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In Wenger We Trust but Not This Team

April 3, 2011



Another crushing home draw leaves us now 7 points adrift of Man Utd, albeit with a single game in hand. However, given that our last three games against Blackburn, Wigan Sunderland have yielded a whopping 3 points, I’m not sure we can bank on the points from that game in hand going our way either.             

The fact is that, once again, the team is choking at the business end of the season. Wenger has put together title winning teams with world class performers in the past but this is not one of them. Even our ‘star’ players are fallible. Van Persie – the talented but perennially injured star striker.
Arshavin – the mercurial genius for whom nothing seems to come off, despite his improved workrate. Walcott – the wonderkid with frightening pace but rarely a final product. Fabregas – The iconic Captain who doesn’t want to wear red and white.

Whilst most fans, including this one, retain faith in Wenger, that he’ll sort it all out eventually, questions need to be asked about the club’s ambition at this moment in time. This current crop is clearly not up to the task. Injuries have taken their toll, no doubt, but that excuse is getting old.

Alminia, Diaby, Denilson, one of Chamakh/Bendtner, Squillaci, need to move on in the summer. And some real quality needs to take their place. In the key areas that matter, Man Utd are simply better than us. Between the sticks, Man Utd have one of the most experiences, reliable keepers in the world. We have a mess. Up front, Man Utd have the combined power of Rooney, Berbatov and Hernandez. We have only one great striker, and he spends more time on the the treatment table than on the pitch.

I would love to still be proved wrong by this team. But losing out on the Carling Cup with a whimper to Birmingham, and a demoralizing but predictable loss in the FA Cup to Man Utd have hit us hard. Three points from what should have been three perfectly winnable league games, at this crucial stage of the season, suggests the writings on the wall.


QQ vs Facebook: Why the Penguin Wins

April 1, 2011
Facebook is often referred to as the largest social networking site in the world. However, Tencent QQ, often known simply as QQ, arguably has an even higher number of unique users. According to Wikipedia, “as of September 30, 2010, the active QQ users accounts for QQ IM amounted to 636.6 million, possibly making it the world’s largest online community. The number of simultaneous online QQ accounts exceeded 100 million”.
Why Facebook Loses
I’m only an occasional user of social networking sites (namely QQ and Facebook). However, look beyond the penguin and the slightly childish presentation of the QQ instant messaging, and something becomes clear: The reason why QQ has become such a phenomenon is China as that it offers everything in one place.
QQ is Myspace done right
Instant messaging. QQ has something like 18x  the numbers of users as MSN instant chat. ALL of your friends are online nearly all the time. If you’re Chinese and you’re using a computer,there’s a 90% chance that there is a little penguin icon in the bottom right corner of your screen.   
Groups/Networking. Remember chat rooms? Well QQ’s got it covered. There is no easier way to send and receive instant messages to ‘groups’ on any topic. A couple of clicks and you’re connected to a group about pizza that has 100 online people ready to be QQed at any moment. From hobbies to universities to schools to job searches to politics discussion, it’s a great, natural to make instant friends and network, without the very forced and uncomfortable friend  adopting a friend of a friend of a friend Facebook thing.
Blogging: Yes, that’s right Facebook. QQ users can actually write blogs  that their friends (and others) might actually be interested in, rather than moronic two line status updates. The status update option also exists. They can also upload music – for free, as well as being capable of anything else facebook is. And you can even type in different fonts!!! (wordpress)
Real Friends: As QQ gives the possibility to actually blog, it’s actually fun to go to your friends site and see what they’ve decided to write about and comment on what they’ve written. As opposed to the self absorbed Facebook status updates.
Real Online Games: QQ games are actually GOOD, FUN, ORIGINAL, and properly muliplayer. There is a huge variety of genres and their playability puts Facebook’s efforts to shame.
General Attractivess: You can literally make your QQ blog look like anything. Add your own music. Your own images. Again, think Myspace only done right. Facebook is just BLAND.

Favourite Cities in China

April 1, 2011

I’ve seen a few polls recently, both expat and local Chinese, concerning the best cities to live in China.

Having spent nearly six years in China now, I decided to put together a top 10 list of the favourite cities I’ve visited. A couple of places I’ve only spent a day in or less I haven’t included in the list. Anything less than a day provides nothing more than a very superficial idea of the area/town or city.

1. Xiamen

Clean, nice beach, reasonable traffic, blue skies, and great year round weather, beautiful coastal roads and the magnificent Gulangyu island. Unless you’re really into big city life, the likes of Shanghai and Beijing just can’t compare to the better weather and superior general living environment offered by a coastal city such as Xiamen (have also heard good things about other coastal cities such as Dalian, Qingdao and Zhuhai, although in my opinion Xiamen would take some beating) 

WIKI: Xiamen and the surrounding countryside are famous for being an ancestral home to overseas Chinese. It became one of China’s earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s.[3] Xiamen covers an area of 1 565 km² with a total population of 2.5 million. It has been ranked as China’s second ‘most suitable city for living’. (the first was

2. Hong Kong

File:Hong Kong Skyline Restitch - Dec 2007.jpg

 Incredible city life mixed with spectacular views and beaches. Although the density of popualtion and price of accomodation and transport are drawbacks, Hong Kong is still the most vibrant city in my opinion.

3. Hangzhou

Clean, beautiful, relaxed, developed, and of course . .  . Xi hu 西湖

WIKI: A core city of the Yangtze River Delta, its position on the Hangzhou Bay 180 kilometres (110 mi) southwest of Shanghai gives it economic power, and moreover, it has also been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery; the city’s West Lake is its most well-known attraction.

4. Huangshan/Tunxi

File:Huangshan Yingkesong.jpg

A slightly more rural, old China choice here. Beautiful areas around the famous mountains and the old town of Tunxi.

5. Dali

It’s the old town I’m talking about here. Peaceful, narrow streets. Spectacular scenery in the north of Yunnan province.

WIKI:  Dali and Yunnan’s capital Kunming are only a 40-minute flight apart. Dali’s newly finished administrative district that houses the newly opened Dali International Convention Center is in Longshan District. The Dali government’s urban planning keeps its old and new districts separate, so those coming here for the first time often feel they have entered a time tunnel. The “new city” is known as Xiaguan and is south of the old city. The old city was built during Ming Dynasty emperor Hongwu’s reign (1368–1398). Owing to the distance between them, the old city is still peaceful and quiet.

6. Guangzhou

Two words: Zao Cha 早茶

7. Xi’an

File:China xian glockenturm 01.jpg

Spectacular ancient walled city, especially at night. And of course the Bingmayong 兵马俑 

8. Yangzhou

WIKI:  Historically one of the wealthiest of China’s cities, known at various periods for its great merchant families, poets, painters, and scholars, it has attracted the attention of many historians in the West, and in English-language scholarship is the most intensively researched city in Chinese history after Beijing and Shanghai

9. Shanghai

File:Skyline of Shanghai Taken from the Bund during Expo visit.jpg

10. Beijing


Welcome to Chinabook

January 11, 2011

chinabookc h i n a . b o o k

I am a British expat living and working in a small city in Anhui province. I first visited China in 2003 and have been moving backwards and forwards between China and the UK ever since. Here are some random blog posts.