Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone 
Friday, 10 .March, 2006, 01:08 - English Entries, Travel, Photographs

On Tuesday two colleagues and I took a taxi and after the usual uncertainty whether the driver understood us or not, drove to the "Sanya Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone". It was described as a "buddhist park", which sounds like an ancient religous place. I had read that there is a 108 meter high Buddha statue in that park, which was finished in 2005. After arriving there we understood, that the emphasis is on the words "Tourism Zone".



Impressions from Nanshan ...

It is in fact a good place to lose the last illusions about Buddhism as something purly spiritual. You find it all here: believers on their knees in front of statues, souvenier shops all along the way, entry fees in the realm of those for a Rolling Stones concert and figures of heros that look like they have just fallen out of the latest Pixar movie.


... where Disney and Buddha have a rendezvous.

What is obvious and to my eyes fair is that local pepole pay less money than the few Western tourists, that are not supposed to visit the area for reasons of faith. On the tour busses everything is explained in Chinese language only, but the tour guides are very friendly and some of them spoke good English, so we found out, that the park was built nine years ago.


Buddha off the shore

Nanshan is nevertheless a beautiful place that is for sure worth visiting as long as you do not bring false hopes with you. It is built at the shore, in the middle of hills full of tropical trees and so it looks far away from anything. Some of the places there are quiet and atmospheric. Built next to a fast growing tourist region, having one of the biggest existing religious monumtents in the world right in its center, Nanshan is a monument of Chinas growing wealth and prosperity.


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Freedom of Speech 
Thursday, 09 .March, 2006, 05:03 - English Entries, Travel, Music, Thoughts, Politics

Bob Dylans life once was saved thanks to freedom of speech. He reports about this exceptional event in the very educational and entertaining song Motorpsycho Highway, in which he can only escape from a patriotic American farmer by pretending to be very fond of Fidel Castro (and his beard). Besides that, this song includes violence, shooting, a daring jump out of a window as well as a not very much hidden invitation for having sex, i.e.: all the things that you really miss from modern music.

As said already I am currently in China and the hotel that I am staying in provides a desktop PC in every room, including broadband internet access. It is worth switching it on. After chosing the English version Windows 98 comes up and everything looks normal. Great. So what was the name of the place around here, at which this big Buddha statue is located? Just type in http://en.wikipedia.org and ... uuups: Error message. Maybe the network is down. But no, http://www.spiegel.de comes up fine.

After several tries it became clear, that I could just not access Wikipedia from here. I was not sure whether it is generally blocked from China or it is just not available due to additional security measurements in this hotel, and found more on this issue at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_mainland_China.

What do we learn from this? Maybe that you do not need freedom of speech if you can express your preferences for Castro without running into problems. Maybe that every blocked page is in good company. Maybe that you need to experience a restriction yourself to find out about what it really means.

What I appreciate is the internet access via my mobile phone (GPRS). It connects to the network via Finland and there is no blocking inbetween. Maybe it's after all not too bad to work in this industry.


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An Lars Kiessling 
Wednesday, 08 .March, 2006, 11:29 - Deutsche Einträge
Hallo Lars! Ich hab aus Versehen die Mail gelöscht, die Du mir gesendet hast. Kannst Du mir bitte nochmal Deine E-Mail Adresse zukommen lassen?

Vielen Dank & Sorry!
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Arrived in China 
Monday, 06 .March, 2006, 17:00 - English Entries, Travel, Photographs

During the last 24 hours or so I travelled from Helsinki via Frankfurt and Beijing to Sanya in Southern China. We have just another meeting here during this week. I hardly slept on the first two flights and when I arrvied in Beijing, I had to wait two hours for the connection flight. So I sat in a restaurant behind secuirty control and watched the people coming in, while drinking a beer. That was around 10.30 local time, a bright morning. Of course in Europe it was 6 or 7 hours earlier and my body was still in that time-zone.

There were a lot of interesting thoughts in my mind, but I could not catch them. I was too tired and had tasted too much of the red wine, that they give you in Lufthansa Economy flights. A thought came by, I milled it through my brain several times and it escaped. What a ridicuoulus thing of a thought to do . I ordered another beer, watched the people and played thought catching. Nothing happend. I ate. The waitress gave me plastic knife and fork, she did not even think I would be able to handle chopsticks. I drank my beer a little further. The red display of the clock shifted to 12.00 and I went to the plane to Sanya.



The seats on that plane made for something else but not for people who are 190cm tall. It did not bother me too much, as I fell asleep right away. Inbetween the sleeping during that four hour flight I finished "Post Office" from Charles Bukowski, which I had started on the plane from Helsinki to Frankfurt. The stewardess gave me a green tea when I ordered a water. I slept again. Woke up again and ordered a beer and hoped I would not end up with engine oil. She handed me a beer and soon after I slept again.

About three hours before landing it was announced that the plane would land soon. Might be it was only 30 minutes before, but it did not seem like 30 minutes. The ususal "be a good passenger" announcements wer given in Mandarin and English and then a female Chinese voice told a childrens story or read the communist manifesto or told us about her last boyfriend - I don't know, but she kept the loudspeaker busy with her words and sounds and emphasises. While she was talking the plane descended throught the dust of the clouds to a landscape of mountains, tropical woods and a blue sea.

The temperature down here has for sure never been reached in Helsinki region. I am not fond of high outside temperatures, but the related thoughts could anyhow not be caught. Whatever. I have to avoid to fall asleep too early, else I will not adjust to the local time. I guess that's why I bother you with this.



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Welcome back to the dark ages - my personal outrage and doubts about religion 
Saturday, 04 .March, 2006, 15:48 - English Entries, Thoughts, Politics, Religion

On September 30th, 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published several cartoons that depicted the islamic prophet Muhammed and made fun of extreme islamic views. These cartoons caused demonstrations of so-called fundamentalist muslims in many Arab but also European countries. Some of these demonstrations caused riots and other forms of brutality. In Europe we had nothing better to do than the question the right for freedom of speech.

The question is, whether we should further restrict our personal freedom in order to not make other people angry. The people who get angry about jokes is the usual fanatic crowd: believers in a super-natural entity that created the world and nowadays obviously cares shit about it. I thought we had enough people in the European past who shut up just to not get killed (for example this guy) - and others who opend their mouth one time too many and were then used as fire wood (as it happend to this person).

I see no reason why I should be tolerant towards a person who believes in something that cannot be proven and who derives actions from this believe. If these people would at least talk with a common voice, but they all have different values and ideas about the perfect world and its maker.

And my dear Christians, this is also true for you. I am sure that your nearly 2000 year old political organization ("the church") will use any weakness of modern society to gain power again and feed people with thoughts of guilt and fear. I do not make any difference here between catholic, orthodox, protestant or whatsoever churches - please note that explicitly. Any believe that teaches about something that cannot be noticed by our senses and that can only be explained by contradicting nearly everything that science found out during the last several thousand years, is either totally crazy or used to keep people stupid. The momentary problem of the church is, that it has a hard time to establish a society as e.g. in Iran or Syria.

Yes, Christianity is all about love and kindness. That sounds good, but actually I do not remember that human rights were derived from the Bible or from any Christian organizations publication. As far as I remember our ancestors had to fight for any of their freedoms and later on some pope or bishop said that they agree to the new liberty and that it is (somehow) in-line with god, the bible and the church.

But still, what I write here has no base in todays reality. It is clear that we are here in the free world, uninfluenced by strange believes, and some countries in the middle- and far-east are under the dictatorship of religous fanatics. Is it so? Read the newspapers!

Today I had to read that Tony Stupid Blair said, that it was Gods decision to send British troops to Iraq. Oh sorry Tony, I missed that part of modern history. Maybe the creator just visited your flat when no camera was present. Maybe he let a fart and you mis-interpreted it. Maybe you were drunk. Whatever the reason was - you should have been wise enough to keep your mouth shut about it.

We already know that ex-alcoholic George W. Bush believes, that his mission in Iraq (and Afgahnisatan) is in-line with the will of the holy trinity, that nobody can understand and therefore you just have to believe in.

Wow! We are again in an age of religious wars. I do not doubt a second that George and Tony are true believers and that at least part of their statements are true. They believe in god and at least as much in their mission. Isn't that cool? We most likely never left the age of crusades.

Welcome back to the dark ages! If you saw some light during the last years, it was just a moral irritation.

And then again: I am doubtful by how this all teaches me that I am not as tolerant that I have thought. During this last month somebody stepped on the accelerator and lots of others were willing to speed up as well. Maybe we run towards a conflict, I don't know, I don't want to make any stupid prophecy. But I am concerned that it is so easy to take a clear position in this dispute - and how hard it is to understand the other side. I am surprised how strong I believe that our society is better to live in than any other currently existing or that ever existed before. I would like to doubt myself, but it does not work, the moment I hear something from any religous camp I can at best just shake my head.

In the end it is about belief. There is no right and wrong without belief. Some people say, they feel that there is a higher order in this world, there must be a meaning behind all this. I do not think so. I think, whoever searches for a bigger meaning is taking him- or herself too important. We are not important. All that is here was caused by chance and accident and we are just one product of a long serious of meaningless happenings. Our problem is, that we look up in the sky and want to explain what we see. That's how we came up with flash-throwing gods that transform into animals and make love to innocent princesses. But more and more we find out, that we can explain the mysteries by scientific means and that we find no reason why the things are as they are. We find constants, numbers, formulas, but no guidance how to live our lifes. And if you ask 100 people what is right, you will get at least 150 opinions.

A religion is a man made system that tries to give guidance. But we are walking faster than religion can adjust its rules. We are asking questions to which ancient books cannot give answers. We experience daily that there is no right or wrong, that there are only possiblities and taking them or leaving them will change our future. That's why I think religion is wrong - because it prentends to have answers, that do not exist. Because it takes away one of the true wonders that humans can experience: the doubt over something that they are able to do.

And that is finally why I think we should not be too friendly and too tolerant towards any kind of religous outburst either here or somewhere else. It is important to stay grounded on the few facts we have about our existence and not to start flying into metaphysical spheres. It is not that we have to teach others our view of the world, but we have to protect our freedom. That might sound militant or aggressive to some. It is not. Look again who started the violence and point out the one person, that did not have a religious background.


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