Tag Archives: travel

Streets of Rural Beijing

Ausländer im eigenen Inland? Why Beijing’s New Traffic Rules Compound Problems

The city of Beijing is promulgating two new regulations on the roads:—

  • Only cars with Beijing plates, as well as authorised, registered cars from elsewhere, may enter Beijing inside the 6th Ring Road (although they may use the 6th Ring itself, mainly for transit);
  • Long-term licences for cars from outside of Beijing will no longer be issued.

Its rationale: We need to keep the city to ourselves… we need to give Beijing cars priority in Beijing… so there!

And to that new rule I say: #FAIL. This is the typical knee-jerk reaction one expects from .gov.anywhere… EU citizens “overpopulate” Switzerland (are they not afforded “freedom of movement”?), so the Swiss go to the polls and literally votes them out (killer immigrant quotas to come); Beijing’s traffic gets awful, so City Hall goes and starts hurrying non-Beijing cars away from the centre of town.

Never before were you an alien in one’s own country. Or as the German would say, Ausländer im eigenen Inland. This is “logic” that defies logic.

It’s probably no secret much of the planet isn’t having its best days as of late. But rather than to exclude, we can elect to include

Include Tianjin and Hebei, nearby cities / provinces to Beijing, when you grow. Now the “CCP old guard” way to grow is to chuck the surrounding provinces all heavy industry. Great, so their people are polluted way further. (The next bit, then, is to throw them out to He’nan — a province already badly strangled in China when it comes to the image / inhabitants — He’nan people are on a lot of people’s “s**tlist” just for being He’nan people.) The new way, then, would be to dismantle or redo heavy industry, and spread them to parts near you (but outside of the Jing) so that they can both exist and no-one’s really gonna get hurt in all this.

Include the immigrants in your society and let them become you. If foreigners must be “foreign criminals”, that’s a Swiss fault as much as it is a foreign fault. The new way, then, would be to educate them better. Invest in the education of their home countries, so that they already know how to be better civilised before they move in.

To randomly exclude and to discriminate only makes an already bad situation worse. To be more inclusive towards all would make things much better.

Ente gut, alles gut…?

The word ente has two meanings (as far as I know — and hey, I don’t know all the languages in the world!):—

  • In German: A duck
  • In Italian: Either a corporation, or being

and I’d like to use the Italian version of the word ente whilst keeping it in a German phrase. So instead of it meaning A good duck makes everyone happy (a rather cheeky slogan in an ad for toilet cleaner — the classic Toilet Duck), I’d like to completely remix it and give it “new meaning”: Feeling good makes everyone happy.

Don’t you hate it when decalinguals drive you up the wall?

The year 2013 is drawing to a close. Whilst happy for what has been a moderate year, I’m willing to take things to the next level in the forthcoming year. For once I am announcing that I will no longer be spending the entire year — that is, over 80% — in Beijing.

I am looking “back to Europe” for a first destination outside of Asia. It is true that Beijing’s Subway system is longer and more modern than London’s variant. It’s no secret that Swiss trains run about 50% slower than their Chinese counterpart. But after nearly 15 years on the ground in Beijing, it’s probably time to take a trip — at least a comparatively longer one (30+ days or so) — into a foreign land. The last time I left home for over 30 days was in 1999. I used to live in Zürich, so heading to Beijing was heading “out” of my (Swiss) home.

Most people have less-than-positive views about the United States. I’m not one of these — although prefer when sitting at the Starbucks that the guy next to me didn’t have something “unharmonious”. So far I’ve been to only 4 US states (NY, VA — for Dulles Int’l Airport, and FL as well as CA) and the District of Columbia. That’s nothing. Somewhere down the line, I’d like to give North America a bit more attention. If anything, I’d like to do Wyoming, if it was only to be in a state which was completely square. (To a Swiss / Chinese, where no canton / province is 100% square, that must be a “new” experience.) And probably Route 66 as well. Or Amtrak across the country…

I admit there are a few destinations on the “wrong” side of the world I am missing: South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and New Zealand. I need these, and I also need a trek with Train K3 via Ulaanbaatar straight to Moscow. I should also probably test drive Train T5 to Hanoi, if only to travel in China’s only long-distance international service with the national emblem over a train in blue (others have the emblem over a train in green).

The other day, I did a pretty scary calculation of my total mileage: over a million kilometres, and just a bit short of a million miles. I’m thinking of both converting these into media / information platform shows (blogs included) and adding more to the meter. It’s about a trip-and-a-half to the moon and back. I’m still in my early 30s. I need more miles.

In China, there’s a saying: you need to read both thousands of books and have travelled thousands of miles. I’ve done the latter. 2014 might also be the time when I do a bit more of the former…

The new year, no matter how it starts or where I might start 2015, will be one I’m going to get pretty excited about. Stay tuned…

David’s On the Go

I’ve put a new “thing” on my official website as of late: my mile-o-meter, which will, for the time being, show my rail and air mileages (air mileage approximated). You can see them on the bottom of every page.

These updates come in on the 5th, 15th and 25th of every month, so everyone is up-to-date on just how much travelling I’ve done during that time.

At present I have at least 160+K kilometres by rail, so that’s obviously the big winner here. Still, my goal is to clock in more mileage — more by train in China and Europe and more by air elsewhere.

My schedule calls for visits to Harbin and Taiyuan in the not-too-distant future, and Xi’an and Zhengzhou further down the line. Those will also be my first train visits to both He’nan and Shanxi.

So, see you around!


There. I let my emotions loose. Never mind I’ve my mixed opinions on if we should call 北京南站 either Beijing South (correct) or Beijingnan (pinyin works). But I’ve seen a few of the sickest Chinglish at China’s train stations.

China’s trains are the best on the planet. The CRH380AL, which shuttles riders all the way between Beijing and Guangdong, is the fastest train on the world when it comes to train sets in actual commercial operation this very present day. So why should a First Class HSR system make do with Second Class Chinglish?

I’ve collected a few of the crassest mistakes. I’m now on a mission to knock out all Chinglish at China’s train stations faster than the CRH380AL speed machine. Think of this as my social duty as a teacher of English and media in universities around China (Communication University, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Graduate School) and soon, Hebei University, if the plans work out well).

I don’t charge the rails a single half penny for this. We’ve got to give back to society once in a while. I’ve enough in the piggy bank to keep the batteries up for a fair bit of time. In the meantime, it’s time to be a lingo Mensch, as Guy Kawasaki’d say so…

The new Shijiazhuang HSR hub: there’s no need for an extra “the”!

OMG. Xuzhou’s Chinglish has me totally freaking out. Stop mouth?

You can’t make this bit of artificial Chinglish up!…

Must smell awful: The “Wind” of the World?

Finally, on the trains, the taps themselves come with Chinglish pre-installed…

EVEN MORE Freeways for Beijing…

This city continues to surprise me in terms of how fast things grow. Fresh for a Monday morning, I’m hearing brand-new freeways such as a completely new freeway through western Beijing’s Mentougou District running alongside National Highway 109 (Beijing-Lhasa). (That thing cuts through all the mountains you could take in western Beijing.)

I’ve travelled the whole length of that highway up to the Kongjian junction just ouside Beijing, so I know how challenging that part of the highway can be. The worst is yours after Xiaolongmen (小龍門), when you encounter loads of curves on hilly terrain along with trucks parked halfway through. (And you wonder, all of a sudden, if you’re in France.)

(Or not.)

Another fair bit of relief is a brand-new second freeway from Beijing to the northeastern suburbs in Miyun. I also hear reports that we might hit upon a parallel freeway to the present-day G1 (Beijing-Harbin) freeway, as that one, as I’ve seen in a recent test drive, is a true nightmare especially at night, when trucks make your life hell.

I sort of can’t wait until late 2015, when there’ll be a “3+12″ freeway system around Beijing (3 orbitals, 12 non-orbital freeways). Of course, I’m looking for cooler things still in the rail world.

Like the Beijing-Kowloon HSR… man do I want that!

A Quick Sneak Over to Korea

Home of hangeul (or chosungul if you’re reading this North of Thirty-Eight). Land of Kims and Kimchi. The place where your faithful Fido can be eaten by fellow human beings beans. OK… I overdid the intro, but nonetheless, a five-day visit to Korea got me out of the PRC after it terrorized my body with three full days of 40°C-ish temps.

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I was expecting a trip to be operated by Ga-Ga Cola (of Rescue Rangers fame), not Coca-Cola. Nope, thanks to some outright stunt maneuvering that landed me a “big-@$$ card” at the Minsheng Bank, they gave us a free — and downright trashy — trip to South Korea. Trashy because the guide was easily the worst guide ever, period. Trashy because we had some pretty shuvulent (David Feng English for “horrible”) people onboard. But these were the only two trashy things about the whole trip. Everything else was the most un-trashy: un-trashy scenery, un-trashy Internet (especially in Seoul), and un-trashy traffic (Beijing, you’re dead!). One last thing that was trashy: we didn’t go to Panmunjeom (where we could have easily defected to North Korea). Nope, that would have meant a quick trip to the DPRK embassy, and nobody wanted to do that. (Odd.)

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First on our stop was Busan. We had a quick trip down Shopping Street, where I managed to navigate around the shopping area while bumping into complete replicas of the old Hsiushui of Lao Beijing. Busan was brilliant, but so was the name of the hanky paper. I mean, someone had way too much time on their hands naming the hankies!

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Other than that, though, Busan remained quite a good start to the journey.

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Next was a planned escapade into Jeju Island, where we went up mountains to capture drop-dead gorgeous scenery. Some people gave up halfway (or didn’t make it at all), but I was able to climb to the top, no complains, no buts.

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Too bad we were pulled back into the coach. I would have loved to cruise down those highways in Jeju da solo!

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Take a CLOSE LOOK — is this heading downhill or up? This is when Korea starts NOT making sense — this was, in fact, an incline heading up!

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Next up was Seoul.

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Dongdaemun. And free Internet next door (with tea — to the tune of KRW 5,000). I finally was able to catch up on my Mac, after Jeju left me with an ordinary PC in a Net cafe. Ärgh!

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Central Seoul. We circumambulated this crossing like about four times in one day (demented guide be thanked, that’s what).

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Defection ahead to North Korea. We didn’t actually defect, but we went to the Odusan Unification Observatory to capture a glimpse of Kimland.

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In the distance: the land of the two Kims.

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Do they love our leader more? Or do they want unification faster?

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South Korea should be sued for ripping off shenwumen from us. Then again, our culture did kind of brainwash them, so we suppose we’ll let them get away this time.

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Gyeongbukgeong. Drop-dead gorgeous views.

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Internet got more and more prevalent as the trip wounded its way down — on the last day, I got online outside two restaurants, in the hotel room (then in Incheon), and at the airport, too!

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Now back in Beijing…

No sleep, no surprise

I think I’m the worst enemy of planes in terms of sleeping mileage. To me, slumberettes are nothing but things they charge an extra thousand bucks, since to me I get no mileage out of them.

I seem to be the natural enemy of sleep. I spend nights up till 3 AM tearing down freeways in SimCity and replacing them with monorails. I actually do live rebroadcasts and translations of Keynotes (Stevenotes), keeping me up until 5 AM.

This extremely David Feng practice of fly-and-don’t-sleep kind of shocked the flight attendants, who weren’t used to the concept of sleepless first-class passengers. That’s because what powers David Feng isn’t an ordinary PC — it’s a first-of-the-class Mac. David Feng doesn’t sleep on planes.

He gets productive. :-)

Now: TEA ATTACK! Can’t sleep for at least 11 hours… ;-)

PS: After a quick chat with the stewardess, turns out I found out the reason for my anti-sleep attitude: I hated midday naps since… what, 1986. It’s 20 years without the dreaded midday nap and counting!