Steve's China Blog

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Looking both ways?

About half way home last night the cab I was riding in hit a pedestrian. There is not a lot of traffic here at midnight, but these two ladies were just running across the street without even looking to see if any cars were coming. Luckily the cab driver saw them and hit the brakes, so that when he hit this lady he was not going fast. I am not sure how badly injured she was... there was no bleeding I could see and she was conscious. The cab driver had to stay at the scene and he hustled me into the first cab that came along, so I do not know how it all ended.

This was the third pedestrian that I've seen here in Dalian get hit by an automobile. Just a few years ago not many people here in China drove cars, but now there are cars everywhere and that means there are literally millions of inexperienced drivers which makes the traffic situation very dangerous. I never really thought about it before until I saw these ladies run out into the street last night, but it also means there are literally millions of inexperienced pedestrians here too! Just about everyone herre was use to dodging bicycles up until recently, and I am not sure if anyone ever taught them the "look both ways before crossing the street" lesson.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Censorship here and there

The last few weeks has seen some pretty amazing stories about censorship and freedom of expression here in China, in the U.S., and around the world. In one instance that started in August here in China some newspaper workers, along with a great many online Chinese, actually brought about a rare event... a new policy that would have increased censorship was overturned because of the will of the people, and put the propaganda department of the communist party on the defensive. An overview of the events since August until now can be found here. For a detailed description of what happend at Freezing Point in August can be found here, and is a very good story... It almost reads like something from a Tom Clancy novel.

Unfortunately, it looks as though the U.S. is going backwards in the battle against censorship. Some veteran groups in Minnesota have created some very moving ads that support the U.S. government's foreign policies and the state democrat party there has not only called the ads and their creators "un-American", but are seeking to have them censored. I am not sure how big of a story this is in the U.S., but from what I understand there is almost a complete news blackout among the mainstream media news outlets. Information about this news can be found here as well as links to the ads.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Yi Pin Xinghai

I finally got most of my stuff unpacked at the new apartment this weekend and took some pictures. This first picture is the view of my apartment building (the wide one on the left) from where I catch the bus to work. It's a bit hazy/smoggy today.



Below is a picture of the entrance to my apartment (middle door). The dining room area is to the left and the door leading into the kitchen is on the right. The peice of furniture between the two doors has a cabinet on the bottom where you can store shoes and slippers. You don't wear street shoes inside (because of the dirt), and that's why you see the welcome mat inside.



This picture (below) is taken from the doorway leading into the kitchen. This one has a real stove and oven... Yeah! There's also a hotplate between the stove and the fridge. You find those in just about all Chinese kitchens. And, yes... those are Danish cookies on the counter! ;)



The kitchen goes around and leads to a small balcony. I need to plug in that microwave and then figure out how to program it (no English on it).



This is the dining room area (below). I am going to move that water filter/cooler. I have not decided where to yet. The door on the left leads to my office.



The office was originally a bedroom, but I asked the landlord if he could move the bedroom stuff out and put in a office desk and chair, and he did not mind. The landlords are pretty good here about providing furniture you need. I was expecting some Ikea-like junk, but I am very happy with the office furniture they provided. The sofa is also a sleeper which is nice if I have guests stay over. Also in this room to the left (outside of the picture) is a big bookcase and another small balcony like in the kitchen.



This is the living room. I need to get some pictures for the walls. It took me awhile to figure out how to use the TV/Cable/DVD since all of the manuals and remote controls are in Chinese, but they all work great.



The below picture is of the bedroom. It's pretty spacious, has a rather large bed (for China anyways), and a huge closet on the right. The bed is so big that there is not really any room for a nightstand on the side. I haven't decided what I'm going to do about that yet.



This is the bathroom. It's not very big, but twice as large as my last one. There's a washer next to the sink on the right.



This is a view out of my bedroom window. Xinghai Square is on the left and the sea is on the right. Yeah, it's still a little hazy/smoggy today. That big soccor ball is actually a hot air balloon, and I think you can go up in that. Notice the big holes in the ground with all of the construction equipment at the bottom of the picture... that's where the new high-rise buildings are going in, so I'll be losing my view in a couple of months.



That's about it for the apartment. The whole complex is brand new and I am the first person to live in my apartment. All of the appliances are new and it seems pretty sound proof too. I am really pleased with it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Moved... sorta

Moved all of my stuff to the new apartment this morning, but I have not had a chance yet to unpack. I am planning to go back to the old apartment and clean that before I have to go to work tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to start unpacking my stuff tomorrow night after work. No time to unpack tonight... very late meeting (blah). I'll try to post pictures after everything is unpacked and I'm settled in some.

I found two interesting articles about China that you all might enjoy. One is about censorship, piracy (DVDs and such... not ships), and property rights (found here). Property rights is something rather new here (as well as private ownerhip of property) and a lot of people here (especially the government) have no regard for other people's property. It's kind of strange to be in a place that is evolving into a market/ownership society and yet so many are stuck in a communal society mindset.

The second article is about some people who use to be very high up in the Chinese goverment who have come out against censorship and propaganda (found here). This really surprised me, especially considering who (and what) these people use to be.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Lease signed

The weather here finally started to warm up a little and has been a little above freezing yesterday and today. There is still a lot of snow on a few of the roads and most of the sidewalks from some snowfall we had earlier in the week. Most of the work I had to do this week was during the evenings and at night, so I had some time to have lunch a few times with a friend from Japan, but she flew back to Japan today. Another good reason to visit Japan sometime soon.

I finally decided on a new apartment, and signed the lease today. I chose the one in a place called Yi Pin Xinghai, which is right next to Xinghai Square. The apartment is on the 12th floor and has a so-so view of the sea and a nice view of Xinghai Square. Unfortunately, they will be building a new high-rise next door and it will block most of my view of Xinghai Square. On the plus side though, they are also planning on building a Carrefour (french-owned grocery store) as well as a swimming pool and fitness center in our complex.

I'll be moving on Wednesday, so this weekend will be spent packing my junk and cleaning the old apartment. I'll post pictures after I move next week. After I move I have to go register my new address with the police. That reminds me, they have a law here where if I stay overnight at the residence of a Chinese citizen, or if a Chinese citizen stays overnight at my place, we are suppose to inform the police 24 hours ahead of time. I guess they want to protect the citizenry from the evil influences of foreigners. I do not think that most Chinese even know about this law, or they just choose to ignore it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Buy Danish!

I've been keeping an eye on this cartoon battle that has been going on lately. I am not sure how it is being covered in the U.S., but it is not getting much coverage here. I do know that ABC and CBS did talk about it last week in order to avoid talking about the fall in unemployment in a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but not sure what they are saying. From what I have been able to gather is that the real story is not the 12 cartoons that were published, but the 3 fake cartoons that were being shown in the Middle East, and the process used to anger the Arab Street. It would appear that these cartoons might have been created by Muslim clerics that wished to incite protests, riots, and violence. Also, the fact that there was so many Danish flags available to burn and trample on in Muslim countries shows that this process of inciting Muslims to violence is a well planned and orchestrated process. A good article that talks about the Danish Muslim clerics can be found here, and an excellent article about the aims of the clerics can be found here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

End of my holiday

I had the pleasure of spending Friday with one of the ladies that I mentioned in the previous post. She is visiting from Japan and her friends had to work, so we had lunch at a nice Chinese place and then went to do some sightseeing here in Dalian. The first place we visited was the aquarium. The aquarium here has two parts... the Ocean part and the Polar part. The Ocean part was pretty nice. They had a 100 meter long transparent tunnel that winds its way through a big section so it is like moving along the bottom of the sea with fish of all types swimming around you. They also had a dolphin show that was kind of fun. The Polar part of the aquarium wasn't that impressive. They had a polar bear and some penguins, so there wasn't a whole lot to see.

After visiting the aquarium we went to have tea. It was so cold that day that hot tea was wonderful. We had Jasmine tea and Saitay Flower tea, as well as some fruit. We spent a few hours drinking tea, eating fruit, and talking. It was really nice, but the place we were at had trouble with their heating and it was so cold outside that we eventually had to put on our coats. We didn't stay too much longer after that since the ladies were going to Harbin on an overnight train for a snow festival there.

Saturday I went to a co-worker's home for a house-warming party. We had snacks and talked, and then had a wonderful lunch. After lunch some people played cards and others watched TV. It was pretty nice even though I did not understand most of the conversations, or the card game being played. On Sunday I had to work, and this morning (Monday) I was woken early for a support call and had to fix a problem with a program. It's now about 8:00am and I found a station that has the Super Bowl on TV, so I'm watching that and listening to the game via NFL's website. I have three meetings today, and I just noticed that it's snowing. I think it's going to be a long day.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Nice holiday

This week has been very nice and relaxing. I've decided to wait a few weeks to do my taxes since I do not want to spoil my week off. Last night I went out to dinner with three beautiful ladies from Japan. We went to a Sichuan place and had a nice variety of spicy Chinese food, and then afterwards we went to an American place called I-55 Coffee Shop for coffee and cheesecake. I really enjoyed hearing them speak in Japanese too since not only do they have lovely voices, but all I hear most of the time here is Chinese or English. They are all very nice and I hope to see them again soon.

Today I went and did a little shopping, but all I bought was a pair of sunglasses that I found on sale, and some new DVDs. I found the premiere and second season of Battlestar Galactica on DVD, but I have not been able to find season one yet. I am hoping to find that before I watch season two since I only saw the first few episodes when I was in the U.S. I also found the new Harry Potter movie on DVD as well as a few others. My DVD collection is getting pretty large.