After traveling the world for the last 20 years, I feel like I have finally entered a true “new world”.
Everywhere I have gone American pop culture would infiltrate and indoctrinate even the deepest and most remote locations I could find, but not here in China…at least not officially. It is heavy here too, but somehow it feels like China has retained its own culture rather than adapting or succumbing to American pop. China is a huge and untapped market as of yet by American culture. Although starbucks, and American top 40 and fast food have already made their way in, the culture is still uniquely Chinese.
China seems to be the first eastern country I have found that has entered the 21rst century without loosing its rich history to the ever pressing onslaught of American culture, and here I was, an emissary of just that: heralding the oncoming plague of MTV and all that follows suit. In truth, the conversion for western culture was already well under way. Disney, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nike, and American tv series were all deeply embedded no matter the censorship.
So why then, I keep asking myself, did this still feel like the true lost world and forbidden city?
Somewhere deep into the night and the never ending courses of fish head & spicy noodles, boneless pickled chicken feet, mushroom soup, and crab egg yowl soup, the drinking games began with what they called rice wine, but was 104 proof and a bite like sambucca, and the small traditional courtyard with manicured small trees and fountain was filled with laughter and a chinese radio playing. The small courtyard felt like what you would would see in the movies about ancient China, despite the fact that the neon signs glowed just outside the old stone wall and the high rises and cranes towered above, disappearing into the night sky. The whole area was made up from priceless pieces of craftsmanship from all the provinces of this wonderfully spicy, colorful, and welcoming country. It was here intoxicated by rounds of 104 proof rice wine, that I barely perspired in my drunken heat and stuffed belly, and all politics and boundaries evaporated, and we were left with the truth that we are all just human, and in love with it all. Lost in the joy of the exhilarating moment not heeding that come morning we would remember all our indoctrinations and preconceived notions, and again we would be strangers in a strange land.