Getting Married in China, How to Move Back to the US

If you would like me to write up an entry on this painstakingly long task (of getting a green card and moving back to the US), let me know.

We finally got our exit interview in Guangzhou and will be back in the US in November.

In other China news:

  • Wikipedia is blocked again (at this point though, who cares, really).
  • It’s been raining for the last 7 weeks.
  • Here in Chuxiong, the amount of tourists went from zero to about 100 per day in the last year, pretty amazing. (Mainly domestic travel, but a few foreigners here and there).
  • They are expanding Yi Ren Gu Zhen to seven sections now (we were the first, then they added the second, now they are adding five more. Each section represents about 200 high-end houses and storefronts).
  • They are going to reroute the train track that cuts through the development.
  • They are displacing the farmers without any compensation, even when they protest. Don’t you love capitalism?
  • (When I say they, I mean the developers and the government.)

For Pete Sake Be Careful!

cx.jpgWATCH VIDEO

China is a spooky place. If you don’t believe me, see the Sanya beach photos below. Be careful!

BTW, the video is choppy for one reason and one reason only: I bought the value pack of TDK DVs from Costco in 2003. I didn’t know DVs went bad. But every tape I is pretty much corrupted. Well, it could be the Diet Coke spill all over my camera, I dunno. Time for an upgrade.

In Relation To… Where is Chuxiong?

chuxiong-china.jpg

I get asked where I live a lot. People don’t seem to realize that Chuxiong is a major player in the international scene. Okay it’s not at all, it’s a small, relatively poor Chinese city really far away from the rest of those good Chinese cities. Chuxiong can only look at it’s thriving neighboring cities (Kunming, Dali, Lijiang) and be jealous, because there this nothing to do here except “san bu”.

Here’s a little comparison (via Google Earth):

MI
KM
Chuxiong
0
0
Kunming
79
127
Laos
173
278
Vietnam
180
290
Myanmar
206
332
Shangri-La
240
386
Tibet
297
478
India
787
1,267
Hong Kong
791
1,273
Beijing
1,340
2,157
Tokyo
2,391
3,848
Paris
5,390
8,674
San Francisco
7,217
11,615
Boston
7,777
12,516

Advice for Buying Property in China

sh-house.jpg

I can only speak for myself and my situation. After buying two houses and two commercial properties in China, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have not been ripped off or lied to (…yet), but I would say:

Do not by any property that is not built yet.

I did, and while the house was constructed without any major problems, I had an advantage. Specifically, we have a family friend who owns the real estate company, therefore, small problems we encountered were easily fixed. I assume most expatriates do not have this luxury.

This GoKunming.com interview sums it up quite well.

One, don’t invest in forward delivery housing – buying property before it’s finished or even begun to be built – the price may be a little cheaper, but the risk is much higher.

Why? Because you could end up with a house you cannot live in — you could lose your entire investment. Just last night, I watched a CCTV story about some Chinese families who bought into a new development and once the keys were delivered, they opened the door to their new house to see two inches of water flooding the living room, and the cement floor crumbled if you walked over it. They said no one will help them. (Where is the government agency to protect homeowners? Why do they have to resort to calling a television station to put pressure on these fraudulent companies?)

In our experience, we quickly realized all the windows needed to be replaced because they were constructed poorly. No one wanted to help and everyone started finger-pointing. Luckily, labor is cheap in China and it only cost us a few hundred US dollars to fix.

Two, make sure the area surrounding the property you’re considering has all the amenities and infrastructure you’re looking for.

We bought into the most affluent community in Chuxiong, Yunnan, called Yi Ren Gu Zhen (????, or YRGZ). Not having nearby stores is not a big problem as the community is only a mile away from civilization — but the 16-hour-a-day “Yizu” music that blares throughout the community “PA rock system” is incredibly obnoxious, playing the same tribe music, all day, every day.

Three, make sure you invest in a property that is managed by a reputable company.

This is, by far, the most important research you should do before handing over any money. And how do you check on which company is reputable? In our case, our company is reputable but the experience is still lacking.

For example, our “wu guan” (??), or property management office/team is a joke. I think it is to be expected, though, because YRGZ probably contracted out the cheapest management company available, along with a bunch of teenagers for our security patrol. The result is insubordinate behavior, lack of professionalism, and for us, no response or action to any comments or questions (and lots and lots of finger pointing). I am guessing this will be fixed within the next five years.

The bottom line is this — there are many properties that are already built in China. Go that route. You can ask the current tenants how the experience is, you inspect the quality of the property, you can talk to the property management company, and you can see the surrounding areas, the list goes on.

Yes, the value of our house went up by about 10% (but, who’s to say that is accurate?) because we bought it before the construction started — but the problems and annoyances we encountered (and continue to encounter) because it is a new development outweigh any monetary gains we may have achieved.

In retrospect, I would buy a flat in downtown Kunming, right next to that big ass mall and call it day.

Large mountain fire in Dali, Yunnan

Not getting any outside press, there is a large mountain fire in Dali, Yunnan. I just went there a week ago, see panoramic. There is only one news story on this at news.google.com as of this post.

They are putting out the fire, which has been blazing for at least two days now, with the use of horses. Helicopters cannot be used because of the high elevation of the mountain range.

The fire has been escalated by high winds in the last week (very noticeable here in Chuxiong.)

How to Add Google Adsense to your Lightroom Web Photo Gallery

Ad Google Adsense to your Photo Web GallerySEE THE NEW GOOGLEFIED GALLERY!

It’s just wrong. Why am I putting ads on my photo galleries?

Anyway, it’s not difficult to do, but if I get enough interest I’ll post a step-by-step guide on how to add Google Adsense to your Lightroom gallery. Takes less than a minute.

Note to self: Next time create web gallery 768 wide. Use CSS to margin add in the right place. Can lower JPG res.

Amazing Photos, Pictures of Yunnan, China (Panoramics)

Robert Thompson's Yunnan China GalleryVISIT GALLERY

Check out the latest photos from my recent trip in Yunnan, China. The town is called Ejia, but it’s not really important because it’s not on any tourist map, and no Chinese tour company will take you there. You have to know one of the 600 people that live in the village. And again, it takes 10 hours to get there from the capital city of Kunming, which is only about 60 miles away.