Train trips in India and China

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Economics, Environment, Politics, Technology, Travel

Christmas and New Year was spent in India attending a cousin’s wedding and a nephew’s thread ceremony. It’s always fun going back to the country of my birth. I love the food, the music, the great value for money and energy of the place. But It’s also depressing seeing how slowly it changes. India’s stagnation was made even more evident, when six weeks later, I visited the beautiful town of Guilin in Guangxi. Arrivals at Mumbai Airport set the tone. The automated fingerprint check, designed to streamline entry into the country, bureaucratically first demanded two thumbs, then four right fingers, […]

Vladivostok: the edge of the Belt and Road

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in History, Politics, Travel

Vladivostok is a city of 600,000 in the Far East of Siberia. Russia grabbed it opportunistically in 1860, back when the Qing Empire had been enfeebled by the Opium Wars and the vicious Taiping Rebellion that left 20 million dead. Russia quickly consolidated its grip expelling the Chinese and transferring people from Ukraine and Belorussia: first by land and ship and by rail once the Trans-Siberian Railway was built. Even though it’s only a stone’s (or perhaps a Scud missile’s) throw from North Korea, there’s no hint of the East in the local gene pool. Lonely Planet calls it San […]

Hong Kong’s LegCo elections

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Politics

On 4th September, sandwiched between the Brexit vote and the US elections, Hong Kongers have the opportunity to vote in the four yearly LegCo elections. Hong Kong’s democratic processes are a hangover from its colonial days – the first election took place in 1995 two years before handover. UK graciously offering HK a tantalising taste of democracy, after having denied it to for the preceding 150 years. HK’s legislature currently has 70 members, half of them are elected from five geographic constituencies, and most of the rest either by business sectors (like industry) or professional bodies (like accountants), so-called “functional” […]