Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club

Strange... I got a package from Cathay Pacific in the mail that included a new membership card and two luggage tags. For some reason, they upgraded my account to Silver status even though I only had ~22,000 miles accrued this year; I think you need 30,000 to get to the first level. It doesn't give me much but at least it gives me lounge access each time I fly CX or KA and lets me board first on AA and Alaska flights.

It's nothing like Leon's Emerald status but he has something like a billion miles or something.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chinese - Bully in Space Too

I love space and astronomy. While I was growing up, I worked in the local public library, putting away books. While working, I must have read every book in the library on astronomy and space exploration. Recently, I started reading books and articles on the topic again (I'll explain why later); one major change recently is China's participation in space.

I remember this event when it happened in 2007 but didn't pay too much attention at the time.

The flotsam created by China's anti-satellite test last month is on the radar screens of space debris analysts, as well as space policy experts.

The intentional destruction on Jan. 11 of China's Fengyun-1C weather satellite via an anti-satellite (ASAT) device launched by the Chinese has created a mess of fragments fluttering through space.

The satellite's destruction is now being viewed as the most prolific and severe fragmentation in the course of five decades of space operations.

Way to go, China. Since that event, China is now the #1 polluter with respect to space debris. WSJ had and article last year and once again, it attracted all sorts of fenqing comments claiming Western anti-China bias, even though the source was the Russian Federal Space Agency. I wonder if they still get their 50 cents for really lame comments.

China's official response?
The Chinese government confirmed Jan. 23 that it had sent a missile to destroy one of its own satellites but insisted the test should not be viewed as a hostile act.

In a press briefing in Beijing, Liu Jianchao, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, reiterated that China "has never participated and will never participate in any arms race in outer space," Liu said, according to excerpts of his remarks provided by China's Xinhua News Agency. "This test was not directed at any country and does not pose a threat to any country."

Liu also said China had informed the United States and Japan of the anti-satellite test after the fact.

Ugh... of course it was directed to every country with satellites. As the article mentions, there's no other reason for the ASAT test. And why not? China doesn't have that many satellites yet so the debris cloud is actually more of a threat to US & Russian satellies, plus the ISS.
The Expedition 27 crew aboard the International Space Station and the team in Mission Control Houston are monitoring a piece of orbital debris that might pass close to the station later today.

There isn’t enough time to steer the station out of the way, as was done last Friday for a different piece of debris, so if the probability of collision continues to remain in the “red” category, the crew will be asked to shelter inside the Soyuz TMA-20 that brought them up to the station in December. That spacecraft is currently docked with the Rassvet module.

The piece of debris is from the defunct Chinese FENGYUN 1C satellite, and flight controllers have been monitoring it since early this morning.

It's like a bully going to a public pool and peeing in the water. Why? Because he can, and maybe he enjoys f*cking up things for everyone else. I feel the lack of accountability inherent in the CCP encourages this type of anti-social behavior. So now the entire crew of the ISS has to hide out in the Soyuz capsule for hours because China wants to be seen as a baller. Likewise, this whole 50 cent army thing has essentially ruined comment boards on any site that mentions China. Long-term, China has increased the risks to its own space program and damaged its PR reputation(!) worldwide.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inept Chinese Spies

That one guy whines like a little girl.

More info here. What a frigging disgrace. Where do they find all these thugs? And somebody train the propaganda department to come up with more believable lies.
Transcript (from full video)

So when we try and make contact with these underground churches, we start to see the same people hanging around us wherever we go. From the moment we arrive in this province we’re being watched, presumably because the authorities knew we were coming after having tapped our phones and read our emails. Every trip to the shop, every walk down the street means being tailed by plainclothes agents. And though we have a lot of new friends, some of these faces will start to become very familiar.

Driving also means being followed by the black Hondas of the local security services. At one point, we’re tailed for four hours in between cities and no matter what obscure part of this province we visit, they go with us.

You might think that around 2 dozen officers using 6 cars would be what you’d need for say a major homicide investigation or to break up a drug ring, but that’s the number of plainclothes agents we’ve spotted so far who’ve been tailing us down here.

So the Chinese Government is prepared to throw that level of resources into monitoring a few journalists who’ve done nothing more than try to make contact with some underground Christians.

After being pursued for five days we decide to go up and ask these agents why they’ve been following us. On this day they’re waiting for us in the foyer of our hotel like they have been every day.

(to agents) “Hello there. Why have you been following us?”

AGENT: “What are you saying? What are you saying?

MCDONELL: “Why have you been following us? Who are you?”

AGENT: (slaps Stephen) “When did I follow you? Who are you?”

MCDONELL: “Who are you?”

AGENT: (lashes out at camera)

MCDONELL: “We don’t know who you are.”

AGENT: “Who are you? Why are you filming me?” (pushing Stephen)

MCDONELL: “Why do you… ?”

AGENT: (lashing out at Stephen) “I’m asking who you are. Who are you? Excuse me?”

MCDONELL: (to hotel staff) “Can you please ring the police?”

AGENT: “Why are you filming my client?”

MCDONELL: They clearly enjoy the anonymity of spying on others to being filmed themselves.

(in hotel foyer) Well we’ve just approached these people who’ve been following us and had quite an extreme reaction from them. Now we’ve asked the hotel people here to call the normal police to come here for our own protection and there’s no sign that they’re coming so we don’t know quite what to do. I don’t trust who these people are. Actually they’re going over to our car now to ask questions there so yeah we don’t know quite what to do.

Outside the hotel the pushing and shoving continues as we wait for the uniformed police. The official story, which will be conveyed to us by the local authorities – is that these men were having a simple business meeting in the hotel when we interrupted them, that they’re not government agents and that they haven’t been following us – but our footage doesn’t lie.

Here’s one man in the foyer of the hotel and here he is watching us in the city the day before. Here’s another in the hotel and here he is also following us in the city. We’re given a government directive to erase our footage because apparently we’ve unfairly accused these men, but we manage to hang on to it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Can't Say Hello?

A co-worker forwarded me this article from CNN
Lee Min kyong stretches on the ballet bar in the dance studio. The 12-year old is a little awkward and nervous in front of strangers, until the music begins.

Min-kyong moves to the classical tune, springing easily onto her toes, the very picture of childhood grace and poise. But when the music stops, she falls back into an awkward stance.

She lacks confidence, explains Min-kyong's mother, a problem she hopes will be solved when her pre-teen undergoes plastic surgery, to westernize her eyes.

"If I get the surgery, my eyes will look bigger," explains Min-kyong. Everyone, she says, points out her small eyes. It's why she doesn't think she's a pretty girl. A surgery which cuts a fold into her eyelid to create a double fold will widen her eyes. The effect will also be to give her a slightly more western look.

Arg... 12 years old?! There's not much difference between the "before" and "after" photo.
Her mother, Jang Hyu-hee, says her daughter didn't ask for the surgery.

"I'm having her do it," says Jang, "because I think it'll help her. This is a society where you have to be pretty to get ahead. She's my only daughter."

Dang! At least Tiger Mom didn't force plastic surgery on her kids. Here is the really stupid part:
A global ideal doesn't stop at the face, says dental surgeon Jung Hak. Dr Jung says he's been fighting a trend. Korean mothers who have been bringing in their toddlers to have the muscle under the tongue that connects it to the bottom of the mouth surgically snipped.

The belief, explains Dr Jung, is that it will help a Korean speak English more clearly. People from the Asia Pacific region have difficulty in pronouncing the "L" sound, says Dr Jung. But he calls the surgery, if it's only for pronunciation, misguided, and caused by the hyper-competitive drive in Korea.

"For 10 years, there's been this crazy drive for early English education. Mothers long for their kids to have better English pronunciation," says Dr Jung.

That's the first time I've heard of this nonsense. So how do Asian Americans speak English properly without this surgical procedure? Sigh...

Sindy wanted to do the eyelid surgery in Beijing. I think I've managed to convince her to put it off for now. :(

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More Sistar 19

Practice video

House left = Hyorin
House right = Bora


I got an email from the USCIS (Citizen and Immigration Service) that they've received my I-129F application plus a tracking number. I can go to their website and find out the status of my application online.

Unlike other forms, there are only 4 service centers processing the I-129F application. Currently, the processing time at the California Service Center for I-129F applications is 5 months. If you look at the detailed chart, at the end of March 2011, there are 10,491 cases pending. For the total month, they received 2,649 applications and processed 2,546. If they work at the same rate, then I won't hear anything until mid-October.

Chinese Charities

Why do we still give money to China? I thought we owed them $trillions? Can't the frigging CCP take care of its own citizens?!

New York Times
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has frozen payments on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of disease-fighting grants to China, one of the charity’s biggest recipients, in a dispute over China’s management of the grants and its hostility toward involving grass-roots organizations in public health issues.

China Reports AIDS Mortality Is Cut by Two-Thirds (May 19, 2011)
The dispute may add to a growing debate among global health experts whether China, which spent an estimated $46 billion staging the 2008 Olympic games and last year’s Shanghai Expo and financed a $586 billion economic stimulus package, should be a recipient of such aid at all.

The communist government must be sitting in Beijing laughing at us stupid Americans. We borrow money from them to buy cheaply made crap (I just bought an iPad2 so I'm guilty too) and donate money back to them. I'm not sure why Western governments don't understand that there is no independent NGO's in China; they all part of the CCP. I'm pretty certain my donation to the Chinese Red Cross in 2008 for the Sichuan earthquake is funding some government official's alcohol tab or supporting his mistress.

Global Times
Unlike foreign charity groups, the Red Cross Society of China is an official body, with its leaders appointed by the government. "Official or semi-official charities are more trusted," Tian said.

In 2009, Shanghai Red Cross commissioned the Horizon Research Consultancy Group to carry out a survey on the credibility of local charities. Of the 1,000 families surveyed, 800 said they trusted Shanghai Red Cross.

NGOs usually use 3 to 5 percent of donations to cover operational costs. However, Shanghai Red Cross does not, as it is government-funded.

"Our annual budget from the government is too much to be used up, so why would we use donations?" Tian said.

Riiight... more trusted than what? Non-governmental mafias? Obama, stop giving my tax dollars to the Chinese government.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Expensive Meal

I'm on the phone with Sindy and they just finished with their customer banquet. They ended up going to the restaurant I saw on my last trip instead of the boat on Beihai. For 17 people, the food bill came out to RMB16,000 or close to RMB1000 per person. Since the restaurant charges a lot for alcohol, she also brought in about RMB4000 of wine and baijiu. For that much money, the food wasn't that good. Sindy said she was still hungry after the meal. She also had to drive one of her clients home since they were all drinking. I guess no one else ate the food since he was eating some bread she had in her car on the way home.

I hope at least the waitresses were pretty.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ma Boy - Sistar 19

I think I'm in love... :)

Ma Boy - Sistar 19

Sistar 19 is a subgroup of Sistar with only Hyorin and Bora. All 4 of them were here for the Korean Music Festival this year. I missed them and the concert since I was visiting Sindy in Beijing.

Best YouTube comment:
Imma move to korea so i can become a pro gamer in Starcraft and a marry a KPop star :)


Dang it, this is a family blog. The image at 0:29 is a bit disturbing. Did they do that on purpose?!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Skype SMS Text Count

I use Skype a lot to send SMS text to China. Since I don't have a text plan and the costs a lot to send international text on my work phone, I use Skype to text out. It costs 5.5 cents to send a 160 character text; the drawback is that the recipient has to text me back at another number since Skype does not receive texts.

Anyhow, I upgraded to Skype 5.x and noticed that the character count feature is gone. The UI used to tell me now many characters are left in the current message before it charges me another 5.5 cents for part 2 of the message. I can't find it anywhere in the options... the cynical person in me thinks that Skype removed this "feature" so users are less aware when they go over the 160 character limit and end up paying 2x for the text message.

Monday, May 16, 2011

K-1 Visa

After months of preparing, I finally sent out form I-129F plus supporting documents today for Sindy; it all fit in one Priority Mail envelope. Now it's in the hands of the US government.

I have no idea how long this will take. I'd be surprised if Sindy has visa in hand before the end of the year.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

$400 per Person

Sindy sent me a photo of a banquet menu. She is scoping out restaurants for a work dinner with some important clients. This "restaurant" is actually a boat in Beihai Park in Beijing. At night, they stop renting out small boats so the large dinner boat "sails" around the lake and serve dinner.

Banquet Boat

One of the table in the boat. Sindy mentioned RMB15k so maybe you have to order that much to reserve the table (not too difficult since it seats 12 people).

The dishes on the right side costs RMB2880 per person:
Chinese Tea
Imperial Cuisine Carving
Appetizing Cold Plate
Mashed Peas Pudding and Rolls of Kidney Bean Flour
Four Kinds of Dried Fruits and Four kinds of Fresh Fruits
Pipa-shaped Bird's Nest Soup
Braised Shark's Fin with Brown Sauce
Sweet and Sour Prawns
Braised Deer Pizzle with Hot Sauce (pizzle = penis)
Frog-Shaped Abalone and Braised Sea Cucumber
Deep-fried Minced Port in Omelet
Deep-fried Duck Meat with Walnut
Roast Lamb Leg
Steamed Fish Maw (fish air bladder)
Braised camel's Paw with Scallion
Roast Flatfish
Steamed Bamboo Shoots
Stir-fried Diced Pork and Filbert (filbert = type of hazelnut)
Steamed Tofu Stuffed with Vegetables
Sesame Cakes with Minced Meat
Assorted Palace Dim Sum
Pitaya with Yogurt
Eight-treasure Gruel

Most of the stuff looks okay but there are definitely some weird dishes. Overall, I can't imagine why it would cost so much, even for bird's nest, shark fin, abalone, and sea cucumber. Maybe it's really really really good Chinese tea.

BTW, you need seven people or more (~US$3000) to get all the dishes. For six or less, they start removing dishes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

T-Mobile Tech Support is Lame

At around 8pm tonight, all our T-Mobile phones stopped receiving calls. If you call either cell phone number, it goes straight into voice mail without ringing. I was having problems calling out as well. I have wifi calling on my Samsung Vibrant and that seemed to work, but the regular cellular connection wouldn't work.

I spent 40+ minutes on the phone with T-Mobile's tech support. It sounded like she was in the Philippines or something. Anyway, after powering the phones on and off, and even switching SIM cards, the phones still won't work. She then proceeded to give me a help ticket number which should get resolved within 72 hours. 72 hours?! That's 3 days!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Modern Family

My co-worker watched some episodes of Modern Family on our flight from LAX to HKG and thought they were really funny. Based on his comments, I watched the first 3 episodes on the flight back and really loved it. I don't watch that much TV normally since I don't find American shows that interesting but I found myself laughing out loud (luckily the business class section wasn't full) watching this show.

I've since watched the next 3 episodes from season 1 and they're just as funny. My favorite line so far:
Lily... isn't that going to be hard for her to say?

The gay couple adopted a baby girl from Vietnam and the brother-in-law is commenting on her name.

Another Troll

So only 4 month after the last troll, I get this comment on the same NewSong NOC post:
serving at church is not the same as at work. if you want consideration then church ministry is not your thing, better so something else useful. if you crave rewards and considersations then you completely miss the whole point, no wonder you were bitter

The Internet is a wonderful place. I post some random thoughts about my life and any idiot can come and judge and insult me. I'm guessing this is a different troll since he/she is less abusive than the previous person. Still, words like "crave rewards and considerations" and "you were bitter" hurt. Ever since I became a Christian 20+ years ago, I've always served in church, often in the background and unnoticed. If I was looking for earthly rewards, I would have been disappointed a long time ago.

Monday, May 9, 2011

iPad2 in China

Great! Now maybe I can find some iPad2's at Apple Stores here in the US.

Ministry of Tofu
Chinese Apple maniacs queue for the new release of iPad 2

Apple’s iPad 2 hit the market on the morning of May 6. Before that, iPads sold only on Chinese black market were snuck into Chinese borders from other regions and countries, mostly Hong Kong and the United States, by frequent travelers and smugglers.

The price of the basic model (Wi-Fi 16GB) was jacked up to as high as 9,000 yuan ($1,350) by smugglers. The official price of iPad 2 (Wi-Fi 16GB) is, by contrast, $570, and much more acceptable to Chinese middle class and young urban consumers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"New" CX Lounge

I went looking for the showers at The Wing lounge and saw a sign that they moved them downstairs. After asking three people, I found the showers and a new extension to the lounge. There is a small room with several lounge chairs, pod chairs, and armchairs, along with a small food section. No noodle bar though.

My flight home from HKG to LAX is not listed on the board yet but I saw this at gate 3. Hopefully the gate assignment holds so I don't have to walk that far from the lounge to my flight. 4 1/2 hours left...

New shower suite. It feels a bit smaller than the old ones. There is a larger ceiling shower-head but you have to stand under it to turn on the water... cold shower until the water warms up. There is a touch panel on the wall to flush the toilet.

View from the downstairs lounge. This is the non-runway side of HKIA so no planes. :(

Lounge interior. There is another room down the hallway that has lots of computers. I didn't see if they were Macs or PCs.

To get on the Internet, there is a new AP called "CX - The Wing" which has a very good signal. There is one problem though... I tried to refresh my Mousehunt page on Facebook and got this message:
Juniper Web Filtering has been set to block this site.

Dang. The rest of Facebook works fine though. I wonder why only the Mousehunt app has been blocked by Cathay Pacific.


Good grief, there's a Chinese family in the lounge with a small child who is screaming and playing Angry Birds on an iPad full blast. It looks like they also have a Filipino nanny with them. I hate to say this but I hope they're not on my flight. :(

Driving in Beijing

Aah, back beyond the Great Firewall so no more IT gynmastics and VPN's to get uncensored Internet.


One of the most dangerous things in the world is driving in China :). After dinner last night, I asked Sindy if I could drive back to her parents’ apartment (about 10 miles). Since it was a holiday, there was not much traffic on the road; there’s no way I’d attempt this in normal Beijing traffic. From Guomao, I took the 3rd Ring Road south then west and then exited on You'anmen Outer Street. Sindy’s car is not available in the US but it’s pretty similar to a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. I was nervous since China does not accept driver’s licenses from other jurisdictions so I was pretty much driving illegally. Luckily nothing happened though I almost got hit by a speeding taxi right after leaving the restaurant.

A couple of quick observations. 1) I kept getting freaked out by my peripheral vision. When I drive in California, most people are good about following rules. In China however, people and vehicles make moves that I don’t expect and I’m always on edge trying to figure out what they’re doing. For example, pedestrians and opposing traffic get real close to your lane of travel so I’m always reacting to something. They may see me and plan to give me the right of way but just seeing cars and people encroaching makes me nervous. 2) There’s a real lack of street lighting everywhere. It was already dark when I drove back and I could hardly see anything, even at major intersections. 3) People like to walk in the road instead of on the sidewalk, probably because there are lots of bikes, scooters, and cars blocking the sidewalk. It was much harder to drive on the small streets versus the wide ring roads since there are so many distractions. 4) Pedestrians and two-wheeled vehicles seem to have no regard for traffic signals so even though I have the green light at an intersection, there is always something running the red light.

Actually, most people seem to drive okay but I see two groups of drivers that makes things exciting and dangerous. Since the car culture is pretty new, there are a lot of first time drivers that have zero experience with cars and driving etiquette. Even though I didn’t drive until I was sixteen, I’ve been riding in cars for many years by the time I got my license. This may not be true for many Chinese people. So one dangerous group of drivers are those that are oblivious to their surroundings. Usually they drive too slow and don’t follow any lane markings, forcing other drivers to maneuver around them. Then there’s the opposite group of hyper-aggressive drivers that are constantly changing lanes and cutting people off. Add vehicles with military plates (who don’t have to obey traffic rules) and lots of pedestrians to the mix, the result is total chaos.

Sindy's driving skills is actually pretty aggressive. She likes to change lanes constantly and honks her horn a lot. After I told her I used my horn in the US about once per year, she's been trying to cut back.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Beijing Side Trip, Day 3

As I mentioned below, I'm at Beijing Capital Airport gate E21 waiting for my flight from Beijing to Hong Kong. Since I managed to slip behind the GFW, I may as well finish blogging about my trip.

Day 2 of the trip ended uneventfully. I fell asleep at Sindy's parents' house in the afternoon so we ended up staying for dinner. His dad make porridge and some small salty dishes. I was still tired so we just went back to the hotel room afterward.

Day 3 was the big lunch with the extended family. The exact same people were there from last time except her great uncle. I think even the dishes were the same. Since I met everyone multiple times already, the conversation was a little more casual. Also, Sindy's cousin's wife is 3 months pregnant so a lot of talk was focused on that topic.

Big lunch

After lunch, we went to visit Sindy's grandparents' apartment again. I thought we were going to play mahjong but we just ended up talking. Her cousin had to work in the afternoon even though it's May Day and the other cousin went home early to pack for a vacation trip to Sanya/Hainan the next day.

To kill some time before dinner, we went to a nearby department store. The place was packed with people so I was surprised at the prices. Sindy wanted to buy me a shirt and the first one we picked out was ~RMB1400 or over $200. Good thing it was too small. I'm not sure why it was so expensive since I wasn't too impressed with the material. I guess everything "foreign" or "imported" is expensive in China.

For dinner, we went to a coffee place where Sindy prepaid for a dinner set for 2. It took us forever to find the place (inside Jianwai SOHO) and the food was just so so, though cheap for what we got (juice, salad, soup, beef/chicken steak, pizza, dessert). After dinner, I wanted to try driving so I drove from the restaurant (near Guomao) back to Sindy's parents' apartment near the South Railroad Station. I wasn't too long in distance but it was nerve-wracking; more about this later.

Oops, my flight is about to board so I'll need to continue in Hong Kong.

Free Airport Wifi

I finally got an Internet connection at Beijing Capital Airport. When I turned on my wifi antenna, I saw an AP called AIRPORT-WIFI-FREE. However, after I connected, I found out it's only for China Mobile customers. No problemo... I have a China Mobile SIM card in my phone. Of course, I didn't have it written down anywhere and it took me 10 minutes just to find it. After all this work, I finally received a text message to my China phone with my "free" account info. Even with all that work, it's still the sh*tty fire-walled Chinese connection so I had to connect through a VPN to get to this page. Sigh... 30+ minutes to get connected whereas it only takes 30 seconds in Hong Kong.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

CCTV9 "News"

It's depressing watching the only "English" station available on TV. Since I'm staying at a local hotel, i.e., not an international chain hotel, I don't get any non-China TV stations. Even though I can understand most of the programs, there's really nothing interesting to watch.

Right now CCTV9 is broadcasting a show called "World Insight" with a female host. I'm not sure of the format but she asks loaded questions to guests and argues with them when they say something critical of China or favorable of the US. Right now, they're talking about the shortage of organ donors in China. One of the guests from the UK talked about the huge organ black market in China and the bitchy host immediately deflected the question to talk about how the rest of the world is not perfect. Lame.

I read that China wants to have their voice heard in international news but as long as the news media is under the control of the Propaganda Department, it's going to be treated as a joke.


Likewise, the reporting about Libya is pretty biased too. There was a show that talked only about the NATO bombing of Gaddafi but nothing about him killing civilians and how he praised China for doing the same during 6/4 in Tienanmen Square.

Beijing Side Trip, Days 1 & 2

Friday was a long travel day. I got up at 6am and didn't get to Beijing until after 9pm. There was a lot of people at HKIA in the afternoon and lots of traffic on the runway.

There aren't that many 4 engined jets. I think this is an Airbus A340.

My flight from Hong Kong to Beijing. I think Dragonair has an all Airbus fleet... this is an Airbus A330.

When I got to the hotel, it was already late so I took whatever room they gave me. Even though I asked for a non-smoking room, I got a room that smelled like an ashtray. My nose burned all night and I had to ask for a new room in the morning. There's an 85°C bakery across the street but no crazy line like in Irvine.

The next day, we went to Sindy's parent's house for lunch. Afterward, I went with her to check out a restaurant that caters to groups. It was near East 4th Ring Road and it was next to a lake in a park. The rooms were really nice but the prices on the menu was crazy expensive. Each dish was several hundred RMB (~$50).

Scenery outside one of the rooms in the restaurant

Since we had a few hours to spare before dinner, we went to check out Chaoyuan Park. There was a Pop Music Festival but I think it concluded before we got there.

There is a permanent carnival inside the park and they were renting bicycles and these tiny electric cars. We ended up renting one and drove around for 30 minutes.

There were some European looking buildings inside the park and lots of couples were taking engagement/wedding photos.

There was also a Segway rental place. I wanted to rent one since my one an only riding experience in Long Beach was pretty cool. However, the rental was for riding in a small enclosed area so I passed.

On the way to dinner, we drove by the CCTV building. They were still trying to renovate the burned tower next to it.

Lots of traffic on the 3rd Ring Road, even though it was a Saturday.

Sindy prepaid for a dinner for 4 at this Korean BBQ place. I think she paid RMB150 for a RMB400 dinner set. It was okay... the meat quality wasn't that great.

The name of the place was Korean Crystal BBQ. I think the crystal part refers to the cooking surface which was a clear piece of tempered glass. The only problem is that the fire doesn't come through so it was more of a stir-fry instead of a BBQ.

I told Sindy's parents that I liked their pork/vegetable dumplings so they said they would make it for lunch. Before lunch, we walked to the nearby Taoranting Park. The park entry fee was RMB2 but senior citizens get in for free. Since it was a holiday (May 1st is International Labor Day or something), the park was crowded. There is a large lake in the middle and it was filled with rental boats.

A rock with the name of the park

There were long line at each boat rental dock. Chinese people drive boats like they drive cars... poorly.

There were lots of rocks with Chinese characters. I thought they were poems or something literary but this one says No Swimming.

At this point, we were across the lake from the main entrance. I hear a lot of people singing. Sindy's dad said that they were singing "red" songs, i.e., Communist propaganda songs, and anyone was welcome join in. In this instance, Sindy said the song was "The East is Red". Crazy. When was the last time you saw hundreds of Americans spontaneously singing nationalistic songs in a park?! The brainwashing is strong here.

It's the 21st century, diapers have been invented for a long time, but the Chinese people refuse to give up on the split pants. I don't really have a problem with this conceptually (my mom said I used to wear them) but people here don't clean up after their kids. I guess they don't clean up after their dogs either.

Similar to yesterday in Chaoyang Park, there were lots of couples taking wedding pictures. I think there's a monopoly since the couples seem to rotate to different sites while all the photographers stayed put.

Park map... most of the park is covered by a large lake.