Tiananmen Square – China’s Woodstock? An 89er recalls

The Road Less Traveled: Niall's Musings

6.4 + 89 = 27 years to the day that changed my life. 

Traditional Chinese code of silence Traditional Chinese code of silence

When you’ve lived through an iconic event of history your life is transformed.

Words:Bravery, disgust, disbelief, betrayal, horror.

Smells: Innocence, idealism, cordite.

Sounds: Crackle, loudspeakers, sirens, pop, Bang, shouting.

Colours: Green, white, blue, orange, red, bruised Purple.

Feelings: Numbness, silence, despair, anger, fear, dismay –Why?

Sights:The scorching heat, the pickets, the helicopter, the blank stares of bus loads of apprehensive People’s Liberation Army soldiers surrounded by Beijing’s irate mothers and fathers, the water tankers, the chuandan (pamphlets), the handwritten messages on the school noticeboard, real tears, fleeing, panic, emptiness, dry tears, bloated bodies. How many more?

Tastes: Dry, salty and bitter.

Time: Central Beijing 3.45pm Saturday June 3, 1989, the first time I heard the traumatising sounds of teargas canisters exploding all around me…

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Everyone has a talent…what is rare is the courage to develop it alone and against all odds follow the talent to places where takes you. CK is an incredible dancer.

MOVED to stooffi.com!

After conquering local Vietnamese dance competitions, CK went on to win competitions in Malaysia and Singapore.

He is an amazing dancer who specializes in popping and animation – check it out for yourself:

It’s really hard to imagine that this is the same guy:

Nobody knew that CK was born with just 1 kidney. He had a small stature but seemed healthy and active. It was too late when he found out that his only kidney was failing at 16. In the past 6 years he has been undergoing dialysis, 3 times a week at “The Traditional Medication Hospital” in Vietnam.

Financially, it hasn’t been easy for his family.

His father had to retire from his prior job as a taxi driver due to old age. His mother, who owns a small shop outside a temple, remains the sole breadwinner. The cost of dialysis has been increasing, leaving the family…

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The Road Less Traveled: Niall's Musings

It’s unlikely you will receive a public declaration of charges by a ‘consultancy‘, which is akin to asking how many drops of water are in a bucket. Charges (whether hourly, fixed fee, or on a commission basis) can vary that much.

Here in China many dubious consulting companies claim to offer the services you require, so the first box you need to tick is making sure the sourcing consultancy you eventually work with can reduce your overall costs, reduce your time to market, and improve the quality of your product, thus making the charges worth it. Actually, the sourcing consulting company should be able to save you and your company money overall, even with their charges.

In general, experienced and reliable sourcing consultants, who are not ‘fly by night,’ should make the overall supplier identification, negotiation, inspection and shipping (productimport) processes faster, cheaper…

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Hangzhou Reflections: Does Ireland have Eskimos?

06-May-07 at 3:16pm

Just yesterday I was asked by a local “does Ireland have Eskimos?" It took me a while to figure out he was referring to Iceland, or perhaps Greenland. On a separate occasion another person was blown away when I told her Ireland was an island.

Which reminds me of a trip to Gateway 2000’s HQ in North Sioux City, South Dakota, USA, about 8 years ago. The taxi driver bringing me back to the airport asked me where I was heading to. I told him I was heading back to Gateway’s Asia HQ in Malaysia. He stops the car outside a US Air Force base and says to me: "You know why there are no USAF jets in them hangers? It’s because they are on their way to nuke that motherf****r Saddam over there in Malaysia".

Hangzhou Reflections: Is the water here safe? What are we eating?

20-April-07 at 6:52pm

What are we drinking? Before Christmas an Italian friend of mine, who takes his cooking very seriously, put some tomatoes into a pot of water to boil…. Came back 10 minutes later…. The water was like red paint, and the tomatoes were all white…..  The water?

Formaldehyde in the beer?

Why is my hair falling out? Any nuclear power stations around here?

What are we eating? So if a broccoli looks too green, that’s because it is….a tomato looks too red, that’s because it is…. all tainted with pesticide. All that shiny and succulent carefully arranged fruit in the fruit shop downstairs…. Coated with…?

And the fish? A local Hangzhou Ren (native) once told me that as long as it was alive before they cooked it than it was safe to eat

What about so called beef? I mean…when was the last time you saw a heifer in China? Water buffalo, or?  And, as for pork?

…. The thought of what we are eating and drinking here just doesn’t bear thinking about…. Ignorance is bliss, other we’d starve.

However, I really would love to know what is in the air, and how many nuclear power stations are powering Hangzhou?

Suddenly the foreign food aisle of Hangzhou’s Carrefour seems like heaven. Tinned tomatoes from Italy, olives from Spain, plenty of imported pasta, and wine.. Don't tell anyone

Hangzhou Reflections: Is living in Baghdad like this?

05-March-07 at 5:09pm

[A grumpy party pooping Niall after a sleepless Lantern Festival]

“Whatever the hell was creating the turmoil in our tranquil pond over the last two nights wasn’t all just a huge waste of money? Seriously, every neighbourhood trying to outdo the other in a cacophony of noise, with increasingly sophisticated weaponry that would impress your average Baghdad citizen…  So bang, crackle and whoosh all in the space of seconds. Money well spent?

I know someone is going to advise me to get with the program, but seriously the amount of money that is being wasted around here blows my mind!”

Hangzhou Reflections: Moaning season – Is it Hangzhou or is it the weather

05-March-07 at 4:56pm
Foreigners, aliens, ‘Lao Wai’ tend to start feeling down after several months living in a place where cultural and lingual difficulties create a sense of loneliness.  They start blaming everyone and everything about their plight except themselves. This can happen anywhere, so don’t blame Hangzhou just because you feel depressed. It’s the really crappy weather! And if you were in Shanghai you’d be bitching on about Shanghai, because it is moaning season.
Hangzhou’s population of 10 million plus (that is larger than 90% of most European cities) seem to having a good time here.  All my local friends show me where and how to have a good time here. Actually Beijing sucks…six seasons including sand storms, and pollution that grows worse by the day (would you raise a young family there?). Shanghai sucks..No trees, no parks, no mountains or natural scenery… just an endless daily grind for 20 million people.
This is the seventh country I’ve lived in Asia, including Taiwan and Korea, and at the end of the day Hangzhou doesn’t rate badly.
Lao Wais, including overseas born Chinese who don’t make an effort to assimilate are always going to moan on and on where ever they are. Call it culture shock (loneliness), but blame it on the crap weather that really really sucks.

Hangzhou Reflections: Chinese Pod

24-November-06 at 11:38am

I met the founder of this company (www.chinesepod.com) Ken Carroll in Shanghai the night before last. His is a story of "can do" entrepreneurialism at its best. Started off in China as a foreign teacher from Ireland, before landing a job as a radio presenter apparently he is as famous to Chinese as Da Shan is). From the horse’s mouth, he saw the Chinese Pod opportunity with the arrival of iPod. Now Chinese Pod has about 20,000 subscribers who have already paid the US$200 + (yeah that’s US$ 4 million already) for the suite of downloadable products (mainly to US and Europeans clients), and the website has received up to 2 hits so far, and they have just raised a huge amount of funds from investors.

[Ken Carroll has been in Shanghai for 11 year. Started off as a teacher, also had his own breakfast time program on Shanghai radio 101.7FM, and founded Ken English training centre]