Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Fate of the Android Store in Zhuhai, China: Part II

A year and half ago I took a random bus ride in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, and ended up in the town of Nanping. As I explored the area, in a shopping district I stumbled upon a store that caught my eye and wrote about it posts here and here. At the time, there was much buzz about a fake Apple Store in China. As I later pointed out, a large number of unlicensed stores selling Apple's products and to varying degrees looking like Apple Stores could be found throughout China.

However, the store in Nanping seemed especially unique to me. For a refresher, here is the first photo I shared of Zhuhai's Android Store:

Android Store in Nanping, Zhuhai, China
Ah, the memories...

Four months later I returned to Nanping and found the Android Store remained and now had a imitator nearby.

Recently, I was able to return to Nanping yet again. For the Android Store's fans, I have some difficult news to share. Although it retains some of its previous spirit, the Android Store had a bit of a makeover:

Android Store now with a China Mobile sign
At least there's an Android inflatable arch.

A number of other nearby stores also had changed to China Mobile storefront signs as well.

Despite the change, Android Store fans may be able to take heart from something else. The imitator down the street remains mostly the same on the outside and in Xiangwan, another part of Zhuhai far away from Nanping, I saw this store one evening:

store with Android storefront sign and a large Samsung sign inside
It didn't only sell phones with Android though.

In a later post, I will provide a look at some of what the above mobile phone store and others in Zhuhai are now promoting and selling. There are some notable differences from last year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Xi Jinping's Advice for New Zealand

Last year I shared the story of a young man I met who would regularly travel from mainland China to Macau to purchase baby formula produced in New Zealand. Like many others in China, he did not trust Chinese baby formula due to a number of milk-tainting scandals. He was also not confident that the foreign formula he could could purchase in mainland China would be genuine. In a later post, I commented on the creative approach taken by a Chinese baby formula company to garner the trust of Chinese consumers through advertisements placed on far-away London buses.

So I must admit my jaw dropped a bit when I saw the Chinese news agency Xinhua had this to say about a recent meeting between China President Xi Jinping and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key:
Xi stressed that food safety concerns people's health and urged New Zealand to take tough measures to ensure food quality and thus maintain the sound momentum of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
As Josh Chin reported in the China Real Time Report, I was not alone in my reaction:
In a country where authorities routinely accuse other governments of casting hypocritical stones, the notion of Mr. Xi berating another country’s leader over food safety proved too much to bear for many social media users [in China].

“He should be saying this to himself,” wrote one microblogger. “How does he have the gall to say this to the New Zealand prime minister?”
For more about what prompted Xi's recommendation to New Zealand and how Chinese responded online, see Chin's full article here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Human Nature on a Road in Zhuhai

"Luck" had it today that while walking through a residential area in Zhuhai, China, I saw something relevant to a point I made yesterday about public urination in China:

women helping a child urinate on a road in Nanping, Zhuhai, China

Yes, a child urinating into a subway trash can in Hong Kong is unusual. But elsewhere in China, someone helping a child urinate* in public as seen above is not. Sometimes the event is kicked off by the adult making a windy whistling sound which can supposedly cause a desire to urinate. I would be interested to know if there are any empirical studies on the effectiveness of the technique.

I only took the photo because of its relevance to the recent post. I do not plan to make this topic a regular theme here. Maybe that will bring you some relief.

* No, I don't believe all the liquid on the ground is from the child. I suspect much of it is from a nearby drainage pipe possibly connected to a washing machine or sink.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"No Spitting" and "No Peeing" in Hong Kong and Macau

Today Beijing Cream shared a photo of a mother from mainland China helping her boy urinate into a trashcan. The mother's and boy's actions would not be highly unusual except for the fact they occurred in a Hong Kong subway station. In short, in my experience kids publicly urinating is not common in Hong Kong or nearby Macau. I have seen numerous examples elsewhere in China though. If you look closely at a set of photos I took at Nanmen Square in Yinchuan, Ningxia, you can see a case of public urination I felt comfortable including with other "everyday scenes".

At least for now, I'll refrain from further discussion about public urination in China, but I would like to address a possibility Beijing Cream raised regarding the photo they shared:
This was taken inside a subway station in Hong Kong right in front of a sign that appears to say “No Peeing.” (I can’t tell for certain, but wouldn’t it be great if really was a “No Peeing” sign?)
Some signs in the Hong Kong subway have caught my attention before, and I'm pretty sure a "no peeing" sign would have made that list. I appreciate that the lack of detail for the sign in question can make it look like a warning against public urination, but I strongly suspect the photo captures one of the Hong Kong MTR's "no spitting" signs:

"No spitting" sign in Hong Kong with text "Spitting spreads germs"
From Cory Doctorow, some rights reserved

However, Beijing Cream may instead be heartened by a sign I recently saw in Macau. I must say it is my favorite "no peeing" sign to date:

sign showing a dog pointing at a man urinating in front of its doghouse and a policeman writing a ticket
It seems somewhat just though.

The sign appeared to be effective during my brief time in front of it. I didn't spot any public urinators nearby. Maybe the Hong Kong MTR should take note.

Scenes from Two More Temples on the Macau Peninsula

Over a year ago I shared some scenes from the Kun Iam Temple, A-Ma Temple, and the Lin Fung Temple -- all located on the Macau Peninsula. I recently stopped by two other temples on the Macau Peninsula, so I will share a few more scenes.

On the eastern side of the Macau Peninsula I visited the Tin Hau Ancient Temple (天後古廟):

Tin Hau Ancient Temple (天後古廟) in Macau

Tin Hau Ancient Temple (天後古廟) in Macau

On the western side I visited the Hong Kung Temple (康公廟):

Hong Kung Temple (康公廟) in Macau

Hong Kung Temple (康公廟) in Macau

Both temples were very quiet. And I suppose I must have been quiet too. Someone at the Tin Hau Temple closed the gate while I was inside. I thought a repeat of the experience I had at a Macau cemetery last year might be in store. But this time the gate was not locked, and I was able to slip out without disturbing anyone.

For more Macanese temple scenes, see the earlier post here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Macau Wants "No Smoking" to Mean "No Smoking"

At Posto Fronteiriço Das Portas Do Cerco, the immigration check point at Macau's border with mainland China, I saw a large sign with a message for visitors arriving in Macau.

sign reading "Starting 1st January 2013 smoking is prohibited in no smoking areas in Casinos. Offender shall be liable to a fine of MOP400.
400 Macau Patacas (MOP) equals approximately 50 U.S. Dollars

That one could be fined for smoking in a non-smoking area seemed like useful information. That smoking is prohibited in a non-smoking area seemed rather obvious to me though. But then I recalled examples of people ignoring "no smoking" signs in China. So maybe the added emphasis is worthwhile.

Earlier this year, Macau enacted new regulations requiring casinos to designate at least half of their public space as non-smoking areas. Some wrinkles need to be ironed out though. For example, in one case a casino was reported to have surrounded an air monitoring device with air purifiers. And a review found more than half of the evaluated casinos were not fully complying with the requirements. Even when casinos follow the regulations, creative strategies can defeat some of their purpose -- for example, placing most of the popular games in smoking areas. Not surprisingly, Macau's government plans on revising the regulations.

Casinos are big part of Macau's economy, and some worry that the no-smoking rules will hurt business. But Macau's government seems committed to improving the indoor air quality for more people, even if it means telling people they can't smoke where they can't smoke.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Censorship and Creativity on China's 6-4th National Day

Today, October 1, is the National Day of the People's Republic of China. For many in China the public holiday means 7 days off work. For many others in China it means working to serve the seas of Chinese travelers. For my hotel in Zhuhai it means doubling the rate of my room.

China is celebrating this notable holiday for the 64th time.

64 ...

6 4 ...

6-4 ...

6-4 is also notable in China. On that date in 1989 civilian protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square were the target of a violent crackdown. Mentions of the date are often censored in China, and it is not uncommon for it to be obliquely referenced with terms such as "May 35". As the South China Morning Post reports (via China Digital Times), some saw today's 64th National Day as opportunity for another indirect reference.
Bloggers jumped at the rare chance to mention and discuss the word “64”, referring to June 4th, allowed by online censors though still strictly monitored, by paying condolences to the students and civilians who died in the 1989 incident.

“64, hard to forget,” a Zhejiang blogger wrote, posting a photo of what looked like an official flower display featuring the number “64” and the Chinese words “hard to forget”.
It wasn't long before the post and reposts were censored. However, the photo made its way from Sina Weibo to online services outside of China were it will not be censored:

I doubt most people in China saw these posts or are thinking about Tiananmen Square today. Nonetheless, the attempt to leverage this holiday to call attention to another day reminds me of a comment by Hu Yong, an associate professor at Peking University's School of Journalism and Communication: "Censorship warps us in many ways, but it is also the mother of creativity".

Monday, September 30, 2013

The News That Matters in Macau

The gambling industry's large presence in Macau is unmistakable. So I was not greatly surprised by the choice of the Macau Daily Times for its front page headline several days ago:

copy of Macau Daily Times with the headline "Gaming consultant advises "post-Olympics" casinos in Japan"

As reported in Bloomberg, Japan being awarded the 2020 Olympics has:
... fueled speculation Japan will approve casino gambling since the development would add hotel capacity and entertainment venues that could be used during the games.
However, the online version of the Macau Daily Times article with the above red headline reports the suggestions made by Takashi Kiso, "CEO of International Casino Institute and consultant to the Japanese government on gaming". He thinks Japan should wait until after it hosts the 2020 Olympics before developing casinos because:
Japan would need resources and large numbers of construction workers over a short time span [for the Olympics], and building the [integrated casino resorts] with the aim of opening at that point would mean competition for those resources and potential duplication of infrastructure.
If eventual approval for the casinos is likely, many in Macau may have other reasons to support Kiso's recommendation and would welcome any delays. Casinos in Japan could possibly attract gamblers who would otherwise spend their time (money) in Macau. Of course, owners of Macau's casinos who desire to open other casinos in Japan would have a different perspective.

The decision is in Japan's hands, but Macau is watching.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beer Speeding Through Macau on World Tourism Day

Many may consider the Macau Grand Prix to be the highlight of the year for racing in Macau, China, but for others another race may matter more: yes, Macau's traditional tray race which is now held in conjunction with World Tourism Day on September 27. This year more than 200 people who represented more than 24 hotels and restaurants in Macau participated. A tray race is nothing without something to put on the trays, and a local sponsor provided a suitable item: Macau Beer.

Macau Beer booth for the World Tourism Day Tray Race in Macau
I prefer Macau Beer over typical Tsingtao Beer, but you can't get it in a bag.

Since the theme of this year's World Tourism Day was "Tourism and Water – Protecting Our Common Future" the message seemed loud and clear: protect your beer too.

The teams all sported different costumes. Clearly looking for an inspirational and aerodynamic advantage, the Grand Hyatt team affixed images of the Macau Grand Prix to their heads:

participants in the Macau tray race wearing cutouts of racing scenes on their heads
Definitely my favorite costume

The race began at the steps of the iconic Ruins of St. Paul's. First, the female teams lined up.

young women lined up in front of the Ruins of St. Paul for the Macau tray race
Preparing properly is key.

After long minutes of great anticipation, the ceremonial horn sounded.

the start of the 2013 tray race in Macau
That moment of "this might be harder than I expected"

After the start, the race quickly funneled into a narrow pedestrian street.

tray racing
Some racers chose a walking pace. At least they improved their chance of having a beer at the end.

Then the male participants collected their beers and lined up.

several young men proudly lifting their bottles of beer
Light non-drinking revelry

As with the female race, photographers captured the historic moment.

photographers doing what photographers do best as the ceremonial horn blower looks on
Note the ceremonial horn blower ready with the ceremonial horn

And again the race began with the mellifluous sounding of the ceremonial horn.

a tray race beginning with at least one person already holding his beer bottle to keep it from falling over
The racers were warned any cheating would be noted by observers.

tray racing
The ceremonial horn blower already looking forward to next year's race

I must now disappoint readers with the fact that I chose not to chase after the racers to follow the action. What was the point without a beer?

Later, though, I stopped by where the race finished at Largo Senado (Senate Square). At the Macau Beer booth I inquired as to whether I could join the festivities by purchasing a bottle of Macau Beer. They had a better option: free beer would be available in 10 minutes.

I wasn't at first sure how to spend those 10 minutes, but before I knew it I found myself being tattooed.

young woman putting a temporary tattoo on my arm
Who says no pain, no gain?

Macau Beer temporary tattoo on an arm
I'm not sure they had prior experience with hairy arms.

Not long afterwards, free beer flowed like a waterfall, well, a stop-and-go waterfall into small plastic cups.

two people pouring samples of Macau Beer
No shortage of people with a desire for free beer

After collecting a shot (or two or three or four) of beer, some people chose to be photographed with the Macau Beer mascot.

young woman in sunglass posing next to the Macau Beer mascot
She had photographs taken both with and without sunglasses.

Even though they took occasional breaks, mascots possibly inspired by substances different from beer could also be found.

there Macau tourism mascots
The mascot in the middle remained in that exact position for several minutes.

The young woman who looks oh-so-thrilled to be photographed with the mascots explained to me that they were intended to welcome visitors to Macau and were not taken from any TV show, movie, game, or nightmare.

Although this is a light post about a lighter side of life in Macau, I realize that all of this together might be overwhelmingly stimulating. So I will stop here. Congratulations to Leong Mei Fong representing the Galaxy Macau and Liu Yan Song representing the Venetian Macau Resort Hotel for winning the women's and men's tray races, respectively. I hope you enjoyed your well-deserved beers.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cross-Cultural Fun for Kids

Sometimes the differences matter most. Sometimes the similarities matter most.

a barefoot girl with a with box over the top of her body playing on a a sidewalk in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
A girl I saw playing earlier this year in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

boy with a box over the top of his body and a barfeoot girl playing on a pedestrian street in Zhuhai, China
A boy and girl I saw playing recently in Zhuhai, China

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More of Cheung Chau

I have introduced Cheung Chau -- one of Hong Kong's outlying islands -- before here, so I will skip the formalities and simply share a few photos from a recent weekend outing that complement the set in the earlier post.

Looking out towards the sea

An alley with many shops

Flowers and greenery

Bike training

Basketball at the Pak Tai Temple Playground

Cheung Chau's harbor