A late summer afternoon on Kunming Lake at the Sumer Palace, one of my favorite spots in Beijing.
When I was growing up in Karachi, Pakistan in the 1960’s we (surprisingly) had quite a few visitors come through and stay with us. In fact, it often felt like our place was a guest house (something we loved, by the way). If the visitors were from out of the country, we would all pile into our green and white Volkswagen Microbus and my dad would take us on a grand tour of the city.
Our old VW may not be plying the streets of Karachi anymore, but apparently there is a new tour company that organizes bus tours of the city. Here’s the story, as told by Robin Show on a YouTube video:
The Pakistan city of Karachi, infamous for targeted killings and carjackings, ranks in the top 10 of the most violent cities in the world. But one man has decided to show that there is more to Karachi than crime and terror and has started the first ever guided bus tour of the city. It involves armed guards, an itinerary that changes all the time and highly negotiated access to sites where people are worried about coming under attack if they attract too much attention.
If you’ve spent anytime in Karachi, I think you’ll really enjoy this video! And if you haven’t, it’s interesting as well!
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Last November the Institute of International Education published a report on international students in the United States and American students going abroad. According to the report, there were more than 880,000 international students enrolled in American institutes of higher education during the 2013-2014 academic year.
274,000 of those students (both graduate and undergraduate) were from China, meaning that Chinese students now make up 30% of all international students in American schools.
As you can imagine navigating the cultural differences can be challenging for both the American and international students.
The folks at Channel C have produced an interesting short film titled My “Foreign” Roommate: Muge and Katherine, about 2 roommates, one from China and one from the US, trying to figure each other out.
I think you’ll find it very enlightening.
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This is my favorite photo of one of my favorite day trip destinations from Beijing, the village of Chuandixia. The modern world passed by this Ming Dynasty village, but in its dying days the locals decided to preserve it as a historical tourism site.
During my first year in China (1984) I was an English teacher at a small teachers college in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. My students were middle school English teachers in smaller cities around the province. Many had previously been Russian teachers, but were now being re-trained as English teachers. For most of them, I was the first foreigner they had ever seen.
As is common practice in an EFL classroom, I tried to come up with activities to get the students to practice; to actually use the language (not something they were used to). Of course, asking questions that require some thought is a good technique.
I remember asking my first class of students “if you could go anywhere in the world, where would choose, and why?” and being greeted with absolutely blank stares. To me it was a rather simple question, but for them the possibility of traveling to another country was so far out of the realm of possibility, and thus the realm of what they could imagine, that they couldn’t even answer the question. I might as well have been asking them what planet they would like to visit and why.
Not so anymore. According to an article on the travel website Skift, there were over 100 million Chinese tourists traveling abroad last year, and by 2019, that number is expected to nearly double:
Here are the numbers: 174 million Chinese tourists are tipped to spend $264 billion by 2019 compared with the 109 million who spent $164 billion in 2014, according to a new analysis by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. To put that in perspective, there were just 10 million Chinese outbound tourists in 2000.
How much is $264 billion” It’s about the size of Finland’s economy and bigger than Greece’s.
I have seen this first hand since moving back to the States from China 2 years ago. I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit around the United States and Canada. Every single place that I have been I have heard Chinese being spoken. And I’m not just talking about the famous and oft-visited places such as Las Vegas, Pike’s Peak, Disney World, or Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. I have run into Chinese tourists in some pretty out-of-the-way places, from sand dunes in Utah to ferries in Southeast Alaska.
And now, a half-dozen of my friends in Beijing have 10-year tourist visas to the US.
One of my favorite Chinese phrases is relie haunying (热烈欢迎), which literally translated is “warmly welcome.”
Here’s to hoping that’s what Chinese visitors to the US will experience!
Photo: CRI English
I have a new favorite day trip out of the Twin Cities — the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN. Here’s how they describe themselves:
The National Eagle Center is a world-class interpretive center located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN. We are home to five rescued eagles, four bald eagles and one golden eagle. During a visit to the National Eagle Center, you can experience these magnificent creatures up close.
The Upper Mississippi River Valley is home to hundreds of bald eagles. Many choose to build their nests in the tall trees along the river valley. Hundreds more bald eagles arrive here in the winter months, as the Mississippi River remains open around Wabasha year round.
The Center houses a small museum chock full of information about eagles. In addition they are the custodians of 5 rescued bald eagles (“Eagle Ambassadors”), which can be viewed “up close and personal.” Here are a few of my photos:
You can read about each of the eagles here. They are magnificent!
So if you haven’t been there already, get thee to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha! It’s just 2 hours from the Twin Cities.