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There I was on a July morning,
I was looking for love.
With the strength
Of a new day dawning
And the beautiful sun.
And at the sound
Of the first bird singing
I was leaving for home.
With the storm
And the night behind me
Yeah, and a road of my own.

Uriah Heep - July Morning
A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly.
Learn English in July

Your country

bleucielbleuciel Posts: 35 Inactive
edited May 2018 in Countries and Travel
Who is proud of his coutry and why?


  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm not sure that Britain has a lot to be proud of right now!
  • bleucielbleuciel Posts: 35 Inactive
    Every body is not satisfied of his country
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    When you live in a country, you see it warts and all @bleuciel. Visitors always seen another side to the place. And people also tend to forget that everywhere has its problems, thinking that the green is always greener on the other side of the fence (or border).
  • bleucielbleuciel Posts: 35 Inactive
    Yes,this is the poblem of humans,we see just the negative points
  • JuliannaJulianna Posts: 38 Inactive
    I like both my country, my Homeland country is Ukraine and now I got a US citizenship also. I really proud of my Ukraine, this is a great country and now I also take history and pride to my new country of the USA. Both of these countries are the most beautiful in the world for me. I don't like politics, I mean that I'm proud of the people living in these countries.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    I am looking forward to visiting Ukraine in June @Julianna. I plan to go to Odessa and Kiev. Do you have any recommendations of things I should see as a tourist?
  • JuliannaJulianna Posts: 38 Inactive
    I lived in Kiev for some time and it’s a great city, especially when chestnuts are blooming. When the flowers fall from the trees, it turns out such a floral carpet on the ground. If you don’t have a history, visit Kiev Pechersk Lavra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk along Khreshchatyk and take a ride on the funicular to see the city and the river. There are many cathedrals and churches in Kiev, if you like such places. Visit Andreevsky descent, there you can find beautiful pictures. The house with Khimera is an unusual building, you need to see it as well as the Sofia square. In June it will be very hot, it seems to me that May is the best time to visit Kiev. Sorry,I can't say anything about Odessa, I have never been there ...
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    Thank you @Julianna. I will be there at the very end of May, so maybe it won't be too hot. I like art very much and visiting churches, so I think there will be a lot for me to explore. I want to keep things flexible, so depending on my fancy, can stay as long or as little time as I want.
  • mandalaputramandalaputra Posts: 10 ✭✭
    I am not satisfied of my country. because there are a lot of bad politician. the corrupted the money. and let my country became worse and worse. Fight between religion is also happen too much. sometimes i can't feel save leaving in my country.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    @mandalaputra I think that corruption is a problem in most countries these days. I am very sad when I see fighting in the name of religion as my belief is that religion is used as an excuse. Religions preach peace, not war.

    'Sometimes I can't feel safe living in my country.'
  • mandalaputramandalaputra Posts: 10 ✭✭
    Which country are you from?. In my country Indonesia the fight between Religion is often happening which makes me sad. But now I'm living in Japan as student and I feel really save here there is almost no fights in my experience so far.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    I think every country has had its share of troubles @mandalaputra. Japan certainly has had quite a bloody history until perhaps only 70 years ago.
  • Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 5
    How Chinese tourists are received in Russia and why they’ve become a problem
    (a translated part of a Russian business newspaper "Kommersant"'s investigative article)

    About 1.25M of Chinese tourists visited Russia last year. It makes about 1% of all PRC citizens who travelled abroad, but they are a whole issue for the Russian market. A shadow hospitality industry for the Chinese has been developing for more than four years, but it caught attention of the federal government only in September after the “Chinese collapse” in the St. Petersburg’s museums. “Kommersant” has found out the composition of that market.

    A “Forbidden City” near the metro station Frunzenskaya
    On any day before noon one can meet tens of tourist groups in Frunzenskaya embankment in Moscow. There aren’t any outstanding sights worth visiting but the street is parked up to the lid with buses. Chinese are ferried to jewelers, all six of them.

    Chinese tourists near a jeweller's in Frunzenskaya embankment

    If you aren’t a tourist group member you are allowed to visit only one. The guards of the others won’t let you in, saying that it’s a private art gallery visited by a prior appointment only. Or they can silently hang a ‘Sorry, taking stock now’ notice. The shop’s windows are shrouded in opaque film. Locals say that the shops as well as crowds of Chinese tourists appeared there in 2017.

    There are ‘For Chinese only’ shops in St. Petersburg too. One of them was even open for two month in the walls of Pertropavlovsk fortress just over the Amber Museum, after visiting which Chinese tourists were taken there for shopping. The prices were well higher than the average, sometimes as high as several millions roubles [£12200 in each]. As the local media reported the owner was a Chinese man known as Yasha Lee.

    The “Kommersant” sources, who service Chinese tourists, named two most common violations in a Chinese-only establishment: an uncontrolled cash flow, including of Chinese RMB and electronic payments done with the Chinese systems WeChatPay and AliPay. The Federal Tax Agency has no access to them.

    Our sources also claim that a shop like those services as many as 400 tourists per day. Some pass artificial gemstones off for natural ones or present low hallmark gold or amber as the top merchandise. The receipts and invoices are made out but the factual quality doesn’t correspond to the price, however the Chinese might find this out only when they’ve returned home and submitted their jewellery for an appraisal. Russian tour operators state that the jewelers rent the premises for not longer than a season. Their charter documents have Russian names, but their businesses are run by a Chinese national.

    Kommersant has checked several Frunzenskaya Embankment businesses. Seven jewellers are recorded at that address and some of them lack commercial names, what’s illegal.

    Kommersant has been lucky enough to have an interview with an entrepreneur engaged in this business on the condition of anonymity. He said that the turnover figures which the local media had reported were much overestimated. The most part of the payments is done with bank cards of the Chinese payment system UnionPay, analogous to Visa and MasterCard.

    Our source said also that the tax control had become much stricter recently and the Chinese working in Russia aren’t very keen to break the law. He explains the choice of Chinese-run businesses with a greater trust to compatriots.

    “A Chinese shop” can afford operating at loss for two years thanks to the safety net of connections to the Chinese government officials who would sent them customers. Russians don’t have it. A Chinese tour company can forbid its customers to visit a certain shop and they’ll obey. The good outcome for a Russian competitor is to sell their business to Chinese the bad is to go broke.
    According to his words, shopping constitutes about 10% of the travel budget of a Chinese tourist.
    [truncated here because the article is three times longer than this translation]
    Post edited by Practical_Severard on
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    How very interesting @Practical_Severard.

    Nepal shares the problem you quote here: 'The “Kommersant” sources, who service Chinese tourists, named two most common violations in a Chinese-only establishment: an uncontrolled cash flow, including of Chinese RMB and electronic payments done with the Chinese systems WeChatPay and AliPay. The Federal Tax Agency has no access to them.' Whilst there are no shops in Nepal exclusive to Chinese customers, this is because the country doesn't really have anything of great virtue to offer. But the casinos of course are a big attraction, like in many other Asisan countries. And Nepalese people are not allowed to enter these.

    I feel great shame when I read stories like these about British society. Maybe these things are happening everywhere and it is just that I see more news from the UK, but this sort of occurrence seems to be only too frequent these days.

  • Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 5
    mheredge said:

    How very interesting @Practical_Severard.
    Nepal shares the problem you quote here: 'The “Kommersant” sources, who service Chinese tourists, named two most common violations in a Chinese-only establishment: an uncontrolled cash flow, including of Chinese RMB and electronic payments done with the Chinese systems WeChatPay and AliPay. The Federal Tax Agency has no access to them.' Whilst there are no shops in Nepal exclusive to Chinese customers, this is because the country doesn't really have anything of great virtue to offer. But the casinos of course are a big attraction, like in many other Asisan countries. And Nepalese people are not allowed to enter these.

    Yes, you mentioned this Nepalese problem once and that's why I've done this translation. But the Chinese seem to harm themselves bonding their trips to the Chinese-only businesses, as the story claims. Probably, that's because of a poor command of foreign languages.
    mheredge said:

    I feel great shame when I read stories like these about British society. Maybe these things are happening everywhere and it is just that I see more news from the UK, but this sort of occurrence seems to be only too frequent these days.

    You probably want too much. That's only one case. I read that in Ukraine buses with people to be quarantined were thrown stones at when they had arrived the destination. Here those people suffered from not very comfortable wards and shipping by a military plane lacking a toilet.

    Post edited by Practical_Severard on
  • Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 11
    A continuation:

    Touristic mah-jong

    While tourists are watching ‘Swan Lake’ their guide Lee (we use a pseudonym as the man wanted) is waiting for them in a coffee bar opposite the Mariinsky theatre. He’s wearing a large amber pendant like many other Chinese guides. Amber is a believed in China to have healing powers and to attract luck.

    Lee works illegally. He isn’t a registered guide, as required for this occupation and he lacks a permission to work in museums. He works for an ‘unofficial’ branch of the Chinese tour operator UTour. He gets tickets to Tsarskoe Selo and the Hermitage Museum from touts and nobody in the street asks him for a work permit.

    A Chinese guide in Tsarskoe Selo

    Lee came to Russia with his parents as early as in 2000, his father opened a restaurant in St. Petersburg. He finished a Russian school and later graduated as a linguist and a manager. He started guiding almost from the very beginning. In 2007, when he was 18, his monthly income was whopping $3000 (about 75000 roubles according to that time exchange rate). He stays here on a residence permit and has no intention of giving up his Chinese citizenship.

    Illegal guides like Lee don’t receive wages or a salary. Instead, they pay an unofficial tour company to be allowed working with a group. A one-time charge is about $15000 plus there is a per capita fee which depends on the number of people in a group. The fee varies from $10 to $25. A group’s lunches and museum tickets are also at the guide’s expense.

    Guides make money on additional services like extra excursions and they’re entitled for a share of the revenue that a shop of the above-mentioned kind makes on his group’s tourists. The shop gives the guide about 30% which he, in turn, shares with the tour leader, an accompanying the group employee of the sending tour company. Then they both have to hand a half to the receiving company. Finally a guide receives about 7.50% of the money spent by the group.

    This setup has been effective for the last three years. As Lee says it’s a kind of lottery for the guides. If a group purchases a lot, you gain, otherwise you lose. But the tour operator wins all the time.

    He saved enough to spend a year in China, where he had nuptials, came back to St. Petersburg and opened a Chinese restaurant. He also had two children. Now he spends most of his time on the restaurant, as for guiding, he does it only occasionally.

    Lee is uneasy about the recently risen competition. As he says, St. Petersburg has already got a lot of businesses for Chinese and owned by Chinese.
    Post edited by Practical_Severard on
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    @Practical_Severard I suppose this sort of thing has been happening through history and all over the world. In Nepal, I was very surprised at first by the number of Chinese I met who were working illegally on a tourist visa and choosing to live in Nepal, a country that is very poor. However these immigrants are resourceful and so they can make a living, often much better than at home.

    Lee would not be able to work as a guide in Nepal as the local guides are very on top of the situation here. I know from personal experience when I took some trekking guides into the city centre for training (more to train them on how to manage groups of tourists) and even though I had obtained permission to take them there from the Tourist Board, the local guides were not having any of it and forced us away.

    It seems the British are not alone in their xenophobia when it comes to the corona virus, according to this wiki article that lists incidents. However although most events have not been violent, there have been a few cases in the UK and the Netherlands.

  • Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 12
    All started with lists
    Chinese tourists started coming in large quantities to Russia in 2015. Two factors triggered that: the rouble to US dollar exchange rate had plummeted and the charter flights had multiplied significantly. One could have flown to Russia from as many as 10 Chinese cities in 2015. By the end of 2019, however, according to the “World without border” tourist organisation, 24 Chinese cities had got direct flights to Russia. These flights were provided by 23 carriers (10 Russian, 8 Chinese, 5 from other countries).
    410 thousand Chinese nationals entered Russia for tourism in 2014, while in 2018 1.25M of them did this, according to the figures by the Border Guard Service of the FSB. Those wanting to make money on the growing market came too.

    According to the year 2000’s Sino-Russian intergovernmental agreement on a visa-free entry members of groups of 5-50 Chinese nationals are entitled for a visa-free entry to Russia for up to 15 days. A Chinese company can sell tours and send the groups, while a Russian company enlisted in a mutually agreed by the both regulators registry, which is maintained by the Rostourism governmental agency, can receive them. Now there are 443 Russian companies on the registry. They make out group lists and hand them to border checkpoints for a visa-less entry.

    An eight-day trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg from a Chinese city costs about 30,000 roubles ($491). The price includes the air fares, accommodation, meals, transportation and several excursions in the both destinations.

    As the Director General of the ‘Ellips-tour’ company Ms Yelena Trishchenko claims, now the Chinese firms sell the tours below the cost for $50-150 depending on the service category. Her firm has been working with Chinese tourists since 1998. A Chinese tour operator the receiving firm only at the end of a tourist season, meaning that the latter works on its own account, and not all the Russian companies agree on these terms.

    This Chinese dumping has made the Russian companies either leave the market or downgrade their business to selling the group lists to shadow Chinese firms operating in Russia, says the association’s “World without borders’ executive director Alexandr Agamov. A Russian tour operator receives the Chinese tourists in the papers only while in reality a shadow branch of a Chinese one does this.

    The price of a list may be up to 10,000 roubles ($162) as market sources claim. This practice has been effective for at least 5 years and it was the reason that triggered the market to go underground, the Kommersant’s informants claim. Supposedly 60% of the Russian receivers do this.

    However, Ms Trishchenko says that the lists are no longer sold. The Chinese don’t need this anymore since they are in charge of the receivers now, even if Russians are recorded as their owners. She estimates that all Moscow and St. Petersburg receivers work in this way. Rostourism was unable to comment on her claim by the publication date.

    Kommersant’s sources say that the Chinese tour firms build in Russia the infrastructure necessary to service the groups: semi-closed shops, restaurants, hotels and transportation companies. The groups’ guides also exchange members’ currency.

    The sinologist and Director General of the tour company “Kalina-travel” Mr. Alexander Fyedin opines that there are no any Russian participants left on the market anymore, and the Chinese business competes with itself. We’ve got a similar point of view from an entrepreneur who offers boat rides and parties in St. Petersburg. On the condition of anonymity he said to us that his revenue had fallen twice for the last several years. A boat of his used to bring as much as 30,000 roubles ($490) per run but nowdays the meagre 15,000 is a success. The reason is, as he said, that Chinese have involved themselves in this business.

    The service standards have plummeted because of all these, and the Chinese tourists have come to notice that. “Russia is a third-world country where they have a zero understanding of service. The train was old and dirty, the guides demanded us to have meals in Chinese establishments. Being in Russia without a chance to taste the Russian food is awful”, as the users of the most popular in China social network WeChat write in their reviews.

    The Chinese firms and guides charge the tourists for admission to places which are free to visit, such as the Moscow metro (1500 roubles $24.6) or the Lenin Mausoleum (2000 roubles $32.8). The Chinese tourist Ms Tsee [the surname is translated from Russian] shares her insight: “The guides charge 100 yuan ($14.75 900 roubles) for admission to the Novodevichie cemetery. It’s free to visit! When I complained to the tour agency about that, they answered that the fee was to cover the entrance ticket, the bus driver and the guide salary, the firm’s share… I was speechless!”

    The charges for Chineese tourist (by the October 2019’s exchange rate)
    The Moscow Metro ($22 150 Yuan vs $0.9 of the one-ride ticket price)
    The Tretyakov gallery ($59 400 Yan 3600 roubles vs $8.2)
    A circus ( $74, 500 Yuan 4500 roubles vs 500-5000 roubles $8.2-82)
    The Peterhof Museum ($65.6 450 yuan 4000 roubles vs 1000 roubles $16.4)
    A boat ride on the Neva river ( $74, 500 Yuan 4500 roubles vs from 600 roubles $9.83)
    [many more omitted]

    But it’s the cheap trip business model what drives the number of tourists up, a Kommersant source on the market thinks. Chinese wouldn’t want to pay higher fares for a trip to Russia.

    Ms Trishchenko is sure that the group tourism won’t last for more than three years. Almost all of the today tourists’ are over 50 years of age. She thinks that the Chinese youth almost never travel in groups.

  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,378 ✭✭✭✭
    Tourism always ends up being what the tourist is willing to pay if they don't want the hassle to do it themselves @Practical_Severard. This particularly applies to groups, where the individuals who go on these types of trips really do not want to work out anything. Often language is their biggest worry (not that this has ever stopped me).

    The Chinese are very experienced in undercutting and pushing prices down, as I have seen in Nepal where they have taken over a part of Thamel, the tourist centre in Kathmandu. Similarly the few who go trekking (relatively not so many like to do this) also manage to get deals that are so ridiculously cheap that the company can't be making much if any profit.

    Ms Trishchenko is right about the age profile of tour groups. Although most Chinese youngsters might still travel in small groups, these are as groups of friends and not as big organised groups, booked with a travel agency. Occasionally you meet solo Chinese travellers (more often girls) too. I have seen large herds of middle aged Chinese following the guide's flag, wandering around Nice. Though some of these big groups might also be from the huge cruise ships that call by, in increasing numbers.

    I am so looking forward to next year when Russian tourist visas should become easier, as I would like to visit Russia, but in my own time and not with a tour group.
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