Reasons to Love Beijing?

The whole Shanghai vs. Beijing debate is somewhat tired, I know, so I’m not interested in rehashing it. I’m not going to bash or gush over either city. Rather, I’ve had sort of a change of heart about Beijing, and I’d like to tell why. To be honest, the more time I spend in Beijing, the more I like it. But I doubt I’d ever voluntarily relocate to Beijing.

Still, if I found myself in any of the following scenarios, …

More Trash Means More Jobs

After eating all Chinese food for about a week, my family was delighted to stop into Starbucks in Hangzhou. (Funny how a familiar corporate logo can engender feelings of fondness.) We had the following conversation:

Me: You don’t need to gather up the trash. They’ll clear the table when we leave.

Mom: But the trash can is just right there.

Me: Still, you don’t need to do it. It’s their job. You don’t want to take away their job, do

May Day in Zhongshan Park

I had off for the May holiday today, so I got to sleep in. After lunch I went for a stroll in Zhongshan Park.

Outside the park there were vendors selling pets. The main ones were rabbits, dwarf hamsters, chicks, and ducklings.

Pets for Sale Outside Zhongshan Park

Pets for Sale Outside Zhongshan Park

The park was crowded, but the weather was great. Some people (like me) were there just to walk around.

Zhongshan Park

Others were boating.

Boating in Zhongshan Park

Some were flying kites.

Kite Flying in Zhongshan Park

Some children were getting pictures taken in front of giant cartoon characters. …

10 Reasons I Hate Chinese New Year

Random photos

I am well known for being positive and upbeat about life in China, but sometimes I just have to vent a little. This one is a special case, because when I first arrived in China I was thrilled to be celebrating the real Chinese New Year, with real Chinese people, the authentic way. With each passing year my enthusiasm has faded just a bit more, until it became this colorless loathing for the alpha holiday of the Chinese calendar.…

The Computer Buying Game

Last Sunday I bought a new computer. I’m about to move into my new place, and I suppose I’m still in the throes of consumerist passion. It just seemed like a good time to plunk down a neat stack of cash to buy the system I’ve been wanting for a while. I haven’t had a new computer since 2002, when I bought one in Hangzhou with Wilson. It was time.

Then this week I learn from a blog post that …

Kung Fu, Season 1, on DVD

Today while grocery shopping at Carrefour I discovered a rather extensive collection of non-pirated DVDs. It was really kind of shocking. I’m not talking about just Roman Holiday or Charlie Chaplin or whatever; I’m talking about movies that were in theatres in the States in the past year. Most were priced at about 20 RMB. While that’s still close to triple the pirated price tag, it’s moving into the affordable range. With DVDs priced at 20 RMB, many Shanghai …

Am I Married?

I haven’t mentioned my “girlfriend” in a long time. This is not only because I don’t like to talk about certain aspects of my private life here; it’s also because I’m not sure what to call her anymore. This is all due to the peculiar features of getting married in China.

You see, we are already legally married, but we have not yet had a “proper wedding.” To her and her family, that means a proper Chinese wedding banquet. To …

What Not to Say to Your Kid

A Chinese book explains to new parents some of the things they shouldn't say to their children. The content included is both surprising and revealing. Topping the list: "We found you in a trash heap," "With grades like this, you're going to be sweeping streets someday," and "How can you be so stupid!"

Chinese Girl Pop Stars du jour

And now for something completely vapid: Chinese girl pop stars!

I was bored, surfing around on Baidu, as I sometimes do, and I stumbled across this Baidu ranking of female pop stars. The ranking is assigned by searches, and each star is linked to photos, discussions, and “星闻” (a pun on and 新闻, meaning “star news”). It even keeps track of changes in the rankings.

I immediately noted two things about the list. First, …

Craisins for China

If you’ve never had to buy presents in the USA to bring back to Chinese friends, you probably don’t understand how hard it is. Nearly everything is made in China these days, and quite often those same products are sold in China as well. Quite a few times I’ve bought presents in the USA thinking, “you can’t buy this in China,” only to discover upon presentation of the gift that it is, in fact, available in China. In Shanghai, the …

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