Sunday, July 27, 2008

Paris Is Taking Lessons...

...From Beijing

While in Paris (i.e France!) reading the local Time Out magazine I was surprised to see that Paris also had a “Charter for the Parisian and visitor”. So is it Paris who’s copying Beijing or Beijing that took a page from Paris?.

Never without my TimeOut!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Are We Even...

...Or Odd?

The question on everybody’s mind in Beijing today.

From July 20 to September 20, the odd and even license plate number system will operate to ease traffic pressure during the Olympic and Paralympic games. Authorities hope the regulations will take 45 per cent of the city's 3.29 million cars off the road and reduce emissions from vehicles by 63 per cent, officials told a news conference. Cars will be banned on alternate days depending on whether their number plates end in odd or even numbers. Those affected by the ban will be compensated by not having to pay road or vehicle taxes for three months, costing the city about 1.3 billion yuan (€ 130/$189 million).

Frankly right now I don’t really care since I can drive, drive, drive whenever and wherever I want!.

On a side note: When we first learned about the odd and even system, Jeffrey was wondering how they would decide which one will drive which day. When I told him that wouldn't it be easier to let the odd number plates drive on odd days and even number plates on even days, I swear I saw a light bulb on top of his head.....sometime I wonder!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Olympics Are Coming...

...It's Time To Behave

Fresh from diverse sources on the web:

In a series of essays, the state news agency offers a list of good manners and behaviors for the Chinese people. According to Xinhua:
奥运将临,无数中国人怀着兴奋的心情期 待 着这一盛会,都希望能为奥运出一份力, 为国争一份光。可是,一些国人的不文明 行为,实在令人担忧。新华网评选取十种 比 较典型的社会现象,进行点评。希望每 一 个中国人都能成为文明的奥运东道主,让 奥运带来中华文明的新高度。
Here’s a translation:
The Olympics are coming. Countless Chinese people are waiting with eagerness and excitement for this grand gathering. Everyone hopes to contribute to the Olympic effort and help China win glory. However, there are some uncivilized behaviors of Chinese people that are real causes for concern. We have selected 10 typical phenomena to comment on. Let’s hope that every Chinese can become a civilized host, and the Olympics will elevate Chinese civilization to a new height.

The list, in headlines, reads as follows:

  • 十议奥运礼仪之一:朋友,国旗可不是坐 垫
  • (One: Friends, National Flag Is Not a Seat Cushion)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之二:大声说话的毛病要改 一 改
  • (Two: The Bad Habit of Speaking Loudly Should Be Corrected)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之三:下课声、口哨声不是 奥 运之声
  • (Three: Unruly Noises Are Not Olympic Sounds)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之四:比赛结束垃圾成堆, 不 是 中国特色
  • (Four: Garbage Pileup After Sport Event, Not a Chinese Strong Point)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之五:做文明人排个队有多 难?
  • (Five: How Hard Is It to Stand in Line in a Civilized Way?)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之六:温饱有余,陋习何存
  • (Six: When There’s More Than Adequate Food and Clothing, How Could Bad Habits Still Persist)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之七:做一个热情谦让的中 国 人
  • (Seven: Be an Enthusiastic and Polite Chinese)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之八:奥运来了,网络不要 “ⅩⅩⅩ”
  • (Eight: Olympics Are Coming, Don’t Pollute the Internet)
  • 十议奥运礼仪之九:现场看比赛要 “懂规 矩”
  • (Nine: When Watching Sport Event, Behave Well)

  • Smile When Communicating with Foreigners
    A Smile is Beijing’s Best Business Card — A Smile is the Whole World’s Propriety
  • “Eight Don’t-Asks” When Chatting with Foreign Guests
    Rules for Interacting with Foreigners
    Don’t ask about income or expenses; Don’t ask about age; Don’t ask about love life or marriage; Don’t ask about health; Don’t ask about someone’s home or address; Don’t ask about personal experience; Don’t ask about religious beliefs or political views; Don’t ask what someone does.
  • General Rules for Etiquette with Foreigners
    One’s manners and bearing, and image should be graceful; Be neither humble nor haughty, but at ease and self possessed; Seek commonalities while reserving differences, have reason and integrity;
    Adapt to others’ customs, respect ethical code; Abide by agreements, adhere to promises; Be enthusiastic in moderation, differentiate between insiders and outsiders; Be appropriately modest, be affirmed in yourself; Do not ask private questions, respect others’ customs; Ladies first, be gentlemanly; Seat honored guests on the right, and get along harmoniously.

Also amusing were some of the guidelines for interacting with handicapped athletes:
Don't say bad things to handicapped people!

Etiquette for Interacting with Handicapped Athletes
You should use polite and standard forms of address for handicapped athletes.
Try to keep as light as you can with handicapped overtones.
Pay attention to how you congratulate handicapped athletes.
Pay attention to avoiding taboo subjects, quit using bad platitudes, and do not use insulting or discriminatory contemptuous or derogatory terms to address the disabled. Say things such as, “You are amazing,” or “You are really great.” When chatting with the visually impaired, do not say things like “It’s up ahead,” or “It’s over there.” When chatting with athletes who are paraplegic in their upper body, do not say things like “It’s behind you.”

Lastly, there was one rule on a poster about proper behavior for commuters and pedestrians that seemed a bit odd:
When men and women are walking together, men should generally walk on the outside, and the person carrying things should normally walk on the right. Men should help women carry things, but must not help women carry their handbags. When three people are walking side-by-side, elderly should walk in the middle. Where there are many cars around, men should walk on the side of the sidewalk closer to the street. When four people are walking together, it is best to walk two-by-two..

Tuesday, July 8, 2008



2008 was supposed to be a lucky year. Leap years are generally considered fortunate years more so with the number 8 (八ba) which is considered an auspicious number because it sounds like luck (fa)… One of the reasons the Olympics games’ opening date was chosen as the 8 of august 2008 at 8.08pm.
However since the beginning of the year, China hasn’t been so lucky. It all started with the biggest snow storm on January 25th (2+5+1=8) followed by the demonstration in T1b3t on March 14th (1+4+3=8) and then the Sichuan earthquake on May 12th (1+2+5=8) or 88 days before the opening ceremony…. Let’s hope that the series end here and that the Olympics games are a success.

Besides the number 8 being targeted as not being as lucky as previously expected, the Fuwa seem also linked to this year events. A rumor on the net is stating that the Fuwa could be unlucky characters as well (“bring bad luck”). YingYing (yellow) the T1bet@n antelope is linked to the demonstration in Lh@s@. JingJing (black) represents a panda from Sichuan where the earthquake happened last month, HuanHuan (Red) which represents the flam and its more than chaotic route, Nini (green) the swallow that looks like a kite is linked to the deadly train crash on April 28 in Weifang which is the capital of kite, and let’s not forget BeiBei (blue) the fish and the flooding in southern and central China which claimed dozens of lives in June.

they look so harmless

Posts on the internet about the superstition have been removed by China’s censors monitor. Although the Communist Party has tried to stamp out “feudal superstition” since it took power in 1949, the Beijing Games will start on the auspicious moment of 8.08pm on August 8, 2008.
Major calamities, earthquakes in particular, were viewed in imperial China as a sign that a dynasty had lost the mandate of Heaven.

Friday, July 4, 2008

It Might Be Easier To Get...

...A Gold Medal Than A Visa!

We are out the door to go to France for our summer vacation and in the light of the latest China’s let’s-come-up-with-some-new-rules-for-the-Olympics, we are sure happy that our visas are in order.

“In recent weeks there has been a lot of confusion and discussion about the rules for applying for a Chinese visa. Although few public announcements have been made, more and more stories have emerged from people having difficulty in getting hold of a visa. In particular (short stay working) ‘F’ visas have been tough to come by. […]
In fact it may be easier to get some running spikes and work on making one qualifying for an Olympic team.
No such worries will befall families of athletes, who will not require a visa to enter China. Maybe a solution is to marry an athlete…?
These restrictions seem like a very effective way of deterring and alienating potential visitors to China’s showcase. […]
On a final lighter note, Danwei has summarized BOGOC’s guidelines about the kinds of foreigners who will not be welcome in China for the Olympics as:
“No hookers, pimps, dealers, terrorists, activists, revolutionaries, missionaries, demonstrators, pornographers, gun nuts, maniacs, sufferers of mental diseases, carriers of infectious diseases, poisonous snake collectors, beggars or drunkards.”