Last page! Page 10 - are you tired of China, yet? There were so many more pictures I could have put up!

In Shanghai, we went to see the Shanghai acrobats (had seen the Peking Opera in Beijing - a real experience because of the acrobatic moves, the elaborate costumes and what, to our ears, sounded like a lot of screeching - there were English translations of the plot flashed on an electric sign to the right of the stage - the translations were occasionally hysterical, but we loved the opera).

These are typical Chinese apartments in a city. Each set of windows is one apartment. To our mind, they are very small and crowded. There is very little storage space (hence the daily marketing). People who can, often build "porches" onto the front of their apartment where they store and dry clothes. If they cannot do this, they will hang clothes on what look like flag poles coming out of their windows, or on the railings of bridges.It was very odd to see quilts, coats, dresses, and pants hung out to dry on the hand rails and along the bridges in Shanghai. I kept wondering if the clothes were safe from theft. I guess they were because we didn't see any naked people running around.

You often see meats and poultry hanging out in small stalls in the open air. You can also go to an "exotic animal" market to buy snakes (whose blood is considered fortifying) or civet cats or other "exotic" beasts which are considered delicacies, especially in Southern China. Some of the powdered or dried animal parts are used in traditional medicine practice.

Despite all the modernization going on - skyscrapers being built, roads being paved - China is still very rural and dependent on people-power.

There are a number of minority groups in China, altho 85% of the population is Han. Despite what is given "lip-service," minorities are somehow regarded as "less than Han."

During this trip, we saw many changes in China. The people looked happier and healthier than before. There seemed to be a greater "openess" in terms of talking about the Government, its policies, and directions. China knows it has work ahead of it to ceome a real global power. Its economy is booming. It wants to reunify Taiwan (and get back the treasures that migrated there during the Cultural Revolution), incorporate Tibet (because they believe that historically, Tibet was Chinese), and modernize Mongolia (a difficult task because of the nomads). It wants its people to learn new agricultural methods (they are still called "peasants"), to control its population growth, and improve its medical delivery system.

China has a huge supply of coal, used to power railroads and factories. The quality of air in the cities can be awful. Much of the traveling done by the Chinese is by railroad. Only the wealthier can afford cars. Even if you can buy a car, there is no guarantee you will be able to get a license for it. Licenses are renewed yearly through a lottery system.

Tourists are limited in many ways: they must stay in approved tourist hotels (truly gorgeous), they are attended and watched by national and local guides, their interaction with the locals is strictly controlled. It used to be that tourists were only allowed to buy things using "special" money at Friendship stores. Now, however, you can still buy at Friendship stores, but you can use regular yuen. You can also buy from street vendors, but this is discouraged because there is a grave fear that tourists will be ripped off, complain, and the Chinese will "lose face."

It was a great trip! We saw so many things (wonders, really), and cannot wait to explore more of this huge country. There's Xi'an with the thousands of terra cotta warriers in an Emperor's tomb; there's Tibet; there's the Yangtze River cruise past the dam and the hanging caskets of the mysterious Ba people, so, once we save up enough money to afford, it - China here we come (again)!