Mad prices

Just been reading that in London if you earn the average salary and have a £25,000 deposit you can buy a £100,000 based on 3X Income multiple for your mortgage.

This means anyone on the average salary fortunate to have £25,000 in savings can only afford a £100,000 place in london.

Slight problem with this is that unless you wish to live in a ghetto or a camp site, 100K will get you very little indeed. The average price of property in London is  £348,585.  :disdain:

At that rate it’s going to take me 17.49 years if saving, not that I want to buy a house anyway.. :laugh:


Some pics from the snow this morning.  I’ve haven’t seen this much snow fall in London since I was about 5.  It hardly ever snows here and when it does it seldom gets cold enough to settle in the city. 🙂  Perhaps the rareness of it all has caused everything to temporarily shut down…Snow on Sydenham Highstreet

There must be 3 inches at most, but there are no trains and the buses have all been cancelled on ‘health and safety grounds’.   I daresay in the summer when there’s

a coupe of days with +30C temperatures, people will be dying from sunstroke, hosepipes will be banned and trains won’t run ‘because its too hot’.

It Just shows how useless people in the south of England are at adapting to different types of weather.

Other countries with far fewer resources at their disposal manage just fine. Afterall, the roads in Changchun are frozen for 3 months of the year

but they manage so much better than people do here, and on far fewer resources.    The media gets into such a hysteria over it all, making the situation worse than it really is.  Perhaps they just want something to report on?? ?:-)

I did actually try to get to work and started to walk the 6 miles or so, but I turned back and gave up as I was  constantly thinking  ‘who else in my office would bother walking this far to work‘ .   It’s cynical I know, but why bust-a-gut when you know that no-one else has bothered and you’ll get paid regardless….

In a better place  people would be rewarded for getting into work in such situations or simply would not get paid for not being there.

No excuses!   I’m sure if this was the case then most people would find a way into the office, I know I would!

Perhaps one day, people on this little island will learn to get on with life when the weather isn’t overcast and grey, (aprox 50 days per year) though I feel this will take such a seismic cultural shift, I doubt it will ever happen in my lifetime.

Pros and Cons

Having worked in an office environment for almost a year, I have come to fully appreciate how much better your quality of life can be working in different environments each day.  Not just stuck indoors, at a desk, looking at a screen most of the day.  Being around  different people and having the freedom to choose how you approach your daily life does have its advantages.

I guess I am in a better position now to reflect upon these things, I guess strangely what’s best about this is that having the experience gives you the chance to put  things into a perspective that others don’t have; helps you see things in another light.

I spent almost 3 years teaching English in China full or part time and it was one of the most interesting and rewarding things I’ve ever done. At times it was tough, frustrating and difficult, but overall I still beleive it’s a positive thing to do if you ever get the chance.

Saying this,  teaching is an incredibly tiring thing to do. It is not like a desk-job – you have to constantly be on the ball and the amount of speaking/exertion of energy is quite high, which can really drain you.

I would say that it is more tiring than the 7am-7pm day I  have at the moment, even with all the commuting.

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The Gym

I walk to work everyday through central London, I enjoy this. Not only is it an interesting place to walk through, it helps keep me healthy and saves money. 🙂  An absolute no brainer you would think.

When I tell people at work that I do this many people think I am mad. It’s only 2 miles each way, I get to walk along the thames, past st pauls and along some really interesting side streets. There is no excuse for not doing this in the summer as the weather here is not humid and the sun not very strong.

The underground transport system in London is pretty unpleasant at the best of times (more like a sewer for people) and during the rush-hour cannot cope with the amount of people who use it. It’s also expensive and dirty and prone to delays – so why do people who travel short distances still use it??

I guess its more out of routine, following the crowd – doing what they’ve alway done.  It’s a mindset, a psychology of indifference- I hope I never end up being like this. :dazed:


Been working hard. Time has been going so fast recently, have got into the 9-5 routine which isn’t great, but the work is good at least.

Still find myself taking pictures of London walking to work, at lunch and coming home even though I Spend most of my time in an office looking out over the Thames.


Kind of feel a bit like a tourist at times, anyway…


  Wrote this rant a couple of weeks ago in response to some of the stuff been shown on TV and in cyberspace –

What a total joke the torch relay is.

I was in London as the torch procession went through, and I was appalled at how big a police operation was needed just to let 1 person carry a rather small torch through a stupidly long route of 31 miles around London.

Politics aside, whoever made the go-ahead for this torch-relay through London should be out of a job.

It apparently cost the UK taxpayer 1 million pounds (1400wan) just for the policing operation – money which I pay was spent on this is a total disgrace.

Perhaps the bill could be sent to the organising committee of the Beijing Games – why should my tax go into such an event???

The government here is so afraid of upsetting the Chinese government viz-a-viz the Olympics simply because the 2012 Olympics is here in London. They realise that any action taken by them that is seen to be negative by the Chinese, will probably result in tit-for-tat reprisals in 4 years time. How pathetic. It’s only a sporting event – if anything else caused so much fuss and budget overun they would cancel the event, but because it’s the Olympics every rational thought is removed from the equation.

Personally I don’t care what anybody ‘thinks’- it’s a simple question of wasting taxpayers money on an un-necessary and pointless event.

 I have the feeling that this is the tip of the iceberg and that this is just the beginning of billions of pound of taxpayers money being thrown into the Olympic black-hole. No-body really actually know the full price of hosting such an event, or whether it is finanically a goer – the only certainty is that those that run the Olympic movement -the IOC (an unaccountable bribe-taking group of degenerates) – are lining their own pockets.

I don’t believe why many people that say sport and politics are separate – who are they kidding?

I can only think they must be incredibly naive/bordering moronic. When you have people representing their respective countries in an international event then the two will inevitably overlap.

Personally I don’t actually understand why there is a torch relay anyway? Apparently It’s a tradition started by Hitler and the Nazis in the wartime Olympics- so why is it still continued??

I think the answer is that the people behind the Olympics – the very powerful and corrupt IOC – think that the greater the publicity and build-up to the event, the more money can be made though endorsements and merchandise and the like. It’s all about corporate business being able to associate their name with the globally recognised olympic brand and make more money through exploiting this.


At the torch relay in London there were Beijing Olympic flags being given out and these long blow-up tube things that are used to make loud noises when hit together. On the reverse side of the flags wasn’t the Olympic logo, or even the Chinese flag but a large black image saying – SAMSUNG…

For those particularly nationalistic Chinese that think the Olympics is about China’s coming of age from it’s ‘peaceful rise’ – my opinion is that is only a footnote.

It’s more about western big business having a platform to advertise to a massive -as-of-yet, un-tapped market. To publicise and market it’s brands to the 1.6 billion Chinese that present a massive business opportunity in the next few years. To put this into perspective – there are about 300 million people in the US and about 500 million in the whole EU – the potential in China is massive.

I believe It’s also about those powerful people that run China doing deals and making lots and lots of money on the back of the Olympic brand. The whole nationalistic idea is a smokescreen for the true purpose of the games. Oh yes and there is a sporting event too.

I am not anti-China, It is great that somewhere like China has the chance to host such an event that It has never had the chance to host before.

If people in 4 years criticised the British government about some human rights abuses and there were protests at the London games, I can bet you that British people would not necessarily see it as a slur on their country and national identity as the Chinese have.

Here the government is separate from the identity of the country; in China it is not. To a huge extent, the communist party is China – you say something bas about the Communists then you are a threat to China.

It’s interesting reading some of the stuff you see in the UK Press about China – it almost all has negative connotations. Very few positive stories make the cut. Is this because there is are no good things to report in China? – of course not, but those are usually not so interesting stories for the viewers- plus news shown on TV here is usually negative by nature.   Just watching the BBC the other day the lead story was that ‘China is now the World’s biggest polluter’.

The coverage was ever so melodramatic, as if a milestone has been passed and that the end of the world is near and through implication China is now to blame for the most of it.   Yes the Chinese are big polluters, but the west has been doing it for more than half a century. 

For me this story was re-hashed old news and I don’t see how it could be justified as the top story on the evening news – so its no wonder when you talk to a westerner about China the first words they say are words like pollution, power-stations or human rights.

I think that people generally believe what they are fed on the news or at least subconsciously absorb the information without thinking about it. Just as the people in China are fed a news-diet of censored government propaganda, in the UK the news organisations also have their own agendas. The problem is that if a story has a potential to be sensationalised and people can relate to it through images, then it sells more papers, gets more viewers. And that’s what the bottom line is.

I’ve read lots of Chinese news sites showing articles with Chinese people getting annoyed about what’s been shown on CNN, the way it’s been sensationalised and some of the particularly dull commentary made by it’s journalists. I think Chinese people have to realise that CNN is simply sensationalising the story in order to capture more viewers/ appeal to their viewership (ie. lowest common denominator /not very thinking people ((mostly Americans in this case)) ) – something that American news channels do as a matter of course.

This is nothing new.

Just as the Chinese press is far from impartial so is the UK press – the difference is that when bad things are said about the UK by the Chinese press, people in the UK really don’t care;

People even show their nationalism throughMSN Whereas in China people are much more nationalistic and proud and therefore more sensitive to criticism (right or wrong) of the state and see it as an affront to the dignity of Chinese people. In the west we are used to hearing bad things said all the time about our country, In China you are you not.

This is in-part due to people in mainland China only ever reading and viewing what the government wants them to read/see i.e never any bad news about the Communist party – unless it’s scapegoating an individual as a means to show how the party is weeding out those so called bad apples!

There is also a slightly sinister side to this I think; when the political might of the Communist party gets behind the whole ‘China’ issue and propagates it’s view of the situation to the people.  The Chinese are very fast to jump on the bandwagon – and I would have to say If the object of their derision is non-Chinese (i.e foreigners) It is very easy to whip-up those people into nationalistic frenzy.

I witnessed this kind of reactionary behaviour during the Japanese textbook row erupted a couple of years ago. Many Chinese were incensed and threatened boycotts of Japanese goods and all sorts of other punitive actions-  But what actually happened was nothing. When it came to the crunch people were not willing to fore-go their JVCs and Toyotas.

The whole Tibet argument is not something new, it has been around for decades. Everybody in the west knows about China and it’s human-rights recordm- this is also old news.

My opinion is that this is not as clear-cut as many of the protesters like to make out, bad things go on in all countries – just they are better at keeping it secret in the west.  In my opinion  western governments have very little moral high ground, if any at all to lecture the Chinese.

It is only now that the stuff in the Chinese media has started to show less towards foreigners and more direction it at the ‘dalai clique’ (who incidentally don’t even want independence for Tibet, simply the ability to run their own affairs within a region of China like Hong Kong) – even the communists know that it’s western business that makes the Olympics what it is, and for all it’s rhetoric, Beijing wants a smooth Olympics at all costs.

There is a problem that I think the Chinese authorities have with the Olympics – for all the great economic and social achievement over the last 20 years, China is still miles behind when it comes to liberty, the rule of law, freedom of speech and ultimately, human rights. In a sense it has developed socially and economically but not politically – within China this poses no real problem but to some in the West this poses serious issues.

The huge irony in seeing so many pro-china protesters (mostly rich Chinese students) on the streets of London the other day, is that in this country (for now at least!) you are allowed to protest, to show your opinion peacefully – even if the government does not agree with it.  In China you cannot.

London Chinatown 伦敦中国城

Been lazy/too busy to update things here… Have lots of things to write about, will put them here once I have time. 😀


The other day had the opportunity to check out London’s China Town, I’ve only been once before, many many years ago.

It’s situated very close to Leicester Square and makes up a much smaller area than I expected. I really was expecting a little more than just a few streets…

As expected, Chinatown is not really reminicant of any place I’ve seen In China, for me the only striking simularities being the obvious characters on signs (almost all traditional characters) and the Chinese looking people walking around the area.

fruit and veg chinese supermarketCantonese 粤语 is the main language spoken here, most Chinese here I would guess have links with Hong Kong / Taiwan or southern China. I haven’t heard much Cantonese before and I have to say it’s a very ugly language to listen to and sounds really aggressive to the untuned ear.

I was sitting in a cheap buffet restaurant (£5/75元 all you can eat – Incidently – you wouldn’t want to eat too much food here!, but for London prices it’s very cheap) and the manager was telling the fuyuan (waitresses) in really stongly accented Mandarin where he wanted the customers to sit, whilst chatting with some customers in Cantonese. The fuyuans were clearly mainlanders.

I wondered how/why they got/came to the UK, they clearly were not students/skilled migrants, but I didn’t ask them for obvious reasons. From what I heard they spoke very little english beyond restaurant vocab.

I couldn’t help thinking that their quality of life here couldn’t be much better than what they had in China? Perhaps I’m wrong and they are here legally, but knowing how very difficult it is for Mainland Chinese to get work outside ancestry, I highly doubt this. – My guess is that they paid a gang in China and came here illegally…- working in Chinatown for less than minimum wage…- posting cash home or paying off the debts to the gangmasters… Who knows?

I think there are two sides to Chinatown; the obvious side you’ll see walking down one of the pedestrianised streets- tourists sightseeing, taking pictures and visiting restaurants. Locals and tourists alike wanting to try sample ‘real’ Chinese food and perhaps what they think It’s like in a Chinese restaurant in China.

The problem with this, I think, is that there are so many rules and health and safey regulations that to have a ‘real’ authentic copy of a Chinese restaurant in London would probably be illegal! And to be honest I dont think It would be popular with British people ‘laowai’ 😀 – so you end up with a compromise, not one or the other. Just as in Changchun the ‘western’ restaurants (i.e. 欧娄巴) are also compromises – it’s a question of supply and demand – you give the customer what he/she wants or expects, whether its ‘real’ or not is not the point!

And the other side, the darker side. Chinese people and immigrants from other asian countries working (many illegally, but they do jobs that many people here simply wont do.) for very little pay and poor working conditions.gate or paifang to chinatown

Something else that I noticed or at very least percieved was the relative ‘poverty’ of the Chinese (excluding asian looking tourists/students – who stand out like saw thumbs) looking people – I’m sure most chinese speaking immigrants end up here,

I am also sure there are operations in people trafficking probably operated from within this area. -I’m not making a judgement I’m just saying, I think that’s how it is.

bannerThere was an interesting banner draped over a shop that looked as though it had recently been closed down, (see pic on left) stating that the British were not supporting migrant workers – I can only guess why this shop was boarded up, It would be interesting to find out why. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has something to do with hiring illegal workers.

What I found funny was the way in which the Chinese have exported their business models and how they are being used in London – here you can find small shops (just like those in Changchun) selling anything – fake DVDs, SIM cards, foreign foodstuffs, you can even change your renminbi

There are adverts places outside, posters, billboards – just like those in Changchun. I think the the Chinese here are incredibly entrepreneurial and profit conscious, they even use western selling ideas (never seen in China) – such as buy one get one free or two for the price of one. Also it’s the only place in the UK where I’ve seen there are too many staff!

It much harder to do this here as its not so easy to strar up a business, but i think there is greater potential to make more money long term.

I have spent some time in various Chinese restaurants and being tchao mianhe UK they wont let you take in your own drinks, afterall this is financially to their dis-advantage and how other restaurants operate in the UK. Yet they keep other Chinese practices – such as service being very direct to the point- which of course in the UK, can be misinterpreted as being rude and impolite.

But it’s accepted by the customers I think. Personally I would rather have one or the other – western service or chinese service and all that goes with it – but that’s not how things have developed.

I find it curious how the Chinese food here has been anglocized with things that people from the UK think is ‘Chinese’ just as western foods in China are ‘Chinacized’ to suit tastes, because that’s really what Chinese people expect of western food.

This runs through many areas and happens I think because of a combination of perhaps ignorance on the customers part, stereotypes things from films TV, and adaptation on the businesses part – that is changing a product to meet more local demand.

bilingual sign

Anyway, The ‘Chinese’ food here I’ve tried thus far is pretty bad. Awful.. 🙁

If I want Chinese food I like then the only way is took cook it myself but I knew this would probably happen before I left China…

Luckily I have a sweet toooth and so can get used to things here but I can imagine how difficult It must be for someone new to the UK. The food isn’t as bad as I remember, it just seriously lacks taste and flavour!

I’m not so sure now that If you look hard enough, you’ll be get lots of different types of Chinese food, as I only seemed to be able to find the Cantonese restaurants!:evil: 广东菜真难吃了!

I did find several Chinese supermarkets and was very happy to find they sell many of the same things I saw In Changchun. Those packets of instant noodles for 30p (5元), sunflower seeds for 2 pounds (30元) a packet and one of my favourite drinks – 水晶葡萄 grape juice for a very reasonable 60p (10元) a bottle!

Unfortunatly I was unable to find many of the sauces that I recognised in Changchun. Predictabally, almost all the ingrediants are imported from Hong Kong and so are quite different from the stuff in dongbei.

sunflower seeds 2 pounds!

An interesting problem I encountered was working out what was what, as the characters used are traditional and so are difficult for me to read and a westernised English name or Cantonese name is used, rather than pinyin

For example: hoisin sauce is haixian jiang 海鮮酱. I dont know the English name or cantonese spelling/pronuncaiation so I am having to learn!

But I did find these sunflower seeds (xiang guazi) 香瓜子 for a very reasonable 2 pounds for a big bag!