Thursday, March 16, 2006

The temperature has leapt over the last few days peaking at a little over 20 degrees. As in all other cities, Beijing is a much much more pleasant place to be when it's balmy and having been back for almost two weeks, I'm again oblivious to the pollution - the spring in my step is only marginally degraded by overly vigorous gym activity.

With the fine weather appeared a proliferation of yappy dogs owned by middle-aged men. Highly coiffured and with unreasonably short legs, these pooches strut around like there are no Korean or Hunan restaurants in the neighbourhood. Little do they know!

Perhaps the dogs are kept in until after Spring Festival by their owners as the volume of the fireworks would most likely give these little snappers a heart attack (though of course they may have been bought specifically because this is the year of the dog). In a local paper I got some statistics from the Spring Festival bonanza. Officials don't seem too worried that a mere 838 people were injured in the capital over the two weeks of the festival along with only 384 fires started by poorly aimed rockets. Pollution levels were up 50% on the first day, mostly in the form of sulphur dioxide - I didn't need an environmental survey to tell me this!

genuinely, the most remarkable fact is that although around 5 million dollars of fireworks were set off in Beijing itself (that's a lot of cheap fireworks) nobody was killed - this can only be put down to some miraculous intervention as far as I can tell. (63 people were killed in other provinces).

Another set of interesting statistics I learned were in relation to pirate DVDs out here. It's possible to get just about any film you want from anywhere in the world, generally before it's been released anywhere in the cinemas. I have several DVDs which were 'to be viewed only for awards purposes' - or some such subtitle. What's interesting is that Chinese market is limited to only 20 foreign films a year on a legitimate basis. This means that the likelihood of anyone having a genuine of a foreign film is pretty low. I'm still unsure about how safe it is to take pirate DVDs out of the country and, though of course I don't own any myself, wonder hypothetically how much customs care about an individual having a few films in their possession - I hear mixed messages.

Anyway, a busy day so I'll retire early, if only to await whatever insight into the structure of the universe WMAP may bring us.


Anonymous said...


Bring any pirates, dvds, or pirate dvds back into the country and I'll report you. It funds human trafficking, terrorism and ultimately means I'll get paid a bit less for my job.
ps Can you get Xmen 3 yet?

Unknown said...

Unfortunately the export market in brigands is rather oversaturated. I am however going for the well-kempt pirate beard currently and will attempt to smuggle myself back into the country at some stage.

No sign of Xmen 3.You clearly need more Fox marketing out here.

Have a good ski trip.


Unless you're not who I think you are, in which case I hope you have a good unexpected ski trip.