Christmas in Bejing

After two years in China I finally managed to do something I’ve been planning to do for a long time, namely visit Beijing. As Southern China is such a very long way from the North, Christmas seemed as good a time as any, and after some last-minute clicking I had a flight and hotel booked to see me through the Christmas period.

Not only is Beijing geographically distant from Guangzhou, it’s also different in most other respects. The people look different, they behave different, they eat different, and they speak different. It would be easy to convince yourself you are in a different country entirely.

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Post-holiday slowdown

Malaysia and Singapore were great. What more can be said?

Singapore was everything I was expecting it to be. Big, modern, clean, efficient, and expensive (although not as bad as Hong Kong). I’ve read many people describe it as a little soul-less. Maybe if you live there for a few years the size of the place may feel restricting, but for a few days it was perfect. It was particularly nice for me to have access to all the modern conveniences I don’t have in Guangzhou, and not to be constantly viewed as a ‘gui lo’ (a somewhat derogatory term for foreigner).

As to Malaysia, well, it’s a much bigger country with a far wider array of cultures and geography than I could possibly fit into a short stay and a few paragraphs. The mix of cultures is really amazing, with people speaking countless languages, practicing many religions, eating all manner of different (and very tasty) foods, and all living in a fair resemblance of harmony. The people actually smile and talk to each, and I never once felt like a tourist. Super stuff.

Would I go back? I’m already considering it!

Malaysia beach

Small Yellow Inflatable Pigs

It was Chinese New Year a few weekends back and amongst the celebrations Guangzhou had its New Year Flower Fair. This is a local tradition going back over 500 years to the Ming Dynasty. I decided to check it out in the evening and went to one (of several) locations in the Beijing Road area of the city.

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And there goes Autumn

HeadsAfter a long hiatus I am back in Prague, and it’s feeling good. Norway was a fantastic country to stay in. The countryside was, to use a ropey-old expression, drop-dead gorgeous. The people were very friendly, and I enjoyed myself a lot. Living in a hotel for so long did have its downsides, and I don’t miss that at all, but I succumbed to a reward scheme and have earned myself enough points to stay somewhere lovely.

My previous impressions of Oslo were more or less accurate, but I will update them here. The most important thing is that yes, Norway is indeed an expensive place. Even compared to London. When you look at simple items such as a stick of chewing gum or a can of coke, and find that they are up to five times more expensive, you start to take notice.

A curious fact is that even though the population of Norway is only 4,604,800 (half the population of London), they have two languages (and possibly more, but the distinction escapes me). Like most places I visited I managed to derive some amusement from words with dual meanings, and particularly enjoyed ‘spare bank’, ‘god parkering’, and ‘fartering’.

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Planes, trains, and computer failure

My last post was June 6th, and today it’s June 21st. In the time since then my hard drive had a spasm of identity, and I went back to England for a short holiday. Actually, both happened at the same time, which has left my computer pretty much incapacitated until I got back to Prague. Now I have the fun task of restoring its former glory. And they say computers are designed to make our lives easier.

While most of my work and emails were backed up, I had 10’s of gigs of photos and videos that were not, and not all of them survived. It’s quite disheartening really, as some were the only copies I had.

What was more disturbing was that after re-installing Windows, and before I could download a firewall and update Windows from Windows Update, my computer was infected with four different viruses/trojans. Now that’s scary, and makes me wonder at the state of the vast majority of the computer population.

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Best onions

Freshly returned from Hong Kong, I remembered this photo I took in Zhaoqing, in Guangdong province, Southern China. As far as I can tell, this may be the best example of Chinglish discovered. I should add that I did not go on an onion-smelling tour (the bus actually stopped at a mushroom farm, but that’s another issue), and the area was not known for its prize onions.

Best Onions

I managed to loose my mp3 player on arrival to HK, which caused much distress, but fortunately it was found by Lufthansa when I returned to the airport. Probably as a product of this, and the fact that gadgets are quite a bit cheaper over there, I picked up an iPod shuffle. A review may ensue.

Other than that I turned 30 and had a super time.