Friday, November 3, 2006

Can It Be True...

...Billboards In French!!!

After 希拉克 Xi1La1Ke4 (aka Chirac) visit less than 2 weeks ago…. French seems to be the “Langue du Jour”!!

Billboard in French (Ok in English and Chinese too) seemed to pop out from everywhere due to the China-Africa Summit that took place in Beijing in the last couple of days.

It is so nice to be able to read without even thinking about it. In fact my brain is so not used to seeing French and/or proper English for that matter that I didn’t quite realize it was written in 2 languages I could actually read without thinking too much about it. I decoded the first four characters (Friendship: Youyi 友谊- there are a few stores called youyi around town, in fact they were the first stores opened to foreigners. And Peace: heping 和平, don’t ask how I know that one when I cannot say really simple things to the ayi!!!) so as I was turning around to ask my driver what it meant I realized that there was 2 other languages on the billboard that I was pretty confident reading. Why make your life simple when you can make it hard.

On a side note this big meeting was also a preview for the traffic plans for the Olympic (Source: AP)
Beijing ordered the government officials not to drive and asked motorists to do the same during a summit with African leaders, keeping normally jammed traffic flowing and previewing measures the Chinese capital is considering for the 2008 Olympics, officials said Monday.

In one of its most expansive traffic campaigns ever, the city flooded state-controlled media with appeals not to drive, sent text messages on mobile phones, banned construction and ordered government agencies to halve car use, the officials from three city offices said.

The combination of control and persuasion proved remarkably effective, taking off the city's streets about 30 percent, or 800,000, of the capital's 2.8 million vehicles during six days of meetings between Chinese and African leaders that ended Monday, the officials said.

The China-Africa summit served as a tryout for one of the thorniest logistical problems the city is facing for 2008, its often gridlocked traffic.

The arrangements were not trouble-free. The Africa summit was the largest high-level diplomatic gathering Beijing has hosted, with presidents, dignitaries and entrepreneurs from 48 African countries shuttling around the capital. Police shut down roads to make way for the motorcades, forcing traffic on to smaller streets that then easily clogged.

For the Africa summit, Liu, the transportation official, said no compulsory restrictions were issued to private car owners. Only government fleets were given orders, with city offices told to keep 80 percent of their cars off the streets and central government agencies 50 percent.

That explain… why we could drive so easily and why the sky was so blue!!!