(Thanks to a surprisingly efficient Chinese government censorship team, I’ve thrown in the towel. You win this time China. So, I’m forced to resort to blogging via email. A feature I’ve never used before and so bear with me as I try to get this to work. I’ve but only one shot at these posts, so… you’ve been warned!)

Just got back from China’s longest holiday of the year, the Golden Week. What I did during then is for another post; this one’s for the week running up to it.

This week was kicked off by China’s highly-patriotic National Day on October 1st. On or around this date, nearly every (!!!) Chinese person hops on a bus, train, plane, bicycle, friend’s bicycle to head to their homes to watch the National Day parade and festivities on TV. Only the hopefuls/thrill-seekers/idiots/me try to actually see it in person – which never happened, btw.

WaiGuoRen (foreigners) were constantly warned to stay away from the festivities. Security was at an all time high, especially this year, as a multiple of 10 years. Having heard that police had set-up a 5-mile no-go zone around the parade path, I opted to stay in the comfort of my hard, messed-up spring bed. Plus, I slept through my alarm.

But, boy, was it a sight to see on TV, while also being the ONLY thing on the government controlled channels. Countless blogs have covered the actual parade and it serves no purpose to describe it 10 days after the fact. In short, hundreds of thousands of personnel involved. However, my favourite quote from WSJ’s live blog deserves a little more recognition:
10:45 a.m.: Now come female troops, heavily made up. Wow, PLA girls in mini-skirts! Hu smiles and claps. Wonder what force that is? The karaoke troops? –Ian Johnson

(Pic 1 is here)
(Snagged from http://www.allstatedaily.com/)

Yup… I concur. Scary or hot? Both.

So, here’s what I saw in the days prior.

About two weeks ago, TianAnMen Square was closed and set-up for the biggest celebration since… who knows when. Bleachers were set-up for maybe a few hundred people and traffic was completely stopped. Note the fog that day and compare it to the picture above. On D-Day, it was blazingly sunny. Thought nothing of it at the time, but later found out that it was no coincidence.

Thanks to some nifty chemicals sprayed the day before, National Day was the sunniest day I’ve seen in Beijing since I arrived. Apparently, they tried the same thing during the 2008 Olympics, but have refined the technique quite a bit since then…

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(Pic 2 is here)

Back on campus, almost daily practices were held for the students participating. About 1,000 students were selected to represent our school in the parade. Quite a sight!

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(Pic 3 is here)

Not really related, but here’s a little tribute to my other home. Sort of. Which, by the way, probably tipped this post from passable to blocked.

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(Pic 4 is here)

Happy birthday China! 生日快了!


大家好! / Hello!

One week down and I’m full swing into life here.  School’s finally started and apparently my Chinese was so terrible that they want me to start from scratch.  I want to shoot myself it’s so simple right now.  That being said, just like an MBA, the majority of benefits come from outside the classroom.

I’ve made considerable progress meeting new people and speaking Chinese at every turn.  Immersion truly works! Just in the past week, I’ve managed to figure out how to get all the basics (food, water, shelter) without leaning on broken English and getting horribly ripped off.  And, I’m able to hold simple conversations over a coffee or a beer.  Not bad for having spoken no more than 10 words a year for each of the past 10 years, eh?

Anyway, a quick glimpse into living situation here.  As a foreigner, quality of living is considerably higher than for that of the locals.  That being said… I’m still in China.

And I thought NY living was tight…

I can’t imagine a more efficient use of space

I live right by the track, which on some days (pictured below), you can hardly see through the smog to the other side

Mmm… meat on a stick = chuan ‘r; pronounced CHUARRR! Seriously, think angry. About $0.40 / stick.

ni hao beijing!


Ahh, finally here and finally blogging.  It’s been about a week and I think I’m finally over the jet lag, finally over the culture shock (not really) and finally over the fact that I’m a fob here.

Me: “I want one of THAT. *point*”
Vendor: “This?”
Me: “No… THAT. *emphatic point*”
Vendor: “OK. How many?”
Me: “What? I want one of THAT. I don’t understand you.”
Vendor: “*sigh* 3 kuai.”
Me: “What?”
Vendor: “*bigger sigh* *3 fingers in the air* 3 kuai”

That about sums up my days here thus far.  Finding basic sustenance is the most stressful part of my day, cause it just won’t cut it to avoid these situations.  Fortunately, I’m learning quick, sort of.  I’m now able to order somewhat competently.  But, the moment they venture off script, I’m done for.  A quick “wo ting bu dong” (I can’t understand you) and the awkwardness continues.

I’ve managed to see a little bit of Beijing already, but I’ll save that for another post.  For now, my favourite chinglish sign of the week. Now, I can’t laugh TOO hard, because I’m pretty sure that’s what I sound like when I speak here.  But, what the heck…