Jul 29, 2008

The farmer's blow

My walk home from work often takes me through a short alleyway with some questionable noodle and stir-fry joints along it. The other day I came up behind a thirty something Chinese man, who had an index finger covering one nostril, and was bent over in the midst of the ubiquitous farmer's blow.

I was going to let it go, but then he did it again, and finally a third time. With the third blow he spewed a viscous stream of cloudy mucous all over the brick wall of the alley. By this time, he had stopped walking, to focus better on the work in question.

As I walked by, I said to him in Chinese, "Damn, buy a Kleenex or something." He raised his head and and stared at me as I walked by, juicy snot peeking out of one nostril and dribbling down his upper lip. He didn't say one word back to me, but yet I suspect that he'll not be changing his nose blowing habits any time soon.

Jul 27, 2008

Assault and battery caught on film

Looks like this poor sucker, Yapeng Li, a Chinese B-list actor, looks like he's going to have a lawsuit on his hands, at the very least. This seems to be a clear case of assault and battery, if you ask my legal opinion. I happened across this article on a Chinese site.

Jul 25, 2008

Olympic ticket madness

Can you believe the lengths some of these people were willing to go through to get their hands on the remaining Olympic tickets? These people literally camped out for almost two days. Countless more lined up in the following days, and I think most of them walked away empty-handed. There just weren't enough tickets to go around.

Here's a couple English articles:
These are some interesting photos I borrowed from some Chinese news sites:

To all these people, I have to ask a few questions: Do you have jobs? Did you not realize there were already three ticket application sessions, and you could have gotten tickets online through the relative comfort of the Internet? There were a lot more good tickets available back then — plan ahead next time. Finally, do you realize that waiting two days in line means that you've given up two days of salary (assuming you're employed), and that you've not purchased just a 30 kuai ticket, your ticket now far exceeds 30 kuai since it includes the income you would have earned had you not been waiting in line. You'd have been better off buying from a scalper or hiring a peasant to wait in line for you.

Here's some panoramas I stitched together with photos I took myself of some of the lines (click to enlarge). I had a short time between morning meetings and I did a quick bicycle ride around some of the Olympic venues. It was a refreshing break to bath in the heat and humidity, and inhale the tasty Beijing smog. The main box office by the Bird's Nest was overcrowded and had been closed off by the police well before I arrived. The first panorama below is the line to get wrestling tickets (will Hulk Hogan be there?), and the second panorama is the line to get archery and tennis tickets. I saw a few White Men in the wrestling line. They had thick necks and looked like wrestlers, so I suspect they endured the huge line and boredom because they like the sport so much.

Wrestling tickets:

Archery and tennis:

Jul 21, 2008

Swimmin' hole

On the recommendation of a local friend, I tried out an outdoor swimming pool I'd never heard of before. It was somewhat out of the way in Haidian district, so it was less crowded than say, the pool in Chaoyang park. It's almost free, 10 kuai per person.

It's one big lagoon like pool, with one smaller kiddie pool off to one side. There are also a few lanes roped off for lap swimming, but in July the water temperature is too warm to do anything strenuous, and one of the walls is composed of a series of underwater stainless steel bars, so you can't do flip turns.

Here's a photo I found. It must have been taken first thing in the morning before it starts to get crowded.

Jul 18, 2008

Olympic park tour

The other day the weather was especially sunny, so I took a lunchtime bike ride through the Olympic area to see how stuff looks a few weeks before the big event.

The Olympic stadium looks nice and shiny on a sunny day. I think it's a great looking stadium.

Although I like the stadium, some people still joke that it resembles a squat toilet. (See this.)

Here's the Water Cube, taken through a hole in the chain linked fence. This is about as close as I'll be able to get for the next couple months. Swimming and diving tickets were extremely hard to get. I think they've been allocated to the Chinese apparatchiks, since swimming is a good indoor event they can watch in relative comfort.

The Water Cube and the stadium together.

Water tower? SWAT sniper tower? Post-modern Olympic phallus? Who knows.

The roads near the Olympic Village are closed to cars, so it was the perfect place to go biking around. It looks like a typical apartment complex that's been fenced off. The security appears very similar to that of the embassy compounds in Sanlitun: chain fence, some guard posts, and few entry points. It looks like the athletes can walk into the Olympic park area without having to go through the outside public areas.

Check out the gaggle of athletes lining up to go through the Olympic village security check:

Street view of some of the Olympic Village apartments. I assume they're going to sell these apartments to regular people when the Olympics are over. Do you remember how disgusting the boy's locker room used to smell in high school? I can only imagine how rank these apartments are going to be after a month of sweaty clothes and wild parties.

A Chinese military police (武警) under his McDonald's patio umbrella. I heard they have unlimited free McDonald's junk food for all the athletes inside.

Jul 16, 2008

Yet another reason not to drive here

I used to read the rants and raves section of Craigslist for off-color entertainment. Living in Beijing, I read the forums on thebeijinger.com. I recently encountered some references to a Beijing expat that recently had a most unfortunate car accident while touring the local countryside. This broken windshield is from where he allegedly ran down a pheasant peasant [1].

The topic really got me interested, not because the topic was inherently interesting, but because it turns out all the associated posts and threads had been locked and then deleted by the forum admins. What could be so damning that it would warrant multiple threads to be deleted permanently? It turns out, nothing really, but the thread is entertaining. Since most stuff on the Internet exists in perpetuity thanks to tools like the Google cache, I can repost this very interesting post for you here.
What would you have done?
Posted on thebeijinger.com on Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:52 am by mrathell

Yesterday my family and I (2 sons and fiancée) drove to the southwest of Beijing to do some whitewater rafting and cave exploration; unfortunately we were in an accident before we arrived.

We were driving our 1995 Jeep Cherokee through 张坊 ZhangFang county on the way to 十渡 ShiDu in 房山 Fangshan District at approximately 12:11 noon on June 29th when the accident happened. We were driving on a 2 lane highway (one lane east and one lane west) with a small bike lane, tall corn crops lining the road and it was drizzling rain at the time.

There were cars several yards in front and in back of me when an old man on a bike rode directly out of the corn crops into traffic without looking either way or stopping. Because of the height and density of the vegetation on the side of the road, we did not see him until he appeared on the road in front of us. I was driving about 50 KPH (under the posted speed limit) and he appeared in the road about 3 yards in front of me. I was unable to swerve into the other lane to avoid hitting him because there was oncoming traffic that would have resulted in a head on collision. My only option was to hit my brakes and steer into the oncoming traffic lane as far as I could without striking another car.

The front passenger side of my car struck the old man on his bike and he rolled across the hood, hit and smashed the windshield and landed on the road.

We jumped out of the car and my fiancée ran to his aid while I looked for our mobile phone to call for help. My Fiancée tried unsuccessfully to flag down someone to help. We attempted to call 120 (the ambulance) and 122 (the police) but both wanted the exact location and we did not know exactly where we were.

The old mans leg was bleeding really bad, at the time we though his bone was protruding from the wound. We feared for the old mans life because of the speed at which the blood was flowing out of the wound. I immediately took one of my sons’ sweaters and tied it tightly around his leg to reduce the blood flow while looking for any other cuts or bruises.

Because we were unable to pinpoint our exact location, made many unsuccessful attempts to flag down assistance and was afraid that his wounds were life threatening, we made the decision to rush him to the hospital rather than risking him dying.

I picked him up and laid him in the back of the jeep and my fiancée sat back there with him so that she could continue to apply pressure to the wound.

His bike and our side-view mirror that broke off during the accident was in the middle of the road, so I kicked it the mirror to side of the rode and moved his bike to the side of the road for fear it may cause an accident to other drivers.

I drove us to the nearest store where we asked the locals where the nearest hospital is. One of the patrons in the store rode with us to show us where a clinic was. We arrived at the clinic and my fiancée rushed inside to get help. Two of the clinics staff came out to look at the old man but because they were only a clinic they were not able to treat him. The clinic did have an ambulance, so we were able to put him on a gurney, load him into the back of the ambulance and they rushed him to the nearest hospital about 40 minutes away.

We followed behind the ambulance and arrived at the hospital about 10 minutes after the paramedics. When we arrived the ambulance driver was waiting for us to pay for the cost of using the ambulance, so we paid him 260 rmb.

We waited in the emergency room for the results and paid 3000 rmb for the initially care and treatment. Also there was a female who also came to the hospital with him but we aren’t sure if she is a relative or friend but she did know his name, age and other personal information.

The doctor performed CT scans, MRI and other necessary procedures to help determine the extent of his injuries. The doctor informed us that his leg was not broken but would require stitches; he had one broken rib and a broken collarbone. We were also told that his injuries were not life threatening and that he would be ok.

We were later informed that he would need an operation to reset his fractured collarbone and we would need to pay a 10,000 deposit for the operation. At that point we thought the best thing to do was to call the police to report the accident to them.

About 20 to 30 minutes later the police arrived and took our statements and the statements of the old man. The police then had us follow them in our jeep to 良乡 LiangXiang traffic police located by 良乡北关 LiangXiang BeiGuan. The police took more statements and informed us that they would be keeping our jeep until they figure out what to do.

The police told us that because we altered the crime scene, we accepted 100% blame for the accident. It didn’t matter that we made a life or death decision to rush him to the hospital immediately, it didn’t matter that by leaving that debris in the middle of the road could of caused other accidents.

The police walked me over to a clinic to have my blood drawn to make sure I didn’t have alcohol in my system (no, I didn’t have anything to drink all week).

We are now waiting for the police to call us and inform us when we need to go back to Liang Xiang Traffic Police station 良乡 and to the hospital to pay the 10,000 rmb.

We plan to keep going back to visit the old man to make sure he is ok and too make sure he is well taken care of. We will take him a new bike and pay his lost wages during his expected recovery time.

What would you have done??? The police keep telling us that we should of stayed at the scene, that we shouldn't of moved the debris off of the road. The fact that a life was given prority over a crime scene is irrevelant to them.

The reason it is an issue is because of the family. We don't want them to see us as a cash cow. We went to the police to make sure everything is noted by the law. Also, I feel, even though we are paying for everything, the old man was to blame for the accident for driving out of bushes, direcly into traffic without looking. I feel that some of the blame should be put on him.....honestly I believe 99% of the blame should be on him and 1% for me being there.

Would you of handled it the same way or stayed at the scene of the accident, or ???

So, as if we Beijing expats didn't need yet another reason to drive here, in addition to the horrible gridlock, stress, and high cost that already exist, here's another: litigious peasants on bicycles driving out into the front of cars in the countryside. At the very least, let's all reflect on the lesson that this particular upper crust expat learned firsthand.

Photos on Flickr
Links to cached pages of deleted forum posts:
Thread: "What would you have done?" (Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:52 am)
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6
Thread: "mrathell's thread about his car accident" (Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:12 pm)
Page: 1 2
Thread: "What would you have done? Update from mrathell" (Posted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:54 pm)
Page: 1 2 3 4 5

[1] Originally a typo. Obviously a pheasant wouldn't have broken that much glass, and there would be some feathers embedded in the windshield.

Jul 8, 2008

Yee haw, dog ropin'

As I was browsing The Beijing News (新京报) during my lunch today, I came across a black and white photo of what could be a demonstration sport at this year's Olympics: dog roping. I found color versions of the photos on Sina.

As a dog lover, these photos were a bit unsettling to me. Stray or no stray, this technique doesn't look like the best way to round up dogs. Couldn't they just get a big fish net?

It looks like this event is a riot for the Chinese motorcycle cowboys, but it's decidedly unpleasant for the poor dogs getting strangled and hogtied with wire.

Original caption:

My translation:
”On July 4, 2008, a dog catching team member captures a stray dog.“

Original text: "2008年7月4日,福建惠安县崇武镇,几名抓捕队的人员正在街头抓捕流浪狗。针对夏天流浪狗较多、经常发生流浪狗咬人的事件,当地相关部门特地组建了抓捕队,上街抓捕流浪狗。"

My translation:
”On July 4, 2008 in Chong-wu village, in Hui-an county, Fujian province, several members of the local dog catching team are capturing stray dogs on the street. There are comparatively more stray dogs in the summer, and more reports of stray dogs biting people. Local departments have set up dog catching teams that take to the streets and capture the stray dogs."

Side note: since I've taken the liberty of translating a random Chinese news article into English, ala Danwei, the blog that takes itself so seriously that it believes it's a legitimate news source, is this blog now a legitimate news source also?

Jul 2, 2008

Which tier is your Chinese city?

Writers seem to use the term "tier" pretty frequently when referencing Chinese cities these days. Based on what I've seen, you can safely assume whatever place in China you're in falls into one of three categories:
  • first tier
  • second tier
  • third tier
  • four tier (the sticks)
I was curious to know which cities are which, so I did some quick research. It seems that different writers have different ideas of what are first tier and second tier cities, but after going through quite a few articles, I came up with some patterns. Below is what I've come up with. I've put a link to the article after each city. The more authors mentioned that a specific city was second tier, for example, the more numbers are listed after it.

Based on the anecdotal data that I collected, I've put the commonly-accepted first tier cities in green, and the commonly-accepted second tier cities in red, and borderline second tier cities in orange. We'll assume the uncolored cities are outliers and should be thrown out from the data set.

First tier
Second tier
Third tier

None of the articles I looked at listed the third tier cities by name. By process of elimination, if you're in a Chinese city that's not listed as first tier or second tier, then you must be in a third tier city.

I would also state the the second tier cities above not colored red or orange are in fact third tier cities.


What does all this mean? Is is preferable to live in a squat toilet-only third tier city, a semi-backwards second tier city, or a Westernized first tier city? Should people from first tier cities act condescending to second tier city dwellers? There are many unanswered questions.