“Incredible,” I say. “This is unbelievable.” Besides me, Erin just smiles. “That was my reaction the first time I saw this place too,” she says. “The first time really does take your breath away.”
Once you set foot inside the twenty-story tall stone walls of Jinshui Technology Park, you’ll see gleaming forty-story sky scrapers built of shining glass and steel. Eight gleaming cylindrical office towers made entirely of glass, shoot upwards into the sky. Between them are carefully manicured lawns and koi ponds. Longer-slung office buildings also fill the adjoining space– it is a palatial office park, modern and futuristic, a world apart from the staid, soulless corporate office complexes that I’d grown accustomed to seeing back in the States.
“Wait,” I say puzzled, “how is it that we didn’t see these giant office towers from afar coming in?”
“Ah,” says Erin, “it’s active camouflage. It helps the Chinese conceal places like Jinshui from the prying eyes of American and European satellites up in space,” she says pointing upwards. “You know if word ever got out about just how much the west doesn’t know about China, there’d be outright panic, right?”
“I see,” I say nodding. I look alongside the inner walls of the office park and see that Erin is right. Giant holographic projectors are painting a façade of thin air to anyone who looks at the compound from the outside.
“That’s why the outer walls are built the way they are,” says Erin, “and looks like they date back to the days of Julius Caesar or Genghis Kahn. From the outside, this entire thing just looks like another historical artifact of antiquity.”
“You know over a millennia separate Caesar and Kahn, right?” I say giving Erin some side-eye. “Jesus, you kids these days.”
Erin rolls her eyes. “Whatever, old man. Same difference, same difference. C’mon, let’s go get some grub. I’m super-famished.”
Now that we’ve actually arrived, it occurs to me that I don’t actually know what I’m supposed to be doing here. I check my phone that Charlotte had given me but I have no new notifications. All I’d received earlier was a round-trip bus ticket and my return leg wasn’t until tomorrow.
Also, I am hungry. It’s just about five o’clock so I nod to Erin. “Sure, let’s get something to eat.”
The bus has come to a stop in a giant parking lot and passengers are already filtering out. I see most of the people who rode in are young, in their twenties and thirties– and aside from Erin and myself, everyone else is ethnically Chinese.