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Boarding the Victoria Selena
Both Chinese travelers and western tourists were boarding the ship in Chongqing. Porters with poles across their backs hanging suitcases on both ends carried our luggage down the steep bank and up to the gangplank. They tried dropping off the luggage at the top of the stairs, but were somehow discouraged--maybe they hadn't been paid upfront. I'm not sure. Not a happy way to make a living. Oh, and I was carrying my own luggage, instead of asking someone to do it for me.
This is something that struck me as very odd. We heard a lot about farmers and a lot about professionals--educated academics. There was a lot of talk about college level education and pressure on children to succeed in every level of school. One traveler asked about trade schools. The question was met with silence. I still don't know how people learn to be plumbers or electricians or mechanics. But these careers seem to be very low status and undesirable. With all of those cars over there, how do they think their vehicles will have their oil changed and air conditioners fixed?
It seems like Mao succeeded in stirring the pot: the poor, uneducated are now the wealthier educated. Those who were once well off, have fewer opportunities. But this group, the blue collar people, who are an important part of the backbone of America, seem to have been forgotten, or brushed under the oriental carpet. If Mao were still here, would we see that reverse again?