JULY - AUGUST 2012
From Late July to mid August I was in Shanghai and surrounding
I traveled to an inland town (of several million people) with
While SIL was involved in business, the rest of us traveled to Shanghai
and stayed at a place recommended by "wotif" which was expensive and
not very good. We then used "hostels.com" to find a youth hostel
in Hangzhou. Traveled on a very fast train (about 300 kph) and
that the hostel was located in a fascinating old part of the
town. (a bit like the central Paris or London or Amsterdam
heritage areas.) Daughter found a children's entertainment
area with roundabouts etc that kept grandkids (18 months and 5
years) quiet for respectable periods.
After a few days daughter booked us into another hostel in
Shuzhou. We again traveled by very fast train. As we were
leaving the platform, another very fast train thundered past on a
platform. It was quite impressive to see a 500 meter long
train pass in around five seconds. And the sound effects were
Shuzhou was somewhat a disappointment, or maybe we were located too far
from the old town district. It was here that I got a first hint
as to how the Chinese financial machine works. We paid a man
beside a canal Yuan 150 (about $AU27) for a
half hour ride on a sampan and were serenaded by the oarsman. As
the ride was finishing he practically begged for a tip. Later on
from information from similar rides we deduced that the "organizer" had
some sort of government "license" to sell the rides.
The people who actually do the work are expected to provide the
equipment and make their money
from "tips" This pattern was repeated in most instances of
arranged tours. The concession holder kept most (if not all) of
the fee, the people who provide the hardware and do the actual work had
to live on the tips. I suppose the kickbacks go back to someone
in the regulating authority. As has happened for millenia in
Then we all met and took rooms in Shanghai near a district called "the
contains Nanjing Street. Nanjing street is the commercial hub of
Shanghai. We spent a few days walking along the waterfront and
colonial style buildings that were separated from a nearby tributary of
the Yang Tze by a Holland style "Dyke". We crossed under
the tributary on a railcar ride with lighting effects and then rode up
into a tower
with a view.
SIL took his family to see terracotta warriors. I stayed in
Shanghai. That was when I had an adventure about which I emailed
friends and family under the heading "Not a scam I knew about".
So there I was, walking around
people's square, Shanghai. Starbucks coffee in hand.
A young Chinese girl struck up a conversation. Just the right
touch of naiveté and enthusiasm about meeting a foreigner on her
first visit to the big city. Maybe early 20's. From the
sticks. Studying medicine (that's popular I notice.)
Talking a bit more. I could not see the point. Then her
girlfriend turned up. Slightly older. Both with broken
English, but good just the same. The second girl was a teacher of
English to infants. Just loved talking to a fluent English
speaking foreigner. Helped professionally I supposed.
I said lets sit down for coffee. They wanted to explore, so we
walked east in the park.
Then they suggested that as strangers to Shanghai they wanted to go to
a "tower". It was famous in some way. Invited me along.
Into a shopping centre off Nanjing road. (The main drag in
Shanghai). Into some sort of room with a lady who had a tea
set. Wanted me to try the tea. Six varieties. For
health. Lots of traditional looking stuff. I got photos.
A half hour later the bill came to something over Y1800. When I
objected they were happy to split it three ways.
I gave them Y100 and left.
(It's about $AU1 = Y6.5, so they wanted about $300 for half an hour of
That is not the first attempt at pickup in Shanghai. I must say
that it is quite hard for a European Male to be alone in this
town. I suspect the same applies for euro females. Outside
Shanghai, the pressure is absent.
Then we met in Chongqing for a three day cruise down the "Three Gorges"
stretch of the Yang Tze river. For the price this cruise was not
value for money for a single person paying for a double cabin, (but
even some of my family call me a "crotchety
old man".) Not included in the cruise cost were two tours that
$AU40 each for around two hours of temples. Wifi was not
available on the cruise ship, and the internet computer rented out for
The Three Gorges Dam is
quite controversial, with over one million people having been
relocated, and some concern about the stability of the
foundations. However it would and reportedly does mitigate
flooding downstream, and thinking of the dikes in Shanghai I can
understand the urgency. At least the Chinese engineers seem to be
avoiding the Brisbane mistake of keeping the dam full when further
inflows are expected.
Then back for a night in Shanghai, then back to Australia.
RUSSIAN NEWS SOURCE rt.com at http://22.214.171.124:80
I greet the new news source rt.com. It appears to be the most
significant new news source since the Drudge report first began
reporting on matters that the mainstream US press would not touch with
the proverbial bargepole. I have provided a numeric IP link
because at least one Australian provider's primary DNS server will not
provide it. If that link stops working please advise me.
RT.COM is apparently sourced in Russia. It might well be government
sponsored. What it does do is provide an alternative view to
western media, which (whether left or right) is more focussed on
maintaining the existing status quo oligarchy of elitist powers (trade
union bosses, commercial management interests, green alarmists, etc)
than in the introduction of democratic procedures to government.
Because democratic procedures would reduce the market for regulations.
Three stories published by rt.com illustrate it's position.
The first story is the
breaking story about TrapWire TrapWire is a stage in the
development of a totalitarian state, and potentially the ultimate end
of the human race as a small elite manages to totally determine our
lives. It is a software suite that apparently contains facial,
movement and vocal recognition modules. It draws input from
public and private cameras located on roads, service stations, shops,
just about anywhere. It analyzes these inputs and determines
geographic locations and personal contacts and "suspicious
activities". This data is collected into a central database that
will hopefully detect any likely violent insurrection activities.
This story is being supressed by western media.
The second story is
about Julian Assange. This blog has supported Julian against the
Swedish prosecutor since October 2011.
so called "liberal" journalists should also be up in arms.
Mostly I suspect because their "hero" Hillary bears grudges and Julian
has raised her ire. And with all the power of the US state
department behind her, it would take a brave foreign minister to get
between Hillary and bringing that miscreant to justice. Our
Australian foreign minister is already craven, and Opposition leader
Tony Abbott is also toeing the US narrative.
The Swedes say (rather innocuously to my mind) that they would not turn
Julian over to the USA if the death penalty was involved. We in
Australia know all about that. The US just promises not to
execute the miscreant, and then the Swedes would then allow extradition.
RT.COM has reported that the UK government has threatened to invade the
Ecuadorian embassy and take Assange. That activity would put them
on a par with Iran. That strategy was no doubt devised to
counteract the possibility that Ecuador would declare Julian to be
diplomatic personnel, allowing him to leave under diplomatic
priveledge. Other South American nations are moving to support
Ecuador, which has stated that it plans to take the matter to the
International Court of Justice. One can imagine the conversations
"Hmm. Before we arrest their diplomatic personnel,
old boy, is our current fellow in Ecuador from Eton or Harrow?"
"Not sure Bertie, but Algy and Smith-Weston are in
The Third story is
about girly punk band "Pussy Riot". According to Western Media,
this band invaded a church and sang prayers for the removal as Putin as
leader. There was also apparently some sort of "wardrobe
incident" or maybe the girls were dressed like Madonna or Lady
Gaga. A sentence of two years is clearly warranted for
criticizing Putin, but rt.com seems more determined to justify the
sentence on the grounds of disrespect for religious places.
(sorry fellas, that scenario will only play in the west for Muslims.)