Beijing Wasteland


March 7 2004
We stumbled across this apocalyptic field of wrecked buildings while we got lost looking for the Summer Palace.


The sign says ‘Net Bar’ in Chinese. It’s nice to see that you can still get Internet access even after everything else has been cleared out.

Beijing Duck


Beijing Duck
March 5 2004

Was it my inability to understand the warnings? Or simply reckless abandon? In any case, I wasn’t about to visit Beijing without trying their most famous cuisine.

I ate at Quanjude with Hyunju when I met her in Beijing, and then when I met Ashle and the two Chad K’s took them there. The three of them seemed sqeamish about eating the duck’s actual head, but those jaw muscles do make some good meat.

Click the link for detailed information on both Beijing duck and this restaurant, which is perhaps the most famous of all serving the dish.

Hutong


Inside one of Beijing’s famous hutong alleys.
March 5 2004

The unique architecture and neighborhoods of the Chinese capital are being swept away by the rampant construction needed to prepare for the Olympic games of 2008, particularly in the central areas of the city.

Bird Flu in Beijing


Beijing West Station
April 4 2004

After I took the train from Shenzhen to Beijing (a dreadfully boring 24 hour ride) I found these wonderfully informative signs in the lobby. Take special note of the crying bird in the lower-right section of the second photograph. I can read quite a lot of the words in this sign, but I don’t know nearly enough about the actual grammar of Chinese to do more than a dodgy and innacurate translation, so I won’t even try, aside to say the obvious, that it warns against birds that have not been disinfected and explains the nature of bird flu.

Snacks


Treats in a Beijing market.
March 6 2004

I’ve done a closeup as well so you can clearly see the seahorses. There was another stall later on that had actual whole starfish on a stick as a snack food, one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen. When I tried to take a picture the stall owner blocked my shot, so I just went on.

Interestingly there are two different kinds of similar food stalls on this street in the market. One is like this, with a variety of meats and … things that you could charitably call meat. The other is stalls run by Uyghur, the Muslim minority of the Western Xinjiang province of China. As muslims they would never eat or sell something as un-halal as a seahorse. I can’t say I blame them.

North Korea and Japan Sign a Deal on Abductions

More lunacy from Kim Jong Il’s Democractic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). This is what he considers diplomacy.

In a region where saving face is paramount, the 10-hour stay in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, was riddled with slights to the Japanese leader. When Mr. Koizumi, leader of the second largest economy in the world, arrived in Pyongyang, only a midlevel Foreign Ministry official was at the airport to greet him. There was no banquet. Mr. Koizumi ate a box lunch of rice balls an aide brought from Tokyo.

*****

On Saturday, North Korea’s news media did not mention the issue of the kidnappings. Instead, it dwelled on the fact that the leader of Japan traveled to North Korea bearing gifts. In the past, defectors have said, foreign food aid is portrayed by North Korean officials as “tribute” to their militarily powerful nation.

Shenzhen


Office Building Face in Shenzhen
March 3 2004
Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, China


Construction visible from Shezhen University.
China has a reputation as being constantly under construction and from what I saw this is more visible in Shenzhen than anywhere else. Here we actually see five identical large buildings in a row in the same stage of construction.


Shenzhen University Dorm Room
Standing in the middle of the room is my friend Henry, who studied here at Ritsumeikan University in Japan for a year. This is the room he lived in before he studied abroad in Japan; he now lives in a much roomier room actually intended for foreign students, which he got into because he works part time for the international office.

Shekou


Hong Kong Ferry
March 3 2004
This odd looking boat is the ferry from Hong Kong to mainland China, Shenzhen city in Guangdong (Canton) province. It arrives in a place called ‘蛇口’ which is pronounced ‘Shekou‘ in Cantonese. In Japanese as jaguchi, and is the word for faucet but I have no idea if there is a relationship.

Emmigration from Hong Kong, immigration to China, and the respective customs checks were trivial. They’re a lot more interested in keeping illegal immigrants out of Hong Kong than out of China. The ferry takes about 40 minutes and costs $105 Hong Kong dollars. HK$ are about 7.5 to a US dollar, so it really isn’t very expensive for an international trip, even at such a close distance.


Just on the outside of the ferry terminal was this stall selling fishing gear. Notice the double turtle-dragon creature on the counter, and the giant can of Carlsberg beer behind the counter.