GUANGZHOU, China (ZWSOFT GPC 2015) — My PR contact at ZWSOFT, Barry Shen, is kind enough to take me around his city one free afternoon.
Barry has been on holiday. China's Qingming Festival celebrates the sweeping of the tombs.
"How many holidays do you get?" I ask.
"One hundred," he says.
I thought India had a lot, with their thousands of gods.
"Does that include weekends?" I ask.
"Yes," he says.
Whew. I was wondering how the Chinese get anything done.
"What about America?" he asks.
"We have 10," I say, feeling guilty.
So Glad I Didn't Say That
That's Barry, my ZWSOFT PR contact, in a suit, on Guangzhou's Metro.
I wonder about the ethnic mix as we ride the subway.
"Can you tell from a person's appearance where they are from?" I ask, hoping for at least a regional distinction, north or south, country or city, Han or non-Han. No such luck.
"We all look the same," he says.
The Biggest City You've Never Heard Of
Squid on a stick is a tasty snack in a busy pedestrian shopping street in Guangzhou.
"How big is Guangzhou?" I ask.
"Fourteen million," says Barry. "It's the third biggest city in China. Behind Shanghai, and Beijing."
"What about Hong Kong?" I ask.
"That's not really part of China," corrects Barry. "You need papers to come and go. They hate us. They call us country people. Don't hate me for where I come from. You can hate me for other things, that's ok."
The $17,000 iWatch was introduced in China during my visit. It sold out in one hour. A look around only confirms China's love for Apple. Barry has an iPhone 6. I'm jealous. I have the 5. Barry is only out of school four months.
What does an iPhone cost? Barry does a quick conversion in his head. He has a degree in computer science.
How do people afford iPhones?
"They give up holiday," explains Barry. Like most city dwelling younger adults, he probably does not have a car. "I don't drink, like a lot of my friends."
The Canton Tower seems to have been built for one purpose: being tall. It is not an office building. At 600 meters (almost 2000 ft.) it succeeded, albeit briefly, as being the world's tallest building before it was passed by the Tokyo Skytree and Dubai's Burj Khalifa. It is now only able to claim being China's tallest.
It seems wasteful at first to build something just to hold up an observation deck, which on the day of my visit seems to be lost in the clouds, but it does indeed grace the skyline on a good day and is a source of pride for the Cantonese. Of course, if everyone listened to the practical, we wouldn't have some of the most iconic structures ever made, such as the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower.