Search This Blog

Friday, November 15, 2019

China Day 88 of 150 - Micellaneous Pictures - Maybe An Internet Solution

I love these Great Wall hats - Lulu got them
 for $2 each at the Silk Market. They were marked $7.
Make  China Great Wall Again. 

My usual way to publish web pages is simple. I take pictures with my iphone - then transfer the pictures to my laptop - then write my text on the laptop - and finally upload the whole mess over wifi to the Internet. We have not been able to do that since we arrived here - due to the Great Wall. It is a way to censor stuff coming into the country and going out. 

I was able to get around the wall by using my iphone on T-Mobil. It worked well - but T-mobil started throttling me back due to using too much band width. We were watching Tv and listening to satellite radio over the phone. 

You can use a program called a VPN to get around the censorship. Our was virtually useless because of the firewall. Lulu downloaded a new copy - and it seems effective. 

This is my first web page with lots of high quality pictures over our apartment wifi. If this is posted - it worked. 

Enoy some of our outtake pictures. 

The steps in our old Riverside Hotel in Saigon.
No fire code - wide open - wooden

The Lotus Lounge at Vietnam airport - free food. 

Lulu and I had whole row on way home 

My favorite food shop downstairs - pedicure $3

Meat on sticks at mall - 25 cents

Shrimp

Snails

Downdraft Grill - no smell

Note the tag on her coat. 

Khan?

Some Terracotta Warriors at our local museum
Priced at $4 million each

China Nuclear Bomber at Military Museum

National Military Museum - I have been there 3 times.
Free over age 65. 



Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ground Hog Day in Bejing


This happy face picture probably means nothing to you. But to me it is the light of my life. For the last 4 months - I have been blocked by the wall. Not the famous wall that kept out enemies for thousands of years - but the computer wall that prevents people from sending out big pictures and videos. 

My tmobile iphone has been a way to see American news and send pictures - but even tmobil has threatened to cut me off because I used too much bandwidth. 

Yesterday - Lulu contacted our VPN company. They said with the stuff down south - it has been harder to connect. They said to download the new program. She did it. I had brought an apple express router and hooked it up to the wifi. So with several changes we tried it - and our apartment wifi works well. We have fast speed and no censorship. It also does not disconnect. So as long as that happy face above stays green - we are happy. A VPN routes your internet through a different country to fool people trying to intercept you. We have success with routing our stuff through Japan. 

This is like the movie Groundhog Day. It goes fine all day - then the next morning - we wake up with the same problem. This morning it was different - we woke up to "I Got You Babe" - and the green smile was still smiling.  

Our life in China has been a never ending adventure. 



Notre Dame Cathedral - Saigon

Notre Dame Catherdral is in bad shape in Vietnam


During the Vietnam War - our country did not make a big deal out of the fact that South Vietnam was a Catholic country. The USA wanted to make the issue Democracy versus Communism. Many of the important places in the city are around the French Quarter. For roughly 100 years from 1850 on - Vietnam was a colony of France called French Indo-China. So much of the culture is French architecture - French food - and the Catholic religion.

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon is in need  of much repair. They do use the grounds for ceremonies on special occasions. We notice Christmas decorations and shopping directl across the street from the cathedral.

When the French decided to leave - President John Kennedy and the USA filled the vacuum. When Kennedy died - President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war. Usually the conservative party gets you involved wars - not this time.

Vietnam is a country of 95 million people. It has been a communist country since 1975. The economy is booming. The resulting industry and transportation have heavily polluted the air. Its tropical climate gave us weather of 90 degrees and 90% humility. We did not have a chance to get out of the city to see the real country side.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Home in Beijing From Vietnam


This was our hotel along Saigon River. 



We are back in Beijing after 5 days in Vietnam. We had a sobering and exciting trip to Saigon. Lulu enjoyed doing her 4 presentations at Vietnam National University. Our Riverside Hotel on the Saigon River was historic on so many levels - from the 100 year French colonization - to the 20 year Vietnam War - to the 45 year revolution. 

We visited several museums. Some were designed by the same guy that did the Eiffel Tower. Others were just throw together block buildings to display stuff the USA left behind. 

Being at 11 degrees north - solidly in the tropics was neat. Although we had no rain- we enjoyed 90 degree temps - and 90% humidity. We experienced some really bad pollution mostly caused by cars and scooters. We dodged traffic worse than I ever saw anywhere. It seemed like red and green lights were merely a suggestion. It was the Wild West. 

Saigon is more cosmopolitan than Beijing. There were many more white faces on the street there. Many tourists make it a destination because of weather - cheap hotels - lots of inexpensive places to eat - and of course the history. Business is booming there in the manufacturing and building industries. Tons of skyscrapers and cranes. 

So far I have had 3 illnesses here- nothing really bad - but nagging. First it was an inner ear infection and the tipsy feeling. Second was stomach bug and all the bathroom time. Finally - the pollution in Vietnam gave me a really raspy throat. I was forever sucking lozenges. I am better now from all three. We did have a series of shots before we came here. They were expensive but I am guessing I needed them. I recovered quickly. 
Lulu had a cold in the first month. 

The internet was much better in Vietnam. I was able to do 40 picture stories in 30 minutes. Pictures flew back and forth. Vietnam is also a communist country but they are not as paranoid - internet was good - both WiFi and my t-Mobil. 

Our time is flying by. I lost count on what day it is of our visit. I know that we have one more visitor coming - Mimi - then we go to Japan for 5 days. Fulbright is really happy with all the visits and presentations Lulu has done. They have invited her back to the embassy to present there. 

Lulu loves all the ambassador type stuff she is doing over here. She makes a genuine effort to connect with people - From giving a cab driver a key chain - to embracing a Santa Claus looking guy in Vietnam. He just gushed. The Chinese-language is difficult. Not only the sounds - but they use different letters - like 80,000 different letters! Add my terrible hearing  - and it is impossible for me. I converse using my iPhone - I type and it turns to chinese. They type and it turns to english. Everyone makes a big effort to make us feel welcome - and they are so helpful. 

I am cheating when I say I liked all the food in Vietnam because I picked out places that offer pizza - beer - steak - fast food - etc.  I do like the noddles with chicken - beef - pork. 

Our hotel had a wonderful breakfast every day. We ate in a high ceiling - columned - dining room. They had hot brewed Lipton tea for me. They made eggs to order and so much more. It was part of the $53 a night that Vietnam paid. Lulu was a cheap date for Vietnam and me. 

We did have a one hour full body massage. Two tiny pretty young ladies did a super job. Lulu and I were in a room - naked as jay birds - and these young ladies proceed to put you thru the ringer. It was so relaxing and we walked all that day with no effort. It was $13. Lulu returned to have her nails done at the end of the day. Hands and feet.
At that price I would start every day that way.

The Saigon post office was neat. It is like a community gathering spot. So many people walked up to us to talk - including one little guy that just kept asking questions. He was 10. And sounded 40. He spoke great English. His father was nearby and you could tell he brings his son there often to converse. This post office was built in 1891 and was busy busy all the time. Across the street was Notre Dame Cathedral. Our government never told us that Vietnam was a religious war. Catholics of the south - versus Communists of the north. 10% of Vietnam is still Catholic. The cathedral is in terrible need. 

We went from 90s of Vietnam to 40s in Beijing. It is sunny today - pollution is lower.

Lulu teaches tomorrow at noon - her regular class. Tuesday class gives us a chance to book 5 day weekend trips. We will do it in Japan. Next week Mimi is coming for Thanksgiving. Lulu wants Mimi to teach in her class. Mimi is one of Lulu's big shining school library stars.  We will also take her to the Great Wall and to the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian. 

I love Monday mornings - especially when we just watched the Seminole Basketball Team beat the Gators for the 6th straight time. Coach Leonard Hamilton is doing a fine job at FSU. They are the third winningest team in the ACC - after Duke and UNC. In the last 6 years his players have graduated at a nearly 100% level. Funny - the gators were ranked number 6 - and we beat them by 12 points at Gainesville - to a packed house - and national TV. No respect Dick Vitale - was whining the whole way. 

I love Monday mornings!

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Saturday In Saigon - Vietnam

After 4 nights in Saigon - we were very comfortable. It is a booming tropical city.To me - it is a war relic of my childhood. It was on TV every night. But that ended in 1975. They have 95 million people. Lots of American companies come here to do business. There are many more white people here than where we live in China. 10% are Catholic. The government does not encourage religions. It is communist.

It is 11 degrees north - hot all year round. It has a big rainy season that just ended. The pollution seemed to be worse here than back in Beijing. The traffic is much worse here. Also the gasoline scooters really pollute the air along the street. 

The big old Saigon River crawls through town - carrying lots of cargo and people. Many tourists from all over the world - come here. 

Today - we fly back to China. 



Museum designed during French Colonial time






Carrying propane tanks on scooter


Carrying a table


Three on a scooter


Three more on a scooter


Propane in traffic


Open walking plaza in front of city hall


City Hall Saigon


Wedding pictures on plaza


Having your hair done in McDonalds


Ho Chi Minh


The Rex Hotel where reporters used to meet


Rex Hotel


The main plaza


Ho Chi Minh - died in 1969 before war ended


City Hall


Not busy Saturday


Notre Dame being renovated - no money


In 2005 - this statue started to cry


Crying statue


1891 post office still in use


Ho Chi Minh in post office


Toy made of spare parts


The elevator shaft where last helicopter left


Independence Palace


Palace where South Vietnam president lived


Palace conference table


Helicopter used to extract South Vietnam president


Bitcoin machine at the restaurant


We had wood fired oven pizza


Steps in our hotel up to our second floor


The new downtown form old French Quarter


The roof top on our hotel and the Saigon River