Friday, September 29, 2006

China in Pictures...

1. Me and lucy and my welcoming committee - AIESEC PKU - eating chicken wings and hearts at a restaurant next to their uni.

2. The teaching building of my school

3. My room

4. Me at the desk in the teachers' office.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Life, The Universe and Everything

So have been away over the weekend - visiting my sister in Cardiff. Always a pleasure! Her house is amazing - I'm very jealous!

We wandered around the city centre and I was personally a little put out by two ostentatious 'stag-nights' that seemed to be 'going down'. I would actually call them stag days because it was only 5pm and they seemed to have had a good run already. So one of the guys is sitting chained to a chair in the pavement between a pub and it's outdoor seating wearing a bra and some other exciting clothing. He leers at people as they walk past and makes some smart comment to my girlfriend. I mean what drives people to want to do this? If you are starting a marriage in this way are you really in the right frame of mind to get married? If marriage is denial of freedom then something is very wrong. Basically it's another commercialisation of a weak tradition (by which I mean it has been adapted to mean something irrelevant to encourage spending). I can't stand it!

Anyway that was Cardiff - the city is still very nice though! Today I bought souvenirs to take to China - for presents or rewards etc. Exorbitant prices - I drew the line at a tacky pen with a flag on it for £2 (check it out: I got my bits and pieces though and the predictable irony is that most of it is 'Made in China'. This, I hope, will amuse!

Oh yeah and went to an amazing Indian yesterday - Tower Tandoori ( near Tower Bridge. The food tasted good and the decor was great. Best part was that they were just really nice people running it. The manager made an effort to brighten the mood at the table as I was late and my girlfriend was a little put out! This for me was great service and it was a fun meal!

Finally... My sister leant me a book - Shantaram - an intriguing story of an escaped convict from Australia who seems to take Bombay by storm. Having visited Bombay it's reminiscent and great fun to read deeper into the city. Every other page I have to remind myself that all these things happened to this guy. Incredible story! (Amazon link).

I fly out to China on Thursday so tomorrow is packing! Enjoy.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stone Necklace

Have been drilling holes in stones from Croatia today. Turns out to be relatively straight forward despite assurances to the contrary from a whole variety of 'tradespeople' in Wantage (shoe-repairers, engravers, jewellers, jewellery makers and of course the funeral parlour!). The necklace is looking very nice if a little phallic but I can't change the choice of stones unfortunately.

Also been intensively learning Chinese - this is a challenge and not a challenge. The improvements in the pronunciation are great but the bulk of words and limited time make things tricky. Today it was "What are you doing today" or "jintian ni xiang zuo ma?". Yesterday it was "Ji dian le" (what time is it) and "Ni you xiongdi jiemei ma?" (Do you have brothers and sisters). The chapters are getting much harder and the CD doesn't run through the vocabulary at the start like it did for the early chapters - that's life though I suppose.

Oh yeah - the last part of my activities right now - work - The Company. Won't go into detail but currently worried about getting the website up and running along with sourcing products, finance, expertise, somewhere to work from etc etc etc!!! I am currently working on my positive outlook! At least the competition is pretty feeble.

Thought for the day...

I think that the UK press has meetings every so often and picks a politician to 'murder' for the next couple of weeks/months (depending on how stubborn the politician is). A few months ago it was the Home Office minister. Now they've got their sights set on Tony Blair. Basically this means that every news bulletin and newspaper front page has a mention of the 'leadership crisis' or various misdemeanors. The Mail (I think) produced a 'memo' and within minutes the entire press (including BBC) were reporting the contained information as if it were clear fact. Not a mention of the fact that it could have been made up by the Mail to capitalise on the attention. What a surprise when the Sun managed to produce a date for Tony's departure! point is that politicians are paid through our hard earned taxes in order to improve the running of the country and the lot of the people. No wonder they aren't much use when the press create non-issues just to sell papers. I never read papers and don't watch TV. I urge the nation to vote with their feet and stop reading ALL papars!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Here I am

I almost forgot!

Here I am!

This is Henry!

On Thursday I finally got my visa to go to China and teach! I also bought my flights and so I'll be off on 14th September!

Took three attempts for the visa - the queues are crazy - there must be 1000s applying each week. Looks like my great idea for a unique trip might not be so unique after all but I have no doubt it will be a challenge.

The queues are managed by these guys who have been applying for visas on people's behalf for 15 years. They make sure that the queue is orderly and people are in the right place! I suppose they get some form of preferential treatment in return for this service - interesting system.