Steve's China Blog

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Almost Halloween!

It's almost Halloween. The first thing we need to do is make sure the pumpkins don't find the beer. Oops! Too late. Oh well.

I hope everyone has a fun Halloween!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Now and then and now

Last week they were having a trade fair at the exhibition center nearby our office. On Friday Chinese Prime Minister Wen, and several heads of state from other countries came to visit the fair, so security was very high in the area.

Wen Jiabao Meets with Foreign Leaders Attending the 10th Western China International Economy & Trade Fair

A lot of traffic lanes were blocked and there were police everywhere. A lot of us weren't able to go to the office that day, so we had to work from home. I made a comment about politicians blocking traffic to some of my co-workers, and one of them asked me if this doesn't happen in the United States. I told him that sometimes a politician will do something like this, but they usually don't get re-elected if they do.

We also saw on the news about several people in the Obama administration praising Mao, which is really weird. Last week it was was Anita Dunn, who is the White House's communications director. Here's the story from the Wall Street Journal...

From Mao to Obama

Anita Dunn, the White House's communications director who has declared war on Fox News, came under scrutiny herself last week when it was discovered she had told an audience that Mao Tse Tung was one of her favorite political philosophers and quoted Mao on how to "fight your war." In her speech last June, after she joined the Obama White House, Ms. Dunn said the "two people I turn to most" were Mother Teresa and Mao Tse-Tung. She barely discussed the late nun, but waxed at length about the lessons Mao had taught her.

And then there was Ron Bloom, who is the new manufacturing czar. Here's the news story from the Washington Examiner...

Another Obama administration czar agrees - 'kind of' - with Mao

First, it was White House communications chief Anita Dunn telling a high school commencement audience that the murderous Chairman Mao was one of her "two favorite philosophers." Now, it's manufacturing czar Ron Bloom who it turns out "kinda" agrees with modern history's most prolific genocidal murderer that "power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Were these people born stupid, or did they just get progressively stupider as time went on? Anyways, here's an amusing story about Obama and Mao in the People's Daily...

"Oba Mao" items popular with foreign tourists in Beijing

A souvenir shop in the popular Houhai tourist area of Beijing has recently become quite famous because it is selling products with the image of U.S. President Barack Obama's face imprinted over that of China's late leader Mao Zedong, reports.

Here is a rather good article about the dangers of maoism from

Lessons From Chairman Mao

There is something tragic in man’s nature that an ideology which has been the scourge of the 20th century, inflicting misery and death upon hundreds of millions, still has so many adherents. China recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of its Communist Party. Although communism’s horror show continues to enslave a large portion the world’s population, many in our county are still sympathetic to this cancer. Its track record bears repeating, particularly to students, whose naïveté and inexperience leave them susceptible to dangerous belief systems.

If you want to read about the entire horror that was Mao I would recommend reading Mao: The Unknown Story.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trip to Bali

There is no direct flights from Chengdu to Bali, so I had to change planes in Hong Kong and Singapore. I flew to Hong Kong, and the person working at the check in counter for Dragonair Airlines made a mistake on my baggage claim, so they were nice enough to upgrade me to business class. I had a few hours layover in Hong Kong and did a little shopping at the stores in the airport. I also had lunch at a place called Champions Sports Bar, and the burger I had was kind of so-so.

The flight to Singapore was kind of uneventful. There was a really nice sunset over Singapore when we were arriving, and we were on time so I did not have to rush to catch my next flight to Denpasar (Bali).

When I arrived in Denpasar I got my visa, and got in line to go through immigration. I was almost at the head of the line when I realized I had left a carton of cigarettes, that I had bought at the duty free store in Chengdu, on the plane. I went to an information desk and asked if they could call the plane and they did, and I could get my cigarettes at the lost and found. In the mean time a large plane load of people had arrived from Japan; so now the lines to get through immigration were really long so it took me almost an hour to get through immigration, get my bags, and go find my ride to the resort. I arrived at Club Med in Bali at about midnight.

When I woke up on my first day at Bali I realized I had caught a small cold from either the air conditioner during the flight over, or from the air conditioner in my room. It wasn't too bad... just a little coughing, runny nose, and a sneeze every once in awhile; but it meant that I could not do some of the things I was hoping to do. Sneezing while snorkeling would not be pleasant.

My fellow guests at the resort were from all over the world. There were people from Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany, etc... Not too many Americans, since it is so far away. I was kind of surprised to see quite a few Chinese there. Someone who worked at the resort told me they only come during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and National Day holidays. They seemed somewhat well behaved, and the only problem I had with any of them was some lady who would cut in line in front of people everywhere. I also saw one spitting, but he did that into an ashtray, and not where people walked. The biggest problem others had with the Chinese were that they talk very loud. I hadn't noticed since I am use to that.

Most days at the resort were spent waking early and having breakfast, wandering around the resort, hitting some golf balls at the little driving range, shooting some archery, having lunch, taking a nap, going for a swim, shoot some more archery, wander around the resort some more, have dinner, socialize with others at the bar and maybe watch a show, and then go to bed.

I enjoyed wandering around the resort. It was very tranquil and very pretty. Here are some pictures...

A nice six-hole par 3 golf course

Area leading down to the beach

A small shrine. For shows or weddings maybe?

Some local ladies make some straw baskets

Outside the rooms

Aerobics in the pool

A view from the beach during low tide

Even Buddha likes the beach

One of the dragons in the main restaurant

The food was really good too. Just about every meal had dishes from Indonesia, India, China, Korea, Japan, Italy, and a variety of western dishes also. My favorite breakfast was an Indian egg dish (scrambled eggs, chopped vegetables, and curry), bacon, and fruit. Sometimes I would have Japanese style salted fish instead of the bacon. It was hard to select a favorite for lunch and dinner since there was so much variety. The kimchi was great for my cold. The sushi was fresh and very delicious. Everything was wonderful and even with a little self-control I think I managed to gain a few pounds.

I ended up shooting a lot of archery. The guy who ran the archery range like to have me come over, since I could translate a little of his instructions to the Chinese guests who showed up to do a bit of shooting. He could speak English, French, and a little Japanese; but no Chinese. There were a few people that worked at the resort who could speak Chinese though.

Every afternoon they had a little archery tournament of some kind, and I was in 4 tournaments. The first was a team tournament and I was teamed up with someone named Mitch from Australia. We came in third and got bronze medals. I won gold medals in the other 3 tournaments. One was a "beat the pro" tournament and I shot the second highest score there. I should have gotten a silver medal, but they gave all of us that beat the pro's score a gold medal.

One afternoon I traveled to the northern part of the island to visit an elephant park. They had a lot of information about elephants and a nice little museum of elephant related stuff.

Some elephants at the elephant park

They had a total of 30 elephants at the park. Three of them were brand new baby elephants.

The newest arrival with mommy

After watching a little elephant show I went for a half-hour ride on an elephant through the nearby jungle and farm area. Once you got use to the little swaying back and forth it was pretty nice.

I feel like King Julien!

Even though the rainy season in Bali has officially started it never seemed to rain where I was. Sometimes I would go somewhere and they would say "You're lucky... it was just raining here this morning". I did seem to have luck when it came to nice weather there. The day I went to the elephant park was a lucky date, so on the way back we saw a lot of weddings going on.

Outside a temple where a wedding is getting ready to start

A small shrine

I woke up early on my last day and I had a nice breakfast. After breakfast I went to say goodbye to my friend Maria before I had to catch my ride to the airport. Maria is from Korea, and it was really great getting to meet her. There were a few girls from Korea that I met there. I use to live in Korea ages ago and they all brought back a lot of memories about Korea that I had forgotten.

Maria and I take a look around the boutique

From Denpasar I flew to Hong Kong and had a few hours at the airport to do a little shopping before my flight to Chengdu. It turns out that I was not at the main terminal, and the stores I wanted to visit were all at the main terminal. I browsed around the shops at my terminal, but did not see anything I wanted to buy, except a nice silver ring with a beautiful blue sapphire. Too bad it costs over 26,000 Kong Kong dollars (about $3,400 US)! It was nice, but not that nice. I bought some nice big cookies for my driver and his family. I knew his daughters would really like them.

For the flight from Hong Kong to Chengdu Dragonair upgraded me to business class again, but I am not sure why. Maybe they like me, or something. I flew into Chengdu in the evening and I got home at about 10:30pm. I did the minimal amount of unpacking I needed to do, and then went to bed. Traveling is so tiring some times.

It took me awhile to post this since one of my teeth has been bothering me, and typing away in front of the computer is kind of dreary when you are in pain. Anyways, by the last day of my trip my cold was pretty much gone but one of my teeth had started to hurt. I would have rather had the cold back.