Monthly Archives: May 2009

Microsoft’s Bing in China

In the nerdosphere today Microsoft announced a new search engine, dubbed “Bing” to be launched next week. In China is redirecting to – leaving many (nerds) guessing what the Middle Kingdom will get in terms of a search engine.

In Chinese, Bing could mean a number of things depending on which tone you say it in or what context:

病 bìng – disease, sick
兵 bīng – soldier/military
冰 bīng – ice/cold
饼 bǐng – cake
并 bìng – bring together/merge

I’m not sure how the masses will take to it but a Chinese n00b like myself most commonly uses bing like “Wo bìng le” – I am sick…

Anyway, it seems to have taken someone by surprise judging by this screenshot taken today:


Shanghai Shots: Qibao Town

“I could eat the arse out of a low flying duck”, a visiting friend said before we jumped a 15 minute cab ride to Qibao Ancient Town in Shanghai’s Minhang District.

Neither of us knew we’d actually be squaring off more peculiar dishes than low flying duck arses for lunch.

This was actually back in January when I ran into an old friend at the airport who was doing a quick flyby trip through China. After seeing much of Shanghai’s main ‘Lonely Planet’ trail he wanted to get a more authentic feel of China outside the metropolis of Shanghai.

With only a few hours to spare I recommended the area of Qibao Ancient Town. Qibao was originally built in the Northern Song Dynasty between 960 and 1126 and grew over the years with the Qibao Temple at the centre of shaping the area. Recently, the temple has been reconstructed and contains ancient artifacts from its beginnings, including the original bronze bell with script from the era.

Along with the cultural significance is the popularity of the area’s rather unique snack streets. Local Shanghainese dishes are available along with exotic snacks such as toad, pig snout, baby birds on sticks, among others I couldn’t quite make out.

Sure, you can visit more authentic, less touristy water-type towns further away from Shanghai, but if you’re short on time Qibao Town will satisfy.

What: Qibao Ancient Town
In Chinese: 七宝古镇 Pinyin: Qībǎo gǔ zhèn
Where: Shanghai’s Minhang District. You can get there via Shanghai Metro Line 9 to Qibao station or it’s about a 40-50RMB taxi ride from downtown Shanghai.
How much: Free, snacks are relatively cheap. Haggle for cheesy touristy gifts.








Is this guy crazy?

No helmet. One hand on the handle bars. And riding with a pane of glass:


Crazy as a coconut, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

On the maybe side of the argument is common sense which says wearing a helmet will probably increase the chances of surviving a crash on a bike. Those chances of survival seemingly rise if there isn’t a pane of glass ready to tear you to shreds at the slightest mistake.

On the maybe not side of the argument is economic rationality. Consider this gentleman’s cost-benefit calculation. Riding with a helmet and without a pane of glass make accidents less costly in terms of injury and possibly death. In economic terms this makes the benefits of slow and careful riding less. Less direct risk means increases in speed and carelessness. Hence, the safer the ride is, the more smaller accidents that will happen but possibly less death.

Looking at data to prove one argument over another is more complex than these two sides would have you believe. Though, if you’re following the euphemism then you’ll probably agree – unprotected scooterism is as crazy as it looks.

Shanghai Shots: Xintiandi at night

Xintiandi (新天地 – New Heaven and Earth) is a rather cosmopolitan area of Shanghai with restored shikumen (“stone gate”) houses which facade some of the town’s most upper crust cafe’s, restaurants, bars, and shops.

It’s a cool place to hang out, especially in summer with the various outdoor eating and drinking options. While the area has been restored beautifully, its a celebration of the architecture of yesteryear mixed with Starbucks. That’s not to say its not worth visiting. However, if you are after old houses that people still live in, then you may want to look elsewhere around town.

If you live in Shanghai, no doubt you already know all of this. If you’re looking to visit Shanghai, whack Xintiandi on the itinerary for your trip.

What: Xintiandi (Chinese: 新天地; pinyin: xīn tiān dì)
Where: Taicang Lu, Xintiandi is a good place to start. From Shanghai Metro Line 1 get off at South Huangpi Road station and walk south on South Huangpi Road or Madang Road.
How Much: Nothing to walk around, bring your wallet to at and drink, or visit the First Conference of the Communist Party of China.


Shanghai Shots: Elevated Highway

Last week @pat1982 and myself went scouting for places to take night shots of Shanghai. In our first expedition we took the following long exposure photos of the various elevated highways.

With a parching thirst consuming our vitals we headed around the corner to Xintiandi to seek out a good German beer and take a few night shots – more of those photos to follow. For now, here’s the scaled down Web version of some of the shots:

Elevated Road

Should China eat Kangaroo?

While the world press fixates itself on the future of China in the world economy there’s been a bit of a stir back home that’s hit the front page news: China eating our Kangaroos.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: poor old skippy, one minute he’s jumping around the countryside, having a great time reproducing at a rate that the environment can’t sustain, and the next minute he’s $4.95/kg in the supermarket.

Well this storm in a teacup started when Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke, recently visited China to encourage locals to nibble on some Kangaroo. Australia has been exporting Kangaroo meat and products since the 1950s to places like France and Germany – who seem to love the taste – why not China? In fact, the back of the roo currently contributes around 200 million Aussie dollars to the economy.

The promotion caused offense to Australia’s Animal Liberation, a left wing group which exposes animal cruelty, like eating kangaroos. So much so that Mark Pearson, the executive director of Animal Liberation, is to visit China and give them a report which backs his arguments that kangaroos shouldn’t be eaten.

Who Pearson is going to give the report to in Beijing or who will actually care is unclear. Mr Pearson claims the report, called “A Shot in the Dark”, written by kangaroo ecologist Dror Ben-Ami, deals not only with animal welfare but hygiene and sustainability issues with harvesting kangaroos. No doubt Pearson will play the fear factor to whoever listens to him in China – what if, be careful, wild game, and so on.

Personally, I find kangaroo delicious – a bit gamey – but quite tender. I recently bought some kangaroo jerky back to China and gave it to our Ayi. She thought it was ‘hao chi’ (good food).

My tastes aside kangaroo meat is low in fat, high in protein, and quite healthy. Even those hippies from Greenpeace endorse eating kangaroo. The group recently released a report which claims Aussies can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint by eating less beef and more of the local wildlife.

It seems kangaroos, well, fart less which causes less greenhouse emissions. They also do less damage to the topsoil, require less food, and are better suited to Australia’s drought-prone outback. And while kangaroos are rather cute there are simply too many of them in certain areas for the local wildlife and bush to sustain their numbers.

On the food streets in Shanghai and the wet markets its easy to see that almost anything goes. I say, why not a kanga banga on the barbie?

Shanzhai Eye: DIY helicopter

It’s one thing to Shanzhai a USB stick or SD card. Another to copy the iPhone. Amazing to see a whole F1 car made from scratch. But, a helicopter?

Update: Thanks to Swiss James for pointing out this story was last month’s news at Shanghaiist and 56minus1 even has an update on what happened to this gentleman after a recent crash.

That’s right, kids. Tell your friends that you heard it here 1st, 2nd, 3rd…much later!

Shanghai Shots: Morning on the Bund

If one can get out of bed early enough then you’ll see these scenes of Tai Chi, Kung Fu practice, and other morning exercises down on the Bund (Waitan) side of the Huangpu River. In fact, you’ll see these morning rituals at most parks but this has to be one of the more spectacular backdrops.