Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What is Ti Jian?

Today I reveal Ti Jian to the world.

Lately I've really been getting into this Chinese activity, and the people who play it down at The Bank have been nice enough to let a white beginner into their games. (If you don't know what The Bank is, find out here.) I'm also the only player under the age of 50, but like I said, they're hospitable.

Be sure to watch this sports promo I made in honour of Ti Jian. I narrated it as well, so hopefully you can really get a feel for my excitement. A quick side note on pronunciation: it looks like "tee jee-ann," but the Northeast accent has a habit of adding a pirate-y "ARRRR" sound on to words that end in -ian. So up here they say "tee jearr". I don't know why. But now you can sound real Northeastern.

I'm going to keep practicing my game, and hopefully one day I can be as good as the upper echelon of Ti Jian players: 60 year old women. Those girls can kick it! Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Out of the Smog

Yesterday I dealt with some smog.

The level of smog that I'm dealing with is one thing that people seem to be curious about since I've come to China. It's true, China has a lot of pollution. There's plenty of factories and tons of cars, and not all of them are spouting water vapour. But thankfully, the majority of this problem is confined to China's largest cities.

My city, Jilin, boasts only a modest 4 million, so it's actually considered to be quite small by Chinese standards. Therefore, the pollution I've experienced in my almost five months here has been minor and uncommon. On some cloudy days, things seem a little hazy in the distance, and once I saw some low-lying smog from a train ride outside of Jilin. It's been negligible- until yesterday.
Click on these to make them bigger and beautiful-er.
Yesterday I woke up to a fog so dense, you'd think the British were coming. It was in the streets, between packed buildings, and completely obliterated the river; Stephen-King-level thick. I actually heard a couple people got pulled out of supermarkets into The Mist where they were eaten by monsters. Here are some picture I took not long after sunset. The smog was starting to dissipate as the evening got cooler, but you can still see plenty of haze. It's not just bad photography this time!
The silver lining on this gray cloud is that apart from the poor visibility, it was a really nice day. I haven't double-checked the science on this, but I believe that it can't rain when that much pollution is present. Apparently those smog particles are just jerks, they'll take water droplets out behind a cloud and beat the crap out of them.
Today things were right back to normal. Although this next picture wasn't taken today, you get the idea. I swear it looked exactly like this. The smog is gone, it's business as usual, and I can go back to staring across that river I love so much.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Wow That's a Big Mao

Yesterday I saw a statue of Mao that's bigger than the one I usually see.

While on a brief vacation to the city of Shenyang, we stopped by Zhongshan Square (it's on Zhongshan road, you can't miss it) to admire the Mao. I've found that images of Chairman Mao are commonplace in China, and whether in the form of handbags, signs, or giant statues, you'll be seeing a lot of the father of modern China. Hey Dad! What made this statue special is that it was reported to be the largest in China, and according to my extrapolation, the world. After 8 seconds of research, I found out that those reports were wrong.

But still! This was an amazing statue in a beautiful square; Mao was absolutely huge, and surrounded by images of strong Chinese soldiers and workers. It was a really interesting monument to China's history, and its massive size meant you didn't have to squint to appreciate it, which was nice.
Photo by Greg W.