I did not update my blog since a while…

Mid of September, Queen D and me went to Japan. More precisely to Takayama city, located about 2 hours from Nagoya by JR train, where we stayed 4 days.

I was concerned about possible communication problems but finally we could exchange some English words (enough to use transportation) and beside, Queen D could help with the writings because a lot of signs or restaurants’ menus used Chinese.

After 40 minutes train from the International Central Airport (Nagoya), we arrived in Nagoya city where we bought the JR ticket (fast train) to go to Takayama. It took about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Train was very comfortable and price reasonable (less than 6,000 yens per person).

Very soon, we were in the country side, surrounded by mountains, forests and streams. Just one word: Beautiful!

Takayama has been dubbed “Little Kyoto”. Old parts of the town have been preserved. Set amidst the Northern Japan Alps (the “roof of Japan”), Takayama is surrounded by spectacular scenery and quite famous spas.

We booked a kind of “business hotel”. Simple but comfortable and of course (we are in Japan) very clean. Service: nothing to say. Good.

First day, we rent bicycles to visit Hida-no-sato (a folk village located about 2 kilometers from the downtown. It is a model recreating the historical look of the area.

I took a lot of pictures but some were lost, I do not know what happened with the camera. Anyway, here are some.

The next 3 pictures are from there. Have a look on the one about the roof and notice how thick is the roof (to protect the house from the snow).

Then we visited the town (everything is within walking distance), starting with Furui-Machi-nami (old private houses):

This part of the town is really amazing.

We visited then the Takayama Jinya (the historical government house) built in the end of the seventeenth century. Of course a lot has already disappeared but at least the first floor is still there. Here is the main entrance:

The two wooden boxes at the entrance are for plastic bags to put in our shoes. Tatamis are everywhere.

Here is the kitchen used at that time:

We can see gardens from almost all the doors or windows:

Below, is a stone basin called Tearai-ishi, used for washing hands:

Each place, room, has his official purpose: receiving special guests, court, living… Here are some views:

Following day, we visited the morning markets (Asa-ichi). They are not big, but we can get beautiful and tasty fruits, vegetable, miso…:

Another view quite close from the markets:

It is really a beautiful and quiet place. No noise even from the cars!

For sure we will go back there and enjoy some hiking in the near forest.

Cannot wait 🙂


Today’s joke

…Not about a squirrel but a dog…

This guy sees a sign in front of a house “Talking Dog for Sale.”

He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the back yard. The guy goes into the back yard and sees a mutt sitting there.

“You talk?” he asks. “Yep,” the mutt replies. “So, what’s your story?”

The mutt looks up and says, “Well, I discovered this gift pretty young and I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, cause no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies eight years running. “The jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger and I wanted to settle down.

So I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there and was awarded a batch of medals. Had a wife, a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. The owner says “Ten dollars.”

The guy says he’ll buy him, but asks the owner, “This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him for $10?”

The owner replies, “He’s such a liar.”

English Teaching: New Regulations?

I do not teach language but many bloggers (English Teachers) in Taiwan share their experience and/or thoughts. A good blog on education especially in Taiwan is the one edited by Scott Sommers.

But even though it is not my field, I still could have some opinions.

On September 7th, I saw on Taiwan news that the MOE wants: “… students to tell eight jokes in English before they can graduate…”

More precisely: “… Regarding English, the ministry suggested that each student must be able to sing at least eight English songs and tell eight jokes as part of the graduation exam. Those who fail cannot graduate… ”

I do not know what the professionals will say, but for me, it is not “8 jokes”, it is a “full joke”.

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Chinese Unsafe Products

This is from the Washington Post (September 4th).

Some extract:

After hearing about dangerous Chinese products elsewhere, Indonesia this summer began testing popular Chinese-made items on
its own store shelves. What it found has added to the list of horrors:
mercury-laced makeup that turns skin black, dried fruit spiked with
industrial chemicals, carcinogenic children’s candy.

The Chinese government called up in August saying it had a possible
solution. Husniah Rubiana Thamrin Akib, head of Indonesia’s top food and drug safety agency, was pleased and welcomed her counterparts to her office.

But according to Husniah, the Chinese suggested Indonesia lower its safety standards. Husniah said she was “very upset and very surprised.” “I said to them, ‘I respect your standards for your country. I hope you respect ours,” Husniah said.

In dealing with product safety complaints from the United States, China has sought to convince a concerned American public that it has reformed and is doing all it can to ensure the safety of its products. But its dealings with other, less-developed countries or those in vulnerable political positions are a different story, according to Husniah and officials in the Philippines and Malaysia.

The Chinese respond that their products have been the victim of unfair trade actions.

In the Philippines in July, a state-owned Chinese company threatened to sue for defamation after the Philippine government released a public warning saying a popular brand of candy was contaminated with formaldehyde. In Hong Kong, China pushed the territory to reconsider its recall of toothpaste contaminated with a chemical that other countries said might be poisonous but that China argued was present at levels safe for human consumption. It then ordered Hong Kong to submit a report on how and why it called back the toothpaste.

In Malaysia, a ban on fungus-infested nuts and dried fruit with a
carcinogenic sweetener from China was met with a Chinese alert on
litchi-flavored yogurt from Malaysia that it said didn’t meet labeling
requirements. Malaysia has long had a history of food safety issues with Chinese products. With each alert from Malaysia, the Chinese Embassy requests an explanation. “When they call us, we have to accept they are coming to us,” said Abdul Rahim Mohamad, director of food safety and quality at Malaysia’s Health Ministry.

Chinese food-safety officials argue that the recalls and bans by other
countries amount to technical trade barriers that attempt to legitimize what would otherwise be unfair trade practices.

Tensions flared during the Aug. 7 discussions in Jakarta between Husniah and Li Haiqing, a deputy director at China’s Administration of Quality Supervision and Inspection

When Husniah, a physician who is head of the National Agency of Drug and Food Control, asked for a list of products that China had recalled domestically, surmising that many of those products had likely made it illegally to Indonesia, the Chinese declined. Husniah said she was told:
“Don’t worry. We don’t permit substandard or hazardous products to be exported.”

Shortly before the meeting, China had announced a ban on Indonesian seafood.

Husniah refused the Chinese officials’ request to recommend new standards in accordance with Chinese law …

I think it is clear enough…

About Hunting…

I was invited several times for hunting in Europe. Frankly speaking, I never liked it and that could explain that usually I did not participate.
I like the after-hunting party, the friendly gathering etc… But not the hunting as we use to see in our days.
It is not because I am against hunting. Hunting to get something to eat, hunting by using tools which let a chance to the target could be roughly OK. But even though, since a long time I did not do it.
Firstly because my religious. But of course if I had to hunt to survive, I will…
Secondly, I noticed in Europe (at least where I was invited), there were no glory to kill an animal: almost no more wild ones in the bush. They come from special farms and then released… So in that case, it is the same feeling than shooting on a carton target. Beside, beeing quite good with a gun, I do not see any glory and/or pleasure by killing animals by this way.
Thirdly, I saw so many stupid people just killing everything they could, even it is not eatable or worst: protected…
And finally, during the hunting season, you can see how many people were shot by accident because believe it or not, some (or many?) go for hunting even after the gathering (which include of course beer, wine… – I saw it) or just because people thought “it” was an animal…
In Taiwan hunting is normally forbidden as in most situations, to own a gun.
So I was quite surprised by a news few days ago in Taipei Times: “A Kaohsiung man who went hunting on Monday night turned himself in after allegedly killing two men in the woods he had mistaken for wild animals“….. “He thought it was the reflection of an animal’s eyes and started shooting“…”It turned out the light was a fire started
I am speechless…

Chinese pork industry hit by strange disease

About today AFP Beijing: “…More than 257,000 pigs had been infected with the epidemic, known as blue-eared pig disease, by late last month, with 68,000 of them dying, Xinhua news agency said late on Saturday…” But do not worry, “everything is under control!”

Does this story remind you something? I think yes…

Chinese officials said that more than 100 million pigs had been immunized…

But westerners specialists have some problems to believe both official figures: the number of infected pigs and the number of immunized.

I remember 1 or 2 weeks ago I saw on the news that the price of pork was as a rocket in China. Who could believe that only few hundred thousand are able to modify the price in a country as China?

Let’s not mention about the immunization…

Any risk for people?

Who knows?

Does Taiwan import pork from China? If yes, maybe I should modify my diet.

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Business in China

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned about the almost 1,200 Taiwanese businessmen who have been locked behind bars in China.

Time to time, we can read in the newspapers some stories about problems encountered by Taiwanese businessmen (or others) in China.

Of course in some cases, the behavior of these people could be questioned but people knowing a little bit about “rules in China” cannot believe that all cases are only based on illegal behavior.

According the today Taipei Times (page 1), there are more than 10,000 commercial disputes involving Taiwanese in China. Do not think it only concerns small or medium size companies. Same source relayed some news on air since 2 or 3 days about : “…Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store general manager, Steven Wu (吳昕達) who leads a group of Taiwanese staff operating the Shin Kong Place in Beijing, was reportedly forbidden by Beijing authorities from leaving China just before he was scheduled to return to Taiwan for a conference…”

There are of course many official and unofficial reports about the reasons. The one which is certainly very close to the situation concerns the different Mitsukoshi Group in Taiwan has with his partner in China. It seems that the latter “thought the Taiwanese will only be an investor and let the Chinese counterpart does the rest“.

Because the dispute, of course in China it is because the foreigner did something illegal… Are you surprised?

Chinese authorities did not block Steven Wu to pass immigration or to go to the airport. According Channel News Asia, “… Steven Wu, general manager of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi’s Beijing New Life Square, was escorted by Chinese police out off an airplane…”

…As a convicted criminal. And (magic?) he could later go to Taiwan…

Maybe the story was too hot? Or maybe the bail of 2 million yuan (US$266,000) could explain something?

The rules of the game as I wrote in my previous post are different in China. And obviously, it is not the law which govern the dispute there.

And do not believe it only concerns Taiwanese. Other nationalities get the same problems or difficulties.

Taiwanese still believe it is the best place to invest. one could understand that, especially because it is very close and the language in many area is the same.

I should write something about it in the future, but look at the Japanese: since few years, there is a clear trend: they are looking somewhere else.

China is not the only one to be charged. Have a look in some countries in Africa, Russia…

But still, no one stands up to…

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