Right now I am cruising at 310 km/hr on the train to Shanghai. It is about 1000km away, so we should be there in 3.5 hours. Sure is a nice way to travel. In first class the seats are large with lots of legroom. Even in second class the seats are still much larger than on an airplane, probably larger than a coach bus too. The countryside is changing. I see mountains some lakes and rivers too. There are many people out working in the fields, and quite a few trees, but not just the planted ones near the road. Its actually quite pretty.
We got some different snacks this time, most starch and salty stuff like Americans like, but I am pretty sure one bag was donkey. I took one very small bite, and that was that. Have to draw the line somewhere. We had another great farm visit today to another farm owned by the same company as yesterday. The managers and I were now best friends since we ate and drank together and pledged our first-borns to each other. I am not really sure what we did, not because I was inebriated, because I was not, just that I don’t know what is being said or happening most of the time, but there sure seemed to be some sort of bonding going on. Here are some pics:
But first, this was from the farm manager’s new Buick. He lent it to us to drive to the farm. These bags contained what looked like BBs . They are made of charcoal, and are meant to get rid of the new car smell, which must be offensive. I said the in the US, we liked new car smell, because it meant we had a new car. We even buy new car scented air freshener. They thought this to be hilarious. Speaking of air, today we got a better look at the Its a Small World Spray Truck. It is not spraying poison, just water. The fan thingy on top really looks like a snow making gun that is just shooting water. It shoots it up at least 30 feet. This is to reduce air pollution. It is part of the government’s plan to improve air quality in Hebei province. According to Dong, the air here is much better than in the past, but that is not saying much in my opinion. There is also a fair bit of smoking, in restaurants, in the lobby, on the street. So I think the government needs a large bag of charcoal beads, say the size of Iowa, out there cleaning the place up. The water makes it look like they are doing something but after all, I am a scientist and thus skeptical.
They have these sorts of signs all over, some are motivational, some about cow care. Hao says they put English on the sign not because anyone can read it but because it makes them look smarter.
Notice the solar water heater outside the parlor. Smaller versions of this are on top of the roofs of dwellings in the city and in the country.
They have four double 32 parlors, which is why, says the manager, they are not as labor-efficient than if they had rotaries. They have 220 employees and 4700 lactating cows . Cows are producing about 80 lbs of milk per day with 3.9% BF and 3.4% protein. There milk is sold as fluid milk, and apparently the protein is the most valuable part. As US farmers know, fat is what the American consumer is most interested these days.
It is really unfortunate my picture is bad. It says, “No blurbling.” I looked at the picture too, but still could not figure out what burbling was. Perhaps burping while wearing excessive jewelry?
Of course we had lunch. We were shown to the VIP dining room, which has a sign that I assume says something to that effect in Mandarin. Underneath, in English, it says, “Kitchen”. We had ten courses plus rice, plus steamed soda bread, grapes and watermelon. It was all great, pork, shrimp, river bass, spinach, egg soup, some kind of chopped mushroom and greens served over little cup like bready things, plus a few I forgot, and chopped demon eggs and tofu. I took a small serving of that one just to save face. In the picture above we were just getting warmed up. Notice the Kleenex. The Chinese use personal hygiene paper stuff differently. The Kleenex is you napkin. Sometimes it is a bar napkin, and sometimes more like a lens cleaning cloth. In a few bathrooms I have seen those commercial toilet paper roll dispensers by the sink, ostensibly for drying ones hands. Because of course the hand dryer is about 50/50 – or more likely 70/30 stacked to the nonfunctional side. As you know, toilet paper, while a great invention, is not particularly useful for drying stuff, except for really small stuff. No matter, this is China.
Just one more quirky thing: the bathroom at that funky little hotel. You see, the shower was in the bathroom. Well, that’s not quite it. The shower was the bathroom.
The shower head was next to the toilet, with no barrier. So the bathroom floor just flooded when I took a shower. When I first arrived I saw there were two pair of blue rubber sandals for my use, which I thought a nice touch. I understood why you needed them after I took my first shower. The floor was not particularly sloped, but there was a gentle grade to a drain under the counter on the other side of the toilet. You might notice the counter was pretty low too, about mid thigh for me, and I am short. Couldn’t figure why. Of course there is a window too? On the other hand, it is the only bathroom I have ever occupied where one could multitask by sitting on the toilet, shower, brush ones teeth and spit into the sink all at the same time. Genius. For a bonus, if you angle the TV just a bit you can watch a Chinese soap opera through the window at the same time!
Looking forward to Shanghii.