Random Assortment of Links

Useful resources for learning about contemporary China:

 English language Sinica Podcast

James Fallows - not always China-related, but always interesting

What's going on in Beijing:

TimeOut Beijing

The Beijinger

China Daily's Beijing Weekend 

Beijing Weather - Weather Underground


Useful language learning tools

Chinesepod podcast - free beginners' podcasts

Popup Chinese podcast - another very good podcast series

Hacking Chinese - interesting ideas on learning Chinese efficiently

Skritter character-learning tool for iPad/iPhone - really fun app

Sinosplice - John Pasden's site on many interesting aspects of China and the Chinese language



To access Website Management, hit the 'esc' key or use this Login link.

Entries by Kai Cortina (19)


Louisiana and China

Today, my teaching assistant insisted to take me to a restaurant where they serve the food from his native province in the south of China west of Shanghai. Of course he did not have to twist my arm because I am always game to go to a restaurant with somebody who really knows what to order. 

So we had bullfrog legs and "little lobsters" in spicy sauce and some vegetables to make me feel better (my companion was not particularly interested in seaweed salad or broth-cooked edamame although both were good). The little lobsters came with gloves and napkins. All that was misssing was a paper apron and I would have felt like at a crawfish boil in New Orleans. I was, in fact, amazed by the similarity: The lobster babies are perhaps a little more work to peel (maybe simply because crawfish are bigger at this time into the season) but the flavor is surprisingly similar to the staple food of Lousiana (minus the smoked sausage of the Cajun recipe): The spicy sauce drives the flavor and after a while your mouth is numb - but for some reason you simply cannot stop eating. I recommend it as comfort food for the homesick American tourist from the South.


modern architecture

Beijing is famous for its history and has buildings galore to show for it. But this is true almost exclusively for the area inside the second ring (the city has currently six of them). Outside the second ring, high rise buildungs are 20 story apartment buildungs that do not really attrack any tourist's attention. But there are exceptions. Yesterday while jogging through one of the more quiet neighborhoods around campus I came across this building and had to take a picture. Is it inspired by a deconstructivist paradim or by a Swiss cheese? I will never know since I was not propery dressed for further inquiry.


rusting love

China and the bicycle - that was a love affair for centuries. In Beijing you still see small and smallest business owners on old tricycles loaded with cargo so high that you cannot see the driver from the back.  Alas, the days of the bicycle as everyday means of transportation are numbered in China. Many bikes are abandoned in the streets of Beijing - bent, rusty and dirty - with no hope that the owner will ever return and bring it back to its old glory. Instead, or so it seems, Beijingers spent their last pennies to buy fancy cars that they can rarely drive in the crazy traffic of the city with its endless stop-and-go on major arteries not only at peak hours but almost 24 hours a day. Maybe this fling is over soon and  the old sweethearts come back together again, sailing (biking) into the sunset.





lunch with Zhang Han

I had lunch with our future graduate student Zhang Han who will be moving to Ann Arbor in August. Instead of goint to the cafeteria he steered me into a little side street to the probably most fancy restaurant on campus. How come I did not know about this place which is 3 min walking from my hotel? There are still surprises for me here.

We took a picture against the backdrop of the reception counter which looks like a bar - but the beverages on the shelves are all non-alcoholic, mostly different variants of tea.


crazy hazy

Today the sky is overcast and the temperature went down to the mid 60s which is nice for a change given mid 80s the last two days. Yes, it is somewhat hazy which is - admittedly - quite common in Beijing as fog is for London. There is, however, a phenomenon that I want to call "crazy hazy" when you look through the windows of public buildings. On the left you see a picture taken 10 minutes ago through the window of my office on the 13th floor of a very new and really nice university building. On the right you see the same view without the two seperate window panes that can be opened. See for yourself: it is hazy all right but not "crazy hazy".


It is somewhat puzzling that China follows the international trend in building scyscrapers with a lot of glass but then forget about the fact that windows need regular cleaning - in particular in Beijing.