On Sunday we were travelling along one of Shenzhen’s major arterial roads on the bus. All of a sudden, the traffic just stopped and we were knee-deep in cars pointing in practically every direction on the compass.
It seemed that there’d been a jam of some sorts up ahead and, rather than wait, most motorists were doing U-turns or reversing back along the free way to the nearest on ramp, trying to get onto the access road. From where we were, we couldn’t see what caused the chaos, but the actions of all the drivers were certainly contributing nicely. Strangely, the outer-most lane was flowing, albeit slowly.
It was a bit of an obscure feeling to be in a bus on a free way with a car pointing in the opposite direction alongside you, whilst your bus driver is reversing it over the median strip with the ticket lady calling out how close he is to the other cars around him.
There was plenty of construction and demolition going on whilst we were in Beijing. In all kinds of places things were going up and down, to get things ship-shape for the Olympics, no doubt.
One of the most unusual constructions is the new headquarters for CCTV, the largest TV network in China. It will be formed by joining two towers at the top but with two sections that meet at right angles rather than a basic straight bridge. This essentially means that a large portion of the building's mass is not directly over the foundations of the towers. Here's it's current progress. Follow the link to see what it'll look like once completed. I'm sure it was a nightmare getting the design right.
China construction zones can be so crazy. Often there's power lines, piles of rubble and all kinds of danger going on. This truck loaded with concrete reinforcing rods from a demolition just next to a power transformer was a classic example.
This newspaper article comes from the Tuesday 4th of September edition of the Shenzhen Daily, the only English newspaper in Shenzhen. Click on the link, read the article and slowly shake your head.
Saturday afternoon saw Gail & I heading out to the famous DaFen Oil Painting Village in Shenzhen. We'd heard about it a few times and decided to try and find it. After a bit of on-line research we learned that it was near BuJi town centre in the Longgang district. I'd taken a number 300 bus near there some months ago (not the 300A or the 300B) so we decided that we'd take the same again and then try and get a taxi driver to get us to the right spot. As it turned out, after about 45 minutes the bus went right past the village and Gail's keen eyes spotted it.
DaFen is a place where you can find rows and rows of small shops all selling copies of famous oil paintings. DaFen is the world's largest oil painting village where about 8,000 people make their living by painting duplicates of famous paintings, turning photographs into paintings or producing original works. We wandered past and into a few score shop fronts but didn't see many actual painters, which was a little disappointing.
DaFen lies just outside the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in the Longgang district to the north of Luo Hu. A Hong Kong artist called Huang Jiang, started it all when he moved to DaFen in 1989 with a plan to use the low cost labour of China to produce art duplicates for export. Others cottoned onto his success and now there are more than 600 galleries and associated workshops and factories in and around the village. Collectively they churn out 5 million oil paintings a year worth 500 million yuan.
As we strolled up and down small streets lined with rows and rows of shops the thing that impressed the most was the accuracy of the paintings. The standard of craftsmanship was amazingly good, be it a Van Gough, Rembrant (or for Gail, Waterhouse) or anyone else you care to think of. The other thing that really stood out was the size, as the paintings were generally very large. When we see prints of famous paintings, they are usually on a much smaller scale.
We ambled past and through hundreds of shops but remained empty handed, although the beauty and quality of many of the paintings was inspiring. With so many different pieces of art on display I started to go into visual overload after about an hour and a half. After a drink and a rest we continued on our visual extravaganza.
After a loo stop (costing us 1 yuan each) we took the bus back to town. Above the bus driver was this sign, indicating to passengers that they should not talk to the driver. The drivers seem to take it as a licence to not talk to the passengers either as, whilst stuck in a traffic jam, our driver completely ignored the petition of a passenger to be let down where the bus stood.
What we did come away with was the thought that a few hours in an afternoon is insufficient to fully appreciate what happens in the village. It's a mini-world unto itself and we'd both like to go back and spend a bit more time there.
Well, it was too good to last.
For nearly a month now we've enjoyed blue skies and clean air with some lovely on-shore breezes. Sadly, this has come to an end. A few days ago the wind changed direction and it is now, once again, dragging all that lovely China air pollution back down over us. Last Saturday in Hong Kong it was so bad that you could see the haze when looking at the buildings across the street.
The biggest thing I've noticed is that the polluted air makes me tired, like my energy is being sapped up into the air like I'm being attacked by a dementor. I just hope there's enough life left in me when I finally leave this place.
We are regular Skype users for chatting with family and friends. Not long after moving to China we started getting Skype spam. We have periods where we'll get a few Skype spam messages in a day over a few days and then go for weeks without getting any. The standard procedure is just to block the user that the spam has come from, easy enough to do but annoying none the less.
Here's an example:
Skype (skype) ??????
??????Skype??????????????.???Skype????http://skype.sfte.net/ ??????. ?????Skype??????$25,800 RMB?? ?? ???????!????????????????????????????????5188???????????????????Skype????????:089-888-038691 ???????!
skype (skype) ????????
Which when translated becomes:
Skype (skype) [ system news ]
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Skype (skype) network science and technology limited company
August 7, 2007
Honestly, how gullible do they think we are!