windows. The Expo encouraged people to stop throwing trash and to recycle so it’s getting better.
Personal space is different, grandmother put fish on my plate with her chopsticks, people don’t respect lines or traffic lanes. It’s quite an experience to drive here.

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