The Lakes District: Shichahai

After visiting Prince Gong’s Mansion, we walked along the narrow roads until we passed what appeared to be a very nice driveway. Stepping in, we quickly realized we were actually in a beautiful public garden…

… on beautiful Lake Shichahai.

Ducks, Docks, and Towers, oh my!

For anyone using a mapping application, you can view the duck island (that you’ll see below the fold) at 39 degrees 56’29.81″ N, 116 degrees 22’34.81″ E…

Pushing off from the dock on the south shore

Our duck boat explores a privately-owned tower on the north shore

Blue, above and below

Trees provide shade to travelers

The tower up-close

An amazing cool island, with miniature buildings, for ducks

The ducks thank you for your support

The fish, however, are probably not as thankful

Smoke + Fog

It was another day of firsts, including my first straight caffee mocha, my first sweet bun (or manto, steamed buns), and a visit to the first KFC in China.

It was also a day of true smog, thick fog plus the smoky grayness that had been growing since the last rain. A true rain clears the sky. The moist air we got from last night to this noon just made things miserable.

For instance, in this photo of Tianamen Square taken lengthwise:

Central Beijing, 2007

The far end is almost completely obscured. Compare that to the embarrasingly idyllic shots from last year:

Central Beijing, 2006

The air today was worse than anything I experienced last year, whether in Beijing or Tianjin. I’m exhausted from the lack of oxygen. My boycott of National Review and further photos will have to wait for a bit, I fear.

Google: Good and Bad

The good: The Great Firewall of China is blogging blogspot and livejournal currently — thanks Cisco and Nortel! Fortunately, google reader is still up and running, so I can still follow all of my favorite blogs.

The bad: Unfortunately, google’s attempt to track its users is reducing its functionality as a quick search engine. For instance, if I google “great firewall of china tdaxp,” the first result appears to be to but is actually to…. So to copy a url, right-clicking on the result is not good enough — I need to follow it to its source.