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chinadecoder.com

I made a new website for translating Chinese news into English at chinadecoder.com.  I know from the front it just looks like any old Wordpress installation, but behind the scenes is an awesome Django app that automatically pulls news from a number of Chinese sources, and provides a really convenient translation interface.

The idea is that I'll have an excuse to keep up to date with what's going on in China, and the articles I translate will provide some good content to drive traffic to my consulting business.  Features I'm considering adding in the future include automatic Google translation of all the articles that get pulled in, just for the super curious, and user contributed translations for other likeminded people who enjoy translating stuff like this.

Still not quite sure whether I like China Decoder, chinadecoder, or chinadecoder.com as a brand.  Actually I was hoping to get chinachina.com but it is being squatted.

Sign up for email or RSS subscription and like it o…

Epilogue

For the sake of closure, I am finally writing an epilogue to this epic blogue.

I didn't end up sailing home, but I did go sailing once I got home. Here is proof:



I'm sure you can all tell from the photo that it's me.

Google thinks my China consulting business is a good idea

I was just curious what I could do to boost traffic to my site (Joel Rosen China Consulting), so I did a little keyword search on Google Insights to see what people are searching for when they need a China consultant.  The findings are encouraging:

1. Massachusetts ranks highest for searches on "china consulting," even beating out California.
2. "china consulting" isn't nearly as popular a set of keywords as "china business," but handily beats keyword sets "china market research," "china market entry," and "china advisory".
3. Most popular searches with the "china consulting" keywords are "consulting in china" and "china business consulting" - the latter of which is rising in popularity.


Looks like I may be Jewish after all.

Joel Rosen China Consulting

I've moved back to Boston and I'm starting up a little consulting business to help companies around here get stuff done in China. After agonizing over what to name it for over a week, I settled on Joel Rosen China Consulting. Yes, I'm as professional as I am creative.



As you can see here I've made sort of a logo. It doesn't really have any particular meaning. I was just playing around in Pixelmator and I was feeling triangles and red. Do you like it?

Well I don't actually expect anybody will read this post, but for some reason Google seems to respect links from this blog, so hopefully this will help boost my pagerank :)

I give up

My visa expires on Wednesday, and nobody needs crew around here, so I booked a ticket to SF on Monday. It was almost free with frequent flier miles and I will get to visit the airports of Bangkok and Frankfurt on a nearly 50-hour itinerary.

I could have flown to Singapore or Australia and tried again but I'm getting tired of spending time and money being a tourist, and there simply aren't boats going in the direction I want to go, only boats sailing to Malaysia and Thailand and bumming around. I just feel like going home. I'd still like to try this again in the future, but I can do it any time, and next time I can pick a place where there's favorable wind. So far I haven't spoken to a single sailor here who says they've had more than a day or two of proper sailing. Everybody is just motoring against the current without wind, so what's the point? I've already done plenty of motoring on the ferries here.

I spent two nights in Lombok and a day hanging ar…

Ubud and motorbike adventures

I'm back in Kuta now, on my own again after a week traveling with Tom. We took a nice three-day motorbike tour up to Munduk, down to Lovina beach, and back to Ubud. Tom navigated with his iPhone, which led us down some rough roads through the island's more remote villages and rice terraces. We passed through a place called Bedugul, which we decided is the perfect name for a comic strip dog.

Ubud is all about the wellness. It's full of yoga studios, spas, organic wholegrain fair trade coffee shops, etcetera. I bought some drawstring cotton pants, but I still didn't quite fit in because I don't have any tattoos. Ubud has some beautiful spots but the expats and tourists there were generally some of the most unfriendly I've seen. Many of the women there seem to be off on their own Eat Pray Love trip to find happiness, and are so focused on this goal that they can't be bothered to smile at the occasional stranger. It got a bit depressing after a while so I'…

Gone biking

I'm off with Tom on a three-day motorbike trip! I think we'll head north through the middle of the island and then go west along the coast to check out Lovina beach. I'll check in when I can!

Karimunjawa and Bali

I just spent a half hour writing and somehow lost all my work so I will keep this briefer than it was going to be.

I'm in Ubud, Bali now, staying at this guy's villa surrounded by rice terraces. I arrived here last night and will stay a few days while I wait for responses to the ad I posted at the Bali marina.

I stayed in karimunjawa for four days, but it wasn't the sort of place where sailboats often pass through. I joined a tour the first day with a group of Indonesian college students and we boated from island to island snorkeling in the coral reefs and feeding fish. I biked around and drank coconuts I found on the way. The village on the main island might have been more peaceful if not for Ramadan, but it was hard to sleep since every night at 2 am groups of kids would parade the streets beating drums to wake everybody for the morning prayers, which would be broadcast over the megaphones for hours.

I took the next ferry back to Jepara on Sunday and docked just in ti…

Couchsurfing in Semarang and Jepara

I'm now in Jepara, sitting on the rooftop of a homestay within a stone's throw of the harbor, under the stars, just outside a room where I'll spend the night, for six dollars. (wifi not included, I'll have to find a hotspot to upload this later...)

I had an exciting bus ride from Jogja to Semarang. I was told I could find an air con class bus at the station on the east side of town for 40,000 rp, but when I got there I was told there are no air con buses and was ushered onto an economy bus, for 20,000. It was crowded full but not too hot with the windows open. An older man, an English teacher, was quick to sit next to me and ask me for my full name, address, and telephone number so that he could find me when he comes to visit the states. He turned out go be not too creepy though and pointed out interesting things on the ride, like the massive volcanic boulders that had been thrown from Mt Merapi just a few months ago. Deadly, he said, but useful, since the locals built…

Back on the road

Today I believe is the first day of Ramadan. All the prayer halls started broadcasting in unison over the loudspeakers at 4:45 this morning. I woke up to the sound with a bit of a cold sweat from something I ate yesterday, and sat on the toilet watching tiny ants march along the crack of the wall.

Yesterday I rented a bike and rode south out of town into the rice paddies. I found a few beautiful quiet spots, but mostly it was hard to avoid the roads and motorcycle exhaust. It was good to have a bike in town at least to get away from the becak drivers, who are everywhere and make it impossible to enjoy a quiet moment in town.

I was originally thinking of seeing the Dieng Plateau for a day, but I decided I really need a break from tourist destinations, so I'm going to take a bus north to Semarang after I finish this post. I found a couchsurfer who said she'll put me up tonight, and may even be able to give me a ride to Jepara tomorrow since she commutes there for work. This w…

Jogjakarta

I stayed in Jakarta another day to take it easy and buy a ticket to Jogjakarta, and so I could catch up with the local frisbee players who get together for pickup on thursday nights. After a delicious breakfast and free wifi at mcdonalds, I walked to Gambir station, nearby my hostel, and bought a ticket to Jogjakarta, eksekutif class. I had some nasi campur at a restaurant in the station, ate a pepper and nearly exploded, and then walked over to Monas, the national monument. Lonely Planet said people call it some president's last erection. It was pretty quiet.

I took the bus up to Kota, the old part of town, and walked around for a bit. Lonely Planet recommended that I walk along the canal, which smelled terrible. I was hoping to be able to walk to the harbor and see some boats, but couldn't manage to find a road that led to the water, and just walked down the side of the street while big Chinese-made diesel trucks barreled past. Eventually I gave up and hopped in a bajaj bac…

Jakarta

Today was a crazy trip. My first hostel was nice enough but really remote and nobody else was staying there, so this morning, after a delicious breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, I decided to relocate to Jalan Jaksa, backpacker hostel central near the center of town. I decided to take the bus since I have plenty of time and figured it would be a good way to see the city, so I found Jalan Jaksa on google maps and got some directions for taking the TransJakarta bus from the helpful front desk attendant at my hostel.

To get to the bus stop, I first took a local minibus. Musical trios would hop on the bus with ukeleles and sing and play while the bus hobbled through traffic. Their music was pretty awesome but I didn't know how much tip was appropriate so I didn't give anything.

The TransJakarta was pretty impressive. Traffic here is even more pointless than in Beijing and there don't seem to be any emission standards, but these buses run on natural gas and run in their own lanes m…

Departure

I am in the airport in Beijing. I'm supposed to be in Jakarta already but all flights were delayed out of Beijing yesterday, they said because of the severe weather, but it was only a light drizzle. I wonder if it had anything to do with the high speed rail accident and the train being hit by lightning. Anyway, with the one-day delay, Beijing has managed to give me a beautiful send off with the best weather in weeks. And I had a really good nap yesterday.

I've booked a hostel in south Jakarta that a frisbee player recommended called Kamar-Kamar. It's a little pricey for a backpacker hostel but it sounds like most of the cheap hostels in the Jalan Jaksa area have seen better days so I figure I'll start off in some place a little nicer. Directions by public transport seem a little daunting. I am supposed to take damri bus to blok m and then take ojek to the hostel. I will soon figure out what these words mean.

I downloaded 35 free Indonesian lessons to my iPod. They…

My Most Prized Posession

I bought an iPod Touch. This will serve as my main computing and communications tool for my trip. Here is me and Jeff in Sanlitun ignoring the passing girls as we ogle my new device.

Prologue

In two weeks I will be flying to Indonesia to look for a boat.



I got the whole idea for this trip while I was searching for budget travel tips, and came across a post from Matador Network titled "How to Travel the World by Crewing on Yachts."  Oddly enough, a week later, I met a frisbee player who had just come to Beijing from Mexico, where he had spent a year or so sailing his own boat along the coast. (Christian's blog is here.) During introductions, when I asked what he did, his reply was something the effect of, "I do whatever I feel like doing."  Having spent much of my time over the last four years pretty much cooped up in offices in Beijing, I thought that sounded quite nice.

The China Greentech Report 2011 and other exciting things

Dear friends, family, and secret admirers:



I'm pleased to announce the release of the first somewhat significant production that has my name on it since The Kite Runner:

The China Greentech Report 2011

PwC says this about the report:
The China Greentech Report 2011 analyses recent developments in the greentech sector in China and examines existing and emerging opportunities in six key sectors: cleaner conventional energy, renewable energy, electric power infrastructure, green building, cleaner transportation, and clean water. The report provides comprehensive analysis and insight into the trends that are contributing to China's rapid rise to global greentech leader and the solutions supporting it.
I'm credited as lead writer for the Cleaner Transportation chapter. It's a good introduction into what's going on in the way of greentech in China's road and rail transportation industries, and also provides key insights into what I've been doing at work for the …

Google, let's just be friends from now on

Ah, Google, you have truly reached a new low...

I drew a picture