by Toffler



“Is it Real?”

May 29, 2007, by TofflerN, category Uncategorized

“Is it real?” my Australian passenger asks looking at a picture of the Chongqing Green Dragon Waterfall, she’s just paid RMB80 to visit, which claims to be Asia’s largest.

“Is it real?” is a very valid question in this country.

We’ve just finished visiting Mount Emei, one of the 4 Holy Buddhist Mountains of China. I’d be curious to know when the mountain obtained this title, particularly if it was after Deng Xiaoping’s visit in which he said, “Turn your corn into gold” thereby engendering mass tourism to this mountain. The summit of Mount Emei was rebuilt in the last year complete with a rather gaudy gold statue and bronze- and copper-colored temples. Recently rebuilt Golden Summit of Mt. Emei

Can anything that new and re-buildable qualify as Holy? Furthermore, on our walk well below the summit, we pass 2 massive ‘stone carvings’. These supposedly ‘ancient stone carvings’ are nothing more than fiberglass facades they were installing the last time I passed by. The Fiberglass 'Stone Carving'

All of this makes me wonder, if the title ‘Holy Buddhist Mountain’ is merely a fabricated title to boost Deng Xiaoping’s call to mass tourism.

Of course we know China is rife with complaints of IPR violations, particularly with regards to films, music, and luxury goods such as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton (which is whispered in every foreigners ear in Shanghai). But less well-known are fake foods, cosmetics, medications, and even prescription drugs. Ever tried fake Oreos? Those will kill your Oreo addiction, quick. Or fake alcohol? It’s cheap but it tastes like crap and will give you the worst hangover you’ve ever had. What about fake prescription drugs? Consider how effective saline water is or chalk tablets.

How about those compliments Chinese people give so easily, when meeting someone, to give face, build a relationship, or just try to get something from you? Is that a sincere compliment or fake flattery that’s just a means to an end?

And what about China’s economic growth statistics? Are those faked as well? Poverty is rampant, major development projects are left unfinished, shopping malls full of people but no one’s buying anything. How can China’s growth be at over 10% per year in a country where the working population has no understanding of customer service/satisfaction, nor efficiency and weekday afternoons in Yangtze rivertowns consist of playing (and watching others play) mahjong and cards? Who’s validating China’s statistics?

I could go on with examples of fake and the just not quite real but I’ll leave you to discover them for yourself.

As for that waterfall–it’s real…sort of.


  1. Irene |

    hey Toffler!
    I always enjoy your perspective on things!
    icic, but this post is kinda depressive for me to read, ^_^.
    It seems that nothing is real anymore…….

    …….but does that apply only to China?

    How do we know what is real anymore nowadays with everyday life filled with humangous amounts of information trying to get access into our tiny little brains. When we watch television, read the paper, talk to friends, walk in the city, surf the internet, play virtual games…….we consume non-stop information. Information that is provided by sources that we NEVER are able to check, whether it concerns the local newspaper, CNN, HBR, Times, or the gossip magazines.

    The key issue is thus not what is real or fake? In the end it all flushes down to: Trust.

    We trust that CNN will provide us with the utmost reliable information, we trust that my friend is telling me the truth, we trust that the world is round (*cause did you ever see that with your own eyes……….in life?

    Toffler, I trust you on your words that many things are not what it seems in China. Yet although a temple might be constructed in 2007, people might believe it is still holy.

    We believe what we want to believe, and we trust what we choose to believe.

So, what do you think ?