Steve's China Blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Paradise is nice!

My flight to Hangzhou was cancelled at the last minute, so we had to change that part of the flight to Beijing. Then my flight out of Beijing was late taking off, so I missed my flight out of Guangzhou, etc... I ended up having to stay overnight in Bangkok anyways. What sucked about that was that I did not get to a hotel until after midnight and then I had to get up at 5:00am to catch an early flight to Phuket, so I did not get to see or do anything in Bangkok.

I arrived in Phuket just in time to see Santa arrive on his elephant!



This place is really nice. Where Dalian is cold and grey, Phuket is very warm and colorful. On the day after Christmas it was the one year anniversary of the big tidal wave that hit Phuket, as well as most places along the Indian Ocean. Several monks from a nearby temple came and held a prayer for the victims and survivors. Even though I do not understand Thai or the chants it was very moving.



Most of my time here has been spent being lazy, and it's wonderful! The other day I got a Thai massage at the spa here at the resort. It was amazing that I did not realize how tense I was until after that massage. It felt sooooooo good.

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's beginning to look...



... a lot like Christmas! There are Christmas trees and decorations going up all over the place. Too bad the most beautiful of them can only be seen at night when my camera does not work too well. You can find more pictures of Santa than Mao now, and you can hear Christmas songs just about every where you go too. It seems that Christmas is big holiday over here, even though there are not that many Christians and there is absolutely no connection between the state and any church. Why? Because it is a fun holiday and people like fun holidays. You remember fun, don't you? Santa is a great guy who gives gifts to good children, and they love to spoil the children here. No paranoia about proselytizing? Nope. No worries about offending some whining aethist or some muslim terrorist nutcase someplace? Nope. No loony leftists decrying the holiday as an imperialist capitalist plot to benefit Haliburton? Of course not!... just a happy holiday full of good cheer celebrated by a lot of people who want some enjoyment in their lives. To all of you out there, I wish you good Christmas cheer and a happy New Year! :)

By the way, I am hoping to have internet access while on vacation but if I don't I will post more when I get back from Thailand next year.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tai Leng le!



Tai leng le! (It's too cold!) We seem to be getting snow flurries about every other day now, and it is very cold in Dalian. Today's high tempature is -4°C. Where is this global warming that Al Gore (inventor of the internet) and his environmental wacko buddies keep talking about? Send some warming here!! Oh well, just 3 more days and I'll be in Thailand where the average tempature is 29°C (That's 84°F!). Now, that's some warming I am going to like!

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ski Trip



There's a small ski area right outside Dalian, and today about a dozen of us from the office went on a ski trip there. We only spent a few hours there, but it was a lot of fun! There are three slopes... the little tube slope for the children, the beginners' slope and a more difficult slope. I spent the whole day on the beginners' slope helping teach a few of my co-workers how to turn and stop. The trip there was only about 40 minutes, so we will probably go again when I get back from Thailand.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Almost there

I got my airline tickets to Thailand straightened out. The resort I am going to has a real nice spa, and since I pointed out a mistake on the resort's website they are going to treat me to something there. I am not sure what yet. Since the last few weeks have been so hectic this trip is going to be very relaxing. I am really looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

V



Congratulations to the Iraqi people who took a big step forward today!

... and a special thanks to our heroes!

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oops

I have been trying to setup an end-of-year vacation to Phuket, Thailand. The website for the resort I want to go to mentions Khon Kaen airport, but not anything about an airport in Phuket, so I got plane tickets to Khon Kaen on the 24th and a return flight from there on January 2nd. Now, getting plane tickets here is not as easy as it is in the States. Here you have to book tickets for in-country flights a certain way, and international parts of the flight a different way. To get down there all in one day I had to get flights from Dalian to Hangzhou, then to Guangzhou, then Bangkok, then Khon Kaen. Going back was easier... Khon Kaen to Bangkok, then to Beijing, then Dalian. After I got my tickets I let the resort know my flight plans and when I would be arriving in Khon Kaen. Then I found out that I am not suppose to fly to Khon Kaen since that is on the other side of Thailand! Grrrr...

So I found a flight that goes from Bangkok to Phuket that I can catch, and since my tickets are non-changable/non-refundable I will just eat the cost of the flight from Bangkok to Khon Kaen. Coming back now is a problem. There is only one flight out of Phuket to Bangkok on January 2nd and it arrives after my connecting flight, so that's no good. There are no other flights going anywhere out of Phuket that day or the next day either. There is a flight that leaves in the morning the day before, so if I take that it will be one less day at the resort and a day and a night in Bangkok. I might have to do that if I can not find some other form of transportation to Bangkok to catch my morning flight on the 2nd. Hopefully I will find out soon about that since this trip is only two weeks away.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More snow pictures

It turns out that this weekend's snow storm was the worst snow storm in Dalian since 1951, even though it was only a little over a foot of snow. I did not take these, but here are some more pictures of the storm and aftermath...



People still went out shopping.



The buses were still running.



Drivers braved the roads even if they had to dig their cars out of the snow.



Yes, that is the Mayor's office in the background.



The snow finally tapered off on Sunday night.



Monday morning commuters.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Snow!



Well, the forecast was right. Snow! They were saying two to four inches on Saturday and an inch today, but we already have over a foot in most places. I tried to go into town today but, as you can see in the picture above, people here drive even worse when there is snow on the ground. I ended up just going for a walk... as far away from the road as I could get. Not a whole lot to see, but bad traffic. I had the idea of building a snowman, but it looks like someone beat me to it. I'm not sure if it's a snowman or snowwomen. It looks like he (or she) is not enjoying the weather much.



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Friday, December 02, 2005

Snow?

It has gotten really cold in Dalian this last week or so, and the latest forecast is for snow... for the next four days! When I was coming here back in February everyone was telling me that it doesn't snow much in Dalian, but my flight was delayed in Beijing a day due to a snow storm in Dalian. So much for that global warming nonsense.

One of the things that is interesting here is how they clear snow. The city of Dalian only has two snow plows, and I think the only place they are used is in front of the Mayor's house and the Mayor's office. Everywhere else is cleared using good old manual labor. A few big trucks pull up with dozens of people with snow shovels and they clear the streets and sidewalks. It's not too efficient, but they have a lot of manual labor here in China.

On the bright side, I am going to be taking off a few days at the end of the year and am hopefully going to Phuket Thailand. It should be nice and warm there. I got my confirmation from the resort today and the total price was too low, and when I enquired about it they told me I was getting two days for free! That was good news! I'll probably spend that shopping in Bangkok.