28 February 2011

5 times lucky?


I am expecting my fifth daughter on the fourth of July. I am writing to ask if there is a Chinese tradition that five daughters is lucky. Before I knew I was pregnant again, my family went out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. Everybody who worked in the restaurant made comments about our four daughters and how five daughters was lucky. I had heard this before, at the beauty salon I go to that is owned by a Chinese woman. I would go in to get a hair cut and during the get to know you chatting, every Chinese employee would comment about how five girls is lucky! I tried to google it, but I have found nothing! Please let me know! Thank you!

---Rebecca M


Several reasons about this, firstly, IIRC it stems back to ancient folklore and the mishmash of Chinese religions and belief systems which is a mishmash. For instance HK has a massive Iron Buddha on Lantau, yet the people mostly believe in ancestry worship and or reincarnation.

My mad granny who gets madder by the day believes in all of these things as a way to hedge her bets for the inevitable. Hell you should see how contradictory peoples' homes happen to be. My dad's place in HK has lots of Japanese lucky cats. An altar to my grand father. Several lucky sycree charms and a load of jade carved into lucky shapes as well as more than a few Ba gua as well as a ghost hunting sword made from Chinese coins. There is linking into Buddhist traditions.

The number five is intimately associated with the Chinese theory of the Five Elements the olde fire, water, air, earth and metal (some add mind to this as well). This is an old concept used for the underpinning ofthe Zodiac Calendar, the latter serving as the former calendar of old-world Asia. Next you move away from 4 daughters and we all know 4 in Asian languages tends to relate to death and it is unlucky. Call it negative reinforcement if you will. Heh again my granny got lucky and had twins the 4th time she was pregnant.

Secondly children in Chinese society have always been considered a good thing. no matter what their sex and or number, since I've heard you're lucky comment on all sorts of combinations of children being daughters and or sons. This maybe related to the extreme mortality rate which only changed quite recently in Chinese history and the 30 day rule. 2500 years ago Confucius said something about it. About the family unit being the most important thing ever.

Also as you might have read from Amy Chua about tiger moms. This comes from an old style thinking that Children are YOUR chattels IIRC from somewhere obscure no doubt 5 sons 2 daughters is supposed to be the ideal family make up.

Thirdly though I have doubts these are the reasons but you might be interested to read them anyway. This is the actual influence since most of the Chinese overseas are migrants who left in the early 1960s or earlier and thus the influences of modern day China do not really apply. It is that women in China actually are more desired than sons for various reasons.

It used to be son, kept family line and would be my pension pot as he would provide for me in the future. Namely as sons inherited the land for farming daughters would not. Though the CCP abolished land ownership meaning this no longer mattered.

Such things are vanishing quick and China is modernising, such that it is the daughters who are the ones who look after the parents as they age. EVEN if they are married off to another family. It is like this in HK, the daughters all look after their mums and dads alongside the parents of their husband. The one child policy hasn't helped either meaning the shortage of women mean the women can pick and choose (up to a certain extent) rather than take anybody who is willing which is what the men have to do.

Another point is that parents are supposed to lend a hand in buying a home for their sons. The price of property in China today is horrendous and buying property for a son = a ruinous experience financially. Thus although tradition dictates men were more popular to have than daughters since the benefits of men (name pension and being able to toil in the fields) has largely vanished. There is a trend to move to want girls instead of boys.

China and Nuclear Weapons Part II

Story Here
Ah Wikileaks, what would we do without you. Recent diplomatic cables show that the United States is trying and failing to get China to be more transparent about its nuclear arsenal. No surprise there, but what is concerning is what US military experts feel could be the reasons for China covering up most aspects of its nuclear program. The leaks state that Chief Deputy of the PLA, Ma Xiaotian told American defense officials that the expansion of China's nuclear arsenal was an "imperative reality" and there should be "no limit on technical progress", also saying that "it is impossible for China to change its decades-old way of doing business to become transparent using the US model".

In plain English: "As a designated nuclear power we have the right to build as many warheads as we want and we are under no obligation to keep the world informed on its details". Technically, that rendition is correct. China does not have to disclose the details on its nuclear program to the US the UN or anybody. It is one of the perks of being one of the five designated nuclear states by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Perhaps even more so than the US, China's neighbor Japan has had deep concerns over the secrecy of its nuclear program. Japan has taken notice to China's "increasingly bold" military practices and has become concerned that China is trying to eventually create an arsenal on par with that of the US and Russia, 10,000 warheads (I dont even think China has that much Uranium). Since the US and Russia signed the New START Treaty, which will cut both countries strategic stockpiles significantly, Japan fears China is taking the opportunity in America's stockpile reduction to build up its own. In fact it has gotten to the point where Japan is so worried, they're actually asking America to build up their nuclear strike capabilities and delivery systems. When Japan is asking you to invest in nuclear weapons rather than eliminate them, you know they must be worried. Japan wants America to stay powerful in the region to deter China from doing "something stupid" in regards to its nuclear weapons.

China has repetitively stated that its nuclear program is purely defensive in nature and even points to its no first use policy. However, most nuclear experts believe that promise to be complete bullcrap.

In the meantime, why not simulate your impending doom with this neat nuclear fallout simulator.

27 February 2011

China education

Dear TCG

Why are Chinese families so obsessed with grades and school?

My [Chinese] friend rarely has time out to have fun with us and hits the books all the time.

Snippety snip.

Edward J


Still working on the minor back log here apologies for the late reply. But simply there is an age old ingrained into Chinese society that education = success. This has been indoctrinated into Chinese society quite literally for centuries. Hell this probably even applies to today as well. In modern day China and outside of China too.

You may have often heard the jibe against public sector workers that there are plenty of public sector employees but no such thing as public sector workers (though really it is a different debate since the government holds a gun to my head to force me to pay for their wages if I want whatever the provide or not unlike Walmart which I choose to avoid). In Modern day China graduates only get paid marginally more than the workers who get sent down coal mines or who work stupid hours in foxconn factories.

The same came be said about the UK where public sector types are paid shit loads more than the private sector types, it is pretty much a closed shop where you need to know somebody to get a job there. Also the pensions are obscene (TCGs pension fund consists of a bottle of vodka and a loaded revolver.... until they banned guns in the UK). Thus if people study well in China they could well get such more comfortable public sector/civil service type jobs.

Around 1200BC China attempted to stop being a nepotistic society (it failed). Nepotism for mad uncle bob is all nice and well for the family but seriously would you want this person to be in charge of your country? Or to be in charge of your armies?

No no

They did this by introducing for the time rock hard exams. Tsk exam you say? Yes a rock hard exam. Except that this was no ordinary exam, unlike today where you can resit modules where you fail or redo exams this was a make or break exam. Whereby this one exam would determine what the rest of your life would be. Do well and you moved upwards in social hierarchy. Do badly and you were doomed to be a farmer type and to be poor. This continued for quite sometime, sometimes vanishing completely only to resurface sometime later.

Which is why it sort of got stuck in Chinese society that exams and grades are the path to success. Thus it is almost like a religion to traditional Chinese types. I mean look at holy books, one happens to be 2000 years old another happens to be 1400 years old. And yet they cause people to have almost unshakable beliefs about them. This Chinese education = key to life thing is reputed to be over 3000 years old.

Stephen Chow lampoons the entire concept in the film King of Beggars (1991)

Whereby his dad was a civil servant who wanted his son to go into the civil service. He fails (because he cheated) and is condemned to a life of being a beggar.


New classmates from China

Dear TCG,

Hope you had a nice holiday. I was talking with my history teacher today and he mentioned that two students had just moved into the district from Fujian, China. I thought this would be a great opportunity to make a new set of friends. He introduced me to them and they were quite friendly but totally helpless. Their English was very poor and they have had trouble adapting to an American school. They were a boy and a girl, my age, and were cousins. The boy was more outgoing but a bit of a goofball who might not be too sharp, the girl was more reserved and looked constantly exhausted. I am hoping to get to know them better and do whatever I can to help them adapt while at the same time making Chinese friends of my age.

My question is, what is the best way of helping them and getting to know them? Language barrier is one thing, they can speak simple english words slowly in addition to their native Min as well as Putonghua, but my Chinese is nowhere near good enough to carry out a full conversation. What would be the best way of communicating with them? How can I understand where they're coming from and what would be the best way to help them?

tl;dr: New classmates from China, how can I befriend them and help them assimilate?


This is a tough nut to crack because most non Chinese people find that Chinese people are incredibly insular and stick to their own rather than integrating and mixing in. Koreans OTOH TCG made a ton of Korean buddies in Seoul by virtue of extreme amounts of alcohol. If they were born overseas these traits STILL show through but not to such an extent. If they were born in China as you say they will have this sort of thing honed into them.

The crappy 1990s film Dragon the Bruce Lee story lampshades this. Where Bruce opens up a school and he is berated by the community elders for teaching the enemy Chinese secrets. Also a lot of my peers tend to say they were the weird nerdy children at school who did not mix because of their perceived differences.

Oddly enough I know quite a few laowai who teach in China (proper teachers not flip floppers) who have incredible troubles in making friends. Due to this insular nature when they do corner somebody to talk to often the response is mono syllabic. While conversations make Conan the Barbarian in the film appear to be a chatter box

(Arnold playing Conan mentions his first word 23 minutes into the film and says little over 80 words for the whole movie). And such people walk away pretty damned quickly.

To get to know them it is the usual stuff. Talk to them using questions which cannot be answered with a yes and a no or simple answers! Ask them out to do things in groups so it seems less threatening.But plan ahead, spontaneity is rare in China even in overseas types I am a huge exception but this is more to do with my mental state more than cultural things. Although it sounds like advertising tripe. I do attempt to do something amazing now and again.

Anyway back on track I'm sure your university will have lots of clubs and associations sports has an excellent equalising effect I find. TCG is an ELITE badminton played (hidden underneath this beer belly I returned with) you can tell because I wear jeans to play badminton. Whereby doing a sport of some kind removes the need to communicate with words and afterwards you can laugh about how good or bad you were. Beer of course always appears to work all around the world. Except this maybe a problem in the US what with the drinking age being 21.


TCG returns sort of


Sorry for the extended absence but I decided to erm extend my stay out there, to make hay when the sun shines sort of, though the recon mission did not go quite as planned it was still quite useful to me. Roll on the big mission later on this year.

That and I got a bad case of the shits along with almost everybody else staying at the same location which was like being punched by a gorilla. At least I'm not patient zero, as my sister had it while I was away. Meh stuff happens.

Normal service will resume shortly and unanswered questions will be um answered shortly.

21 February 2011

Chinese in Foreigners’ Eyes

Below is a short film produced by Jacky Weng, a marketing student living in the UK. It is a look into how Westerners (and a Korean) perceive the Chinese. The opinions are mostly positive (probably because there was a Chinese person filming them).

China Promotional Ads

As I reported back in January shortly before Hu Jintao went to Washington, the Chinese government was going to be starting an ad campaign to boost its image in America. Well, they produced a short documentary (18 min) on China's rise to introduce themselves more clearly to the west.
Thoughtful insight? or Propaganda film? You decide.

Part 1

Part 2

20 February 2011

Mad Engineering: Chek Lap Kok

After seeing TCG's post on Kai Tak Airport, I thought Id combine my interest in aviation with a China related post.

Chek Lap Kok Hong Kong International Airport was built in 1998 to replace the overcrowded Kai Tak airfield. At the time, it was one of the worlds largest construction projects. There were plans for the airport since 1974, but construction did not begin until 1991. Hong Kong's lack of flat land made it difficult to find a location for a larger airport. So they decided to dredge the seafloor to expand the small island of Chek Lap Kok west of the city to accomidate a new airport. The entire project was expected to take 10-20 years to complete, but the construction was rushed due to the uncertain future of the project after the transfer of soviergnty to China.

The old Kai Tek Airport, partially demolished, in 2000. The oldest satellite photo I could find.
Over 9.38 sq km of soil were dredged from the seafloor to create a 12.48 sq km flat piece of land to build the airport on. It actually increased Hong Kong's land area by 1%. The airport would have two parallel runways each 3,800 meters long (12,467 ft), 500 meters longer than Kai Tak, plus it allows most planes to land and take off over the South China Sea rather than the densely populated Kowloon, eliminating noise pollution and allowing it to run 24/7.

The terminal would be one of the worlds largest, 570,000 sq meters. It is built to withstand typhoons and its sides are made of glass that break in high winds to allow air to flow through and not rip the building apart.

The entire airport cost US$2.5 billion dollars, one of the worlds most expensive construction projects.

Adjacent to the terminal is SkyCity, a huge complex composing of various shopping, dining, and entertainment venues. It has a 658 room hotel and a nine hole golf course. These amenities make Chek Lap Kok consistantly ranked as one of the worlds best airports.

For more extreme airports, check out my post here

16 February 2011

Kai Tak

No I've not gone to Hong Kong, it's much too far away for a week off work since it takes a whole day just to get there when you consider the time differences as well. Plus a lot of airlines are flying much slower to save gas.

I remember Kai Tak with great amounts of glee as you could watch airplanes land from where I used to stay in Kowloon as a young child. Granted it is no St Marteen.

But you could reach up from a tall Kowloon building and nearly touch the aircraft.

Of course it was scarier when you were actually inside one of those 747s as you swear with night landings you could see televisions and people eating noodles inside their flats from the air plane windows.

On a related note:

Why was Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport closed? (asked elsewhere)

  • It was full. ALL of the landing and take off slots were full up, so it was filled to capacity this strangled trade and tourism.
  • It was dangerous, the Kai Tak landing required special training to land due to the mountains around HK look at videos on youtube. Even taking off was iffy as the end of the runway was sinking, you would hear the engines splutter on take off due to water splashing into the engines it was that bad.
  • As part of #2 with Kai Tak gone Kowloon land was freed up. With Kai Tak nothing on the approach to Kai Tak could be built more than 14 stories high. Once the landing flight path was gone buildings could pop up at any number of floors.
  • Kaitak's land itself was also freed up for residential buildings to ease the uber overcrowding of HK.
  • Pork barrelling. The HK economy was great in the 1980s and 1990s, they simply could not take the money away as the PRC and HK people would hate them for this. So the colonial government built a massive airport bring in expensive British contractors to do much of the work. Therefore funnelling much of the surpluses of HK into British pockets.

15 February 2011

Food porn

Epic meal time, bah!

Amateurs, today I discovered much to my delight a new reliable news site. Since huffington post went and sold out to AOL... meh.... I present to you.

The daily news (of sweet sweet bacon)

Monday Comedy Part 2: More Faces and other random stuff

To help cheer up those who are foreveralone.png tonight.

A lonely Panda is a sad Panda

Sign Fail: No Pole Dancing Allowed

Hey TCG, I think I found a photo of you. At least thats what I imagined you'd look like.

You and your girlfriend look like you have a lot in common.

And you thought American's were crazy. [Click here if not Loading]

This is how your heart feels when its broken.

This ones kind of cute.

Nothing to see here.

He must be tired

I swear to you this isn't photoshopped 

14 February 2011

Monday Comedy

An impressive man from China famed for his range of facial expressions.

Yet TCG is unimpressed, namely as I know far too many expressionless Zombies in HK. Take for instance Leon Lai. This guy is supposed to be very popular in HK, in fact before I got my face mashed up from face to road interface when falling off my bike people said I had a passing resemblance to him. But dear old Leon puts a whole new meaning to wooden acting. Look at this guy's repertoire.



DrunkWon the lottery

Father just died

Family just got wiped out.
I'm not kidding either have a look at his various film posters.

FFS he got to star with Michelle Reis (as the below video will demostrate) a girl who even though she is in her mid 30s now TCG has to be careful not to drown in drool.

yet his range of expressions did not change from this

Even when he was being gunned down. Even when he had a chance to peek at Michelle while she was pretending to um do this.

13 February 2011


Flowers are a universally recognized way of expressing love around the world, but in China they can have a double meaning that is based on the number of flowers given. As I have posted before, numbers have great meaning in Chinese culture. Any amount sends a positive message, but a particular number of flowers can be used to send a hidden one.

1 Flower: "I love you and only you", "You are the only one for me"

2 Flowers: "I just think of you and me", "Its just you and me"

3 Flowers: A simple "I love you"

4 Flowers: "I promise you love" As I said before, 4 is an unlucky number for Chinese, so clarify in a card or avoid using this amount.

5 Flowers: "I have no regrets being with you"

6 Flowers: "I hope everything goes well for you"

7 Flowers: "I feel happy with you"

8 Flowers: "Im sorry, please forgive me" Used for saying you're sorry.

9 Flowers: "I will love you forever without regret"

10 Flowers: "You are the perfect lover"

11 Flowers: "I will love you for the rest of my life", "Your happiness is my only priority"

12 Flowers: "Our souls are forever connected"

13 Flowers: "You have a secret admirer"

15 Flowers: "Im sorry" Same as 8.

17 Flowers: "Lets leave each other on good terms" Used for breaking up.

18 Flowers: "I have a sincere heart"

19 Flowers: "Im looking forward to spending time with you"

20 Flowers: "Forever loving you with an unchanging heart"

21 Flowers: "You are my love"

22 Flowers: "Lets be in love to no end"

24 Flowers: "I miss you, I am always thinking about you"

25 Flowers: "Good Luck"

30 Flowers: "Our love goes beyond words"

33 Flowers: "I will love you for many years to come"

36 Flowers: "My heart belongs to you"

44 Flowers: "I promise you my steady love"

50 Flowers: Same as 5.

55 Flowers: Also the same as 5.

56 Flowers: "My love"

60 Flowers: "May our love be strong and stable"

66 Flowers: "Our love is true and steady"

77 Flowers: "Destiny brought us together"

88 Flowers: "I want to make it up to you" Used to say sorry.

99 Flowers: "I want to be with you forever"

100 Flowers: "Im in love with you 100%"

101 Flowers: "You are my only love"

108 Flowers: "Will you marry me?"

123 Flowers: "Let us enjoy freedom and love"

144 Flowers: "I love you every day, of every month, of every year, of every century"

365 Flowers: " I think of you every day", "I love you everyday of the year"

999 Flowers: "Our love is infinite"

1001 Flowers: "Faithful love forever"

10,000 Flowers: "May our love last for 10,000 years" 10,000 essentially means forever in East Asian cultures. Giving 10,000 flowers is the ultimate expression of compassionate love in Chinese culture. If you can afford it, no Chinese girl will turn you down. (Except for this guy)

Color is also has double meaning in flowers. Red is your best bet, so is pink, yellow is also good, avoid white as it symbolizes death.

Happy Valentines Day

12 February 2011

Research before you draw your conclusions

Damnit the video

Is still doing the rounds and people are putting nasty comments towards me as an easy target about it...

This is internet coke law!

Since it is or was proven to be fake..
here , Here, here and here

I'm not saying Chinese food is safe, melamine in food fake eggs and all (which are sort of a dubious). But please do your research before throwing accusations around. Also consider what happened to the twunk who made the videos and faked the pictures. He was fined and put into prison.

Consider when I say the word prison. I do not mean UK style prisons which are akin to hotels, 3 meals a day SkyTV (full cable TV), porn drugs internet etc. Or Maximum security US style prisons depicted in Oz

No I mean Asian prisons. I know a bloke who was imprisoned (but eventually acquitted) and he was absolutely brutalised in a Japanese prison. Or Nick Leeson who spent his time being brutalised in a Singaporean prison. Chinese prisons are suffice to say inhumane.

While compare and contrast Piers Morgan prize twit who published fake photos of British soldiers brutalising Iraqis (it was faked). What happened to him? NOTHING.

Theres an App for that

Many of you out there have iPhones and iPod Touches assembled by suicidal Chinese workers. Although there are many to help learn Chinese, there are a few that I believe stand out and that I find particularly useful.


iCED or iChinese-English Dictionary is a digital Chinese to English dictionary. It allows you to look up words in Pinyin, English or Hanzi characters. It gives the word in pinyin, traditional and simplified characters, the English translation, definition, as well as what each individual character means. It also allows you to view the characters in high resolution and perform searches for other phrases with the word. It lets you compile word lists for easy reference and download different dictionaries to use. The default dictionary has over 200,000 entries on everything built in so you dont need internet access. There has not been one thing I've looked up that didn't return any results, even my English first name. There is an ad supported free version as well as a 'plus' version with unlimited word lists and downloadable add-ons for $3.99.

Chinese Writer

An app by pop-up Chinese made to help you learn stroke order. It gives you an array of characters that you must draw in order. If you make a stroke out of order, it shows you the correct sequence. Its free.


If you're willing to spend a little more, you can get the iChinese Chinese Learner. It is an all in one portable app for learning Chinese. It has all of iCED's features as well as a tool for learning stroke order. It also has audio pronunciation playback, a flash card trainer and quizes. There are more lessons and plug-ins available for download. Its $9.99.

10 February 2011

I'm going on vacation

I'm knackered from CNY rubbish and busy season at work which was the busiest I have ever experienced. Therefore I am taking a bit of time off sort of. I'm actually going on a recon trip for something else. But it's more play than work though.

In preparation for my absence I've posted some scheduled posts for the week ahead such that you won't even notice my absence. KaiWen often posts some excellent articles along with my own ranting and raving. To keep everybody entertained. Lest I can find some WIFI out there.

08 February 2011

Chinese excel again *sigh*

More tiger parents meh not again, trading paper qualifications for long term happiness.

The thing is it's bullshit. The qualifications and exams that is in the UK. GCSE papers are so freakin' dumbed down that you can get an A* (please don't let any Chinese parents realise you can get higher than an A+) by just turning up.

You see exam boards in the UK are businesses. They have to whore themselves out to schools to sell their exam papers. The more people pass the better it looks, at least on paper worthless paper. For some reason if 96% of people get a pass this makes it a worthwhile qualification. It diesn't My ACCA papers have an 87% FAIL rate (the audit papers and tax papers are tricky) which makes it worthwhile. you know basic economic theory scarcity = more value. Does anybody have the full joke about the future of the American/British exam system? I can't find it, it has several silly questions.

Spell USA etc.

Here is some more light reading

07 February 2011

Monday Comedy: Moar Fried Chicken

Even Lao Tzu can't resist the taste of 11 herbs and spices!


Top cut China stylee (cut & paste) Monday comedy slot

Precis Chinese state propaganda cuts directly from the gayest mainstream film in Hollywood history.... well sorta as I've never seen broke back mountain*

Russia today's take on it.

I mean look at this. Grown naked sweaty men playing volley ball?

How much of a separation is it from this?

If you didn't grow up as a child and a teenager in the 80s 90s the above clip will mean NOTHING to you. Here is a more obvious version

The USN must have been shaking its head at that. Seeing as Top Gun isn't a competition as portrayed in the film but a school to teach pilots how to fight in the air. The USN isn't cacking it's pants yet

*TCG doesn't care if you are straight or gay or whatever. TCG is pretty much trisexual.... I'll try most things ;)

Monday Anti-Comedy: Tibet Super Bowl Ad

At first I thought it was serious...

But then I was like..


06 February 2011

Urhu 2


I have a granddaughter that has this instrument and is very interested in learning to play it. We live in Ohio and wonder how we would find someone to teach it? Is there some easy lesson books that she could learn from on her own? I would love to get her lessons...any suggestions? thank you,


Dear Linda

I have absolutely no idea as to where you would find a teacher in Ohio. I have to keep remembering the US is a large place. As there would definitely be somebody in NY or SF China town who'd know. I know of a bloke in Manchester China town who teaches sometimes. Maybe look at local schools of music? As although they will most probably be using traditional instruments you find in an orchestra sometimes they may run courses on other instruments. For example. The Royal Academy of Music in London (UK) runs summer schools in Chinese instruments. Chets in Manchester has been known to run a few courses

The alternative approach is I suppose what many guitarists do and learn by themselves. The problem with this is that the guitar is common the Urhu is not


He sells a DVD or something which teaches you how to do the basics for $15.

You can see pirated versions of his videos here

This guy had some success learning (and practicing an awful lot) with the DVD.

But the problem with this is many of the videos are in Mandarin or Cantonese meaning they are of little help too. Look at this 'beginner class'

I do not recommend using a book however, there are free ebooks if you want but the good ones are as again in Chinese yet again. I can actually play the piano and pluck a few sad strings on a guitar but it took me a very long time and was demotivating. My rate of learning increased markedly with a real teacher.

04 February 2011

What the FUCKING fuckety fuck?

OK its japanese, but seriously WTF? In that a machine to FORCE your children to smile? I mean what the hell is wrong with a happy child hood a loving home and occassional fun activities? This thing is even more disturbing than Korean surgery addiction. Hey and this only gives ammo to those who say that childhood in Asia is terrible and no fun at all. What with the masses of homework, being viewed as free labour by your parents. After school classes, being forced to learn to play an instrument of some kind etc etc.

**please note my satire/irony/sarcasm detector is currently on the OFF position.

03 February 2011


Chunyun (春運) literally "the springtime pilgrimage", is the annual journey of Chinese people to the village of their birth in celebration of the Lunar New Year. It is somewhat comprable to the Muslim Hajj and is regarded as the largest annual human migration in the world. It is tradition for Chinese families to have a reunion dinner where the entire family comes to their home village for food and celebration. In the old days people did not wander far from home, but as new economic opportunities emerged in the cities, most families have become separated, sometimes by thousands of miles. Think of the Christmas travel season, but on a much larger scale. Within a period of 15 days, over 1.3 billion people travel to and within China. Most of China's transportation infrastructure can barely keep up with the demand. Most Chinese travel home by train, as many cannot afford to fly. Ticket prices can often double or triple during Chunyun, and people will frequently fight over train tickets. Scalping and pocket picking are common among the chaos.

Chunyun is a very important trip, not going is showing disrespect to your family and ancestors. Some people too poor to take the train actually walk over 200 miles to get home. One man, He Puxian even created a song dedicated to the millions of migrant workers who make the journey. He called it "Afraid to go home for the New Year"

Im having trouble getting Youku video embeds to work. Click here if its not loading.

Translation of the lyrics:
The sound of trains outside of the window keeps me awake at night
Looking at the shabby room, another year has passed
Not many days till the Spring Festival
But who can hear the sadness in my heart?
Every time I light up a cigarette at this time
Thinking about home town and mother, as if they are in front my eyes
So want to go home for the New Year, but also afraid to go home for the New Year
It is so tough to make a living away from home
Afraid to go home for the New Year
Not because the distance is too far
Only because I have no money in my pocket
Not going home for the New Year
Not that I don’t want to reunite with family
So many hard years, it is so difficult to find a job

The greetings from the phone make me uneasy
I feel sad listening to my parents’ encouragement
How far am I from the day of success?
But who will share the pressure on my heart
Every time I weep alone
Thinking about already a leftover man or leftover woman
So want to go home for the New Year, but also afraid to go home for the New Year
How many people will finish singing this song?
Afraid to go home for the New Year
Not that I don’t miss my home
Only because income of the ants in the city is so pitiful
Not that I don’t want to reunite with family
Roaming with no money no house and no career
How can I go home to face the loved ones and ancestors?

02 February 2011


Happy 4709 folks

CNY eve

The night before Spring festival.... what people will do is cook one hell of a dinner, similar to that of thanks giving or Christmas in the western world. The dinner will vary from place to place but almost always contains fish of some sort again to symbolise fortune. We then grill some more Leen Gao eat it and pass it around.

The religious types will make offerings at their home alters (TCG doesn't have one) or will visit local temples. Again there isn't a local temple nearby to me..

In fact I've just had a tin of Heinz's finest as my big CNY dinner all by myself. As in the western world CNY is just another working day. Though it is a day where you are excused from not cleaning or washing up (whats that? ;)).

Degenerate twits will also do one of those silly count down things as well. Much like us westerner types do for New Years, but tbh by 11.59pm on New Years I'm pretty wasted anyway.

01 February 2011

Too good to be true?

China starts its thorium reactor program

The thing is it sounds TOO good to be true... and you know what people say about things which are too good to be true.

Since I am not really a scientist and much of it went over my head, I can't hope to poke holes in it any body care to poke holes in it, esp the HPC crowd?

More food

It begins yet again....

The old Chinese women who live nearby have started to deposit Leen Gau 年糕. Because they are mostly southerners they bring me the sweet version which looks like something you stepped on in the street.

Ok don't get me wrong it is nice and sweet, imagine marshmallows but erm tougher. Like chewing gum type toughness and sweeter.... oh and ooooh so very fattening.... eating deep fried lard would be healthier.

Its not even CNY yet and I've got 8 kilos of the stuff already. Its a bloody shame the company does not have a hot hob! As I could fob it off onto them har har!

Chinese new year

Hi, Chinese Guy, great blog.

One question: Why Lunar New Year is called (Mostly) Chinese New Year? Vietnamese, Koreans, Bhutanese... celebrate lunar new year, too, but they don't call it as Vietnamese New Year...you see.

What do you think?


Dear Jo

Um the Koreans call it Korean new year I think. Anyway it's not really Chinese new year its more Spring festival 春 節. I'd guess everybody calls it Chinese new year quite simply because there are shit loads of Chinese people all over the planet. 1 in 5 people are Chinese Han people.

As a people we have spread far and wide. Thus have managed to embed ourselves into each and every society on the planet. I was pretty damned surprised to see Han Chinese in Azerbaijan (just after I was mugged). Also in Bojourmi in Georgia (Tbilisi).

While the other people from Asia the Koreans, Vietnamese, Bhutanese simply are completely outweighed by our sheer numbers. Sure sure lots of Koreans move overseas. Apparently LA has lots of Korean cornershops. But they have a population of 48 million compared to 400 million (since the 1950s) and 1.3bn today.

A simple example is the UK. The UK has many large China towns. Liverpool has a big one

London has a China town (c)

Leeds has one (c) (it's rather small and doesn't have an imperial gate)

So does Manchester, and Birmingham, and Nottingham and various other smaller incarnations of China town. These are more like clustered together restaurants and shops tbh.

Why lets compare to say the Koreans. This here doesn't even make a footnote of there being a Korea town in the UK. Though there is a Korea town in the UK, it is in New Malvern. I've been there and didn't even realise it was Korea town. I wondered why people were calling me an arse regularly (they were saying Anyeonghasseyeo) which TCG being the ignorant twunk he is thought they were saying you arsehole! (We were all young once eh)

I can't even find a picture to link to the London Korea town. The Vietnamese, the Bhutanese are even smaller in population than Korea and thus are outweighed completely by the Chinese version of it.