Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Holidays from Shanghai

Happy Holidays!

The most wonderful time of the year has hit Shanghai like a storm and left in the aftermath are a myriad of Christmas decorations (angels, rheindeer, wreaths, and some new shapes). While some areas are clearly marked with santas, snowflakes, and holiday tunes, other areas appear as if the holidays never happened....

So where are some good places to enjoy the "western" aspects of the holidays?
- Xintiandi has been decorated to the nines, and despite the massive crowds of people on weekends, its quite cozy.
- To see the large-scale decor, the large angels, etc. Jiu Guang and Plaza 66 malls on Nanjing lu have the most impressive props. Also check out Best Brand Mall in Lujiazui.
- For the best holiday music, check out the Coffee Break coffee shop on Xin Hui Lu, a block from Yu Fu Temple. I made a holiday CD for them, and they haven't stopped playing it since (6 days and running, at this point).
(please submit more ideas for spending the holidays in Shanghai)

And if you're REALLY tired of xmas, just go to the Shanghai train station. Every day is the same there. Millions of people, many beggers, and the constant specter of a pickpocket following you around....

As an expat in Shanghai/China, spending the holidays far from the "western" style festivities is an exciting and sad prospect at the same time.

On one hand, the typical holiday routine of seeing ones family members, giving and receiving presents and (in Denmark) dancing around the Christmas tree is something that I miss much more out here.

On the other hand, the holiday season in western Europe and the US is often very chaotic and everyone so focused on fulfilling the inevitable holiday requirements, that the joy of Christmas is left behind at some department store across town.

So while I hope you all enjoy the Christmas season and have lots of fun with your family and friends wherever you might be. Shanghai is overall a great place to be, but sometimes I feel like I'm in a big department store, with 50424 floors..... shop till you drop!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bangladaid.... Support UNICEF.

Bangladesh has been hit by one of the worst disasters in decades. Thousands are dead and many more will succumb to the devastating combination of existing poverty and the destruction from Cyclone Sidr.

You can help. Donate as little as $5, and you can tell all your friends that you've done your part in helping the poor souls of Bangladesh fight a very difficult time ahead. UNICEF, one of my favorite aid organizations, will definitely help thousands of Bangladeshis, but they need your help!

The Energy Blog

I just found out about a very interesting blog. It's called The Energy Blog. If you are like me and find it fascinated to hear about new developments in the sector of energy, and particularly clean energy, check out this blog

The Energy Blog (

Now go reduce some carbon emissions!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bloggin' 从 Shanghai

UPDATE - UPDATE: East Asia Blog is now blogging from Shanghai.

Why the change? I'm super busy so don't expect daily posts, but once in a while I'll send some funnies or updates from China.

What will that mean? No more news stories or debates about issues most people don't really care about anyway. Most visitors - by the way - were people looking for a map of East Asia.

So? Instead, I'll post pictures or events from the day-to-day life here in China.

And now??: To kick off this new twist to East Asia blog, here's a picture I took with my phone in the city of Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, where going to the dentist is as easy as going to 7-Eleven (or Lawson, in Shanghai)

(That's right - you can walk from the street right into the dental office).

... now say "aaaaaaaah"

Saturday, July 14, 2007

North Korea Closes Yongbyon Reactor

Breaking News from the Hermit State

North Korea has allegedly closed down its controversial Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The move is a surprise to most analysts who remained skeptical of Pyongyang's previous hints at such a move. While the secluded country might still change their position on just about any issue at the drop of a hat, the decision is a new milestone in the negotiations towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Hopefully this could be an early step towards a long-term peace negotiation between North Korea and their historical enemies (i.e. South Korea, US, Japan).

Let's not hold our breath for a reopening of North Korea, but let's pray that the improved engagement with Kim Jong-il could help restore hope to millions of North Koreans who remain in abrupt poverty.

IHT/NYT article about the development

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Where in East Asia....???

It's time to poll our visitors:

Where in East Asia have you been?

Who's been to the most countries?

What is your favorite place in East Asia?

Post your countries in the comments box...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blue Ear Disease

Someone has found out what's been killing millions of poor pigs in southern China. It's a disease called Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), or Blue Ear Disease.

While doctors are betting their chips on the fact that the illness won't affect humans, I'm sure it will cause lots of agony among our four-hooved friends.
So what's the bottom line? A large number of diseases originate in China. Why? Well, because Chinese farmers still has lots to learn in terms of hygiene, but to give them the benefit (and why China is mentioned and not Indonesia, Cambodia, or many-many other developing countries), they have nearly 1.4 billion people with approx 60 percent living in rural areas - so the statistical propability of diseases coming from there is quite large.

Another good news: Shortly after the name of the disease was released, Beijing announced they would create stricter rules for slaughterhouses for the good of public health. So I guess they are learning from the mistakes....

Friday, May 04, 2007

Oil in the Bay

Here's the stock tip of the day. Well, it's actually a little too late. You should've bought this one yesterday.

The stock price of PetroChina (PTR) jumped a stunning 14 percent in Hong Kong trading on Friday, brining additional excitement about the recent surge at several East Asian Stock market.

Why did the stock rise so much? Primarily because the China National Petroleum Corp - the parent corporation - announced the discovery of a "big whoop" oil field in the Bohai Bay area.

Why do we care? Because many geopolitical, economic and political events in East Asia are connected to China's seemlingly endless thirst for oil. Just look at the Dafur issue and China's close relations with oil-rich Sudan; the drilling for oil in disputed territory in the South China Sea; and the building of bilateral relations with Kazahkstan on the issue of pipelines.

With additional oil in China's own frontyard - Bohai Bay being right next door to Beijing and Tianjin - some might fear that China might have less of an incentive to look for alternative, and perhaps greener, sources of energy. This is particularly apropos given the ongoing conference on climate change in the bustling city of Bangkok, Thailand.

Then again, there are also benefits of China having more oil in its reserves. It would definitely give the Middle Kingdom an opportunity to take a deep breath, by taking off a little pressure from the constant pursuit of energy sources across the globe. And you never know: the new oil discovery might just - if we're lucky - be enough for China to downgrade its imports of oil from Sudan, potentially opening a door for peacekeepers in Dafur. But probably not.... Who knows?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

St. Lucia Forges Diplomatic Ties with Taiwan

Now it's China's turn to vent a dose of anger. On May 1, when China was celebrating labor day, the small caribbean island state of St. Lucia announced it had resumed diplomatic relations with Taiwan.China claims this move contradicts an agreement they had previously established with St. Lucia in 1997, supporting the "one-China" policy.

So what's next? Perhaps the Chinese diplomatic establishments in Castries will close down? There might be a lot less mainland Chinese tourists in the near future, and less business in the island's banking system from the PRC. Other than that? I'm sure St. Lucia will reap a generous reward from Taipai. A new bridge perhaps?

More information

China Post (Taiwan):
Xinhua (PRC):

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Olympic Torch

Taiwanese Government officials are angry!

Because China just released the route for the carrying of the olympic torch ahead of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. And guess what? The Route will go through Taiwan (or should I be saying "Chinese Taipei"?) The government in Taiwan strongly rejected the idea.

What will it mean?

Probably nothing else than more harmless political rhetoric in the short term. But as the Olympics approaches, the "Taiwan Issue" might once again become a sensitive debate and it shall become very interesting to see whether this issue would affect the 2008 Summer Games in any way.

Future prospects
One has to keep in mind that the people in Taiwan are slated to elect their new President only months before the games begin. If another Chen-like hardliner is elected, it could mean new controversies during the games, as it is possible that Taiwan would blow the "independence horn" (by either hinting at, or less likely, announcing their independence) on the eve of the Olympics. If a candidate from the KMT or Pan-Blue coalition wins (such as Ma Ying-jeou), complications regarding the Taiwan issue will probably not have an impact on the Summer Games.

But then again, anything could happen in the next 6-12 months.
What do you think?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Super East Asia Map
Following tremendous popularity, I once again post this useful map of East Asia

Thanks to the University of Texas!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shanghai World Financial Center

Here's a recent picture of the progress on the construction of the amazing Shanghai World Financial Center.

It may not become the tallest but definitely will be one of the coolest skyscrapers in the world.

It will be just under 500 meters tall, hold101 floors, and feature a gigantic aperture (big hole) at the top of the building.

The financial center will be Shanghai's tallest skyscraper upon its completion, slated for 2008.

If you have any cool pictures of this building, please post the URL in the comments box!

"The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.” - Frank Lloyd Wright

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Today's East Asia Headlines

South Korea - US presidential hopeful John Edwards critical of US-ROK FTA
China - Government admits 10 percent of arable land contaminated
Japan - More yakusa shootings in Tokyo on Sunday
Taiwan - Activists condemn new highway plan
Hong Kong - Inflationary concerns for March
Thailand - Gov't to discuss new laws on foreign business ownership
Malaysia - F1 race in Kuala Lumpur safe at least through 2015
Indonesia - 2 separate train derailments on Java; over 70 injured
Philippines - US, Australia issues new terror warnings

Regional trends:
Things look peachy in East Asia. But the typhoon season is just around the corner, so don't hold your breath!