Archive - Jan 20, 2007

Flying pigeon

Where to all the bikes in China come from? They seemed to me to be as sturdy, standardized, bland and ubiquitous as the Model T must have been here in 1920.

The bicycles are called Flying Pigeons. The prototype was developed by a model worker in a factory shortly after the Communist takeover in 1949. He named the bike "The Flying Dove," in honor of the desire people had for peace during the Korean War, as well as after the other wars which had plagued China for the previous decades.

Mr. Yu

While in Hangzhou, I got up early one morning to go for a walk along the legendary West Lake. I didn't get very far before this old man flagged me down and asked if I spoke English.

I had been used to brushing off people who asked if I knew English because chances were high that they simply wanted to lure me into a tea ceremony or something of the sort. We were told this, and we learned it first-hand.

Chinese media

Read this article for a fascinating glimpse of the Chinese media. Buried in the lower paragraphs is the shocking statement that an average of 13 people per day die in illegal Chinese coal mines. (Another startling statistic I heard last week: 150,000 Chinese women commit suicide each year. That amounts to one every four minutes.)

Tight margins

Everybody is moving in this picture. The bicyclist leans over to let a speeding car by. Nobody's flinching. Welcome to China.

Looking through my photos, I came across this one of the Master-of-Nets garden that I missed the first time through. This probably gives a feel for the courtyard better than the other photos.

Shanghai, cont.

In the French Concession, an area of Shanghai that was controlled by the French government, a park is the site for a card game. There was gambling going on, and that is illegal, so I got a lot of stares when I pulled out my little camera. I think it made the men uncomfortable.