Saturday, May 5, 2012

Beidaihe - Mao's Beach

Tired of work? Want to get away from the stress-filled city? Can't stand choking down another
lung full of corrupted Beijing air? Head to the coast; and to the beach!

Beidaihe has long been the getaway of choice for discerning Beijingers for many years,
offering fresh air, clear skies, and, of course, sand and the sea.

A mere two hour train ride from the capital, Beidaihe is sure to sooth your weary soul.

especially if what your soul needs is a paddleboat ride in the ocean.

For obvious reasons, in peak season the beach can get packed with nationals, and apparently swarms of Russians. Most signs are bilingual for this reason. Good thing I learned so much from my time in Russia...
now at least I can read the signs that I will not be able to understand.

As you can see, visiting before summer offers all of the benefits of a Chinese beach town, 
with none of the annoyances that one would expect from hoards of tourists, or the warm water.

Look how happy these city-weary folk are, having finally arrived within sight of the
golden sands of Beidaihe beach.

I think it is time to relax.

And maybe relax some more.

And enjoy.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Excitement in China?

I could feel it as soon as I walked into work one day toward the end of this week: a tension, an anxiety, something palpable in the air. I would have never guessed that what I was noticing were reverberations from a hushed-up military coup in the world's most populous country. Turns out that's not what I was noticing (it was probably a mixture of unbathed, hormone saturated kids, running around finishing an assignment due in five minutes, along with the stale, causticly smokey Beijing air coming in through an open window next to my desk).

But some people around China were definitely on edge, and something was (is?) going on. As far as I can tell, most of what's been happening is a result of speculation on the part of chinese bloggers, sending rumors flying after the residual drama from the Two Meetings. Much of this seems to center on Bo Xilai, who was removed from his party position in Chongqing after coming to Beijing. Some have tried to make this as interesting as possible, often following a well known storyline: local dude becomes important, gains popularity, turns warlord, arms his people, is noticed by the central power, is summoned away from his base, is killed/defeated/stripped of power. I wish it was THAT interesting, but it is only this interesting.

So why are these rumors circulating? I have no clue. Last week, bloggers (most using Sina Weibo, a Chinese variant of Twitter) sent out reports of a large military presence in the capital, gunshots being fired, tanks rolling down the street, and all sorts of other shenanigans. Bo's name and references to him were blocked by the sensors, which I am sure did an excellent job of convincing people that nothing was going on.

Some bloggers made connections to a Ferrari accident over the weekend, where all searches for "ferrari" were blocked and weibo posts mentioning the incident were deleted. With this situation, rumors also began to swirl, most suggesting that the driver (who died in the crash) was related to someone important. This story can be viewed as interesting from several perspectives, include where and how it was reported in China. The income gap here in China, and the untouchability of those with certain connections are increasing concerns for the average person; and, what do you know, when someone in a million dollar car kills and injures others, and then the government blocks all information about the occurrence, people kinda get pissed off. Oh, did I mention that this happened a mile from where I live? Also, apparently the two female passengers weren't killed, only injured. Since they must have been sharing the passenger seat, maybe they cushioned each other (or maybe they were actually wearing a seatbelt).

How much does half a ferrari go for? (I didn't take this picture, don't know who did. I just stole it. I'm sorry)

I digress. There was no coup. All is well in China. Everyone is happy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nanjin and Shanghai

During a break in October, I headed down to the commercial powerhouses of Nanjing and Shanghai. Here is a brief description of the journey with pictures: