I have just returned from a holiday in China which was extremely enjoyable and educational.
Firstly, to all with a social conscience who may have been sending money to the starving millions in China...... STOP IT RIGHT NOW!
The China I saw is a wonderfully prosperous country, with seemingly endless resources. The people seem to be happy and content and enjoy a comfortable way of life.
Visits to department stores in places like Shanghai and Beijing absolutely blew me away - as well as dazzled me with glitter and glitz. Every consumerable item from perfumes to designer clothing is there in bucketloads. Price though is very steep when average salaries/wages are taken into account, but this does not seem to deter the buyers.
Very few places though accepted credit cards readily. Some places not at all, and some only with a bit of pressure. Cash is King.
The people in the streets all had the latest phones, and other hi tech gear, dressed in up to date fashion, and the roads were crowded with Audis and BMWs - all glossy and shiny - not a bombed out car in sight. Public buses had DVD players, and the trains were an absolute pleasure to ride in.
I don't know really what I was expecting; perhaps the stereotypical images that flooded our media following the 70s and 80s have not been updated.
Most notable was the lack of any sort of grafitti anywhere, or even a minute scrap of rubbish. All roads, highways, toll stations, even the higheset peaks around the Great Wall are scrupulously clean. In fact, I have a great picture of a cleaner hanging over the side of the Great Wall, suspended over a ravine, calmly picking up little scraps of rubbish that may have been dropped by a tourist. There were no louts etc., who tend to frequent our street corners. Walking around even at night in the beautifully landscaped and spacious wide streets and parks was extremely safe.
For those of us in the Salehoo community who are thinking about purchasing from China, I can now state that I feel confident in their honesty. Of course in any community there are those who are not quite honest, but I did not find any in my travels.
The Chinese are extremely astute business people. Do not be condescending or patronising and assume that the Western way of life is superior. I can tell you right now, you may need to rethink your assumptions.
I had been hoping to find a few contacts while I was there, but the goods found on Websites such as dhgate etc., were not to be found except at places like the markets, Even then, prices are better on the websites than directly from the markets, especially if you can negotiate free shipping. Overall too, the quality of goods was better than I expected, even from the markets.
This was generally a great experience and one which I can thoroughly recommend.