I just returned from 10 days in China (Shanghai and Beijing), which definitely isn’t near enough time to get any sort of grasp on this astoundingly large, complicated country. But over the course of my time there I definitely observed certain things, which I’ll summarize below in the form of somewhat fragmentary, just-me-and-my-initial-thoughts bullet points:
Scale: The most consistent theme of my experience in China was immensity. Everything was on such a huge scale. The crowds I experienced at the Shanghai World Expo (I just so happened to be there on the record-setting 1 million+ visitors day) redefined my paradigm for crowds. But it wasn’t the exception. On every subway ride, street corner, mall, market or museum, the reality of vast humanity (1.3 billion+ in China, and growing) was ever-present. But mind-boggling scale also showed itself in the country’s infrastructure and jaw-dropping architecture–both old (the Great Wall) and new (the CCTV Tower, Birds Nest, China Pavilion, etc.) Some of it is really impressive… Puts American skyscrapers to shame.