Taxi conversation monitored in Beijing

If you are now in Beijing, and need to take a taxi, watch out! Every word you say in the taxi will be monitored by the police.

To enhance the security in the run up to National Day on 1 October, a secret machine is now installed in each of the taxis in Beijing to monitor conversation, according to Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao. The machine is connected through satellite and GPS to the police intelligence centre so every word you say will be listened.

Naturally, the authority will not announce this to its people – keeping them in dark so that those needed to be caught can be caught.

Why is it that a country that calls itself People’s Republic can be so afraid of its people and so secretive towards its people?

See cherry blossom in Beijing

End-March to end-April is the time to visit Yu Yuan Tan Park (玉淵潭公园) in Beijing for seeing a sea of cherry blossoms. The park has a “Cherry Blossom Garden” in its Western corner where more than 2000 trees of cherry blossoms are planted. During the time the Park holds its annual Cherry Blossom Festival, the entrance fee is raised to RMB10 from its normal price of RMB2.

The flower scene is breathtakingly beautiful.

Since the Park is in the busy “Hai Ding” Area (海淀区), transportation to the Park is easy and convenient.

How to get there:

By metro: get off at “Mu Xi Di” (木樨地) metro station, for entering the park at its Eastern Gate, whose neighbor is Diaoyutai State Guesthouse (钓鱼台国宾馆); or get off at “Jun Bo”(军博) metro station, for entering at the Southern Gate

By bus: many buses go to the park, including No. 320, 114, 717, 727, 13, 21, 37, 65 (for Eastern Gate); No. 1 and No. 4 (from Chang An Street 长安街 for Southern Gate); No. 300, 323, 374, Special Route 8 (for Western Gate, which is right across from the CCTV tower on the Xi San Huan Middle Road 西三环中路)

The historic Legation Quarter in Beijing

Legation Quarter (前門23號), located at 23 Qian Men Dong Da Jie, has been named among the most luxurious dining/entertainment places in Beijing. It is a complex of five buildings that house restaurants, exhibitions and art galleries. Some of the world’s finest dining establishments run by renowned chefs can be found here.

Under the current economic situation, however, prices at the restaurants have come down. The posh Spanish restaurant “Sadler”, for instance, now offers a business lunch for RMB160.

The reason I introduce “Legion Quarter” is not because of its chic streak, but because of its historical value.

The Quarter is very centrally and advantageously located at the south eastern corner of Tiananmen Square. The first US Embassy in China was located here (since 1903). After 1949, the founding of People’s Republic of China, the Quarter was converted for other purposes, including becoming the home of Dalai Lama and the office of Foreign Affairs Ministry. It was also here that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met former China Premier Zhou Enlai during his secret visit to China in 1971.

For more info, check out its website here.

Btw, this upmarket dining/entertainment place was opened only last year, before the Beijing Olympic Games.

Glimpses of Zhuhai

The lovely Lovers’ Road

The landmark of the city, Zhuhai Fisher Girl. The marble statute looks much like a Greek or Roman statue – you will not associate it with a girl from a fisherman family in a southern China city. Totally dislocated. 

However, if you look at the statue out of the context, it can be charming.

Yeli Island, a public island park

A view of Zhuhai

Zhuhai, unexpectedly green

Zhuhai is unexpectely green, dotted with parks and palm trees. I once took the No.2 bus from Xiangzhou (香洲) area to Gongbei (拱北), where the border crossing between Macau and Zhuhai is, and passed, surprisingly, four parks on the way.

I ended up visiting the Haibin Park (海濱公園),along the Lovers’ Road. Palm trees and expanse of grassland with a view of the sea. Calm, and peaceful, with few visitors. 

Just across the road, is the Jingshan Park (景山公園),which attracts more visitors. It has a 6000sq meters artificial lake with some water activities on offer, children playground facilities, and more importantly, some hiking routes to the top of the mountain to have a bird’s view of the city. On the way, you can see some rock formations in their interesting shape. 

Parks in Zhuhai have no admission fee. A reason for you to love Zhuhai.