Glimpses of Asia – September 19, 2015

I received the following links from my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack and his friend Marty.

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The Kabul college turning street children into musicians, a photo story in The Guardian.

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This Vietnamese University Is Turning Its Campus Into a Forest by Shaunacy Ferro for Mental Floss.

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This Simple Toilet Can Improve Health and Safety by Kirstin Fawcett for Mental Floss.

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How the hijab has made sexual harassment worse in Iran by a Tehran Bureau correspondent for The Guardian.

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Thai police say Uighur trafficking ring behind Bangkok bombing by Oliver Holmes for The Guardian.

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Beauty of the Kanbun era, approx. 1660–1680. Japan; Edo period (1615-1868). Hanging scroll; ink, colors, and gold on paper. John C. Weber Collection. Image © John Bigelow Taylor.

Beauty of the Kanbun era, approx. 1660–1680. Japan; Edo period (1615-1868). Hanging scroll; ink, colors, and gold on paper. John C. Weber Collection. Image © John Bigelow Taylor.

Sex and Suffering: The Tragic Life of the Courtesan in Japan’s Floating World by Lisa Hix for Collectors’ Weekly.

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15 Spicy Facts About Chili Peppers from Mental Floss.

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Chalk up another superlative achievement for China.

Zhangjiajie, a scenic national park in the country’s Hunan province, is set to open the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge in July.

Spanning two cliffs in the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon area, it will stretch 430 meters (1,410 feet) long and 6 meters (20 feet) wide, hovering over a 300-meter (984-foot) vertical drop.

In comparison, the Grand Canyon Skywalk in the United States is 21 meters (69 feet) in length and stands 219 meters (718 feet) above the canyon floor. Canada’s Glacier Skywalk in Alberta, which opened last year, extends 35 meters (115 feet) from the cliff and is a little bit shy of 300 meters in height.

World’s highest glass bridge to open in China from CNN.

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The Delicious World of Dim Sum by Foster Kamer for Mental Floss.

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Islands of the Philippines Now on Street View from Google Maps.

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China’s Pearl River Delta sounds like the kind of place that might be dominated by rice paddies, small villages, farms, chickens, and children running barefoot through fields.

And, like most of the country, it was… but the landscape has changed dramatically over the years.

Now the region sets the standard for urban sprawl on a massive scale.  In fact, earlier this year the World Bank said the Pearl River Delta surpassed Tokyo as the world’s largest urban area in both size and population.

For some perspective, there are more people living in the Pearl River Delta than countries like Argentina, Australia and Canada.

In 2000, urban space covered 4,500 square kilometers.  Ten years later and the sprawl reached 7,000 square kilometers. Urban space means that the built environment covers more than half of the landscape.  By comparison, Tokyo in 2010 had 5,600 square kilometers of urban space.

China’s epic sprawl, as seen from space by Shawn Langlois for Market Watch.  This includes photographs by the NASA Earth Observatory showing how the area has changed over time.

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At some point in early 2013, our hero — his name wasn’t reported — bought himself a first class ticket on a China Eastern Airlines flight to parts unknown; his ticketed destination wasn’t reported either.

But where China Eastern thought he wanted to go wasn’t all that important anyway, because the man never intended to go very far. 

The man’s plan focused on the VIP area for ticketed first class passengers. The VIP area provided free food and drinks to any customers present. [snip]

By booking a first class flight, the man was given entry to the lounge — and therefore able to eat to his heart’s content, all on China Eastern Airlines’ dime. [snip]

 After eating lunch, he’d “re-book his ticket (for free) for a flight on the following day” and then go home.

The next day, he returned to Xi’an International, entered the VIP lounge on his re-booked ticket, ate another free lunch — and then re-booked his ticket for the next day.  And so on and so forth.  At no point did he ever actually get on a plane.

The man repeated the process an estimated 300 times before the airline figured out what he was doing. But there wasn’t much they could do about the eaten meals, as the man hadn’t really done anything wrong or illegal (even by the Chinese government’s standards).

All they could do was prevent him from entering in the future, which apparently is what the airline did.

The man responded the only way he could — he asked for his fully-refundable ticket to be refunded.  The airline, which dismissed his stunt as a “rare act,” reportedly complied.

The Infrequent Flyer Meal Program on Now I Know

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Surge in illegal logging by Chinese in Myanmar alarms activists by Tom Phillips for The Guardian.

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Indian police investigate gang rape of American tourist by Jason Burke for The Guardian.

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Vultures Peak in Rajagriha, India

Vultures Peak in Rajagriha, India

10 Sacred Mountains With Weird and Fascinating Stories by Nathan Willey for ListVerse.

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The Tea Twister: The science behind Teh Tarik (pulled tea) on The Kid Should Know This.

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Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit: China’s laws have encouraged the hit-to-kill phenomenon by Geoffry Sant for Slate.

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Autumn in Kobe, Japan's, Zuihoji Park. Click to enlage.

Autumn in Kobe, Japan’s, Zuihoji Park. Click to enlarge.

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World’s largest fire-breathing dragon-shaped bridge, links on Meta-Filter.

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Papunya’s daughters: Australia’s second generation of master dot painters by Monica Tan for The Guardian.

Dotted masterpieces from the tiny Aboriginal town of Papunya – in pictures from The Guardian.

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