Tag Archives: beijing

Lessons Learned While Traveling

In Up in the Air, George Clooney’s character gives a monologue about the ins-and-outs of air travel. Here is my, much shorter and more idiosyncratic,  version:

Beijing Airport is pretty good

So is Singapore Airport

Xiamen Airport is the most chaotic place in the world

the Kindle app for iPad makes time go by much quicker when you are standing (or sitting besides, as the case may be) the line

Learning that Thomas Ligotti is from Detroit makes everything make sense

A World, Lost and Found

A World, Lost and Found

Catholicgauze has a great piece on the Ricci Map, a world map (including the fabled land of Ka-Na-Ta) composed as part of the Jesuit’s intellectual work for the Ming Emperors of China. The lead Jesuit, Matteo Ricci, defeated Muslim astronomers in predicting heavenly events, and rapidly gained the trust of the Imperial Household.

The Jesuit program in China included the Chinese Rites, the recognition of the deep cultural and emotional similarity between Chinese “ancestor-worship” and Catholic prayers for Intercession from the Saints. The Jesuits installed in the churches the characters  天主, “Lord of Heaven,” to ease the conversion of Chinese, just as the early Christians had adorned their saints with halos, using the iconography of an old order to emphasis a now revealed truth. Sadly, the Taliban of an earlier era did not approve, and in the bowels of Church politics the conversion of China was forgotten.

I feel blessed to have been married in the South Cathedral of Beijing, standing on land given to Matteo Ricci and the Church by the Wanli Emperor. While the current building dates to reconstruction after the Boxer Rebellion, the land on which it stands has been the site of a Catholic Church since Ricci’s time. The church, after suffering during the Cultural Revolution, is rejuvenating.

Catholicgauze concludes: “The Ricci Map is undeniably a Chinese map. It shows the combination of European knowledge with a Chinese worldview. It shows a lost world.

Fighting 圆通

Lady of tdaxp and I are currently battling 圆通, or Yuantong, or YT, or the worst delivery company in China. (Or at least Beijing!)

It is inexplicably awful.

First the delivery guy forged a record of delivering it. Now the company cannot reach him on his rounds as his cell phone is turned off. And this is just the latest iteration of a nightmare of bizarreness.

The firm that shipped through “YT” guaranteed next-day delivery, about four days ago.

Beijing, after 1976 and 1989

In China, Deng won. In Iran, "Deng" is certainly on the side of the protesters. For all the talk of an Iranian Tiananmen, the dynamic in Tehran is much closer ot 1976 (where the Communist government crushed demonstrators, and lost all legitimacy) than 1989.

The fruits of both the 1976 Tiananmen Incident and the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre are on display in Beijing.

Canon EOS5DmkII, One night in Beijing. from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

The hope for pro-globalization reforms in Iran depends on the current government in Tehran losing its credibility and legitimacy. If Tehran will ever be as synonymous with growth and openness and Beijing, the Supreme Leader should face the same road as Madam Mao.

The View From…

The most recent edition of The Economist has, as its cover, the view from Beijing:


Which reminded of me the famous New Yorker‘s view from 9th avenue:


In the Beijinger map, you can clearly make out the Birdnest Stadium, the Imperial Palace, Beihai and Houhai (where Zhonghai and Nanhai should be), Tiananmen Square, Mao’s mauseleum, the Temple of Heaven, the Beijing Railway station and and its track to the south-east. More detail is available from Strange Maps.

China rethinks Tiananmen Olympics broadcasts – CNN.com

As the Tibet unrest continues, China “pulls an Obama,” reacting to a well-run opponent with fear and self-defeating insularity:

China rethinks Tiananmen Olympics broadcasts – CNN.com
Like the Olympics, live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square were meant to showcase a friendly, confident China — one that had put behind it the deadly 1989 military assault on democracy demonstrators in the vast plaza that remains a defining image for many foreigners.

“Tiananmen is the face of China, the face of Beijing, so many broadcasters would like to do live or recorded coverage of the square,” said Yosuke Fujiwara, the head of broadcast relations for the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co., or BOB, a joint-venture between Beijing Olympic organizers and an IOC subsidiary. BOB coordinates and provides technical services for the TV networks with rights to broadcast the Olympics, such as NBC.

Earlier this week, however, officials with the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee, or BOCOG, told executives at BOB that the live shots were canceled, according to three people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

“We learned that standup positions would be canceled,” one of these people said. “No explanation was given for the change.”

It’s obvious what China fears: some protestors will be videotaped being roughed-up on live international television. But Tiananmen is the largest city square in the world, in one of the world’s largest cities. Any brutality or protests in Tiananmen during the Olympics will be videotaped and will be broadcast to the world: this just guarantees that the footage will be grainy, and all the more disturbing.

Besides any westerners who may cause trouble, China’s showing her weakness and will attract attention from Tibetans, Uighers, and Falun Gong. This is a dangerous mix of very different protest strategies, that (combined with Communist media paralysis) will help embarrass that country.


By proxy?!?

Finally, I got him.

Of the many crimes which will be made capital offenses once I have absolute power, line-jumping is the most notable in China. While probably half of Chinese form lines, a rotten 50% simply do not respect the device in the subways or trains. This has to stop.

And finally, I got him.

For once, there was only one line-jumper. And for once, everyone else had queued up politely. We walked onto the Line 13 train at Xizhimen. I waited for the train to start and the announcements to stop. I walked over, and gave my epic speech.

Now, he did not speak English. Nor did his quite attractive Lady friend. However, I felt vindicated, and I proceeded to speak with Lady of tdaxp, pointing to the jerk for effect and emphasizing his uniquely vile nature.

Lady of jerk and Lady of tdaxp then had the following short conversation:

Lady of jerk: Is your boyfriend annoyed by something?
Lady of tdaxp: Yes, your boyfriend cut in line.
Lady of jerk: Oh, I’m sorry for that.

What nonsense is this?? An apology by proxy?? Did the Emperor of Manchuko apologize to the Canadian ambassador for the events of December 7th, 1941? No! Did the Hasemite King of Jordan deeply regret the recent Iraqi incursion into Kuwait after it has passed? No!

In the good old fashioned days such injustices developed into world-changing fights, as they should have. But instead of a translingual battle of rhetorical whits, I get what??? an apology by proxy?

Absurd. Dispatch the troops!

Canton, From Chuhai to Peking

The worst thing about Canton

Is leaving. How can one not miss the beauty, sun, warmth, cleanliness, liveliness, and happiness of China’s most prosperous province?

On the last day we took a drive and went for a swim, but first…

Early morning rising, and exploring the area around the hotel.

But no open coffee shops!

Once we were both up, it was down for breakfast:

But no grand staircase!

Finally, the drive. We asked the taxi driver to take us to Zhuhai’s sculpture of the goddess who became human for true love.. Somewhat anticlimactically, it was a mile away, and completely inaccessible. Oh well.

Nice view, though

We drove around, but there was much beauty but little new. One area had a whole lot of little traditional boats, but the taxi drove by them too fast… The region is hilly, and for part of the way the Pearl Ocean was to one side and the green flowery hillside was to the other:

We had the morning to kill before we needed to be back at the airport, so one last dive in the water:

On my very last swim I took the digital camera in as far as I dared. The scene was actually a lot bluer than this. (Blame me, I guess). Still, a neat shot:


But at last, it was time to say good bye to the beach…

Our (rented) beach camp

… and head home. Back to crowded Beijing. The bus from the airport let us off near a supermarket. It was rush hour, and we figured nearly everything was better than a two hour stuck-in-traffic commute home (as after our visit to the Arts District).

Jumping, over a gate, into traffic

A crowded bus

Still, the final day was not melancholy. Amidst all the people and vehicles we saw pack animals brining goods to market.

Seller of Watermelons

The day was extremely windy, and apparently the previous day featured rain. Thus everything was in place for the most gorgeous sunset I have ever seen in Beijing. As the light grew dimmer and dimmer


The city grew more and more beautiful

Eventually the day ended. A perfect trip grew to a close.

I hope you enjoyed it!

Canton, a tdaxp travelogue
1. Peking to Chungshan
2. Yatsen City
3. Chunshan to Chuhai
4. Pearl Ocean
5. Chuhai to Peking