Posts tagged ‘china’

Wrecking Our Only Home – Thoughts on PM2.5 and What it Symbolizes

china-pollution_0Looking outside my window as the train speeds by the Chinese countryside at over 300km/h, I am awed not by the engineering feat and technology that is taking me at this speed but by the incredible state of pollution that this and other advancements have helped create.

A depressing sight of a gray/brown sky, dead trees, plastic bags, depleted soils, countless ruined building and whole villages litter the land and sky. Millions breathing this foul, thick and strangely saccharine air. The smell of failed human nature, greed and death is filling my nostrils and repulses me.

Some questions beg to be asked as I look out that window, hearing people cough around me and I too actually gasp for clean air to breath.

I am now facing the fate and future of the planet? Is this unabated consumption driven “progress” worth it? What are we doing to ourselves? What are we thinking? Will we ever be able to think beyond our immediate whims?

Our race to make things go faster, easier, lower costs, higher yield and so on are wrecking our only home. Short-sighted human self-centeredness, greed, the constant need to outdo others and the inherent drive to achieve more is destroying the earth. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Eastern China.

The facade of wealth, its un-sustainability and the perceived better and improved life will eventually come tumbling down. It already has so in great sections of humanity that most of us in the Western World have not faced directly.

Time for a major reset is due, not only in this part of China I have observed today but throughout this sick and slowly dying world. A reset of thoughts and actions. A reset of priorities, real wants and needs.

Resets that needs to begin with a deep revulsion of what each of us to some extent is guilty of doing to our only home.

December 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Your Future Foretold…

The other day as I was walking in a park, I noticed that there were an exceptionally high number of fortune tellers about. Chinese fortune tellers are a common sight throughout China and on sunny days, they seem to come out in droves enticing the passers-by with a chance to reveal their futures.

Fortune tellers can apparently reveal many things including marriage success, health prospects, personal disasters, money and business issues, longevity, etc. Tools such as face reading, hand reading, engraved coins and sticks to name a few are used to determine someone’s fate.

I was curious so my friend and I decided to get our fortunes told. I wanted to know about the future of my career and business and well as my general life outlook. Well I must say that this fortune teller seemed to be very accurate on being able to read my personality. He also determined exactly my state of mind in regards to how I now perceive my present job. He even foretold some of my main weaknesses that I have to work on in order to be successful in the future. His talk and predictions were so accurate that it was starting to be a bit creepy…

On the other hand, according to the fortune teller, I am to live well past age 90, am very smart, very healthy and when sick, can overcome the sickness quickly…wow, that made me feel good! I don’t know if any of this is true but at least this fortune teller was able to brighten my day a little and even boost my ego. I think the 20RMB (U$2.50) I gave him could have been spent in worst ways…

July 17, 2006 at 10:16 am Leave a comment

The State of Chinese Wine

The first annual China International Wine Forum was help recently in Beijing. It attracted most wine professionals from all over China and many parts of the wine producing world.

It was a good forum, which outlined the tremendous growth of China’s wine industry and the increased investment and involvement by domestic and outside players.

It was a good opportunity for me to meet winemakers and wine industry people from all over the world and make valuable contacts. I even had the chance to meet and chat with the president of the O.I.V. (International Organisation of Vine and Wine) Mr. Federico Castellucci. We discussed the present state of the Chinese wine industry and other issues.

The event was also an opportunity to discuss as an industry the setting up of a national icewine production standard. This is needed, as the present state of icewine production is a mess with countless “fake” icewines in existence in the market. I did a technical speech on the subject, which I think was well received.
The first annual China International Wine Forum was help recently in Beijing. It attracted most wine professionals from all over China and many parts of the wine producing world.


China’s wine industry is attracting a lot of interest from outside. This is because it is growing at the fastest pace seen in history and is viewed as a way to absorb the large wine glut that now exists in parts of Europe and Australia. The increase in quality of Chinese wines and the large vineyard plantings will also start to make Chinese wines known outside of China.

The event was a success and will help put China on the world map in terms of being not only an important market but also a wine producing nation. This will become more and more important as time goes on. You should all start looking for good Chinese wines at a wine store near you…they are coming…

June 8, 2006 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

Judging Wines in Shanghai

I judged wines in Shanghai at the annual “China International Wine Challenge” which is an offshoot of the largest and most prestigious wine competition in the world called the “IWC” based out of London, UK. The competition was founded by world-renowned wine expert and writer Mr. Robert Joseph. I helped him organize the China chapter.

In total, there were over 600 wines from all over the world including most of the 1st growths such as Chateaux Lafitte, Haut-Brion, Petrus, etc. The quality of the entries was spectacular and the judges were world class and famous wine professionals from all over.

I entered five wines from Tonghua in a Chinese wine category. I am glad to report that my wines won four golds and one silver to become the most awarded Chinese winery at the event!

Living in China, it is not always easy to have access to high quality wines without forking over large sums of money. Imported wines here in China are very expensive and not always easy to find and even quality Chinese wines are simply not a good value compared to wines outside of China. Therefore, it is nice to be able to judge at a competition like this and get a chance to taste what I used to take for granted in Canada or the UK.

With time and continued exposure to imported wines, there will be a greater choice of wines available and competition will begin to drive prices down. This will make wine more accessible to the masses and enjoyed not only by the rich on special occasions but by all on a regular basis.
I raise my glass to all who enjoy wine…Cheers!

June 7, 2006 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Bella on the Drip

One of China’s largest and most lucrative industry is the pharmaceutical industry. This is obviously due to the sheer number of people here but I also think it is because of the ingrained habit of taking medicines for the simplest ills and aches. Basically, as soon as someone doesn’t feel good or has a bit of a soar throat, in goes the medicines.

Sometimes as soon as I cough (or even clear my throat) someone says “here, take some medicine!”. Anti-biotics are readily available without prescriptions at basically every street corner. Both western and traditional eastern medicines as well as herbal remedies are widely available.

When the average person has a cold, even a small one, they head for the nearest clinic to get a medicine drip. This “drip” is a bag of liquefied medicine that is injected into their veins. It takes about 3 hours to pass through and is done on three consecutive days. It obviously works wonders but my opinion on this varies. If everyone depends on anti-biotics to kill their viruses and never let their own bodies fight them off, doesn’t this compound the problem? Will this habit that the whole society has help generate “super bugs” that are immune to medicine? This being a densely populated country, having a whole bunch of “super bugs” running around, can’t be good. SARS a few years ago was a good example.

A friend of mine told me that in China we need to use strong medicine because the viruses here are stronger than in the west. I am not sure if this is really founded on fact but it does seem to indicate that doing this could be the start of a very nasty vicious cycle.

With that in mind, my little daughter Bella was sick this week. She had a cough and fever. We waited a couple of days to see if her cold would subside but it did not seem to and the fever reached 40’C. Fearing “super bugs”, we did not want to take any chances and brought her to the clinic to get a “drip”. She was not happy to say the least!

I don’t know what is in that medicine but it does work wonders. The very next day, she felt fine and is now as rambunctious as ever. What is a parent to do? We can say “oh taking too much medication is bad!” but when it is your own child that needs it, you end up doing what everyone else is doing.

Medicines are a good thing and obviously very useful in society but hopefully we are not creating a monster with its over-use…

June 2, 2006 at 12:58 am Leave a comment

Of Poets and Sticky Rice

Today is the Dragon Boat Festival; it is commemorated with the eating of steamed rice dumplings and salted eggs. This is one of the most ancient festivals in China and its history is quite interesting. In North China where I live, it is mostly celebrated with dinner and the eating of the sticky rice wrapped in leaves but in Southern China, Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons. Competing teams row their boats forward to a drumbeat racing to reach the finish end first. These events draw large crowds and teams engage in strenuous training for these races.

The boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival are traditional customs to attempts to rescue the patriotic poet Chu Yuan. Chu Yuan drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Some people throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water to signify that the fish would eat the rice rather than the hero poet. This practice eventually turned into the custom of eating rice dumplings on that day.

The celebration is also a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year. It is done through different practices such as hanging medicinal herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions, and Today is the Dragon Boat Festival; it is commemorated with the eating of steamed rice dumplings and salted eggs. This is one of the most ancient festivals in China and its history is quite interesting. In North China where I live, it is mostly celebrated with dinner and the eating of the sticky rice wrapped in leaves but in Southern China, Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons. Competing teams row their boats forward to a drumbeat racing to reach the finish end first. These events draw large crowds and teams engage in strenuous training for these races.

The boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival are traditional customs to attempts to rescue the patriotic poet Chu Yuan. Chu Yuan drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Some people throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water to signify that the fish would eat the rice rather than the hero poet. This practice eventually turned into the custom of eating rice dumplings on that day.

The celebration is also a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year. It is done through different practices such as hanging medicinal herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions, and displaying portraits of evil’s nemesis, Chung Kuei. Another practice is trying to stand an egg on its end at exactly 12:00 noon, if managed, then the following year will be a lucky one.

China is full of these types of festivals and they all have an interesting story behind them. displaying portraits of evil’s nemesis, Chung Kuei. Another practice is trying to stand an egg on its end at exactly 12:00 noon, if managed, then the following year will be a lucky one.

China is full of these types of festivals and they all have an interesting story behind them.

May 31, 2006 at 12:56 am Leave a comment

The Piramids of Kogury

We were in Ji’an County over the day and were able to learn a little about an old civilization that once rules in this area. I visited a couple ancient tombs and pyramids of some of the rulers of the Kogury empire. The area was a bit of a “Valley of the King’s of the Ji’an Country. It was not something I expected to see as the tombs looked like they could have been something out of Mayan or Aztec history….

The whole area is quite beautiful. This is not a place that most foreigners think about visiting when coming to China as it is off the main travel circuit. However, it was very interesting nonetheless and most foreign visitors here are South Koreans as they believe that this area is the birthplace of their culture.

Here is a bit of a brief intro on the town and its history:

Ji’an City, located in the southeast of Jilin Province, lies opposite to the DPRK with the Yalu River running in between, borders Liaoning Province to the southwest, and neighbors Tonghua City and Baishan City of Jilin Province to the north. It is one of China’s three major ports opened to Korea, and the main drag and window of economic, technological and cultural exchanges between China and the Korea Peninsula as well as the Northeast Asian Business Community. Under its jurisdiction there are one economic development zone, ten villages and towns, and three sub-district offices, with nine nationalities living in the city, including the Han, Korean, Manchu, Hui and so on.

The time-honored Ji’an City is ancient and mysterious with rich cultural heritage. In 37BC, Chinese northern ethnic minority, Kogury, set up its regime in the middle reaches of the Yalu River and the Hunjiang River valley. In 3AD, Kogury moved its capital to Guonei (today’s Ji’an), which served as capital for the Kogury empire for 425 years.

May 30, 2006 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

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