Sunday, May 31, 2009

Famous local Quanzhou soup

Here is a short video to introduce you to the first of many of my favorite local dishes. The featured soup is one that you can't find in the restaurants but one may be fortunate enough to be treated to in a local's home.

video

Thursday, April 30, 2009

corruption is in the air...

This is one of the best, most informative segments I have yet seen regarding the current shock waves in our economy.

CLICK HERE: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html

The financial industry brought the economy to its knees, but how did they get away with it? With the nation wondering how to hold the bankers accountable, Bill Moyers sits down with William K. Black, the former senior regulator who cracked down on banks during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. Black offers his analysis of what went wrong and his critique of the bailout.

"Treasury Secretary, Paulson created a recommendation group to tell Treasury what they ought to do with AIG. And he put Goldman Sachs on it...Even though he had just been CEO of Goldman Sachs before becoming Treasury Secretary. Now, in most stages in American history, that would be a scandal of such proportions that he wouldn't be allowed in civilized society." -William Black

More as it comes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Western Influences: #1

I'm going to be sharing more interesting stories that reveal some of the most surprising aspects of western culture that have found their way into China. For this first installation, I thought I would share a classic American song that has been constantly playing since before I first came to China four years ago.



John Denver's "Country Road." The version I have loaded here is a soft, jazzy cover by Lisa Ono, a Japanese-Brazilian bossa nova singer born in São Paulo. Different and interesting in itself. But the version I most often heard, was a dancified, techno version which I am still desperately trying to find a copy of.

La Bamba, one of the biggest disco's in Xiamen (until its closure late last year) would literally play that song at exactly midnight every Friday and Saturday night for at least 2 solid years...bar tops on fire, dancers, confetti, the works...all with Country Road's melody bouncing along over a fat bassline. That may either be your dream come true, or your worst nightmare...either way, you don't forget it. And sometimes you inexplicably go back for me.

The quiet jazz interpretation I've provided here is also very popular. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it in the background of a hotel lobby or something. Enjoy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some Chinese *Pop*


This song is one of the most popular in China these past few years. Ri Bu Luo is the star singer, she is Taiwanese. Her song has been all over the radio and karaoke bars for well over a year now...I hear it on the bus lines, in the elevators, etc...But its kinda catchy and the video is entertaining as well. The theme of the video seems to be her and her boyfriend enjoying China's blossoming keenness for tourism...especially of the international brand. The video showcases the lovestruck duo bouncing through London of all places.

So take 5 minutes and enjoy China's answer to Mtv.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We Should Kill the Fed

Just passing on a well written piece by Pat Buchanan this week. Love him or hate him, he is right on the money (get it) when it comes to the Federal Reserve being the root of all evil.


Should We Kill the Fed?
by Patrick J. Buchanan

For the financial crisis that has wiped out trillions in wealth, many have felt the lash of public outrage.

Fannie and Freddie. The idiot-bankers. The AIG bonus babies. The Bush Republicans and Barney Frank Democrats who bullied banks into making mortgages to minorities who could not afford the houses they were moving into.

But the Big Kahuna has escaped.

The Federal Reserve.

"(T)he very people who devised the policies that produced the mess are now posing as the wise public servants who will show us the way out," writes Thomas Woods in Meltdown.

Already in its sixth week on the New York Times best-seller list, this eminently readable book traces the Fed's role in every financial crisis since this creature was spawned on Jekyll Island in 1913.

The "forgotten depression" of 1920–21 was caused by a huge increase in the money supply for President Wilson's war. When the Fed started to tighten at war's end, production fell 20 percent from mid-1920 to mid-1921, far more than today.

Why did we not read about that depression?

Because the much-maligned Warren Harding refused to intervene. He let businesses and banks fail and prices fall. Hence, the fever quickly broke, and we were off into "the Roaring Twenties."

But, the Fed reverted, expanding the money supply by 55 percent, an average of 7.3 percent a year, not through an expansion of the currency, but through loans to businesses.

Thus, when the Fed tightened in the overheated economy, the Crash came, as the stock market bubble the Fed had created burst.

Herbert Hoover, contrary to the myth that he was a small-government conservative, renounced laissez-faire, raised taxes, launched public works projects, extended emergency loans to failing businesses and lent money to the states for relief programs.

Hoover did what Obama is doing.

Indeed, in 1932, FDR lacerated Hoover for having presided over the "greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history." His running mate, John Nance Garner, accused Hoover of "leading the country down the path to socialism." And "Cactus Jack" was right.

Terrified of the bogeyman that causes Ben Bernanke sleepless nights – deflation, falling prices – FDR ordered crops destroyed, pigs slaughtered, and business cartels to cut production and fix prices.

FDR mistook the consequences of the Depression – falling prices – for the cause of the depression. But prices were simply returning to where they belonged in a free market, the first step in any cure.

Obama is repeating the failed policies of Hoover and FDR, by refusing to let prices fall. Obama, with his intervention to prop up housing prices and Bernanke with his gushers of money to bail out bankrupt banks and businesses are creating a new bubble that will burst even more spectacularly.

The biggest myth, writes Woods, is that it was World War II that ended the Great Depression. He quotes Paul Krugman:

"What saved the economy and the New Deal was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy's needs."

This Nobel Prize winner's analysis, writes Woods, is a "stupefying and bizarre misunderstanding of what actually happened,"

Undoubtedly, with 29 percent of the labor force conscripted at one time or another into the armed forces, and their jobs taken by elderly men, women and teenagers with little work experience, unemployment will fall.

But how can an economy be truly growing 13 percent a year, as the economists claim, when there is rationing, shortages everywhere, declining product quality, an inability to buy homes and cars, and a longer work week? When the cream of the labor force is in boot camps or military bases, or storming beaches, sailing ships, flying planes and marching with rifles, how can your real economy be booming?

It was 1946, a year economists predicted would result in a postwar depression because government spending fell by two-thirds, that proved the biggest boom year in all of American history.

Why? Because the real economy was producing what people wanted: cars, TVs, homes. Businesses were responding to consumers, not the clamor of a government run by dollar-a-year men who wanted planes, tanks, guns and ships to blow things up.

"The Fed was the greatest single contributor to the crisis that unfolds before us," Woods writes of today, and "more dollars were created between 2000 and 2007 than in the rest of the republic's history."

After 9-11, the Fed kept interest rates low – in one year as low as 1 percent. That money flooded into the housing and stock markets. And in 2008, as the Fed tightened, the bubble burst.

Now the money supply is again expanding, to rescue us from a crisis created by the previous expansion. Of Nicholas Biddle's Bank of the United States, the great Andrew Jackson was eloquent.

"It has tried to kill me," he said. "But I will kill it." And he did.

Should not this creature from Jekyll Island, for all its manifold crimes and sins against the republic, also be summarily put to death?

April 3, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TANG Dynasty!!

Its official. China has fulfilled the final requirement to be accepted into the elite circle of modern nations...they have acquired the sensational and necessary powder that is Tang!

Seriously though, I was pretty excited to find this stuff at the market and had to share the joy with you all. For all I know, they've had it for years, but this is the first I've seen of it.

Below is a brief summary of the real Tang Dynasty taken from "ChinaTravelGuide.com." When I quizzed many of my school children on where they would go if they were able to make use of a Time Machine...there were a surprising amount who referenced the Tang Dynasty. Other answers included 1949 and, again surprisingly, 1776. They've read a good bit about George Washington and Lincoln. Now, if they would just study a bit of Jefferson... :-)

Tang Dynasty:

Viewing the Chinese history record, you will find the Tang Dynasty was the most glistening historic period in China's history. Founded in 618 and ending in 907, the state, under the ruling of the Tang Dynasty, became the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. Particularly, in this glorious period, the economy, politics, culture and military strength reached an unparalleled advanced level.


Well, now I'm off to enjoy another glass of boiling Tang!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Day in the Hills

Thanks to an important ancestor worship holiday, our busy busy Saturday classes were canceled. It couldn't have fell on a better day. After weeks of cold, wet dreariness (ahh the rainy season) we had one amazingly beautiful Saturday.

The high was at least in the mid-70's, the sun was out, and me and a few of my peers decided to make a day of it. We met just before noon to hike up the mountainside jutting out directly behind our office. It was an all day adventure. It took us a couple hours to reach the top, where we found ourselves completely free from the city below. In fact, if I had just been dropped out of a chopper and landed on this hillside, I would have had no idea there was massive city surrounding the rest of the island.

Along the way we stumbled across some old military training grounds, as well found ourselves in a small mountaintop village that seems to be mainly housing for the local army. We waved and said hello to the friendly soldiers as we watched dozens of them working dutifully in the well irrigated gardens that were laced through the town. While there, we got ourselves a deserved mountaintop lunch...free range duck and all. Very salty and very delicious!

Before we could head down the backside of the mountain, we knew we'd have to give the fishing pond a shot. It was great to find some peace and quiet even if we didn't manage to catch any fish. Some of the locals would occasionally walk by carrying sacks full of freshly caught fish and wearing big grins...God only knows what we were doing wrong. The poles were about as simple as they come...no fishing reel attached...and they would cast the pulls in an underhand manner. You can see the bait we used in one of the photos...we had two hooks on each line to attach the bait to. Strangely, the red clay looking bait smelled like a mix between fishiness and...strawberries! Not really sure what it all was though.

When we realized the sun was setting a bit too fast, we gave up our fishing poles and headed on down the mountain. An hour and half later we'd reached the beach on the backside of the mountain and were ready to go find ourselves a little beach side bbq.

Not a bad day off at all!

More as it comes.



Xiamen rests below

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Madness at NPR

Jan 10, 2008:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pNgt9fKY4A#t=465

Romney: "In this time when our economy is a little fragile... not sure where we're head..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wNJr9Nq_HQ#t=415

Paul: "I believe we're in a recession. I think it's gonna get a lot worse ... Recession has been predictable, we just don't know exactly when it will come."

Also, Paul gave a well-reasoned argument backing up his position, not just some rhetoric about learning how America's economy works. *--

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Hey ya'll,


Quick poll being taken right now on NPR's website. Its a political tournament in the spirit of March Madness. Round 2 is currently Ron Paul vs Mitt Romney as well as other GOP match ups including Sanford, Huckabee, Palin etc...

Speaking of March Madness... I miss my college hoops! Its a little late, but I just learned about a site called justin.tv, its the source for online live video. I should be able to catch my nba on there live for the rest of the season!

Anywhooo happy voting!

Jesse-



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What the IRS Missed

I wanted to report one of the funnier items I've stumbled across while peaking in the little store fronts that are scattered throughout the city. A pleasant little store that specializes in western-style home decorating had this wonderful little jar behind the counter which reads, "What the IRS missed."

I thought finding this jar in China was just too good. So, after looking around the shop and realizing the sole copy of this jar was the one resting behind the sales counter, I asked the gentleman what it would cost for the jar. Its a great example of how generous and kind most of the locals are here. He could tell I was quite humored by the message, told me it was his only one and that he had kept it behind because it was cracked. I examined the jar, saw that the damage he was referring to was barely noticeable, and told him I was fine with that. In a great twist of irony (given the nature of the potential purchase) the gentleman told me I could have it free of charge. He was just happy to make my day! I quipped something about him not needing to worry about any sales tax and was on my merry way.

In the spirit of this new bedside decoration, I leave you with an interesting read regarding our current economic situation.

"What the IRS Missed" (Made in China) US Constitution (Printed in America)

The Mother of all Bells

Peter Schiff
Mar 20, 2009

is an old adage on Wall Street that no one rings a bell at major market tops or bottoms. That may be true in normal times, but as many have noticed, we are now completely through the looking glass. In this parallel reality, Ben Bernanke has just rung the loudest bell ever heard in the foreign exchange and government debt markets. Investors who ignore the clanging do so at their own peril. The bell's reverberations will be felt by everyday Americans, whose lives are about to change in ways few can imagine.

While nearly every facet of America's economy has been devastated over the past six months, our national currency has thus far skipped through the carnage with nary a scratch. Ironically, the U.S dollar has been the beneficiary of the global economic crises which the United States set in motion. As a result, our economy has thus far been spared the full force of the storm.

This week the Federal Reserve finally made clear what should have been obvious for some time - the only weapon that the Fed is willing to use to fight the economic downturn is a continuing torrent of pure, undiluted, inflation. The announcement should be seen as a game changer that redirects the fury of the financial storm directly onto our shores.

In its statement, the Fed announced its intention to purchase an additional $1 trillion worth of U.S. treasury and agency debt. The purchases, of course, will be made with money created out of thin air through the Fed's printing presses. Few can doubt that they will persist with these operations until the economy returns to its former health. Whether or not this can ever be accomplished with a printing press alone has never been seriously considered. Bernanke himself admits that we are in uncharted waters, with no map or compass, just simply a hope that more dollars are the answer.

Rather than solving our problems, more inflation will only add to the crisis. Falling asset prices, the credit crunch, declining consumer spending, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and layoffs are all part of the necessary rebalancing of our economy. These wrenching movements, however painful, are the market's attempts to resolve the serious problems at the root of our bubble economy. Attempts to literally paper-over these problems will lead to disaster.

Now that the Fed has recklessly shown its hand, the mad dash to get out of Treasuries and dollars should not be far off. The more the Fed prints to buy bonds the less the dollar is worth. Holders of our debt (read China and Japan) understand this dynamic. We must expect that they will not only refuse to buy new bonds, but they will look to unload those bonds they already own.

Under normal circumstances, if creditors grew concerned that inflation was eating into their returns, the Fed would raise interest rates to entice them to buy. However, the Fed will avoid this course of action as it fears higher rates are too heavy a burden for our debt laden economy to bear. To maintain artificially low rates, the Fed will be forced to purchase trillions more debt then it expects as it becomes the only buyer in a seller's market.

Just last week, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao voiced concern about his country's massive investments in U.S. government debt. In the most unequivocal statement yet by the Chinese leadership on this issue, Wen made it plain that he was concerned with depreciation, not default. With his fears now officially confirmed by the Fed statement, we must wonder when the Chinese will finally change course.

There is a growing consensus that if China no longer wants to buy our bonds, we can simply print the money and buy them ourselves. This naïve view fails to consider the consequences implicit in such a change. When the Treasury sells bonds to China, no new dollars are printed. Instead, China prints yuan which it then uses to buy treasurers. This effectively allows America to export its inflation to China. However, now that we will be printing the money ourselves, the full inflationary impact will fall directly on us.

With such a policy in place, America has now become a banana republic. It won't be too long before our living standards reflect our new status.

Got Gold?

###

For a more in depth analysis of our financial problems and the inherent dangers they pose for the U.S. economy and U.S. dollar denominated investments, read my latest book "The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets." Click here to buy it now.

For a look back at how I predicted the current crisis, read my 2007 bestseller "Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse." Click here to buy a copy today.

More importantly, don't wait for reality to set in. Protect your wealth and preserve your purchasing power before it's too late. Discover the best way to buy gold at www.goldyoucanfold.com, download my free research report on the powerful case for investing in foreign equities available at www.researchreportone.com, and subscribe to my free, on-line investment newsletter.

Mar 20, 2009
Peter Schiff
C.E.O. and Chief Global Strategist
Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.
1 800-727-7922
email: pschiff@europac.net

website: www.europac.net
Archives

Mr. Schiff is one of the few non-biased investment advisors (not committed solely to the short side of the market) to have correctly called the current bear market before it began and to have positioned his clients accordingly. As a result of his accurate forecasts on the U.S. stock market, commodities, gold and the dollar, he is becoming increasingly more renowned. He has been quoted in many of the nation's leading newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, Investor's Business Daily, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Miami Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Arizona Republic, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Christian Science Monitor, and has appeared on CNBC, CNNfn., and Bloomberg. In addition, his views are frequently quoted locally in the Orange County Register.

Mr. Schiff began his investment career as a financial consultant with Shearson Lehman Brothers, after having earned a degree in finance and accounting from U.C. Berkley in 1987. A financial professional for seventeen years he joined Euro Pacific in 1996 and has served as its President since January 2000. An expert on money, economic theory, and international investing, he is a highly recommended broker by many of the nation's financial newsletters and advisory services.

Friday, March 20, 2009

English 101

Hello again,Here are a few shots of me teaching etc...On Tuesday evenings I have four 9 year olds who come to my house for private lessons. Its a one hour session, usually a mother or two will come with and sip tea on the balcony or something while I teach. Its a good time all around!














I've also posted some shots of my new phone. Its a local knockoff of the Motorola A1800...touch screen, duel sim cards, mp3, bluetooth etc...all the toys! The software on the phone is even an exact replica. The legitimate Moto retails for roughly 700 USD Stateside. I picked mine up as a gift to myself after payday, it cost farrrrr less, not over 70 USD. Pretty nice eh?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reality vs Dreamland

I just read a very interesting article posted by the Associated Press on Yahoo! News. Titled, "China Sees Signs of Economy Responding to Swift Help."

Here is the direct link if you want to read the full article:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090306/ts_nm/us_china_parliament;_ylt=ArxhFkWRVPMfHgdzlVHNsVjv5rEF

From what I can gather, it is fair to venture that China's successes are now revealing more of the United States' weaknesses. Last week, China announced their government would be injectiong another $585 billion US Dollars into their economy. But top officials stated otherwise today claiming, "extra measures might prove unnecessary because substantial fiscal and monetary stimulus is already coursing through the economy."

In other words, China's economy is showing signs of a real recovery. There are many reasons for this, so it really shouldn't come as a surprise. The Chinese economy is based on real value, as in, actual, real world production. This is quite the opposite of most of the US economy which has been built on the false premise of decades of cheap credit and minimal actual production.

When our politicians say that the government bailouts are necessary in order to lend for future jobs, they are suggesting that jobs alone will create real value in the economy. This couldn't be further from the truth. A job for the sake of a job simply doesn't provide any true economic value, especially if the tab is simply being paid by freely printed money and poor lending standards. At best, these government stimulant plans are mere attempts to postpone more necessary economic pain (at worst, and more likely, these massive expenditures will provide minimal aid while drastically lengthening and deepening are current situation).

Another example of just how paper thin our economy is can be seen in the Secretary of State Clinton's recent journey to China. Traditionally, a new Secretary of State's first journey overseas is always to Europe. Its quite telling that Mrs. Clinton's first trip is through East Asia. While in Beijing, Mrs. Clinton angered many of her most faithful supporters when she suggested that human rights issues with China are no longer a priority. In reality, she was stating a fact. The US is in no position to belittle China, lest we forget that China has near single handedly paid for our government's adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. How? Well, they bought all of the Treasury Bonds that our government was desperate to sell to raise the capital.

So if Clinton wasn't in Beijing to criticize China's domestic policies, what was she there for? She was pleading for China to continue to buy more T-Bills in the coming years. If this was her central purpose, then we can consider her mission a failure. China suggested that they have no interest in buying more of our nation's debt. This makes sense, since the likelihood of us repaying the trillions we already have sold them is hard to imagine.

In closing, here is a very telling excerpt from the aforementioned article:

"But I believe that, with the measures that we've taken or will take, we can have full confidence that we can escape the current hardships and fully respond to this crisis, because in the long term our economic conditions have not fundamentally changed," Zhang added.

The officials made it clear that China still had plenty of ammunition to fire if necessary.

China's national budget deficit will jump more than sevenfold this year to over 1 trillion yuan. But that will still be less than 3 percent of national income. The United States, by comparison, is budgeting for a deficit of 12.3 percent of GDP."

Please keep in mind, something to the tune of 70% of our nation's GDP is nothing more than consumer spending. That's right, our GDP is overwhelmingly based on consumerism, not valuable production. Now that the carpet has been pulled from under the consumer...what's left of our GDP...and how is our bankrupt government managing to bailout all of these bankrupt institutions?

Jesse-


PS: For a great, 10 minute video that really sums it all up and provides a direction for hope, check out this YouYube clip titled: Ron Paul and Peter Schiff Were Right.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

February Recap

Hello hello everyone!

Sorry I haven't updated here much lately. The month has been a busy one, for me and my personal laptop. Shortly after my last update on here, my computer took a dump. After 10 or so days of dealing with that, I got it back up and running. While that was going on, I have also become very busy with my new job. I've started working for EF (English First) which is the world's largest international English training school. They have schools in over 150 countries currently. I'm teaching classes with children as young as six all the way up to adult night courses and day trips to companies.

Two days ago, I landed my first company teaching gig. A driver takes me about 40 minutes out of Xiamen to Black and Deckers headquarters. I'm teaching 15 or so of their executives and managers. Most of them have traveled to the US on business at some point in their time with the company, so it was a lot of fun chatting with them and getting to hear some of their experiences.

The school has been eating up most of my time, but its starting to get a little easier as I adjust along with the learning curve. Hopefully this translates into more time for other priorities such as this maintaining this blog. Through February, I actually accumulated a bunch of photos and videos that I want to share with you, but I just need some time to sit down and do some editing and writing.



This first picture was taken on Valentine's Day. Yes guys, its also celebrated here in China! Hallmark has done their job well! But seriously, it was actually a very lovely day spent with my girlfriend Lupita. Since I had little time to prepare after getting off work at 6, I opted to play it safe and cook up some authentic spaghetti that I had found a few days before at Xiamen's only western food market. A very nice evening!

This is my Scottish manager and friend, Simon, the other night when he came over and cooked up some really good dishes and helped me drink a few BaiJiu's, China's potent little rice wines.
This shot is of a night market that pops up daily just ten minutes walk down the street from my apartment. It really is a trip walking through the market, everything you can imagine eating is there: fish, chickens, rabbit, squid, its all there. I've got some video clips that I'm going to be editing together from when I last walked through. Hopefully I can get those posted soon too!

Miss you all and hope all is well. Look for more updates soon as I start to settle back into a bit of a routine around here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Revolt! Tea Party Brewing in Chicago!

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1039849853

CLICK ABOVE LINK

Awesome video of the Chicago exchange trading floor this week. I couldn't resist posting, as this video made my day. The CNBC announcer actually calls for a new TEA PARTY...a Chicago Tea Party dumping the bailouts and stimulus packages into Lake Michigan, and the floor responds quite surprisingly and passionately. Revolution is brewing!

As usual, I discovered this footage thanks to http://www.DailyPaul.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Note on Making Comments

It has come to my attention that, unfortunately, Blogger's websites (like mine) do not have the most approachable comment box features. For my blog, you simply like "comment" which leads you to a new page with an empty comment box. The strange part is it seems like they expect you to have your own account with only a handful of other sites if you wish to post a comment.

Notice though, that the option "Name/URL" is listed. Choosing this is the easiest way to post a comment. You are by no means required to put any information in the URL box, you can simply leave your name.

I also recommend you all take a look at my nephew Christian's blog, http://crb-pictures.blogspot.com Its done very nicely and updated often! I'm going to recommend that he change his options for commenting on his blog, as it appears his is currently set up to require you to have an account with Google or one of the other few sites Blogger associates with. Because his site definitely deserves comments!


Christian in India

Some Video Clippings of My Surroundings

I spliced together a few different videos I've shot since I arrived. We start at my apartment, then I show the area immediately around my complex, then there is a brief shot of me riding one of the local buses (abnormally empty) as I ride towards the last bus stop for bus #22. Finally an interesting peek at the inside of the Trust Mart (bought by Wal-Mart as of 2007) located at the base of my apartment complex. Then, before it ends, I show some fireworks I managed to catch on film the other night when I came home.



Future videos will hopefully be more coherent, but I wanted to find a way to put all these short clippings together.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February Week 1 Update



Hey everybody!

So I've posted another quick video. I've been so busy I haven't really gotten a chance to go out and film some of the cooler aspects of Xiamen yet. In the meantime, I figured I'd shoot this quick update. Basically, I've made some new friends and lined up a job. The Chinese New Year is finally coming full circle, only a couple days left before the last of the storefronts reopen for business.

I've also attached an interesting article that ran on Xiamen's local news site. Its in regards to the economic crisis and how China is handling it. I read some news on a western website a few days prior that painted a very stark picture for how China's New Year's sales were going. This story paints a much brighter picture. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but one thing does seem to be clear...China is repositioning itself away from exports and beginning to rely on manufacturing products to sell to their own people. How successful this transition is remains to be seen.

What slowdown - Chinese consumers responded with their wallets

03 Feb 2009
Months after the government shifted its focus to domestic consumption following an unprecedented export slowdown caused by the economic crisis, Chinese consumers have finally responded with their wallets.

The country's consumer spending rose strongly during the Lunar New Year holiday period, which just ended, the Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday.

Retail sales climbed to 290 billion yuan (42.5 billion U.S. dollars) in the week through Saturday, up 13.8 percent from the equivalent holiday week in 2008, the ministry estimated.

Meanwhile, a 15 percent increase in both the number of tourists and tourism revenue has been estimated for 19 tourist destinations nationwide during the week, according to the latest press release of the National Tourism Administration, posted on its website (www.cnta.gov.cn) on Sunday.

Holiday travel rose 20 to 40 percent in the economic powerhouses of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong, while the tourism market flourished in the southwestern Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces as well as Chongqing municipality, the document said.

Instead of traditional family reunions at home, "traveling has emerged as an important option in celebrating the Spring Festival for our citizens" this year, it concluded.

Beijing, Hong Kong, Sanya, Xiamen and Chengdu were listed among the top 10 tourist destinations during the annual festival season by Ctrip.com, a leading online travel portal.

The nation's capital, which topped the list, accommodated 830,000 tourists, up 20 percent from last year. Its tourism revenue totaled 2.16 billion yuan. Both figures are all-time records, the Beijing municipal tourism bureau said.

Chengdu, capital city of the quake-ravaged Sichuan province, ranked 10th.

The Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily attributed the unexpected rise in Spring Festival tourism to cheaper travel costs.

In Guangdong, for example, domestic travel costs 30 percent less than last year, while trips to Thailand cost half as much as in previous years as a result of the global economic slowdown.

Sales of food at major stores during the past week jumped 23 percent in value terms, while beverage sales gained 17.5 percent and sales of tobacco and alcohol rose 14.7 percent, the ministry estimated.

Sales of household electric appliances, aided by a government program to subsidize purchases in rural areas, gained 17.8 percent.

Last year's Lunar New Year holiday week was disrupted by fierce snowstorms that snarled rail and air traffic, stranding millions of passengers. Holiday travel was much smoother this year.

Over the past 20 days, the Chinese made an average 4.40 million railway trips every day as many crossed the country for holiday reunions with their families, Xinhua news agency quoted the railway ministry as saying. That was up 15.6 percent from the same holiday period last year.

A total of 248 million people traveled by road in the week through Saturday, up 5.6 percent from last year, the transport ministry said.

Source: China Daily/Xinhua


That's all for now. I'll have more to share soon!

Jesse-

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Real quick, here are a few more shots I took recently. The first is of the "above ground subway" that was only completed in the past 6 months. This brand new, bus only bridge runs through the most important sectors of the island...and also happens to have a station a block from my building. Very convenient and actually cheaper than the normal bus lines...clocking in at 30 chinese cents per ride...so cheap i haven't even bothered to figure what that works out to USD...probably a penny or so.


I spotted this little Christmas tree in a storefront window today. Its decorated with little red cards, which is the traditional gifting method for Chinese during their New Years celebrations. One simply slips some cold hard cash in these red babies and passes them around to friends and family.

While walking down Zhong Shan, the main shopping street, I clicked a shot of the giant new mall they are building as well as a billboard of a very familiar face...he's doing a good job picking up where MJ left off eh? Lebron WorldWide.

Tonight, I'm heading out for a good bye drink with one of my best friends from home, Chas. He's been studying here for the month of January and is leaving tomorrow back to Eckerd to finish up his studies. I'll probably be seeing him again in as soon as 4 or 5 months.

More soon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Safely in Xiamen, China!

Hello everyone,

Well school is out, my degree is in hand, and its time to put all that studying abroad to use. So I'm back in the city that has always treated me the best: Xiamen, China. Compared to my stint here in the Spring, I can safely say I am off to a much smoother start.

I've uploaded a video below that gives a tour of my new apartment. This apartment is much better than the one I had in the spring in every sense. The location is right smack in the middle of the island, right in the heart of the business district (where I graduate ought to be). No more rats greeting me every evening outside, no more 8 flights of stairs to march up everyday. Instead, I scan my fingerprint in the lobby, opening the door to my super fast elevators that shoot me up to the top of the tower. Of 32 stories, my apartment rests comfortably on the 30th floor, giving me an amazing view that really almost isn't fair. Take a look at the video I attached and you'll have a better idea of what $350 USD a month can get you with some diligent shopping around.

I was also fortunate enough to land a job interview by my third day on the ground. If all goes as planned, I should be starting an English teaching position within the next two weeks, after the Chinese New Year winds down.

I'll be posting more soon. Please leave me a comment or any questions you'd like answered about where I am, what I'm up to etc...

More as it comes. Xin Nian Hao! Happy New Year!