Vincent in China

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Monday, November 16 2009

Winter has come in Wuhan

Since few days the weather was very cold, and this morning the first snowy day, a the roofs and trees were laid with a big white snow coat. Nothing more than French snow, nothing less, except maybe the moving forest of umbrella running among taxis, bus and the courageous bike riders.

The air is really fresh and inside restaurants there is no heating device, so it's convenient to keep your coat to eat, unless you wear a sweater and another one over it.

Even in the buildings, like the laboratory I'm working on, it's very cold and rarely with the reverse air-conditioner working, so, keep wearing big coats and sweaters.

A little screen-shot of my computer at start-up, with the ambient air at 10 Degrees.


Some pictures from the balcony taken by my personal photographer. CIMG0231_rs.jpg CIMG0226_rs.jpg CIMG0225_rs.jpg

Thursday, October 22 2009

About my internship (2)

This whole afternoon I had the chance to fight with the Linux tc command (traffic control). With this wonderful tool I can easily restrict bandwidth for an user in the network, or also set up an efficient QoS (Quality of Service), favoring some important protocols such as SSH or the TCP Ack packet. over bulk data traffic for which latency and jitter are not important.

So my problem was about the tc filter, filters tell where a packet should be enqueued, in which class they have to be proceed, according to their source. Setting up the filter is easily done by a command like this one:

tc filter add dev eth0 parent 2:0 protocol ip prio 0 handle 20 fw flowid 2.20

Quick explanation, this filter is attached to the eth0 interface, and attached to the root qdisc 2:0 since htb filters (Hierarchical Token Bucket) must be attached directly ot the root class, not matter what. The prio 0 was the cause of my fight, because in my script I didn't need any special priority, so I let it at 0. The handle 20 fw means that the unique identifier of the filter is 20 and will catch the packets marqued in iptables with the value 20, and that those packets will be enqueued in the class 2:20.

If you want to delete dynamically a filter and a class of your interface, without reloading all the iptables/tc setting taking a certain time, the htb qdisc allow dynamic modifications, The only problem resides in the fact that a filter must be declared with a priority, a handle and a type if you want to remove it, else it'll be a lost filter attached ot your qdisc. After trying to remove it, I get some not really explicit messages from the tc command, and after browsing the lartc mailing list, and trying little configuration with tc on my side, I figured out that if the prio of a filter is 0 or 1 and that other filter got also got a prio of 0 or 1, you can't remove them, even if they have a handle and everything required. You need to put a prio of 2 or higher for example to all your filter and then you can delete them. It was a little tricky because in my case I don't need any filter to be prio on any other, else in most of the script using tc you'll see the prio changing.

PS: this article is still a stub that need to be completed about the none explained "things".

Saturday, October 17 2009

Some pictures from Wuhan (武汉)

Since my lab-mate Remy bought a new camera, we went on a little trip in Wuchang to train ourself.

Military demonstration on my university campus. Very certainly students enrolled in military training. _IGP4755_rs.jpg

Some cap being sold in the street. _IGP4754_rs.jpg

Little figures carved in a tree trunk. _IGP4743_rs.jpg

A (Chinese) butterfly. _IGP4742_rs.jpg

Wuhan city beach, one of the thousands of lake in Wuhan. Too bad the water don't look so clean, because with the almost 30°C we got today... _IGP4735_rs.jpg

There is even palm tree here. _IGP4734_rs.jpg

The restaurant I'm used to go to eat for my lunch, with the home made noodles, very impressive to see, I'll take some pictures of this art later. This a typical Gansu (甘肃) restaurant, and since Gansu people are mostly muslim, it's also a muslim restaurant without pork. _IGP4728_rs.jpg

Friday, October 9 2009

Red Chamber Museum and Taoism Temple

Taking advantage of my holidays, I spent another day in two different places.

The first one is a Taoism temple we noticed on the way to the Yellow Crane Tower. Actually, it's more a temple for people wishing to pray than for people to visit, unlike some other temples where the main use is for tourists.

Pictures of the temple :

_IGP4672_rs.jpg _IGP4677_rs.jpg _IGP4678_rs.jpg _IGP4680_rs.jpg

The other place we went to see is the Wuchang Red Chamber, it's a place having a very important place in Chinese history since the 1911 Revolution against the Qing Dynasty began here, in Wuchang, before spreading to the whole China. More about the 1911 revolution here.

Some pictures of the Red Chamber :

_IGP4693_rs.jpg _IGP4688_rs.jpg _IGP4687_rs.jpg

Another funny thing is that in Hankou, there were some area on the YangTse riverside belonging to foreign countries, such as Great Britain, Germany, Japan and even France. Those lost pieces of land among China were given back to China around 1945 but some souvenirs remain, such as this carved stone.


(The main R.F. for "Republique Francaise", and the Chinese characters under means litterally "Big Republic of France" 法国大 !)

Monday, October 5 2009

Visit of the Yellow Crane Tower

This Saturday I went to the Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼). This place is located in Wuchang (武昌), on the so called "Snake Hill".

The park is in the middle of the town on a little hill, from which you can have a very good view of Wuchang (武昌) and Hankou (汉口), which is on the other side of the YangTse.

In the park there is the Yellow Crane tower, but also other pavillons.

Here are some pictures I took during this visit.

The Yellow Crane Tower :


Yue Fei statue :


View of Hankou from the last floor of the tower :


Other pictures :




Friday, October 2 2009

Chinese National Day

October 1st is Chinese National day, an important time in Chinese life, not because of the origin of the day itself, which was the date chosen to be the declaration of the PRC (People Pepublic of China) by Mao Zedong (毛泽东), but mainly because it's National Day holidays from 1st to 10th.

So we decided to head to Hankou (汉口) on the other side of the YangTse(or ChangJiang 长江) river in Wuhan (武汉), to see the firework which will be fired on the shores of the river. After a little more than one hour in a crowded bus, we arrive at our destination, or almost since a very big part of the road along the Yangtse was closed and for pedestrian.

Already, a very massive crowd of people heading to the place where the firework will occur, a very impressive stream of people. The closer we are from the destination, the fewer space we have to walk or stand, the crowd is now really compact and it's impossible to walk without pushing or making move someone else.

National day in Hankou

In this area, there is a big empty space without trees or building heading to the Yangtse, and everyone guess that the firework will be fired in this area. There is also an open space area where people can go buying tickets to have a better view. We tried to reach this area but so many people were pushing and moving, it became kind of dangerous to stay in here, so we headed back to our initial position, waiting for the beginning of the firework.

Then two first "boom boom", but nothing in the sky, everyone try to see from where it comes, then another burst, and we finally noticed that the firework is fired under the building with the open space, very low in the sky. There is no way we cna move to see in a better way, after the building there are a lot of high trees. So open space building was the only solution to have a good view of the firework, so we barely see the colours and the sounds, but we were part of this big day !

Some Chinese tried to convert me, they almost succeed !

Newly communism converted

Tuesday, September 29 2009

Vim is your friend

Since yesterday I decided to use Vim as text editor. Vim can be considered as a weird text editor, having 2 different modes, insert and command mode, and you have to switch between them to add text or to delete words or copy/past, search for words occurrence and so on.

This Vim is really powerful and with very little simple command you can perform a lot of things, like just place the cursor on the beginning of a word, then write the command "dw" and your word will be deleted, 'd' stands for 'delete' and 'w' for 'word'. The power of Vim resides in the combination of basic instruction like this.

I just spent 2 hours to set up my Vim, and most of the time spent was to have a nice color theme (not the famous desert one). I found a very good theme on this website ( here ). The ir_black.vim file has been modified else it was impossible to read comments on the black background, and so does my Terminal colour profile, changed according to the colours given in the file.

I'll attach the ".vimrc" and ".vim" folder contening the folder for color theme later in this article.

At the end of a day of use, I'm not so mixed up between the input and command mode and I begin to be quicker for certain tasks than with an Ide or a simple Gedit. To be continued...

Monday, September 28 2009

A monday in Wuhan

After a kind of busy weekend, here comes Monday. After a morning working at the lab on my project, which is going well for now, I took my lunch break outside eating in a "normal restaurant".

By “normal restaurant", let me explain the kind of restaurant you can in China.

  • Self service little restaurant : In this kind of restaurant, there is a person in front of it giving you a plastic box for you to fill with the food you'll find in the shop (or on the side-walk). There is plenty of kind of vegetables or spring roll or tofu, but no meat. Once you filled your box, you go to the cashier and the weight of your box will determine the price you pay, it's usually around 19 Yuans for one kilo, after you paid, you have also the same plastic box full of rice in addition to the dishes you choose before. In this restaurant, the food is exposed at the direct air of street and everyone pic his food in a joyful messy crowd. Maybe your stomach won't appreciate...
  • Little restaurant : In this little restaurant, you have a big choice of dishes, usually between noodles or rice based dishes, and served in a single plate or bowl if you take noddles with soup. It's a single plate, with the rice/noodle, vegetables and very tiny pieces of meet. You can eat there for minimum 5 yuans, or most of the time 7 or 8 yuans. It's cheap because the quantity of meat you have is really, tiny tiny tiny. Same than for the previous description, your stomach may not like this kind of food. I think than health rules are more than basic in this kind of restaurant, but the dishes are tasty.
  • Normal restaurant : A set of crockery wrapped in a plastic bag to tell you your dishes has been clean : a glass, a bowl, a plate and chopsticks. You have a menu and the waiter come at your table to take your order or you can write your order by yourself and simply give him the note. You can separately order dishes, like a plate of vegetables, a plate of fish, meat or a big bowl of soup. When you order the dishes, it takes a really short time to be ready (not like in France) and the waiter also brings you a big bowl of rice, to eat with the dishes you ordered. The "usual" typical order is like one dish for one person, and everyone takes what he/she wants on the table. The rice in China is not really considered as a dish, but only something to be eaten with the dishes. The price for a dish with meat is around 14 or 18 Yuan, but that's really meat and in a very satisfying quantity. For two people, count around 40 yuan for a meal.
  • Fancy restaurant : It's the same than a normal one, except the decoration, you can also have a separate room if you are more than 6 to eat, with your own air conditioner, toilets and tea table. There is also almost all the time a waiter in the room serving the dishes or preparing tea. The quality is superior and so are the prices. Count around 400/500 yuan for 6 people.

So my preference goes to the normal restaurant, first because it's very tasty in most of this kind of restaurant, you have enough to eat (whereas a single plate of rice and vegetables will often let you starve some hours after), you can eat meat, and it's "stomach compliant".

Once returned to my lab after a one hour break, I begin to keep working on my bash script, using vim to insert none printable ASCI characters for doing a spinner which will be displayed while the background task will be done, anyway, doing my job peacefully, when a student in my row go back to seat on his desk. My computer is shut down, power off. Yes, the outlet for electricity is placed on the ground, on a little metallic hatch, and the outlet is kind of not very stable, so my nice lab-mate walked on it or touched it and powered off my computer and the router for the left side of the lab, congratulations !

Yes, the lab is a mess, hubs on the ground, RJ45 wires running everywhere, 2 multi-plug outlets pluged in a row, kind of never seen, but working, but very sensible to any bad move made by a chair or an awkward foot.

After leaving my lab and passing by the local supermarket to buy some fruits and ice creams, I went to run on the stadium I have just at the feet of my building. It belongs to a college, not Wuhan University of Technology, but another one.

Let's talk a little about sport now : In China, in the college campus, what strikes the most is to see the number of basket ball fields and to see all those students playing all day long. It's also funny to see a lot of students, or middle age or old people walking or walking quickly around the stadium, chatting together. Before coming to Wuhan, I feared that because of the pollution I won't be able to do intensive exercise but in fact I can run as well as in France, and I don't have any particular breathing problem due to the not clear air.

Today I met a Chinese student from the university who was also running and we chatted quickly while running. And during a little break I took before two running sessions, and since my tender half wasn't running with me, I was boarded by a student whose English was not clear and mixed up with Chinese, she seemed kind of confuse so I returned to run, I'm not an easy man !

Saturday, September 26 2009

First Chinese course in WHUT

This morning I had my first Chinese course in the campus, from 8 am to almost noon, on a Saturday morning, not easy to wake up. There are courses for foreign students all morning in the week and week ends but since I have to work in the lab from Monday to Friday, I can only go there during the week end.

The only problem is that the students were already at lesson 3 and I'll have to work on my side during the week to keep the same level than them, but since now it's really basic, I'm not lost (yet).

The teacher is I think a student in the university and is competent and interesting, she also explain to us how to write Chinese in a correct way and respecting the order of writing.

Tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8 am, I'll return there for another 4 hours of courses.


Today, Sunday 27, I went to the course again, really hard to wake so early on a Sunday to study, but the course was interesting with a funny dynamic young teacher, maybe working too much on the same concepts and vocabulary, but maybe a good way to memorise little by little.

During the weekend courses, we are around 22 students, most of them are coming from Africa, India or Pakistan.

Anyway those courses are not enough for me according to the level of Chinese I wish to reach before the end of my intern-ship, so I'll keep studying by myself in addition.

Friday, September 25 2009

A dinner in Wuhan

Thanks to my personal skilled cooker, I have the chance to eat delicious Chinese food, and at home ! Very tasty and colourful.

a normal dinner at home

Thursday, September 24 2009

Residence permit application

Today was the day in Wuhan University of Technology for foreign students to register for Residence Permit (understand a Visa for student staying more than 6 months in China). So you can ask, why the hell do you need a residence permit since your internship is a little less than 6 months. The answer lies in the fact I already stayed 1 month before the official beginning date of my internship, with a touristic Visa, so at the end of my internship I would have stayed 7 months in a row, which requires a Residence Permit.

To obtain a residence permit, you need a proof of your application in the university, pass a medical examination in an hospital (blood routines, chest X=Rays, others little exams)

So there was an appointment in the East campus for all the new students who had to get their permit residence, in a meeting room, with the international office teachers and also the policemen from entry/exit police station.

After a powerpoint about Chinese law and the fact that we should really not "get drunken" or smoke drug, we went in line to check the application materials, leave the passport and files then pay.

It should take less than 2 weeks to have my residence permit, I'll explain more precisely the different steps to get in another article.

Tuesday, September 22 2009

About my internship

I'm in China for less than 6 months for an internship in Wuhan University of Technology. My subject is a part of a big project which have been undermine 1 year ago, aiming at developing a router filled with the technology and the hardware required to filter, control the network stream at several levels. Allow some protocols to be used on the networks or not, restrict the bandwidth to users based on their IP, and my part is about QOS (Quality of Service). In a nutshell, I have to manage the bandwidth according to the kind of traffic, and to who it's supposed to be delivered.

For now I've been mostly reading documentation about QOS, routing and Firewall settings, and mostly the two very useful commands iptables and tc available on every Linux distribution.

Saturday, September 5 2009

Some first pictures of Wuhan 武汉,Wuchang 武昌.

Wuhan is not really a city, it s in fact 3 different cities at the north and south of the YangTse. I live in Wuchang, the one at the south of the YangTse.

Wuhan in really huge and the population in the urban area is about 10 millions people. The weather is particularly hot, even according to Chinese standard and it s not rare to have temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius during summer. In addition, the weather is really wet and just staying 2 minutes in the shadows outside is enough to change you into a sticky thing.

Chinese way of driving is really different from France,and kind of disturbing in a first time,even lethal if you don t pay attention to the cars,bus,taxis, bikes and other weird vehicles on the road. When you want to cross the street, even if the light is a brilliant green for you to cross, cars are going and thats your part to avoid them,all this in a kind of horn concerto, which will be very soon nothing special to hear in the coming days.

However, Wuhan is the most crazy city I've been through about driving, with a lot of cars even sometimes bus driving on the sidewalk, the "Wuhan touch" maybe. Some pictures from my flat balcony, 29th floor. Wuhan by night 1 Wuhan by night 2 Wuhan by Day 1 Wuhan by Day 2 My residence

Some other pictures from Chengdu 成都 in Sichuan 四川 province where I spent some days. Those pictures where taken on a very recent spot of the very old Chengdu city about 6000 years ago. Chengdu Symbol Chengdu Golden Mask Chengdu Statue

Friday, August 28 2009

Arrival in Wuhan, more exactly in Wuchang

After a "short trip" of 17 hours in train from Chengdu, the train stops to Wuchang train station, first feeling, it's hot, really hot and wet weather. Two persons from the University are here to pick me up and drive me to the dormitory for foreign students. After a quick chat about the fact I don't want to rent a flat in the campus, I take an hotel room for few days at the North of the campus.

The first night is "cool", compared to the afternoon, but still probably around 30 degrees. Some part of the sky are blue and stars are even visible among the lights of the city. At this time, I say to myself "Finally, Wuhan is not so bad !".A lot of people told me that Wuhan was really polluted and the sky always full of a big heavy pollution fog, but for my part, I'll discover this in few days.

After one day in the city, what I can say is that this city is a mess. Even according to "Chinese standard" of messy and dirty things. The streets and the sidewalks are sometimes mixed (including cars, bikes or buses driving on them. The sidewalks are in a very bad state, uneven, part of them in mud or big stones. Another point is the trashes or rubbish, spread on the streets or on the road close to sidewalks. Every little shop or restaurant throw their trashes like this after 10 or 11 pm, and when the air is still hot and wet, I let you imagine the pretty smell walking in those streets.

To finish with this bad picture of Wuhan, let's talk about the smell you can encounter in the streets. Usually, walking in the streets is a subtle mix of smell from little restaurants, nice smell of Chinese dishes, from time to time, the smell of a bus just accelerating in a black cloud of smoke, and then, a very very bad smell, coming from you don't know where, but really present. It's very unpleasant to walk in an area where this smell is spreading, and even more when you are about to eat.

People are driving in a crazy way, a lot of bikes going on the sidewalks to avoid traffic jam, big street intersections are a mess, with cars on every side of the road and in any way. Chinese driving is like a giant gig of horns and honks.

To sum up, Wuhan is the most dirty/messy city I've been in China. Guangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming or even smaller cities in the countryside are a lot more cleaner and representative of China.

Thursday, August 13 2009

Arrived in China

After a little less than 12 hours of flight, going through Guangzhou (广州) airport. Aflu forces the passengers to fill a form about their health, but no paranoia from the local authorities about this.

Once outside, what strike the most is the very hot and wet air, falling on you like a heavy continuous rain.

Taking an air conditioned bus to go downtown, I can see again the landscape and streets I went through few months ago. Once in Guangzhou downtown, the same congestion, impressive stream of cars, bus, bikes and other not identified vehicles. The sun is going down very quickly and it's almost at dusk we arrived at the bus station.

With the luggages, back bag and other bags from the duty-free, trying to find an hotel while it's still around 33 or 34 degrees outside.

Saturday, July 25 2009

Visa obtained

My Visa for China is made, after a touristic Visa to be in China one month before my internship, and then extend it as a F Visa during my long stay in China.

There is only three places in France to obtain a Chinese Visa, depending on your residence area. Paris, Strasbourg and Marseille are the three only cities where you can obtain a Visa. All you need to obtain your Visa depends on its type, you can check the requirements by clicking the link below.

Keep in mind that if you ask for a single entry Visa, once entered in China, you cannot go anywhere else around (neither Hong Kong nor Macau), so think of asking for a multiple entry Visa, else you'll to buy new entries in China, which is not so easy.