Saturday, July 15, 2006

China in a Nutshell

Here is a quick rundown of the last two weeks in China:

First we arrived in Shanghai, where I got to sharpen up on my shooting skills in the French Quarter.

Then we went to Pudong where "Little Dougers" was born and Sierra communed with the Fishes.

Then we got on an increadibly nice "Soft Seat Sleeper" train to Beijing (they would call it First Class, but there are no Classes in Communist China.)

In Beijing, we visited the Forbidden City with our new friends Jack and Daisy.
We ate lots of crazy food.And had an all around great time.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Illegal and Unhealthy

For some strange reason the Chinese government has decided to block from each and every Chinese computer. They have not however chosen to block and therefore I was able to find out the following:

"BEIJING, China (AP) -- China is tightening controls on blogs and search engines to block material deemed subversive or immoral, the government said Friday. The announcement comes amid a media crackdown by President Hu Jintao's government, with Web sites being shut down and journalists jailed.
"As more and more illegal and unhealthy information spreads through the blog and search engine, we will take effective measures to put the BBS, blog and search engine under control," said Cai Wu, director of the Information Office of China's Cabinet, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency."

Illegal AND unhealthy, well that just about covers it. Hey did, I post the pictures I took of M-16s for sale on the streets of Istanbul? Have I mentioned anything about the fact that almost every country we've visited has been bombed either during our visit or soon after. (OK, yeah maybe I've said a thing or two about that... and on that tip, I heard on the BBC this morning that a Mumbai commuter train got blown up on Tuesday and 200+ people were killed. We flew out of Mumbai about a month ago).
But the thing that I find truly strange, sitting here on the top floor of a gargantuan Mall complex next to a bunch of healthy young Shanghainese sweating on treadmills after a long week of working the financial markets and shopping at Hugo Boss, is that the only frightening police activity we've seen here has been plain-clothes cops busting street merchants, and everything seems rather open (for buisness).

Monday, July 03, 2006


You know you’re in China when your own website has been censored (so I can't see this post, but with any luck you can).

We arrived in Shanghai after an overnight trek, which included a rapid-fire 5-hour stop over in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Stepping off the impressive magnetic levitation train, which rockets passengers at over three-hundred kilometers an hour into the city, we were greeted by what I have come to think of as an international conglomeration of crooks: urban taxi drivers. After covering the metre with a cloth, the driver drove us five minutes to our hotel, and then asked for 435 Yuan ($70). After much deliberation (yelling and stamping of feet on his part, head shaking and scowling on mine), I agreed to give him 50 Yuan ($7) and he kindly threw my Shanghai guidebook out into the middle of the street as he skidded off. Suffice it to say, our first hour in China was less than promising, but since then we’ve had two delicious meals (chosen for us from unintelligible menus by our servers) and walked for hours through the frenetic streets, so we’re feeling much better.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… We spent the last two weeks in the “Land of Smiles” or “Amazing Thailand” (Pardon my Tourist Bureau indoctrination) where we lived the good life, island hopping and gorging on some of the best food on our trip to date. We were met in Bangkok by David Mcleod, our scuba diving buddy from Egypt—who in a small world irony, also turns out to be my Dad’s Boss’s brother—where we spent 5 great days laughing and trying to stay out of trouble in the crazy Thai capital.

Sierra and I then traveled on to Phuket and Krabi provinces where we island hopped and began developing a television documentary series with our new co-conspirator, Satya Lapham, artistic director and talented acrobat of the remarkable UK based Circus Company “Incandescence.” (More about the 2008 Asia tour “Circus in a Suitcase” TV Series later…)
On Reiley Beach, Satya forced me to go rock climbing which I thoroughly enjoyed, even if I couldn’t move my limbs for a couple of days afterwards.
Back in Bangkok we were met with one of my bestest childhood buddies, Katie Lo, who created a four day stop-over to hang with us on her way to a new job in Kuala Lumpur. We continued to eat our way through Thailand, and took a brief sojourn to hang out with the ladies (?) from the Asia Hotel’s Calypso Cabaret.
We rounded out Katie’s visit by going to the floating market......where we did some more eating......and learning how to wrestle crocodiles...

...where we were almost eaten.