Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Shock horror! Our protestations at the front desk have suceeded in getting the internet company to send a technician round who knows what he's doing! Hence I now have internet access in my room :o So you should see me online more often!


Q1. Is a country which is, in the main, devoid of all forms of road drainage capable of hosting major international events? Discuss, with reference to pooling.

More grief...

I think we’re all giving up on the internet people here as a bunch of useless crooks – occurrences of students being charged ¥50 instead of ¥15 for a cable and of people being connected and then finding themselves unable to go online for days thereafter are now commonplace. Also, having been told apples should have no problems going online with their company, a technician came round and asked if it used windows 2000…

As with other things in this country, all that seems to matter is appearances – the company gave everyone, and the university, the impression that they were connecting everybody and were able to provide a good service, but in reality their claims were insubstantial and their actions somewhat tainted with corruption.

The whole concept of appearances over substance is visible everywhere – even in the construction quality of our building. When we arrived, the newly decorated building seemed to be basically sound and clean. However the bathroom walls seem not to have been waterproofed, and there is now mould growing on the walls in our hallway because of it!

Fortunately, on the western food front, this appearance over substance approach seems to be much better than 4 years ago – there are passable sandwiches and pizza here now! Though some habits die hard, and croissants stuffed with dried meat floss have been spotted.

I really hope that this attitude does not extend to the preparations for the 2008 Olympics, though I fear that parts of it must be so. Looking at the country as a whole, if it cannot overcome this kind of behaviour, then its development will really be hampered.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The internet

Well all seems pretty hopeless on the internet front. We've had a fiasco here today which ended up with many foreign students storming the front desk in a desperate attempt to get the service staff to interact with the internet suppliers. Things have come to a point where it's make or break - at least we'll get all our money back if it can't progress any further.

Otherwise, the pollution has got really quite nasty today :( I would upload a picture, but it seems that you can't see them when i do :S

More news soon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More news from the Jing

Guess what? We don't have internet still! So here I am again at Cafe Loca, enjoying a cup of Illy and blogging.

On sunday, i spent the day with Melissa cycling around a series of lakes in north cetral Beijing (Xi Hai, Hou hai and Qian Hai for those of you with maps!). We also visited the Bell Tower, from where i observed something that is now apparent everywhere i go...

It started at Song Ching Ling's former residence, which also happens to be the birhtplace of the last emperor of China, on the banks of Hou Hai (Back lake). Song Ching Ling and her husband Sun Yat-sen were, apparently, very fond of pigeons, and in their garden was a doo'cot stuff with mangy specimins kept in their memory. After that, and climing the bell tower which looks over the hutong roofs, the same theme kept recurring - ramshackle pigeon coops set up on spare square inches of roof! Suddenyl, Beijing is full of pigeon fanciers - everywhere i look, tucked in the most unexpected nooks and crannies next to air conditioners or strapped onto window ledges, there are there pigeons.

Maybe they are taking over...

Monday, September 19, 2005


great wall trip was good- lots of photos taken, but sadly no way of uploading them to you yet as there is still no internet in my room :( i might take my mac to a nearby WiFi place and try there though!
Til then!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Tomorrow there's a trip to the great wall for all foreign students, which is free! huzzah!

So expect pictures and stuff when i can work it out.

We've also been promised internet in our rooms on monday. Promises promises...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Detailed report!

We're having difficulty getting internet in our rooms, as i'm sure you're aware, however we've found a local bar with wi-fi that works for the tiem being - so here is a detailed post and some pictures

Beijing itself has grown both upward and outward since last time. The sprawl of empty high rises now extends almost as far at the airport itself, as well as occupying many of the former low rise districts I once knew. The construction works seems still to be going on, all in a rush for the 2008 Olympics, with ‘unsightly’ old style hutongs* being cleared away. On the plus side, some of the more ugly modern roadside buildings hastily thrown up in the last 20 years are also being pulled down (before they fall apart I suspect)!

Traffic wise few things have changed, and the taxi drivers are still as dangerous as ever, and traffic jams are as certain as the rising of the sun. There are now 5 ring roads circling the city, which now ensnare even the Summer Palace in the NW of the city – the plan is to increase this number up to 7, though why I don’t quite understand, as when you get that far out your are practically in the countryside.

The effects of the traffic are also visible; we’ve not been able to see the mountains from here for 5 days now! And if the article I read in The Times before I left is true, then the extra 1000 new vehicles per day that are coming on to Beijing’s roads might possibly be to blame. However, even in the heat of summer, I have seen vehicles full of coal bricks in the city, supplying houses with fuel to heat their water and food. Sticking with this archaic form of fuelling is not bringing much benefit to Beijing’s atmosphere or public health. If Beijing has made promises to improve its air quality before the Olympics, I really can’t see how the measures taken have come into effect – if anything it is just as bad if not worse than last time I was here.

However, I’m doing my bit by taking the bus and underground instead of taxis, and I’ve also bought a bicycle again, which I’ve already taken out for dinner a few miles away. Three of us, all foreign students from the same building, bought bikes from the same place at the same time, for the princely sum of 130 Yuan (about 9 pounds). Deciding to take them out as transport for dinner in Wu Dao Kou was thought to be a good idea, until when we were almost there. At that time, Melissa’s bike decided that it had had enough and promptly broke down – the shaft connecting the two pedals coming out of its housing. Fortunately, bike-fixing stalls are commonplace and we were soon in dry dock. The repairman discovered that the bike was totally lacking in ball bearings - a testament to Chinese production quality for the domestic market. 5 Yuan later, and with 50 ball bearings installed, we were back on the road and working without problem.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Hot and unseasonally humid is the weatehr, with pollution making the visibility terrible. We're still being promised interenet in our rooms any day now - it's jsut a case of waiting. When I get it working, then there'll be photos galroe, i promise.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I have spent most of the day trying to get my apple connected to the DSL at the dorms here, but to no avail - tomorrow, i am promised. This means that for the while there'll be none of my pictures on the blog :(
Have just had dinner at an old fav. restaurant, which, i am glad to say, has not been demolished unlike the surrounding area! Have also got some wheels, and so am pretty mobile too.
Classes start tomorrow, so i get to meet my new classmates and see how the classes are here.

I'll try my best to get some photos on here!