Steve's China Blog

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat!

Ooohh... scary!



Have a happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Entertaining weekend

This weekend was an entertaining weekend. On Saturday I went to Metro with Cynthia and Jackie and we bought a bunch of ingredients for dinner that night. I found this recipe for Make That Chicken Dance" Salsa Pasta", and I thought that would be fun to make. I am not sure why, but I like to make western dishes for my friends here as much as I like trying dishes they make for me. Anyways, we went to Metro and Cynthia had never been there, so we had a lot of fun showing her around as we looked for groceries.

The only bad part was when we were in the checkout line some loser decided to cut in line in front of us. I told Cynthia and Jackie we should just take his items and throw them on the floor behind us, but instead they decided to teach me how to call someone nasty names in Chinese within earshot of the twit. Then, to my surprise, they decided to tell the jerk what a rude S.O.B he was and that they didn't approve of his behavior. By the time he finished paying for his stuff and was leaving he realized every person in all of the checkout lines was looking at him disapprovingly, and I hope he realized he had lost much face.

After Metro we went back to my place, cooked the pasta, had some wine, ate dinner, and then watched the first episode of Foyle's War. If you have not seen this series it is pretty good... Good stories, good acting, and the ladies had fun trying to figure out who murdered who. I am not sure they have good mystery shows here... I know they don't show those old Charlie Chan movies.

On Sunday I spent most of the afternoon cooking some chili. Besides my normal recipe I added some Sichuan red pepper sauce that Jackie's father had made and given me a few months ago. I think it was the hottest chili I ever made. While I was recovering from that I watched a movie I found online called "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" with Ingrid Bergman. The story is about an English women name Gladys Aylward who came to China in the 1932 as a missionary. Although the movie is not entirely accurate (Hollywood... go figure) they got a lot of it right, and it is a wonderful movie. After watching it though I started to wonder... what happened to the children? Where are they today? I think that would be an interesting story.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tickets

Yeah! I got my tickets home for Thanksgiving! I will be arriving back in the world on November 18th. I will only be there for a week and I'm looking forward to a lot of turkey, NFL, and seeing my family and friends.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cold stuff

The last week has been cold and windy. I didn't do much this last weekend. I spent most of it inside avoiding the weather outside. On Monday I went out to lunch and some pickpocket stole my phone, so I had to buy a new one. Sometimes little things happen here that get me thinking about leaving. Well, not really the little things so much...

There are times when you talk to people here, or read an article about China (such as China sees religion as stabilizing force), when you start to think that maybe China is finally getting its act together, and this could be a great place for everybody. Then you see stuff like this video,...



... and you have to wonder what planet the rulers of this country are from.

I was talking with some co-workers, a man from Holland and a women from China, a few weeks ago about Tibet. She said she believed that Tibet was part of China, and we explained that Tibet was a country occupied by China. We talked for awhile, and after proving our point she just said, "Mind your own business". To that I replied, "That's what the Japanese told us when we asked them to leave China 70 years ago". I have always wondered how some Chinese can be so upset about a dozen years of brutal Japanese occupancy while the Chinese have brutally occupied Tibet for almost half a century. I am not sure they really believe the "Tibet is part of China" propaganda, but maybe they do.

For example, one person I know here told me it is a wonderful place to visit, but she thought the Tibetan people seemed rude to her. I told her that she would probably be rude to them if Tibet occupied China. She said she didn't know what I meant, and would not talk about Tibet any more. Oh well.

Some people here have asked me if I plan on travelling to Tibet. I am not sure if I am going to go. I would like to go, but would not want any Chinese to profit from it. I will have to think about it some more since ChengDu is much closer to Tibet, and it would be easier getting there than from Dalian, but today is Friday and all I want to think about is the weekend.

Monday, October 23, 2006

October, and I'm not surprised

Even with the catching up on my work taking a lot of time, I have been keeping an eye on the news back in the US. I thought this story was kind of interesting...

KGB Letter Outlines Sen. Kennedy's Overtures to Soviets

"We see some of the same sentiments today, in that some Democrats see the Republican president as being a threat and the true obstacle to peace, instead of seeing our enemies as the true danger," said Paul Kengor, a political science professor at Grove City College and the author of new book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.

In his book, which came out this week, Kengor focuses on a KGB letter written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan's foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts.

The letter, dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB to Yuri Andropov, who was then General Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party.

And then there is this New York Sun editorial about how the Democrat party has not distanced itself from Lynne Stewert, a Democrat convicted of aiding terrorists...

Stewart's Party

As for Stewart, the lawyer convicted by a federal court last week of aiding terrorists, the New York City Board of Elections confirmed to us that she is a registered Democrat. If Dr. Dean wants to throw her out of his party, it'd be fine with us.

That reminds me... what ever happened to Susan Lindauer? You may remember she was the Democrat congressional aide arrested for being a paid Iraqi intelligence agent back in March of 2004. The story is here.

Then last week there was this...

Aide scrutinized over leak on Iraq

The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said he had suspended a Democratic aide's access to classified materials over concerns that the employee may have leaked portions of an intelligence assessment on terrorism to the news media.

Then the CNN, which is a known propaganda tool of the Democrat party decides to knowingly and willingly become a propaganda tool of America's enemy. Of course, some people are upset about this, as reported in the LA Times...

Lawmaker Outraged by Sniper Footage on CNN

CNN has become "the publicist for an enemy propaganda film" by broadcasting a video showing an insurgent sniper in Iraq apparently killing an American soldier, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said here Friday.

You would think with an election coming up the Democrat party would cool it with their ties to America's enemies, but I'm not surprised. Maybe they really believe polls are everything. Besides, they probably got a good deal on these posters...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More vacation pictures

Here are some more pictures from my vacation...

Here are my parents with our Beijing guide, Lily, in Tiananmen Square...



This is where China's version of congress meets next to Tiananmen Square. They only meet there once a year (in March)...



This is at the Forbidden City. There was a boy dressed up as the Emperor who would come out and wave to all of the vistors every few minutes...



This was a section of the Forbidden City when you first come in. Surprisingly there are not may people here. I think a lot of the crowds were waiting for the National Day holiday to visit the sights in Beijing...



The picture below was taken at the the Temple of Heaven. My parents are taking a break and talking to Lily...



At the Temple of Heaven you have to buy a ticket to get in but Chinese seniors get in for free, so a lot of them come there to meet with friends, play cards, exercise, play music (below), sing, or whatever...



These statues were outside of the Summer Palace. The dragon represents the emperor and the phoenix represents the empress...



We found this lady at the Summer Palace writing Chinese caligraphy with water and a brush. Lily said the style of caligraphy is called running caligraphy. It was very beautiful...



This is the main palace building at the Summer Palace. Empress Ci Xi (pronounced Tsee-She) did not live at this palace building though since she didn't like walking up and down the stairs all of the time...



This is the throne room in the main palace. It had been outfitted with gifts from other countries, such as electric chandlier, etc...



This is a view of some of the buildings outside around the throne room of the Summer Palace...



This is a view looking down at the main complex of the palace from near the throne room. If you look in the middle of the picture you will see my Mother, who like the Empress, decided it was too much of a climb up to the top and decided to wait for us at ground level...



A view to the west from the palace...



This is a view of Beijing to the east of the palace...



This is the Buddhist Temple that is right above and behind the main palace building in the Summer Palace...



This is the Buddha inside the temple. There's a sign there that says, "No photographs", and I was not going to take a picture, but everyone was ignoring the sign, so I thought I would too...



Here are my parents and I in beside Empress Ci Xi's marble boat. The story was that she wanted a boat, but was afraid to go out into the lake so she had this boat built...



The picture below is one of the views of Xi'an from inside the Big Wild Goose Pagoda...



Here is another view from the top of the pagoda. The fountain below is suppose to be the largest fountain in China (or maybe the world. I forget)...



Another view of Xi'an from the top of the pagoda...



Some pandas in ChengDu...



Here's a picture of my parents with a panda in the background....



Here's another panda picture. Aren't they cute?



At one place in the panda center they allowed people to come in and pet the pandas (for 400RMB). Here are a few Japanese tourists who were willing to pay that...



Cynthia (center) with my parents and her Grandmother (far left) looking at family photos...



Cynthia's boyfriend, Tony, and I looking at some martial arts videos on his computer...



At Cynthia's parents' house. Left to right - friend of Cynthia's family, Cynthia's Mother, my Mother, Me, my Father, Cynthia's Father, Cynthia...



That's all of the photos I have that are worht posting. If I get time I'll try to post some video I shot of the pandas.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Name Change, Part 2

Yeah, yeah,... I was suppose to post a bunch of pictures about my vacation, but I have been too busy (and I am also waiting on pictures from others). I will post them soon.

Anyways, back in June I changed the name of the blog from Steve's Dalian Blog to Steve's China Blog, but I did not explain why. Now I can! IBM China is opening a new office in ChengDu and I am going to be moving there. I am not sure when I will be going to ChengDu yet. I have heard as early as November and as late as February, but I am thinking that mid to late January is most likely.



ChengDu is the capital of the Sichuan Province, and can be seen in the middle of the satallite image above. Whereas Dalian is considered a new city which has been around for about a hundred years, ChengDu has a very long history... about 2400 years worth. A lot of good info about ChengDu and its history can be found at Wikipedia here. ChengDu is also not as fast-paced as Dalian and has many things that Dalian does not have (such as Chinese culture, very spicy Sichuan food, Mexican restaurants, etc...), so I am looking forward to going there. Also, since ChengDu is in the middle of China it should make it easier to travel around China.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Good ad

Found this video yesterday and figured out how to post it on the blog. Too bad you won't see this in the TV back in the US.

Back in Dalian

We arrived in Dalian on Friday night and got my parents checked into their hotel. The hotel they are staying at has a German restaurant, so we went there for dinner after they checked in. The food was really good, but the band was too loud. After dinner I went home. My plants were still alive. Yeah!

On Saturday morning I went over to my parents' hotel and we went to Victory Square to do a little shopping. We wandered around and my parents bought a few things, and then we went to a food court in one of the department stores. After lunch we wandered around Victory Square for a little while and then caught a cab over to Peace Square mall to do some shopping there. In the evening we went by where my office is, and we walk about the area around my office a little, and then we went to have some Italian dinner at Cafe Igosso. After dinner we went back to my parents' hotel for an Oktoberfest party that was going on at the German restaurant there. It was kind of goofy, but it was fun.

I had to work on Sunday, but I was working from home all day since I did not have any meetings. I met my parents for lunch at a nice Chinese restaurant near where I live, and after lunch they came over to my apartment to relax and watch a DVD of our company's annual party while I did some stuff for work. I took a break from work in the afternoon, and took my parents over to Xinghai Square and we walked around there for a bit and saw some of the sights. Later that evening we joined my boss, his wife, and my friend Kaoruko, for dinner at a really nice seafood restaurant. We had a lot to eat and some of it seemed a bit exotic (such as live urchins, etc...), but it was all wonderful.

On Monday I had to go into the office for work, and my parents wandered around Dalian doing some more shopping and sightseeing. At the end of the day they came by the office, and I gave them a little tour of the place. From there we went to a western restaurant near where I live that has very good (and expensive) food. Dinner was excellent, and we sat around for a little while drinking wine and chatting about the whole trip. After dinner my parents went back to their hotel and then flew home the next morning.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cloudy ChengDu

On Tuesday we flew from Xi'an to ChengDu, and checked into the hotel. I found out they had a Peter's Tex-Mex Grill here too (two of them actually), so we had dinner there. It seemed like a good way to prepare for a city that boasts about their spicy food.

On Wednesday we went to the Panda Center, and got to see a lot of pandas.



They had a lot of baby pandas at this center, but unfortunately we couldn't take pictures of them. They did have some red pandas too.



After visiting the pandas we went to visit an area called SanXingDuo. This was an ancient settlement that perished a long time ago. Artifacts from the site were discovered as early as 1929, but the place was never excavated until the 1980's. They found a lot of artifacts there since, but most of the information about the people is still a mystery. It was an interesting place, but way out in the boonies and we had to travel back and forth along some pretty bad roads.



On Thursday we were going to meet with some friends of mine and wander around ChengDu, but the weather was pretty bad, so we just stayed at the hotel and relaxed during the day. That evening we went to visit my friend Cynthia at her parents' home where we had dinner.



The meal was really wonderful. Lots of spicy Sichuan food, as well as some milder specialties in case the food was too spicy for us. It was really nice of Cynthia's parents to have us over.

On Friday we met some friends for a hotpot lunch.



After lunch we got a little tour of the Sichuan University in ChengDu. It was very nice, even though it was starting to rain. After that we headed to the airport to fly back to Dalian.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Touring Xi'an

I think I am going to do a few posts about each place we visit, and then I will put togther one big post on the trip overall. Here's a quick post about our adventures in Xi'an...

We flew into Xi'an on Saturday, which was not a bad day to travel. Sunday was the beginning of the National Day holiday for most people so we missed most of the crowds. Xi'an is a tourist city. They have been playing host to tourist since the days of the Silk Road, so you can imagine how touristy it is.

On Sunday we went to see the Terracotta Warriors.









There are thousands of Terracotta Warriors... infantry, cavalry, archers, and chariots. Most of the ones that have been discovered have been reburied, since the paint wears off of them very quickly after being exposed to air. Once they figure out how to keep the paint from going away they'll unearth all of them.

There is a funny story here about a German tourist who visited the Terracotta Warriors a few weeks ago.

After visiting the Terracotta Warriors we went to visit the Huaqing Hot Springs. These were some hot springs used by Emperor Xuanzong and his consort during the Tang Dynasty (more info here).



After that we visited the Banpo Neolithic Village. There was not a lot to see here, but it was kind of interesting. That evening we went to a restaurant/dinner theatre, had a dinner of dumplings, and then watched a play about Emperor Xuanzong and his consort. It was pretty nice.

The next day we went to the Provincial Museum in Xi'an. It was very similiar to the Banpo Neolithic Village museum, but bigger. After that we went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.





The pagoda is very tall, and I went up to the very top along stairs that got narrower and narrower as I went up.



Here one of the views of Xian from the top of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda...



On Tuesday we had a quick trip to visit the city wall of Xi'an.





After climbing around on the city walls we visited the Great Mosque.





Next stop... Off to ChengDu!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

In Beijing

I arrived at Beijing on Wednesday, and after lunch at the airport I met up with my parents who arrived a few hours after I did. We went from the airport to the Crown Plaza hotel, and got checked in, and after a short rest we went for a walk around Beijing. After awhile of walking around I was starting to feel hungry, so we tried to catch a cab to a place I had read about called Peter's Tex-Mex Grill. It seemed to take forever to get a taxi to go to this place. The first two taxis we got did not know where the place was, and eventually we found a guy working at a hotel that knew the area it was in, and hailed a taxi for us and told the driver where to go. Eventually we made it.

I have not had any Tex-Mex in about a year, so the food was wonderful! My parents thought it was funny that flew all the way to China and the first meal they had was Tex-Mex. My Mom had chicken enchilladas, my Father had beef tacos, and I had a 9-layer dip burrito. Yum!

On Thursday morning our guide picked us up at the hotel, and our first stop was Tiananmen Square. It was a big square filled with tourists. No tanks, so that was good.



After Tiananmen Square we went to the Forbidden City. I had been to Forbidden City before but not with a guide, so we saw some things that I had missed before. It was pretty nice.



Entrance to Forbidden City.



Inside the Forbidden City.



Throne room in Forbidden City.

After lunch we went to the Temple of Heaven (below). The one part I wanted to go to, the echo wall, was closed for restoration so we visited the main temple and then visited a tea house, saw a Chinese tea ceremony, and tried a few different Chinese teas.



For dinner we went to Qianmen Quan Ju De restaurant for Roast Beijing Duck. The dinner was very good, but everyone agreed that Peking Gourmet in Falls Church, Virginia was better. Go figure.

Friday morning up woke up and I did not feel well, so I stayed at the hotel all day. My parents went to visit the Great Wall, the Sacred Way, and a tomb of some emperor. In the evening I was feeling better, so I joined them for dinner. The next day would be an early day, so we all turned in kind of early.



On Saturday we left early to go see the Summer Palace (above). The large part of the palace in the middle, and the Buddhist temple above it, had just been opened for vistors the week before so we were lucky to get to see that. After seeing the Summer Palace and having lunch we were suppose to go see the Lama Temple, but traffic was so bad because of the holiday that we just went right to the airport. Next stop: Xi'an...