A Jersey Guy's Excellent Adventure in China

Tag: Beijing

Hong Kong Highlights: Peak Tower, Light Show, Bruce Lee

  I left Zhengzhou on Wednesday and flew to Hong Kong, where I’m spending four days before going home. It’s been 26 years since my last visit to Hong Kong and 17 years since the British returned control of the city to China. But it remains distinctly different than the mainland –- a Special Administrative… Read More ›

Think U.S. Bureaucracy is Bad? Try China

If you think U.S. bureaucracy is bad, don’t ever live in China. China has a rule or regulation for everything. Opening a bank account can take hours. Getting a visa extension can take months. Getting a drivers’ license can take years. Tons of paperwork. Long lines. Endless instructions. It’s a libertarian’s nightmare. I got another… Read More ›

China Enforces Silence on 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the most important political event in China’s post-Mao era. But you’d hardly know it from watching or reading the state-run media, walking around my university’s campus or talking to the man in the street. That’s because the ruling Communist Party has banned any discussion of… Read More ›

Students Use IVs, Birth-Control Pills to Prepare for College-Entrance Test

The national college-entrance exam, known as gaokao, is a life-changing event for Chinese students. It determines where you go to school, what kind of courses you take and, to a large extent, what kind of future you’ll have. Some students fuel marathon study sessions with amino-acid IVs, while anxious girls take birth-control pills to avoid… Read More ›

CCTV is Chinese Television’s 800-Pound Gorilla

Turn on a television in China and chances are it will be tuned to CCTV. It’s hard to avoid the giant state-run network, which has 45 channels broadcasting news, sports and entertainment all across the Middle Kingdom. It’s as if ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, CNN, ESPN, HBO and Showtime were all part of one… Read More ›

Hong Kongers Resent Influx of “Locusts” From Mainland China

Seventeen years after officially becoming part of China, Hong Kong remains a separate place. Under the “one country, two systems’’ principle established when Great Britain handed over control of Hong Kong in 1997, the Pearl of the Orient became a Special Administrative Region of China with its own political, economic and judicial systems. This means… Read More ›

American Teacher Can’t Find China on a Map

Here is my 2014 nomination for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! I was talking to a 20-something American teacher the other day when she mentioned she had to go to Hong Kong to get her visa extended. She told me she was going by train. “That’s a long trip,” I said. “I think it only… Read More ›

First Lady Takes Heat Over Family’s China Junket

Michelle Obama is taking some heat over her family’s weeklong visit to China. While I think most of the criticism is trivial, I strongly agree with one point: If this isn’t just a vacation, as the White House claims, then the press should have been allowed to join her on the trip. No reporters accompanied… Read More ›

Beijing Hotel Welcomes Adultery, Offers “Obscene” Views From Balcony

My sister-in-law Linda recently found what appears to be another example of a bizarre mistranslation from China. It’s supposedly a brochure for a Beijing hotel where the manager “tries to have intercourse with all new guests,’’ the balcony offers “views of outstanding obscenity’’ and the chambermaid will gladly “squeeze your trousers.’’ Only one problem: It’s… Read More ›

Lantern Festival Fireworks Canceled Because of Heavy Smog

The Lantern Festival, which marks the end of the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration, usually features public fireworks displays. In a sign of the times, however, Beijing and other Chinese cities canceled their events Friday because of heavy smog caused by air pollution. Experts say fireworks can worsen smog, especially during bad weather. The Xinhua… Read More ›

Activist Jailed for Pushing Peaceful Change

We just got another reminder that China, despite its enormous economic progress, is still a one-party state that doesn’t tolerate political dissent. Xu Zhiyong, a prominent human rights activist, was sentenced to four years in prison for such unspeakable crimes as fighting government corruption and opposing a policy that prevents children of migrant laborers from… Read More ›

I Almost Had a Great Fall on the Great Wall

  My first steps on the Great Wall at Mutianyu were almost my last. After taking a cable car up to the start of the ancient wall – you can also walk to that point, a climb that takes about 30 minutes — Pat and I started descending some steep brick steps. It was a… Read More ›

Dancing, Singing in Beijing’s Heavenly Park

On a bone-chilling morning in Beijing, the Temple of Heaven Park was bustling with activity. Elderly couples were dancing to traditional Chinese music, groups of amateur crooners were singing Peking Opera songs, early risers were practicing tai chi and others were playing jianzi, a game in which you kick a weighted shuttlecock. The 660-acre park… Read More ›

Mao’s Wax Museum Body Needs Nip and Tuck

Chairman Mao is showing his age. Lying in an open crystal casket encased in an airtight chamber at his massive mausoleum in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, China’s former supreme ruler looks like a figure from Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Surrounded by a bed of lilies, his body is dressed in his usual drab gray suit and draped… Read More ›

New Year Off to Muted Start in Zhengzhou

China rang in the New Year with spectacular light shows at the Great Wall near Beijing and Shanghai’s historic Bund waterfront. Here in Zhengzhou, the celebration was muted. (Yes, it’s already 2014. We’re 13 hours ahead of New York.) A few fireworks crackled at midnight and I got a handful of Happy New Year messages… Read More ›

Zhengzhou’s New Subway Is Cheap, Fast and Sparkling

I just returned from my first ride on Zhengzhou’s new subway. It was a fast, fun peek into this sprawling city’s future. The last U.S. city to build a full-blown subway was Washington D.C., which opened its first line in 1976. Other cities, including Los Angeles and Atlanta, have constructed hybrid rapid-transit systems that include… Read More ›

Chill Pills, Snake Oil, Fake Money Under Xmas Tree

My proclivity for getting into strange, frustrating and sometimes dangerous situations was the theme of the presents I received from my colleague Jennifer at our office Christmas party. Jennifer gave me box of knickknacks, along with a booklet of written instructions on their use and purpose. The items included: “Chill Pills’’ – Two bottles of… Read More ›

China Chokes on Dirty, Smoggy Air

When I walked to my office today, I couldn’t see the building until I was almost at the front door. My eyesight isn’t the greatest, but that wasn’t the problem. It was Zhengzhou’s dreadful air pollution. Today was the worst I’ve seen so far. A thick layer of grimy smog blanketed the city, cutting visibility… Read More ›

Agnostic Jew Goes Xmas Caroling in Atheist China

What happens when an agnostic Jew goes Christmas caroling in an atheist country? I found out yesterday when my English teaching colleagues and I donned Santa hats and serenaded Chinese students with such Yuletide favorites as “Frosty the Snowman,’’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’’ “Jingle Bell Rock’’ and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.’’

Snowflakes, Typewriters and Dinosaurs

I saw my first Chinese snowflakes today. We got a brief dusting in Zhengzhou this morning that quickly disappeared when it warmed up in the afternoon. It does occasionally snow here, but major snowstorms are rare. Zhengzhou’s climate is very similar to New Jersey’s. There are four distinct seasons, though the winter is a little… Read More ›