Somehow the site got shut down. Now trying to revive it…
Archive for the ‘Main’ Category
Latest from a trip to Padang, Sumatra, Kerinci, Lombok, etc. Blog is still blocked in China.
We haven’t posted here in a while because the blog has been officially “harmonized” by the Chinese Great Firewall – something in here tipped off the omnipotent censors in Beijing. So it’s difficult to get access these days and our Chinese readers can’t see it anymore. Thinking about migrating everything over to a different host or domain. Not sure when we’ll get around to that. For now, here are the latest shots from a wonderful trip to India. Refresh for more or click on a photo to browse them in flickr.
这是翻译服务的一个例子。我们可以帮您翻译中文用标准的英文。Below is an example of our Chinese-English translation service.
Important notice for all students:
From December 3rd – 7th, a high-level inspection team from the China Education Bureau will be visiting Jinan University, Language and Culture Campus. This inspection is very important for Jinan University and the Language and Culture Campus. The team will be inspecting both the teachers and the students at our university. All Chinese universities are required to be accordance with specific national requirements. From November 27th until December 7th, we ask that each student abide by the following guidelines:
1. Be on-time everyday for class
2. Everyday from 8:00-17:30, do not wear sandals or other inappropriate footwear in the classroom or administration building.
3. Do not smoke anywhere inside the classroom or administration building. Smoking is also expressly forbidden inside the classrooms.
4. Do not eat in the classroom. Do not use cellphones to call or send text messages while in the classroom.
5. When you approach a teacher on campus, please offer a friendly greeting. When waiting for the elevator please allow teachers and staff to enter the elevator first.
6. Those students who reside in the dormitories please abide by the dormitory management rules. Do not be out after dark and do not interrupt your fellow students’ rest.
A good study environment benefits every student. However a good study environment needs the support of each individual student to be effective. We all need to try our best during this inspection to create a comfortable university atmosphere. We need each student’s support to make sure we are all upholding the rules. Together we can help make our Language and Culture Campus a wonderful place to study and live.
Chinese as a Foreign Language Teaching Department
As we carve along the border between Croatia and Bosnia in a region known as the Dinaric Alps, I can’t help but wonder if my surname somehow has some origin in this ancient part of the Roman Empire. The farthest back our line of “Denaro” has been traced is Italian Sicily. Surely, as several Mediterranean countries use the dinar currency, the historical roots connect even earlier.
Driving from the Adriatic coast back toward Zagreb, takes the traveler through all variety of temperate zones. The coast is little more than a vast rocky desert that runs all the way up the Dinarics until popping out the other side covered in greenery punctuated with a skyline of rocky peaks. As a kind Croatian explained it to us, the Slovenians are constantly begging for more coastal access granted through Croatia (Slovenia has only 40 km of rocky coastline and only minimal access through the Adriatic to the Mediterranean from there). Croatians apparently say, “if we give you some coast, how about some of those alps?!” Sounds like a fare trade to me. But the Dinaric Alps are still a formidable sight for a cruise through on a late afternoon bus ride with marginal ventilation and one particularly energetic and talkative Croatian punk behind me. I know we’ll regret not having caught the afternoon train from the Adriatic coastal town of Ploce to Sarajevo and then up to Budapest but by the time we realized it would be possible without visas we already had two bus tickets in hand taking us back up to Zagreb. Bosnia is bound to become an adventure tourist paradise. The mountain scenery and activities there may just call us back to the Balkans someday soon. But for now, from the Croatian capital we catch the overnight to Budapest (where a vacationing Korean couple informed us there is currently an enormous annual rock festival going on).
Following several days of island hopping, walled fortress town exploration, thermocline cave diving, and luxurious Italian holiday gourmet we’re back on the road for a change of scenery. We both managed to tear our ears up with equalization complications and are now trying to decompress. Since I can’t hear what better reason to jot down a few thoughts.
Since this blog tries to focus on content with a Chinese slant (pun slightly intended), as we backpack through Eastern Europe, I’m actually finding no problem connecting things we see and do back to China. Kind of like that 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game. During this trip so far, I’ve started to realize the powerful reach of the Chinese economic empire. News around the world in any language can’t seem to go even a few days without some mention of Chinese growth, product quality, Olympic preparation, political integration etc. Pick your favorite Chinese-related topic, I’m sure you can find a newspaper or magazine that’s just published an article somewhere (this blog included). As we travel, we find this is true no matter we’re in Southeast Asia, Western or Eastern Europe or beyond. Chinese influence, Chinese products, and especially interest in China, itself, is EVERYWHERE! And people still wrinkle their noses in confusion when I tell them I’m studying an MBA in China.
Now, of course our eyes and brains are China-tuned to notice even the slightest references to China (and the odd Chinese character on a sign or in a store window). We left China almost a month ago and we keep seeing “China” in some form or another almost every day. There’s the occasional Slovenian Zhongguo Restaurant or Croatian “China Shop” selling every cheap product China is famous for from toys to shoes to misprinted T-shirts. On that last one, in Dubrovnik’s 1000 year-old walled city we spotted a shop selling the exact same shirt I considered buying at the American retail store, Target, for my new brother-in-law that has a cartoon of a smiling bride and frowning groom and says, “Game Over”. The same touristy “ethnic” shirts, purses, and wooden ornaments that every backpacking 20-something-year-old thinks they should buy to make it look like they’re really roughing it in their 80 Euro/night “hostel” are sold all over the world. When you’re in Thailand, you think it’s Thai craftsmanship. When you’re in Eastern Europe, you think it’s made just over the hill in some poor village. It’s all from China! We know. My wife regularly shops at a huge export bulk-buy emporium where thousand of vendors peddle the same Chinese crap.
What a business.
The Chinese figured out a long time ago how to make a lot out of little. Remember that old chain email that says there was once some millionaire who made his fortune as a bank teller. He simply rounded up every transaction that was less than a cent and scraped off those extra fractions into a personal account where they slowly accumulated? I don’t know if that guy really exists but the same thing happened not to a person but to a country on an international scale. China has always been the lowest bidder for all the stuff no other country really wants to make anyway. All the smelly plasticy toys, all the boring restaurant dishes, all the undershirts and earswabs and all those little extra car tire inner tube caps that people always forget to put back on. China makes and sells all the cheap things that people don’t even think twice about buying in the western world. Why? Because they’re so cheap – at least from a Western perspective.
Manufacturing commodities may not be so profitable in the West because the margin is so small. Fortunately for China, though, with an undervalued currency, fierce competition for jobs, and a national satisfaction and humility to work for less than 100 USD per month, this margin is more than enough. In fact, over time it gave some factory owners almost princely wealth. They scraped off just enough of every million orders that their workers stayed on the job (after all it’s against the law to strike anyway) and their factory fiefdom put some of them on the 100 richest people in the world list.
But China’s reach doesn’t just go in your pocket and your playroom. In Slovenia, we took a detour off the standard tourist route and visited Ljubljana’s intriguing ethnographic museum. On the 3rd floor is a nice exhibition of Slovenian arts, crafts, costumes, and general way of life. It was all written in Slovenian so we moved rather quickly through all this. Interesting but the real surprise comes on the 2nd floor where the museum has dedicated an entire exhibit to the connection between China and Slovenia. Who ever knew you could fill an entire floor on that theme? The truth is, almost every country in the world probably can.
Slovenia’s history with China goes back to ancient times when the Ottoman Turk Empire was at the receiving end of the Silk Road. 17th and 18th century royalty considered it en vogue to adorn a room or two of their castles with Asian motifs from the Middle Kingdom. Most of these designs and scenes were what the kings and princes had heard of the distant land and how they imagined it from a romantic perspective. One particular part of the exhibition titled, “The Different Chinese” chronicles how the fashion of the day called chinoiserie was to furnish rooms with fake Chinese furniture (sound eerily modern?!) and wallpaper the rooms with pseudo Chinese scenes. Even the Germanic prince who financed the building and design of the unfinished Neuschwanstein castle had his personal quarters done up with his own Chinese fantasy paintings with Europeans donning Chinese dress in an imaginary Chinese background. Fascination in turn with Turkish, Greek, and Egyptian art followed in European fashion. With current interest in feng shui and Chinese hanzi tattoos (one such acquaintance bears a mark on her lower back that reads 爱水and this is both terribly embarrassing and very funny) I can only wonder if we’ve come full circle.
The ethnographic exhibition contains many artifacts, postcards, writings, paintings, etc. collected by prominent Slovenian citizens whose life somehow or another intersected with China. The link is there and has been for a long time. One such part of the exhibit explains a curious bit of Slovene folk tradition as it relates to China. Upstairs, the Slovenian ethnographic portion clearly points out that Slovenians are generally wary of foreigners and their intentions and for this reason do not like them. After all, the region that is today Slovenia was invaded countless times and changed association, religion, and culture many times. So an interesting idea developed about the Great Wall of China that shows the interrelation of fantasy with European reality. In Tolmin it is recorded, “The Chinese asked God’s son to protect them against their enemies. He commanded the apostles and his followers to scatter sand around the country’s borders. This rapidly grew into a thick, high wall so that nobody could reach China anymore. China’s king is thus called the walled-in king as God himself created the wall around him.” My how telling.
One of the most prominent ambassadors of Chinese art and culture to Slovenia is a woman by the name of Wang Huiqin who has lived in Slovenia since 1983. As a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, she introduces Chinese culture to Slovenian youth and teaches them about her homeland that is becoming such a part of everyday life in the Balkan nation. Her unique blend of European and Chinese style has earned her the honor as Slovenian cultural person of the year. Many others like her around the world are creating an awakening to not only Chinese culture but the Chinese way of business.
Off on a pony ride of a sidebar there but that’s what its all about. If you made it this far, then either your eyes have glazed over or you’re fuming in vehement disagreement. Either way, thanks for finishing. I’m hungary.
If you’re viewing this site from inside China, recent events at Great Firewall headquarters have temporarily/permanently blocked most photos from displaying on this blog. Flickr, the famously successful photo-sharing site, is officially censored in China. Not the site itself but the two servers on which all of its photos are stored. We use Flickr to store photos then display them on this site. Someone probably took some sensitive shot of a Chinese government official or top-secret military base. The site could be back in a few days. It could be gone forever like Wikipedia or .mil sites.
Here’s the thread following user’s opinions of the situation. Ironically, the second page of the thread is also blocked (it gets a little political – I won’t go into speculation on why flickr may have been blocked but there is recent news about an event in China that the government may not want the masses to know about – do some searching in English about recent China news and you’ll hit it). Over 1 million users are on flickr – all those photos are blocked in China. As one Chinese comrade comments, 息事宁人, this will all likely blow over with nary a word from the Beijing authorities. Sorry for the inconvenience. We’re looking for a workaround.
UPDATE – Solution – rename the “farms”. According to a Chinese blog, if you replace farm2.static.flickr.com in the link to each individual photo with 126.96.36.199 and farm1.static.flickr.com 188.8.131.52 you can get around this blockage problem. Can anyone confirm this is working by commenting as to whether you can see the “Guangzhou Street Fighter” photos below? How about the thumbnail in the dragon boat (龙舟) post?
Please be patient with us as we try out some new names on the blog. Apologize to anyone that may be linking in to our site via the former name. We’ll likely settle on a semi-permanent name by the end of the week. Still trying to figure out which way this blog is headed – the posts can be so disjointed sometimes. We’ll see if we can’t get some continuity going with the identity change. Thanks for sticking with us.
Here is a list of China Area Codes. Of course the country code for China is 86 but here is a handy list of all the city area codes in China. When calling the city from outside that city, it is necessary to precede the number with 0 and then the following code. For example calling Beijing from Shanghai would be 010 + the phone number. Click below here for the full list: (more…)
Normally I’d think this poster was really funny. In fact, I’m more relieved than amused. It’s frequently common to see a small child relieving himself (or with the assistance of mom/dad) doing his business in the gutter or drain on the side of the road. Sometimes it’s just in the middle of the sidewalk. Of course, free public toilets would help curb this habit (pun intended).
Thankfully, major cities around China are starting to enact laws and guidelines to help the masses be a little less gross (by western standards of course) in public. Beijing is leading the movement so far. China Daily reports:
Beijing’s management department and civilization promotion office have jointly sent five inspection teams to patrol the downtown Wangfujing pedestrian mall, Tian’anmen Square, commercial centers and railway stations to stop people from spitting, littering, posting of advertisements and writing on public property.
As of Sunday, 56 people had been fined for spitting and refusing to correct the bad habit, according to the teams.
The officials also handed out more than 10,000 bags to tourists, reminding them not to litter.
Earlier reports said people spitting in the streets in Beijing will be fined up to 50 yuan (about 6.5 U.S. dollars).
“Fifty yuan is a fairly hefty fine for spitters,” said Zhang Huiguang, director of the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau.
In Beijing, 50 yuan is about daily income of a Chinese college graduate and can buy 16 subway tickets or 100 packs of paper tissues.
The government is anxious to correct the embarrassing habits of Chinese travelers ahead of next year’s Olympics Games. The May Day holiday week is seen as a good time to start as an estimated 150 million Chinese tourists will be on the road.
The China National Tourism Administration has issued a circular, requiring travel agencies and tour guides to be responsible for correcting the bad behavior of tourists during the holidays.
Jumping a queue, spitting, littering and loudly clearing one’s throat in public are some of the frequently observed bad habits that are giving Chinese travelers a bad reputation, according to the Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee (SCSC) of the Chinese Communist Party, the official etiquette watchdog.
“We are supposed to remind people constantly throughout the tour, and also lead an etiquette discussion at the end of the tour,” said Huang Xiaohui, a travel guide with a Beijing-based travel agency.
“The Olympics are coming, and we don’t want to be disgraced,” Huang said succinctly.
So with this recent news, I wasn’t surprised to see the following “reminder”. This poster I spotted in the subway the other day is just one example of the “etiquette” movement sweeping the country. Thank goodness! Foreigners living all over China are saying, “It’s about time!” In this particular case, I personally would have perhaps used the word “urinating” instead but I guess this is what you get when people like the author are teaching the Chinese the finer points of English vocabulary. P.S. I suspect the cartoon character is dropping a “pericarp”?
First, apologies to all those that randomly google in here only to discover a blog that’s been apparently neglected for the past couple weeks. Anyone that’s been around China in the recent 7 days knows that the entire country is on vacation for a semi-annual government holiday. We were too. In fact, we’ve been out and about trying to second guess places Chinese people may NOT be visiting this holiday. Of course this rules out the usual tourist destinations (Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guilin, Yunnan). That’s ok – from our strategic location down in the Chinese Deep South, we’re within bus-riding reach of several rather amazing vacation destinations (that also don’t draw near the numbers of the usual Northern attractions). I won’t go into the details of the trip but only highlight the good stuff that the guide books left out. Any of these cities make a delightful weekend trip from Guangzhou (by air) or a nice extended weekend train/bus adventure (under 12 hours traveling time). Perhaps due to the time of year (and a mass population migration) the westerner quotient was remarkably small in all of these vacation spots – prices tend to reflect that too. Working backward chronologically, we’ll start with the seaside retreat of Xiamen…