Shown in these pictures are not some palaces in Europe. It is a hotel in Hunan that a friend of mine stayed at during his recent trip to China.
The facade is absolutely glamorous. The hotel is no 5-star upmarket affair, but like so many other things in the nation, they are so taken to the window-dressing business, and with the sort of money they have and the costs of labour and materials still being largely affordable, such showy but tasteless creations or imitations are the order of the day.
Behind the facade, though, one can often find that the core is rather rotten. My stays at hotels in China are not always satisfactory. I have to confess that it is no 5-star upmarket affair that I patronise, but there is always something wrong about the room, such as the plumbery or the smell, or the service. The people just don't seem to be adequately trained to for the hospitality business. For example, while in other countries, checking out a a simple business of paying and giving an honest answer to the question "Have you used anything in the minibar?", in China you have to wait until someone has done a thorough search and they are satisfied that you have not only not used anything in the minibar but also not snatched a towel or the coffee-maker. You just don't feel valued or respected.
Another very telling example is the recent Expo in Shanghai. While this is the most expensive Expo ever and China is so proud of the hardware, such as the spectacular opening ceremony and the various pavilions, what has appeared in the news in the first few days after the glamorous are the chaotic scenes of people scrambling for entry and confrontations between officials and the public and the media.
The country should realise that it is not the fireworks and the fanfare that counts but the fidelity.