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happy new year

WeChat Payments By Phone

john  —  December 21, 2015

Nov16_Phone_payments2

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. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

 

Killer Pollution Back in Beijing

john  —  December 21, 2015

Dec1_Beijing_pollution Dec1_Beijing_pollution3 Dec2_Pollution

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 of the Sheep

john  —  February 20, 2015
Guo Mao Three’s Chi­nese New Year of the Sheep display.

Guo Mao Three’s Chi­nese New Year of the Sheep display.

羊年大吉 – Yáng nián dàjí The year of the Horse is now over. 2015 is a year of the “Goat” according to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac.

羊年大吉 – Yáng nián dàjí
The year of the Horse is now over. 2015 is a year of the “Goat” according to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac.

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)

Mar22_Baby_car_seatChina 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)

Apr1_Simplified_Chinese

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)

Pol­lu­tion lev­els off the chart at over 500 par­ti­cles per cubic metre!

Pol­lu­tion lev­els off the chart at over 500 par­ti­cles per cubic metre!

View from our apart­ment show pol­lu­tion dan­ger­ously 20 times above WHO limits.

View from our apart­ment show pol­lu­tion dan­ger­ously 20 times above WHO limits.

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.

China’s pol­lu­tion is always worse in the north of the country

China’s pol­lu­tion is always worse in the north of the country

(Blog posted by Ray on February 26, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Plane_wing2 Plane_wing

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)

China’s Street Postman Pats

john  —  October 12, 2013 — 1 Comment

Sep13_DeliveryEvery morn­ing on the way to work I pass groups of deliv­ery men lay­ing out their parcels on the pave­ment. China has the largest online e-tailing indus­try in the world, so to get the goods to the cus­tomers they use one of the thou­sands of pri­vate deliv­ery companies. Originally if you wanted to send a par­cel you had to use the government’s China Post. But the boom in online shop­ping has cre­ated a huge oppor­tu­nity for smaller, cheaper and quicker deliv­ery ser­vices to prosper. These Post­man Pats, are not allowed inside the cam­pus so they lay the goods on the pave­ment. And then tele­phone the recip­i­ent to come out and col­lect their parcels. So every­day in my depart­ment I see some­one com­ing in with a pack­age or box that they bought online.

(Blog posted by Ray on September 13, 2013. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Aug20_PinyinI 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)

fb-unblocked

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.

Source: shanghaiist.