Sichuan links: tiger dogs, gaokao security, and free flights
Sometimes in can be difficult to one-up Robert Downey Jr., but one man in a Leshan pants shop accomplished the feat with remarkable élan. Nonchalantly flinging a hot iron around in time to Michael Jackson, this store clerk also proved that he is even cooler than the dancing traffic cop. We can only hope this is a growing trend.
If you're finally coming to terms with the fact that you'll never be able to afford a pet tiger and have begun looking into alternative measures, take heart: you're not alone. Would-be exotic pet owners in Sichuan and abroad have begun dyeing dogs to look like their ideal species of pet, including tigers and pandas. One "tiger," one "panda," and three "baby pandas" were transported from their home in Sichuan recently and put on display in Zhengzhou. We're still waiting for them to make one of these.
The recent spate of rainstorms in Chengdu has been a bummer, but it could be worse—you could be trapped on the highway halfway to Wenchuan County, where ongoing flooding has destroyed the No. 213 National Highway in two places, leaving hundreds of vehicles stuck. The road normally sees over 10,000 vehicles a day, and is an important supply line for reconstruction projects in Wenchuan, the site of the 2008 earthquake.
Residents of Longping Village in Beichuan are becoming increasingly worried about a mountain 300 meters from the village that was formed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and has been emitting fumes and intense heat ever since. The smoke coming out of the mountain was originally white; about a month ago it turned dark and the bitter smell accompanying it became stronger. The recent change has set off a fresh series of rumors, including one maintaining that the mountain is a sign of the impending 2012 apocalypse. But we're putting our money on a sulfur mine that was supposedly buried under the mountain during its creation.
The 2010 budget statements of the Sichuan provincial government were posted recently on its official website, marking the first time such a detailed account of a Chinese provincial government's expenditure and income has been made public. Until now, only a general outline of the major budget points has ever been published, but the deputy chief of Sichuan's department of finance said that the detailed budgets would be available from now on. The breakthrough echoes a similar event in Baimiao Township earlier this year, where the local government became the first in China to make every one of its purchases available for scrutiny. Minor caveat: the provincial government's budget is supposedly filled with specialized language, making it difficult for all but the most savvy budget scrutinizers understand.
Construction & Development
Agribusiness in Sichuan is growing rapidly, particularly with respect to pig farming. In the past three years, corporations domestic and foreign have doubled from five percent of the market to 10, and the percentage of pigs produced by small farms under contract with large firms has gone up from 25 to 30-35 percent. Sichuan is the largest producer of pig meat in China.
Actress Zhang Ziyi attended a press conference for the organization Care For Children last Tuesday in Deyang. The Zhang Ziyi Foundation pledged more than RMB2.7 million immediately after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and the money will soon be used to build a training and resource center to care for homeless, orphaned, and disabled children.
Ritz-Carlton is planning to open a hotel in the middle of Chengdu by 2012, part of its goal to increase the number of hotels it operates in China to 15, up from the current six. Marriott International Inc., which owns Ritz-Carlton, announced its plans for expansion last week.
The time for a five-day, all-expenses-included trip from Chengdu to Bangalore has come. The first all-inclusive travel package between the two cities was made available at the beginning of this month, and consists of three solid days of pre-planned tourism in the South Indian city, sandwiched between two days of convenient, flexible transportation. Air China even allows a free night at the airport hotel in Chengdu for connecting passengers.
How much change is in your pocket at this moment? Before you spend it on that overpriced pizza, wait! Chances are it's enough for a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Chengdu this fall (RMB68). To celebrate being named the 2010 Best Low Cost Airline by the World Airline Survey, AirAsia X is offering a two-day sale of tax-only flights to and from selected destinations around the world. The sale started today and ends tomorrow, so don't ponder too long. One dinner of cold noodles won't kill you.
Society & Culture
Like an airplane, China's gaokao test is a primary vehicle for delivering many people to their geographical/socioeconomic destination. Also like an airplane, sometimes people with criminal intent try to get on board. So as almost 10 million high school students take the test this week, it is little wonder that teachers and officials in Sichuan have implemented airplane-like security checks to make sure that this venerated mode of transportation remains tamper-free (please turn off all electronic devices).