Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Sights and sounds that have tickled my fancy in and around Beijing in the past little bit ... (You can't hear the sounds, obviously. It's just something people say.)

This is an old Chinese thing. You have to have lived
here for a while to understand the cultural significance
of it, as I do. It's what's known colloquially as
"A mini-van full of goats".
Now do you get it? 

Now a man steps up from behind and get involved.
The Chinese call this "A man molesting some goats".
It's a practice that goes back some 5000 years and was
thought to have been invented by the first emperor
Huang Di, the one who was called the Yellow Emperor,
though probably only by racists. It's a ritual linked to
qi, yin and yang, Confucianism and some obscure, often
embarrassing strains of Chinese martial arts. Which
reminds me of something that's been bugging me for
a while: Why aren't there any western martial arts?
Or some practices from my own white people that are
recognised as such? Why do these things always have
to contain some hint of eastern mysticism? Why can't
"Smacking a bloke in the head down the pub" be
recognised as an Australian martial art? I know that
in Bathurst, which has official status as Australia's
Toughest Town, it's highly regarded indeed. We
keep hearing proverbs like "The ox is slow but the
earth is patient". What about "A pint and a fight -
a great British night!" Manoeuvres like "the king hit",
"waiting til they're taking their jacket off" and "the
taxi-rank brawl" could all be elevated to a higher
plane if only recognised as "martial" by the World
Foreign Mysticism Association or some such. Are
they less noble ways of hurting people than kicking
them in the head while dressed in pyjamas?
Perhaps not. But back to the goats ...

What's actually happening doesn't involve eastern mysticism
but it is linked to Chinese culture. Specifically, the cultures
that can grow in dairy products. What this lonely goat herd
has done is capitalise on the quite rational Chinese fear
of fatal milk scandals by taking his goats on the road.
Customers line up to buy supplies of freshly squeezed goat's
milk, which they can see for themselves does not run the
risk of some bizarre, deadly chemical being added at the
processing stage. As they can see, it comes straight from
the udder, into their jug, and tastes bloody awful. But
it's better than dying from drinking too much melamine.
As for the goats, it's better than ending up like this:

The Silence of the Goats.
The scene at my local market, yesterday. And
another thing: Why don't we ever hear of
Sheep's Head Soup? Or Goat's Brains? Food
for thought there.

Meanwhile, elsewhere ...

Since Felix Baumgartner's heroics in becoming The Man Who Fell To Earth the other day, bikes like these have really taken off in China ...

Each balloon is said to guarantee a 0.1
per cent increase in lift. That seems
insignificant, but on Beijing's increasingly
crowded streets, it can be crucial.

This leader won't know what's hit her.

Of course, not being able to see is a small
price to pay for pimping your ride in
such a way.

Getting around on the roads here is one thing. But suddenly parking seems far more dangerous ...

There be dragons?

Around the corner there was this ...

Say what you like, but the Chinese sure
know how to stop people stopping people
from parking. I think. If only there were
some clearer parking signs around, like
this old favourite ...

Funnily enough, that last one was right next to this latest candidate for ...


Part of the fun is guessing the car in question:
Is it: Silver sedan, for "Parked on a corner".
White hatchback, for "Double-parked on a corner".

No, the clear winner is the grey SUV for this breathtaking
"TRIPLE-parked-on-a-corner (with pike and half-twist)."
Remember, Beijing has only two rules for parking:
 1. Wherever you want.
2. Whenever you want.

Familiarisation with the motor car in fact starts early here. This was spotted at an early-years play centre. It's a miniature car the kids can hop into and pretend to drive. All the fun bits are labeled:

There's the engine, the battery, the fuel tank, and ... ?

Gee, they don't muck around. Maybe it's because the
country's top political leaders are all engineers. I can
imagine them with their grandchildren on their knees ...
"The fuel injection system goes squish squish squish!"

And let's finish off with "Wedding Photo of the Week".

This week's winner comes from Beijing's Chaoyang
Park. We see the traditional elements of merry-go-round,
big blue hair bow for the bride, and a groom looking
like Willy Wonka. I know what you cynics are thinking -
they've got something wrong here!

But no, from this shot moments later we
can see clearly that the groom is meant
to be on one leg.

That's all for this week, readers. Tune in again on Monday when we unveil another worldwide exclusive in relation to a little-known Chinese invention in ... The Tiger Father's First Royal Round-up!

Plus, there'll be another teaser for our forthcoming fashion special Out In Their Jammies!

(Credits where they're due: The goat photos came from the excellent website


  1. Very entertaining. Love the parking, I wish we could park like that here in France. Oh, some people already do... especially in front of the tobacconist's.