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上海:高楼大厦如雨后春笋
Shanghai, the city I could hardly recognize

上海已经彻底改头换面,变成高楼大厦林立的超级大都市。但Mok的西湖游船之旅却一直笼罩在雾霾中。读者如欲参照东亚之旅系列文章,请点击http://096.ca/news/657390
Shanghai took on a completely new look as the city transformed into a skyscraper-packed mega city. But Mok’s Westlake cruise trip was hit by smog. For the previous articles on the other destinations, please click - http://096.ca/news/657390
 
这次中国之行,我们加入了“赞助”购物游。这意味着我们在购买了旅行机票后便可享受最低成本的出游。当然,这也意味着我们必须在各个掏钱赞助的购物点进行相当金额的购物,以便导游和包团领队能够从中获得一定比例的提成,和支付我们的酒店住宿费。此外我们的旅游合同中还有一个条款,那就是无论我们出于何种原因退出旅游团,我们每人所交的$500元押金都将不予退还。
 
On this trip to China, we joined a “sponsored” shopping tour. This means that the cost  of the trip is minimal once we paid for our plane tickets there. Of course, it would also mean that we have to make a certain amount of purchases at the various sponsored locations so that a certain percentage can go to the tour guides, the chartered coach, and also paying for the hotel accommodations. There was also a clause in our touring contract where our security deposit of $500 each will not be refunded if we left the tour group for any reason whatsoever.
 
 
虽然我们被告知不会被强制购物,但不出所料的是,在旅游团未买满“最低”金额前,导游和包团领队根本不见踪影。很显然,导游一直在用手机和商家联系,而直到购物定额时才会现身。幸运的是,我们团里有一个出手很阔绰的台湾游客,因为他一次又一次地大买特买帮我们完成购物任务,我们才得以按时吃上午餐和晚餐!
 
We were told that we did not have to make mandatory purchases. As expected, until the “minimum” purchase amounts were reached by the group, the tour guides and the chartered coach were nowhere to be found. It would seem to us that the tour guide was in constant communication with the shop via cell phone and only showed up the minute when the quota was reached. We were fortunate to have a Taiwanese tourist amongst us who was very loose with his wallet. He made many purchases time and again to help us out so we can have our lunches and dinners on time!
 
每天早晨,我们6点就起床吃早餐,以便能够在7点15分启程。我们平均每天走访2个购物点和2个旅游景点(门票都由赞助商支付)。每晚8点结束晚餐后,我们都会拖着疲惫不堪的身体上楼回酒店房间。
 
Every morning, we got up at 6am to get our breakfast so we can leave by 7:15am. On average, we would visit 2 shopping locations and 2 tourist attractions (entry fees were paid by sponsors). By the time dinner was finished at 8pm, we would drag our tired bodies upstairs to the Hotel rooms. 
 
我们的中国之行从拥有2400多万人口的上海开始。比较而言,多伦多人口为280万,加拿大的人口总数也不过3620万。我上一次到上海是在2008年,现在我几乎已经认不出它了。我不得不用“如雨后春笋般拔地而起”这句中国俗语来形容上海遍地林立的高楼大厦。到了夜晚,不断变幻的灯光在一栋栋建筑物上打造出各种绚丽多彩的画面和标志,勾勒出流光溢彩的夜景画卷。
 
We started out at Shanghai with a population of over 24 million people. Just to put it into perspective, the city of Toronto has a population of 2.8 million and the entire Canadian population is only 36.2 million. I last visited Shanghai in 2008 and I could hardly recognize it any more. I have to use the Chinese saying “coming up like spring asparagus after a rain” for the many skyscrapers filling up the landscape. The night scenes were spectacular with the many pictures and logos created by changing lights using an entire building as canvas.
 
 
我们还乘坐游船重游了著名的“西湖”。与八年前的那次游程相比,西湖的游人有所减少,但在11月份整个湖区一直被雾霾笼罩,并且水质也没有得到明显改善。虽然我们在当地没有看到一个乞丐,但在一些旅游景点附近不时会有一些老年妇女上前向我们兜售小包纸巾。警察随处可见,在摄像头监控下,只要你不偏离大道,则可感到安全。
 
We revisited the famous “West Lake”and went on a cruise there.  There was less people than last time but there was smog around the lake in November and the water quality had not improved from eight years ago. While there were no visible beggars anywhere, we were approached by old ladies selling us small packages of tissues near some tourist attractions. Police were visible everywhere and one would feel safe as long as you stay close to the main streets with all their working CCTV cameras. 
 
 
在此次中国之行临近尾声时,我们花了三天时间前往浙江省一个拥有近100万人口的小城市拜访了我妻子的亲戚。同样,自我们来走访后这座城市也经历了迅猛发展,建造了许多新的建筑和道路。我还注意到当局已经对当地河流进行了治理。前次来访时河边没有一个垂钓者,而这一次我们却看到好几个人在那钓鱼并且收获不错。现在那里的河水已经变得更加清澈并且不再散发阵阵恶臭。

At the end of the six-day tour, we spent 3 days to meet up with wife's relatives in a small city with a population of about one million in the Zhejiang province. Again, this city has undergone rapid development with many new building and roads since our last visit. One thing I noticed was their effort to clean up the river there. Last time, there were no anglers but we saw a few of them this time with their decent catches. The water was less opaque and smelly now.
 
 
正如前文所述,基础设施的养护计划并未成为中国政府的优先事务。我们每到一处,都会看到还相当新的基础设施和建筑已经有混凝土脱落钢筋裸露。这些可能是固有问题,但为防止状况进一步恶化,必须进行维修。
 
As I have mentioned earlier, maintenance programs are not getting a priority in China. Everywhere we went, we saw exposed concrete reinforcement bars on fairly new infrastructures and building. They could be inherent but repairs need to be made to prevent further deterioration. 
 
 
在和亲戚的交谈中,我们获知由于当地税率上升,他们的制造企业所能获得的微薄利润进一步遭到侵蚀。因此,许多外国公司已纷纷将业务转向越南、孟加拉国和柬埔寨等其他欠发达国家,以将利润最大化。

In our conversations with relatives, they told us that tax rates have gone up, further eroding whatever small profit margins they have left in their manufacturing business. Therefore, many foreign companies are moving their operations to other less-developed countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Cambodia to maximize their profits.   
 
 
目前,房地产投资在中国似乎已经成为快速生财之道。由于人民币兑美元汇率在过去一年持续下跌,现在许多中国人都想将手中的人民币兑换成美元并将他们的钱转移到国外,而中国政府正在采取措施阻止他们这样做。他们实际上只是想将钱“存放”在中国以外的地区,这或许就也是为什么会在包括加拿大在内的其他一些国家内出现购房潮之原因。
 
In China, real estate speculations seemed to be the way to quick money these days. Since the RMB has been losing its value opposite the US dollars over the last year, they want to exchange them to US dollars and take their monies out of China now, but the government is taking steps to prevent them from doing so. They just need to “park” their money elsewhere out of China. This can explain the many recent stories for buying up real estate properties in other countries including Canada.
 
 
下一站——香港(曾经的“东方之珠”)。
Next stop – Hong Kong (the one time “Pearl of the East”).
 

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