Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

CRI Me A River

I'm heading back over there to the office for a nice cup of tea and a lie down.

I’m heading back over there to the office for a nice cup of tea and a lie down.

I find this report from CRI (China Radio International) English utterly bizarre.

They are saying that all learner drivers in Liuzhou are required to work as assistant traffic cops before being allowed to sit the practical, actually driving part of the test.

No one I have spoken to knows anything about this.

Anyway, being a Liuzhou traffic cop involves keeping well away from traffic as much as possible.

Helpfully, CRI illustrates the story with a totally irrelevant image from Tianjin, thousands of miles north of Liuzhou. My picture here is of a real Liuzhou traffic cop.

Do have a listen to the MP3 embedded in the post. Weird.

Fix Me A Line

The Highway Code is  the UK’s rules of the road and every learner driver has to know it. It doesn’t all have the force of law, but where it doesn’t, it can still be used to determine liability in the case of accidents or disputes.

Among the many subjects it covers is roadside markings. In the UK lines are often painted at the edge of the road to indicate parking restrictions.

Yellow Lines

Yellow Lines

Then the more restrictive red lines, mostly seen in London.

Red Lines

Red Lines

lines 3So it would seem reasonable to assume that these white lines which have appeared in Liuzhou are something similar.

Wrong.

This is, in fact, a lane marker. The lane is intended for those ghastly e-bikes you can see, but of course no one in China understands the concept of lanes. This one on 柳石路, for some reason known only to the demented brains of the traffic department, narrows to a mere 20 cm as it passes Liushi Primary School.

Police and relevant officials are trying to claim that the lines were painted some time ago and that the road layout has changed. Hmmm. You can see they are newly painted. However, they have said they are being considered for rectification.

Something certainly needs rectifying.

Drunken Foreigner

I wish to put on the record that the drunken foreigner who passed out on the pedestrian street on Saturday evening wasn’t me!

A 22 year old Russian man wearing only a white shirt, staggered out of 华侨大厦 opposite Soho bar, then collapsed unconscious in the pedestrian street. Police and ambulance were called and he was discovered to be blind drunk.

Police attempted to use his iPhone to contact any relatives, but the battery was flat. Eventually, he sobered up enough to find where he lived on Dongtai Road (东台路) where he no doubt had a good sleep and woke up feeling like a complete idiot.

Note: It is quite rare to see publicly drunken locals on the streets. The drunks all drive home.

Be Civilised!

China Mobile not only supply my cell phone service but are China’s class A spammers. Almost everyday, I get some text message telling me something I don’t want to know or trying to sell me something I don’t want to buy.

Today they sent me a kind message.

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文明柳州人:不说脏话、不随地吐痰、不乱扔垃圾、不占道经营、不噪音扰民、不乱贴滥画、不在公共场所吸烟、不损坏花草树木.

It is addressed to me (and everyone else) as a “civilised person”. Then goes on to tell me how to be civilised.

“Don’t use bad language. Don’t spit everywhere. Don’t dispose of garbage inappropriately. Don’t engage in illegal street trading etc. Don’t spread graffiti or indulge in fly-posting. Don’t smoke in public spaces. Don’t damage flowers, plants or trees.”

Don’t you think. Mr. China Mobile, that if you address me as civilised, then I probably worked this out years ago. Or that if you need to instruct people how to be civilised, then you are really saying they are not. Typical patronising crap.

But I”m ignoring the first instruction. I like a good curse! As you may have realised.

Here We Go Again

Showerhead

I wish there was a way to set the following to be posted automatically every year. Instead, I feel compelled to do it myself.

Liuzhou has reported its first gas poisoning death of the season. A young man was found dead yesterday in rented accommodation in Liuzhou. His naked body was discovered by his room mate. Post-mortem tests confirmed carbon monoxide poisoning.

Every year the same. Gas water heaters are dangerous and MUST only be used in well ventilated spaces, but every winter people say it’s too cold, so shut all the doors and windows to have their showers. Then they die.

Do yourself and me a favour. If you don’t already have one, get an extractor fan fitted in your shower room. If you do have one, use it. If, for any reason, you can’t get one, leave windows and doors open, no matter how damn cold you are. There’s nothing colder than death.

Oh! And get your water heater regularly serviced.

Update December 22nd – And another one. A 28 year old man found dead by his wife in the shower with the fan switched off.

Dong Art

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Liuzhou museum on the People’s Square is having another of its occasional temporary exhibitions. This time it is featuring artworks by artists from the Dong ethnic minority, the majority of whom live in Sanjiang county in the north of Liuzhou Prefecture. The exhibition is on the first floor of the museum and entrance is free. It runs until December 20th. Closed on Mondays.

On display are paintings in both traditional and more modern styles alongside examples of calligraphy. I tend to skip the calligraphy. I just don’t get it. But I enjoyed some of the paintings.

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My cat could draw that.

Hmmm.

Liuzhou S.W.A.T.

I’m a bit nervous to post this. If they don’t like it, they have the force to take me out.

Liuzhou police have released a number of over-the-top propaganda images of their crack S.W.A.T (Special Weapons and Tactics) team – given the Hollywood treatment.

These images all contain the atrocious “English” slogan, “Suffered We  Protect They”, whatever that means. Update: See here for some tentative explanations.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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Cézanne’s Cell Phone

Yesterday, I was chatting with a bunch of local college students and we somehow got onto the topic of western art and the insanely high prices paid for some paintings. They were particularly interested to know what is the most expensive painting.

I was able not only to tell them, but to show them.

Paul Cézanne - The Card Players 1894-95

Paul Cézanne – The Card Players 1894-95

I asked them to describe it.

“Two men.” “Playing cards.” “One is smoking.” “Maybe in a bar. They have a bottle of wine.”

So far, so good.

Then one girl says, “The man on the right is checking for messages on his cell-phone.”

Hilarity ensued.

But her comment is symptomatic of something else. I know it’s not exclusive to China, by any means, but it is intense here. So much so that students playing with their cell phones in classes and lectures is becoming a real aggravation to teachers. It seems the students can’t survive without checking their WeChat every 30 seconds. Some teachers are just as bad.

Now a few colleges and universities have come up with an idea. Students are required to deposit their switched off telephones in these specially designed storage receptacles for the duration of class. I first saw this almost a year ago, but it is spreading.

hebei normal

Hebei Normal University

It hasn’t, so far as I know, reached Liuzhou yet, but who knows, maybe one day.

As we say in Chinglish:

no-beat800

Note 1: The girl in question later, perceptively, said to me “Well, you asked me what I saw; not what was there.”

Note 2: The painting last sold for an unknown sum but believed to be in the region of $274,000,000.

Jumper Jumps

Warning: This article contains images some may find disturbing.

Hardly a week goes by without someone threatening to jump from one of Liuzhou’s many river bridges or from buildings. Very few do.

But one young man did jump at around noon yesterday (Monday 8th Dec). After spending around three hours threatening to jump, and despite efforts to dissuade him, he leapt (or slipped – reports vary) to his death from the roof of a six-storey residential building in 城站路. It is believed that he had had some sort of argument with his wife earlier and become distraught. He was also drinking baijiu.

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Ten

breaking10Ten years ago today, at 15:24, I posted the first entry in this blog. It is very short and certainly isn’t the most interesting, but it was the first.

At that time I had no real expectations that the blog would last ten days, never mind ten years. At times it has been hard work – particularly during the water poisoning scare when the blog was the only source of reliable information in English – but it has never been a bore to write it.  Usually a lot of fun. I have learned a lot, too.

This is entry no. 1,536. That is approximately one post every 2.4 days. The most visited is this – on one day the entire youth of Japan checked it out.

Anyway, I would like to thank every visitor who has taken the time and trouble to visit,  all who have subscribed, all who have commented or emailed,  all the other sites which have linked, news media reporters who have contacted me and reprinted stuff, and friends, family and their pets.

(The image above is a sticker I found on the ground in Liuzhou People’s Square, a few weeks ago. No idea what it means.)


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