While walking around the Henan University of Technology campus, I often see female students holding hands or with their arms intertwined. Sometimes, it’s just two girls. Other times, it’s four or five linked together as if they were in a chorus line.
I’m told it’s just a sign of friendship and female bonding. It’s much rarer to see a romantic couple holding hands or displaying any public affection.
“In some ways, it’s like the 1950s over here,’’ a friend of mine observed.
Things are different in more cosmopolitan cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where Western influence is greater, especially with young people. Still, I don’t think they’re ready for Miley Cyrus.
China has more people than any other country, but some of its population figures are misleading.
Before I moved to Zhengzhou, I read that the city had about 8.6 million people. Turns out, that‘s the population of Zhengzhou’s administrative district, which includes five other cities and a county spread across an area about the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. The population of Zhengzhou itself is between 3 million and 4 million, depending on which definition of city you’re using.
So when you see population totals for Chinese cities, they could refer to the administrative district, the metropolitan area (the city and its surrounding suburbs and towns) or just the city. For instance, Chongqing in southwest China technically has a population of 32 million, almost as many people as Canada. But that includes an area covering 32,000 square miles, or roughly the size of Austria. The actual city has about 7 million people.
Shanghai is sometimes called the world’s largest city, with an estimated 24 million people. If you’re just referring to the city proper, that’s true. But if you’re talking about an entire metropolitan or urban area, the answer is Tokyo with 36 million people.
It’s finally starting to cool off in Zhengzhou.
Since I arrived here in late August, it’s been in the 80s or 90s almost every day. In the last few days, however, daytime temperatures have plummeted into the 60s. Yesterday was rainy and chilly, with a high of 63. It’s clear today with temperatures in the mid-60s, but it’s supposed to warm up into the 70s later in the week.