Category Archives: China

On a clear day…

…you can see forever!

Bright, sunny and...industrious!

Bright, sunny and…industrious!

Actually, a better title might be “Here today, gone tomorrow!”  Which may or may not represent my own stint in China, though it turns out that I’ll be here for at least another eight months.

What I’m actually alluding to is the phenomenon of perceived, rapid and sudden change that is so common to the landscape of China.Imitation Brick Wallpaper Something familiar may up and disappear in the space of a day1 or, in the case of Jinyin St. (金银街), several weeks. Since the sudden start of construction about two weeks ago, Jinyin St. has been completely ripped up and redecorated. The buildings across from the Nanjing University Xiyuan Hotel have had a literal face-lift and faux, European-esque awning is in the process of going up as I write. Decorative AwningThen there’s the street itself. Apparently, City Planning2 has decided to change the area into a pedestrian street…a Little Europe/America/vaguely-Western-ish Street if you will. Good-bye, blacktop. Hello, tiny cubes of uneven granite.

The street will no doubt be gorgeous once work is complete. And while I am skeptical about the lifespan of the eye-catching brick wallpaper, I will appreciate the awning on rainy Nanjing days. I also concede that the entire project is very clever and gives the city a dressed-up, foreigner enclave with a preexisting population. A preexisting population that is more than willing to frequent a henceforth, not-dusty, not-dingy social space a stone’s throw from their dormitory.

September 15, 2009

September 15, 2009

April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011

Certainly, with the amount of work being done (which actually also includes much repaving of the area around the cluster of school buildings next to the HNC) plans must have been in the works for a lengthy period of time. We only perceive the decision to rebuild as sudden since we had absolutely no notice. The moral of the story: Don’t blink. You’ll miss a whole lot in China.

  1. RE:Missing Statue []
  2. We assume it is City Planning…though this is unconfirmed by the author. []

Side trip to Shizi Qiao

On my way back from picking up my fully restored electronic dictionary, I happened to pass by Shizi Qiao on Hunan Lu in all its New Year’s splendor.

Shizi Qiao all decked out for Chinese New Year!

Shizi Qiao all decked out for Chinese New Year!

There was a stand selling really beautiful paper-cuts by Jiansu artist Chen Yao (陈耀):

Chen Yao's (陈耀) paper-cut stand

Chen Yao’s (陈耀) paper-cut stand

The paper-cutting master himself! (Well a picture of him at least...)

The paper-cutting master himself! (Well a picture of him at least…)

Specially designed for Chinese New Year 2010!

Specially designed for Chinese New Year 2010!

The images in that last paper-cut were chosen to represent different auspicious sayings…Next up we’ve got the lantern festival to celebrate the end of two weeks of New Year’s celebration. I can’t wait to check out Fuzi Miao on Sunday!

Gearing up for Yuanshao is no problem!

Gearing up for Yuanshao is no problem!

Searching for fireworks… pt. 2

During my late-evening run to McDonald’s tonight, I discovered the best way to find fireworks in an unfamiliar city.  One must not have any kind of photography equipment and one must not be seeking fireworks expressly! This way, when one discovers themselves under those spectacular sparks, one can admire without any obligation to make a record!

Alas, I've succumbed to the lure of those seductive arches...let me tell you though, the U.S. totally needs Taro Pie!

Alas, I've succumbed to the lure of those seductive arches...let me tell you though, the U.S. totally needs Taro Pie!

Searching for fireworks…

It can’t be Chinese New Year without fireworks! And so I went out last night in search of some. The hunt was a little disappointing since I had the odd habit of always being in the worst place possible to see them go off.

At last! Fireworks!

At last! Fireworks!

The solitary photo above is the only one I took last night that was presentable.  My timing and aim leave much to be desired… For a comparison of what other wonderful night vistas I’ve been taking in this CNY, I also include for you a view from Taipei and a view from my dorm room window:

[mediaplayer src=’/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/taipeicny2010-1.wmv’ ]

[mediaplayer src=’/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/nanjingcny2010-1.wmv’ ]

EDIT: You’ll need the Microsoft Silverlight plugins to view these videos!

T’was the third day of Chinese New Year…

…and all was quiet in Nanjing.

I flew to Shanghai yesterday out of Songshan Airport in Taipei. How surprising it was to find the train station packed to the brim! From what I understand, the majority of travel is done the eve of Chinese New Year, since most people must work up to the very last minute. Given the fact that so much of the labor force is from out-of-town, there’s a kind of vacuum effect that happens to the east coast cities as everyone frantically hops on some sort of transportation back to the inner provinces. It’s possible that since day two of CNY is traditionally reserved for visiting one’s niang jia (the wife’s family), day three’s traffic was thus a result of the overflow of backward returnees.

Well, at least that was the case in Taiwan. The news certainly had enough snapshots of congested north-bound highways back up to Taipei!

I didn’t manage to get back to Nanjing until almost 9pm yesterday, but the stunning lack of cars meant I could commandeer the street for the easier transportation of my luggage.  I think I should learn how to travel light! After getting back to the Center this morning, I made a grocery run to Suguo and found the streets much the same in the daytime:

A street normally teeming with people and bikes...

A street normally teeming with people and bikes...

...all is quiet for the Chinese New Year.

...all is quiet for the Chinese New Year.

The bright red paper scraps left over by nocturnal fire-cracker festivities are the only pieces of evidence that Nanjing is still the throes of New Year’s celebrations. Otherwise, it would appear that the city has decided to take an extended winter nap. But, I think I’ll characterize the lack of life on the streets as being “eerie”. China is a country of 1.3 billion souls. Stillness and quiet is unheard of as part of its urban landscape!

Day 64 – Slash and burn farming in the 21st century

Living in China gives you a new perspective on pollution.  Now, I’ve never been to Beijing, but Nanjing’s air quality apparently gets torpedoed in November because all the farmers in the province burn their fields. The last couple of nights have been awful since the farmers only burn at night. (Supposedly…) Take a look:

Taken last night (11-07-2009)

Taken last night (11-07-2009)

Taken tonight...see all that foggy stuff? That's pollution!

Taken tonight...see all that foggy stuff? That's pollution!

It’s scary really. The doctor from the SOS clinic in Nanjing explained to us that the two most dangerous things you can do in China is: 1) Cross the street and 2) Breath the air.
No kidding!

Day 3 – 1st ECG of my life

Since I’m with the M.A. program at the Hopkins Nanjing Center, I need to apply for a two year resident permit instead of the regular one year one.  This means, I have the added burden of having to turn in a “Foreigner Medical Exam” form.  Having anticipated this step for the better part of two months, I had one filled out when I went for my physical back in June. Unfortunately, Chinese regulations did not agree with my doctor’s opinion that I did not need to take a chest x-ray or ECG.

"Well...I certainly hope the donuts are yummy!"

"Well...I certainly hope the donuts are yummy!"

Let me explain the process of getting everything looked at and processed at the Nanjing Public Health Bureau. First, one must get on the line for document review. Having done that, you take your paperwork to the line for fee calculation. They take a look at whatever medical work the first reviewer has scheduled you for and charge you for the appropriate amount. With fee established, you move on to the final line and hand over the money.  I was scheduled for a chest x-ray and ECG. This all took an insanely long amount of time since the number of applicants exponential exploded as the morning went on.1

"Please tell me...what exactly is a aesthetic & plastic hospital?"

"Please tell me...what exactly is a aesthetic & plastic hospital?"

For the chest x-ray, I was ushered into a bare room and pushed up against a large x-ray machine whereupon the doctor adjusted the x-ray targeting and promptly stepped out of the room, closing a heavy steel-looking door behind me.23 For the ECG, the doctor had me lie down and then attached several wired bracelets and plug-like things on me. This all felt very disconcerting as it seemed like I was about to be the recipient of some kind of massive shock. But I have to say, what made each of these procedures so…uncomfortable…feeling was the fact that neither doctor really said anything to me. It left me feeling a little confused about what I needed to do and what would happen to me during each procedure. The one doctor got a little frustrated with me because I didn’t stand correctly the first time he maneuvered me onto the x-ray machine. A second doctor got a little flustered because I tried to walk into her office for a ECG despite her having waved me out before. (I thought she was gesturing to the chairs outside her office. She wasn’t.) In both instances, had the doctors bothered to open their mouths and say something to the extent of “Stand facing the machine” or “Go to the next office over” I would have known immediately what I had to do. While I realize that these doctors probably see thousands of patients in a week’s time and don’t have the time to chat with patients, basic communication and instruction should still be required!

This is how they water plants in Nanjing.

This is how they water plants in Nanjing.

  1. This population explosion was probably due to the fact that the school year has just started and all us international students are all in the same position of needing a permit. []
  2. My immediate thought was something along the lines of “…aren’t you supposed to put some kind of lead shielding on me?” My second thought was “Oh gosh…I feel like I’m in a gas chamber.” []
  3. On the whole though, I was only really mildly worried about the lack of lead shielding, but a classmate told me afterwards that we are exposed to more radiation when flying in an airplane. Doesn’t that make you feel better? []