Chinese Job Postings

I tried applying for an IT job in Beijing just to see what would happen. But after weeks of waiting, nothing happened. The job is still shown as open on the website but they never contacted me.

I came across a job posting for a waiter at a pizza restaurant. I noticed some differences between what they ask for here and in the US. Here they require you are between the ages of 18-23, you must be attractive, more than 170cm tall for male, 160cm tall for female, and be able to endure hardship. The pay for this job is 1400 Yuan, or $205 per month.

Nanshan Ski Village

For the first time in my life I had a chance to try downhill skiing. An hour or two away from Beijing, Nanshan Ski Village is supposed to be one of the best around the city. For about $18, you can ski all day (weekday price), including ski rental. I went here with two Chinese friends with hopes to learn how to ski.

I was explained the basics and went down the easiest hill. It seemed simple to me, so after a few more tries on the bunny hills I took the big chair lift up to the main hills. The chair lift was probably the scariest point of the day. It is so high off the ground and when I got off I think I made the other people slip and fall down.

I made it down the bigger hills, but today it was more scary than fun. After a few hours though I started to get comfortable. These Chinese friends were wondering how I could get as good in one day as they got in years of skiing. It must be all my water ski experience.

I even skied an intermediate level hill. It was steep and difficult to slow down. Even though, I only fell down about three times the entire day. It was fun and I was glad to be able to try something new. (photos)

Zhonggongcun Electronics Market

Before I visited the electronics market in Shenzhen, but this time I visited the biggest one in Beijing. Consisting of a number of buildings, countless small shops. I was warned everything in this market is fake. But fake doesn’t always mean bad.

I visited a few times. You can’t get everything here. For example, no Dell Mini computers. First I wanted to get a new battery for my computer. After asking around, I got the same price I got last year for one. They didn’t have any authentic ones, only fakes, they said. It works ok.

Next, I helped buy a hard drive for a friend. I had a hard time believing the Chinese were making fake hard drives, but when I typed in the serial number for the drive I found out there is no warranty, so it is fake. When you put the hard drive in the computer, it shows generic drive, no model number or anything. It works ok and the price was good though.

I bought some memory and it turned out to be real and about the same price I could pay in the US.

Things are not as they first seem in this market. When you walk around, it looks like everyone is selling the same things. But it is only part of what they are selling. The more illegal type things are hidden away. In the games area I asked for Xbox 360 games at a small shop. The man pulled out a book where I could flip through the game covers and pick out a game for about $1.

These are not games that someone recorded on a DVD-R, but mass produced in factories by the thousands. These stamped discs apparently can work in any Xbox 360 console. In the US, people modify their game console, download games, burn a DVD, then play. In China, people just buy $1 games and play. It makes any piracy here in the US look small scale.

It makes me wonder what else is hidden from view there.

National Library of China

During my time in Beijing, I had a chance to visit National Library. If what I read is true, it is the largest library in Asia. Walking in and browsing the collection isn’t possible without registering for a reader’s card. This was made a little difficult when I was asked to write my name in Chinese. I wrote “ma long,” but then he said he wanted Chinese characters. Too bad I’m out of practice on my writing. Luckily I wasn’t there alone and got some help to write ?? properly. That’s my Chinese name.

I went to see the foreign language area. They have the last three years on the public stacks. It is more difficult to get older books, since you have to put a deposit on your reader’s card, fill out a form to request the book and wait 30 minutes for them to pull the book for you.

This was my first time to visit a library in mainland China and not surprisingly any books critical of the government are not available. There is a old building and new building.  Later, I was able to visit the new building (opened 2008.09.09). It was the most modern library I’ve ever seen. In the newspaper area there were big screens where you can view newspapers digitally, dragging the page around with your finger. The main reading room was quite a sight with multiple floors; each lower floor smaller than the floor above it. The walls of the library are all glass, the tables are high quality wood.

The electronic catalog of books was interesting in itself. Once you look up a book, you can click to see more information on the location. This shows a floor plan of the library and a red line starting from the desk you are currently sitting at and ending at the shelf where the book is held. In addition, there is a picture showing which shelf you will find the book, for example, the third shelf from the bottom.

Outside, a new subway line is under construction, due to open in Fall 2009, giving direct access to this library.

Day 138 – Foshan, Guangdong, China

I traveled to the city of Foshan to see a swim suit factory today. I did a homestay with a family in Beijing last year and I wanted to see the family owned factory: Taizhou Bluechips Apparel Co.

The factory has 120 employees. They work 7 days per week, from 8:00AM to 8:00PM. There is a lunch break from 12:00-1:30PM. Depending on the job, salary between $300 and $440 per month. To make one swimming suit, the cost at the factory may be about $3.

I got a tour of the factory from the 19 year old son of the family who is managing this factory right now. The warehouse is in the back with all the rolls of fabric, then they cut put pieces and send to the assembly area. The majority of employees sit in front of sewing machines putting together certain colors or pieces. The brand this company sells is called Atlantic.

The day I visited, they were making suits for a different company. The label said Fire & Ice brand and said Munich, Germany. No mention that is was made in China.

At 12 noon, everyone heads to the cafeteria for lunch. The son first was going to bring me to a separate restaurant, but I wanted to eat with everyone. He had a separate manager’s table with better quality food. But I asked for a plate of the common employee food. This meat had more bones in it. The manager table had a lot of extra food that no one ate though.

I asked about the economy and how it is effecting business and he said there is little change. But maybe if it keeps getting worse, they may need to sell to Chinese people, but swimming isn’t too popular here. Right now they sell to countries like Russia and Spain. His mom in Beijing takes orders from these countries and tells the factory how much to make.

The family has opened a new factory far away in Zhejiang province. I learned only 50 employees there right now but room to expand greatly. The father works at the new factory.

I asked the son, since the family business is swimming suits, do they like swimming? Only his father likes to swim, but his mother, sister, and himself don’t.

It was nice to see one of the real factories in China, probably the most important places in the country even though they are not tourist attractions. Conditions here weren’t too bad. All the employees looked like adults and they got breaks and were paid relatively good wages.

Day 137 – Guangzhou, China

Kuala Lumpur is quite the change from India. The roads are so smooth here but it is very humid and hot. I got on a flight to China, my final destination for now about 24 hours after the only flight I’ve missed in my life.

I found the hostel in Guangzhou and after India it was so welcoming to see such clean sheets on my bed, hot shower, and no mosquitoes.

Day 136 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Problems started today when I wasn’t even allowed into the main entrance of the airport because I didn’t have a paper ticket. Someone had to come outside and check my confirmation number and name against the passenger list. Then it was the first time I ever had to check-in my backpack at the Tirchirappalli airport. Every time I say I only have carry on luggage, but they forced me to weigh everything to make sure it is under the 7kg limit. My luggage was 14kg. And this was the most inefficient airport I’ve seen. There were separate counters for check-in, paying the fee for checked in bags ($3), and x-ray and I had to run in-between all of these.

Then after the the strange immigration counter and security check (only time they’ve made me take off my money belt in the world), I noticed my plane was not there. This scared me because I have two flights today and only 70 minutes for the connection.

My flight was delayed about 30 minutes. I was hoping my next flight in Kuala Lumpur would be delayed too, but it was not. I ran through the airport, struggled to fill out my immigration card with a pen that didn’t work, picked up my bag from the luggage area, ran outside, back inside to the departures area, looked for the check-in counter, but it was closed. At the service area I asked them to let me on the plane, just like in the Amazing Race TV show, but this isn’t TV, they said “No, the door is closed” to me. My watch showed 3:37PM, the flight was scheduled to leave at 3:50PM.

I asked if Air Asia could reschedule my flight, and again it was “No.” He said you need 3 hours between any connection, it was all my fault and I have to buy a new ticket.

I took the bus to the city where I visited a year before and went to the hostel I stayed at before. I always spend a lot of time finding the best deals for flights, always buying tickets weeks or months ahead of time. This time I couldn’t do that unless I wanted to be stuck here for weeks. This meant the ticket was at least double the price I normally pay. It was $200 extra for this ticket since I missed the flight. These two days I’ve spent more than my 36 days in India. It goes to show the length of your trip doesn’t mean it is much more expensive.

Day 135 – Tirchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India

My last full day in the country and I started it off by getting ripped off a little at the bus station. One guy said I can get an non-stop express bus that takes 2 hours from Madurai to Tirchirappalli, as opposed to a local bus that takes 4 hours. He took me to a travel agent that sold me the ticket, which was about double the actual price and the bus was just the normal one I would have taken myself, not very express, and many stops. Kind of made me angry during this journey thinking this would happen to me on my last day after avoiding all travel agencies in the country.

When I arrived, it took me 10 tries to find a hotel with a room available. But I did find a good room. After lunch, I visited the Rock Fort Temple, which had the best view of the city. Then it was a visit to Sri Ranganatha Temple, the largest active Hindu temple in the world. Surrounded by seven walls, a number of gopurams (towers), a 1000 pillared hall, there was a lot there.

I used up the rest of my money on some food and a bottle of Slice Mango drink.

Day 134 – Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

I took an early morning walk to Meenakshi Temple before it got too crowded (they say thousands of Hindus visit every day). It was disappointing to see all gopurams (tower gates) all covered up due to repainting. These are the biggest, most sculpture filled, and brightest colored gopurams in India, and the most famous thing in the city, but I couldn’t see them. Someone told me it takes two years to restore the gateways and it is only about two months from being finished.

Back near my hotel, a tailor that found me yesterday found me again on the street. I finally agreed to seeing his shop. He said he can make me a custom fit shirt within one hour. It seemed like he wanted my business a little too bad and I didn’t really like the sample shirts he showed me. I turned him down.

Day 133 – Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

After a 4 hour bus ride, I arrived in the southernmost point of my trip of India. It wasn’t the smoothest ride, they really like speed bumps in India. I wanted to reserve a seat in a train for my next journey, but I ran into a lot of problems. The lines moved so slowly, there were seats leading out from each window. I walked back across a busy street and tried asking a travel agent instead. He said there was a waiting list, but there were two foreigner quota seats available. But I had to go to the supervisor’s office with my passport to get those. Crossing the street again, I ask the supervisor but he said I have to go get a normal waitlist ticket first. I decided this isn’t worth the trouble and I’ll just take a bus.