I left you all with the cliffhanger of the interesting conversation I had with Nancy, one of my first students in China. She is currently staff manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in Guangzhou, seen here below. (Nancy sent me the pictures of her food servers and chefs during a restaurant instructional meeting, along with a food-tasting experience, gourmet pizza)
Below are some photos Nancy sent of her trip she and her husband took to the Gobi Dessert, along with pictures of her beloved Border Collie.
The Reports from Nancy: Number 1 — Hotels are Full
With very few foreign business folk or wealthy foreigners entering the country, you might be wondering who exactly can afford paying US $250-and-up a night for such a swanky hotel room in her Four Seasons. (Other Four Season Hotels in other Chinese cities are $450 or more)
None other than wealthy and upper middle class Chinese.
According to Nancy, Covid restrictions on traveling around the country have kept many couples and families in their residential cities, meaning they have no place to go. Thus they’ve been booking highclass hotels for one night to have a little respite from apartment living. They can use all the amenities, order room service or enjoy dinners and buffets in the hotel restaurants (usually there are 2 or 3 to meet the needs of various Western and Chinese tastebuds), sit in the ostentatiously decorated lobbies to people-watch, enjoy night views from the outside rooftop, or go to the sports’ areas to play ping-pong, badminton, basketball (yes, some have outside basketball courts) and swimming.
Nancy also mentioned her hotel in Guangzhou is always booked solid for the lunch. Chinese love to eat and the $35-50 per person buffet is one which is highly desirable for the 2-hour lunch break many have.
Nancy’s hotel offers “casual dining” at the 72nd floor Italian restaurant, Caffe Mondo.
Evening meals will run a person $150 – 200 per couple. Reservations are definitely required.
Mental Health Facilities at Capacity
Another of Nancy’s interesting mentions dealt with mental hospitals.
The Zero-Covid has done a number on China’s economy, people’s freedom and way of life. With so many lockdowns (unable to leave homes for weeks at a time), limits on travel (tourism at a stand-still in many areas), shutting down of factories (meaning migrant workers have no means of supporting family back on the farm), job losses (so many small businesses closed their doors, unable to bounce back from unending lockdown procedures), young people unable to find employment, and at one time stable, middle-aged couples with kids losing their jobs as well, it’s been a nightmare.
The mental health of many has reached an all-time desperation low. Depression has set in. People now are looking for help by checking into mental hospitals.
I remember when the 2008 earthquake hit and how unprepared China’s mental health professionals were to adequately counsel those suffering from the after-effects of such a horrendous tragedy. Chinese are not used to “bearing all” to strangers and many psychologists did not have updated, modernized methods how to truly help those who experienced trauma.
The Amity Foundation, aside from attending to the physical needs of earthquake victims, sent well-trained psychologists from Nanjing, the organization’s headquarters, to the hard-hit areas. These individuals worked with local mental health professionals to lead seminars which trained how to give the best possible mental healing to those feeling utter hopelessness.
In today’s Covid situation, I do know suicide has been on the rise with many feeling there is no end in sight. An increase in domestic violence has been a huge issue as well due to family members being stuck at home together, money being scarce, the looming fear of getting Covid, changing temperaments and an inability to “get away” due to constant lockdowns.
Luzhou has a mental hospital, very near the Number 6 Middle School swimming pool I used to exercise in every day. I wonder if it is likewise full of patients affected by the current Covid restrictions over the past 3 years? Be interesting to find out.
The bright side is that in my area of China, things are back to normal.
My college is now open, with students having returned after the October holidays. They are attending in-person classes. Residents are only required to do Covid testing once a week. My Luzhou Church has finished a major renovation of the 1913 building, which I will report on in the next post. Worship is open to all and the church choir has been holding regular practices twice a week as always.
Foreign English teachers are being hired by private pre-schools and getting into the country. I know of 3 who have landed this week and are in quarantine.
It might be my school leaders will be willing to invite me back in for 2023. Send lots of good thoughts my way for that!
Until next post, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your day.