Last month my work took me to the city of Qufu, in Shandong Province. Qufu is famous for being the hometown of Confucius. In an effort to preserve the cultural heritage of this city, it has been spared the mindless development and modernization that has transformed most Chinese cities into oversized clusters of white tile buildings with blue tinted windows. It is still a quiet city with very little traffic, and still far from major transportation hubs. There is no airport. There is a small train station where some of the slower trains that ply the province stop. No non-stop Z trains with personal TV screens over the bunks. No new high speed D trains that go 200km/hour. Going to Qufu is like stepping back in time 10 to 15 years.
As I was preparing to depart on the night train back to Beijing, I spotted this interesting….um….thing along one of the walls. Perhaps a space ship had landed and this creature was about to declare itself ruler of the train station! What’s even stranger is the writing atop its robo-forehead, which reads, “Quick! come here and look.” Apparantly one is to put one’s eyeballs up against those lenses and see something. What? A movie? A filmstrip of China’s famous scenic spots? Since it was such a public place, certainly it wouldn’t be anything pornographic.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious, but given the fact that I was the only foreigner in a room full of several hundred Chinese, all of whom had obviously responded to some internal “Quick, come here and look” call and were staring at me, I resisted the urge.
I’m still kind of curious, though!