Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mei Mei* Is In Town

...With Mei Xu and 2 Wai Sheng*

Hence the lack of posting…. Because I cannot baby-sit, cook, tour guide, bargain…. and write posts.
We’ll start with the traditional ones: Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen, Lama Temple, Temple of Heaven… we’ll then continue with the new attractions: The Egg, the Bird Nest, the Water Cube… without forgetting the other temples, the temple of fashion (!) Yashow, Silk Market, Pearl Market.

* you would know what it means if you had paid attention to older posts!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mark Your Calendar

...Once Again!

I should have written this post last month since it was first implemented in February but I had already talked about “no-spit day” and I didn’t want to overload you with numbers!

So the “big bosses” have come up with a new plan to make the Olympics and Beijingers as civilized as possible (not sure what will happen after August!). Starting last month, the 22nd of each month is “Share Your Seat Day”. The number 22 (二二 - er er) is similar to RR, which stands for sharing (让让- Rang Rang), and the shape of 22 somewhat resembles a seat.

So from now on I’m supposed to queue in an orderly matter (on the 11th), share my seat in public transportation with the people that need them most (on the 22nd) and not spit (no specific date set yet). I guess I’m lucky I still have 27 (28 some months) to be as rude as I want: spit while not queuing and certainly not giving my seat to this 100+ year old woman!! Not a bad deal after all. Anyway, it’s a good thing there aren’t 33 days in a month or they would have to come up with a new brilliant idea.

PS: it seems that they come up with those ideas only in February (11 February 2007 was the start of the “Queue day” campaign and now this year 22 February 2008 the “sharing seat” campaign.) I predict that in February 2009 the new campaign will be: “Do what the heck you want... nobody is watching us anymore!”"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sand Storm...

...And Pollution

The sand storm season is in full swing. It’s not as bad as it used to be apparently but from time to time you’ll see the taxi drivers using their "buffer" a little more than usual.

Yesterday’s sandstorm brought once again pollution to an unprecedented level this year with an API (air pollution index) of 305 according to the Beijing Environmental Bureau

Another Fine Day...

For your information, The Chinese authorities use an Air Pollution Index (API) to report the air quality. Although most countries use the term API, they may have different scales to measure it, so an API of 100 can represent different levels of pollution.

  • 1 = API 0-50 = excellent = PM10 0.000-0.050 (It’s considered “good” in the USA)
  • 2 = API 51-100 = good = PM10 0.050-0.150 (it’s considered “moderate” in the USA)
  • 3A = API 101-150 = slightly polluted = PM10 0.150-0.250 (it’s considered “unhealthy for sensitive group” in the USA)
  • 3B = API 151-200 = light polluted = PM10 0.250-0.350 (it’s considered “unhealthy”y in the USA)
  • 4A = API 201-250 = moderate polluted = PM10 0.350-0.385
  • 4B = API 251-300 = moderate-heavy polluted = PM10 0.385-0.420
  • and so on…

The European Union draws a red line at a PM10 of 0.050 mg/m3. API in Beijing with a PM10 up to 3 times as high as the EU limit value as good.

On a side note, Beijing pollution rating for December 12, 2006 was a record 500, the maximum score on the scale that SEPA uses!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Painting the Town Red...

...Or At Least Pink!

There must be some kind of paint sale in town, not only did they repainted the Red Hotel next to our apartment complex this horrible color but now random buildings around town are turning pinkish too!!


Then there is the subject of the Olympic (I haven’t talked about it for a while!) and this frenzy of making everything look perfect for August… so again everything that cannot be demolished has to be painted!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sex Doesn't Sell...

...In China

Rumor has it in recent days that Tang Wei ("Lust, Caution" lead actress) has been banned by the Chinese broadcasting administration.

“She has been reportedly banned from Chinese screens since March 5, when various Chinese TV station executives received an order instructing them to stop reporting on the actress and to exclude all the commercials featuring her.
The speculation circulating on the web guesses that the ban may have something to do with the Lust, Caution, an "un-patriotic" and "erotic" feature film directed by Ang Lee.
Last Friday China's regulators reiterated the criteria for censorship, saying that films with explicit sex and fear-provoking elements must be cut or revised before release.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said in a notice on its website that the move was intended to purify screen entertainment and create a more harmonious and healthy film environment for the public.
Rumors indicate that Tang Wei and Lust, Caution may be the first target.”

Can you imagine if Hollywood applied the same ban…. There would be not a lot of commercials!!

Monday, March 10, 2008


...You Mean: Lost

Let’s call her Friend XY.

  • XY has her wallet (and passport) stolen.
  • XY goes to the police station to report it.
  • Police write in the police report that she lost her wallet.
  • XY argues she didn’t lose it, but that it got stolen.
  • Police agree and change statement.
  • XY goes to her Embassy to get a new passport and a statement for her bank in order to cancel her credit cards, etc…
  • XY then needs to go to the police station for foreigners (for some reason, yet unknown by myself) and find out that she actually has “lost” her wallet in this statement.

China… or how to keep statistics on your side.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Shaving Day

Today is the second day of the second month in Chinese lunar calendar, known as 龙抬头 ("the dragon raises its head"). Traditionally, people go to barbershop to have their hair cut on this day, believing that it will bring them good luck throughout the following year.

So did you by any chance have your hair cut today?!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What's The Definition of Normal?

It Just Depends On Your Point Of Reference

When I first moved to the States I was puzzled by the way their maps of the world looked like. The American continent was in the middle with Europe/Africa on the right hand side (to the east) and Asia on the left hand side of the map (to the west) which was not the way a map of the world looked like to me. In general, America is situated to the left and Asia to the right. Isn’t Japan called the rising sun nation? And what about the Far East, they have the Middle East but the Far East is on the west side of their map!

Click on the picture to enlarge
Click on the "Back" button of your browser to come back to this page

Anyway I was telling our driver Mr Wang that my sister was coming to visit and I joked that he had to learn French since she and her family don’t speak English. He asked me if the letters were the same than English which kind of confused me!! Then I realized that from a Chinese point of view, the world’s languages are not necessarily written in roman letters.

Click on the picture to enlarge
Click on the "Back" button of your browser to come back to this page

And for your personal knowledge (I need to keep giving you those little trivial pursuit answers!) : China (& Russia) each share a common border with the most countries (14 for each country). China shares a border with Afghanistan; Bhutan; India; Kazakhstan; North Korea; Kyrgyzstan; Laos; Mongolia; Myanmar (Burma); Nepal; Pakistan; Russia; Tajikistan; and Vietnam.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Is Really Here...

I know that spring started officially a month ago in China and it won’t really officially (everywhere else) be spring before 3 weeks but for me this is what marks the beginning of the end of winter…

Laundry hanging in the street!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My First Time...

...With The Authorities

We finally had our first visit from the cops today. It seems that a lot of people from our complex already had a visit at some point but for us that was the only time in our 18 months in Beijing.

Actually it was a combination visit from the water usage reader and the PSB (Public Safety Bureau). They probably thought that nobody could refuse access to the water reader!

Apparently this was part of a big investigation into temporary residence permit holders for Olympic security.

(The original article in Chinese from thebeijingnews was translated here).
“From today to the 31 March, Beijing Police will inspect the identity documents of the floating population throughout the whole city, […] lasting 39 days, with four goals to be achieved, namely strengthening the basic registration of the floating population and rental accommodations; comprehensively grasping the base number of Beijing’s floating population; implementing service protection measures; and creating a secure and harmonious public security environment to maintain Olympic security.

The Police said that during the exercise period they would establish publicity stations at important channels where the floating population re-enters Beijing, such as the airport, railway stations, long-distance bus stations, and expressway toll booths, and in floating population residential areas, large-scale markets, and construction sites[…]
According to a police officer, after 2003, the registration of temporary residence permits mostly depended on the people taking the initiative. To increase the rate of registration, police often make visits. Although the legislation has fines and other provisions, in the last 5 years, the police have very rarely used disciplinary measures against those who have not or refuse to apply for temporary residence permits.”

I feel so much better now knowing that…. I’m part of the "floating population", living in a "floating population residential area"!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


...And Look

After months of speculation about what would happened once they "chai’ed" the place we finally have an answer:

A living Plaza…

47 languages spoken…

186 currencies accepted…

This paradise is just down the street from us. But you know me I couldn’t not Google those facts (47 languages?, 186 currencies?). The results are in:

Top 50 languages in the World (most widely spoken)
Chinese, madarin (1,120) - English (480) - Spanish (332) - Arabic (235) - Bengali (182) - Russian (180) - Portuguese (170) - Japanese (125) - German (98) - Chinese, wu (77.2) - Javanese (75.5) - Korean (75) - French (72) - Turkish (67.7) - Telugu (66.4) - Chinese, Yue (Cantonese) (66) - Marathi India (64.8) - Tamil India, (63.1) - Italian (59) - Urdu (58) - Chinese, Min Nan (49) - Chinese, Jinyu (45) - Gujarati India, (44) - Polish (44) - Ukrainian (41) - Persian (37.3) - Chinese, Xiang (36) - Malayalam (34) - Chinese, Hakka (34) - Kannada (33.7) - Oriya (31) - Panjabi (30) - Sunda (27) - Panjabi (26) - Romanian (26) - Bhojpuri, (25) - Azerbaijani (24.4) - Maithili (24.3) - Hausa (24.2) - Burmese (22) - Serbo-Croatian (21) - Chinese, Gan (20.6) - Awadhi (20.5) - Thai (20) - Dutch (20) - Yoruba (20) - Sindhi (19.7)

Lucky you who speak “Hausa” or maybe “Yoruba” you will find somebody who will be able to answer your questions.

Now that we know you can be understood, let see if they’ll accept your money!

Most sources only list 164 currencies (not sure where they got the 24 others!)
Afghani AFA - Austral ARA - Baht THB - Balboa PAB - Birr ETB - Bolivar VEB - Boliviano BOB - Cedi GHC - Colón (Costa Rican) Rica - Córdoba NIC - Convertible Mark BAM - Cruzeiro Real BRR - Dalasi GMD - Dinar (Algerian) DZD - Dinar (Bahraini) BHD - Dinar (Croatian) HRD - Dinar (Iraqi) IQD - Dinar (Jordanian) JOD - Dinar (Kuwaiti) KWD - Dinar (Libyan) LYD - Dinar (Macedonian) MKD - Dinar (Serbian) CSD - Dinar (Tunisian) TND - Dirham (Moroccan) MAD - Dirham (UAE) AED - Dobra STD - Dollar (Australian) AUD - Dollar (Bahamian) BSD - Dollar (Barbados) BBD - Dollar (Belize) BZD - Dollar (Bermudian) BMD - Dollar (Brunei) BND - Dollar (Canadian) CAD - Dollar (Cayman Islands) KYD - Dollar (East Caribbean) XCD - Dollar (Fiji) FJD - Dollar (Guyana) GYD - Dollar (Hong Kong) - KD - Dollar (Jamaican) JMD - Dollar (Liberian) LRD - Dollar (Malaysian) MYR - Dollar (Namibian) NAD - Dollar (New Zealand) NZD - Dollar (Singapore) SGD - Dollar (Solomon Islands) SBD - Dollar (Taiwan, New) TWD - Dollar (Trinidad and Tobago) TTD - Dollar (US) USD - Dollar (Zimbabwe) ZWD - Dông VND - Drachma GRD - Dram AMD - Ekwele GQE - Escudo (Caboverdiano) CVE - Escudo (Timorian) TPE - Euro EUR - Forint HUF - Franc (de la Communauté financière africaine) [Central African Franc]) XAF - Franc (des Comptoirs français du Pacifique) [Pacific - Franc]) XPF - Franc (Burundi) BIF - Franc (Comorian) KMF - Franc (Djibouti) DJF - Franc (Guinea) GNS - Franc (Malagasy) MGF - Franc (Malian) MLF - Franc (Rwanda) RWF - Franc (Swiss) CHF - Franc (West African) XOF - Gourde HTG - Guarani PYG - Guilder (Aruban) AWG - Guilder (Netherlands Antilles) ANG - Guilder (Surinam) SRG - Hryvna UAH - Inti PEI - Karbovanet UAK - Kina PGK - Kip LAK - Koruna (Czech) CZK - Koruna (Slovak) SKK - Króna (Icelandic) ISK - Krona (Swedish) SEK - Krone (Danish) DKK - Krone (Norwegian) NOK - Kroon EEK - Kuna HRK - Kwacha (Malawian) MWK - Kwacha (Zambian) ZMK - Kyat MMK - Lari GEL - Lats LVL - Lek ALL - Lempira HNL - Leone SLL - Leu (Moldavian) MDL - Leu (Romanian) ROL - Lev BGL - Lilangeni SZL - Lira (Turkish) TRL - Litas LTL - Loti LSL - Manat (Azerbaijani) AZM - Manat (Turkmenistani) TMM - Maloti LSM - Metical MZM - Nakfa ERN - Naira NGN - New Kwanza AON - Nuevo Peso ARS - New Peso (Mexican) MXN - New Peso (Uruguayan) UYU - New Sol PEN - New Zloty PLN - Ngultrum BTN - Ouguiya MRO - Pa'anga TOP - Pataca MOP - Peso (Bolivian) BOP - Peso (Chilean) CLP - Peso (Colombian) COP - Peso (Cuban) CUP - Peso (Dominican Republic) DOP - Peso (Guinea-Bissau) GWP - Peso (Philippines) PHP - Pound (Egyptian) EGP - Pound (Falkland) FKP - Pound (Gibraltar) GIP - Pound (Lebanese) LBP - Pound (St Helena) SHP - Pound (Sterling) [United Kingdom Pound] GBP- Pound (Sudanese) SDG - Pound (Syrian) SYP - Pula BWP - Quetzal GTQ - Rand ZAR - Rand (financial) ZAL - Rial (Iranian) IRR - Rial (Omani) OMR - Riel KHR - Riyal (Qatari) QAR - Riyal (Saudi) SAR - Riyal (Yemeni) YER - Rouble (Belarussian) BYR - Rouble (Russian Federation) RUB - Rouble (USSR) SUR - Rouble (Tajik) TJR - Rufiyaa MVR - Rupee (Indian) INR - Rupee (Mauritius) MUR - Rupee (Nepalese) NPR - Rupee (Pakistani) PKR - Rupee (Seychelles) SCR - Rupee (Sri Lankan) LKR - Rupiah IDR - Shekel ILS - Shilling (Kenyan) KES - Shilling (Somali) SOS - Shilling (Tanzanian) TZS - Shilling (Ugandan) UGS - Som (Kyrgyzstani) KGS - Som (Uzbekistani) UZS - Taka BDT- Tala WST - Tenge KZT - Tugrik MNT - Unidades de Fomento CLF - Vatu VUV - Won (North Korean) KPW - Won (South Korean) KRW - Yen JPY - Yuan Renminbi CNY - Zaïre (New) CDZ

Once again if you have "Birr" (from Ethiopia) or "Pula" (from Botswana) they will gladly take them.

I will keep you inform on the construction progress of this "Living Plaza"...There isn't much behind the billboard yet but I’m sure it will be ready for the Olympics!