Slip, sliding away in China


We’re in Kazakhstan, which is proving to be a great destination (Borat blew it, I’m tellin’ ya). While I’m working on that post, I had a few leftover thoughts on China.

And, since thinking isn’t my strong suit, I thought I’d air them out so I can go on with my Buddhistic pursuit of a totally empty mind!

So, just to prove that it’s not all lectures and picture taking on these charter jet trips, some of our group took the opportunity to do some sand sledding while we were in Mingsha Dunes in Dunhuang a couple of stops ago. I shot some still sequences and pasted together the timelapse above.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the Chinese juggernaut; cities popping up overnight, real estate bubbles, tons of money being invested in infrastructure, well-trained hotel staffs who smile and try to help you….all this while holding trillions of dollars of our IOUs. It bowls you over.

But everything’s not that peachy. The air quality is horrible and pollution rampant. They censor every Time and Newsweek that gets in there (one of our passengers has a souvenir Time where the censors redacted a sentence in a story about the possible successors to the current president. Pretty mild stuff, but clearly unacceptable reading for the masses!). And they are censoring the internet too.

Every one of the blogs I regularly read that is hosted by Blogspot and WordPress were blocked. And we’re talking photo blogs, not political ones. If you want your blog to reach into the Chinese market, consider hosting it yourself on your own site. None of those were blocked.

Curiously, though, Google worked. But you got kicked right over to Google Hong Kong. I wonder how they’re managing that?

Who knows how it’ll all shake out, but in the meantime, if I ever have grandkids, I’m going to encourage them to study Mandarin as their second language….

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Neat Timelapse.

  2. Hi Bob:

    Your Google experience isn’t limited to China. I was in Puerto Rico in January, and Google bumped to Google – Puerto Rico. I couldn’t seem to get out of it.

    Your trip looks like it presented more than your fair share of weather problems to deal with, but the pictures you posted look pretty good!

    1. Larry: Google usually sends you to domain of the country you’re in. So your P.R. experience was not unusual. But seeing as how they are pulling out of China to avoid censorship, it’s curious that somehow I got to Google, Hong Kong. Oh well. The weather has been a challenge, and there’s nothing any Google can do about that! Bob

  3. Hi Bob,
    I’m glad you like Kazakhstan. I was born there and lived there for 35 years. Still love it and miss high mountains. Drove across the country a couple of times – I’ve been almost everywhere. The nature there is just fantastic and a photographer has billions of great opportunities. Eager to listen more from you about the country and see photos.


    PS. Try fermented horse milk (kumis) and horse sausages (kazy).

    1. Ilya: It’s a great place and I hope to come back and see more of it. The mare’s milk is an acquired taste….I’ve tried to acquire it a couple of times in Mongolia but even spiking it with Chinggis Khan vodka, I find it undrinkable! Will be uploading the Kazakhstan post tonight or tomorrow. Bob

      1. You’re right. Mare’s milk has very specific taste. More people find it disgusting rather tasty (even in Kazakhstan). But horse sausages are truly delicious even they do not look nice.

        BTW, are you travelling in Kazakhstan alone or there is someone local with you?


        1. Ilya: I’m on a long tour as a speaker. We’re already in Armenia….we don’t stay long in each place, unfortunately. Bob

  4. Hi, Bob

    Dunhuang was one of the destinations during my travel in honeymoon. I did sand sledding in Mingsha Dunes too. Nice place!

    The weather there is not always so terrible. These days north west of China was easily suffered from the sand storm, maybe that’s what made you feel so terrible the weather was.

    Because of the conflict between google and Chinese government on the copyright of google e books, the company declared they would stop their business on the mainland about one month ago. One day, when I started my firefox as usual, I found the domain was changed to Hongkong. Though censorship exists, generally the internet is still open, and I never had any problem to browse your blog!

    Hope you could come to China again, so many places in China are excellent for photography.

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