Friday, February 08, 2008


Continue reading at London or Bust!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Moving to Hong Kong

Continue the story at Hong Kong or Bust!

Monday, January 23, 2006


Well i'm back in Britain now, and pretty glad of it. It's nice to breathe fresh air for a change. These 5 months in Beijing have been of good use though, and my Chinese has got better i'm sure. It's an interesting time in Beijing's history at the moment, with unprecedented construction and development going on, but they are paying the price. The people are certainly getting left behind - the new construction has a more modern and international attitude than many of them! I do hope however, that they will soon catch up and change.

Here's to fresh(er) air for the 2008 Olympics!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

North-South Divide

Well the rumours were true, and Kim Jong-Il (North Korean president) was here in China for the past 8 days as we suspected, despite official denial from all parties. Apparently, he was impressed by the special economic areas in Shenzhen and also by some high-tech agriculture set-ups the Chinese have going. This is a positive message for N. Korea, as it's subtly hinting at opening up and reform. Or at least I hope it is.

Final day today; lots of packing, posting and saying goodbye. V. sad to part with a certain person. But tomorrow i'll be home.

Going underground

We visited an unusual, and rather hard to find, tourist spot today, in the form of the Beijing underground city. Built in the 60s and 70s in a fit of paranoia over Russian invasion, the city was to be a shelter for the people of Beijing in case of war. We were taken around part of this supposedly city-wide complex by a not-so-talkative Chinese guide, who tore round at a fair old pace pointing out things like "this is a ventilation shaft so people can breathe" and "this tunnel goes all the way to Tianjin, but you can't go all the way down it these days". Many little tunnels and cubby-holes were labelled "ammunition store" or "old people's recreation area" - but they looked like any other room in the tunnels and we only had their word for it! I am pretty sure that the sign saying "silk factory" next to the obligatory underground tourist shop was a more recent addition and probably not installed during the peak of Mao's time in power. Still it was an interesting sight nonetheless.

There's an article worth reading on the BBC today.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

And now today's weather

Yahoo weather says that the current weather in Beijing is 'smoke'. Pretty unique, no? Tomorrow we're told it'll snow, and perhaps the day after that too.

The night before last, the street lights all down Xinjiekouwai St (the road my uni's on) were out for some reason. This included the traffic lights, so you can imagine how much more fun than usual crossing the road was. However, as the weather (i.e. the pollution) was so bad, visibility was the worst I've seen it here! Walking down the road, it was hardly recognisable as the one i've been walking down every day for the past few months. Fortunately, at the crossroads by ring road No.2 the lighting was back on and the traffic much calmer and safer!

But what if the situation doesn't improve? Will the field events at the olympics have to be cancelled? Will javelins eneter the mist never to be seen again? Will the marathon runners get lost halfway through the course? The athletes themselves will have to suck through so much of the air that they're going to hurt (we do sometimes and we don't even run...)!

The good, the bad, and the pollution.

Today's been a great day of China paradoxes. The pollution has been terrible - some of the worst we've seen. Yet, we had a great day! Mainly because we had a fantastic dim sum meal, topped off with cake and tea at the Peninsular hotel in Wangfujing. It was the best dim sum I've had; very tasty and full of flavour, yet light too. So thanks very much to Melissa's mum for her Christmas present to us! It was a really nice way to spend our last sunday in China. Well the last sunday this time anyway...

Friday, January 13, 2006


Going to Japan was a fantastic experience. It was great to finally get there after many years of wanting to go! There was so much to do, from ancient temples to futuristic metropolis. The food was great and the people were welcoming and helpful (and even put up with my attempts at Japanese!). This blog isn't about Japan though, so let's put the experience into contex with China.

Since the second world war, relations between China and Japan have not been the world's greatest. So much is it to the advantage of the powers that be to keep bringing up the second world war and the suffering that the Chinese went through, that even in this youthful generation there are Chinese who hate the Japanese and will express this opinion openly and readily. So much for moving on then...

Ironically, the popularity of Japanese things in China is huge. Karaoke, food, electronics, the works. You will be able to find the aformentioned xenophobes tucking into a plate of sushi, washed down with a bottle of Asahi beer while proclaiming their dislike for Japan. It's a bit topsy turvy.

Coming back from Japan (and Hong Kong) to China really has emphasised how big the difference is between them. China is nestled between these highly developed places while itself is not making the grade just yet. And there is a long way to go on many, many fronts. Comparing any developmental aspect of these places will render China the underdog. The big question is can the catch up, or will the immense size and slow bureaucracy of China prevent it from doing so fast enough?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Back to Beijing. Again.

After a week's absence i'm back from Japan - will post some pictures when I've got a spare moment. Things are a bit busy today!