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Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

My former roommate in Beijing who currently works as an editor/reporter with China.org.cn has done a nice job documenting a recent trip he took to the devastated parts of Sichuan Province. It’s been 3 years since the 8.0 earthquake that killed at least 68,000 people. Some of the pictures of the reconstructed buildings are stunning.

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StartingBloc Bos11

During the past week I participated in Startingbloc’s Boston Institute for Social Innovation. Startingbloc is a nonprofit organization that brings together young, like-minded socially driven thought and business leaders to discuss issues including climate change, CSR, public health and education. I was one of 60-80 individuals selected to be a Fellow this week and this is my reflection on the experience:

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Qingdao

This weekend I escaped the hustle and bustle of Beijing for a short trip to a sea side city called Qingdao. Qingdao is 1 hour flying time south of Beijing and located along the East China Sea. It is known for its large accessible beaches, incredible mountain visas, a relaxed life style, and of course, it’s world famous Qingdao Beer which one can find in many US grocery stores.

Qingdao is also probably one of China’s most multicultural cities. In the last 100 years, in addition to being a center of Chinese economic development, Qingdao has been strategically occupied by both the Germans and Japanese, served as the headquarters of the Western Pacific US Naval Fleet during World War II, and has attracted Korean tourists and permanent residents due to its close proximity to Seoul (~1.5 hours by plane). The city feels architecturally European, culturally East Asian, linguistically Qingdao-Mandarin, and economically international.

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Traffic

One of the first things you noticed when you travel to Beijing is the traffic. This following story pretty much summarizes the situation – rampant construction, reckless driving, and bottlenecks throughout the transportation system lead to a 62-mile long traffic jam that lasted for 9 days (at the time of this entry).

BEIJING, Aug. 23 (Xinhuanet) –Traffic authorities were still struggling to cope with days-long congestion on a major national expressway, nine days after traffic slowed to a snail’s pace, and nearby residents are profiting on the latest traffic snarl by overcharging drivers for food……Since August 14, thousands of Beijing-bound trucks have jammed the expressway again, and traffic has stretched for more than 100 kilometers between Beijing and Huai’an in Heibei Province, and Jining in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China National Radio (CNR) reported Sunday……The congestion is expected to last for almost a month, since the construction is due for completion September 13. Full Article.

Beijing, is widely recognized as having some of the worst traffic not only in China, but in the world. Despite throngs of bicycle and foot commuters, an increasing number of trucks, taxis and personal vehicles belonging to the newly wealthy are clogging up an infrastructure system that seems to be unable to keep up with the pace of economic growth in the country. (more…)

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Jet Lag

17 hours of flying, 3 hours of driving, and 2 spilled coffees later, I finally arrived in Beijing! I’m will be in China for approximately 6 months as a consultant working for the Clinton Foundation‘s country team.

Work starts in a couple of days so more on all of that to come. For now, I’m in Jet-lag mode, staying at a hotel approximately 2 blocks away from the foundation’s office. Here’s a pic of the city skyline from my room on an unusually clear day. It’s located relatively close to a number of foreign embassies in Beijing, so the neighborhood is fairly clean and vibrant.

For the first couple of days, I was forced to confine myself indoors due to unpredictably rainy weather that actually devastated other parts of the country. As I had time to kill, I focused my efforts on getting over my jet-lag, looking for apartments, and starting up a blog! I plan on using this site  to document my observations, ideas, and stories from my travels abroad. I’ll do my best to update on a regular basis.

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