Henan province–河南–birthplace of Chinese civilization. (Not Hunan, that’s south, but KHUUH-nan, the heartland). Four ancient capitals. Legendary Shaolin. Longmen Buddha grottoes…
…the world’s largest kung fu school at Shaolin Temple. I was sick in a hotel bed and saw none of it.
Thus, during my few feverish moments of alertness in the van, I saw only right-now China. That is: high-rise construction. Thirty years ago, Henan was one of the poorest places on earth, subject to killer floods and mass starvation. Today it’s growth is, if this can even be imagined, faster than China’s as a whole, dependent on “dwindling aluminum and coal reserves, agriculture, heavy industry, tourism, and retail” (Wikipeda). Here, without any romantic tourist tint, is the breathtaking reality. Have a look:
Henan is home to about 94 million people.
Sadly, because of corrupt blood-drive practices, many thousands here in so-called “AIDS Villages” are infected with HIV.
Everything 5- or 6-story is coming down and in its place, it seems only the 40-storey skyscraper will do. Another observation in restaurants: walls of bottles, tables covered with glasses. This is a big drinking province — hard liquor.
It’s 6 hours from Beijing by bullet train, 9 hours on the slower overnight sleeper. Many Beijing students hail from Henan.)
Here is real China.