Seeding clouds to fight drought in Guangxi - Watch the video

The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is one of the areas hard hit by drought. The local government is resorting to artificial rain to ease conditions.

Watch the video....

China Visa Overstay - A Cautionary Tale

I'm stupid
I'm careless
I'm a Tosser
I'm a Twat...
What can I say...your right, I'm all of these things.

On the plus side though, I now speak from experience...
I get a yearly visa.
Once a year I pop along to the PSB office here in Nanning and apply for a new one.
When I first arrived, all those years ago I only had a 30 day visa, then 3 months at a time, two times, then 6 months, two times, then yearly.

I think this is my second or third yearly one. One might argue, I'm an old hand at this caper.
This year 2010 was no different. In my mind, I had ingrained the renewal date, I'd even put the renewal date in Microsoft calender on the laptop, just to be safe.
And just like clockwork, up popped the reminder on the laptop, although I had not needed it to remind me as I was 'on the ball' and had already mentioned to my dear wife, it's that time again. Visa time.
This was Wednesday, have you checked your passport she said, No need. The date was set in stone. We have until next Wednesday or Thursday, We will go on Monday, I said with confidence.
All was well with the world and Thursday passed without incident, most of Friday also.
We got home early Friday, about 4pm. What are we doing now, I asked. Why don't we sort out the Visa papers for photocopying she said. Good idea.

As most already know, if married you need photocopies of marriage book in addition too photocopies of passport main page, last visa issued page, wife's family book, wife's ID card and the Police registration of Temporary residence paper. Along with all the originals, application form and a passport photo, this is what you need to take along to the PSB office. No problem.
Where is my passport, I ask, it's in the safe, you should know, you put it there, she said.
Found it, great, that's everything. Its only 5.30 what are we going to do now?
Don't know, she said while casually picking up my passport and flicking through the pages - Where is your last visa page?. It's here, a few pages back, see, don't know why they put it there.
Is this right? she said. What! I said, It expired yesterday, the valid until day...WAS YESTERDAY.
Don't wind me up, let me see... Oh! F---, F---, F---.
After about 10 minutes of all the usual...this can't be right, someones changed it, why didn't you tell me, has my passport been in the safe all the time, how could I be so stupid...all the usual trying to make some sense of my own stupidity, finally I said, What are we going to do? It always helps to involve others, in ones own stupidity.
It's 6 o'clock Friday night, my visa expired yesterday, Thursday, and I'm an illegal alien.
Don't worry she says in that lovely, we're in China voice, everything is possible.
We can go tomorrow and sort it out, Don't worry, it'll be OK, she thinks for a moment, then quite calmly says - They might not be open tomorrow, It's Saturday...
To be continued...

The Electric Bike in Nanning

The Electric Bike
Ours is just about 2 and a bit years old now.
It's reached that stage in life when just about anything causes it to break down and require some money spent on it.
You know the sort of thing, punctures (no end), inner tubes, tyres, ignition switches (lost count of how many), three chargers, brake cables (4, I think) and various other bits and bobs including numerous soldering repairs on wiring faults.
We reached a milestone today, out third battery, this one cost a cool 400 RMB.
I mustn't grumble, we have done around 1000 hours over 2 and a bit years, mostly  two up.
And it is convenient. Can't be bad.

China household registration or Hukou.

More than a dozen Chinese newspapers have published a joint editorial calling for the abolition of the household registration or "hukou".

Nanning, Hong Kong, the USA, the UK, the European Union and new camera


In these times of global financial crisis, with one country blaming another and various talk and accusations of protectionism, tariffs etc. it appears to me that the actual trading companies / businesses / manufactures of these countries are getting off rather lightly.


I want to buy a new camera, it's about time, my old one, I'm ashamed to say is over 10 years old. I wrote some time ago about it on the blog, a Canon Powershot A70.

It will still, with a sharp slap on it's side, take a good photo and a fair quality video but the time has come to let it rest in peace, quietly at the bottom of some dusty draw just like those old photographs.


Anyway, whilst drooling over the latest photo gadgetry and trying to make an informed decision as to whether or not to plunge in with the latest model (normally much more expensive) or go for an older version that is still in production and available (normally substantially cheaper) I was at this stage being drawn towards the prices.

What is it they say? If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it.


I realise Nanning would probably not be the cheapest place on the planet for a camera, although I think it should be, and I know that with all this talk of economic slow downs, recessions and the like, the camera should, one would think be a mite cheaper here than there.


Now here's the nub, it's a weird thing, after spending no end of hours researching pricing in the shops here in Nanning and the various other locations stated above via the internet, I have found that the cheapest place to buy a camera is in the USA - a like for like price comparison for any given model always came up with the good ol' USA coming out the cheapest, every time.


Nanning proved to be just about on par with the UK pricing structure.

Which I found quite astonishing.

Hong Kong, somewhere between the lowest (USA) and the UK. But worth noting, I could not access every shop in Hong Kong, so it figures that a trip in the Mong Kok area of Hong Kong, renowned for electrical gadgets would probably provide better prices.


So, are prices being fixed ?

Are the prices based on manufacturing cost, plus distribution, plus a profit, or are they based on - 'Let's see what we can get here'.


Either way, it does not explain why, a camera, that is made in China costs about the same in Nanning as it does in the UK - Tariffs, Taxes - in Nanning?

And why is the USA the cheapest?

Which leads me onto the role of the European Union in all of this - a help, or a hindrance?


I'm back to the UK later this year, via Hong Kong but I really want to buy a new camera now so it looks like Nanning will get the benefit of my small insignificant purchase.

Along with the manufacturer, of course.