A Family Gig
Recently my parents came to visit me in the land of the billions (of people). They stayed for over 2 weeks and we saw the Great Wall, the Shanghai World Fair, and all the other must-see cool-daddio ancient tourist spots. On this trip my dad and I also attended a special event.
My dad is an expert in solar energy education, so he decided to make the trip to China on the condition that there was a business advantage for his trouble. Near the end of the trip we took a train to Shandong province to join in on the hoopla of China's first hosting of the Solar City Congress. I accompanied my dad as his own personal translator, thus waiving my door fees.
The little city that held the congress invested a great deal of money into it, and the service at the hotel and the banquets was top notch. They even built an entire hotel in the shape of a sun dial with solar water heaters and solar PV panels lining the roof, as well as wind energy fans dotted around the structure. There was so much pomp and circumstance that sometimes they forgot the more basic things... like the fact that some guests don't understand Chinese... it would have been nice if they had provided all westerners with translation headphones during the forums (only the first two rows got them, and everyone else just sat there for 3 hours, listening to a language they didn't understand).
It was nice being greeted by tall young Chinese girls in red qipaos who bowed to as we walked into the banquet hall (I suppose I felt a bit guilty about it in a way), but before we got there, the buses parked a mile away from the summit in a dirt parking lot, and all our suits were dirty by the time we got the the five-star hotel. I really don't understand why they parked by the door the first day and then decided that they could not the second day. After we finally got there and had our brief session, an older American delegate said her knee was hurt and didn't want to walk the mile back to the buses for lunch. Yet they refused to let the buses leave without a one hundred percent head count, so we waited for two hours in the hot bus before they finally gave up looking for her and we were police escorted back to our other hotel across town to eat. (Why couldn't we just eat in the hotel next to the summit???)
So a lot of things didn't make sense, but at least they had a overwhelmingly overproduced gala spectacular dance show at the end of the first night, as well as some great gift bags for my dad and I. And don't forget the exquisitely decorated cupcakes left on our pillows each night. This could be used as a metaphor for the whole event. One could say that they whipped the icing superbly, but they forgot the cake itself.
Still, three cheers for the qipaos! Gotta love 'em!
Photos by Nate Boyd and Brian Hurd
--- Nathaniel Boyd