John is responsible for much of my email. He only knows this now. But I read it all, after-all, I was the one who said to him, “spam me with g-town stuff I might wanna blog”, while wistfully nostalgia-ising over my favourite city. I don’t really read the Australian news anymore, or only in the same juvenile context I read trash-mags, so I suppose the storms and floods and other sundry disasters sweeping Lingnan have gone mostly unregarded, though I was sitting in BBQ-heaven a couple of weeks ago (that goes by the completely untranslated name of 大家好…somethingsomething) and watching Hong Kong news while doing a poor commentary on the floods in Sichuan to everyone else at the table, so I guess the news reached some Australians.
Once in the monsoon season in Guangzhou I schlepped into computer city somewhere along Tianhe Road, it was a sultry afternoon, heavy with lighting, more liquid than air. Maybe twenty minutes later I emerged into absolute blackness, not just the blackness of night that exists at a distance, but an enshrouding vacuum rendering dead even buildings mere blocks away. The deluge itself obliterated what remained, and having nowhere to go submerged the wide street thigh deep in a murky yellow-brown swamp, added to by exploding manhole covers and fat geysers of raw sewerage from swollen drains, a street became a torrent. 洪水猛兽, a deluge is a wanton beast.
China: Where’s the disaster relief blogging?
Back to 56.com, now the top Chinese video sharing website. Like Flickr, the space it provides for reader involvement is often used—abused?—for larger discussions. Looking at 56.com’s current events channel, the fifth post from the top contains video, photos and personal accounts uploaded by users. Is it blogger coverage of the massive destruction seen all over southern China—where, from Guangzhou, 56.com is based—earlier this month? No, these videos, photos and accounts, although posted this past week, all date back to last summer when Saomai, the strongest typhoon to pass through China since the Communist Party seized control [zh], ripped through the country’s coastal east and south.
So where to find live disaster blogging from this past month’s catastrophe? This blogger has looked but still doesn’t know. Is Chinese media coverage sufficient? Project Diaster’s video blog seems to only bring us training videos and clips from old TV shows. So what’s the problem?
Happy reading for me this afternoon from Mary Ann in Shenzhen, who writes one of the best blogs coming out of China, and certainly one unequaled in Guangdong and Hong Kong. Somehow despite all the misery of China-repressive-dictatorship, I keep on finding it difficult to take seriously, that the southern barbarians are at it again, and when English-speaking western world can barely get its head around women getting the vote, Shenzhen offers you a choice of six possible genders.
yesterday, in my administrative capacity, i was filling out three forms that the shenzhen public security bureau, division of exit-entry (深圳市公安局出入境) requires requires employers to submit for their foreign employees. the one unexpected lining in this otherwise redundant raincloud (we have actually submitted all this information previously, albeit on different forms), was the drop down windows that required me to choose an answer because filling in the blanks was not part of the program. i hadn’t realized that human beings came in six possible “sex-genders (性别)” [female (女), male changed into a female (男性改为女性), unexplained sex (未说明的性别), male (男), female changed into a male (女性改为男性), and unknown sex (未知的性别)], but only four “skin colors (肤色)” [yellow (黄), white (白), black (黑), and brown (棕)]. the data form with the funky drop down windows (外国人居留情况记表 foreigners residence situation form) is available online.
Under many different names but mostly known to us as Kowloon as in what Mongkok is a part of in Hong Kong, the Kowloon here is some two hours north of Guangzhou up the 107 highway, a word I use with most fleeting of accuracy, unless a representation of an elevated highway in mortal collapse is called to mind, although if you happen to take the wrong turn at Qingyaun and find yourself breathless in the quite spectacular Feilaixia Gorge before pulling into Yingde, a highway in this case would be best represented by a quagmire or river bed in spate.
Kowloon is a decidedly non-tourist village with a special hairdresser abutting the preferred lodging of climbers, for besides the infrequent on-the-bus-sleep-off-the-bus-photograph-temples tour group cavalcade passing through en route to the nearby hot springs, this is not a town on any manner of tourist trail. But for imbeciles whose idea of a good time is dropping fridge-sized blocks of limestone into cowering bamboo groves, and who don’t want to go to Yangshou to do it, Kowloon is a rock climbers’ undeveloped paradise.
Highlights of my first trip (via the Yingde river bed) early last year include drenching a family on a motorbike in thick slurry when overtaking too fast then our driver stopping to ask for directions, a reminiscence that will bring a smile to those of us in the car that day. Shortly after. we bottomed out in a pothole, losing the rear bumper, a trifle A Biao solved with a couple of swift kicks. Surprisingly enough, we actually fitted in some climbing.
Paul Collis, who put together the Yangshou guide book has done the same for Kowloon, almost fifty routes trad and sport, single and multi-pitch from 5.7 to 5.13 on limestone. This is still a quite undeveloped place, and many of the routes have had few ascents so are still settling down. The potential is vast, with hundreds of routes yet to be climbed. If your idea of a good climbing trip is going somewhere new and finding your own routes, Kowloon is certainly worth a visit on the China/South-East Asia circuit. Download the guide in pdf here.
The following notes, maps and topos form a rough guide to most of the established climbing in the Kowloon (Nine Dragons) area of Qing Yuan County, Guangdong. This guide was updated in June 2006. The climbing was mostly developed from 2005 to 2006 so grades given may not be accurate and there is still some loose rock around. The rock is typical tropical limestone – dark and quite sharp where exposed to rainfall, lighter, smoother and providing great climbing where sheltered from the elements. The area has beautiful countryside giving a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere for climbing.
See attached maps for how to get to Kowloon and the locations of the cliffs with climbing established on them. It is possible to get to the area using public transport. However this is not recommended as it is infrequent and very time consuming. Without private transport it is also difficult to get to the climbing sites.
Most climbers stay in the town of Kowloon. There are two or three small hotels, some restaurants, a supermarket, a wet market and small shops in Kowloon. It is a basic rural town with little tourism infrastructure. However, some mainland group tours come to the area to visit hot springs and take in the scenery. Take care not to confuse Kowloon in Qing Yuan county with Kowloon in Hong Kong. Although they have the same name, they are vastly different places.
Warning! If you are not a competent climber experienced in pioneering and new routing don’t use this guide to go climbing.
A bit slack lately blogging about my favourite city, Guangzhou. Yes I do love it that much. 曹斐 Cao Fei, who is now living in Beijing wrote a few days ago about the 2006 Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival running from 4th till 9th December. The theme of this year’s festival is 关注贫困 Facing Poverty and films are screening at 天河电影城 Galaxy Cinema in Teen Plaza and 华纳金逸电影城 Warner Jinyi Cinema in Pearl New Estate Plaza, the latter of which does the whole teeth-vibrating surround sound and hallucinogenic peripheral vision filling screens. Also there’s films on at 蓝宝石展艺馆 Sapphire Art Space in the Holiday Inn which I’ve not heard of and for the scummy students stuck out in University Town at the 广州美术学院大学城校区 Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts that’s further from Guangzhou than most migrant workers’ home towns.
As for the films, they come from all over the world with a lot from Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and Germany, and a stack from and about China including 秦始皇：中国的缔造者 The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China, 贫困线的挣扎——中国造 A Dollar A Day – Made in China, and a huge number of entries in the Festival’s competition, embarrassing there for all Australians is 太平洋解决方案 which is more usually referred to as the Pacific Solution, and there’s so many docos I’d love to see I think I’ll be blogging about them a bit more.
Naturally though the only one I really, truly care about and am hanging out for, and I know was only programmed because everyone thought I’d be back in Guangzhou and was sort of a welcome home, and I know I’ve disappointed you all by not being there, but as I was saying, I only really, truly care about Heavy Metal In the Country. Ja! Über!
I really need a category for performance, because sticking Samuel Beckett under ‘dance’ is just a bit weird, not withstanding Breath and Krapp’s Last Tape are among the few theatrical performances to hold my attention and sense of humour. Waiting for Godot though is certainly one work I would use to fill my revised Voyager Golden Record, possibly replacing forgettable non-entities such as Mozart.
One of the most enjoyable blogs to emerge from Guangdong Province, and one of my favourites for being an art-performance-archaeological-theoretical China dweller of many years is Shenzhen Fieldnotes, actually one of my favourite blogs all-round. Currently she’s rehearsing Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot with her theatre company, Fat Bird.
Shenzhen Fieldnotes – Fat Bird Rehearsal, August 25, 2006:
fat bird took the summer off, but reconvened to begin rehearsals for “waiting for godot”. it marks a move from the workshop format that we had been pursuing the past two years. however, it continues the fat bird tradition of adapting our performances to participants’ strengths; this time, we are taking our direction from judi moriarty. we hope to stage godot in mid november.
judi decided to work with fat bird in order to deepen her understanding of chinese people and culture. she believes that this happens through collaborative effort, specifically through the development of trust between all members of the group. accordingly, in addition to going over lines and blocking, rehearsals consist of exercises designed to increase trust. these exercises range from falling backward into someone’s arms and using two fingers to lift someone, to sitting on the truth chair and having to answer any question honestly. at the core of these techniques is the belief that what is true in a performance is the actors’ emotions and relationships; the performance builds out of and upon that base. it remains to be seen what each of us connects to in godot.
i have uploaded images of that emotional work.
There has been a large chemical leak in 天河区 Tian He District of Guangzhou, near 东圃石溪 Dongpushi Creek today. The 广州钛白粉厂 Guangzhou Titanium Plant had a large spill of 四氯化钛 Titanium Tetrachloride during a demolition operation, closing parts of Huangpu Avenue, and shrouding parts of the city in a white pall. It’s all over the Chinese news, sina.com seems to have the most comprehensive coverage of the accident, with a minute-by-minute account (广州钛白粉厂有毒液体泄漏大批人员抢险(组图)) and plenty of photographs (广州钛白粉厂有毒液体泄漏毒烟弥漫(组图)).
Reading maps can describe places that have vanished, ghost inscriptions of shifting fringes, more so in places where geography itself is a fluid medium, and where history delineates and overwrites the territory like a palimpsest. My attraction to Guangzhou in part is the illegibility and confusion of this overwriting, both on a human temporal scale where architecture becomes progressively organic through something like a utilitarian condensation, and across greater geologic time scales where history is sedimentary layers. Both these are spectacular in Guangzhou because of the river.
I was comparing a map from the 19th century of Guangzhou with my current large city map. and noticed 大沙头 Dashatou was formerly as recognisable as an island as 二沙岛 Ersha Dao is today. Today, Dashatou is circumscribed by a cancerous Jade-green canal, and some of the more atrocious tile-architecture of the inner city. Yesterday also, in the 广州日报 Guangzhou Daily, was a piece on archaeological excavations in the city, and a map of where the 珠江 Pearl River ran 6000 years ago.
Having been tardy in writing about anything that attracts the most readers, and a bit of a follow-on from a post back in mid-April where I wrote some moderately scurrilous things about the mediocrity of English media ‘reporting’ on transsexual news in China and Asia, I’ve been intending to mention a place in Shenzhen I’ll probably never go to, but I think is all the usual baroque adjectives I expectorate while trying to sound intelligent.
美丽在线CD摄影工作室, which mostly means a photography studio for crossdressers, transsexuals, and other people of no-fixed-identity is in the city formerly known as farmland of Shenzhen. I think it’s fucking cool.