Visting the Edge of 2 Worlds

Industry Observer

So I have been back for a week from my trip to China...and what a trip it was. While I went there because the  professional merchandising/design advice of "me" was needed, the personal "me" was impacted.

Since returning I have been asked questions like: "How was it?" "Did you have a nice time?"  "What did you think of China?' And each time I am asked, I am stumped for an answer.

Why stumped?  Well the above pictures are 2 views of China I had out my hotel room windows.  As I was taking them... I never realized they visually would capture the essence of my travel experience. They are "night and day images" in more ways then one.

The Picture on the Left... Shenzhen China. The Picture on the Right... Hong Kong China. Hong Kong was a glittery, fast and exciting. Shenzhen was dirty, slow and exciting. Shenzhen was about manufacturing.  Hong Kong was about consuming.

It truly was a push pull experience. I left NOT knowing what to think or how to feel about my journey... but there was something that touched the core of my being.

So last Sunday I looked forward to going to church to reflect on the whole experience.

That day the sermon was about childhood and adulthood... and that point in life when we crossover, loosing innocence and gaining wisdom. The edge of transition.

Shenzhen is that edge. In thousands and thousands of factories their innocent hands literally build for US the material goods we "need" in a mature consumer society. They build "stuff" they have no understanding of or need for... at least not for now.

Our world consumes what their world builds… and as they build they learn of consuming. Moving closer and closer to our world. A world I understand, appreciate, work and live in. But I have to admit sometimes I look back over the edge and wish I was a kid again.


POST SCRIPT: So what does this blog have to do with staging? Well, in my opinion quite a bit. In this age of consumption, a stagers job is to "transition" a home back to simpler view. Basic to staging is having the stager de-clutter the "stuff" that has built up in a house. Odd part of it is... if staging is done well and timed right, the seller can make more money... and then go out and buy more "stuff". hmmmm.


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Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

I felt the same way about Atlantic City; the drive to the casinos takes you through (at least ten years ago) some very poor areas and then voila, you are into opulence.

Great photos Craig, and very thoughtful. It's sort of like the push and pull of rural versus city, which has given us a lot of good poetry, for example, over the years.  I knew I liked you, but the fact that you told us about your trip in this way makes me appreciate you even more.

Nov 05, 2006 01:46 AM #2
Karen Hurst
Rhode Island Waterfront!


An apt analogy, "childhood vs adulthood",

But I see it as "Poverty vs Excess"

Sorry to say, but as you continue on your journey to adulthood, these same sights will leave you feeling helpless.

The fact that you noticed it and did not just get caught up in the  excitement of Hong Kong reflects your personality and thoughtfulness.

Great post!

Nov 05, 2006 02:13 AM #3
Lucie Quigley
HOLT modern Home Staging - Halifax, NS

Funny that Maureen brought up St. Lucia, we were there exactly a year ago for a friend's wedding. His bride to be was from the island, so we were treated to an authentic St. Lucia wedding.It also allowed us to see how people actually live there, that in spite of our comfy hotel, locals still lived daily not knowing if water would come out of the tap...if they had a tap at all!

On our last day my husband and I rented a car to drive around the island and explore on our own. We saw beautiful scenery and we too drove throught those same poor villages.

Unfortunatly, we were also followed by a car of locals, who just out of town, ran us off the road. I instantly realized that they intended to rob us. It was a moment when you realize "This is it..." 

They came out of their car with those big knives in hand. Fortunately, Jeff's quick thinking and good driving skills got us out of there before we became another vacation statistic.

But I learnt something that day, a lesson I wish I didn't have to... the world, for all its beauty and good has some very dark corners. Lving in North America we don't always "tune in" to what really exists out there.

Nov 05, 2006 02:26 AM #4
Kristal Kraft
Novella Real Estate - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Hi Craig,

Karen rephased it "poverty vs. Excess" I saw it as "Communism vs. Democracy."  Hong Kong though it is now ruled the PRC is more British than Chinese.  Heck they still drive on the "other" side of the road.  In the PRC they drive on "our" side, a very visible difference indeed.

The PRC is steeped in deep distrust, having multiple people do a job that takes one, when it comes to money/product, as in the grocery store.  IN Hong Kong the ecomony is good, business is good and the people for the most part are doing well.  The free trade roots have not been stunted.  In China, well they learning.

The poverty vs. excess" is most evident in the "country vs. city".  There is nothing like the China country side for taking a journey back into time.

statue representing China's past and future









Here are two photos taken in Nanning, China, they represent China's past and future.  I thought they were most excellent! (the statue's, not the photos)

China statue









Great post.  It sounds like you enjoyed your trip.  I hope to hear more about it.

Nov 05, 2006 03:22 AM #5
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
Love the car and the rickshaw. Old ways vs new ways; not always better just different lol.
Nov 05, 2006 04:06 AM #6
Dawn Shaffer Life is good!
Battle Ground, WA

I'm with Carole's first post: In my words, that you told us about your trip from this perspective says so much about you.

We are so protected here in our great country, and so very close to us, the world is so different. It really does leave one speechless.


Nov 05, 2006 06:13 AM #7
Janice Sutton
1st Stage Property Transformations - Murrieta, CA
Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta

As I always tell my children...."Someone always has it better off then you and someone always has it worse off then you".  Then I get the EYE ROLLING from my teenage daughters who think they have it soooo bad!!!  But they know what I mean and usually quit their complaining.

 Thanks for sharing your insight about your trip with us all.  Your sharing and insight is heartwarming.

Nov 05, 2006 06:21 AM #8
Eric Bouler
Gardner Realtors, Licensed in La. - New Orleans, LA
Listening to your Needs
Interesting blog,thanks for sharing the experience with us.
Nov 05, 2006 08:02 AM #9
Roberta Murphy
San Diego Previews Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate and Homes

Craig: I love your thoughts and analogies. I think inside of us all are the wiseman and the child, the animal and the wizard, the hammer and the nail. You and your camera captured all roles.

I love your post and will share what I can from that different time zone. I wish you and Kristal and I could meet for coffee or tea on the morning!

I think your post deserves a STAR!


Nov 05, 2006 02:38 PM #10
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Finally! I was wondering when you were going to put these up. Nothing better to adjust our worldview than a cross cultural trip.

Nov 05, 2006 04:49 PM #11
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL

"Craig The Reala Stager"

Buddy...I really liked it. Get yourself ready to write some Sunday posts...They don't really want them from me and that's okay. I have other plans. ROAR...Someone has to do Sunday AR needs it really bad...People consuming people. There's an interesting thought...

TLW "The Lovely Wife"...Getting away from consumption...ROAR!

Nov 05, 2006 10:57 PM #12
Rob Robinson- Lehigh Valley PA
Bertrum Settlements (Title & Abstract) - Allentown, PA

1) Is the Kanagroo Pub still there in Kowloon? (What's that 'main drag' ?.Grrrrrrr.........memory lapse)

2) Enjoy the STAR ferry?

3) Your contrasting photos is about right from my experiences over there.  Hong Kong was of course under Brit rule until....1997.  Hopefully China learned a bit about capitalism :^)

Nov 06, 2006 12:01 AM #13
Home Design
Alpharetta, GA
Home Design and Real Estate
Great Post.  I agree with what you are saying.  Do we need all of this junk?
Nov 06, 2006 05:53 AM #14
Gabriel Silverstein
Angelic Real Estate, LLC - New York, NY

Focussing only on the China thread and not the loose tie back to staging (which was unnecessary, but creative I guess), I saw the same thing when I lived in Moscow in the early 1990s as their version of Communism collapsed and their (even more convoluted) version of capitalism started to gain a foothold.  China, two years ago, to me was the same thing as it related to the impact on the people and the place, though I think any direct comparisons to the latter country's transition from their own version of communism to their own version of capitalism is not comparable to that of the former country's.

As I noted in an offbeat blog of mine a few days ago, the price of furs are up 40% to 50% this year primarily because of Chinese demand.  Two years ago construction raw materials started skyrocketing in price for the same reason and haven't cooled down, nor are they likely to.  Seeing Shanghai I think they are building another Chicago every year or so there, there are so many cranes. 

What is lost in all of this - the people.  It was that way in Russia, it's that way in China, and both before and after their souls are empty, they only have a different hope and dream, but the same cynicism and feelings of powerlessness to change it.  But that so different anywhere else in the world, even here?  We just don't put the hotels in the midst of "transition zones".  We hide our dirt better in the U.S.  I guess we "stage" it better - how's that for a link back to your world, Craig?!

Nov 06, 2006 05:49 PM #15
Craig Schiller
Trempealeau, WI


First thanks for reading, thinking and sharing. And yes I agree I.  Lives and cultures grow/evolve/change and with that comes more than just the glittery goodness... there are always "tie-backs to our lives" but sometimes we are blind to them.



Nov 06, 2006 11:03 PM #16
Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate
Majestic Properties - Miami Beach, FL

It's amazing how blind we are with regards to other cultures and love taking trips that open my eyes.  It makes you appreciate your own world more, or not.  The disparity between rich and poor in third world countries is huge but you see a different side of people and their soul which is so intriguing.  Thanks for sharing your experience Craig, and hope to hear more about it.


Nov 07, 2006 12:52 PM #17
Jay Thompson
Zillow - Seattle, WA

Craig -

In a life prior to real estate, I spent a week in Beijing and Tianjin, China. The contrast between old and new, rich and poor was absolutely striking. The people were fabulous, the food incredible (well, most of it. Some of it was downright scary) and the public restrooms were mind-blowingly disgusting.

I wouldn't trade that week for anything.  And I *really* want to go back! 

Nov 08, 2006 04:55 PM #18
Isabel Gomes
Gomes Design - London, ON
Interior Decorator, Stager - London, Ont
Leaving the western world is truly an eye opener. 
Nov 07, 2007 07:11 AM #19
Kathy Riggle
Houston Home Staging

Hi Craig-

Alas-We do not have to leave our Western democratic society to see poverty vs excess, or cultural differences.  Like Gabriel said, we do hide our dirt well here.  As a former teacher in an affluent school district who is now an active volunteer for Child Welfare in the sprawling city of Houston- I have witnessed  the cycle of poverty and despair.  But, if we can recruit enough folks to turn off Hollywood & TV's version of what is "cool" and volunteer our time instead- we can recapture some of our innocence and hopefulness by making a difference for others!

I highly recommend the Family Outreach non-profit agency for those of you who have a branch in your city. Or find a match for your skills through Volunteer America or a similar group.  You'll be surprised at the positive effect one person can make!

I feel a blog coming on....    :-)


Nov 07, 2007 08:13 AM #20
Minnesota Home Staging Firm, Minnesota
Minnesota Home Staging Network~ MN's Top Home Staging Firm - Inver Grove Heights, MN

Hi Craig,

Wish our trips would have been in the same timeframe as I was in the exact same cities this year. 

Have to echo what you saw...and felt after returning. My "awakening" was actaully an earlier trip in India during a 4 hour car ride from Delhi to Agra (to see the Taj Mahal). The poverty and living conditions I saw along that trip was heart breaking and really made me want to adopt about 30 children and take them home with me.  


Nov 15, 2007 01:06 PM #21
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