Aug 7, 2005

Riddle: How many people does it take to park an Audi TT?

Answer: in China, it takes 15 people (at least)

Honestly. It really does, here's the proof. I encountered this mob of people assembled near Wangfujing. Thinking I'd be able to witness a good fist fight, I squeezed to the front to see what was going on. Disappointingly, it was only some Chinese girl unable to park her car. Somehow, the Audi's rear left corner of the bumper was just slightly touching the rear right corner of the VW's bumper, and for some reason this was preventing the Audi from being driven.

Analysis of the characters in the photo:
1. Puzzled woman who can't figure out how the heck she got her car stuck like this. I can't figure it out either.
2. Man thinking: "How inept can this chick be?"
3. Montel look-alike.
4. Unbuttons one more button of his shirt with each passing minute.
5. Unamused woman.
6. Helpfully performing an analysis of the front of the car, which is not stuck anyway.
7. Tsinghua University engineering student analyzing the tensile strength of the bumper.
8. Passive bystanders.

Aug 3, 2005

Kit cars in Beijing

I saw what appeared to be a 2005 Ferrari F430 on the Fourth Ring Road in Chaoyang District today, driven by a young lad. I wasn't able to inspect it closely, since I was inside a taxi at the time. However, I'm quite certain it was a kit car.

Is it possible to build such a kit car? Of course it is. Check out this Lamborghini Murcielago kit car on eBay. It would fool most passers-by.

As many can testify, there are lots of great fake merchandise and art replicas in China. Not to mention, workers do their job very quickly. Construction of buildings goes on at a pace much faster than in the west. Star Wars III was on DVD in Beijing the day it opened in theaters across the world. It stands to reason that a late model Ferrari could be reproduced with the same speed and accuracy.

And the non-technical analysis: no one would be so obscene as to drive a real Ferrari as a commute-car in Beijing. On the roads inside the city, there's never an opportunity to go more than 45 MPH. In the countryside, the road quality is poor, and the peasants, mules, and farm vehicles make fast driving impossible.

If only I could have heard the engine sound of the "Ferrari", I'd be able to say without a doubt if it was authentic or not. Until I encounter the elusive car again, we'll not know for sure.

Aug 1, 2005

McDonald's story

This story was originally posted on

"I remember 1992 in Beijing. It was May. The sun was shining. There, on the corner of Wangfujing, it opened. Finally. McDonald’s had come to China.

There were steel fences erected outside to ensure people went into the Golden Arches in a semi-orderly manner. Me and buddy charged our way through the crowds. We got in and laid down our Mao-bills. One of everything. We took our seat next to hundreds. They were as ecstatic as we were, but we were convinced they had no idea why they were ecstatic. Then it happened.

As we picked up our McChickens and Big Macs and stuffed them heartily into our faces, our seated neighbors had no idea what to do. They opened up the sandwich wrappers, only to be faced with a bun and meat. One of them had an idea!

He ran to the counter and back again. He had obtained two straws. He proceeded to try to use them as chopsticks. First, he twisted off the bottom bun of his Double Cheeseburger. After 3 minutes of stabbing and turning, the straws gave in and were eternally bent. Useless. That did not deter him though - he just ran back and got some more straws.

Everyone then caught on to this “innovation” and they stampeded to the counter to get straws. The store was soon robbed of all it’s straws. There were literally no more straws in McDonald’s.

A manager-type of person then made his way to the seating area and started shouting “Use your hands to eat! Pick up the hamburger with both your hands and eat it!”. Then he announced, “We have no more straws, therefore, we are no longer serving beverages.”

No one seemed to mind or even listen to him - they just kept trying to pick up everything with their straws, succeeding only one French fry at a time."

Original posting: