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Friday, March 22, 2019

Art Above the Jumbo Wuzhou Buses

Near the Zaochong Neighborhood Bus Stop (枣冲小区站), the end of several bus routes in Wuzhou, is a place were Jumbo Wuzhou Buses can park and refuel that has an extra touch of art.

bus parking near the Zaochong Neighborhood Bus Stop (枣冲小区站) in Wuzhou


I will take this opportunity to share a few additional brief thoughts about Jumbo Wuzhou Buses:
  • By a large margin, I have seen the smallest Jumbo Wuzhou Bus the least. Sadly, I have yet to ride one. Because of this and the fact that the slightly larger bus seems closer in size with Hong Kong's minibuses, I now refer to the smallest size as the mini-minibus and the next size up, which I have ridden in various environments, the minibus. The larger regular-sized buses also come in slightly different sizes, but I haven't felt the need to give them different names. I would be interested to hear if others have come up with names though.
  • I found the reader's comment striking in part because I suspected the rust and such would have much more caught my own attention a lot more over a decade ago. In particular, it reminded me of the first time I traveled to Yunnan, also in Southwest China. I didn't feel great about getting on a few minibuses there. Now, I wouldn't blink.

And that brings an end, probably to the dismay of some readers, to the Jumbo Wuzhou Bus theme for now.

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.