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Payment by mobile phone is becoming increasingly popular in China using the WeChat app. It’s one of the latest technology trends reinforcing the importance of how the humble mobile phone is changing our life. It’s already made the landline telephone, music players and cameras obsolete. Now it could easily replace carrying a wallet with your money or credit cards. Canthy’s not a techie, but her latest addiction is using her mobile phone to buy things online or in store.
(Blog posted by Ray on November 16, 2015)
How ironic as Xi Jinping and 159 world leaders debate climate change in Paris: Beijing is having its worse day of pollution. The pollution readings have been off the scales as thick, heavy, putrid smelling smog descended on the city. Talking is good but it doesn’t seem to be making much difference in China. As here we need real and immediate action to solve the problem and stop it getting even worse. I just wish the conference had of been held in Beijing. Then everyone would know just how serious the problem is and see first hand what it does to the environment and city life.
(Blog posted by Ray on December 1, 2015. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)
Chinese New Year starts in a few weeks and the horse will make way for the Year of the Sheep. Down the road from our apartment is Guo Mao Three, which always has some of the best holiday decorations. For the New Year they have this illuminated display, portraying sheep in a traditional Chinese style. It looks pretty good in the daytime but even more impressive at night.
(Blog posted by Ray on February 3, 2015. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)
China has one of the highest and most dangerous traffic accident records in the world. Whenever I am driving, road safety is always on my mind, especially when traveling with two young children. We always make sure Tanya and Alicya are securely strapped into their car seats, but this is not common in China. In fact only 1% of Chinese families with cars use child seats. It’s a frightening statistic, which results in 185,000 deaths a year in China of children under 14. It is more common to see parents holding their children in the back seat or even in the front seat without either wearing a seat belt. The problem is due to a lack of culture towards safety, insufficient knowledge about the dangers and weak laws, which if they exist are not rigorously enforced. Also many children don’t like to use car seats at first, so many parents give up when their child is crying and screaming to get out. We went though this situation with Tanya, so it was painful and difficult period for everyone, but I insisted she had to use it. Now she is pretty good and enjoys being in her own seat, which gives us all the peace of mind when driving on the roads in China.
(Blog posted by Ray on March 22, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)
One of hardest parts of learning Mandarin (apart from speaking the correct tones) is being able to read and write Chinese characters. It’s a slow and painful progress, with no real short cuts. (Although I am hoping reading Remembering Simplified Hanzi will help, but you still need to study hard to learn this way). However, every time I feel myself getting frustrated with my progress I remind myself that at least I am learning simplified Chinese. Traditional Chinese is the original version, which is still using in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Simplified Chinese was developed during the 1950s to make characters easier to read and write and to increase literacy across China. You can see from the highlighted example just how simplified many of the characters are from their original traditional form. The word ‘to know’ (rènshi) looks like this 认识 in simplified Chinese and like this 認識 in traditional Chinese. So hooray for Simplified hanzi and thank goodness I don’t need to learn traditional Chinese characters.
(Blog posted by Ray on April 1, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)
Just when I thought the pollution couldn’t get any worse—the PM 2.5 index went off the scale—as the level were hazardously over 500! That’s 20 times above the safe limited recommend by the World Health Authority (WHO). Most people in Beijing have a smart phone app (like CN Air Quality) that allows them to check the pollution levels. Today, Beijing was one of the worst polluted places in China and you can see how bad the situation was in the north of the country. Pollution has always been a problem in the industrial parts of China, but when it affects Beijing it becomes headline news around the world. Hopefully this negative new coverage will help spur the government to do something about it—and soon. Otherwise with daily hazardous pollution and pictures like this, Beijing could soon be known as Greyjing.
(Blog posted by Ray on February 26, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)
Every time I fly back to Shenzhen I feel a little sad to leave my family, but the one thing I don’t miss is pollution in Beijing. It seems this year the situation has been worsening so the pollution index frequently hits levels which are dangerous and cause serious hazards to health. However, as I fly further south the situation improves and I am always happy to see the sun and blues skies in Shenzhen. The city is one of the greenest in the country with some of the best air quality in China.
(Blog posted by Ray on November 4, 2013. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)
I recently met someone who had just started to learn Chinese and asked me if it was important to learn pinyin. He wanted to learn to read Chinese characters, but thought learning pinyin was a waste of time. However, I explained that understanding pinyin is really important to be able to pronounce the words. It also helps in being able to practice the right pronunciation with the right tone. It’s hard at first, as many of the initials and finals are not spoken the way we would in English. But it gets easier once you know the basics and then it’s just practice. The best part of knowing how to write pinyin is using it to type emails and SMS in Chinese. Of course you still have to know the right Chinese character, which is the hardest part. However, mastering pinyin is an essential foundation to speaking good Mandarin.
PS. There are lots of online tools which are great for learning pinyin and practicing tones. My favourite is Chinesepod’s pinyin tool which can be download to your desktop.
(Blog posted by Ray on August 20, 2013. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)
Chinese authorities have lifted firewall controls on Facebook, Twitter, and other foreign social networks, but only in places like 5-star hotels frequented by international businessmen. Users reported that they could easily login to blocked websites while connected to lobby Wi-fi at high-scale hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, and other foreigner-heavy Chinese cities.
The South China Morning Post broke this story today in an exclusive, and reports:
One visitor to Beijing, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Post that he could easily use his mobile devices and laptop to access both Facebook and Twitter at the lobby of the St. Regis Beijing hotel and in his room during his stay in the hotel, which had often been the home to many US presidents during their visits to China. […]
“It’s not just St. Regis. A lot of my friends told me that they can also access Facebook and Twitter in many other five-star hotels in Beijing,” said the anonymous hotel visitor.
“This has even become an unspoken secret among many local Beijingners. If you want to get on Facebook and Twitter to post messages, especially to your friends who live abroad and use the two social media [sites] often, now you know where you should go in Beijing – go to those five-star hotels.”
Even in smaller cities like Dongguan, an economic boomtown in the Guangdong province near Hong Kong, five-star hotels like the Lotus Villas Hotel offer free wifi service to all visitors to the hotel, allowing them to visit Facebook and Twitter. Lotus Villas is a popular hotel for those attending business conferences in Dongguan, where many Hong Kong businessmen have significant investments.
First gigantic rooftop rock villas, now Facebook and Twitter; the rich really do get everything in China.
What originally drew my attention to this billboard was the painting of the old Chinese horse-drawn carriage and the tricycle parked in front of it. I thought the idea of showing the ancient transport with the more modern pedal powered made an interesting juxtaposition. When I first came to China in the late 1980s the cycle still dominated the roads and more than 90% of the traffic was bicycles. Nowadays the traffic is 90% cars with fewer and few pedal cycles. I’d love to find my old photos from that period, but I think they are in storage somewhere in the UK probably at my parents house. So next time I go back to the UK I will try to dig them out. As Canthy is often asking to see old photos of me from my first trip to Beijing in 1988.
(Blog posted by Ray on April 26, 2013. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)