This is kandedifang, my website about China and space, geography, travel. The site has articles in three languages. Not all articles are available in all three languages though. The best way to find something on this site is through the map. The map is language-context-sensitive. The 中国 is still rather empty. But i'm working on it!

Using 北斗 in Europe

北斗 is presently aimed at China as a navigation system. You can receive 北斗 satellites fine outside China. But the network of ground stations only provides corrections as far as they are relevant for China. Futhermore satellite coverage is much better over China than over the rest of the world.
北斗 comprises number of geostationary satellites at a static location over China, a number of satellites flying figure eight loops (inclined geostationary) and a relatively limited number of satellites in lower orbits which lead them all over Earth. Outside China you will therefore see less satellites than in China and the error corrections will not be as good.
Nevertheless you can perfectly well use 北斗 now, especially in combination with the GPS system. When used in combination you get better locations than using GPS only. Simply because more satellites tend to be better when it comes to satellite navigation.

北斗, China's navigation system

Since early 2013 the Chinese 北斗 (Beidou) satellite navigation system is operational. The coverage of the satellites still limits use to China itself. Even though a number of 北斗 satellites have orbits going over the whole Earth the system is of little use outside China since China's ground stations are mostly inside China itself. So corrections which are broadcast in modern satellite navigation systems are simply not available in the rest of the world.
北斗 consists of a number of geostationary satellites, inclined geostationary satellites and medium-Earth orbit satellites. The medium-Earth orbits satellites are in comparable orbits to GPS and Glonass satellites. So these are visible all over Earth. But since there are only 4 operational now (2015) the chance that one is in view is limited. You need about 30 medium-Earth satellites to cover the Earth. The other satellites cover China itself. The four geostationary satellites are all visible from all of China. The inclined geosationary satellites make long figure-eight loops over the area. So China itself is pretty well covered. They have succeeded in building an operational system with a limited number of satellites.

The king of Brunei

Between Nanjing's new roads and skyscrapers there are plenty of historical places. Since it was the capital of China for some time this is to be expected. Nanjing has plenty of impressive monuments from it's history. There's the wall of course, the 明孝陵 tomb of China's first Ming emperor: the 洪武 emperor (Hongwu) and the palace and grave of the president of the republic of China.

The crime novels by 裘小龙: let inspector Chen introduce you to China

After Tiananmen a number of chinese ended up abroad by necessity rather than their own planning. One of the is 裘小龙 (Qiu Xiaolong). As a poet he did research in the US during Tiananmen. Returning was to Shanghai, where he was born and raised, was no longer an option.
In the US he started to write in english. Qui Xiaolong wanted to explain China to his new country and he found a special genre for it: the detective novel. H has now written a series of detective novels featuring his chinese alter ego" inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai police. The detective genre allows Qui to introduce different aspects of chinese culture to his readers without lecturing them too obviously.

Mister Shen explains: the Jesuits and the emperors

In the 17th and 18th century the Jesuits were quite active in China to convert the Middle Kingdom to the Roman catholic faith. One of the first was Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit priest who was determined to bring the true faith to China. The Jesuit order was formed when the european mission expeditions over the world were in full swing and their motto was to go wherever the Pope needed them. Significantly they adopted local customs and tried to find a confluence between local faiths and their Roman Catholic faith. The basic idea was that all religions were derived from a common idea of God. However strange the customs and beliefs of faraway people might seem, the Jesuits were convinced there was common ground.

A live map to see the sights

On many tourist spots in China you an rent an electronic audioguide. Some of these attractions have an extra cool guide, it shows a small map of the area and shows you where you are and what parts you haven't seen yet. The map is a simple plastic covered paper map on the front of the device with red leds behind it, visible through holes in the map. There are no buttons and your own location is indicated only by a flishing light on the spot where you last listened to an explanation. But simple as it is, it works great.
灵隐寺 (the Lingyin temple) in 杭州 (Hangzhou) is one of the larger temples covering a large area. Outside the temple there are a number of buddha statues carved into the rock of the mountain (dating back to Yuan dynasty). So they area is pretty large and the sites to see are dispersed. They rent out audio guides which show a little map of the area. When you get the device it shows a red led light on all locations on the map where you can listen to an explanation. Your own location is indicated by a blinking led light. If you have listened to an explanation the led corresponding to the location switches of.

Ice cold Harbin

Way up north along the Black Dragon river (黑龙江) lies the city of Harbin. In the early nineteenth century it was only a rive crossing. When the neighbours tried to carve China up Russia had its eyes on the north and built a railway to Harbin. Now the city is thoroughly chinese, with some russian elements left over.
We went to Harbin in february during chinese new year. In february the winter is at its coldest with temperatures up to minus 20 and well lower than that during the night. During the winter Harbin draws visitors with its snow and ice sculptures.
And do they make ice sculptures! The evening we arrived we went for a walk through the main street of Harbin. It was quiet, because everybody was in his home town because of chinese new year and also because it was incredably cold. There were lots of ice statues in that shopping street. We were impressed, impressed with the fish sculptures, the aircraft carrier guy, the little houses the 5 meter high "Gangnam style" Psy. Turned out it was nothing compared to what they built on the snow and ice festival grounds.


Years ago you could buy chinese brand cameras in Europe. A couple of factories manufactured cameras inspired by succesful western brands. One of these brands was Rollei, which had Rolleiflex cameras for the professional and the Rolleicord for the amateur with a budget. These were so called twin eye reflex cameras, with a lens for the actual camera and a separate lens for the photographer to look through.
Years ago my father gave me his Rolleicord, a model 5 from 1957. It is my favorite camera. Film still beats digital in dynamic range, especially slide film gives beatifull deep colours. Better than reality i think. The twin lens configuration also makes it a great camera for taking portraits. Since you keep the camera below face level it doesn't come between you and the person in front of the lens.
So i love my Rollei. But since it was my father's camera i do not dare to take it on holiday. It might get stolen, it might fall and break, all kinds of horrible things might happen to my Rollei. So i wanted a travel twin lens camera for a while. One i can throw into a backpack and take around China.

Photos from 2012

Photo from our China trips in 2012. We have certainly been around. To Xian, Beijing, Xiamen and Chengdu. And of course Nanjing.


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