Guangxi Museum of Nationalities AND Guangxi Science and Technology Museum

At last, more good news for those already here and those planning to visit Nanning, the capital of Guangxi. 

Both Museums are now OPEN.

Firstly I must apologise as today on my first visit to the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities I forgot to take my camera, I will visit again though in the next couple of days and post some pictures here.

It's another fine architectural building and along with the modern looking glazed Guangxi Science and Technology Museum we now have a brace of very large pleasing on the eye and enjoyable venues to visit and enjoy whilst here in Nanning. 

Both very well laid out, spacious and interesting from several points of view. Not to mention, air conditioned. - say no more...


The Guangxi Science and Technology Museum is located on Minzu Dadao as I have already explained in one of the earlier posts. Easy to get to, serviced by many buses and any taxi driver worth his salt will know of it's existence.


The elegantly designed Guangxi Museum of Nationalities is a little more tricky to get to at this moment in time. Situated on the new road and market area 青山下琅农贸市场旁边 (sorry at the moment I have no English name for the road and market area)

It is situated in what I would call the new Qingxiushan Yongjiang river area. Directly behind Qingxiushan scenic park and alongside the Yongjiang river.

Today I saw a number 33 bus and a number 57 bus outside the Museum.

The 33 used to terminate at Qingxiushan but it seems it now continues on the Museum.

Taxis were about and bikes and Vanettes were numerous. They were charging 3 RMB from Qingxiushan each way. 

We are lucky as my wife has her shop at Qingxiushan so it's only a 5/10 minute electric bike ride away for us.


This is a newly developing area, very nice I might add, and I am sure in the next few years a further delightful place for strolling and playing.


And more importantly the new Nanning Bridge in the process of being built is in the same area and you actually pass by it from Qingxiushan, take it from me, you bridge anoraks, this is a bridge, a real bridge. I have watched it take shape this past 18 months and even today we stopped to look in awe at it under construction - Amazing, I'll say no more but if here in Nanning, you must see it.

If you want to see it in it's raw state, best be quick, it is due for completion soon.

For those that struggle to find the area, call in the shop, either myself or my wife will be happy to point you in the right direction. 

Life in Nanning - Chinese women labourers

It has been said, hard manual labour is good for the soul…
The mind and body would benefit also.
I would most certainly agree with that.
By a landslide, the most likable people I have met, throughout my life, have in one way or another, been involved in some way in manual things.
The practical side of life.
The academics and the like, well, there can be no denying, they are essential.
Least said…

Of late and not for the first time in my life, a few months back my days were filled with a little light landscaping activity and at times, more akin to civil engineering.

But not without a little help…Thank You.
Chinese women labourers are some of the hardest working people I have had the pleasure to meet here in Nanning China.
Friendly, happy and a joy to engage.
And for the record, I have to admit, at times, way ahead of me in both stamina and strength.
My excuse, I am 57 years old, way past my sell by date in the physical sense and they, for the most part, in their prime. Although I have seen some in there 60's doing unimaginable hard manual labour tasks, from the western viewpoint.
There can be no denying, they are amazing. A National treasure.

My ISP in China - Internet security in China - Surfing in China - Is it safe?

Just recently I have had reason enough to do a little research into my Internet connection, my ISP. In terms of speed, customer service, security and censorship.

Way back now more than a decade ago I gained my network systems engineer qualifications although I have never put them to any professional use except for a short spell of teaching back in the UK. They do sometimes come in handy when using computers, dealing with ISP's and dealing with telephone companies.

OK, my ISP and telephone provider here in Nanning is the much loved China Telecom.
The China telecom offices proudly display signs implying customer service is first and foremost. This is obviously something they have picked up from the west, sadly though, they didn't pick up the customer service substance bit.
Should you have a problem with your Internet connection or telephone it is a hit and miss affair as to whether or not your problem will ever be sorted - After all, Who cares? - You may well ask!

Our episode starts about 3 months back, basically intermittent Internet connection!
So I persuade my wife to call the china telecom number to report a fault. Yes the phone was ringing but sadly no answer, it must be midday!
Tried again at 3pm, still no answer.
Right, so off we traipse to the local office, luckily just around the corner from our apartment.
Often in these situations I feel the angst build inside of me so I have to consciously stay in control of my emotions. I tend to think nice thoughts, like that of tasting sour milk for the first time.
I just know that this is not going to be easy. How do I know? - I have been here over one year and these situations don't ever get any easier…

I've pre-programmed my wife to try and do this quickly with as little fuss as possible.
I have given her the cause of our Internet problem, the exact location where the problem exists and the simplest, easiest way to remedy it.
It's a line degradation issue pure and simple, maybe an actual line break that with movement rights itself, occasionally. Simple to rectify.

Right, now in fairness the my lovely wife, she is a woman and here in China, a woman is at an immediate disadvantage - a woman with a little perceived knowledge is on a tightrope to hell, especially if dealing with Mr China.
Just hope and pray it's not a man she speaks with.
From my observations here, the women with the attributes described above, firstly a woman and also a knowledgeable woman only carry it off if they go in, hard and firm and vociferously.
Now my wife ain't like that, she's a lovely, soft, smiling, quiet, caring and considerate lady.
We're in luck, it's a girl she speaks with and they both chat away quite happily for about 15 minutes, in Chinese! and in fairness to my wife, she pulled if off with charm and elegance.
At least, I thought she did, the 'girl' said, "someone will be out soon to fix it". "Soon" I said in my western manner. Yes, "soon, probably tomorrow". Right, I said whilst quietly murmuring to myself "I'll believe that when I see it". Me a Cynic?, never.

Anyway, I was getting intermittent Internet so I waited two days before saying rather sarcastically to my wife, "any sign of the engineers today, do you think?"

She knows me well enough now and she does actually see things a lot differently to her pre Andrew days.

So, once again, on the phone she gets, much loud talking this time and those ever so lovely glances at me that speak volumes about how her life was so much simpler before she met me.
She finally puts the phone down and say's, "someone will be here this afternoon" in a tone that made me think, "it was all my fault".

When it rains in Nanning, it can rain a lot and hard and wet.
At 2.30pm the phone rings, my wife answers it, talks for about 2/3 minutes then fairly angrily places the receiver down. She didn't throw it but I could sense it was not good news.
"What's the matter darling" - That’s Andrew being sympathetic.
"That was the telephone engineer, they are going to wait till it stops raining"
"Right, OK" - That's Andrew being understandable.
Did it stop raining? Yes about 5pm - Did we see an engineer, NO.

That night about 9pm the phone rang. It was a girl from China Telecom asking if the problem we had reported had been sorted out. No, was the answer.
I'll get someone to phone you first thing in the morning, she told my wife.
Did they?, NO.

It wasn't perfect, still intermittent, but sometimes it did work, so I didn't say much about it for about two or three days…
Then one day, it did not work at all.

"Wifey", you know the Internet is not working at all now?, Any chance we could let China Telecom know, maybe have an engineer out to look at it! - That’s Andrew being charming.

She looked at me, I thought my days were up, but she just laughed and said "We can try". That's all anyone can ask, I said.
I suppose at this point about two weeks had past since our first contact with China Telecom.
My wife went around to the office on her own this time. She soon returned, heated and happy. "someone will contact us within the hour" she said excitedly.
Mmmm, contact? I thought?

The phone rang 40 minutes later.
The engineer say's you have to open your computer and re enter your password.
"Why" I said.
Because that's probably what's wrong, he say's.
NO, it's not, I said.
It a line problem.
OK, he say's he will be here this afternoon to check the line.

After a couple of weeks of intermittent Internet usage you kinda get used to it.
You forget just how good it was, if good is the right term.

Did we ever see anyone, NO
So I wiggled the wires where I believed the problem to be and it was fine again - for a while.
Then one day, it stopped working again. So my wife was on the phone again.
Someone will be here this afternoon, she said.
Yeah right!, I said - That's Andrew showing interest.

I need to explain a little about this for your complete understanding.

We live on the 15th floor of a 15 floor apartment block.
Now, for some reason best known to the builders the phone line built in does not work to our apartment. So we have a wire taken from the 14th floor that goes around the building, through a window (not ours, a communal window) and then up to our apartment.
When this line was put in by the China telecom engineers they in there inevitable style fed the wire through the window opening, which means every time the window is opened closed and moved in any way, the wire gets a good beating. This is the problem. To fix it properly, the wire needs to be replaced and a hole drilled through the window frame to accommodate the wire. Simple...

To be continued, more practicalities...

The practicalities continued...
I know what your thinking, why didn't you fix it yourself?. Simply, I want the wire re-routed to prevent any future re occurrence. That's my wish...

About 2pm that same day as the phone call, two, yes two engineers turned up.
Luckily for us, we had arrived home just in time. As in each case of a promised visit we needed to be at home.
First things first, my wife explains the problem.
After all my briefings to her, she is now an expert on telegraphic line issues in China.
This time though, armed with knowledge she who would not normally say boo to a goose is now a somewhat different person.

She carefully explains the issue to them, the likely cause of the issue and the exact location of the issue. It was as much as I could do to stop myself from laughing whilst observing the look on their faces.
Did they listen? - Were they interested? - NO.
First they wanted me to turn on my laptop - NO, was my reply.
Somewhat taken aback and after my wife explained again, it is not necessary, this is a line issue and has nothing to do with the computer they muttered away between them selves and diverted their attentions to the modem.
I quickly told her in English that the modem has two important indicator lights, one is 'mains on' and the other is 'line', so if the line indicator is on then the line is connected from the modem to China Telecom base, meaning the line is OK. The line indicator light was NOT on. She in turn quickly explained this to the two engineers,…more muttering.

My wife, now strutting around like proudcock, I had to laugh, she was looking very knowledgeable, although on thin ice - she is a perceived knowledgeable Chinese woman, and they are Chinese men.
My wife dispatched me outside to wiggle the wires, at the window, to show it as 'on' and 'off'. This I did twice, now you would think at this point they might have a clue.

They still insisted on changing the modem - did it cure the issue, NO. Once again my wife said, "it’s a line problem", outside, at the window - my husband just wiggled it for you - did they listen, NO.

Next they turned their attention to the apartment junction box. Most apartments here in Nanning have one of these, ours is now located in one of our kitchen cupboards, we moved it there during renovations. Normally they are far more prominent and invariably unsightly.

So, under the cupboard they go, my wife still insisting, the problems not under there.
Out come all the wires for the apartment, telephone (two sets, one active, one not) television, some electric, intercom etc. A jumble.
After explaining, AGAIN, about the issue with the originally installed telephone cable not working, they managed to find the NEW line that has the intermittent problem. Much scratching of heads ensued, now they have the wire in their hands, how do they test it. Now, don't forget, this is an intermittent issue, at present, it is actually working. I suggest, via my wife, they could try connecting the modem at this point and I could then go out again and do the 'wiggling'.
Surprisingly, they agreed, probably because they could see that it was me that had suggested it and not the Chinese woman.
Did it work, NO, not at all now, probably because the wire, at the window, had been well and truly wiggled for the last time on my previous visit…intentionally.

So, I said, looking at them, scratching my head, "What now boys".
Of course, they didn't understand.
I took my wife by her hand, beckoned to them, too follow, which they did, and off we all trudged, outside, to the 'window'.
I pointed at the wire, flattened and in tatters between the sliding window and the frame and indicated that it might be here that they find a problem.

My wife translated and I'm pretty sure she got her point across because before I could say "told you so" out come the wire cutters, insulation tape and now, between the two of them, even more muttering and looking more than a little agitated, two minutes later, a greasy pair of fingers to twist the wires together and a little insulation tape, 'Hey Presto', it's working. No longer intermittent.
And it only took 3 weeks and about an hour or two, 'investigating' and 'they' had fixed the problem.
"Well done" I said.
Cowardly, I felt it unwise to suggest that perhaps next time they should listen to 'Chinese Woman' and in addition, do it properly and reroute the wire through the frame, being just thankful, after all this time to have my Internet, no longer intermittent - for now - I'll give it 6 months.

To be continued…The technicalities.

The Technicalities.

Pornography has it's uses. In moderation or for research.
Without it being the pioneer of mass image transfer, video transfer and Internet payment systems we would undoubtedly be at least 5 years backward at this point in time with regards to the Internet.
I'm not saying I support such illicit Internet sites but of late I have had good reason to use them.
My Internet connection is variable, I don’t mean in the intermittent practical sense as already spoken of but in the line speed, something is not right, is someone snooping on me here in China sense.
The line speed in itself is no real surprise, what with the resulting line degradation from poor working practises. Also it is very difficult to establish reliable information from China Telecom on contention ratios. Both these can cause considerable variation in line speed.

Back home, in the UK, my feeling is, I can trust my ISP, if I ask them a question, more often than not they answer honestly, in fact most surveys carried out in the west show, most users trust their ISP. Security is paramount. More on this later.

At present, I am here in China (although after this series of posts, how likely is it I will get my visa renewed?) and if you ask me whether or not I trust my ISP here in Nanning, the answer would be a resounding NO. Not the company or it's employees.

I've had my suspicions for some time, in fact several months. My line speed is considerably slower than that of my near neighbour, same ISP, same package.
Sometimes whilst surfing, I have had some peculiar redirects, nonsensical.
Some web pages are available to my neighbour on his PC using his connection but not me, on mine.

So, some weeks ago, I thought I would put some of my past training to the test and do my own monitoring, what better way, use some porn sites to test the system…Honest, I didn't look at any of the pictures and I did not search anything extreme, well, not intentionally.
Most sites of this nature are blocked here in China and certainly around a 5 or 6 weeks ago when I first tried many were blocked.
Of late as some loosening has occurred owing to Olympic fever, some, surprisingly are showing up.
My experience after first searching for, trying to connect and trying to download has produced some enlightening results.

In some cases I used a proxy and most were available but after a couple of attempts, suspiciously the proxy became unavailable.
Easy enough, find another proxy. But it raised a question, is this local interference or regional or national?
I tried some without a proxy, eventually as most are blocked you will stumble upon some that are available, normally new ones that the authorities have not managed to block, yet.
These, curiously threw up another strange occurrence, after maybe 30 seconds the page would sometimes lock, my browser would start showing, Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and will close.
This is not unusual when accessing undesirable sites as they often try to hijack the system and IE just closes it's doors, so I don't think this was in any way connected with the ISP, although to a novice it might appear so.
Sometimes an automatic redirect would kick in to a static colourful China Telecom page, in Chinese.
More alarmingly though, at any attempt to download, my Internet connection would 'break'. Now this is an ISP issue. Tried various sites and various downloads. As a benchmark, I went onto YouTube and tried downloading, OK except for a much slower than usual service.
After reconnecting, tried again, same result. This is not a coincidence, this is direct intervention.
End of pornography research…I promise.

Next I tried other less than acceptable sites here in China such as a search for Falun Gong, all of course blocked. If you try a Google search for this topic then invariably you get a Internet Explorer cannot display the web page error. This would more than likely be a national block. More on this later.
After all of these experiments, each time my Internet speed dropped considerably, (
easy to check) sometimes not back to normal until connecting the following day.

But my worst fears are now apparent to me, a local intervention is not out of the question.
Of course, this article may be construed as criticism but that would be unfair, it is my findings based on my experiences here in Nanning China.

Can your ISP see what you do online? - YES…to be continued.

Can your ISP see what you do online? - YES, they can.
I support Internet policing and censorship.
China does have a reputation for web censorship but to my mind, China is right.
It is my opinion that if more governments were to do more to censor, then the web would undoubtedly be a less deviant place but the issue as always will be, not enough will do enough!

In the main, your ISP can see your browsing habits, your journey map, in the surfing sense.
Most ISP's do not have the resources or the inclination to look into every users Internet usage.
Do not ever forget though, it's your ISP that routes any data you send or request, they are your connection to the world wide web, you are trusting them to deliver or supply your data in a proper manner.
Can they look at your unencrypted data while they route it? Yes, if they were of a mind too.

Now, firstly, the real question should be, would they look? Are they really that interested?
In the West, unless you are doing something illegal, the answer would most certainly be NO...

For the paranoid, I have listed simple options of additional security available to you, in all these cases, there are further, even more secure solutions available but normally at a cost and for the average user, not normally necessary:-

Secure connections (https)
A connection that begins with 'https' instead of 'http' is a secure connection. In later windows versions the locked padlock will show alongside the URL bar. Your ISP can still see which sites you are visiting but the data actually sent to or displayed is encrypted. It is wise to use an https connection to an Email service like Gmail or Yahoo, easily done, just insert an 's' immediately after 'http' at login. This will secure your email under normal conditions.

Anonymous Web Surfing (Proxies)
There are plenty of free proxy websites out there. A word of caution, not all are what they seem. Some are malicious and no more than a collection of advertisements used to profit the website owner and are no more secure than a normal website. Look for older established ones, check out a forum or two on Proxies, get recommendations, word of mouth even better.
This is a minefield, it is a strong case of 'user beware'.
I have added an IP and location widget on the right hand side for those wishing to test their chosen proxy. When you visit this page through a proxy then the proxy IP and location should show, and not your own.
A far better method is to use an application like 'Tor', an open source software solution, one drawback here in China, the URL is blocked.
Remember your ISP can see that you're using a proxy but they cannot see your final destination URL's. It will be slower, but it will be hidden.

Encrypted Email
There is plenty of software available to encrypt email.
The easy option for normal usage is to use a secure connection (https) as mentioned earlier in Gmail and Yahoo. This will not encrypt the actual message content. Another option it to 'zip' your message and password protect the zipped file, then send the file.

Web VPN Services (Virtual private network)
There are services available that will allow you to set up a VPN or Virtual Private Network via the web. Simply, you connect to the VPN service via the web and they connect you to the internet. All encrypted. Very secure, very popular with heavy Wi-Fi users, for obvious reason, security.
Your ISP will be able to see the URL of your VPN when you connect.

To be continued…China and the internet - how do they block?

China and the Internet - how do they block?
China has a reputation for Internet censorship - rightly or wrongly?
Firstly, my own take on this - I like censorship, I agree with it. If one thinks back maybe 40+ years in the UK, we had reasonably effective film (cinema) censorship. Television was still in it's infancy and the radio was mostly, easy listening. News reporting was obviously stifled.
As a young teenager I can remember going to the pictures (cinema) which then was the equivalent in technology terms of today's Internet and only being allowed in to see a 'U' certificate film or if accompanied by an adult (someone over 18 years of age) an 'A' certificate.
OK, I accept it was a bit hit and miss but overall, from my experience, it worked.
For instance, in most cases it was nigh on impossible to get into see an 'X' certificate film if under 18.
Yes, there were exceptions, yes there were unscrupulous cinema owners that couldn't careless and yes, if you were savvy enough to wait for the film to start then creep in through the rear fire exit (if it was unlocked) then you got in.
For how long? often, not long, as the cinema owner would patrol the aisles looking for anyone that should not be there and throw us out.
I, as a young teenager could not easily watch or see inappropriate content. It was censored and to this day, I still agree with it.
Overall it was effective and relatively easy to control, back then. Today, it is far more difficult.
I can see nothing wrong with any countries decision to make unavailable certain web offerings.
In my short spell of research in this area I have found much to be applauded here in China regarding its apparent 'blocking' and long may it continue.
Each country should set it's own web surfing etiquette and be allowed, without hindrance, to administer its own remedies.
If I am in a foreign land, I accept that I should obey the rules of that land, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.
My main concern here in China is one of ISP employee issues, that is, can individual employees of my ISP abuse the system for their own advantage.

If my latest sight of a news report is correct, with well over 220 million Internet users China now has more than any other country, including America and will continue to grow in Internet numbers.
So how does China even begin to 'block' some Internet content?
I believe that there are plenty of misconceptions over this issue.

First we need to look at the fundamentals.
The Internet from it very earliest beginnings was designed to be 'available' to all, all those that choose to use it. This has not changed and most likely never will.
No country, No government, No organisation, No individual can totally block any particular web offering from everyone, forever.
The only way that a web offering can be made totally unavailable from everyone, forever, is by removing it from the Web - forever. Then, tracking down and destroying all cached copies, all digital copies, all hard (paper) copies and physically stopping the same or another individual re-serving it.
Theoretically possible, I agree, but highly unlikely...

As long as it is served on the 'web', it is available.
OK, it might be difficult to access owing to an obstruction or two but is never, ever impossible to view by all and even the obstructions for some can be overcome and those that 'block' know this…

China has probably no more than 3 main fibre optic Internet connection pipelines. One in Beijing, one in Shanghai and the other most likely in Guangzhou. Conventional wired Internet channels are also relatively few in number.
Without going into the technicalities of Internet protocols and engineering, take it from me, that these limited connection channel options make it very easy to monitor what does come in and go out.

Technology marches on and although Internet traffic could always, from the very beginning, be 'sniffed', today, it is 'sniffed' more subtly and with sophistication often resulting in, for the unfortunate surfer, time outs or an apparent total block.

Should an authority choose to block, it has a variety of means at its disposal, some allowing blocking both in or out of a system:-

They could use the DNS (Domain Name Server) block.
For users to access a website they need to provide an address to reach, the URL, Uniform Resource Locator.
The URL is normally now in name/letter/word format, actually it is simply an IP address, a series of numbers separated by full stops. It was decided early on in Internet history to enable name to IP (number) conversion because humans find it easier to remember names and not numbers.
So when you enter a URL it goes off to the DNS and it is at this point it is possible to block, with a no address or bad address return, actually at this point it is possible to also re-direct traffic to another web location, this is sometimes the case.
This method is used to blanket block domain names, ( It's easy and quick to implement and also reverse.

If a blanket block is not required then the following method is often used.
After the DNS lookup, if all is well, we enter the actual connection part of the operation, your requested URL is then signalled to connect to the remote server hosting the website. At this point messages are being exchanged between the two computers, yours and the issuing web page host. It is at this stage, whilst messages are going back and forth it is possible to redirect copies of the message packets to another computer that can assess the desirability of such a URL request.
Easy enough to have a list of undesirable web site URL's, a black list to 'check' against.
This method of blocking results in 'The connection has been reset window'.
It is this method that causes most aggravation because it is blocking on the 'fly'. One day available, another not.

Another clever ploy is to use a 'keyword' block. Simply, block a word or name in the URL that might be thought of as inappropriate. This too often results in a Connection reset. This method can be used to block recent event sites or sites that spring up after a particular happening.
The results for the surfer are once again frustrating to say the least.
This method can tie you up waiting for long periods only to eventually be given a page, 'unable to connect' or might throw up a redirect to a search engine, listing the very site your trying to reach…and you try again, and again...

The latest and by far most refined method of blocking involves actual page scanning techniques. It has now become an effective way to control viewing and either allow or block a page based on the content within the pages. The speed of the latest hardware means that all this can be done with little noticeable speed reduction to the surfer. This method will, I am sure, dominate.
As we know, the content on News sites changes all the time, with this method it is not essential to block the complete site anymore, only any pages that contain offending material.
It is this method that causes the surfer the most inconvenience as they will never know the resulting time out or what is not available, until they stumble on it.
How does it work?
Well, you request a particular web page, the issuing server sends the page as requested, at the same time as it is on route to your computer a copy of the page is also passing through a detecting server. A quick page content survey scan, very quick, milliseconds and any resulting bad words, bad content or anything else the detecting server has been set to pinpoint will result in the offending page being stopped by breaking the connection between the two computers, yours and the issuing server.
Also very quickly, the two offending IP's, yours and the issuing server will be prevented from communicating for a fixed period of time. This becomes a time-out and can be set to be any time period or series of time periods.
Now, what's really good about this method of blocking, the time outs, is this, if further attempts are made to get the web page then further reprisals may occur, a 30 minute block, an hour block or whatever the surveying server has been set to dish out.

Flights in and out of China

Flights in and out of China
You will be approached, probably by a man in a suit...
The problem with flying anywhere in China is the fact that you are flying into, from or within China.
Delays are common. Cancellations do happen.
Both coming into, travelling within and leaving China.

In my experience the Domestic flights seem to be hit hardest.
It is not uncommon for a flight to be delayed from 5 minutes to 5 hours or longer if you are really unlucky and often with no explanation given.

So, if you go armed with this information and you have taken your laptop and or a good book, it should not be too much of a surprise and at least you will have your own entertainment.

Although entertainment will be all around if a lengthy delay is imminent, the Chinese do not take kindly too flight delays and it will not be long before voices are raised and crowds gather...sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

The reason I tell you to take your laptop, especially if it is wireless enabled is because most international airports in China now have wifi hot spots and some are free.
Be Careful though, make sure your connection is secure.
In Amsterdam (use this link to check lots of International Airports worldwide) is charged at around 6 Euros for 30 minutes. In China, I am not upto date with the latest charges.
As I am writing this I am thinking to myself that there is so much to tell you.

You will only need to have travelled to China a few times and you will also be the same position, so much to see, so much to learn and so much to tell.
Back to my original comment - You will be approached, probably by a man in a suit...
Beijing International Airport is divided into two, a Domestic Terminal and an International not let this fool you as domestic flights will leave from the International terminal.

The domestic terminal is a good 10 minute walk from the International terminal, so it might be wise to check the monitors first before you take this walk...the only draw back will be that you are standing in one place too long in the arrivals hall (any longer than 5 seconds) and that man in a suit is bound to approach you, OK, he might not be in a suit but sure as eggs is eggs he will approach offering one 'service' or another...

China Southern Airlines are big in China and the chances are that you will fly with them.
Nothing to worry about, good service although sometimes a little rushed, comfortable seats and pleasant and polite cabin crew.

Your main concern will probably the same as mine, mobile phones being used while taxiing, bags, boxes, cases, chickens (only joking) and various other chattels being put up, taken out of overhead lockers while the plane is still moving.
It is fair to point out that I now notice this happening more and more on other flights in other countries including the UK.
When will these people learn that it will not really make any difference to the time it takes to leave the airport...

I want to buy a property in China- but where?

I think it is about time I brought this subject back to the top of the agenda again as it is the one topic I get most enquiries about - I want to buy, but where?

The questions are arising now as some that have been here a while and have been brave enough to purchase properties are happily in the black and are rightly so, probably singing about it.
Now, that’s not to say that those that follow will be as fortunate, we all know that property prices can and do fluctuate. On the surface one might think that it will not apply here in China?
It would not be possible to speculate where to buy exactly as there are so many contributing factors, not least, your own situation.
I know those that have bought in Nanning and are happy. Some not.
I know those that have bought in Beihai and they too are happy, mostly, some not. I have bought in both and yes, Beihai has a very good rate of property value growth but would I choose Beihai as a place to live, No, most certainly not.
To my mind it is a place to visit occasionally as I have found it to be a little superficial and somewhat unkempt.
I think Nanning is a safer bet from the social standpoint.
I have noticed here in Nanning and probably China as a whole that location popularity appears to be quite fickle.
An area or building that was highly popular last year, still is popular to the casual observer but to those in the know, taking a longer term view, other areas might be a better bet.
The Chinese are, there is no doubt, great speculators and in turn, speedy developers.
Not in the, I build apartment block sense but in the, if enough people like it then that particular block or area will develop very quickly.
Ok, I know this is logical but in most places in the world the speed of this area
popularity and development is considerably slower.
Here, with so much being built, everywhere, it happens at lightning pace.

The cultural dissimilarities can and often do throw the western property buyer off target, the selection rules here are to some western minds, illogical - I don't know too many westerners that use Feng Shui as the main decider in whether to buy or not!

So the watchword is, 'choose carefully' or you might find yourself sitting on a white elephant in the, 'my property value went up at an astonishing rate' gamble.

The People of Nanning Guangxi China - Time Lapse Video

Another great compilation, thanks Michael
Here's a selection of 10 short time lapse video clips taken in Nanning, China with a Canon G9 Powershot camera. People, people and more people. They were filmed at (in order of appearance): Nanhu (South Lake) Park (first 2 clips), outside the Chao Yang shopping center in downtown Nanning (next 3 clips), inside the Chao Yang Shopping center, Taichi at People's Park, Kite flying at Minzu (Nationality) Square, pedestrian crossing outside Pizza Hut at Wanda Shopping Plaza, and one final one outside Chao Yang shopping center.

The Buses of Nanning Guangxi China

The Buses of Nanning, originally uploaded by Life in Nanning.

A selection of some of the colourful buses in Nanning. They cost from only RMB1.20 (US$0.18) in most cases for one ride on the public buses in Nanning. The buses are very regular and there is a very good selection of routes to choose from.
Another great photo set by Michael - Life in Nanning.
To see some more of his great work - follow the links.

The Taxis of Nanning Guangxi China

The Taxis of Nanning, originally uploaded by Life in Nanning.

Taxis of Nanning. Fares start from 7RMB in Nanning - A short 10/15 minute taxi ride will cost around 10/12RMB

Another great photo set by Michael - Life in Nanning.
To see some more of his great work - follow the link.

Chinese 'Face' coming to the surface when buying an apartment in China

The Beihai apartment purchase was not that dissimilar to the one in Nanning - At the start around November 2007 we paid a deposit of about 10%, at the time we applied for name change on the house document we paid a further 45% and on completion, the time when we collect the house book and the name and ownership has been changed we then pay the final 45%. It sounds all very straightforward and sometimes it can be.
But as often happens in simple situations the 'people' get involved and issues occur.
In this case there was a complication with ownership, the apartment was part of a pair of apartments bought at the same time around 4 years ago by our woman vendor and therefore only one House Book had been issued for both apartments. One title for both apartments.
She, before selling to us needed to split the title, in essence a simple bureaucratic task but as we know things are never that simple.
She had been married so the required legal proof of divorce or ex husbands permission etc made the process drag on and on coupled with this the fact that money was owed to a Bank and family all of which caused the woman vendor plenty of hassle.
'Not my/our problem'. This phrase I use a lot when negotiating with the Chinese which often throws them off balance. As they are often heard to say, "No problem" when in reality, there are often huge problems.
Interestingly, all through the negotiations over the 4 months we would often be dragged into the conflict via various telephone conversations Nana was receiving from the woman.
I was having none of it and Nana with her now, part western mind realised that unlike her Chinese mind telling her otherwise, she was having nothing of it either.
She later explained to me that this Chinese tactic of involving everybody was probably in the hope that later on in the negotiations maybe our involvement could be used to secure, either more money or at the very least to divert any difficult to resolve issues away from the woman vendor and unto us.
She would turn around and say, Well, it is not my fault, you told me, you helped me, you were involved it was your idea.
This is Chinese 'Face' coming to the surface - give the problem to somebody else and that way you avoid the embarrassment and the final decision making.
As I have said, I have been here long enough and understand the Chinese mind set sufficiently now to 'not get involved' unless it is absolutely necessary.
I play their game - BUT to my rules, not theirs.
I am always prepared to walk away and find something else.

Looking for love in China - Stuck on Stupid

Again, I am seeing the plight of the 'western' man in his quest for a life partner.
Again, and again the similar situation arises and all you hear is - Woe is me - how could she - I'm the victim - She has just disappeared without trace - I gave her money !..what??? You gave money to a stranger.
Yes, most certainly…you are the victim!
To those that fall prey - My opinion has not changed, from the start the motives of the 'western' man is flawed and my sympathy still remains firmly with the Lady, whatever she does…misguided she may be but far from stupid, good luck to her.
I hear the same conversation time and time again - I'm getting married - I've met a lovely girl - we chat on Yahoo/MSN every night - I'm so lucky…Yeah Right !!!

I know this will not be considered politically correct, but, there is no other way of putting it - These, so called, victims are just plain 'stupid'.
Of course, you can find on the various message boards the same boring, snivelling, sympathetic piffle of the 'western male' supporters - Oh, bad luck, and you looked so good together, how could you have known? don't blame yourself - what utter crap this is.
I even saw one American proprietor offering to 'list' the alleged offending lady on his 'Blacklist'...My God, is that legal under American law?…I am really not at all sure of the legal ramifications of such a publicly accessible list of 'guilty' persons.
Guilty?.. Guilty as charged by whom, dare I say it again, a 'stupid westerner and a website!'.
You will notice I use the word 'alleged', call me 'stupid' by all means, no problem, but you cannot accuse me of not being careful, of not listening to others, of rushing into anything, of not taking my time and learning about the person, of not making absolutely sure she was indeed my life partner, of not making sure that trust, honesty and loyalty were inherent in both of us before committing to anything.

Just like any 'normal' person would.
It goes without saying, I am happily married to an adorable Chinese Lady.
Good luck to all that follow, there is a wealth of good, honest information at

Six basic simple normally fail safe suggestions.(1) Know the person at least 6 months before any kind of commitment.
(2) Visit the person at least twice in their home town, for at least two weeks on each occasion, preferably four weeks.
(3) Never hand over any money if asked for, for whatever reason.
(4) Buy small relatively inexpensive gifts for the person and look very carefully at the reaction.
(5) Must arrange to meet up and socialise with western contacts whilst visiting the person. This is essential. You are western, you need western opinion and suggestion.
(6) Do not rely on Chinese opinion, from whatever source. Even if it is a friend or contacts wife or girlfriend. Unless you know them personally.
Do your homework on culture and China in general.

On a much lighter note, whilst on the subject of stupidity.
I was out two weeks ago shopping in Walmart, as you do, when time has no meaning when I was accosted by an Englishman, he stopped me dead in my tracks with "are you Andrew?" Yes, I said.
Anyway to cut a very long story short, he went on to tell me that he was leaving to go back to the UK the following week and that he was a little worried.
Why, I asked. Because he said, I am not sure whether my Visa is up to date.
Mmmm, yes, your thinking the same as I did!

I tried asking all the right questions, you know, what type of visa is it, is it an 'L' visa, how long have you been here, when did you renew it, you know the sort of thing.
Well, sadly, I said I tried but to no avail as he was a man that would not let me get word in edgeways.
The gist of it, as far as I could make out was that he had been here 6 months on a first visit from the UK with one renewal in the interim.
Eventually, I must admit, I was glad to get away as I could be of no help if he wouldn't let me speak.
I have now heard, a man was stopped trying to leave China by immigration officials recently, given the option of 10 days in prison or a 5000RMB fine for not having an up to date visa…Mmmm, I wonder. If he is out there somewhere it would be great if he could fill us all in with all the gory details.

The Chinese woman is different - Is she?

She may be a little feisty sometimes - She may be surprised when you say 'Thank you' - She may be subservient - She may appear uncomplicated - She may be adventurous - She may have been 'hurt' by a man - She may have a limited carnal knowledge
She most likely has been married before
She probably has children - She probably does not smoke - She probably does not drink alcohol - She probably has little life experience
She is probably 'closed' minded, a little secretive sometimes - She is probably petite - She is probably beautiful - She is probably feminine - She is probably naïve
She is generally hardworking
She is most likely happy to be with an older man
She is one of many millions in Asia looking for a husband
She wants a life partner - She wants to help - She wants to help you
She has an opinion
She generally marries for life
Her children are important
Her husband is important
Her family is everything
She enjoys physical contact
She likes to look good - She likes to please - She likes to be in the company of her husband - She likes to be with her family - She likes to manage her home and family
She loves to laugh - She loves fun
She needs reliability - She needs a home - She needs a purpose - She needs marriage
She needs a loving marriage - She needs security - She needs stability - She needs appreciation - She needs a family - She needs to give respect - She needs to gain respect from others - She needs 'self worth' - She needs love - She needs to give love
She needs to feel wanted - She needs to feel worthy
She will not tolerate abuse
She will put others before herself
She has her own very important priority order
Husband, Children, Parents, Siblings, home, self (order may vary)

Is she any different from any other loving wife?
Most certainly, in two respects - She is happy to be with an older man - She is one of many millions in Asia looking for a husband.
Will she do anything to succeed in her quest?…possibly !

Back from Hong Kong

We coached to Hong Kong from Nanning, leaving at 9.10pm. Stopped a couple of times along the way for a wee piddle or such like.
I suppose it was about 10 hours to the border then around 40 minutes through immigration, then another 30/40 minutes by bus into Tsim Sha Tsui.
Not bad, time wise BUT from a 'was it comfortable?' viewpoint, not very!

I've overnight coached before in China, on several occasions, thrice in the past year. Now, with hindsight, I was obviously very lucky on all past excursions.
On previous occasions I had always managed to get an overnight coach with just two lines of beds, one down each side, so, the bunks were wide enough and just about long enough to have a little stretch out, with a nice airy space in between.

No such luck this time - Bunks down each side plus an additional line down the middle, in effect, three across. Hardly enough bunk width to lay on your back. So your arms are either left flailing or you need to position them on your chest - just as well I'm not a busty women then! Oh and shorter in bunk length.
OK, I'm older, probably less inclined to be just that little bit more tolerant of difficult situations.
I don't mind admitting when we first entered onto the coach my first reaction was to turn to Nana and say, What the f… are we doing?…lets fly instead.
She, in turn, in her lovely calming 'perfect wife, I'll make it right' way, casually ignored my outburst and replied, "Come on, it'll be fine, its an adventure".
How could I refuse?
Some 12 sleepless hours later, we had arrived.
7am or soon after we found ourselves off the bus…to be continued...

7am or soon after we found ourselves off the bus, on the street, in Nathan Road to be precise, 280 RMB each the lighter (the cost of the ticket, Nanning to Hong Kong) and also very hot.
We left Nanning the day previous, cold and coated.
Now I knew it would be a little warmer or so I thought, and I had checked on the internet for the HK weather. I'm not sure whether it was a case of not trusting or just plain stupidity on my part but I had decided to wear my coat.
Much to my annoyance the forecast was right, expected high of 25 degrees and not far off that figure now, at 7 in the morning or so it felt.
So, sweating, crotchety, unshaven and desperate for a shower we set off on the search for the hotel.
Yes, I have spent time in Hong Kong, Yes, I lived here for around 6 months some 5 years ago in the New Territories but that does not make deciding whether to turn left or right at various junctions any easier, especially when heavily laden, tired and also knowing full well that the hotel would be busy and the chances of them allowing us into our room at this god forsaken hour was highly unlikely!
Anyway, after 20 minutes and a few 'sorry, wrong way, we need to go back' and those ever so Chinese wife - 'your not my everything now' looks…we found it.

Can we go to our room now? - No, sorry, 10.30 am at the earliest.
But you can leave your bags here.
Oh well, only 3 hours to wait.
Hong Kong Park is lovely at this time of the morning I told Nana hurriedly AND its only just around the corner AND there's a McDonalds just inside…OK, she said...lovingly.

So that was that - we were here.
10.30 duly arrived and true to their word, they let us in. Good of them really as the official check in time was 2pm.
Nice room, twin bedded (if you want a double bed expect to pay considerably more), overlooking the harbour, well, you can see some of the harbour through the gap between two buildings, what do you expect for 1000HK$ a night, in the centre of Hong Kong.
I like Hong Kong... to be continued...

I like Hong Kong, not because it was once British or because I have lived there previously.
Simply, I like the fact that everything is close to, I mean, everything is easily reached.
Whatever you want, food, entertainment, views, walks, people, solitude...whatever, all easily reached and with little hassle.
The trains arrive on time and every few minutes, the busses and taxis are in copious quantities going this way or that.
All making getting about, I find, a pleasurable experience.
I like the mix of people in Hong Kong, more westerners and the like. I was also pleased to note this stay that the 'pesterers' (persons that approach you trying to sell you something) along Nathan Road (Star Ferry end) had diminished in numbers and were now also far less aggressive in their nature than in the past probably due to a crackdown by the authorities. It was becoming a serious problem at one time.

After a quick wash and brush up in out hotel room I whisked Nana off to buy Octopus cards (prepaid travel cards) a must for anyone planning a stay in HK, easy to use for travel and various other things including MaciD's.

I find the best mode of travel is via the MTR (mostly underground Mass Transit Railway) and much to Nana's amusement we went underground. I thought it best to familiarise Nana straight away with the MTR in case by chance we become parted for any reason. It is the surest way of getting oneself back to familiar territory quickly. All MTR stations have multi entry points, clearly signed and easily recognised.

We made our way to the Star Ferry (Octopus card accepted) a must for a first visit and a lovely way to acquaint Nana with the layout of the main Hong Kong area.

We needed to be at Hong Kong airport early the morning after our arrival to meet my daughter on her way through to NZ via Scotland, Italy, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Hong Kong airport is a joy, certainly in my top 3 in the world. Easy to depart from and arrive to…no complaints.

We had no real plans for my daughters arrival as I was aware that Jet Lag-Time differences would certainly be taking there toll on both my daughter and her fiancé.
We and they were happy to 'wing it' on arrival.

Disney World or Ocean Park? - we chose Ocean Park, it was very good and certainly better now than the last time I was there.
The Peak - A must do, both on a clear day and most certainly at night. We decided to eat 'up top' and a very nice meal was heartily consumed…Two beers (Chinese Tsing Tao Pilsner - 192HK$...yes, that's what I thought...over £12…a little steep but we were at the top)
Various other jaunts including the 'must do' daytime shopping and night markets soon made the 3 days pass.

It was time to say goodbye to HK and my daughter and we left them at the Airport awaiting their flight to Thailand.

Oh dear...Nana and I needed to make our way back to Nanning.
The thought of the dreaded return coach trip filling my with joy…to be continued.

The thought of the dreaded return coach trip filling my with joy and also safe in the knowledge that we did not need to check out till 2pm (normally 12 midday but owing to the fact that on our first night we needed to be moved at 2.30am into another room because of a faulty water tank filling up and making a noise like Niagara Falls, the management had decided to give us this extra time) - Time now was 9am.

We couldn't put it off any longer, the time had come 2pm. We checked out and home we headed.
This time, on discovering a new train line straight to the border crossing at Lo Wu we
MTR'd from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Lo Wu - 25 minutes…easy peasy lemonsqueezey.

Lo Wu is Shenzhen to all intents and purposes as Shenzhen moves ever closer to Hong Kong and visa versa.
30 minutes through immigration (we were lucky both times, going to and coming from, as this can sometimes take hours and hours and hours)
A short walk, maybe 3/4 minutes and low and behold, we were at one of the Shenzhen bus stations more by luck than judgement offering overnight coaches to Nanning, Guilin and other locations (also worth noting, we managed to find very close by another bus station, near the train station, offering overnight coaches to Beihai…next time…maybe)

We bought our tickets, 230RMB this time owing to the fact that now we are travelling from Shenzhen to Nanning, add to this the MTR fare of 33HK$ it means, its cheaper to do it this way, cheaper than our journey into Hong Kong and certainly a lot cheaper than if we had tried to book in Hong Kong to Nanning.
Like all things Chinese nothing is particularly simple and we later found out that had we enquired at another window in the same bus station we had a choice of different arrival points in Nanning, those that know Nanning will know that there are several bus stations.
This did not affect us in any real way as we live approximately the same distance from both options (actually the other option was more expensive by 30RMB) and we were planning to take a taxi home anticipating being back in Nanning sometime between 5am and 6am…or so we thought…

We were planning to take a taxi home anticipating being back in Nanning sometime between 5am and 6am…or so we thought.
Now don't get me wrong, delays and holdups are part of the course here in China but when the coach is meant to leave at 7pm with two further pick up stops in Shenzhen scheduled for 7.20 and 7.30, I was becoming a little irritable to say the least when some 2 hours later we had not left Shenzhen.
Probably owing partly to volume of traffic and delays in people and chattels getting onto the coach.
Why does it take so long for some people to settle in? Why are they always so vociferous? Why would anyone want to video someone getting on the bus and then video them getting into their bunk as was the case at the initial stop where a western man in a wheelchair was duly deposited onto the coach.

So off we set for what I must say was the worst trip so far…another 3 lines of bunks setup, cold, draughty, stop - starting, swerving and those sometimes essential wee piddle stops - in this case they appeared to be extended each time by what seemed like hours and that wretched television that always positioned right in my closed eyes line of sight, flickering and loud.
The usual mobile phones 'going off' followed by that always louder than is necessary…"Weiiii".
A new sound reverberates about the coaches now we have the latest generation of Mobile Phones with built in cameras, web browsing and PDA facilities 'the dreaded key board tones' bleep, bleep, bleep…not to mention the occasional 'flash' as yet 'another' picture is taken for what purpose, I do not know…does anyone actually ever view these photo's?

Eventually we arrived at the Nanning bus station after the final 45 minutes of the journey was spent travelling along what appeared to be an unmade road with potholes and the like at a speed of no more than 10/15 miles per hour, bumping around…oh, what joy.

Here we were in Nanning around 13 hours after leaving Shenzhen bus station, I agree, in one piece but nonetheless more irritable, weary and prone to say, 'never again' than ever before…
AND I forgot to get the BluTac AND the bookstore in Hong Kong didn't have the books I wanted AND I still had the headache that I had before we set off from Nanning 4 days earlier AND…