Digital Chinese Take Out for the Expat's SoulPosts RSS Comments RSS

Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

Memorial Day

memorial day

As part of his therapy while trying to recover from a head wound suffered in Vietnam my father used to make the poppies that the American Legion sells on Memorial day.

Here is the poem that was written three years after the famous In Flanders Fields that most of us know….

We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep
in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead
.Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Retrieved from an earlier post:

I had the chance to mountain climb with an aging PRC Army Veteran of Tibet and Tiananmen Square. He had that “thousand yard stare” soldiers who have been amidst senseless death can see in the eyes of another.

Years ago, as a corpsman at the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences, I was almost detailed to collect bodies in the Jonestown Massacre. Many of my friends went and are forever changed. I know medics, who went to Vietnam as conscientious objectors, and came back morphine addicted. It was one way, albeit not a good one, to cope.

Soldiers and Paramedics in New York, Iraq and New Orleans have acknowledged that there was a self before the tragedies and a different human, with a different world-view, that emerged from the devastation.

When most of the school children of a Chinese rural village, dozens, drowned in their classrooms, and left these hand prints on the windows trying to escape, it was the army who first saw the prints and then had to search through the mud for their bodies….

HANDS

When I traveled, during Vietnam, in uniform I was vilified by many as part of the Military Industrial Complex. I did not get too many salutes.

As the war becomes more unpopular in Iraq, as the world increasingly calls us a police state, remember this: Governments declare war. Officials deploy troops. Hurricanes and earthquakes obey no warnings. And it is the soldier, and the victim, who carry with them, forever, the stench of death. It is like a house fire: you can never seem to rid yourself of the smell of smoke.

Love the soldier. They all write poetry and letters of longing home to their loved ones.

Hate the war, hate the floods, hate the notion that we are not close to getting it right, socially or environmentally, just yet.

Pray for the men, like my father, and soldiers of all nations who gave up sleepless nights and often, like my father, their lives, before and after battles, for you and the missions that they were asked to fulfill.

Salute them all with words and deeds today.

With special good wishes to the Wed. Heroes crew/blogroll. Most of you are not accessible from China, so I cannot get to you and often cannot receive mail or link out to you properly. Keep up the good work.

cartoons,Holidays,Homeland Security,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Poetry,Tibet,Veterans,Vietnam,Violence,War,中国,中文

One response so far

Dying to win in Macau….

macau gambling

Simon Montlake wrote recently in the Christian Science Monitor about Macau’s “exhilarating” growth of late. Imagine yourself in a town where the GDP rose 17 percent last year and the law mandated that the highest paying of the thousands of new jobs must go to you, a local resident. Desperate casinos are hiring college students before graduation and they are easy to spot as they doze off even in the midst of exams.

One the face of it Macau, with salaries 3-6 times higher on average than the mainland, has re-nationalized and re-located the American Dream Eastward. And land values have increased some 30% this year and restaurants and service sector shops are packed most days.

But, there is life in the darkness beneath the fresh sod of success: Thousands of illegal aliens, mostly Filipino domestic helpers, Chinese mainland construction workers and Russian showgirls and prostitutes, work for under- the-table pay while living in overcrowded apartments. For every undocumented worker deported there are dozens, from the over 200 million migrant workers creating China’s new skyline, waiting to take their place. And there is no shortage of employers desperate to fill critical shortages or other local needs who are willing to bend the rules for a profit.

Last week a man from Wuhan in Hubei province, reportedly despondent over gambling losses, jumped to his death from a terrace inside the Sands Casino. He landed amid players queueing up for a free million HK dollar pull on a house slot machine. The Sands, who made profits staggering enough to pay off all their debts in only a few months, is building a new 3,000-room Venetian Macau at a cost of $2.3 billion and will likely retire that debt in record time. Mainlanders lose the money that comprises more than 60% of the revenue that has already outstripped the take of Las Vegas. Changes in anti-gambling Beijing’s hands off policy could affect the country’s bottom line and leave a populous, vocationally training to need gaming demands, without a fall-back plan. (Like my Irish mom, who likely spoke Yiddish in a previous life, “You need something to fall back on,” but….

It is not the first time someone has taken their own life after yielding to gambling urges and the mainland authorities, this time, have taken some token measures to curb addiction: Visas issuance, according to an official source in Guangzhou, have been limited in number due to the recent suicide. While I am sure this will do little to stem the tide of players it may be a warning shot fired at the captains of greed steering Macau into waters dependent on the very people Macau scorns with governmental controls. It may well cut down on monetary traffic for the upcoming Golden Week holiday.

The increase in real estate prices has taken place despite a huge surplus of available rental space. Thousand of high-end dwellings are gather dust on their price tags as the asking price is far too steep even for most newly affluent Macanese. Affordable housing for newcomers and is hard to come by and the 9-10 Macanese and Hong Kong families that control the bulk of Macau’s property holdings. The rampant land speculation is making decent housing unaffordable.

In an effort to slow real estate speculation the Macau government abruptly stopped its program that allowed outsiders to invest in homes and then qualify for citizenship. Of course, only non-Chinese qualified anyway unless mainlanders bought a passport from an African, Carribean or South American country selling citizenship. Now, many mainlanders are out the cost of an apartment and a fresh nationality. And real estate developers selling space in dozens of new luxury high-rises are owed millions in unpaid commissions now that the lure is gone. What is most troubling is: the new policy does not look like it will lower prices as the moguls have plenty of cash to park in land holdings while betting on the come of outside cash.

Macau has already surpassed Hong Kong as the top tourist destination in the area, but a quick search for the number of people checking on line for lodging in the area shows Macau getting 2/3 less look-ups. Macau is a Gambling Disneyland and good for a day trip, but not a vacation destination.

The homey, cheap places to eat are giving way to gourmet fare at tourist prices as local restaurateurs cannot afford the rent or compete for service workers with the casinos. The Sands starts their toilet attendants at a salary twice that of a mainland college teacher. Area entertainment magazines, paid for by casino ads, laud the explosion of new chefs and high-dollar meals, but the young, and the low-budget, daytripping retired folks think otherwise.

Right now, Macau is a safe bet for locals. But, as always, for someone to win at the tables, someone else must lose.

China Business,China Cartoons,China Editorials,Chinese Festivals,Confucius Slept Here,Holidays,In the news,Macau,Personal Notes,Travel in China,中国

No responses yet

A Chinese New Year Resolution: Teach in China

Guest Post by David DeGeest

“In China many families live in extreme poverty. This is especially true of the mountain villages of the Guilin/Yangshuo area of Guangxi Province where many farm families live a meager existence on a bit of land. They struggle to pay the school fees for their children to go to the local elementary school.”

–from the Volunteer English Teaching Program

 

China teems with travel wonders and travel woes. I had made plans with friends to head to Vietnam for the Chinese New Year and ended up, because of visa troubles, in Yangshuo, Guanxi province, home of the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat and the unbreakable Chun Li.

Yangshuo

While the trip was a cascade of logistic mishap after mishap, the beauty of the karsts and the uniqueness of the people I met–from a Guangzhou leather factory owner to a crew of Dutch HKU students–all gave me reason to be thankful for my fiasco.

During my stay in Yangshuo, I had the good fortune to meet Laurie Mackenzie, a man who, like me, is an accidental expat: he decided to come to China on little more than a whim. A retired professor and former officer in the Canadian army, he’s been here for five years building a network of schools and volunteers to help poor villagers and children learn English skills. But he is not on a mission of religion, Americanization, or exploitation–he is on a mission of heart.

Laurie MacKenzie

Yangshuo is dense with tourists almost year-round, and its offers of spectacular scenery, excellent mountain climbing and hiking trails, and good-quality, inexpensive food and lodging draw tourists not just from China but all over the world. By offering economically diasadvantaged children and families English lessons and opportunities for sometimes-shy Chinese children and adults to interact with foreigners, MacKenzie opens up economic possibilities for these families and children. MacKenzie also works tirelessly to secure donations that allow for these students to purchase the basic resources they need for school–pens, paper, books, and other supplies. “Poor schools do not have resource materials,” says MacKenzie on the Volunteer English Teachers website. “Classroom equipment is a sheet of plywood painted black and some coloured chalk. It is often impossible for parents to buy the note books, pencils etc. that every pupil needs.” MacKenzie, his wife, and his volunteer staff of Anglophones from around the world do everything they can to help these motivated children realize their potential.

VET Chinese Child Choir

Children at the VET schools learn oral English through games, songs, and activities like choirs (as seen above). I end this article with some words from MacKenzie about why he chose to begin this work and why he continues:

“The cycle of poverty can only be broken through education. Poor peasant farmers struggle to pay the annual school fees for their children to go to primary school but very, very few can afford the higher costs of sending the children to Junior Middle School or beyond. We know that if the children can learn to be comfortable with foreign visitors and speak some English they will be able to get work. Volunteer English Teachers are committed to helping these children realize a better future. “

Asia,China Editorials,China Expats,Chinese New Year,Expats,Holidays,Personal Notes,Teaching in China,Yangshuo China,中国

No responses yet

Happy Year of the Pig

Welcome to the Year of the Pig. May this year bring healthy back-ups and good fortune….

sign_of_pig_small.gif

If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, or 2007 here is your personality forcast:

People born in the Year of the Pig are chivalrous and gallant. Whatever they do, they do with all their strength. For Boar Year people, there is no left or right and there is no retreat. They have tremendous fortitude and great honesty. They don’t make many friends but they make them for life, and anyone having a Boar Year friend is fortunate for they are extremely loyal. They don’t talk much but have a great thirst for knowledge. They study a great deal and are generally well informed. Boar people are quick tempered, yet they hate arguments and quarreling. They are kind to their loved ones. No matter how bad problems seem to be, Boar people try to work them out, honestly if sometimes impulsively. They are most compatible with Rabbits and Sheep.

I am still slowly rebuilding files and will spend my evening like mlillons of Chinese watching CCT’s annual gala…So, the New Year has to be better, right???? There will be no Dick Clark, no Times Square and maybe no pigs:

PIG

Reprinted from the lost archives….

First, they dumped the Friendlies (HERE) because some professor thought someone might read it as “friend lies”. Then, the government gave serious thought to extinguishing the dragon (HERE) as a national symbol because it looked too fierce. NOW, they want to bans pig from Year of the Pig TV advertisements!!! The move, apparently, was made by a party propaganda official Li Changchun who is probably related to the moron who trashed the friendlies. The move is meant to avoid offending China’s 21 million member Muslim population. Seems odd doesn’t it? Jail ‘em, register and appoint their clergy for them, but don’t tease them with p-o-r-k forbidden to them by Islamic law.

So, how are the Buddhists, who think that the animals were chosen after Buddha himself summoned them all to a meeting in which he would designate the first 12 animals as rep’s, going to feel?

Who woulda thunk it? China attempting political correctness….

This has big implications:

You are going to have to muzzle the dog as the government has now outlawed eating dog to improve China’s culinary image prior to the Olympics; and of course the donkey will have to go to keep from offending politicos from the States; the chicken will remain roosted to deflect criticism for the prostitution trade here as women “sex care providers” are called Chickens and the men are called Duck; the snake will get caged for reminding Christians of original sin and the Ox will head for a Hindi barn….

Maybe they could use fruit (don’t EVEN go there…) or vegetables….

 

Lots of stuff yet to be added….PLease be patient…

L

Asian Humor,Holidays,Humor,In the news,Personal Notes

No responses yet