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BS: More China Stories

Seth 23 Dec 00 - 06:07 AM
CarolC 23 Dec 00 - 06:42 AM
katlaughing 23 Dec 00 - 06:54 AM
Ebbie 24 Dec 00 - 01:46 AM
roopoo 24 Dec 00 - 02:03 AM
Seth 24 Dec 00 - 04:56 PM
Troll 24 Dec 00 - 09:47 PM
okthen 26 Dec 00 - 01:54 PM
JedMarum 26 Dec 00 - 02:44 PM
JedMarum 26 Dec 00 - 02:45 PM
JedMarum 27 Dec 00 - 12:39 AM
Edmund Flynn (inactive) 27 Dec 00 - 01:34 AM
Jed at Work 27 Dec 00 - 12:18 PM
Rick Fielding 27 Dec 00 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,Arne Langsetmo 27 Dec 00 - 04:18 PM
Seth 27 Dec 00 - 05:21 PM
JedMarum 27 Dec 00 - 06:41 PM
okthen 27 Dec 00 - 06:56 PM
JedMarum 28 Dec 00 - 05:03 PM

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Subject: More China Stories
From: Seth
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 06:07 AM

: If you are close to my generation, male, American, then you remember the war comics of the nineteen fifties, with orange colored Chinese pilots flying thir MIGs and saying things like " Eat leaden death, Yankee dogs" into their headphones, before they were blown to pieces by American Sabre jets. Later, before I came to China, I was warned by family, friends and travel guides how wily and tricky the Chinese were , and how it was part of their culture to try to rip off the unwary or unwise visitor. If you read guidebooks about China, you can read this too. It says that a Chinese merchant will lose face with his or her colleagues if they don't come out on the fat end of every deal. So. We decided to visit Nan Yang, a town about five hours away by train, famous for its jade and turquoise mines. It was gray. It was cold. The wind was down from Siberia for a few days, which always makes every day feel like Chicago in January. The train was economy hard seat, which means just that. Seats are pieces of wood nailed together at right angles with the most minimal padding. Heat is supplied by a Chinese train crew member shoveling coal into a boiler at the end of each car. Things were bad but they went from worse to bad, and steadily got better as the days went on. Every time we had a need, a person appeared as if on cue to fill it. Leslie was chased out of a store by a merchant who noticed that Leslie had forgotten to get her change back. I was chased for half a block by a Muslim raisin seller who wanted to know if we had liked the noodle shop he had recommended. We couldn't find a receipt to get back a 200 Yuan hotel deposit; the hotel gave it to us anyway. We went to neighborhood restaurant three times to eat and the last time the whole staff gathered around to have pictures taken, wish us well, and, of course, the meal was free. And that's not all, that's just the stuff that I recall easily. I don't think that they get too many Americans coming through Nan Yang, I don't think that you could expect this in Beijing or Shanghai, but who knows? The warmth and kindness of Chinese people is amazing. I shake my head in wonder. : Later, getting on the train to go back to Luo Yang, we got to see another : side of Chinese life. Chinese people don't like to wait in line. There are : no reserve seats on the hard seat train to Luo Yang. There are many farmers : with huge bags of peanuts, raisins, fleece to take to the larger markets of : LuoYang. When the train arrives at the station, before it has completely : stopped, before any passengers can get off, people are pushing, crowding, : using their packages and bags as battering rams to get on the car so that : they can get a seat. About ten minutes of chaotic insanity, while people : yell and scream, threaten each other, call each other names and fight for : seats. Wow. Then everyone calms down for the rest of the trip. The young men : have all the best seats, and families and the old women have to take what : they can get, which sometimes is no seat at all. Then we ride through the : beautiful Chinese country side in the early winter afternoon, with the December : sun cutting the green fields at an oblique angle, and making an etching of : every goose, duck and muddy child we see in the villages along the rails. We : share our food with our traveling companions, Chinese country folks who : cough, spit, smoke and toss things out the train window. They laugh, showing : their brown and broken teeth in big smiles as we attempt to communicate in : Chinese. We are getting up to Christmas. Last year , for a special treat, the head chef at the school made all the "Western " teachers baloney and jam sandwiches! Who knows what might be in store this year?? Happy Holidays to you all Seth from China : Love to everyone from Seth in China :


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: CarolC
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 06:42 AM

Happy Holidays to you, too, Seth.

What you said about the young men getting all the seats on the train surprises me because of the notion we've got that Asians venerate the the elderly. Is the train scenario the only exception to this, or is this a mistaken notion we have about Asia?

Carol in the U.S.


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Dec 00 - 06:54 AM

Thank you, Seth. It is all so very interesting. I love hearing things that the ordinary tourist would never see or do.

My cousin also works a lot in other countries. I just got back an incredible email from him describing a 36 hours visit to Pakistan to look at their cotton gins, as he is going to building a new one, soon, in Abu Daubi for the same company which has some in Pakistan. Here is one of the more surreal things he mentioned:

"On the one day we went sand grouse hunting; two vehicles of us. The Suzuki had a driver and passenger in the front and four guards armed with AK-47s in the back plus two rockets launchers. Saleem drove a four-door Toyota pickup also with four armed guards in the back. The man I was traveling with and I sat in the back seat and were outfitted with USSR 12 gauge single shot shotguns. With all the gun power, I asked how big are these grouse? He said that all the security was just a precaution, it was simply stated that it is better to be safe than sorry. Feuding with the neighbor tribe can occur at any time."

Thanks, again, Seth, for sharing with us.

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Dec 00 - 01:46 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: roopoo
Date: 24 Dec 00 - 02:03 AM

My husband is going to be based in Shenyang (NE China) for a couple of years from the end of March when his Russian job finishes. At the moment he's flitting between Shenyang, Rostov-on-Don (W Russia), and Kemerovo (Siberia). I believe he has actually managed to convince the people he is dealing with in China that as far as he is concerned, chicken feet and heads are NOT a delicacy! He says he is sick of chopsticks. Apparently it is no joke trying to break steamed fish off its body and onto your plate via a "lazy susan" in the middle of the table! He says he has also noticed how wary a lot of the people are when fraternising with westerners. I think there is a lot of "watching" going on. His job is part of an EC funded project, and I think there is quite a bit of bureaucracy involved. I think he is warming to the idea of working in China. He wasn't too keen at first, but seems to have settled into what is quite a varied ex-pat community. I think he said the guy who is his sort of deputy is a Spaniard. He even had to go to Brussels to be interviewed and approved for the job! He has lined himself a nice apartment up, and so he is quite set for going now. He's just got to wind up the Russian job, and then he's away. His problem is whether or not to pick up the car (1982/3 VW Golf and a good runner) that he's got garaged in Kyrghyzstan and drive it across the Gobi desert. He's calling in there next month sometime. I bet it will be to do with the car. Depends on what import permits the Chinese require. He will have residency, so he should be allowed to drive while he's there.

I'm looking forward to more of his "traveller's tales". Nothing has ever been as bad as far as he is concerned than the 18 months he spent working in Iran. They weren't allowed to play cards or drink. They got sick of darts and pool, and he had walked every hill in the area.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: Seth
Date: 24 Dec 00 - 04:56 PM

Yes , we had chicken heads and feet about 2x weekly at our school last year, but this year the cooks have backed off on that one. I like the lazy susan in the middle of the table, and I don't mind grabbing the fish with my sticks either. IN Luo Yang, if it's fish, it's usually really good. and all restaurants (except for fast food) basically will bring you as much as you want to eat. I have experienced that "wariness " from some of my teaching colleagues, but certainly not from everyone. People that I meet casually and deal with on the street are really great. It takes a while to get to know people on a deeper level, but that is just as true in the U.S. as here. I have three or four close Chinese friends, and a Chinese "daughter", a grduate student who spends all of her non school time and weekends at our home, takes us to vist her family, acts as a big sister to my daughter...., I hear that people in Khyrgistan regard China as a developed country...oh excuse me, my donkey cart is wating for me in the high tech zone! Seth from China


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: Troll
Date: 24 Dec 00 - 09:47 PM

The Memsahib and I just decided that we will probably go to Beijing this summer and take the railroad to St.Petersburg and back-possibly to Vladivostok and down through Manchuria- so I'll be contacting you for info if I may.

troll


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: okthen
Date: 26 Dec 00 - 01:54 PM

Thanks Seth for this info.

Have you any news on the fire, reported in the western press?

cheers

bill


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Dec 00 - 02:44 PM

I remember the lack of Westerm polite queues in China. I saw at airports, and line might form, until someone arrived to work the queue, then it collapsed into a 'funnel' - it was remarkable, at first, to me.

I also noticed an amazing tendency towrd meaningless beaurocracy! Using credit cards, passing security checks, evene exchanging money involved much more work then seemed reasonable to me. On one trip, coming back from Cheng Shaw (Hunan province) to Beijing - I saw one little guy stopping certain people entering the airport and checking their bags - even though security was still operating inside the airport. I was in a hurry to get to the rest room, and was pretty sure he would want to stop me, so I walked through the door aside a group of locals and pretended not to notice him trying to get my attention, then I walked quickly through the airport, knowing he was following, but loosing ground. Apparently he decided it was more important to remain at his post then to stop me, because after a few yards chasing me into the building he gave up, and walked back to his post at the door. Once I had releived my bladder, I walked back through the airport where he could see me, just in case he still had an interets in talking to me, but he turned away. It was an odd encounter - but my experience there led me to believe his task was probably meaningless, and he would probably not fight too hard to complete it.

Chickens Heads and feet? Well, the feet were usually delicious. I don't recall being served chicken heads - duck and sparrow, though, and tehy were good. I was the only one on the trip to gain weight in China. It seems the cuisine agreed with me! And chop sticks? You learn quickly when you're hungry. I keep in practice just in case I ever make it back!


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Dec 00 - 02:45 PM

Thanks for the updates, Seth. I really enjoyed my few weeks there, and your comments bring back great memories.


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: JedMarum
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 12:39 AM

One of my Chinese friends told me a great joke. I thought it was examplary of his sense of humor, not so sure if it was typical Chines humor;

In the best of all world's a man would have Chinese food, a Japanese Wife, an English garden and an American salary ... in the worst of all worlds, a man would have a Chinese Salary, a Japanese apartment, English food and an American wife!


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: Edmund Flynn (inactive)
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 01:34 AM

I just tumbled to this thread and am very glad that I did as it brings back so many memories of bygone days at the end of World War II when I was a GI in China serving as an interpreter 1945/6.
In 1985 I went back as a visitor and found the country transformed ... not surprising, of course ... a lot can happen during 40 years of peace (internal, forgetting Korea). The unbelievable poverty .. famine .. was gone. Beggars didn't moan as they held their empty rice bowel in hope to the the torn oil paper that served as window 'glass' in many homes and restaurants.
Best of all (from my selfish viewpoint) was that now everybody spoke my dialect (Mandarin).. they might chat among one another in their local dialect, but when I spoke to them in Mandrin they immediately changed gears and responded in kind.
Sorry .. I wander .. really meant to ask a question. I learned a few folk songs as I traveled in the old days. I am not much of a musician, but I can't seem to make my few guitar chords work for them. I understand that Chinese music is on a 5 tone scale (whatever that means) .. do you have to retune the guitar to make it work for Chinese music? If so, how do you do that?
I hope this thread continues ... very nice!

Edmund


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: Jed at Work
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 12:18 PM

Edmund - interesting comments. I'd like to hear more about your travels there, if you get a chance. As for the tunings? It may be best to find a tuning that worked for the tunes you knw, but I cannot tell you about one. I know the scales I heard in the little bit of Chinese music I heard, were different from what my western ear is used to, and I could probably approxiamte them some, on guitar - but never learned any Chinese music. I heard a lot of western music there, even in the local shops.


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 02:39 PM

Thanks folks. This is great stuff.

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: GUEST,Arne Langsetmo
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 04:18 PM

I'd have to say my experience differs from Mouldy's recount.

One of my absolute favourites was the sweet and sour fish on the lazy susan, with the skin scored in a cross hatch so that you can pick up the tasty bite-sized morsels with your chopsticks (howver, I learned quickly that in China and even more so Korea, those not adept at chopsticks should not wear white clothes). They will give you a fork though, in most places serving Westerners, if you ask.

I did not find the people at all "wary". I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe or "watched". Well, maybe "watched": I would draw stares from all around (I'm quite tall, with long fair hair [whitening slowly] and a beard, and this certainly engendered curiosity if not outright stares when I walked the streets). When we went to a theme park, there were even two young Chinese women who wanted their pictures taken along side of me; they're probably regaling friends with tales of the rock-star they met right now. . . . But I never thought the government was keeping tabs on me.

The chicken feet were not my favourite, but they were OK. Dim sum there is to die for. As is the Szechan hot pot (which may also kill the faint-palated as well).

An interesting country. I'd say many problems, but also more potential than some others I've seen.

Cheers,

-- Arne Langsetmo


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: Seth
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 05:21 PM

The fire at the disco in the old city killed over three hundred, all by smoke inhalation and suffication. When some kinds of materials, particularly plastics, are ignited, fumes are produced that kill very quickly, well ahead of heat and flame. The building was being renovated to open a new brach of the "Dennis" supermarket chain, part of the new China. They decided to do this in the oldest part of the city, in an empty government building. The workers were on the first three flooors and the party, for the staff of the new store was on the fourth floor. Having been on the fourth floors of public buildings here , I'm sure that the people never had a ,that most of them were gone in few minutes. My friend David, who is our international liason here at the school, has a friend who is a nurse at the main hospital here, around the corner from our school. ABout 100 of the victims came to this hospital, but , of course, there was little a hospital could do for them. Apparantly there were two or three survivors, but their lungs are so damaged that they are not expected to live. SO she has been attending to the bodies. She said that she had one body whose cell phone kept ringing in his pocket, as his anxious family called to find out how he was. She is very upset by the whole thing, says it makes her re-think her career in nursing. The city is in shock, but I don't have much more information than you can get through CNN. It's the case that somebody was undoubtedly paid off to let the disco open, and this is the big deal in China, as the government tries to deal with problems of internal corruption. Last year, a very high provincial official in the South was shot for taking bribes and helping himself to the state treasury. A very sad Christmas here, I did not know anyone killed or injured, but I get some regular stories from David's friend.

Seth from China


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: JedMarum
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 06:41 PM

Sad story, Seth, a sad story in deed. We have seen some info on the US tele - even the suspicion that corruption likely had a hand in the severity of the disaster (pay offs, standards not enforced, etc.). I was not involoved in arranging the financials for the work I did in China, but was close enough to suspect that our way was paved by well placed payments (as was the case in some of the other international work I did - and in some cases saw first hand).


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: okthen
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 06:56 PM

The ripples

With so many gone, the ripples are many,and even in a large city, are not easily absorbed.

I live in a small town (3,000 people) and we lost 3 teenagers in a car crash 9 months ago, even now we feel the ripples.

Please give my sympathies to those who feel a loss, even though they have not lost.

cheers

bill


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Subject: RE: BS: More China Stories
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Dec 00 - 05:03 PM


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This Thread Is Closed.


Mudcat time: 13 June 4:22 AM EDT

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