Thursday, December 14, 2006

Is that a tour group?

We've mentioned several times the Chinese tour groups that pervade every tourist site following around their leader submissively wearing their bright colored hats.

Today Andrew and I watched Ice Age. During the scene where the Dodo birds march themselves off a cliff to extinction as a chaotic but cohesive group Andrew turns to me and asks, "Is that a tour group?"

Another note on tour groups: Today I went to the China National Silk Museum. This museum is quite large and very informative. They have some beautiful silk clothing on display and a very in depth description of the life cycle of silk all the way from the eggs of the silk work through weaving the fibers into cloth. All of this is complete with English signs that actually make sense (they even correctly used the term anthropomorphism). I was very impressed.

The last room in the museum is the only room that we saw any tour groups in, they avoided the rest of the museum. What was in this last room? There were 4 old style human powered looms set up with people weaving at them. Two of the looms were so large that they took 2 people to operate. The cloth the weavers were creating was beautiful and the whole process intricate and fascinating. Even this was largely ignored by the tour groups. On the other side of the room was a fashion show. Having the two things going on in the same room at the same time was so weird. The fashion show lasted 10 minutes at most and the models looked like the could not be more bored. They showed off an array of silk clothing and then the tour groups were hustled off into one of the 3 stores that reside in the museum complex. Once at the stores a sales man gave them a pitch that I can only assume included how to tell real silk from fake since he was lighting stuff on fire (real silk will not remain aflame and smells horrible when burned). After this, the women shopped and the men went outside for a smoke. Then it's back to the bus ...

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