Welcome to the land of bike sharing, convenience, and Alipay/Wechat. My name is Dan and I’ll be with you as a TFi ALP Scholar for the next 13 weeks.
Week 0 has been rather peaceful, as usual with all other overseas trips, a bunch of administrative procedures had to be done before we actually started the program. One of those was the setup of our individual mobile phones and bank accounts. Which, is almost every country is tedious and boring (Sorry China, but you know it’s true).
After all of the administration that we’ve set up. We were left to our own devices. Many used this chance to rest up from the jet lag, whereas I went to check out the campus gym with a friend who was a local.
Alongside the way, I was also interested to check out the swimming pool and how it looked. Upon walking towards the building, I realized that the swimming pool was actually empty!
Upon questioning my friend, he told me about how the Chinese don’t take much stock into swimming, and it’s natural for swimming to die out in the country because of the lack of interest. This small titbit piqued my interest. It’s natural that when interest wanes, funding dies if no outside intervention has occurred. This is simply because there is no reason in sustaining a dying sport/event. Take the Olympics, every time it is hosted, giant facilities are set up for the sake of tourism and prestige of a country. Yet whenever the Olympics are over, the same facilities fall into disarray and are prone to disuse. In fact, it happened in this exact country, with the same exact topic. After the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a lot of swimming pools were just drained and left alone until some developer decided that the plot of land is more useful as a mall or a condominium.
On another note, the convenience of the Chinese apps (WeChat, Alipay) astounds me sometimes. Just after setting up my Alipay, I am able to start using the public bicycles, top up my Zhejiang University student card, pay at supermarkets and small shops, log into Taobao, with an account to my name and my Alipay wallet attached to it, transfer money to my friends with no hassle, including a bill splitting function if we had lunch and someone paid the bill first. All these begets the question, between convenience or privacy, the Chinese definitely have chosen convenience.
That’s all for Week 0, now I’m off to start my Taobao adventures, hopefully, I don’t go overboard.
This here is my blog for the TFI ALP program in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. For week 1, press here.