Date registered: September 15, 2010
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I just "upgraded" to the latest Safari browser and the same is happening to me (the color wheel spins around but doesn't seem to actually affect performance). I think it's just a bug in this version and we can wait for the next one.
If you do need to get your machine checked out, make a Genius Bar appointment and then take it in to the Apple Store, located at Mixc Chengdu (成都萬象城).
So back to the original question, the Chinese aren't going to change, so it's really up to you to adjust.
I recently spent four weeks traveling in Vietnam. In one of the places I stayed, there were ants in my bed. At home, I would have called the front desk and demand they change my room. But this was Southeast Asia, so I just figured they were actually quite small ants and probably wouldn't hurt me, and I was fine.
In other words, you just need to adjust your expectations to the circumstances. Does it bother me that I'm crossing in a crosswalk on a green light and some dude in his Audi honks at me because I'm delaying his journey by a few seconds? Sure. Do I let it ruin my day or blame all Chengdooers for his arrogance? No.
The stares are normal. No harm is meant by them. It's just curiosity. And when I hear people talking about me, I'll often turn around and smile and start conversing with them, and now they know I'm not some freak.
The Chinese friends I've made in Chengdu are some of the nicest and most caring people I've ever met. I'll measure my experience here by them, and not by the random a*holes you can find anywhere in the world.
If you didn't buy it in China, it probably doesn't have Chinese input.
Go into a message and then press down the bottom where you would change the keyboard/input type (Samsung Keyboard, Samsung Phonepad etc.) > select Options....... > Input method tab > Options
and see if there is an option for Chinese. If it's not there, you'll probably need to buy a new phone.
The most important thing is the reception at the places you frequent most. I've used China Unicom for the past few years on my iPhones and have no real complaints. On the other hand, I could never go back to Edge speeds (no iPhone currently supports China Mobile's proprietary 3G).
China Unicom's 3G plans start at ¥46/month. I'm currently on the ¥66 plan, which gives you 50 voice minutes, 300 MB of data, and 240 SMS. For the past year or more they also give me a monthly credit of ¥15 (long-term good customer discount?). I'm not sure why, but I've never tempted fate by asking.
Don't be scared off by the word "plan" (套餐). They are quite cheap and there is no contract period. You can change or cancel anytime. I pay ¥45 per month, which includes 50 minutes of voice and 150 MB of data, and the overage charges are cheap too. If you don't need data, it should be even cheaper.
When California enacted their ban on smoking in all bars, the bar owners complained that this would be the end of their businesses; that no one would go to bars anymore if they couldn't smoke.
Well, the smoking ban has been around about fifteen years and the bars are still here, and they still have plenty of customers. They just go outside when they want to smoke. No big deal.
I do (selfishly) hope that the law will apply to bars. I never enjoy returning home with all my clothes and my hair smelling like smoke.
I had a great 6 weeks in Lao and highly recommend it. I would skip Vang Vieng unless you want to do sports with other foreigners or sit around and watch episodes of Friends. The capital isn't worth much time, either. Here's a write-up I did for a friend who was going to the Lao PDR...
Even though I'm usually a city person, my best experiences in the Lao PDR were in the smallest villages. The capital was good only to get some variety in food and modern conveniences after weeks of dirt and dust and eating only Pho. Actually, I think my favorite dish was laap paa (fish salad). Favorite refreshing drinks: fresh sugarcane juice, lime juice, and tamarind juice.
If you make it down to the south, you can visit the island where you saw the picture of me in the hammock. That is on the island of Don Khon (not to be confused with Don Khong). Connected to Don Khon by an old railway bridge is the island of Don Det. It's known as more of a party island, but if you're away from the village, it could be OK and it does have more riverside lodgings than Don Khon. I spent one whole day walking around Don Khon and another whole day biking around Don Khon and Don Det. On Don Khon, you are really just living in a small village, complete with pigs getting loose and running down the street. Only (minor) annoyance: truckloads of Thai tourists there for a day trip.
If you do go south, you may find yourself overnighting in Pakse, the only real city down there. Just next to the market, heading into town on the main road is the Café Guesthouse. That's not where the travelers stay, but I ended up there after some other travelers I was hanging with stored their luggage there for the day. The owner showed me the room, and for $10 it was quite nice and had WiFi (thanks to her nephew's computer store next door) so I took it. It was only a 10-minute walk to the town center and the owner, Bounleua Chaixin, grew up just a few blocks away, worked in France for 15 years (where her husband still is most of the year), and then wanted to come home and this is kind of her hobby. I see someone with an experience similar to mine at
Just a few hours from Pakse is Tat Lo, a village with a waterfall and budget accommodation. I took a walking tour (just me and the guide) from here to a bunch of local villages as well as wandering around on my own. I enjoyed this place a lot, though the roosters may wake you up in the morning.
More in the center of the country is Tham Kong Lo, a 7.5 km long cave. You take a boat all the way through to the other side, then back again. But at least as interesting as the cave was the experience of staying in the village there, Ban Kong Lo. You probably won't get there until late at night so I recommend staying two nights so you have one whole day just to wander the village and get a sense of life there. They only know two words of English there: "homestay" and "guesthouse". That's enough to get you a place to stay. It's a fixed price that includes dinner and breakfast. I skipped the first homestay because they had no blankets or mosquito nets. So feel free to say no to the first place they show you. I got up early and was the first one in the cave in the morning and it was great being in there all alone, before the crowds arrive.
I spent 10 days in the capital, mainly because I got sick (see below) and also because I needed to arrange a visa extension and a Vietnamese visa. I tried various ethnic foods there and enjoyed time walking along the river and looking across to Thailand. I also went out to the main campus of the national university and had a look around. Quite poor facilities. Especially have a look at the dorms (you can also see a dorm near the riverfront in the center city). Prices in the capital are a bit higher and I splurged a bit and spent US$15 for a room at Lao Heritage Hotel, a converted old house with a pretty garden. Don't let them put you in the annex. It includes breakfast and they also let me share their dinner one night. <http://www.laoheritagehotel.com/>. Another advantage is that it's not located in the travelers ghetto, but is still very central.
North of the capital, I didn't make it out to the Plain of Jars. It just seemed far to go to see a bunch of pots, but others went and found it interesting.
Luang Prabang is like Lijiang, a pretty town full of tourists, but worth a day or two to look around. Walk across the bamboo bridge to nearby villages.
Then I headed up to the area near the border with China. I took a bus to Luang Nam Tha, where the only place I could find to stay that wasn't full was a Chinese-run place, and it was the only really gross place I stayed on the whole trip. Like in China, everything was falling apart and I don't think they had washed the floor in at least a year. On the positive side, they had a Chinese restaurant there too. This was just a waypoint. From here I went to Muang Sing, and I went looking for a tour to some nearby villages. But by the time I got there, there weren't many other tourists so I would have had to pay too much for a private tour. Instead, I just rented a bicycle for the day at Tiger Man and used the map he provides to bike out to a bunch of villages, starting with Ban Oudomsinh and Ban Namdaedmai. By good fortune, two of the villages I visited were having banquet lunches for a visiting government official so I got invited in to both of those. In the end, I was glad I did this instead of joining a tour as I don't think I would have had those opportunities if I'd been with a group. But you may be more comfortable on a bike tour.
After this I headed back to Udomxai and towards Vietnam, with a stop in the village of Muang Khua, where I stayed two nights, which gave me a full day to explore. This village only has power from about 18:00 to 22:00 daily. There's a daily bus from there to Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. If you're planning to go to Vietnam, you have to get your visa (USD50) in Vientiane as they're not available at the border. People I met who weren't heading to Vietnam, left here by boat back to Nong Khiaw or Luang Prabang. Just hang out at the river and find other people to share a boat with.