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 09-29-2005, 20:27 Post: 117142
shortmagnum

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 Greetings from Beijing

Just a quick hello from Beijing. Itís about 9 AM here on Friday so weíre 12 hours off of central time back home. I had a meeting here last week so I took most of the family along for another week. Weíll be coming home tomorrow via Tokyo. I havenít seen many tractors here. The few Iíve seen are pretty old with no sheet metal at work on the highway so I have no idea what the brand might be. Thatís not to say thereís not a lot of construction equipment about. It seems like half the city is being torn down and cranes are everywhere you look. Theyíre really building for the 2008 olympics.

Some things of interest:

Gas is 4 yuan per liter. Thatís about $0.50 per liter US or about $1.80 per gal. So itís quite cheap. I donít know if the government subsidized gas here. I know they do in Indonesia.

Traffic is unbelievable. Traffic lanes are only a suggestion. We took a 20 passenger bus to the Great Wall yesterday and the driver (as well as all the cab drivers) was very aggressive. If you want to change lanes, you just change lanes and cut off anyone who happens to be in that lane. If traffic slows in the right lanes for a busy right exit, you go all the way over to the left lane until the very last second and then push your way right to make the exit. A very interesting way to drive but it seems to work as there appears to be no road rage.

On windless days the smog is awful. On one day visibility was maybe ľ mile. We all took what I call a walkabout on that day to see the real city and suffered for it. When the wind blows the pollution away itís reasonable to breath. I can foresee some real problems with the athletes if itís this bad during the Olympics.

There are very few unrecognizable cars. Most older cabs are VW Jettas, the newer ones are Hyundai elantras and sonatas. There are many nice Audis here. Every one Iíve seen is black. Buick seems to have made inroads here. They like the Regals and they have a Buick minivan here too.


Dave






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 09-29-2005, 23:29 Post: 117151
JD855inWI



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 Greetings from Beijing

If you have time check out the Forbidden City.
See how the other half lived in China.






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 09-30-2005, 09:05 Post: 117159
DRankin



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 Greetings from Beijing

You are in the belly of a sleeping giant. Learn all you can while there. Sooner or later they will outgrow their britches and come after us (U.S.)






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 09-30-2005, 12:16 Post: 117166
Iowafun

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 Greetings from Beijing

I experienced the same traffic patterns when I was in China (different city). It's best to not look forward, but just out the side. That way you can't see the very large truck barreling strait at you... Signs and stoplights are also meaningless over there.

As for the smog, yep it's bad. But they are forcing the biggest polluters to clean up or shut down and move. They want a cleaner city by 2008. One nice thing about their government is there is no fighting it. You fix it up, bribe someone or shut it down and move out of the city.

Saw an entire chinese family on a single scooter over there... talent.






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 09-30-2005, 13:47 Post: 117177
kwschumm



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 Greetings from Beijing

Driving in some of those countries is scary. I used to fly to Israel periodically for a customer. The first trip I went with an international drivers license with the intent on renting a car at the hotel. The cab ride from the airport convinced me not to drive around Tel Aviv. Lanes and lights are advisory only it seems. A good friend of mine got killed in a wreck there a few months later. Scary stuff indeed.






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 10-03-2005, 06:50 Post: 117280
shortmagnum

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 Greetings from Beijing

I'm finally back. Now things can get back to normal for a while.
JD855, we were in Beijing for about 10 days so we saw the Forbidden City last week. Much of it needs a bit of maintenance but it's still beautiful. They are working on much of it though, I'm sure it will be done by 2008.

Mark, much of the populace now has a taste for money. They want many of the things that we take for granted. Right now labor is almost free when compared to the west but as the country becomes westernized that will change somewhat. But basically you're right, it is a sleeping giant.

Iowa and Ken, I don't advise driving there either. Smile

One thing I noticed was that even with millions of bicycles there were almost no locks. People would put a bag down and just walk away for a while. There must be very little theft. We walked through much of the city over the time there and never felt unsafe.
Dave






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 10-03-2005, 12:36 Post: 117299
Iowafun

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 Greetings from Beijing

smag - that's a different experience from what I had. I wasn't allowed to walk or go anywhere unescorted. Course, I didn't try either. But I was always escorted wherever I went. But then I wasn't in Beijing but a more industrialized city that doesn't have a large western tourist business.

It is a sleeping giant and the population is getting a taste of western consumerism. It will be interesting to watch of the next couple of decades.






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 10-05-2005, 13:58 Post: 117425
JD855inWI



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Short Mag. Glad you made it back ok. Long flight, hope it wasn't coach. China is pretty safe. Last year in Philippines I couldn't go out without a driver and armed escort from the Peninsula, even to the mall. The damn terrorists, bomb in hand were pretty active then. Most Asian countries don't screw around with common thieves, they just disapear.






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 10-05-2005, 14:32 Post: 117426
shortmagnum

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 Greetings from Beijing

"Long flight, hope it wasn't coach."

Of course it was coach. Twelve hours to Tokyo and then 3 1/2 more to Beijing. I was sure jealous of the people in business class. Smile I suppose I could have upgraded with frequent flyer miles but I took my wife along and spent 60,000 on her ticket. My two daughters also went along.
Dave






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