Thursday, July 31, 2008

How To Control Inflation Properly?

$10,000,000,000 Now $1 in Zimbabwe

'Zimbabwe’s central bank governor says he is knocking 10 zeros off the country’s hyper-inflated currency to make 10 billion dollars become one dollar.'

Published: July 30, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe will knock 10 zeros off the country's hyper-inflated currency next month, making 10 billion dollars one dollar, the nation's central bank governor said Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe immediately warned in a televised address that he will impose a state of emergency if profiteers take advantage of the change on Aug. 1.

''Don't drive us further. If you drive us even more we will impose emergency measures. We don't want to place our country under emergency rule,'' Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe suffers the highest inflation rate in the world. Inflation is constraining operations of the country's computer systems, central bank Gov. Gideon Gono said.

Computers, electronic calculators and automated teller machines at banks have not been able to handle basic transactions in billions and trillions of dollars.

Just last week Gono introduced a new 100 billion-dollar note that is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.

Gono said on Aug. 1 the bank will issue a 500-dollar bill equivalent to 5 trillion dollars at the current rate.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Best Meal I've Ever Had!

Words can not describe how happy I was when McDonalds was offered for lunch today! There comes a point during these trips when you just can't eat another strange thing.
Ronald McDonald, I salute you!

Don't See This Every Day

The Power Of Black Tea

Moving Inland

Moving from Hong Kong into Guangzhou tomorrow for the last leg of the trip. As you can see we are ready to be done and head home! And 'yes' we are going to be seeing these next year in your and my favorite store.

Mmmm, eel

Eel Drink Goes On Sale For Japan's Hot Summer

It's the hottest season of the year in Japan, and that means it's eel season. So, bottom's up!

A canned drink called "Unagi Nobori," or "Surging Eel," made by Japan Tobacco Inc., hit the nation's stores this month just ahead of Japan's annual eel-eating season, company spokesman Kazunori Hayashi said Monday.

"It's mainly for men who are exhausted by the summer's heat," Hayashi said of the beverage, believed to be the first mass-produced eel drink in Japan.

Many Japanese believe eating eel boosts stamina in hot weather.

The fizzy, yellow-colored drink contains extracts from the head and bones of eel and five vitamins _ A, B1, B2, D and E _ contained in the fish.

How to Take Portraits - 19 Portrait Photography Tutorials

19 of the most popular portrait photography articles.

China to censor Internet during Games: official

China will censor the Internet used by foreign media during the Olympics, an organising committee official confirmed Wednesday, reversing a pledge to offer complete media freedom at the games.

"During the Olympic Games we will provide sufficient access to the Internet for reporters," said Sun Weide, spokesman for the organising committee.

He confirmed, however, that journalists would not be able to access information or websites connected to the Falungong spiritual movement which is banned in China.

Other sites were also unavailable to journalists, he said, without specifying which ones.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beijing Air Still Murky As Olympic Village Opens

It's Really Hot & Humid!

Toll rises as city melts

Hong Kong gasped its way through the worst air pollution ever recorded yesterday as smog and soaring temperatures mixed in a lethal cocktail that left one woman dead and dozens of elderly people in hospital suffering breathing problems.

Nickkita Lau and Agence France- Presse
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hong Kong gasped its way through the worst air pollution ever recorded yesterday as smog and soaring temperatures mixed in a lethal cocktail that left one woman dead and dozens of elderly people in hospital suffering breathing problems.

Just days before the Olympic Games are due to begin, the benchmark air pollution index reached an unprecedented 202 in Tap Mun - one notch higher than the previous record of 201 set in 2005 at Tung Chung.

Temperatures soared to 36 degrees Celsius in many areas and at least 91 elderly people were taken to hospital with respiratory problems. A further 1,334 needed emergency help.

India Gives Its Image Problem An Airing

NEW DELHI: The personal hygiene of Delhi's taxi drivers is an unusual topic for ministerial-level discussion, but recently it has been central to a government debate over how to lure more tourists to India.

Convinced that the body odors of many of the capital's drivers were far from inviting, the tourism minister, Renuka Chowdhury, has started an advertising campaign aimed at persuading those who work in the tourism sector to clean up their act.

The initiative, called "The Guest is God," has been implemented nationwide and offers free training to everyone who comes in regular contact with foreign visitors - taxi drivers, tour guides, shop owners, waiters and customs officials. The message is simple: behave nicely, and tourists - and their money - will return.

India's government has become conscious that it needs to work much harder to squeeze revenue from its tourism industry. Despite its diversity of attractions - ranging from beaches in Goa to Himalayan trekking, yogic retreats and the Taj Mahal - the nation attracts less than 1 percent of global tourism traffic every year.

Smelly taxis Warned to Tarnish Beijing's Image in Olympic Games

Some Beijing taxi drivers should take it seriously the smell inside their cabs, which may tarnish the city's image in the 2008 Olympic Games, a political advisor has said.

Shi Xiangpeng, who came from Hong Kong to attend the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said on the basis of his own experience that about one third of the taxis in Beijing were smelly.

"Sometimes I could smell unbearable stink once I got into the cab, but was afraid of being too rude to get off immediately. So I had to roll down the windows, regardless of how cold it was outside," said Shi, a CPPCC member who visited Beijing frequently.

He attributed the odor to the bad habits of some drivers from the suburbs of Beijing. Since they live far away from the downtown areas where they can do more business, they sometimes sleep and have meals, with onion or garlic, inside the cars, Shi said.

Some drivers don't bath for a long time and some smoke in their cabs, he added.

He called on taxi drivers to pay more attention to their personal hygiene and try to keep a clean and pleasant scent inside the cars.

A smelly cab, though a trivial thing, may impair the country's international image when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games next year, as it's not polite to the guests, he said.

Statistics show that Beijing has 2.9 million registered motor vehicles, including about 67,000 taxis.

Well Now We Know

Flush so we don't blush: Taiwan city

340 tonnes of stinky waste generated daily by toilet paper being thrown into the trash instead of being flushed down. -Reuters

Tue, Jul 08, 2008

TAIPEI - A CITY in south Taiwan began training potty users this week to flush toilet paper instead of throwing it in the trash, to reduce 340 tonnes of stinky waste generated daily, local media and officials said on Tuesday.

'An old habit is to throw toilet paper in the trash can beside the toilet, which causes a major stink that's bad for public sanitation,' city Environmental Protection Bureau Director Chang Hwang-jen told Reuters.

'Japanese and Western visitors who come to Taiwan find this Taiwan toilet habit to be quite poor,' she added.

Taiwan's plumbing can now handle toilet paper without clogging the pipes, a break from the past, the city of Tainan told its 764,000 citizens at a news conference on Monday.

Leaders in other Taiwan cities haven't gotten off the pot on the issue, Ms Chang said.

Toilet sitters in Taiwan and China customarily target trash bins instead of the porcelain because of pipe backup worries.

Clogged pipes in Tainan are caused by the flushing of other objects, such as toothbrushes, Ms Chang said.

Sticking non-recyclabe toilet paper in the trash also costs the city T$4,600 (S$206) per tonne, or T$600 million per year, to treat, local media said. -- REUTERS

A Taste Of New Delhi, India

I shot my own video, but due to the size of the file I can't upload it until I get home. I have found some footage on youtube to give you an idea of what the traffic was like in New Delhi. Most of the video I captured was out in the rural areas, and covers the towns along 'the road less travelled.' Until then, enjoy!

Shravan Festival

Anytime we headed out on the road during our travels in New Delhi, we witnessed hundreds, if not thousands of people walking along the sides of the roads. They were taking part in a Hindi pilgrimage known as the Shravan Festival.

In the month of Shravan (July-August) when the scorched earth gets drenched by the first monsoon showers, the devotees of Lord Siva come into the open carrying sacred water and rending the sky with cries of `bam bhole har har bam' and thus begins the great walkathon ritual.

Known as `Shravan festival,' this custom is fast gaining in popularity all over the country and since Orissa, an ancient Saivite peetha, is dotted with temples of Lord Siva, this festival season sees innumerable men women and even children undertaking ritualistic walks to various Siva temples.

Although the whole month of `Shravana' is considered auspicious for the worship of Lord Siva Mondays are invested with special significance. The devotees, taking a holy dip and collecting pure water, set out on a journey well in advance so as to reach a Saivite shrine on a Monday.

Decorated sticks

This ritual appears to have become a favourite with the youth. Come monsoon, they begin their walkathons carrying holy water in brass, tin or silver containers hanging from lavishly decorated sticks called `kanwar.' Depending on which shrine they choose, the devotees sometimes cover anything between 60 and 100 kilometres on bare feet. Nowadays, even women and old people take part in such walkathons. Lord Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar, Lord Lokanath temple in Puri and the Vedavyas temple in Rourkela are some of the favourite shrines.

The journey begins from a `ghat' where the water is supposed to have the sanctity of `Gangajal.' Preferring to start the journey at the crack of dawn the pilgrims throng the `ghat' when it is still dark. A holy dip is taken and thousands change into scarlet, ochre and saffron robes as the chanting of `mantras' and the perfume of joss sticks fill the air. Pots are filled with holy water and then sealed with the mud from the riverbank so that the water does not spill over during the long journey. Two pots are tied to either end of the stick, puja is offered at the shrine and with a resounding cry of `bolo bam' the `kanwars' are lifted. Now the pilgrims are on their way to wash away the sins accumulated during the year.

Resting at intervals, they arrive at their destination with blistering feet and aching bodies but with uplifted hearts secure in the belief that pouring of holy water would please `Bholenath,' the simple-hearted. Legend has it that Ravana went to Mount Kailash and requested Lord Siva to come and make Lanka his abode so that Ravana's mother, an ardent Siva devotee, could offer prayers to Him in person. The Lord declined the offer but gave Ravana one of the twelve `jyotirlingams' with the condition that during the return journey Ravana should take care that the `lingam' does not touch the ground. Had Ravana fulfilled that condition he would have become invincible; so Lord Vishnu became a willing tool of divine machination and contrived to have the lingam touch the ground. The lingam refused to budge and Ravana had to break off the journey. However, came to worship the lingam everyday and offered water from the Ganges. This ritual is commemorated today in the `Shravan walkathon.'

Still Smoggy

Beijing is considering banning 90 percent of private cars from its roads and closing more factories in a last-ditch bid to clear smoggy skies for the Olympics, state media reported Monday.

With just 11 days to go before the start of the world's biggest multi-sports event, Beijing was blanketed in a dense white haze on Monday that cut visibility in the city of 17 million down to just a few hundred metres (yards).

Last week Beijing ordered more than a million cars from the roads and closed dozens of polluting factories but the effort has failed to remove the stubborn layer of unhealthy haze.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Greetings From Hong Kong

Hong Kong Facts

The words Hong Kong mean fragrant harbour.

The emblem for the reunification of Hong Kong with China is Sousa Chinensis (the Chinese White Dolphin) which in fact is pink.

Britain gained Hong Kong Island after the defeat of the Chinese in the Opium War, 1842.

Kowloon, one of Hong Kong's mainland regions, means Nine Dragons.

Hong Kong is very hilly and there are outdoor escalators in the Central district of the Island.

Hong Kong is one of the world's most densely populated areas. Almost seven million people live in four hundred and fifteen square miles.

On 1st July 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China. There were thirty thousand British citizens living in Hong Kong at the time of the Handover.

The Noon Day Gun was fired every day at Noon. It was made famous in Noel Coward's song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen".

The Regent Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui has been designed so that the dragons can pass through and feed at the harbour. There is a fountain to attract them and huge glass windows to allow them to pass through!

Feng Shui (wind/water beliefs) is an important consideration in the design of buildings. Geomancers divine the harmonies of the site and even doors, windows and furniture are positioned to balance the 8 elements of nature and the spirit of Yin and Yang.

Feng Shui mirrors are hung on houses, shops and restaurants to prevent evil spirits from entering the buildings. The mirrors are octagonal and have a concave mirror inside, so when the spirit looks at it he becomes scared of his image and goes away.

Temples should always have hills behind them and face the sea for good luck.

Chinese lucky numbers are 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9. Unlucky numbers are 1, 4 and 7 (4 and 7 sound like the Chinese word for death)

People eat long noodles on their birthday so they may have a long life.

In the past, children would die of malnutrition or disease, so their parents would protect them with pictures of the five poisons: the scorpion, lizard, centipede, snake and toad or spider.

During the Chinese New Year festivities, children are given "Lai see" (lucky money).

At funerals the Chinese burn paper representations of things, such as money, to help the dead person have an easy after-life.

The Chinese worship many gods and there is one for almost everything. If you want to have success in tests like times tables, you would worship a certain god. People have statues of the gods such as those representing fertility, longevity and prosperity in their homes

In the old days people believed that if their crops failed it was the work of evil forces. Spirit houses and earth shrines were built to protect people from the activities of bad spirits. It was believed that the spirit who lived on the land before the house was built had a place to live. Incense, fruit and drinks were offered to please the spirits.

Every year between April and May a bun festival takes place on Cheung Chau Island. It is held to placate the hungry ghosts that roam around. Giant bun towers are built and at midnight on the last day after the ghosts have had their fill, the young men of the village used to compete to see who could be first to reach the highest bun. However, someone was recently injured so now buns are distributed in the morning, mainly to women and children.

Fireworks are important in celebrations in Hong Kong but people are not allowed to have private firework parties.

Before the Handover, portraits of the Queen were removed and people collected souvenirs of Hong Kong as a British colony.

Chris Patten was the last British Governor of Hong Kong.

When the Chinese in Hong Kong marry, they go through two wedding ceremonies. The first is the official signing of the register and the bride wears a white western bridal dress. The second ceremony is the banquet which can take place up to two years later. The marriage is not recognised until the banquet takes place. During the banquet the bride wears the traditional red mandarin collared gold embroidered dress and a tea ceremony takes place where the bride and groom serve tea to the groom's parents.

Songbirds are favourite pets in many Chinese households and are bought for their singing abilities. People in Hong Kong "walk" their songbirds and take them with them to the teahouses.

Goldfish are a favourite of the Chinese and many exotic fish are kept such as the dragon-eye fish with big bulbous eyes. Goldfish originate from China and are believed to bring good luck. The word for fish, Yu, means prosperity and good fortune.

The new airport is on Lantau Island and is linked to the mainland by the Tsing Ma Bridge, one of the world's longest suspension bridges. When the new bridge was opened people were crazy about going to see it and Lantau Island ... One Sunday there were 30,000 people going to the Island. This created many traffic problems ... some people were even fighting to get on the bus to the Po Lin Temple on Lantau

All information above provided by World InfoZone. Click on this entry title to visit site!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Time To Go

Explosions Rock India

for Second Day

MUMBAI -- A series of 16 explosions from low-intensity bombs ripped through the city of Ahmedabad, the capital of the western Indian state of Gujarat, killing at least 29 and injuring at least 88 people, just one day after a series of seven explosions rocked the high-technology center of Bangalore in the south of the country.

Both events, coming just one day apart, serve as a reminder of how the country, despite its economic expansion in the past few years, remains vulnerable to terrorism. The attacks appear also to reinforce the recent trend of bombings in India targeted at symbolically important regional cities.

Gujarat has been a magnet for companies in the past few years, attracted by its relatively orderly and pro-business state government. Yet Ahmedabad also was the scene of massive Hindu-Muslim violence in 2002 which left more than 2,000 dead. Some of the bombs in Ahmedabad appeared targeted at civilian hospitals, according to Indian television reports, and were detonated in waves across the city Saturday evening.

Travel Tools - Issue #2

Item: Microfiber Towel

Countries Used: India, Vietnam, China

Uses: Use towel to remove sweat pouring from face and neck.

Other Names: Brow mop, Flop sweat rag

Example of Use: Reach into pocket and extract the microfiber towel. While saying something like, "It's not the heat that bothers me, it's the humidity," wipe the sweat from your brow and neck. Place towel discreetly back into pocket. If towel becomes super-saturated, look for nearest ditch to wring said towel into. Depending on the time of day, it may be easier to just carry the towel, palmed in your hand, squeezing out any absorbed fluids as you go.

Travel Tools - Issue #1

Item: Mentholatum Ointment

Countries Used: India

Uses: Placing a small dab under each nostril helps to mitigate strong smells and odors.

Other Names: Driver-B-Gone & Nostril Nectar

Example of Use: Politely ask travel partner for the Mentholatum. This can also be done silently with an extended arm out of the odor producing human's eyes sight accompanied by a quick snapping of the fingers. While applying, express how the hotel air conditioners have ravaged your sinuses. Depending on the time of day, frequent reapplication can become necessary.

Driving In India

Yesterday we spent 9 hours in a van traveling to and from New Delhi and Moradabad. The companies that we visited provided a van and a driver. The US Embassy website on India provides a description that mirrors our experience:

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning India is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel by road in India is dangerous. A number of U.S. citizens have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for the rules of the road. Accidents are quite common. Trains are safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more frequently than in developed countries.

In order to drive in India, one must have either a valid Indian driver’s license or a valid international driver’s license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, many Americans who visit India wisely choose to hire a local driver.

On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to always assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. On Indian roads, might makes right, and buses and trucks epitomize this fact. For instance, buses and trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Frequent use of one's horn or flashing of headlights to announce one's presence is both customary and wise.

Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided highways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without lights. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, bicycles, and free-roaming livestock. Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic is coming in the "wrong" direction (i.e., from the left). Travelers should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.

If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.

Protestors often use road blockage as a means of publicizing their grievances, causing severe inconvenience to travelers. Visitors should monitor local news reports for any reports of road disturbances.

Road Side Primates

What do you feed Stump-tailed Macaques by the side of the road? Potato Chips, of course!
This entry now includes a link to Wikipedia.

Moradabad Photo Flood

Friday, July 25, 2008