• About Julie

    NJ native without the accent or the big hair. Currently residing in Beijing. Teaching English. Absorbing all things China. Exploring SE Asia.

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    Feel free to drop me a message: juliekhull at gmail

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Degooglification has begun

If you hadn’t heard, Google cried foul after it was hacked and fled mainland China for Hong Kong.  When this happened on March 22, users visiting google.com were automatically directed to its Kong Kong site, google.com.hk.  From there searches worked just like anything else in the mainland – results are censored for anything deemed objectionable and some things are blocked.

Until today.

I go to google.com and am redirected to google.com.hk.  All is fine.  I search for “great wall” and all is not fine.  The connection gets reset and I receive the white screen of death.

However, things seem to work if I use the Google search bar within my browser window.  I search for “great wall” and get Continue reading

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Eggs, dye and prepubescent boys

Any time I engage in a task that involves solitary repetition, I have flashbacks to my childhood when my Mom would ground me.  She had a home business and if it was mailing time or inventory time or anything else time, my sisters and I had to watch it because one step out of line meant we got to do the task as punishment instead of getting paid for it.  So any kind of envelope stuffing, counting, folding, etc brings me back to my adolescent years when I did a lot of this.  Once my parents decided to buy all new doors for the house – inside and outside.  My Dad thought it would be a good idea to finish the new wooden doors for the inside by himself – the sanding, staining, and polyurethane.  Long story short, I finished quite a few of those doors, and not willingly, if you know what I mean.

I’m about to give exams and I just finished collating and stapling all of them in preparation for my 8am class in the morning.  I couldn’t shake the feeling the entire time I was working that I was being punished for something bad I had done.  Good job, Mom and Dad.  You scarred me for life.  ( just kidding )  Actually I had that same nagging feeling when I was spending hours by myself (well, me and Pandora) refinishing my room at home this winter (pictures here, where you can also see those doors).

Other than giving exams tomorrow, I’m going to be attempting a brave undertaking: dyeing Easter eggs with Continue reading

More sand

We had another sandstorm on Monday, and this one was the worst I’ve seen since moving to Beijing in 2007.  As I was leaving the main academic building after a class I watched a huge gust of wind come along, pick up a bike, and slam it to the ground four feet away.  And then I ran to my apartment building and tried to stay inside all day!  This student has the right idea with his mask:

Student in the sandstorm

It’s always nice when March is over, and the weather seriously starts warming up.  The government turns the heat on around November 15th each year (as I talked about here) and it goes off around March 15th.  Since it snowed during the week of the 15th we were all glad that the heat stayed on a little past the usual cutoff this spring!

Challenging your ideas about the Red Dragon

I wrote this on Friday:

We hear a lot of rumors, and rumors of rumors, about China in the US.  Some of them are true, some of them are half-truths, and some of them aren’t valid at all.

1888 Itcho Hanabuso wood print: blind monks examining an elephant

China isn’t everything the mainstream media in the US cracks it up to be.  I said the other day that trying to describe China is like asking “What’s the weather like in the United States?”  Perhaps a more accurate version of that question is the classic story of the blind men describing an elephant.  If I’m in China, how do I know what mainstream media is saying about the Middle Kingdom?  1) When I’m tuned into it during a visit to the States, 2) When I read online news, 3) The biases/assumptions that come through when people ask me questions/make comments about China.

Coming off my comments above, which weren’t the main point of my thoughts the other day, I hit a gold mine in this article from the Columbia Journalism Review.  This paragraph made my head go up and down like the bobble-head doll it talks about.

We’d just note that once a meta-press-narrative gets rolling, it tends to take on a life of its own, for a lot of reasons. Intra-newsroom dynamics play a role. It’s just easier to get a story in the paper that fits the meta-narrative than one that pushes against it. The former are the kinds of stories that, once pitched, make an editor’s head nod up and down like a bobble-head doll. Continue reading

Orange sky blankets Beijing

I really enjoyed seeing the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia back in 2008.  Inner Mongolia is a province of China, not a part of the country of Mongolia, and it’s home to grasslands and lots of sand.  I had no idea that those kind of sand dunes existed outside northern Africa or the Middle East, let alone within a day’s bus ride from Beijing.  I got to do some fun things on that trip, like sleep in a yurt, go horseback riding and four-wheeling, and roll around the desert inside a giant inflated ball.  I steered clear of the camels but some of my friends went for a ride.

11 of us on the trip

The Chinese flag flies high over the Gobi

Continue reading

Only one? Family planning in China

We hear a lot of rumors, and rumors of rumors, about China in the US.  Some of them are true, some of them are half-truths, and some of them aren’t valid at all.  China does have a one-child policy, although how it’s painted in the West may not always be how every city and cadre in China enforces it.  This post isn’t meant to be critical in nature, regardless of the opinions of the author or audience, but to be informational, educational, and offer a balanced viewpoint.  China’s one child policy, instituted in 1979, looks like this: 4:2:1.

That’s two sets of grandparents, one set of parents, and the child, which some refer to as the “little emperor.”  When that child gets married and his parents age, he and his spouse will be expected to take care of both sets of parents as they get older.

One child is more complicated than it might seem.  How would you answer the question “what is the weather like in the United States”?  Well, that depends on where in the US, doesn’t it?  The same is true of many issues in China – it depends on which part you’re referring to because different areas have different laws or enforce them Continue reading

Things I’ll miss about Beijing

In case you forgot, or never knew in the first place, 同一个世界 同一个梦想 (tong yige shijie, tong yige mengxiang) or “One World, One Dream” was the motto of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  I won’t miss seeing and hearing that all the time, but this post is about things I will miss.  “Things I’ll miss least about Beijing” will have to be another post for another day.  I will have lived in Beijing for three years in July when I planning on leaving, and here are some of the things I’m going to miss.

  • Cheap food. An expensive Chinese meal is 25-30RMB, which is $3.60-$4.40.  A really cheap meal is street food, like a bunch of chuanr, grilled meat on a stick, for 1-2RMB each ($0.15-$0.30), or a quarter of a pineapple on a stick, also 1-2RMB.  Or practice your chopstick wielding skills on a bowl of niu rou mian, beef noodle soup, for 10RMB ($1.46).  A meal at the school cafeteria is 9RMB ($1.32) for rice and two sides.  I can cook something with chicken and vegetables to last me for two meals for 6RMB ($0.88).  I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’ve lived in China for 31 months now and I’ve never had food poisoning.
  • Transportation. Beijing has buses (4 mao to 2RMB, $0.06-$0.30) that go everywhere and the new subway lines (with more on the way to make it the most expansive subway system in the world sometime within the next five years) can take you to most corners of the city for only 2RMB ($0.30).  It’s flat so you can bike or walk most places around your residence.  The most expensive taxi ride I ever take is to the airport for about 100RMB ($14.64).  Getting around without a car is super easy and convenient.
  • Travel. Like its food, travel in China is also cheap and easy.  The country itself has a massive railroad designed to move millions, Continue reading