Language Barrier

The Great Wall in China is about two hours outside downtown Beijing. The best way to get there is to hire a private driver. The cars are nicer than the cabs, very inexpensive (roughly $40 USD gets you a driver all day) and you have a better experience than a tour bus. But private drivers are less likely to speak English than a bus driver. In fact this was true in most of China - very little English spoken. And I do not speak any Mandarin. Which really isn't a problem, you simply have someone like the front desk at your hotel write out - in Chinese - directions to where you want to go on a slip of paper you hand to your cab or driver. But this doesn't really cover you when about one hour into a two hour trip you have to pee. And have no way to communicate this information to your driver. Well, unless your artistic ability is equal to mine, and you are capable of drawing a stick figure going pee. Showing this to your driver is bound to produce both laughter and a stop soon where you can have a brief biological break. Really quite funny.


Pictures from China - The Great Wall

I'm back from China and have a couple posts in my drafts about the AFM race #5 and further posting about Beijing and Shanghai, for now here are a couple quick pictures from the Great Wall...


Enroute To Beijing

-- Posted After Returning From Trip --

In Beijing for the next couple days then going to Shanghai Monday. Currently in taxi headed away from airport - the smog/haze is intense. It's roughly 100 degrees Ferenheit temperature. I'm strictly a tourist through the weekend, Monday is spent traveling, then next week I'm in a class at Fudan University.

My first impression of Beijing is surprise at how modern it is. I guess the GDP per capita stuff you read about is proof that numbers can lie... or at least they don't tell the whole story of this city. Beijing is very wealthy, on par with any US or European city I've visited. Clean, expensive cars, great roads, sprawling urban planning, a GREAT many tall buildings (there are 26B people in Beijing afterall), parks and greenways beside the roads.

I keep getting these travel books before I leave the country, then crack 'em open for the first time on the airplane. Which makes the first couple hours of my flight always very fun as I get excited for my trip. Here's what excites me about China:

- China sends 220 billion text messages a year
- It's probably illegal but I bet panda bear tastes good
- The terrain variety is baffling, from mountain borders shared with Nepal to the Muslim (yeah, when I think of China my mind doesn't jump to Muslim either) regions to the West borders shared with the -stans, desert/ tundra with camels toward Russia, sub-tropical rain forest to the East... it's boggling
- Would probaly like to spend five weeks here in a row at some future point to actually make a dent in the list of things one should see/ do/ eat/ experience in China - it's that big
- Agricultural areas with water buffalo and straw hat wearing rice farmers
- Old men who play mahjong and smoke pipes

Things I'll blog about in the next few days:

- Tienamen square
- Great wall
- Forbidden City
- Getting custom shirts for $15
- Getting a massage for $15
- The ensuing debauchery of 65 MBA students in their final school obligation

Access Denied (which in Chineese sounds like, *silence*)

Just back from a week in China for a class at Fudan University - I have to post some updates soon but I'm behind since blogging is prohibited in China! Pictures to follow later this week...

This is not like the blocking in Dubai where you are presented with a blocked page and a link to the acceptable use policy. This is a much more sinister blocking. There's no error message or
little note acknowleging the Internet's success in connecting you but China's denial of your access. Pages simply do not resolve with no error message. Of course instantly upon figuring
this out I began testing other sites which are blocked, and how to get around this blocking.
Here are a couple other sites apparently China does not want Chinese people visiting:

- YouTube
- State Web for Nation of Taiwan (
- Web for US Courts (
- This blog ( and all blogs actually
- US Marines (
- UN News (

Proxying out encrypted does work, but since I'm not interested in testing exactly how much they care and what they do to you if detected, I'll skip sneaking around for this short trip.