We took a hotel car out north of Xiamen today to the next district to visit a potential manufacturer.  On the way to and fro we passed miles and miles of subsistence living, without amenities, comfort, or even glassed in windows to keep out the winter cold.  Farm plots in this area are small and intensely cultivated with many hand tied bamboo support structures.  The land appears rich and the people incredibly industrious, and everyone seems happy despite an absence of opulence and wealth.  I didn’t shoot any pictures of the poor blocks and dwellings today.  With so many working so hard to scratch out a living with only labor and very little capital, it didn’t seem fair to expose them to too much scrutiny.  Maybe some day in the future.

The pics below are in the city, quite a different scene there.



On the waterway between Gulang Yu and the city of Xiamen you can see lots of tour boats.  Naturally you would expect some of them might offer dinner cruises since many look about the right size for that sort of thing.  So we asked the concierge at the hotel if he could recommend a dinner cruise.  This became a discussion among 4 or 5 concierge staff and us trying to explain what a dinner cruise was to them.  The up shot of it was that if we wanted dinner on a boat, they recommended we should “take dinner” with us.

Cologne evening

A Christmas market in Cologne

Cologne Cathedral 80% of Cologne was destroyed during the war, however the cathedral was spared.  It’s hard to capture the scale of it in a snapshot – the spires are about the height of a 50 story office building. ————————————————————————————-

Shanghai, Xiamen, Guangzhou

We’re incredibly lucky to see these sights and spend time with our gracious hosts.

BTW, add revaluing the Yuan to make Chinese goods more expensive for Americans in order to spur investment in American jobs to the list of idiotic and naive ideas to come out of the Obama administration.  Yeah, let’s have Americans pay artificially high prices for foreign goods to remove marginal capital from their pockets, while we increase their taxes to pay for the socialized health care we shove down their throats, so they feel like becoming entrepreneurs to create jobs that the feds can regulate to death and suck out more funding for the welfare state.  Just who’s going to buy these proposed American goods that are expected to cost more?  Let’s see, in Obamanomics, comparative advantage means the privilege of paying more for less.  I guess we’re all supposed to feel so good about our new socialism that we’ll just overlook our own impoverishment.

While that sinks in, here’s some more pics to ponder:



Work trikesWork trikeWork bike

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internet will find a way

Lots of grab-shot images to upload when time permits.  Shanghai environs have changed drastically in two years.  Factories of every sort of fabrication, assembly and manufacture of every item imaginable saturate the land.  We’re either getting used to the frenetic manner of Chinese driving, or perhaps Chinese drivers are settling down a bit.  Still lots of horns, lights, random intersection crossings, near head-on collisions between cycles and cars and various other flirtations with disaster, but the overriding traffic law here seems to be, “No harm, no foul.”  The second law of the Chinese model traffic code would go something like, “Flashing lights and honking horns are simply data and do not carry an emotional message, regardless of how insistently they are employed.”  Twitter and Facebook appear to be blocked at this location in Shanghai though I think they were available in Shenzhen and certainly were in Hong Kong.  Google US is available though the news (CNN) said that Google will pull out of China next month.  I think that refers to the Chinese language Google.cn which I’ve read that the Chinese don’t use much anyway.  I hope English speakers can still access US Google though if US Google is no longer maintained for Chinese references, it would seem to become less relevant over time for English speakers over here.  Conclusion: Mandarin lessons are in order.  Headed to Xiamen this afternoon for a day/night then on to Kuala Lumpur.  Not much time this trip to smell the roses though we’re accomplishing the mission and everyone’s healthy.

Noted item from today’s Shanghai Daily, pg. A9:

“The health care reform program would affect nearly every American and remake one-sixth of the US economy.  For the first time, Americans would have health insurance.”

That sort of misinformation is just not helpful.

Sticking your neck out at 120 KPHHenry dumpling - 3/20/10 Shanghai

BricklayersPick Up game

first impressions

The day began today in China (for us) with……Fox News! and the O’Reilly Factor–which works well as a morning talk show!

Fox News.  Communist China.  Go figure.  Maybe it has something to do with Obama and Napolitano both on Fox today?  Nice to see the left venturing outside their comfort zones on CNN and MSNBC.

(Update: Over in Shenzhen this afternoon–crossing the border from Hong Kong to China, we said goodbye to Fox News.  13 years into the 100 year merger of Hong Kong and China, looks like China proper will have to wait a little longer for Fox News.)

We read some illuminating articles in the China Daily (state) newspaper in transit.  In a story about closing down ubiquitous unlicensed health clinics in China, the China Daily noted, “More than half of the rural population of China does not have adequate medical insurance.”  The rural population is around 800 million.  And migrant workers are not reimbursed for health care because people only get insurance reimbursement for fees incurred in the region they are from, not fees incurred in the region where they live and work.  So, the government is trying to shut down market health care alternatives while also using health insurance as a tool to control migration.

On the next page of the 3/16/10 China Daily (page 9), an editorial says, “In the United States, the epitome of Western culture, it is difficult for a person without health insurance or enough money to get medical treatment.  Visitors to the US, especially from poorer countries may be refused access to healthcare.”  Well, this is simply misinformation.  EMTALA guarantees health care to the point of stabilization to anyone who walks into a hospital emergency room.  Moreover, it’s an unfunded mandate. Hospitals don’t get reimbursed for care provided under EMTALA.

It would be more productive for China to focus on health care provision for its uninsured and insured people than to obfuscate their own problems with straw man allegations about the U.S. system, which, though imperfect, is pretty good.