Posted files under ‘China

My First Blog from Abroad!

After 2 weeks of travelling throughout mainly southern China, I can FINALLY blog freely! Unfortunately, I forget one minor detail about China…most blogs are blocked; therefore, I was unable to blog about anything from China. Believe me, I had a lot to blog about.

I am not going to bore you with an entry about all my blog-worthy thoughts from my China experiences. Instead, I will give you a crash course on what I learned during my sixth and most recent adventure to China. Although I have traveled to China several times, I always have something new to learn and gain from my experiences. I hope that some of the following bullet points can help you in some way or another if you are to ever to travel to China. =)

– A four-star hotel in the mountainous vacation regions in China means no elevators in high elevation, a shower head but no bathtub, and a wake-up call consisting of 3 pounds on your door and a loud shriek.

– China makes it seem that all Tibetans apparently know how to dance, sing in Chinese and Tibetan, and love to wear Tibetan garments for tourism purposes.

– You can book a cheap hotel with complimentary rides to and from the airport right after you retreive your baggage. And if you strategize your conversation carefully, you will not get ripped off but pay an extremely decent price for a nice hotel.

– According to my uncle, it is perfectly fine to park on the freeway to gaze at the scenery. That’s because there is no sign indicated that you CAN’T park on the freeway.

– It is also ok to walk on the freeway with your wooden carts.

– Another freeway fact: If traveling in a large group with multiple cars, it is perfectly fine to wait for the other vehicles in your traveling group to arrive on the side of the freeway by the tollbooths.

– People of “ethnic minority” descent in China are permitted to have more than one child if, and ONLY if, they live in the countryside and are married to someone of the same ethnic descent. Go figure…

– Chinese like U.S. cars because they are heavier and because they are heavier than Japanese cars, they must be safer.

-Britney Spears would not have been criticized for this in China. It is perfectly fine to carry a child on your lap in the front seat, or while driving.

– You can leave your 2-year-old in your car by him or herself…at night….with the keys in the ignition.

– Your Mandarin will not improve if you listen to two different southern Chinese dialects for two weeks. In fact, your Mandarin will because tonally impaired.

– You can strike a deal with anyone about almost anything in China, including overweight baggage fees at the airport.

– A foreigner can get away with living in a no-star hotel for the best deal possible if you initiate conversation in somewhat decent Mandarin and if you look somewhat Asian.

Update: I really need a good night’s sleep. I arrived in Japan yesterday morning and I realized that I have flown a total of 9 times in the past 2 weeks…

1) September 18: San Francisco to Tokyo-Narita

2) September 19: Tokyo-Narita to Guangzhou

3) September 20: Guangzhou to Chengdu, Sichuan

4) September 22: Chengdu, Sichuan to Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan

5) September 24: Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan back to Chengdu, Sichuan

6) September 25: Chengdu, Sichuan to Guiyang, Guizhou

7) September 29: Guiyang, Guizhou to Changsha, Hunan

8) October 2: Changsha, Hunan to Shanghai [by myself!]

9) October 3: Shanghai to Tokyo-Haneda [by myself!]

I am pooped. Oyasumi nasai! Good night!


5 comments October 4, 2008

One World, One Dream Forever

So ends the 29th Olympiad hosted in Beijing, possibly one of, if not the most anticipated Olympics thus far. After witnessing the degrees of excitement that the people of China had for the Games, I knew that this was one sporting event that I could not bear to miss even if my life depended on it. I was not happy with NBC’s broadcasts, but I have to admit that they did one thing right. I am very pleased to see that despite all the taped broadcasts that claim to be “live” here on the West Coast, NBC at least opened their viewers’ eyes to some of the basics of Chinese culture that may be unknown to many in the American audience up until now. The comments I have received on this blog thusfar may not reflect what I stand for, but I still believe it: I believe that the open-minded people of the United States who followed the Olympics have grown to see the Chinese people and culture in a different, more positive light.

On a side note, I appreciate everyone’s input on my blog, even if most of them are opposing my point of view. I figured it as much since my choice of words in my previous posts would tend to draw in people who type in “Chinese Cheaters” in search engines because they are the ignorant readers truly believe that the Chinese are a group of lying cheaters. The term “Chinese cheaters” and “China cheaters” were the two keywords most widely used in search engines to land upon my blog. The next one is…”Shawn Johnson boobs.” The most unusual one is…”perverted pics of U.S. gymnasts.” What kind of perverts are you all? Haha! So if you are one of those people who are using the term “boobs” or “perverted” in your searches, and you end up here…sorry! Got nothing for ya! =)

Anyway, call me a nerd but my night life pretty much shut down for 16 days. Well, that’s an exaggeration because I stopped watching the “live coverage” when I got tired of hearing all the ridiculous allegations against the Chinese gymnasts and various “controversial issues” brought up during NBC’s coverage. All the heat about the controversial issues in China goes completely against what the Games are all about: worldwide unity. It seems like the U.S. media can not let go of the fact that China is changing for the better, and the American perspective is mauled from previous happenings in China. You can not expect a nation of 1.3 billion people to change into a free country over night. I truly believe that eventually China will be the greatest nation in the world whether the United States likes it or not.

One of the hottest issues of controversy during the Beijing Olympics was China’s human rights record. It seems like the criticism never ends. Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying that I agree with everything the Chinese does, but the people of the U.S. should be the last to talk about human rights. Aside from the century of enslaving Africans and African Americans, what about the internment of people of Japanese descent during WWII in the 20th century? Was that justified? The government suspected the Japanese residing in the U.S. of possible conspiracy with the Japanese government based solely on ethnic heritage.  Not one of the internees were proven guilty! Most of the internees were American citizens! If this is not bigotry, then I don’t know what is.

Of course, you can argue that these events were of the past, but if we are such a perfect nation now, wouldn’t homosexuals have the right to marriage? By depriving them of the right to marriage for LOVE is depriving them of a basic human right.

Also, everyone in the U.S. is seen as “equal” regardless of gender, but tell me why you do not see hardly any women CEOs of major corporations in the U.S. Why is it that statistically women are generally paid way less than men? Is there scientific proof stating that women are not as smart or capable as men, or are men just preferred over women in this patriarchal society?

What about equal representation of African Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans in the mass media? Why is our media dominated by Caucasians? Are they more talented and attractive because of their ethnicity? This seems hardly equal to me.

China did an amazing job with hosting the Olympics, and I doubt that the U.S. could ever come close to putting on such a successful Olympics as they did for the past 2 weeks. Though some of their political issues are relics of our past [and some are still of our present], remember that China is still a developing nation. I am not saying that I agree with the way they run things, but at the same time, I have witnessed China first hand for myself because I have family there. Things are not as bad as we like to think. However, there is definite room for improvement, and as one world, we should all be more aware in an international perspective rather than being cooped up in our little bubble we call the United States.

More awareness and less ignorance and bigotry will eventually lead to more tolerance in the world.

1 comment August 28, 2008

Chinese Cheaters? Pt. 2

Let me set the record straight. I am a very opinionated person and whether I am sitting in front of a keyboard or discussing an issue with another person, I can get very passionate about my ideals. I am a citizen of the United States where I am entitled to my opinion, as is everyone else, which is why I respect and am open to all feedback whether positive or negative. I just do not tolerate blatant ignorance, especially if you stereotype against a group of people whose culture and traditions are completely different from yours. Unless you truly understand what it is like to live in the other culture, do not generalize them and their culture.

I am not a hippie, nor do I hate the United States, nor am I ashamed of my Chinese heritage. I have very liberal viewpoints because I am from a working-class immigrant family and I was born and raised in San Francisco, arguably the most liberal city in the U.S. I am not anti-corporations because I will be pursuing a career in the corporate world. And to say that I am ashamed of my Chinese heritage is the farthest thing from the truth because I take so much pride in being raised both American and Chinese.

Aren’t the Olympics supposed to be about uniting the world for 2 weeks of friendly competition? I have never seen this much controversy raised during an Olympic games, and most of the issues are blasted against China just because they WERE a Communist nation or maybe merely for the fact that the Chinese culture is just different.

So many issues have arisen from the 2008 games that I feel rather fatigued from listening to the commentators make references to them during the NBC broadcasts every night. It has gotten to the point where I would much rather read the results online before the event is broadcasted in the Pacific Time Zone.

Also, issues that have been circulating on the internet are petty issues and, coming from Americans, hypocritical.

In light of these exciting Games, why are people complaining about “fake” fireworks and a 7-year-old lip-syncing? The United States should be the last country to complain about these things. We are home to “reality shows” that are altered to be more entertaining for the audiences, and well, some of these “reality shows” are not even close to being “real.” The Hills and Keeping Up with the Kardashians are some very “real” shows indeed. But oh dear, “fake” fireworks! Well, that’s just an abomination! And some of the most popular entertainers have been caught lip syncing, i.e. Britney Spears. But if a 7-year-old girl does it, that’s another abomination!

Both the lip-syncer and the actual singer of the opening ceremony have stated that they are honored to take part in the opening ceremony, so why should the rest of the western world be complaining? Because we were deceived into believing it was real? Wake up, America! We are land of the free, plastic surgery, and material wealth.

 Honestly, if the USA gymnastics team won the team gold, there wouldn’t be this much speculation and controversy about the age issue. My previous entry was my retaliation against the ridiculous basis for accusing the Chinese gymnasts of looking too young to compete. I strongly voiced my opinion because I know what it is like to look younger than my real age. It is an unfair accusation, and with no credible proof, it is uncalled for to be making these assumptions and generalizations.

News articles that printed the girls’ ages as 13 or 14 is not exactly the best source of evidence. I have been involved in journalism, and I know for a fact that there can be a lot of misprinting and mistakes, especially if you do not check the facts. If you are going to reference an article, why not also reference the article that quotes He Kexin saying that she does not care what people say about her age because she is 16. If you are going to refer to a mere article for your proof, then it has also been proven many more times that these girls are actually old enough to compete.

It all comes down to differences in Eastern and Western culture. The Chinese government does NOT recruit “slave children” to train into Olympic athletes. Some of the athletes are recruited because their parents were great athletes. Many of these athletes are recruited because they have potential to be great, and they train from a young age because that is how it is in China.

In the United States, we parttake in various extracurriculars as children, and we grow up developing a passion for some of these activities. These are activities on the side of going to school, and for many Olympic athletes, their lives eventually become much more engrossed in their sport, but chances are, their involvement in the sport was derived from an extracurricular.

On the other hand, the Chinese are not like that because it is a difference in culture. The Olympic athletes are trained from a young age, and that is all they do: they train in one activity and go to school on the side. The schools that they attend specialize in that one skill. For example, if your parents determine that you should learn dance, you are sent to a dance school at a young age, and it is at the dance school where you spend most of your time training in your talent, but also receive a compulsory education.

Therefore, to say that the athletes have been “tortured” at a young age is a total misunderstanding. They have been specially trained at a young age, and for a lot of them, it could mean a better way of life for their families in the long run.

Also, the Chinese government is not “evil” and the Chinese people are not being oppressed. Not everyone will be happy with their government, a that includes the people of the United States. I have a lot of family in mainland China. When I first went to China in 1998, I was expecting to see extreme poverty and unhappy, suppressed people, but on the contrary, I saw happy, hospitable people. They’re not restricted from expressing their opinions like you think they are. The government does not control their every action and thoughts. The American standard of living is still higher than the Chinese, which explains the larger wealth gap apparent in China, but all in all, the Chinese people are happy with the direction that their country is heading, and no, the government did not “force” them to say that.

So before anyone else makes anymore generalizations about the Chinese government and people, just remember that your point of view no matter what country you’re from is greatly influenced by your media and politics of your respective countries. Just because a country has a different way of doing things does not make it wrong. We are raised to believe what our culture teaches us, therefore whenever we hear that something is done differently elsewhere, we assume that it is wrong.

Don’t make any assumptions about anything unless you’ve truly seen or experienced it with your own eyes and not through a secondary source like the media.

Keep an open mind. Isn’t the Olympics all about creating worldwide unity? Not controversy.

17 comments August 18, 2008

The Redeem Team, China and Leslie’s Basketball Craze, & the Woe of Living in the Pacific Standard Time Zone

To those of you who are not basketball-heads like me, bear with me on this post. I have just finished watching the much anticipated USA vs. China men’s basketball match-up and it is time for one of my basketball word surges.

The Redeem Team

The “Redeem Team” unsurprisingly dominated the game, but I strongly believe that they were very well matched with the Chinese team for much of the 1st half. In the United States, NBA basketball players are notorious for their tabloid-worthy antics like their sex scandals, wild partying ways, and DUIs in addition to their flashy fundamentals and gravity-defying artistry in slam dunks. You could argue that they have a reason to be cocky for their talent and hey, if you got the money, why not flaunt it for the world to see.

However, I have to disagree that the USA basketball players are being cocky in this Olympic Games. Maybe outside of the Olympic games, they foster the speculations of their baby mamas and sexual affairs, but right now in the Beijing Olympic games, this is not the time for those antics. Their losses in the most recent World Championships and the bronze medal earned in the 2004 Athens Olympics have acted as a much needed wake-up call for the USA professional basketball mentality. There is a reason why this year’s USA team is appropriately named the “Redeem Team.” This generation of NBA superstars have witnessed an incredible turn of events in the international game. They realize that they will no longer be able to dominate the international games as they did in the past. Although the USA Olympic basketball team is comprised of the NBA’s biggest names, I am actually impressed that they are not getting complacent with the amount of talent they have on their squad.

They may be greeted with extreme rock star-like attention by the Chinese basketball fans [especially with my much-disliked Kobe Bryant, but that is a rant for another time], but I believe that they have yet to take a cocky stand on their celebrity status in these Games. They do play a much more different and flashy game of basketball in the NBA, but it is our USA basketball team who now has to adjust to the international ways of the game in order to achieve their ultimate goal of the Olympic gold. Although most of their points in the USA-China game were attained by slam dunks over the Chinese, they were hurt in the 3-point shooting area, probably because of the change in range of 3-pointers in the international game as well as being having an overall weaker 3-point game.

The Olympics coverage has also reported of instances where these NBA stars are actually attempting to be a more integral part of the USA Olympic team instead of staying within their own little basketball team bubble. Jason Kidd took time out of prepping for the USA-China match-up by attending his admirer Misty May-Treanor’s beach volleyball game earlier in the day, and Carmelo Anthony is reaching out to his fellow Baltimorean Michael Phelps. These NBA stars have been humbled this time around, and are finally putting on a positive international image for the NBA. They have finally realized that basketball is not just a game for the USA, but a game of the world.

China & Leslie’s Basketball Craze

One of the reasons why the Chinese Olympic team outnumbers the United States’ team is partly because the hosting country is allowed to qualify as many athletes in as many events as they wish. You would think that with this advantage, they would strategically schedule their participating athletes in the most advantageous slots to attain as many golds as possible. However, the Chinese were willing to take a hit in their run to the medal stand by scheduling the Chinese men’s basketball team to play against the physical and dominating Redeem Team.

The scheduling of the Chinese and USA basketball teams’ openers to face each other shows how much the game of basketball has progressed in China not just in popularity but in skill. When I went to China in 1998, the sport of the Chinese was soccer/football. There were quite a few basketball courts in Beijing and Changsha, but football was THE sport. Everyone who was anyone played football. Basketball was just a bit of an afterthought.

Many may argue that the rise in popularity of basketball among the Chinese is attributed to Yao Ming’s draft into the NBA. However, I believe that this surge began just a little before Yao Ming’s time. Wang Zhizhi signed to play with the Dallas Mavericks and Mengke Bateer to the San Antonio Spurs shortly before Yao became a household name in the United States. Honest to goodness, Wang was a terrible player in the NBA, but despite that many Chinese and Chinese-Americans like myself flocked to the Oakland Coliseum to watch him play with the Mavs against the Golden State Warriors, and I am sure that throughout the rest of the country, other Chinese and Chinese-Americans were doing to same at their local NBA venues. Bateer did not have as much luck in the NBA either because after short stints with other NBA teams through trades, they both returned to Asia. Both did not have the star power and publicity of Yao Ming, but the fact that there were two Chinese players who saw some time on the court with the NBA gave the Chinese a new perspective to the game.

After Yao Ming came into the picture, the rest was history and the popularity of basketball reached an new peak in the PRC. Now it seems that basketball has surpassed football in being the most popular sport in China. Funnily enough, the Chinese fans seem to get a much bigger kick with the other NBA players. Yao Ming’s jersey sales in China are only ranked 6th behind other NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant. However, Yao is still the biggest basketball star of China, and possibly the biggest celebrity in China.

The skill level of the Chinese basketball games have also improved. At my mother’s hometown Changsha in my 1998 trip, she brought me to a newly built basketball court near my grandmother’s home. Although I haven’t played in about a month at the time and haven’t cut my nails once throughout the month-long trip, in my brief display of lay-ups on the court as an 11-year-old wearing a squirt and sandals, a nearby spectator asked my mother about me and said that she should leave me in China to train to eventually play for the local Hunan team.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I was not and am not a basketball superstar, though at the time of the incident, I have to admit that I wasn’t a bad player at all. However, my point with this story is to show the evolution of the game of basketball in China. In 1998, in Changsha, they would have been willing to settle to train a 11-year-old Chinese-American who’s basketball skills were only mediocre compared to some of her peers in the United States at the time. If I was an 11-year-old mediocre basketball player in China today, I doubt that I would even get a look by recruiters.

With the popularity of Yao Ming, China has also focused on honing the basketball skills of its players, thus inspiring aspiring young basketball players to hone their skills as well. The Chinese men’s basketball team may not be a favorite to medal this year and have lost by 30 points to the USA team in the 2008 Olympics opener, but they have definitely come a long way. Not even 10 years ago, they probably wouldn’t have even stood a chance of competing against the USA team. Just like their rapid economic and social developments of their country, imagine what the Chinese can do to improve their basketball game in the near future.
The Woe of Living in the PST zone

Call me cocky, but I think I have the right to be about this. I apologize for offending anyone, but I am not trying to offend anyone. I am just expressing my opinions. Plus, I’m really a nice person. I just have a lot of pride in being a Californian and a San Franciscan.

The West Coast is definitely the better side of the United States to be living. Other than New York City in the east, when foreigners imagine the United States, they picture the California coast, beaches, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. However, the ONE and ONLY downfall about living in the Westside is that almost nothing here is televised live. I am extremely disappointed that none of the Olympics coverage is live, though they say it is on NBC. We all know here by the Pacific that everything that we’re watching about the Olympics is taped, and if you didn’t know that before reading this, sorry to break it to you. Thanks to the internet, I already knew that Michael Phelps had won his first gold medal three hours before watching it on NBC.

I believe that this is horribly unfair to the West Coast viewers. We can find out who WORE what, who WINS what, who DID what, and who SAID what in all the major award shows before we can witness it ourselves. And as an avid sports fan, I hate watching taped games. I want to actually witness history in the making, and not witness it 3-hours later than the rest of the country.

I would have been more than willing to wake up at 7AM to catch the LIVE coverage of the USA vs. China men’s basketball game instead of watching a taped version at 10AM with headlines tempting me to click “USA vs. China. Who won?” at 9:50AM PST.

2 comments August 10, 2008

One World, One Dream

Greetings and welcome to my blog. My goal is to maintain this blog by constantly documenting my adventures abroad during my year of study in Japan and hopefully, the international adventures that will follow after this year.

Although I still have a little over a month left in the United States, I find it only appropriate to begin my blogging the day of the opening of the Summer 2008 Olympics hosted in Beijing, China. As many may already know, as a first generation Chinese-American I am proud of my Chinese heritage and proud that the country of my ancestors will be hosting the largest sporting event known to mankind.

After several trips to China, I have had firsthand experience of the Olympics craze that has spanned for the past several years and is probably about to blow through the roof in Beijing right now. All the media hype in this past year can not fully describe the true spirit of this energy surge. Imagine wandering through the streets of the major cities of China and seeing vendors at every corner selling official [and unofficial =)] Olympics merchandise. Large digital clocks stand in various landmarks of different cities in China counting down to the mere seconds of the start of the legendary Olympic games. This is their chance to show the entire world of their rapid development] after a “century of humiliation,” as Newsweek reports.

Our generation of humankind is truly blessed to be able to witness this historical set of events. And I must admit, I am extremely jealous that I can only experience this history through a television set and the Internet.



Beijing 2007

Beijing 2007

The official Olympics countdown clock and I in July 2007. Right now, the clock should be counting down to the mere hours before the start of the games!!

Add comment August 8, 2008

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