Now I know.
Now I know that when you’re visiting a communist compound deep in the heart of China, you shouldn’t wander. It doesn’t matter if the grounds are lush and inviting. It doesn’t matter if the guards clearly saw you arrive with the your company’s delegation. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the West and you assume you have protections. It doesn’t matter that you have this open-mouthed, couldn’t-harm-a-fly goofball look to you as you saunter the grounds.
Now I know.
Disregard the fact everyone seems friendly enough. Disreard the fact you hear hundreds of men singing nearby and would love to investigate (and in that case, didn’t). You are a visitor from another country. You don’t stroll. You don’t investigate. You should just be happy that you’re experiencing something (visiting a communist compound) you never could’ve predicted six months earlier. You should stand there, stay put and appreciate the moment.
A couple weeks ago, I did not stay put.
I had come to China on business. During the trip, my bosses had several meetings with the Chinese leadership in Chongqing (both parties are planning to do some good things that will help a lot of people of China). I was more or less a fly on the wall. In the course of the meetings, we ended up at this compound. And because I wasn’t in that meeting, I had time to kill.
So, yes, with time to kill, I did go for a stroll. I don’t think I ventured too far, but in retrospect, after telling my bosses (and my family) that I had gone for a walk and even wanted to explore further, I realize I should’ve stayed closer to the area where we had arrived. I guess you just don’t go for adventurous strolls on communist compounds, especially when you’re a visiting American. Luckily, I didn’t have to learn that lesson the hard way.
May 15, 2009 at 8:14 am
More details, please.
May 15, 2009 at 9:40 am
Sounds like a new opening to a dark noir. You got my attention. Word of caution don’t fuck with the Chinese. I learned that the hard way.
May 15, 2009 at 12:17 pm
This reminds me of a friend of mine who’s been pinging around the world in some pretty shitty spots for the state department. I recall him telling me his first assignment in South America was basically to go into the worst prisons on the planet, look US citizens straight in the eye and say “there is nothing we can do for you.” be careful, dog.
May 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm
Was there anything on the evening news about this? Did a squad of good-looking GIs go in and get you out – before an incident could occur?
May 15, 2009 at 9:19 pm
Okay, I’ve revised the post to address reader complaints of extreme vagueness. … Hopefully, it makes more sense now.
May 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm
With all of our faults – you gotta love America!
May 17, 2009 at 9:39 am
Maybe it’s the voice of my dad in the back of my head, but the Chinese scare the living crap out of me. You’re a much braver man than me, Greg, because chances are I wouldn’t have even entered the country
May 17, 2009 at 11:01 am
Brave? I’m afraid the key term for me would have been “oblivious”
May 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm
Greg, here’s another hint: don’t take pictures of airplanes, not even WWII planes.
Or, of strange-looking, squat concrete building without windows. Yep, lost a whole roll of film that day (am I dating myself with the term “roll of film”?).
Or, use the term “red dawn comes at midnight” even jokingly with other wai guo ren (foreigners).
Don’t ask me how I know;-)
May 21, 2009 at 7:34 am
A fellow GECCOite weighing in (you haven’t lost that association)…Chongqing is the birthplace of my youngest daughter and my experience there was totally different! As Americas we have different standards and we’d probably be more accepted in other parts of the world if we simply accepted the differences versus pointing them out as awful.
May 21, 2009 at 9:40 am
Hey, Leslie … Thanks for weighing in, and I completely agree with you …..
Please don’t let me confuse you — my experience in Chongqing was great. An amazing experieince. I just know now *not* to go for a stroll on a communist compound.