Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Old Man Young Girl

By BBCZeitgeist in Asia

Hong Kong's favourite bin tai lo - Edison Chen, his latest escapade is 16 yr old teenage Chinese model Cammi Tse, difference in age of 15 years. Story Here

Not to be outdone by these leisurely celebrities... whilst I was standing in a taxi queue at a popular getaway resort, an older Chinese male aged 50-55 and a younger Chinese female aged 18-22 stood in front. 

Its a holiday break, time for father and daughter to spend some quality family time together?  

 Signs of public affection ...

 Not father and daughter! A possible 37 years dating age difference?

Friday, 23 December 2011

British Born Chinese trip to North and South of China - Part 3

Part 3

Guangzhou, Opium Museum and Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall

 Different countries paying tribute to Sun Yat Sen at the time of his death

From trying to hold my trainers above water trudging through the sudden flash flooded streets at midnight back to our hotel to getting mobbed by beggars,   Guangzhou was the most memorable part of my trip to China.
During my first few days there, the weather was not what I was used to in Beijing. Hot during the day outside,  damp and humid at night indoors.. took some getting used to.

Language was still a problem especially as my Canto is rusty and my mainlander friend doesnt speak any Cantonese. But we both managed to get by.

In Guangzhou the best experiences are the buses. They say foreigners dont like to travel on the buses - maybe I was only there for a few days but I  didnt mind the crowding and shoving too much.

View from front of Guangzhou bus pic 1
If i cant always express my respect for elders through language, I'll do it by way of manners. But I can see how people can get aggravated by the pushing and shoving on a regular basis, I guess the trick is to just show some courtesy. And in some cases, it worked - when people are defensive, you just do the opposite and they usually appreciate the gesture.

View from front of Guangzhou bus pic 2

So...Opium War Museum. Here are some pics I took. Again, flash photography was forbidden, and all I had was a flash camera which I had to sneak inside. Either way it was an interesting experience learning about  how Guangzhou mainly shipped and exported goods to and from China, cotton, silk. tea. before the Brits arrived and drugged everyone.

 Roughly translates into  'Guangzhou will never forget disaster of Opium War'

The original Xin Hai revolutionary Sun Yat Sen whose goal was to modernise China, his revolution however was short lived as he was eventually betrayed by the Qing dynasty president Yuan Shikai  (who played an important role in toppling Qing government) who disbanded the assembly and attempted to revive the monarchy. , But as this attempt failed,   China fell from grace as the Japanese invasion carried on up to the civil war until the founding of the People's Republic of China  and then the Communists couldnt collaborate with Chiang Kai Shek who wanted capitalism and fled to Taiwan.

 So what had I learnt here?Mainly that China has a frail spotted past - frail in that there wasnt the right collaboration between powers ... and  'spotted' because of two contraversial figures - Mao and Chiang Kai Shek, so that any achievements were often undermined by tragedy.

Although Mao united China, for the last 20 years - or the cultural revolution - he went power mad.

If it wasnt for his extra 20 years reign, China would arguably be 20 years more advanced by now and if Deng Shiao Ping ruled earlier it wouldve been capitalist faster but as it is, it took much longer.
Infighting egos and lack of foresight destroyed the China empire amaking it an easier target for western subterfuge.

So what about Guangzhou today? Well in the mass of cheap luxury goods, and crowds spewing around the Beijing Roads,  cramming on buses, nobility and self-discipline isn't so evident.

But in the park  Tai Chi and Tai Chi broadsword, - the last remnants of our culture is still being practiced daily by the older gen.

 Practicing TaiChi broadsword  in Guangdong Cemetary

Also some kids playing kicking the shuttlecock or Jiànzi with relatives/family with amazing accuracy.

Whilst the culture long established in Guangzhou is one of materialism,  the Guangzhou Prayer Temple was an odd combination - of commerce and spirituality.

 Preparing Incense for prayer

Before entering the temple, a shaved headed man dressed as a monk came up to me with a small square piece of cloth with a gold plastic temple emblem attached to it, stuffed it into my pocket and immediately whipped out a notepad , asking me to sign away 1000rmb.

I didnt like his attitude when he kept badgering me - I couldnt believe I was actually negotiating with him how much I wanted to offer. Anyway I finally got him down to 200rmb, gave him the money and he quickly pissed off looking for his next victim.

But as you can imagine that put me off offering to help any other beggars and yes outside the temple there they were - begging cups outreached,  disfigured, no arms, legs ...waiting for unsuspecting tourists...this was their living. Like some circus show.

Things got even worse when I went with my friend to a nearby park and I gave some money to an odd couple of performers - from nowhere this toothless old Chinese woman grabbed my arm and started shoving a tin in my face. And my friend was nowhere to be seen. Luckily I saw two police opposite under some trees and dashed across the street without getting killed by speeding bicycles and stood there next to them. Amazingly the woman vanished.  It was time to go home.

 If anything these are a pragmatic people concerned with survival, sleeping behind shopcounters on slow days when no customers,  the bustle of everyday life.

 Shopping in Beijing Road

But despite the sometimes tense edgy attitude on the hot days,most of the time it felt good to blend in, and once enjoying not being noticed to be an 'minority' as in the west. 

At night in particular, walking on the riverside at night was peaceful experience...despite having to run to the toilet all the time because I had severe shits due to the different bacteria that food in China has.

Riverside in commercial district of Guangzhou
People playing Chinese chess near the riverside, couples walking /biking past and some guy expertly catching with a huge net drew a huge crowd  over, were the nicer memories.

But after possibly overstaying longer than I should've done, especially with a grumpy Hunan roomate who disliked Guangzhou, we survived a week together without killing each other and finally it was time to leave.

Maybe Beijing which has recently opened up has a very young modern culture, and still has a future ahead of it, Guangdong in contrast is money, materialism, and technology, and general all round contentment with this existance therefore little need to express it.

There weren't too many people visiting the Opium Museum, on the day that I went,  but the crowd was fairly busy for the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, maybe because of celebrating 100th anniversay of the Xinhai revolution...
Maybe it's a fair assumption to say Guangzhou-ers tend to care less for history of fighting for China's liberation from Qing Dynasty than the benefits of modernisation from the west that Sun Yat Sen's victory brought them. Hopefully Beijing , with it being the new cultural centre of China can learn from this,ie retaining its culture instead of blatantly accepting westernisation only time will tell.

Sun yat Sens statue outside his Memorial Hall

I really don't think I could live here in Guangzhou -  and staying here for long periods with the extreme opposites of weather heat and humidity would probably just do my head  in.

Beijing Road in Guangzhou

To top it off, all I dropped my UK mobile in the toilet visiting the Opium Museum. yes, those famous stoop your arse over the hole in the ground toilets that they had on the train here and it seems in most public places. And to top that, I had to wipe my arse with a herbal teabag I found in my travel pouch.
No idea why they don't have any toilet paper or soap in the Opium Museum but from that moment on, I learnt my lesson and from then on decided to  pack my own supplies.

At least I had my roommate's spare phone for the rest of the trip.

Anyone else have strange experiences travelling in China/Guangzhou?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Military Wives XMAS NO 1 2011


Despite this year's Remembrance Day falling on Sunday, 13 November 2011, we are already into the middle of December and there are still white vans, construction lorries and taxis with big fat plastic poppies embedded into grillplates.

 Not to mention Gareth Malone's Military Wives Choir single- 'wherever you are,' which is heading straight for 2011 Christmas number one spot.

By wearing a poppy what does that signify?

Well according to wiki:

It is the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918, "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts".

So what would any self respecting BBC care about the significance of  poppy wearing for? If you are self-respecting Chinese you will know that that poppy serves as a reminder of our humiliation at the hands of the western alliance during the Opium War - Just ask David Cameron in Nov 2010 on a trade visit to China, he looks like he could be a politically sensitive chap.

 Little did they know Hu Jin Tao had laced their champers with 100% Absolut Chinese piss

As some of you already read from the guardian link Hu JinTao wasn't too pleased. But then again this kind of behaviour is only to be expected from arrogant British imperialists.

So 'its only a poppy'...maybe I'm being over sensitive? Come on I know any whitewashed British Chinese still cant see my point and maybe FOBS think it's 'Hi Culture?'

Here's another example of western racism, blog of a White media executive living/working in China , with Chinese FOB wife and adorable mixed race baby.

Scroll 1/3 down and you can see him proudly showing off his opium poppy, his Chinese wife, typically clueless, doesn't give a crap. And as long as she has her collection of Gucci bags, adorable baby, and hi western assimilated Chinese lifestyle why should she?

So there you have it, FOB Chinese woman happily married with baby to white imperialist racist. Chinese hi culture bourgeois lifestyle at it's finest. Just add poppy.

To us British Born Chinese, a poppy is representative of  the reasoning that 'immigrants are allowed' to live in the UK and should feel 'grateful'. After all, if India, Africa and Hong Kong weren't colonised by England, England wouldn't have been able to purge the riches from these countries and have such a high standard of living. Wearing a poppy is also a political tactic that gives average white English a false sense of pride .

'We died in the war for you lot' blahblah

 Never mind the same children of those people sent to war by Imperialist warmongers and STILL sent to colonise Iraq, Middle East and latest news, maybe Iran, who are hiding Bin Laden's long lost brother's great auntie's false teeth.

So fellow BBC'ers the next time some snide China-hater flashes a poppy in front of you knowing that it will piss you off as a Chinese , I suggest you say the following:

'Yeah you keep wearing the plastic poppies mate, no point mourning the dead when the government are still sending out young soldiers to be killed daily for queen and country. You Moron.'

And if that comment fails to create any reaction , step into your car,  and calmly notify him you are playing this song for any imperialist who believes that killing innocents and plundering countries for their wealth somehow equates to nationalist pride: