Oct 30 2019

Tianjin Bank 天津官银号

Dongmalu (East Road), Nankai

A woman dances to the music alone. More dancers nearby.

Tianjin Official Bank was created at the beginning of the twentieth century by Zhou Xuexi, to compete with the foreign financial institutions. It was located at northeast corner of the old town (zh wiki北马路东端南侧三义庙处), and opened for business in 1902, changed name to Zhili Bank 直隶省银行 in 1913; closed in 1928 and the building was ruined. After 1949, Bank of China used its site. In 2004, the current replica was built next to TJ Ancient Cultural Street (古文化街) on Huanghe Road, in Nankai district. There are many traffic police stations in the city.


It doesn’t seem to have an exact address but is in the corner of Dongmalu (East Road) and Beimalu (North Road). The original location of the Bank is the corner across street – the corner of Tianlong Building天隆大厦那个角. My next stop was the General Mint.

The following is from iFeng.com on 2011.1.02:







Oct 30 2019

Huaxin Street 华新街

After the Mint, we went eastward on the Shuichan Front Street 水产前街 and stopped at the junction of Huaxin St, which is named after Zhou Xuexi’s Huaxin Textile Factory in the area. 

A few minutes walk up north is 宁园 Ningyuan Park (also called Beining Park 北宁公园). The site of the park was the former Plantation of the late Qing Dynasty which was established by Zhou Xuexi in 1906.  

Oct 30 2019

TJ General Mint 造币总厂

137 Zhongshan Road 中山路

This is the original site of the General Mint of Feudal Chinese Ministry of Revenue, founded by Zhou Xuexi after Boxer Uprising. It’s on the verge to be demolished, even it’s a registered historical relic. A few concerned people are rallying all they could to stop it.

Having just passed by the Ancient Culture Street, which is a fake – newly built, I wonder why don’t they preserve the General Mint instead? The area is large with so many historical structures …

To the brave few who are trying to preserve it: good luck and be the force with you.

The site is massive, bigger than the Zhongshan Park (中山公园), which is located to its northeast corner. And is on the verge to be demolished. Notice of Compensation and Resettlement Plan for Non-residential Houses 非住宅房屋征收补偿安置方案 is prominent posted – to the upper left corner of the photo below.


The small path (it’s called Yuwei Road 宇纬路 on the nw side of the Zhongshan Road) to the right of the facade (inscribed by Wu Dingchang 吴鼎昌, an industrialist) goes in. On the right side, going straight is a small community with a security booth and to the right is where we want to visit – the old mint.

… beautiful courtyards and houses, although they’re all dilapidated …

A gentleman with raspy voice came out of his house and we stuck up a lengthy conversation. He proudly pointed to his windows “they’re so unique, you don’t see them nowadays any more …”. He’s from (a part of) 254 army hospital. After a little chatting, he invited us in. The old house has high ceiling and many details are intact.

Then the raspy voice led us to the two-story grey structure, #78. “It’s their office building,” he said.

It’s vacant now. Above the door, the engraving is barely visible “化学室” Chemistry Room. “There used to be a 鹤 crane but was smashed.

To the left side building, there is a room, probably added recently, long after 1976. Apparently a family is living there and they used the thin space between the building and wall as their kitchen.


cars or carts, pedaled and gasoline fueled …

I like doors and windows, obviously …

… oh … the undies in the courtyards …

Oct 29 2019

The disappearing history

Looking for old information, I went to Xicheng West End District Archives.

To remake their cities (and perhaps to show their achievements while in the office …) and aggressive developers, old historical remnants are being demolished, fast.

Qingdao: the 18 meter high fire watchtower on GuanXiang Road (望火楼; 1905-2009) on the western edge of the old observatory, and the train station (1901-1991) – the current train station is moved back 15 meters.

Ji’Nan: the old train station (1912-1992; by German architect 赫尔曼舍尔) and the two story commercial building (八卦楼; 1914-97).


Oct 28 2019

Trained in China, 2019

Trains in China … This year, the ¥5 fee charged for picking up other train stations’ tickets 异地取票 are gone. People are nicer in general, and most of them follows rule, like waiting on line. But there are always someone specially who insisted to cut the lines…

Hefei to Beijing: commercials embedded in the mirror in the bathroom.



Oct 27 2019

Zhuanqiao Secondary School 砖桥中学

X064县道 刘墩街
Chaohu, Lujiang, Anhui

Going in from the hotel, and the street scenes between the School and the Temple. There is a big stone, donated by the Class of 1975, naming the area as Dream Chasing Dream Chasing Jujube Garden 追梦枣园.


Oct 25 2019

Happy Bay 幸福港湾

NE corner 经四路 纬二路
Lujiang, Hefei

Nearly two hours drive from the Hefei South rail station (70 km). The restaurant is next to Morning Market 晨光农贸. They kindly displayed a banner as a warm welcome, oh boy. The owner is a distant relative, who sweated in Wenzhou before coming home to open up his own shop. The cucumber cold appetizer is really good, look and texture wise. And I taste for the first time, their local rice dumplings, which is fried.


Oct 21 2019

The Ghost Town

¥290 ($41) to see a newly built old temple on the Yangzi River.

The original ghost temple is under the river now after …

Oct 21 2019

世纪荣耀 Century Glory

3 star out of 5. Grossly over priced.

It claims to be the best river cruise in China and the price reflects it. They say the Yangzi River cruise is to be taken again and again (18 times is the current record). If I were to retake the journey (most likely not), definitely will NOT be this shitty boat.

  • Cost for 3 night: the 3rd level double with a balcony is ¥3500 pp, foreign passport adds ¥500 外宾费. Total for me is $571.
  • Getting to the cruise: it’s easy, at Chaotianmen Pier.
  • Boarding: so so. At the first check point, the guard took photo of my passport with his own phone because there is a glitch. The glitch reminds – my gender is male. After the initially check, we were led to the dinning room, waiting to be assigned to a room. Jimmy the staff in white suits explained our options (a soft sell) which we all knew when we booked. He took our IDs and came back with our room assignment and keys. We could up grade to 4th floor for ¥300 each but we declined.
  • Our room: is ok. Two beds are closer than the photos depicted – only a gap about a fist wide. Water is weak. Door to balcony is unlockable (they fixed it). The censor by the bathroom is way too sensitive and lighted up a few times during the night – a terrible problem. The room cleaning didn’t take away the dirty glasses and plates that are left in the room. The towels are really good. Two ponchos are in the closet: perfect to the rainy days. The water heater malfunctioned too: won’t stop on its own. There is NO USB port to charge your devices and without the room card inserted, there is NO uninterrupted outlet in the room. The front desk can charge for you – talking about luxury. The fake flowers are big turn off. It seems all things pointed to a 3 star venue.
  • Foods: nothing to write home about. On day two they served steak. The line was long. I took one look and walked away: just a piece of small meat and they have the audacity to call it steak. My roommate took a piece – steak, are not their everyday food. She cut a small piece and offered it to me: not good at all. Adding ¥398 ($57) to upgrade to higher level dinning room for pretty much the same food, and without table wine and beer.
  • some services they provide

Some unreal experience:

  1. Their arrogance. They’re the best when in fact they’re a luxury wanna be. Maximum a 3-star operation.
  2. Sound pollution: every morning since 7, the PA begins to blast out announcements and instructions. It’s a torture. Like we’re back to Cultural Revolution. Many instructions could be done by WeChat, like assign land tour group. Instead, a staff yells out every single group/room to a tour guide, for every single excursion. Every time we enter our room, the tv greets us with our names – why couldn’t they use the same channel/method to assign tour guide, instead of yelling out for good ten minutes?
  3. Smell pollution: the public bathrooms by either side of the cabin rows stinks the moment we boarded.
  4. Water accidents: water gushing out when I went out after settle down, and dripping above the elevator which is dangerous.
  5. Luggage handling at the disembarkment. The cruise will NOT dock at the port that is near the tourist center, which is at the Wanda Plaza in Yichang because of the dam. Getting off the boat, you need transportation to the Tourist Center (where buses, taxis …). Our cruise arranged a visit to the Dam on the last day, which means you leave the cruise after breakfast and after the tour, they return you to the tourist center in town. You’ll reunite with your luggage if you choose not to take them with you.
    1. The cruise offers porter service. For ¥25 per luggage, the porter will bring your luggage to the Tourist Center – which you will reclaim after the Dam visit. The caveat for this option is, you’ve to pack your luggage and leave it out side of your room before 9 pm the night before. I’m wondering why can’t they use the five hours window (7:30-12:30) to transport our luggage, instead imposing such inconvenience on us? Again, think, will any luxury outfitter will do such thing??
    2. You bring your own luggage to the tour which will store in the tour bus. Simple enough. From the cruise to the bus, there is a mini tram which spares you to climb the steps with your luggage in hand. Unfortunately the tram wasn’t working on that nice day. The reason the cruise gave is, the water level is too high. “We’ve no control of it” so we have to climb the steps with heavy luggage. My travel companions have bad knees and is 70 years old. The cruise did nothing. If I were the manager, I definitely will send out all my able staff to help the needy. They stood their ground and did nothing. We were the last four leaving the cruise. They finally call in a porter to carry out stuff out, at ¥60. Again, think of luxury. The inefficiency and inept management is everywhere. The cruise will not end officially by noon. So it was their responsibility to see us off.
  6. The last meal: the breakfast on the last day is 6:15 to 7:45. I guess they want us out of the ship asap. Luxury? What luxury?
  7. On the third/last night, the cruise offers disambarkment info in their small theater. The manager Allan Chen began it on time (a good manner in my book). First, he asked “Has anyone taken a luxury cruise before?” Because my experience thus far, I knew exactly where he’s from or where he’s going. I asked, “how do you define luxury?” He didn’t hear but went on to push their company and different lines. Come on, we sailed for three nights, knew your little boat well, no need to push again. At the end of info session, he brought up tips by saying, they adhere the international standard by adopting tipping a few decades ago and it hasn’t changed, still ¥150 pp. Now everyone’s living standard has rose so much but the tip they expected is still ¥150. What a bargain, he chuckled. … That wasn’t it. He went on to say (it was also shown on the ppt on the stage), that he and another person do NOT share in the tipping pool. IF we want to express our gratitude personally to him, we should tip him personally. Tips: Chinese is NOT used to tipping culture but the cruise talks about it officially at least three times: at welcome session shortly we departed; a staff came with an envelop on the last night and at the disembarkment info session.
  8. Captain’s dinner: NO need to bring a suit or dress because the captain came into our dinning hall and raised his glass once arrogantly, then his side kick said, “… because the captain has to sail our boat so he has to go back to work …” with that, the skipper left. All in less than two minutes of time.

Three wash machines (¥15 per wash; detergent is free) and one dryer (free) is my lift saver since I’ve been on the road for a long time.

Tables in the dinning hall are bare – uncovered and some of them are uneven – you’ve to insert napkins underneath to steady it. Tableware is, well, you’ll have to use cup saucer 茶碟 for cake tells something. Small napkins were always on short supply.

Fellow boaters are fine, except undies and bras hanging out for all to see. People brought their own drinks: beers, wines and mostly the strong clear liquor baijiu to dine with – our agent said “…no, it’s not allowed” when I asked specifically.

This is 世纪游轮 Century River Cruises‘s newest ship the Century Glory. She made her maiden voyage on August 28 (on Sept 9 fm Shanghai per the agent). The 10.21 sail cost ¥3,699+ pp about $521 base price with buffet meals on the second deck. Upgrade to the restaurants (there are two) is an additional ¥398 ($56). I’m wondering how did NCL‘s Norwegian Joy fared so poorly?

邮轮上水都是5天4晚,下水都是4天3晚的: 上水是星期四, 下水是星期一. Down stream sail (the itinerary) is three nights and up is four, price are similar tho. Four this ship, up stream departs on Thursdays from Yichang to Chongqing.

Google 荣耀三峡 (Sept 22, 2019). The ship seems paying no attention on meals / foods serving to the people who don’t eat certain things: this is what I got from the travel agent who wrote that 餐都是自助的; 餐都是大众口味 – I’d translate to that ‘meals are catered to the popular demand’.

内舱房: 团队位,特价:3500*0.7元/人
臻选豪华间:团队位, 特价:3500*1.5倍元/间(1-2人,享受VIP餐厅用餐)
行政套房: 正价:每套3500*4倍(住1-2人)
家庭套房: 正价:每套3500*5倍(住1-3人)
总套、荣耀: 各2套(均为大床),正价:每套3500*8倍(住1-2人)

Oct 14 2019

Sichuan Archives

A pretty depressing place. The guard at the entrance demands your photo ID. Entering the archives building, the bag scanner is asleep, so is the scanner.

档案馆 11:30-2 午饭;一天只能要求提交看档案一次 (馆员说 你可以提20条呀)… 他们什么也没有. 说 看晚清 还是去北京一档.