Sha Chen Bao

The floors are level and the walls stand firm on all sides, but even on the tenth floor of my new apartment building the wind ravages the closed windows and doors enough to give the impression the whole place is about to collapse in on itself or crash to the dusty pavement below.

I’m told it’s the beginning of the Spring Time Sha Chen Bao (Sand storms). These nasty, Frank Herbertish sounding pain in the butts generally originate in the Gobi desert, but as they careen through the north of mainland China they kick up a hell of a lot more than dust. Out side my window about thirty-six different plastic bags gyrate and do the jig in the air, loose articles of fabric prance on the currents of wind, and only God knows how much smog is being spread around the whole city. Beijing is much worse, I know, but lately I’m noticing the air quality is getting a bit dicey. The AQI puts Dalian somewhere in the 150s regularly now. That’s considered Very Unhealthy. Shoot, the scale goes up to about 300 and Beijing was ranked around 700 a few weeks back. Good lord, right?

As I write this sentence the wind is rallying outside once again, but this time its presence is felt inside. A loud, high-pitched whistling just cut through the dark, quiet one-bedroom with enough force that it sounded more like the fire alarm…which come to think of it, this apartment doesn’t have. I should remedy that.

Sha Chen Bao, ladies and gentlemen. And it’s just begun. I’ve been told Dalian sometimes doesn’t get it, and I don’t really remember it from last year, but in any case, it’s here now. Beijing has to deal with it for a few weeks to a month on occasion. We might be luckier up in the DongBei area.Image

This is right out my window. Can’t see any plastic bags, but that’s a bunch of dust right there.

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