China visit (part 1)

September 21, 2010

Hi everybody,

This post comes straight from Harbin in China! You probably never heard about this city, however, some facts are impressive! With almost 10 million people it’s bigger than any European city. Taking a taxi at night brings you straight into a Chinese version of Las Vegas. It’s covered with skyscrapers and a kind of Eiffel tower, which is taller than the original one. There is no tube nor is there proper traffic control, here the car with the loudest horn is road lord!

Harbin skyline

Situated in northeast China, at the edge of Siberia, the temperature ranges from +40C in summer to -40C in winter. Visited Beijing last week, I could say China has already an incredible public infrastructure. However, the extreme conditions in Harbin create massive challenges for establishing and maintaining these infrastructures. You can see the imperfectness of the city everywhere, but I think this is a small price to pay and to be fair, I don’t see any western country establishing a mega city as this in similar conditions.

Beijing infrastructure ready to take more cars

Harbin Engineering University central heating system

The only problems I face here with fulfilling my needs are; publicly available toilet paper, having access to drinking water (no fizzy drinks) at the right moments and having decent internet access. The first two are easy to overcome by good forward planning. I could say internet access is a fundamental need for me. I am here for a summer school in sustainable design and the internet facilitates me in providing understanding and creation of own knowledge. Besides the great Chinese firewall, which blocks or seriously slows down all social networking sites, I experience resistance for a visitor to accessing the internet where it is available. Despite there is internet in my room and wireless on campus, the only place I can access internet is in the coffee bar. Luckily, Google translate is widely implemented and utilised.

green milk coffee

the joys of goolge translate (thanks to Hugh McCann for pictures)


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