Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Gone to the Beach

before the rain, Pizzo Calabro
Originally uploaded by -Suzie-
I am on holiday in Italy with a very , very slow internet connection.
So I am taking a break from Beijing Notebook and will be back mid of August. Wishing all a happy summer (or winter) time.


Thursday, 12 July 2007

More about Chinglish

Via Un posto dove appendere il capello by Lorenzo Cairoli I found a very informative blog, The Chinglish Files by 'olr', a German living in Singapore. For him, Chinglish is 'the wonderful results of an English dictionary meeting Chinese grammar.' And he declares that it is all about passion and not mockery. What I like about his blog, 'Olr' can read and write Chinese and unlike other bloggers or flickr-users, he tries to explain where the mistake comes from.

If you find a Chinglish sign you can email it to 'olr' and he can translate / explain it in a post on his blog.

Another link: Chinglish on wikipedia

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Beijing: When the Salesman yells at you ...

This is a sign at Yashow Market in Beijing greeting all visitors.

Beijing: Shopping - Where and How - your bargain guide

Shopping is one of the top five things to do while in Beijing.

Please, follow me:

Hongqiao or Pearl market, Xiushui or Silk market or Silk street, Yashow (Ya Xiu), Jia Yi and Yueshow are selling about all the same stuff. The Pearl market is probably the oldest market. The fish market below has disappeared, so no more smell. Silk market is newer, bigger, brighter and cleaner. And they sell at least as many pearls as at the pearl market. Yueshow is the newest, but has not the widest product range. However the best sorted Olympic 2008 souvenir shop at the ground floor. Yashow is my personal favorite as I can go there by bike in a few minutes.

The price depends on the product quality, the time of the day or the mood of the salesperson but I feel it is easier to get lowest prices at Silk market as the competition there is quite strong. Here you find the most aggressive salesperson that yell at you and grab you.

However, if you know a price (e.g. your last best bargain) you can get it somewhere else for the same price. But how to know the price? That is the most difficult and time consuming part - for some also the most fun part. If you shop a lot and repeatedly in Beijing, make sure to note down the prices. Too confusing to remember. And next time you try a little lower.

And here are the rules: cut 70% off the price they tell you, and you get an idea for what they would sell. So quote a price about 80% off to have room for further negotiation. The problem is, the salesperson meanwhile know that the tourist know... that means sometimes you even have to cut off more. Most important, you have to feel comfortable and not ripped off. Walk away (they might come after you) and check the stand around the corner. Here you try lower. Don't feel bad, it takes time to get used to the gap between first and last price. I only feel bad thinking of children work involved. However, remember they would never sell if they loose money.

To finish this shopping post, I give you some examples to have an idea about prices. And you might get them even cheaper, but I am fine with that:

- 10 kuai for a 'silk' tie (fake Ermeneguildo Zegna, Burberry, Boss ...)
- 20-30 kuai for children T-Shirts (no brand)
- up to 80 kuai for XL T-shirts (even for originals from Esprit, Gant or Ralph Lauren)
- 10 kuai for one 'silk' cushion cover
- 30 kuai for a 'pashmina' of fair quality

If you are interested in fashion - copies and also a lot of real original labels - Ritan Office Building, South of Ritan Park is a great address.

The addresses of the markets are available in every guide book, taxi book or at the concierge of the hotel - you need them in Chinese for the taxi driver.

10 kuai (yuan or reminbi) are about 1 Euro or 1.20 USD (please check currency converter for actual exchange rate).

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

If you're going to Beijing ...

If you're going to Beijing, make sure to visit Busintss Hootel...

... and charming dentist, english full of process

... feel hungry?

After some not so amusing posts I want to see some smiles. 'Chinglish' is English made in China. I do not want to criticise, my English might be funny as well from time to time, I am not a native speaker. But smiling is healthy, right?

There are still some amusing signs around in Beijing. However, there is an office that is in charge to eliminate all badly translated signs before the Olympics.

The first picture is from Xiaming who has a good collection of Chinglish signs here. The other photos are from flickr as well - more Chinglish at flickr here.

Monday, 2 July 2007

China: Internet Censorship and Observation

Wikipedia, at the moment unblocked, has a list of notable websites and blogs blocked in China here.

Danwei, one of my favorite blogs in China follows the 'Net Nanny Follies' here.

More about 'observation' in China:

In the fist weeks and months of living in Beijing, I somehow felt kind of sort of observed. You hear a lot of things and maybe that's why you suspect a lot of things. Chinese people look at you, because you look different. So you feel watched.

I even felt that someone is looking at the same thing on my computer like I did at the same time. Sometimes I think that someone just uses my email account as it is blocked for a moment. I also felt over listened on the phone. Whenever I was unhappy with my 'ayi' (maid) I told my family back home over the phone and two days later the problem was solved. Or when I was unsatisfied with the service at the Bank of China (once again) I used to yell in my house in hope that someone would listen to me and maybe take action and send some staff for training sessions ....

I talked to people of different embassies in charge for security or defence about how 'paranoid' someone should be about being observed. They all said, you can't be paranoid enough. Did you know that a switched-off mobile phone can be used to over listen you? That is why you have to drop your mobile phones outside certain conference rooms for certain meetings in the embassies.

Even our friendly driver seems to have a second job. To spy on where we go, what we do, what we buy, who we see and what we talk about in the car. My mom uses a hearing-aid in her ear that totally went crazy in our car and we could here another voice talking in Chinese.

We are lucky, we do not have to hide anything (or not much). So, sometimes, I 'used' the invisible ears and eyes to express my dislikes in hope of a change. Or just for fun. - After two years in China, I got used to all this and do not notice it anymore - not as much as in the beginning.

However, the censorship of the Internet is something I really disapprove as I feel handicapped. Handicapped in getting information. Not being able to reading the news I want, the blogs I like or working with my pictures at flickr is making me really upset. I totally understand the young Chinese people that go abroad for studying and then decide to not go back. What a pity and shame for such a great ancient culture.


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