Thursday, February 11, 2010

Driving in China... random video 3

Lanes? We don't need no stinking LANES!!! One of the most difficult adjustments for Westerners in China is the beautiful chaos that is traffic. :)

Here are two videos that give you a glimpse...

(upload in progress)

This first short video shows my taxi driver in Chengdu driving down the left side of a major road...in fact THE major road in Chengdu. The entire drive to the airport was some form of creative driving acrobatics, which you will get a taste of in this video...

The second video is a typical Beijing moment in traffic...





video

Friday, February 5, 2010

Creepy Chinese toys on Witch Mountain Random vid - 2



WuShan is a little city located on the 3 Gorges Damn project. My guide and I walked around town in the evening and I was surprised to see so many....toys. Creepy toys, mind you.

As a bonus this video captures my failed attempt at humor, which is probably why many foreigners end up talking aloud to themselves... but that's another story. ;)

My comment: "What is That?" (Taken from the Princess Pride "What is THAT THING...")

Serious response: "Pedestrian Walkway."

Thinking to myself: I know this is a ****** walkway, what is that THING that just went by with a person on it????

Random China videos - take 1

video
Random things native English speakers are asked to do in China? How about being asked to give a Chinese company an English Name? Haha.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chengdu, China - Pandas and The world's biggest Buddha

I met my friend Hana in Chengdu to go see the Pandas and check out the city. We also made it to Leshan to see the world's biggest Buddha statue/sculpture, which rests in the side of a mountain. Chengdu is a pleasant city located not too far from Tibet. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it surprised me to see such a commanding military presence there.

The center of the city features a massive statue of Mao whose hand is slightly larger than normal proportions. It seems to be saying "In your FACE." but most people think it is a friendly wave...

We stayed in a Hostel that cost something around 10 dollars for two evenings. The first day we walked around and looked at the city-center and The People's Park.



We only had one full day in Chengdu and woke first-thing to see the Pandas. I was a bit critical of the setup at first...it seemed more of like a panda prison to me, but It's hard to know if they would even be alive if not for places like this. It's pretty funny to watch pampered Pandas...humans cut their bamboo for them and serve it in bundles where people stand around and watch.





That afternoon we went to Leshan with two awesome Danish travelers. It was a 2.5 hour car ride from Chengdu and totally worth it. Leshan's big buddha truly is...big!







My acquaintance in Beijing suggested that I contact his best friend when I arrived in Chengdu and he was kind enough to show us some of the refurbished tourist areas.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hillary Clinton's speech on Internet Freedom

Text of Clinton's speech: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/21/internet_freedom?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full

Part1



Only a week after Google's announcement to the world that it would no longer censor in China, the timing of Clinton's speech likely makes the relationship between Google and the US Government seem closer than it actually is.

Not to mention that..historically The Chinese have not taken all to well to direct confrontation or any challenge to their absolute authority and Goggle's move followed by Clinton's speech makes me, as an Emerging Media and Communications Graduate student, a bit uncomfortable.

I'm currently living in Beijing and have had an opportunity to ask many locals what they think about the Google 'threat' (as it is now being called). For the the most part, people think Google's decision is entirely motivated by profit. And, quite frankly, those inside China do not have access to blogger.com, so how would they be able to read Google's post? On State-run news? No.

While many netizens in China use a variety of means to circumvent the 'Great Firewall of China' the majority of the population only have access to a censored or 'harmonized' Internet. What this means is that while the rest of the world is patting Google on the back, the Chinese people are getting the impression that Google is abandoning them for the sake of their bottom line. Many of my Chinese professors and Beijing Yuppie friends use Google services and it seems that the middle class will be hit hardest if Google decides to close shop. Though, I've also been met with great hostility from individuals while trying to discuss the topic. One person told me: "WE HAVE OUR OWN! We don't need Google!"

While I think this is short-sighted, it sobers my enthusiasm and causes me to ponder on the long-term ramifications of Google's announcement.

Two personal insights from Clinton's speech:

While I resonate with the description Clinton used of the Internet being "a new nervous system for the planet." I was disappointed at her lack of sensitivity when she cited that Internet freedom as a "god-given right."

Personal beliefs aside, that was a diplomatically irresponsible statement to make when you are having a conversation with the world and particularly the Chinese. The ground of conversation is simply doomed to fail if diametrically opposed from the beginning - and makes finding a common ground difficult, if not impossible.

While living in China I would benefit more from a REASONABLY PRICED international DATA service plan - one that didn't cost me over $100 additionally per-month. The cost of global, mobile internet service is more crippling to me than the Chinese Firewall. I can get around the Firewall! I cannot, however, get around my AT&T International Data charges!!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Harbin Ice Festival - China - 2010


The temperatures in Harbin today were a high of 1 and a low of -22. If you're thinking about visiting to see the ice festival, you might want to find a better strategy for keeping your feet and hands warm than I had! Even with warm boots, thick wool socks and an under-layer of cotton socks my toes went numb in less than an hour!

There are about 10 tourist hot spots outlined for Western eyes and I managed to see three of them today. I first ventured to Zhongyang Street during the daytime. There were a variety of shops, nothing special for most Western shoppers, but there were several ice sculptures along the street. Though, my favorite was a statue that displayed the frigid temperature!






I headed back to the Shangri-La hotel where I was staying and had a Cappuccino to warm up. Here's a tip: when you're in China - drink tea. The coffee is terrible.



After resting I ventured out to a smaller park called Zhaolin Park. My favorite part of this park was that it had ice sculptures from different countries. Team USA had two sculptures. The first was sort of an abstract thing and the second was mind-numblingly simple: a squirrel. Though I found it endearing!






Next I went to the main park which is called the Ice and Snow World. This place is amazing! Though be careful walking around. I fell on the ice and smacked me head on an ice sculpture. No, I wasn't taking a photograph or doing anything silly...I was just walking! My feet began to go numb and when it felt like I had no toes...I knew that wasn't good so I headed for a taxi. It should have cost 15RMB to get to my hotel, but a crowed to taxi drivers tried to rip me off at 50RMB. I ended up getting back to the hotel for 20RMB...Anywhere there are Westerner tourists you've got to really be mindful of getting a fair deal. ALWAYS ask the hotel how much things should cost!!!







Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breath taking Beauty of Three Gorges - China

I visited Three Gorges University in Hubei Provence, Yichang - China to check out the campus and see the area.

The countryside of Yichang is beautiful with every square meter of land being farmed - I love how they farm the hills! This is the 'low season' so we were one of very few people on the tour circuit that day! Luckily we were allowed to tour the caves with no one else around, what a treat!





The next day I ventured to Fengjie and Wushan with my guide, Ginger. She was EXCELLENT!

Ginger is a Yichang local and she and her husband provide tours for visitors. She is well versed in the area's history and was great company during the weekend. We took a 2 hour boat ride to Fengjie from YiChang on a Speed-boat, those things are FAST! The sit up out of the water and almost glide on top.

Fengjie is a county with a dense history. Since the Xia Dynasty (21st - 16th BC), people have been living in this place. The county was named during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) in honor of Zhuge Liang who answered the call to take care of the son of Emperor Liu Bei during the Three Kingdoms Period (220 - 280). Zhuge Liang was a clever strategist and there is a video below that tells how he got arrows for his army when they did not have any!






Fun story: video


Wushan is a county located in the Three Gorges Dam Reservoir Area through which Yangtze Cruise ships pass. As the eastern gate of Chongqing, Wushan has a long history and abounds with rich resources. My favorite part of Wushan was watching the ladies dance in the town square with kids and people all about.




Last stop was The Ancient Town of Dachang! Located in Wushan County, in the middle section of Daning River, the Ancient Town of Dachang is the only well preserved town in the Three Gorges Area of the Yangtze River. Built in the Jin Dynasty, it has a history of over 1,700 years. Although the site of many wars, it has retained much of its original appearance. The town was literally relocated after the damn project and they moved a section of the ancient city and re-built it on higher ground.















Thanks to: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/

Friday, January 15, 2010

Internet policy in China

I came across this on Twitter and thought it was an interesting thing to share with Western eyes. It's nearly impossible to get a straight answer on what is and is not allowed here in China regarding the Internet. We generally just know whether it works or not...

The original document is in Chinese and here's basically what it says:

公安部第82号令: 互联网安全保护技术措施规定

Ministry of Public Security Decree No. 82:

"Internet security protection technology measures required"
(December 13, 2005 Ministry of Public Security published)

Order to strengthen and standardize the first Internet security technology, prevention, protection of the Internet network security and information security, the promotion of the Internet healthy and orderly development, and safeguarding national security, social order and public interests, under the "Computer Information Network and the Internet Security Protection and Management Measures" , the enactment of this provision.
Article II The term Internet security protection of technical measures is to protect the Internet network security and information security, to prevent crimes of technical facilities and technical methods.
The third Internet service providers, network use the unit is responsible for the implementation of Internet security protection technology measures and Internet security protection of technical measures to protect the normal functioning.
Article IV Internet service providers, networking using units shall establish a corresponding management system. Without user consent shall not be disclosed, disclosure of the user registration information, but laws and regulations, except as otherwise provided. Internet service providers, network use the unit to use the Internet security according to law, technical measures, must not use technical measures to protect Internet security violations of the user's freedom and privacy of correspondence.
Article V public security organs of public information network security supervision department is responsible for Internet security technology, the implementation of measures to implement supervision and management according to law.
Article Internet security protection technology measures should be in line with national standards. No national standards, should be consistent with public safety industry technical standards.
Article VII of the Internet service providers and networking using the units should implement the following Internet security protection technology measures: (a) to prevent computer viruses, network intrusion and attacks against network security matters sabotage or acts of technical measures;
(B) the important databases and systems major equipment redundant disaster back-up measures;
(C) record and retain a user logs in and out of time, calling number, account number, Internet address or domain name, and system maintenance logs of the technical measures;
(D) laws, regulations and rules and regulations should be implemented other security protection technical measures.
Article VIII provides Internet access service unit addition to the implementation of this provision provided for in Article VII of Internet security protection of technical measures, should also have the following functions to implement the security protection technology measures: (a) record and retain the user registration information;
(B) the use of the internal network address and the Internet network address translation means to provide users with access to services, be able to record and retain users of the Internet network address and the internal network address corresponding relationship; (3) records, tracking network running status, monitoring, Record network security incidents and other security auditing features.
Article IX to provide Internet information services unit addition to the provisions of Article VII of the implementation of this provision of Internet security protection of technical measures, should also have the following functions to implement the security protection technology measures:
(A) was found in a public information service to stop transmission of illegal information, and keep the relevant records;
(B) to provide news, publishing and electronic bulletin board services, and be able to record and retain information published content and release time;
(C) to establish portals, news sites, e-commerce sites, and can prevent websites, web pages have been tampered with, altered automatically after the recovery;
(D) to establish electronic bulletin board services, with user registration information and publishing information on the audit function;
(E) to establish an e-mail and on-line short message service, and be able to prevent, clear to send mass forgery, hide the true sender of the e-mail or short message tag.
Article X provides Internet data center services, units and units in addition to the implementation of this network to use the provisions of Article VII of the Internet security protection of technical measures, should also have the following functions to implement the security protection technology measures: (a) record and retain the user registration information;
(B) public information service found to stop transmission of illegal information, and keep the relevant records;
(C) networking using the unit using internal network address and the Internet network address translation means to provide users with access to services, be able to record and retain users of the Internet network address and the internal network address corresponding relationships.
Article XI providing Internet access service unit, in addition to the implementation of the provisions of Article VII of the Internet security protection of technical measures, should also install and run Internet Public Internet access workplace safety management system.
Article XII of the Internet service provider in accordance with the provisions taken by the Internet security protection technology measures should be consistent with public safety industry technical standards for networking interface.
Article XIII Internet service providers and networking using the units in accordance with the records retention provisions of the implementation of technical measures, it should be preserved for at least 60 days with a back-up records functions.
Article XIV of Internet service providers and networking using the unit may undermine the implementation of the following measures of Internet security protection technology acts:
(A) stop or in part without permission to stop the security protection technology facilities, technical means of operation;
(B) the deliberate destruction of security protection technology facilities;
(C) unauthorized deletion, tampering with security technology, facilities, technical means of operational procedures and records;
(D) changing the use of technical measures to protect the safety and scope;
(5) other technical measures to deliberately undermine the security or interfere with their function was normal play behavior.
15th in violation of the provisions of Article VII to the provisions of Article XIV, by the public security organs in accordance with "Computer Information Network and the Internet security protection and management measures" the provisions of Article XXI shall be punished.
16th The public security organ shall, within their jurisdiction in accordance with law Internet service providers and networking technology, the use of units of security measures for the implementation of the guidance, supervision and inspection. Supervision and inspection of public security organs in accordance with the law, Internet service providers, networking, using the units should attend the workshop. Public security organs of the supervision and inspection of the problems identified, it should suggest improvements to notify Internet service providers, networking rectification used in a timely manner. When the public security organs in the supervision and inspection, supervision and inspection personnel shall not be less than two, and shall produce law-enforcement identification.
Article XVII public security organs and their staff who violate this provision, there is abuse of power, nepotistic practices and corruption, the directly responsible persons in charge and other directly responsible persons shall be given administrative sanctions; constitutes a crime, they shall be held criminally responsible.
18th in the provisions referred to Internet service providers, is a point to provide Internet access services, Internet data center services, Internet information services and Internet access service providers. The term cluster utilization unit is defined as unit-based applications need to connect and use of the Internet unit.
The term to provide Internet data center services unit, is to provide hosting, leasing and rental services such as virtual space units.
The provisions of Article XIX since March 1, 2006 into effect.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My first Chinese Essay!

Our professor asked us to compose a short essay describing our experience here in Beijing, which could be selected for a school wide competition!

The following is the essay that I wrote, which was selected for the competition:

我很高兴我可以得到奖学金来北京学习汉语。我一到北京就认识了很多很好的人,有的是中国人,有的是从世界各国来的。我们互相学习,互相帮助。

在北京,我最喜欢的练习时间是打车的时候跟司机师傅聊天儿。他们常常问我:“你是哪国人?”现在我问他们:“你是中国人吗?”他们喜欢这个问题,每次听到都哈哈大笑!我喜欢他们笑,因为从他们的笑声里我可以听到他们的内心。这让我不再觉得我是一个外国人。

在北京两个多月,我去了很多地方:长城、天安门、故宫、孔庙、天坛、北海、奥运公园……可是我最好的经历是跟我的美国大学院长和两位中国教授一起去人民大会堂参加宴会。人民大会堂很大、很漂亮。我的美国朋友都喜欢我在那儿照的相片。我最喜欢的照片是跟我的院长在中国画“江山如此多娇”前边照的。不但因为那幅画儿非常漂亮,还因为我的院长是我的良师益友。吃饭的时候我的院长对全桌人说:“你们知道吗,我已经来过这儿五次了。”两位教授中的一位说:“按汉语的习惯你应该说,这是我第一百零一次来这儿了!”我的院长很高兴,因为他学会了用汉语表达他的幽默。我也很高兴,因为我体会到了两种文化不一样的幽默方式。

我在北京遇到了很多让我难忘的人,也经历了很多有意思的事,可是我觉得还有很多东西应该学习和体验,还有很多东西需要我用心去思考和感受。因为中国太大了,要想了解中国,得花很长时间。我的一位中国好朋友的爱人告诉我,我应该去一些小镇看看。我觉得他说得很对,我也对旅行很有兴趣。有很多地方是我想去的:宜昌,哈尔滨,三峡大坝,西安,杭州,青岛,曲阜……我不知道我能不能完全理解我看见的中国文化,可是我要试一试。

I start by describing my enthusiasm for being awarded a scholarship to study Chinese in Beijing! Then I explain that I learn a lot from my Taxi drivers here in Beijing and that they often ask me where I am from. So, I say that I often ask my taxi drivers if they are Chinese. Which makes them laugh! (Every taxi driver in Beijing is Chinese - it's not like New York!!!) And I like to see them smile because then I get to see their heart and I do not feel so foreign, just for that moment!


Next I explain that after more than two months in Beijing, I went to a lot of places: the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Confucius Temple, the Temple of Heaven, Beihai, Olympic Park ... ... But the most unique experience was going to The Great Hall with my American university Dean and two Chinese professors. The Great Hall of The People is very Big and beautiful and my American friends liked the photos that I took there. (ironically posted on Facebook) My favorite photo is with my Dean standing in front of a famous Chinese painting, "江山如此多娇." The photograph is memorable because of the location and because it is taken with an academic mentor. During dinner the Dean said to the table: "You know, I've been here five times." One Chinese professor smiled and said: "according to Chinese custom you should say that this is my 101st time to come here! He was very happy because he had learned in Chinese another way to express his sense of humor. I am also very happy because I learned something new and was reminded that the two cultures have different expressions for similar humor!



Last I explain that While in Beijing I have met many memorable people and had lots of good experiences both thinking and feeling and that because China is so big, It will take a long time to Understand China. One of my Chinese friend's husband told me that I should go take a look at some of the smaller towns. I think he is right to say that I am also very interested in travel. There are many places that I want to go: Yichang, Harbin, the Three Gorges Dam, Xian, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Qufu ... I do not know if I can fully understand what I experience in Chinese culture, but I would like to try.


Basically a paper that would take me an hour to write in English took an entire week, many revisions and lots of questions to bring together! It was a wonderful challenge!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Xi'an, China - Terracotta Warriors 兵马俑

During the holiday my cousin and I visited Xi'an to check out the famous Terracotta Warriors.

Our Tour-guide, Helen showed us around:

video

The Army is housed in three separate buildings, the oldest one likens to an old military hanger and houses the most impressive display of the army. There is even a warrior triage section in the back where they are being painstakingly cleaned and pieced back together. The Farmer that found them was there, but he wouldn't let his picture be taken...something about being old and it would steal his Spirit. No Kidding.



The second building is a bit newer and houses a smaller number of warriors, which are shattered...yet, it gives a good idea of how the warriors were placed in their final resting spot via ramp.




There's one more spot, but FIRST! There's a shop where you too can buy a Terracotta warrior with authentic dirt from the same ground that surrounded their 2k year resting place. My cousin purchased two miniatures.

Then off to the third building, which is more of a Beijing-style building. A big impressive looking... thing. This is the largest excavation and the viewing vantage is much higher than that of the other two. More thought was put into it being a tourist site. They have several warriors encased for viewing up-close.



As for this piece of...Art? Your guess is as good as mine:

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Eve in Shanghai

The only thing worse than food poisoning or the stomach flu is being in a foreign country while experiencing it. Fortunately I had all of my International SOS information handy in my iPhone and was able to speak to an English speaking doctor on the phone, who arranged our visit to a hospital and coordinated with the hotel staff to make sure we got there safely. High praise to everyone who helped out!

My cousin and I had just watched Tarantino's classic film - Four Rooms. How could we help but chuckle at the irony. We were in the hands of the Bell Boy. It gets even better...his name is Clark. ;) He's our Super Man, for sure.
This photo shows Clark, the Bell-Man, from the Radisson hotel that escorted my cousin and I to the hospital. What a relief! He stayed with us all night and got us back to our hotel safely.



Dr. Chen and Dr. Garcia discuss His case, Cousin get's an IV...


Shanghai from the window...


Yeah! Fever broke, so we could fly back to Beijing. Healthy and recovering.


Happy New Year!