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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Two Contrasting Views From Jumbo Wuzhou Buses

Jumbo Wuzhou Buses are a common sight in Wuzhou, and I have recently made use of them on a number of occasions. To share a tiny bit more about the buses and the places they go, below are two photos from rides on smaller buses where I had a good view out of the front window. In the first case I was standing while heading from one central urban area to another. In the second case I was sitting while returning to an urban area after an unexpectedly long walk took me to a far more rural area. Both rides only cost 1 yuan (about U.S. 15 cents). At least one of the buses was a bit rusty, but I would say I still got more than my money's worth.

view from a Jumbo Wuzhou Bus on Fumin Road (阜民路)
At the western end of Fumin Road (阜民路)


view from a Jumbo Wuzhou Bus heading away from Baishe Village (白社村) in Wuzhou
Heading away from Baishe Village (白社村)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

U.S. Consulate in Shanghai Tweets Likely Mistaken Reports of Beyond-Crazy Bad Air in Shanghai

Nearly a full year ago, the twitter accounts reporting air quality readings for the U.S. Embassy and four U.S. Consulates in China all went silent for an extended period of time. Whatever the cause, they all eventually came back to life.

Today when I glanced at my Twitter feed, my attention was grabbed by a tweet from the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai reporting horrendous air quality there.

@CGShanghaiAir tweet reporting PM2.5 level of 985 in Shanghai


The awfulness of 985 ug/m3 for PM2.5, a particulate matter size which is an especially harmful form of air pollution, is hard to put into words. According to a U.S. government Air Quality Index (AQI) calculator, PM2.5 levels ranging from 205.5 to 500.4 ug/m3 are equal to AQIs ranging from 301-500. For 24 hour exposure, the U.S. EPA categorizes this range of AQIs as "Hazardous" — their worst category. Over 8 years ago when a machine at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing recorded a level over 500 the @BeijingAir account operated by the U.S. Embassy in China described it as "crazy bad". This accurate description was called a mistake and soon replaced with the plainer term "beyond index".

To be clear, 500 ug/m3 is the highest level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even bothers to categorize. A 985 ug/m3 isn't crazy bad. It's beyond-crazy bad.

Wondering what sort of calamity had occurred in Shanghai, I looked at several earlier tweets from @CGShanghaiAir. None of them reported anything near that level. For example, the previous tweet reported a PM2.5 of 118 ug/m3. This is still categorized as "Unhealthy" for short term exposure, but it is far from beyond-crazy bad.

I then checked the page on the U.S. Department of State Mission China website the reports PM2.5 AQI data for Shanghai.



Aha. The reading for the beyond-crazy bad reading wasn't appearing. The reading for 1 a.m. was also missing. So I went back to @CGShanghaiAir's tweet for that time period and . . .
another @CGShanghaiAir tweet reporting PM2.5 level of 985 in Shanghai


Aha, again. The missing readings on Mission China for 9 and 10 p.m. similarly matched up to tweets reporting the same level of pollution.

I didn't see any similar problems with recents reports for Beijing, Guangzhou, and, Shenyang. But there was a missing time period at the Mission China page for air quality in Chengdu.




A tweet from @CGChengduAir for the corresponding time also showed an out of nowhere reading of 985 ug/m3.

Aha, yet again.

While it is imaginable the AQI jumping up significantly in a short period of time due to a sudden event such as a major explosion and PM2.5 levels have surpassed 900 ug/m3 in China before, it's hard to imagine how the air quality could jump back and forth so quickly. This combined with the most suspicious readings now not appearing on the Mission China site and the absence of similar high levels in air quality reports for elsewhere in Shanghai, suggests that something was rather off with the recent tweets of 985 ug/m3 levels.

Perhaps the consulate's machine had a problem. Perhaps somebody blew smoke into the machine. I don't know. But it sure doesn't look like Shanghai's or Chengdu's air was beyond-crazy bad recently. And I'll be extra suspicious of any future tweets reporting a PM2.5 level of 985 ug/m3.

Finally, as I look now . . . @CGShanghaiAir's tweet that immediately followed the reading which first caught my attention reports a PM2.5 level of 81 ug/m3. The most recent tweet from @CGShanghaiAir at this time reports a PM2.5 level of 71 ug/m3. Both of these levels are categorized as "Unhealthy" for a 24 hour period. Still, those numbers are nowhere near 985.

So to all in Shanghai, relax. I think it's still safe to go outside with a mask on.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Chair Tied to Two Chickens in Wuzhou

I didn't ask them, but presumably these two chickens in Wuzhou just didn't want anybody to take their chair.

two chickens tied to a chair in Wuzhou
At Juren Road (居仁路)

Perhaps the free range chair on the street has it better.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Comment About a Rusty Jumbo Wuzhou Bus

In response to a post about Jumbo Wuzhou Buses in Wuzhou, Guangxi, a reader commented:
I am surprised at the condition of the bus in the first picture. The cracked paint and rust stains make the bus look unreliable, and I would have expected the bus company to at least apply some paint over the cracks and clean off the rust stains.
My short reply is that I am not surprised and have seen (and ridden) buses in worse condition. While improving appearances might positively change perceptions of the buses' reliability, I question whether that alone would ultimately change many decisions regarding a ride that often costs just 1 RMB (about U.S. 15 cents) — possibly less with an IC card.

Regardless, people desiring less rusty buses could try expressing their feelings at the Jumbo Bus Company office in Wuzhou, which I happened to stumble upon today.

Jumbo Bus Company in Wuzhou (梧州珍宝巴士有限公司)


I'm not saying this is at all likely to work, but at least you could buy or add funds to an IC card there.

Since we're on the Wuzhou bus topic once more, I will share that the other night I saw somebody with a notable umbrella.

Person boarding a bus with a yellow Jumbo Wuzhou Bus umbrella.


What better way to wait in the rain for a Jumbo Wuzhou Bus, rusty or not?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Identified: A Paris Peacock Swallowtail on a Mountain in Wuzhou

I don't often see butterflies. I far more rarely take decent photos of them. But the other day one butterfly on Baiyun Mountain in Wuzhou was kind enough to pose (ever so briefly) for a few.

I have come up fruitless many times trying to more specifically identify unusual (to me) insects in Asia. Sometimes I have asked for help here, including with some beetles I saw around West Lake in Fuzhou, Fujian, that still remain a mystery to me. But this time a friend who saw the photos saved the day and said she thought it was a Paris peacock, a species of swallowtail butterfly. The pictures and description in the Wikipedia entry look like an excellent match, so I consider this case closed.

And now, the photos of a Paris peacock swallowtail I saw during yet an another unexpected hike up a mountain (more about that attempt to reach the top of a tower another day):


Paris peacock swallowtail butterfly on Baiyun Mountain in Wuzhou, China


Paris peacock swallowtail butterfly in Wuzhou, China


Paris peacock swallowtail butterfly in Wuzhou, China

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Apparent Mismatch for a Name: Mini Jumbo Wuzhou Buses in Guangxi, China

Hong Kong formally names its minibuses, like the one which appeared in the previous post, "public light buses". Wuzhou, a city in the Chinese autonomous region Guangxi, also has minibuses. But instead of "public light bus" they have another name on them.

mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus (梧州珍宝巴士)


The "Wuzhou" and "Bus" parts of the name "Jumbo Wuzhou Bus" make obvious sense. "Jumbo" is less clear, though, since these are minibuses. If that is the jumbo size then what's the mini size?

A larger bus can help begin to clear up the mystery.

full-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus


They have the same name on them, which is the name of a bus company. This is clearly stated in smaller Chinese print elsewhere on the buses.

Jumbo Wuzhou Bus logo


Like buses in Hong Kong, some buses have advertising.

full-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus with advertising


However, you won't see advertising quite like what's on the minibus in the previous post. Hongkongers have greater political rights and more freedom of speech than people in mainland China. The "Tell Right From Wrong, True From False" slogan was part of a campaign for the Labor Party's attempt to win a 2018 Kowloon West by-election. But China still limits Hongkongers' rights to a degree that leads some people to claim Hong Kong doesn't have real democracy. These limitations were evident in Kowloon West election when the Labor Party's original candidate, Lau Siu-lai, was barred from running due to her previous stances regarding Hong Kong's self-determination.

Back to more mundane matters . . . in Wuzhou there are buses in between the mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus and the regular-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus in terms of size. So here are two mini-plus Jumbo Wuzhou Buses:

two mid-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Buses


The word "珍宝" in the Chinese name for Jumbo Wuzhou Bus would often be translated as "treasure". But it is also a loanword in Cantonese meaning "jumbo" because of its similar sound to the English word. Like in Hong Kong, Cantonese is a commonly spoken language in Wuzhou.

I can't shed more light on what inspired the choice of "jumbo". But if you want to dig more, it might be worth looking into the Guangzhou buses with a similar name and logo.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Trump's Tweets in the Hong Kong News

Tonight on the news as I waited for a ferry tonight in Hong Kong:


Donald Trump on the news in Hong Kong


A tweet by Donald Trump featured in the news in Hong Kong


A tweet by Donald Trump featured in the news in Hong Kong


China and US flags displayed on a news segment about the China - US trade discussions


Just a basic point that is part of a larger picture: Trump's tweets receive close attention, even here.

Friday, February 22, 2019

An Unexpected Visit to the Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre in Hong Kong

I hadn't expected to arrive in Prince Edwards, Hong Kong, at 11:30 a.m. yesterday.

Oh, the location was expected. But the time was not since I had departed Jiangmen only 3.5 hours before, and a similar recent trip from a closer location, Zhongshan, had taken longer. Arriving earlier than expected was grand though.

I had expected to stop by the Mongkok Computer Centre yesterday afternoon. I had also expected during this visit I wouldn't be able to fully resolve the problem which had brought me there. But I hadn't expected that after some assistance, I would head to Kowloon Bay.

And I hadn't expected that yesterday I would find myself at the Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre.

Sign for the Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre


Some readers must be wondering if the Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre is a fine building. It is.

Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong


After entering the building, I hadn't expected that finding a way to the upper levels would be slightly tricky. Here is a later photo I took which which I believe captures somebody receiving friendly assistance to reach those levels:

ground floor of the Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre


After finding the elevator and exiting it on the 2nd floor (what would be labeled the 3rd floor in the U.S.), I hadn't expected to see no signs of my intended destination. So I picked a direction and found myself in a distribution centre for Circle K, a convenience store chain.

Circle K distribution centre in the Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre


Soon a person who hadn't expected me to be in the Circle K distribution centre explained (hollered) that I shouldn't be there. Then an older man who presumably wasn't surprised to see yet another person in the wrong place immediately guessed my intended destination and directed me there.

Thank you, sir.

Shortly after that, I found my destination.

Vcare location in the Sunshine Kowloon Bay Cargo Centre


When I left Hong Kong during the Lunar New Year holiday I hadn't expected to return so soon. I also hadn't expected that I would have significant problems with an external hard drive I had bought there. I had expected that having discarded the box would make resolving the problem more challenging. It did, but I hadn't expected that things would go as smoothly as they did nonetheless.

In short, the external hard drive I had bought has been replaced. As soon as I feel reasonably confident all is OK with it, I will be heading out of Hong Kong once more. While I wish the drive I had bought before had lived a long life, at least the experience of replacing it afforded opportunities to open my eyes to new things.

More about some of those things and also the new travel options in and out of Hong Kong someday.

I expect.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Gymnasium in Jiangmen

The other day during a long walk through the Baishuidai Scenic Area in Jiangmen I passed the Guangdong Nanfang Institute of Technology (广东南方职业学院). I see indications the school's English name used to be the Guangdong Nanfang (or Southern) Vocational School, which would be consistent with its Chinese name, but I will stick with what appears on their website. Whatever its English name, the architecture of one of its building particularly stood out.

Gymnasium at the Guangdong Nanfang Institute of Technology (广东南方职业学院室内体育馆)


On a page of photos of various buildings and locations at the campus, I discovered it was an indoor gymnasium. I don't expect to have much more to share about the school as I didn't stay around for long. But I do hope to share more about the scenic area another day. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Shakespeare and Chinese Fashion: Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve in Jiangmen, Not in Venice

O, sir, content you;
I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:
Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Do well thrive by them and when they have lined
their coats
Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul;
And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
or when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

– Iago in William Shakespeare's Othello, Act 1, Scene 1*


shirt with "Sorry" printed on the front and "I am not" on the right sleeve
For sale at Diwang Plaza in Jiangmen, China




* See here or here for translations into modern English of this scene where Iago explains he hides his negative feelings toward his master in order to better take advantage of him.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Passing Up the One-Night Stand in Jiangmen: Creative Names and a Taste of Demolition of Cheese River Powder at Yes Cuisine

Yes Cuisine (YES茶餐厅) at Diwang Plaza (地王廣場) in Jiangmen (江門)
Yes Cuisine at Diwang Plaza in Jiangmen



So many questions . . .

Should I leap at the opportunity?
Would I regret doing so the next morning?

Pan-fried one-night stand (香煎一夜情) in the Yes Cuisine (YES茶餐厅) menu


In the end, I decided to take a pass on the pan-fried one-night stand at the Hong Kong-style restaurant Yes Cuisine (YES茶餐厅), and narrowed the options to two recommended dishes.

Demolition of cheese river power (拆燒芝士河粉) and Bizarre (比翼脆雙飛) in Yes Cuisine Menu


Choosing between demolition of cheese river power and bizarre was not easy, but I finally settled on the former. So I raised my hand to get the attention of a restaurant worker. He smiled warmly at me, waved, and then went on his merry way.

Something important was missing.

After recovering from the unexpected yet entertaining response and becoming convinced nothing further was going to result from it, I tried again with another worker. She wasn't as cheerful, but she immediately recognized I was ready to order. Excellent.

Everything was efficient after that, and I soon had a hot plate of demolition of cheese river powder.

Demolition of cheese river powder at YES Cuisine
Today's noodly lunch


If by "demolition" they meant at a molecular level then they were spot on. Either there was very little cheese to begin with or most of it had decomposed into something not very cheesy. I have had similar experiences with cheese in China before. I'm not sure all of it was really cheese. In any case, if this dish had been topped with more or better quality cheese, I might be a fan.

But at least the taste was passably pleasant, and I finished most of the dish. I only left some of the noodles due to being full enough. For what it is worth, a misguided literal character by character translation of the Chinese word for a wide type of noodles — "河粉" — gives rise to "river powder".

As far as the fish dish, I'd say "pan-fried one-night stand" is actually a good translation of the Chinese — "香煎一夜情". According to recipes for similar dishes, the witty name comes from the fact that the fish is marinated for one night.

For the translation of "比翼脆雙飛" into "bizarre", I am not sure what happened there. It is worth noting that this translation is the first result provided by Google Translate. Baidu Translate's result of "flying brittle with two wings" strikes me as closer to the mark. I will leave it up to the professionals to decide what would work best here.

More than noodle dishes or cheese, I would say the thing to take away from this restaurant is that, yes, there are plenty examples of translation gone wrong on menus in China, even including fried enemas. But that perplexing or entertaining name you see might be a good translation of a name that is creative in Chinese as well.

So don't let an unusual name alone scare you away from a one-night stand, whether pan-fried or steamed.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Little Red App, Li Rui's Death, Lots of Debt, and Forced Pork: Four China-Themed Tweets With Links

Here are four tweet with links to pieces very much worth checking out if you haven't already:




Thursday, February 14, 2019

Two Valentine's Day Sellers in Jiangmen

I believe it is February 14, which in parts of the world is Valentine's Day.

Tonight on Shengli Road in Jiangmen, I passed two nearby places where people could buy last minute flowers.

selling roses on Valentine's Day in Jiangmen, China



selling flowers on Valentine's Day in Jiangmen, China


The second photo captures intense bargaining. Perhaps some people would prefer their love to pay whatever it takes to get some flowers. In this case, tag team action between the couple sought a better price.

Well played.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

40 Photos Taken With a New Camera and Lens in Hong Kong

I had not originally planned to spend time in Hong Kong so early this year, but an urgent need for a new camera and lens changed things. Both in terms of options and prices, purchasing a camera in Hong Kong was a far better option than doing so in mainland China, especially given what I was seeking and that I was relatively close to Hong Kong. My previous camera and lens had both been in far-from-ideal states for some time. Although I found workarounds for some problems such as malfunctioning dials, dust buried deep in the sensor, and problematic autofocusing, their state certainly had affected how and what I photographed for a period of time. So there was some good that matters had reached a state where I was forced to upgrade (repairs weren't sensible given what they would cost).

I only stayed in Hong Kong long enough to purchase the camera & lens and to feel reasonably confident all was well with them. So below are 40 photos presented in the order they were taken with the theme "photos I took while testing my new camera and lens for a few days in Hong Kong", although I hope in the process to share yet a little more about Hong Kong. I won't get into technical details, but I'll share that all of the photos are unaltered "as is" from the jpeg files the camera produced, except reduced in size.

Scenes and locations were motivated by a variety of factors, including simply testing the camera under certain conditions and other pragmatic matters. I would have set the camera differently if I took some of these photos now or if I had known all of those pigeons were going to suddenly take off in my direction. I covered far fewer locations than typical for a Hong Kong stay. Still, I managed to capture scenes in areas such as Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, and Kowloon City.

Anyway, the photos are what they are. And of course, more will come.


Red lanterns at Lee Tung Avenue
Red lanterns at Lee Tung Avenue


Photographic moment at Lee Tung Avenue
Photographic moment at Lee Tung Avenue


birds at Kwan Kee Birds & Small Animals
Birds at . . .


Kwan Kee Birds & Small Animals
Kwan Kee Birds & Small Animals


Tram and Five Guys in Hong Kong
Tram and Five Guys


Vendor in Wan Chai
Vendor in Wan Chai


Arsenal Street tram stop on Hennessy Road
Arsenal Street tram stop on Hennessy Road


Playing in the fountain at Hong Kong Park
Playing in the fountain at Hong Kong Park


Children playing with sand scoopers at Hong Kong Park
Playing in the sand at Hong Kong Park


Little girl running at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden
Running at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden


De Brazza's monkeys at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden
De Brazza's monkey spotting a human at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden


Below the Glenealy Flyover in Hong Kong
Below the Glenealy Flyover


The Glenealy Flyover in Hong Kong
The Glenealy Flyover


Above the Glenealy Flyover
Above the Glenealy Flyover (and a change of light)


Looking up at night from the parade ground at Tai Kwun
Looking up from the parade ground at Tai Kwun


A local Young Master IPA at HK Brew Craft
A local Young Master IPA at HK Brew Craft


Fruit loops cones at Emack & Bolio's in Hong Kong
Fruit loops cones at Emack & Bolio's


Topman and Topshop in Hong Kong
Topman and Topshop


The Lunar Fantasy with Ancient Auspicious Animals at Times Square
The Lunar Fantasy with Ancient Auspicious Animals at Times Square


In a sea of flowers at the Lunar Fantasy with Ancient Auspicious Animals
Sea of flowers at the Lunar Fantasy with Ancient Auspicious Animals


Advertising in front of Times Square
Advertising in front of Times Square


Multistory escalator in Hysan Place
Multistory escalator in Hysan Place


View of Ma Tau Wai Road from the upper level of a Hong Kong double-decker bus
View of Ma Tau Wai Road from the upper level of a Hong Kong double-decker bus


Herbal tea stand in Kowloon City
Herbal tea stand in Kowloon City


Art at the Cattle Depot Artist Village
Art at the Cattle Depot Artist Village


Ma Tau Kok Road
Ma Tau Kok Road


policeman walking on a footbridge in Mong Kok
Footbridge on a Sunday in Mong Kok


Fish for sale at the Fa Yuen Street Market
Fish for sale at the Fa Yuen Street Market


Junk boat in Victoria Harbour
Junk in Victoria Harbour


Lunar New Year pig head sculpture lighted up at night at Harbour City
Lunar New Year pig sculpture at Harbour City


Photographing the Symphony of Lights from a Star Ferry boat
Photographing the Symphony of Lights from a Star Ferry boat


people walking in a pedestrian subway in Tsim Sha Tsui
Pedestrian subway in Tsim Sha Tsui


Looking down at the ground floor of the Chungking Mansions
Looking down at the ground floor of the Chungking Mansions


Top of the The Masterpiece skyscraper seen through the Victoria Dockside
Top of the The Masterpiece skyscraper seen through the Victoria Dockside


Family being photographed with a sculpture of the pig cartoon character McDull at the Avenue of the Stars
Photographic opportunity with the pig cartoon character McDull at the Avenue of the Stars


Pigeons taking flight at Kowloon Park
Pigeons taking flight at Kowloon Park


Sculpture of Miss 13 Dots at the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars
Miss 13 Dots at the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars


Looking down at a multistory escalator in Langham Place
Looking down at a multistory escalator in Langham Place


Fa Yuen Market at night
Fa Yuen Market


Public Light Bus and crowd in Mong Kok
Minibus and crowd in Mong Kok