真的吗?

I saw this article referenced on life of a rat, and found it interesting. Basically it talks about the counterfeit US bills being made in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). The article is written for a South Korean site, and there’s no love lost between the two places, so read with bias. However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Those DPRKers are a suspicious bunch, what with their complete lack of a viable economy, alleged nuclear arms, and just a general bad attitude. However, that said, the only North Koreans I’ve met have all been lovely.

My only experience changing money in China was at the Shanghai airport, and it failed. Like most airports the world over, Shanghai airport has booths of various banks that will change money for you. However, if you want to change Chinese Renminbi you need to have official receipts from the source of the money. Without it all you get is a “next!”

The solution was remarkably simple: patience and the Bangkok airport. When I arrived in Bangkok I simply went to a said bank-exchange booth and they happily changed it for me. Gouged a bit on the exchange rate, but did it none the less.

However, the most common way that I’ve heard from other foreigners to change money in China is to just use the black market exchanges. Most major banks will have a guy standing outside casually mentioning his services to those that walk up. Like most things in China, it’s a bit dodgy. Also like most things in China, it pays to have guanxi. If you know someone who knows someone you are much more likely to get a better rate (and real bills). Personally though, I think I’ll just stick it in my carry-on.

Alright, so I’m officially a net junkie. I know I’ve always spent a rather large amount of time gripped in the talons of the World Wide Web, but this is just getting silly.

The problem, at least of late, is I’ve got too many things on the go. If I’m not sitting at the computer trying to write my novel, I’m reading up on news, or blogs, or random advice columns, or living in China forums, or ESL info. It’s just never-ending.

Lately I’ve been spending more and more time checking out possible ESL jobs in other parts of the country. My contract here in Dalian finishes at the end of February and I’m going to need employment until I head home at the end of June. Plus, I’m starting to feel that maybe I’m missing some things just staying put up here in the north. I’ve only been to Beijing and Shanghai in the nearly a year I’ve been in China and it’s dawning on me that there’s probably more to see: Xi’An, Yunnan, Shandong, Xizang (Tibet), Xinjiang, etc., etc. So, maybe moving to a new place and getting some new scenery might be a good idea.

I’ve spoken to Maggie about it and initially she was reluctant to move too far from her family (Dandong, 4 hours away, is the furthest she’s been from home), but she’s warmed up to the idea of experiencing some place new and she recognizes that it might be a better opportunity for us to save some cash for next summer. We’ll see what all this endless searching yields.

The other item that’s criss-crossed my cerebellum recently is I’m considering perhaps moving to Japan next year to teach. There is a big question mark on what to do after visiting Canada for the summer, and Japan might be the answer. I’ve looked at a few sites and it seems the average contract pays between 200,000 and 250,000 JPY (about $2,000 – $2,500 CAN). Compared to the barely $1,000 I make in China, it’s a bit more cash – and I think even taking into account the cost of living difference, it would be a good place to save some cash. Now yet another thing I now have to look up on the next – Japanese Cost Of Living – sigh, it never ends.

真的吗? = zhen de ma? = really?/real? — one of the most useful sayings I’ve learned in Chinese.

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