Impressions of China, Day 3

Ethan Lowry
April 30, 2013

In the morning we took a fast ferry and crossed over into Zhongshan in mainland China, this time to visit a plastics manufacturer that makes products for some of the biggest toy companies in the world. It seems all of southern China is an endless line of manufacturing cities, and we drove by countless industrial buildings on our way to the factory. There are almost 100 cities in China with more than a million people — the US has nine. The scale is mind-boggling.

We are told as many as 9,000 people work in the factory’s assembly lines in peak times leading up to the Christmas season. We toured the factory floor, with row after row of injection molding machines. There’s a rhythm to the room. Robotic arms pick hot plastic parts out of the mold, drop them into bins, workers break individual pieces and fresh plastic is shot, repeating every minute on every machine.

In the evening we wandered the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok, two shopping districts in Hong Kong. The buildings were festooned with enormous glowing signs, and lit banners jutted and draped across the street over head. The light was bright as day, and the crowd was as thick as Times Square on New Year’s Eve. It was the biggest street fair I’ve ever seen. And this was just an ordinary Monday night. Hong Kong is decidedly first world, it feels safe and prosperous, you can eat the food and drink the water. But this part of town looks like something out of Bangkok or Rio.

We’ll be spending the whole day today in Hong Kong, and we’re happy not to have to go through border control again. Despite official reunification, China and Hong Kong are still world’s apart.

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