Vices we love: October 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Let the sun shine in...

I just learned, thanks to Shawn, that the Chinese government has unblocked blogger. So let me have my delusions of grandeur while I thank all my loyal readers who surely begged the PRC to take action so they can access more of my demented ramblings.

Okay, well, Beijing...

The good:

Chinese people are much more open to the outside world than Koreans were. (Which isn't saying much.) I know that I'm in BJ and not the "real" China so I live in a bubble of sorts but still. No staring, pointing, talking loudly in Chinese about the foreigner. Also, I do not have the urge to run up to every paleface I see and hug them because I haven't seen any for months (which happened a lot in Korea). Their English level roughly corresponds to their education level. You don't have Ph.D.'s who earned their degrees in England and don't speak a word of English because they spent all their time in PC rooms unlike a certain group I could mention. The food, while gut-wrenching is pretty varied. Menus are mostly bilingual and if not, a few key phrases help. Mandarin, while no picnic, is easier on my ears than Korean was.

The bad:
I can't breathe and don't really want to. This place is like L.A. on steroids when it comes to smog. Trash is everywhere. Do not look in the windows of the kitchens of restaurants-ever. There are homeless people galore. Not the New York variety- the three hundred pound chain-smoker dressed in the latest fashions from the GAP- but real homeless people, with missing limbs and obvious psychological problems. Homeless kids follow you around often at the urging of their mothers. Being western makes you a mark- generally, you are looked at (and not just by the homeless) as a giant dollar sign. This gets annoying.

The ugly:
See above. Also, Asian cities generally and BJ in particular have no concept of urban planning. There are no addresses worth a damn. Like in Japan, you have to show maps of your location. The streets are filthy and filled with potholes/broken sidewalks. (Where there are sidewalks.) You have to look down when walking at all times so you don't fall into an uncovered manhole. Unless you're into that sort of thing....

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Lest we forget...

...amid the festivities, China is many things, but a democracy it is not. (Neither is the U.S. to some degree but I digress. If you don't like digressions, I suggest you get off this blog NOW.) Hence, blogspot may be banned when I get there. (Reports differ as the power to block sites is vested in the local authorities- meaning what is banned in Shenzen may not be banned in Beijing and vice versa.) If blogspot is banned, I may have to start a new site elsewhere which would be a pain as I'm still living in the dark ages when it comes to technology. Oh the things I do for my loyal readership. (Anybody reads this thing?)

My timing is rather auspicious

I'm headed to china tomorrow and it's not a moment too soon.

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