L’usine Mega Brands à Shenzhen

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Mega Brands factory in Shenzhen

Ça ne va pas très fort pour Mega Brands, compagnie de jouets et papeterie montréalaise fondée en 1967. En mai dernier, j’ai fait un voyage de deux jours du côté de la province du Guangdong en Chine, et en ai profité pour visiter l’usine de Mega Brands, pour laquelle travaille mon cousin.

Mega Brands factory in Shenzhen

Je suis arrivé en début de soirée à Shajing, un district (plutôt une ville en elle-même) qui fait partie de la ville de Shenzhen, aussi une zone économique spéciale, qui ne l’est plus tellement dans la Chine d’aujourd’hui. Shajing est dans le nord-ouest de la municipalité de Shenzhen. Comme c’est souvent le cas dans les secteurs industriels, les boulevards sont larges, et le voisinage plutôt inintéressant.

Pour se rendre au travail, mon cousin prend une navette privée le matin, avec les autres expatriés de la compagnie.

Mega Brands factory in Shenzhen

Les chaines ne fonctionnent pas toutes 24/7, et en effet, plusieurs d’entre-elles étaient déjà arrêtées pour la journée quand je suis arrivé. J’ai vu les lignes de fabrication de pâte à modeler : saviez-vous que c’était juste de la farine et du colorant ? Bon, et en plus, il y avait des crayons de cire, dont on voit les différentes composantes:

Mega Brands factory in Shenzhen

Mega Brands factory in Shenzhen

Pour quelqu’un qui n’avait jamais vu une usine opérée par une compagnie d’outre-mer, c’est bien sûr plutôt impressionnant. On allait d’un bâtiment à un autre, passant parfois via des passerelles, voyant en accéléré, parfois à reculons, les différentes étapes de la fabrication d’un produit.

La main-d’oeuvre n’est pas chère (même si elle le devient de plus en plus dans le sud de la Chine), alors le bottleneck n’est pas dans les tâches manuelles, comme l’empaquetage des crayons, par exemple, mais plutôt chez les machines, comme celles qui servent à couler la cire de ces crayons. Mon cousin travaille en général six jours / semaine, ce qui est idem aux travailleurs sur le terrain.

Mega Brands factory in Shenzhen

Beijing Subway / Le métro de Beijing / 北京地铁

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北京地铁 Beijing Subway

北京地铁 Beijing Subway

北京地铁 Beijing Subway

北京地铁

Beijing Subway

From Beijing, back in April, I wrote an article for Spacing Montreal on the Beijing Subway during rush hour, at the Xizhimen interchange. Here are some of the many pictures that I took on the subway, perhaps the only moment of daily rest (the distance between stations is so long in Beijing) that I had during my stay in the Chinese capital.

The first photo shows the ceiling over the platform area of a station on Line 2, part of the original system inaugurated in 1969. The second and third pictures were taken on one of the new trains occasionally running on Line 1. Photo four are the new turnstiles that were finally put for use in early June 2008. The last photo was taken outside of the Tian’anmen East (天安门东) station on Line 1.

***

De Beijing, en avril, j’ai écrit un article pour Spacing Montreal sur le métro de Beijing à l’heure de pointe, à l’échangeur de Xizhimen. Voici quelques photos que j’ai prises sur le métro, sans doute le seul moment quotidien de repos (c’est tellement long entre les stations à Beijing) durant mon séjour dans la capitale chinoise.

La première photo montre le plafond au-dessus des quais d’une station sur la ligne 2, faisant partie du parcours original inauguré en 1969. La deuxième et troisième photo ont été prises sur l’un des nouveaux trains qui roulent sur la ligne 1. Photo numéro quatre sont les nouveaux tourniquets qui ont finalement été activés, début juin 2008. La dernière photo fût prise juste à l’extérieur de la station Tian’anmen Est (天安门东) sur la ligne 1.

Regarde les Chinois : Raymond Walintukan & Edmond Hung

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Raymond Walintukan & Edmond Hung

Tout à fait dans l’esprit Regarde les Chinois-eque, ce fut par hasard que j’ai rencontré les prochains invités à cette chronique (qui se traîne encore les pattes à Beijing, alors que je suis rentré à Montréal depuis plus d’un mois). Je rentre dans ce magasin quelconque de la Nanluoguxiang, la nouvelle allée « in » parmi les hutongs, au centre historique de Beijing, après avoir aperçu à la fenêtre des t-shirts design-és à mon goût. Voilà tu pas que le gars dans le magasin m’accueille avec « Ni Hao » bien accentué (en anglais). En plus d’être un Chinois d’outre-mer, le type est né et a vécu les premières dix années de sa vie à Montréal! Avec des copains (aussi Chinois d’outre-mer) rencontrés à Beijing, Raymond Walintukan a fondé NLGX, un genre de café se basant sur un groupe de protection des hutongs et qui vend des patentes design. Raymond et Edmond Hung, son comparse californien, se sont échangés la parole, pendant qu’on déménageait le sofa sur lequel j’étais assis…

Going perfectly along the Regarde les Chinois-esque spirit, it was by pure chance that I met the next guests to this column (which is still lagging behind in Beijing, while I am back in Montreal since more than a month). I enter this random store on Nanluoguxiang, the new “in” tourist street at the historical centre of Beijing, after seeing nice designed tees that I liked. And there you have the guy in the store greets me with a thickly accented “Ni Hao”. On top of being an Overseas Chinese, he was born and lived in Montreal for the first ten years of his life! With friends that he met there (also Overseas Chinese), Raymond Walintukan founded NLGX, some sort of cafe based over a hutong protection group that sells designed stuff. Raymond and Edmond Hung, his Californian pal, both spoke to me while they were moving out the couch that I was sitting on…

(Raymond passe à l’émission Ailleurs c’est ici à la Première Chaîne de Radio-Canada, mercredi le 2 juillet 2008.)

Continue reading “Regarde les Chinois : Raymond Walintukan & Edmond Hung”

Cheer Chen – Let’s go together to Paris

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Cheer Chen at Spring Wave 2008

陳綺貞 – 一起去巴黎 (4.4 Mb – Cheer Chen’s “Let’s go together to Paris” – Live in Kenting (墾丁) – 2008-04-05)

Voici une chanson que Cheer Chen (陳綺貞) ne chante qu’en concert, et donc non disponible sur aucun disque officiel. Elle s’appelle « Allons ensemble à Paris » (一起去巴黎). Chen chante souvent à propos de Paris, perpetuant l’image romantique de la capitale française. La photo que j’ai prise montre l’interprète-compositrice folk-rock-pop taiwanaise, accordéon à la main (au lieu de sa guitare habituelle) au Spring Wave, un festival de musique extérieur à Kenting.

***

This is a song that Cheer Chen (陳綺貞) only sings in concert, and so not available on any official album. It’s called “Let’s go together to Paris”. Chen often sings about Paris, perpetuating the French capital’s romantic image. The photo that I took shows the folk-rock-pop Taiwanese singer-songwriter, accordion in hand (instead of a guitar) at Spring Wave, an outdoor music festival in Kenting.

How-to guide for Kenting during Spring Scream (part three)

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IMGP0255
Kenting Road and Peace Lane

This entry is follow-up of this previous article, and covers Saturday and Sunday of Spring Scream 2008 weekend (April 5-6, 2008).

Saturday was the night that I decided to skip Spring Scream, and attend Spring Wave, a (more) commercial version of the outdoor music festival. In terms of notoriety, the bands featured at Spring Wave were usually more pop, and also more popular, and all played on the same single huge stage. On the night before, Sodagreen, Tanya Chua and Cyndi Wang performed at the Maobitou park, just across the bay from Kenting (Da Wan), but some 12km to go around the bay, and the nuclear power plant, seen here below:

Hengchun Nuclear power plant
Hengchun Nuclear power plant

Can you believe that! In a charming location such as Kenting (otherwise a national park), they built a nuclear plant just looming the beautiful beach of Nan Wan… I will come back to all these Nan Wan, Da Wan, and other place names… They are all considered to be in “Kenting” (the name of the whole national park), but are separate constructed areas, Da Wan being what can be considered as the main Kenting agglomeration. Bear in mind that this town is tiny (probably less than a thousand), but fills up like mad during holidays.

Continue reading “How-to guide for Kenting during Spring Scream (part three)”

How-to guide for Kenting during Spring Scream (part two)

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Spring Scream 2008, Kenting
Spring Scream 2008 Double Rat at Eluanbi

This is a follow-up to the previous article on Kenting during Spring Scream, where I described how I managed to reach the small town.

This entry covers Friday of Spring Scream 2008 weekend (April 4, 2008). 

On Thursday night in Kenting, I spent my time in town, relaxing like I would in any resort town. Kenting is a small small town, where there is little action outside of long weekends and holidays season. The largest town nearby is Hengchun, where many people descend to Kenting. According to my host, you will find cheaper deals and better quality for food in Hengchun. I just saw how it looked like on the way in and out of Kenting, and it looked like an ancient 19th century Chinese town, like I’ve seen in Muar, Malaysia, and then Kaiping, Guangdong, in China.

Continue reading “How-to guide for Kenting during Spring Scream (part two)”

How-to guide for Kenting during Spring Scream (part one)

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This entry covers Thursday of Spring Scream 2008 weekend (April 3, 2008).

I visited Kenting during the Spring Scream 2008 (Double Rat), an outdoor music and arts festival held at the southernmost point of the island of Taiwan. I wanted to write a how-to for people who couldn’t read Chinese fluently, because it has been a real adventure to find the right information to get to Kenting.

>> See Flickr set

I entered Taiwan through Taipei, on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong. Spring Scream was on the Ching Ming (tomb-dusting) long weekend, and there was a fare war between companies that served HKG-TPE, namely HK-based Cathay (and affiliate Dragonair), and Taiwan-based EVA and China Airlines. So, I paid something like 1500HKD, after taxes and fees.

Continue reading “How-to guide for Kenting during Spring Scream (part one)”

Une banane qui voulait faire de la radio…

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Micro Cube

Il y a une certaine époque, au secondaire, je faisais de la radio étudiante et écrivais vouloir être animateur de radio dans mes travaux d’éducation choix de carrière… Une décennie plus tard, à part être blogueur à temps partiel, et programmeur à temps plein, voici que je suis de retour derrière un micro de présentateur. J’aurai en effet un cinq minutes hebdomadaire sur la portion chinoise à Radio Centre-Ville (102.3 FM à Montréal), durant lequel je me battrai avec mon cantonnais de grade maternelle pour vous décrire les dernières sélections en musique émergente, indépendante, non-mainstream, en chinois, et produite surtout en Chine, à Taïwan ou à Hong Kong.

Si je me souviens bien, le segment pré-enregistré devrait être joué quelque part entre 22h30 et 23h30 mardi soir, sur Spécial du Jour 是日精選, ou bien disponible en podcast plus tard le lendemain.

MISE À JOUR 2008-06-11: Il semblerait que la mise en ondes du premier extrait irait à dans deux semaine, c-à-d le 24 juin…

***

There was a time in high school when I did the student radio and wrote in my career orientation classwork that I wanted to become a radio host… A decade later, besides being a part-time blogger and a full-time programmer, here I am behind a presenter’s mic. I will indeed have a weekly five-minute on the Chinese-language segment on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3 FM in Montreal), during which I will struggle with my kindergarden grade Cantonese to describe the latest selections in independent, new, non-mainstream music, in Chinese, produced mainly in Chine, Taiwan or Hong Kong.

If I am not mistaken, the pre-recorded segment should be played sometime between 10:30 and 11:30 on Tuesday night, on Spécial du Jour 是日精選, or available on podcast the day after.

UPDATE 2008-06-11: It seems that the airing of the first segment will go to two weeks from now, which is June 24th…

CBC’s Don Murray on the 19th anniversary of the 6/4 events

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Tian'anmen Square + Gate

Don Murray, former correspondent in Beijing, the first permanent one in the Chinese capital for CBC/Radio-Canada, in 1980, just wrote an essay on the 19th anniversary (already, eh) of the Tian’anmen Square events in 1989. He commented on the Sichuan Earthquake, and made remarks on the government’s role in its coverage by the media.

In places like Hong Kong, tens of thousands of people still participate in the annual “6/4” (which is how it’s called by Chinese, for the date it happened on, June 4th) candlelight vigil.

[I did not realize it when I wrote this piece, but the previous link was actually a translation of a news article by the CCTV, China’s official TV station! Of course, they labeled the event as a commemoration for the Sichuan Earthquake, but made no mention that it was the annual 6/4 vigil too… Again, one of these things about China: if you know about it, good for you; otherwise, it’s none of your business!]

I am quick to highlight the comments left at the bottom of Mr. Murray’s article. They are apparently from Chinese people emigrated to Canada, and point out that what the normal folk wanted from the protests in 1989 was merely a denunciation of corruption, and a better livelihood for the ordinary guy. This has been my reading of the events, also, since watching Gate of the Heavenly Peace (Wikipedia), a documentary made in 1995 by PBS.

Continue reading “CBC’s Don Murray on the 19th anniversary of the 6/4 events”

Marche et vigile en mémoire du séisme du Sichuan ce samedi

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En souvenir du 12 mai / 纪念5.12

Toute la journée, ce samedi 7 juin, auront lieu au Quartier Chinois de Montréal des activités spéciales à la mémoire des victimes du séisme qui secoua la province chinoise du Sichuan, le mois dernier. Le groupe de marcheurs quittera le Parc Sun Yat-sen peu avant 16h, pour se diriger sur le Boulevard René-Lévesque, jusqu’à la Rue McGill, en revenant par le Vieux-Montréal vers le Quartier Chinois. Une commémoration se déroulera ensuite en soirée, de 19h à 21h au Parc Sun Yat-sen.

Communiqué de presse (Français / Anglais)

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This Saturday, June 7th, for the entire day, special activities will be held in Chinatown in memory of the victims of the earthquake that shook the Chinese province of Sichuan. The walk will start in Sun Yat-sen park shortly before 4PM, and will march on Boulevard René-Lévesque, up to McGill Street, and then head back to Chinatown through Old Montreal. A commemoration will then happen in the evening from 7PM to 9PM at Sun Yat-sen Park.

Press release (French / English)

Xiao Fei Yang in China

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小肥羊/旺角,香港

小肥羊 (Xiao Fei Yang), the Mongolian hot pot restaurant in Montreal, is in fact a chain in China. Known as “Little Sheep” in English, it is a well-known brand in China, one that is marketed as an upscale hot pot place. In contrast with Montreal, xiao fei yang is not an all-you-can-eat in China.

The first picture (here above) is that of the Mong Kok branch of Xiao Fei Yang in Hong Kong, located on premium land.

小肥羊 xiaofeiyang on Guijie, Beijing

The first one that I encountered was one of Beijing’s Xiao Fei Yang, on Guijie. The guy at the bottom right of the picture is the parking valet!

小肥羊/銅鑼灣,香港

The next was one in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. I almost ate there a few times, after running out of ideas for restaurants to eat at. Given that it was roughly 30 degrees Celsius each time, I promptly shook the envy off.

小肥羊 in 开平 Kaiping

The most surprising place to find a Xiao Fei Yang was in Kaiping (开平), a five-minute walk eastward from the city’s main bus terminal. Kaiping, also known as “Hoiping” in Cantonese, is a town of 700,000 souls, roughly 4 hours from Hong Kong by coach bus and/or speedboat ferry. The city might have UNESCO sites in its vicinity, but does every mid-sized city in China have its Xiao Fei Yang?

Little Lamb - Quartier Chinois de Montréal