Chinese (chow) fun

June 24 2004

Ah, finally in my room at the China Hotel in Guangzhou, on the slowest "broadband" connection I've used in a long time.  OK, local team, you've made your point sufficiently about how bandwidth is still a major challenge in the Asia/Pacific region...but could you just turn it up a bit for me for the next 36 hours?  Thanks.
Unfortunately, even if I can get this entry added to the blog, I won't be able to see it.  Dig this shit -- edbrill.com appears to be blocked from access here.  Yep, edbrill.com and cnn.com -- the only two sites I haven't been able to hit so far -- I can see what we have in common.  Heck, I can even hit p0rn sites -- how does that happen?  Oh wait, the joy continues -- I can't establish an IBM VPN connection, either.  So looks like I'll be doing dial-up for mail for a day-and-a-half...
Alright, alright, alright -- I think it seems more like a flakey DNS server somewhere than blocked sites (though I know from my last visit that cnn.com is defnitely blocked).  Now I can't hit sites like comics.com, united.com, and some other blogs.  And yet I have hit edbrill.com a few times.  Someone's DNS needs help....
It's not like today has been without other challenges.  Smartly, I realized before I left Kuala Lumpur that I should have some cash with me when I get to China, in case I can't find a Cirrus/Plus/Amex ATM on arrival.  So I withdrew some Malaysian Ringgit at KLIA before boarding the flight.  I should have taken it one step further and done the exchange into Yuan while at KLIA, but I didn't have the patience for some very long currency exchange queues.  What did I discover on arrival here?  At two banks and the hotel front desk, I've struck out -- none of them will change Malaysian Ringgit.  So I have about US$75 worth of Malay money just sitting here.  I have to hope that I can exchange it on my Saturday connection in Hong Kong, or once I get back to the States...not sure I'll be back in Malaysia anytime soon...  Thankfully, the hotel has a service desk at Guangzhou airport, and they arrange for the hotel limo to take me over here, for about US$20.  Way more than a taxi, but I'll deal.  Heck, the nightly rate at this hotel is about US$40 -- breakfast included -- and this is a four star hotel!  It's a miracle I made it out of the airport, though -- Thankfully, I'm good at following directions like these:
Image:Chinese (chow) fun
Let's see, what else to report --

  • Didn't make the concert in K-L last night.  Thanks to Nathan Freeman for getting me on the VIP list for a Crystal Method show (I hope that's the right URL...I just found another one that's blocked).  I didn't get into the K-L city center in time for the show, and I was dressed like an off-hours corporate geek anyway (you know, polo shirt and khakis).  Not exactly what you see at one of their shows, I suspect.  I did, however, manage to see the Petronas Towers at night -- amazing sight, unfortunately without the digital camera so it will take a few days to see if the analog prints turned out (I think they will, but not sure...).  Unlike tall buildings in the US cities, there's really no good reason for these twin towers to be as tall as they are -- there's plenty of room around them.  My colleage and I walked about a quarter-of-a-mile away and still had a clear view top to bottom.   Can't visit them at night, but thankfully I did so on my last trip to K-L in 2001 -- even got to stand on the private level of the bridge!  Also managed to sneak into the night market just around closing time, which meant negotiating a pretty good deal on a fantastic Rolex watch.  I'm going to be looking for a similar market here in Guangzhou tonight or tomorrow, if it stops raining....
  • Malaysia Airlines has a beautiful lounge at KLIA.  Why the American standard of service is so much lower is beyond me.  They had pretty much a full breakfast available, both western and Asian, including a capuccino bar.  The lounge was comfortable, huge, and they even had a massage/aromatherapy room.  Not exactly the same standard as the Admiral's Clubs (or the like) in the US.
  • In my free time this afternoon, thus far I've dined on a nice bowl of beef chow fun (yes, my noodle addiction continues on this trip), and visited the nearby museum/mausoleum of the Nan-Yue King.  Happened upon this quite by accident, as I thought I was walking in the direction of a Chinese temple.  But for 12 Yuan (about US$1.50), this was a great find.  Not only do you get to see the excavated tomb and all its contents, there were also special exhibits with similar artefacts from other parts of the region.  The tomb was discovered in 1983 and opened to the public in 1988.  The most amazing thing on display there is a shroud fashioned entirely of over 1000 jade stones.  Very cool (but yes, also a little creepy).  Really enjoyed the museum.  It was a little over-touristy at the end though -- the obligatory walk through the gift shop included a couple of live demonstrations of how the vases are painted, block paintings are drawn, etc.  I have to admit I liked that, made the manufacture of all those things a lot more human.
Alright, time to go visit the business center and see if I can bust my way out of the Great (Fire)wall of China... might have to resort to dial-up (sheesh).  Tomorrow's the Workplace launch here, so I'll have more to say soon.

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