China, Day 3: Pandas!

Waking up before 8 o’clock today, we decided to go see the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a.k.a the “Panda Park”. We originally planned to see it in our last week in China, but favorable weather persuaded us to go right away.

About 10 km from Chengdu downtown and on the Bus 87 route, the park is the largest in the world dedicated to pandas, and the top research and breeding center for giant panda breeding. The Panda Park also features a museum, tourist center, and a cinema.

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China, Day 2: Downtown

After breakfast, we take the bus downtown to the shopping center. There are many familiar global brands, especially fast food chains such as Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and Burger King. I counted at least four McDonaldses around the area.

One of the larger McDonalds in the shopping district.

One of the larger McDonalds in the shopping district.

It is a running joke on the Internet that there are a ton of stores that impersonate American or Western brands. This is true. Check out this “Smart Store” in the shopping center.

Not an actual Apple Store… look closely

As a whole, the shopping center is massive. It’s almost like a Times Square in Chengdu.

One of the main passageways through the shopping center. One can hear merchants calling out to shoppers from the store front.

Greetings from China!

It’s been six years since I’ve been back to China. But after an 11-hour flight to Incheon Airport, a 3 hour transfer to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, and luckily no legroom fights, we are back in my birthplace!

Chengdu, especially the downtown portion, has really changed since I was last here. The first thing that you see when you exit Shuangliu Airport in the night is lights. There is no lack of light pollution as you look up and see the bright white neon signs that decorate the top floors of skyscrapers, advertising office space and more often than not, begging the passerby to call a phone number. These signs stand out against the otherwise dark facade of the buildings, a somewhat eerie contrast.

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Resources and tips for learning the Dvorak layout

About three weeks ago, I started learning the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout. Among its benefits are that the layout helps typists type faster while reducing repetitive strain injury as compared to the now-ubiquitous QWERTY layout. The first time I tried the layout, I averaged a torturously slow 8 words per minute, and that was with heavy guessing. Now, I am writing this entire blog post with the layout, and not having to think through every letter.
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It’s the Fourth!

This Independence Day marks the fifth Fourth of July for The Thought Box. Here’s a look back at the other ones:

This year, we went to a friend’s house for a nice barbecue. Afterwards, we went to the lake to watch neighbors compete in an all-out fireworks show-off. The result? Some pretty spectacular fireworks.

Even though only a few hours of this holiday remain, I wish you all a happy Fourth of July! God Bless America!