Result of Progress – China’s Pollution

All across China millions are being killed.  One report in April 2013 estimated one-in-a-thousand premature deaths by air pollution – that’s 1.2-million.

face maskSo far this year in Beijing, smog levels are almost 30% over the same period in 2012. Newspapers say fossil fuels are the culprit. Burning coal and oil creates minuet particles that embed deep in the lungs, explaining why so many wear surgical masks. The US Embassy there recorded these particles 35-times higher than the World Health Organization’s guideline.

The Government is doing all it can – in Beijing along, they’re spending US$16 billion over three-years on the problem, but citizens will still need mobile-phone apps to report pollution levels. On the worst days, the old and frail are advised to stay indoors.

Traffic in Guangzhou, ChinaEveryone in China wants a car and many can now afford one, adding to over 5.2-million vehicles in the capital.  New emission standards similar to Europe should cut nitrogen oxide by 40%, but only to the latest vehicles and most trucks still burn low quality diesel.

No wonder air filter sales in China are booming – soley for the rich and they only work inside. The only sure way of avoiding the perils of over-industrialization is to move to the mountains, but everyone needs work.

Polluted Hong KongHong Kong has among the best of Chinese urban air.  Understandable with a population of only 7-million and few factories – however, the University estimates that in December 2012, 253 citizens died early and 576,890 visited their doctor because of pollution. I just have an occasional light cough.

Ten years ago in Hong Kong the sky was blue and everything bright.  Now it’s hard to see the Peak.  Last Sunday I could just about make out shapes the other side of the harbour from the Star Ferry.  The TV weather forecast includes a pollution report that often says roadside levels are ‘dangerous’ – but Beijing’s rein of the media prevents broadcasting ‘severe’.

Can You Afford Not Going to a Tropical Beach?

Cebu & Bohol, the Philippines

MiMi with star fish on Alona Beach, BoholThis trip was really a China visa run for my wife. They’re only available now in the Philippines for MiMi, and the consulate in Cebu is easier. When the stamping is done, it makes sense to stay a week in the sun!

Cebu Island is 225-klms long with a rocky coast. I prefer nearby Bohol which is a much smaller island with powdered beaches and better tourist facilities.

Close by on Alona Beach, Bohol, Philippinestiny Panglao Island is Alona Beach.  Bustling with restaurants hosting live music, snorkeling and boat hire. Koreans have come to dive for years. You can sit at an open-air café listening to lapping waves on crystal turquoise water, running sand between your toes while cooled by a light breeze and an iced drink – best at sunset when cocktails are half price.  Island life is slow and the locals friendly.

BBQ seafood is finest on the beach in the evenings, although it takes an hour to serve. King prawn, scallop, red snapper and grouper are in abundance, and the crab is so fresh it has that ocean flavour.  Most grill everything, but I prefer crab and smaller prawns steamed. Easily dried out on the BBQ, but chicken and corn is always perfect.

Phioppine JeepneyShort distances around the island are best by motorbike side cars called ‘tricycles’ or ‘jeepney’ – a colourful extended US-jeep used as a shared taxi for around US 20-cents a ride. Although a bus or taxi is more comfortable to see the three main sites:

  • The Chocolate Hills look like 1,268 giant limestone mole hills, which are green during monsoon-time and brown in the dry-season.
  • Tarsiers are tiny ET-looking monkeys with huge eyes as big as their brains and elongated limbs, which are extinct in most other tropical rainforests.
  • The Spanish Church of Our Lady in Baclayon is one of the oldest in the Philippines, built in 1727. 

I wonder why there are so few Brits in Bahol. For a whisker over the price of an iphone Nigel on Alona Beach, Bahol, Philippinesanyone can come – and there’s a lot of iphones in the UK. Personally, I make money from these trips, sometimes a lot. It’s not obvious, but bogged down to every-day-work seems to prevent creative thought. No time to read. I always study a lot while travelling – topping my Kindle with how-to tittles and new business books from the airport. Three-quarters what I do is inspired this way.


Sunset in Baclayon, Bohol, PhilippinesThere are three boats running from Cebu to Tagbilaran – check the times before booking and bear in mind SuperCat are sometimes late: US $13 and 2-hours each way.  Plus, two ferries cruise the shorter route from Cebu to Tubigo. 

We stay at Alona Hidden Dream Resort: US $49 (other places from $20 room/night); seafood meal for two with beers: US $30. In Cebu City we stay at the Diplomat Hotel: US $32.  WiFi’s everywhere, but a SmartBro dongle is useful (about $24) + $6 ‘data load’ will last for a week.

Watch the video of this trip here
See my personal site at