Archives for the month of: October, 2008

Well I was warned in the guide book, there are not many net cafes in Hong Kong because almost everyone has internet access. Fortunately I finally stumbled across one so life is good!
Beijing was good and quite a busy time for me. Hong Kong has been slightly less manic. I’ve been doing a heck of a lot of walking about the place, trying to shop and such. I’ve come to the realisation that there isn’t any well know touristy stuff to do here. Come to Hong Kong and see…. the skyline? Well that takes all of five minutes. And I’m not going to Disney Land Hong Kong either that’s for sure.
I have been tempted to buy a laptop, but the global recession has reduced the exchange rate to a point where the prices just don’t seem like such a steal as I’m sure they could have. Probably for the best I’m guessing.
I’m definately getting the most out of the very comfortable bed in the hotel, having three months of hard Chinese beds and something with a bit of give is very welcome. Also the shops here don’t open until 10 so having a lie in is pretty much demanded.

Well I’m here in Xi’an, and I’ve seen the terracotta warriors! Score.
Getting from the drop point of the airport shuttle to the hostel was certainly an interesting experience. I was going to try flagging down a taxi but it wasn’t entirely clear how to tell if they were free or not. I’ve since worked it out.
A guy that was on the bus with me offered to help, which demonstrates the generally friendly attitude to tourists I’ve experienced in China so far. Fortunately a very helpful woman at the airport information desk had sold me a map of the town and written down the name of my hostel on three occations, so I was set.
As I was trying to work out the taxis a motorbike rickshaw thing pulled up behind me (yes on the pavement) and got my attention. After haggling him fown from 60 to 40 (go me) we were off for one of the most hair raising journeys of my life.
Firstly you have to understand that the roads in China don’t seem to have any rules that I can make out, more of a philosophy – fortune favours the bold.
So there we are rattling around at speed, on pavements off, cutting up taxis buses, anything, running red lights etc etc. Initially I was trying to get a few pictures to record the feeling, I quickly changed my mind as holding my camera gave me one less hand to hold on with. Then things got interesting, the guy wasn’t sure where the place was so every now and then he would pull over and ask for directions. Then usually have to turn round and go the other way. He did this regardless of the one-way nature of the road we were on. Let me tell you this, I never want to be on a four lane one way street filled with headlights coming at me again. But seeing as I arrived in one piece with only minor mental trauma it’s probably to be counted as ‘part of the experience’ 🙂

I’ve left the martial arts school now, it’s pretty sad. I’m going to have to say my goodbyes in about an hour…
Once I’ve moved on I have no idea how much internet access I’ll get, so my blog posts may get a bit sporadic… well even more so anyway 🙂

I am always impressed by the number of stars in the sky here, it really gives you an appreciation for what we miss in the UK due to light polution. What is quite suprising is how little light polution is needed to obscure over half of the stars you can see in the sky. It’s a real shame that I don’t have the equipment required to get a good photo (I have tried once).

It was raining pretty much all weekend. I was hoping to get out on another cycle on Sunday – it would be onlt my second outing. I didn’t let the rain get me down though:
Yes you’re eyes are seeing correctly, I engineered a rain retardent solution to allow me to continue to take pictures with out fear of my camera getting damaged. I’m not actually sure if the pictures that I took made the effort worthwhile, but the DIY-ness of it was very satifying.
I was a bit confused though, I was getting some odd looks from some of the locals, even after smiling and waving they didn’t smile back (as they usually would).
After about two hours I suddenly realised why: Read the rest of this entry »

When I first came here I was able to relax, to an extent, around insects of all types. Since I’ve been here I find myself becoming increasingly scared of almost all types of wildlife. To the point that I now hate having to go to the toilet at night.
I do have good reason though:
That’s no trick pencil eaither!

It’s generally agreed that I’m a nice guy. I don’t go out of my way to get this accolade, it just seems to come naturally which is… nice. There is of course always the fear that there may be some truth in the saying that ‘nice guys finish last’. In careers it seems that this is not true, nice guys finish first and being a jerk to get ahead is no longer an excuse.
So here I am in China, being nice, and here are some of the things that have come from it. I’ve hopefully got two people to meet up with in future travels, one in New Zealand and one in Australia. So far so good. My master likes me a lot, which has led to an interesting if slightly strange situation.
About a month ago he turns to me and asks if I’m single, go I like Chinese girls etc. Then he lays down the big one – he wants to set me up with one of his ex-students that lives in Beijing and is currently a nurse. At first I was sceptical – but then the next day he asked me again, stressing his seriousness. I’d had a night to sleep on it and had come to the conclusion that I was travelling to experience new things so I would go for it. So I said yes.
Things happened a lot quicker than I was expecting. Immediately he was dialling her number, I was to talk to her. This speed of action was something I wasn’t quite ready for and I was relieved when she wasn’t there. Master Dung did not give up though and that afternoon I was talking nervously and far too quickly to a Chinese girl with English as a second language. I’m pretty sure that she didn’t understand most of what I was saying so I sheepishly handed the phone back. Our translator then talked to her and I got back to the warmup for the class. All was not lost, ten minutes later I was presented with a piece of paper, on it was her name and email address.
Here’s where being nice paid off once again. Our translator is also from Beijing and has since gone back there to start a new job. She was open in her invitation for any of us to contact her if we were going to be in Beijing. A safety net! So, if I get my passport back in time (there’s still some visa stuff to sort out) then I’ll be going to Beijing on Thursday for a long weekend. And with luck I’ll be shown round by two locals so I’ll get to see some of the proper Beijing rather than just the tourist hot-spots.
Yay for niceness!

I was meditating in one of our classses a few weeks ago and it was commented that butterflys were flying around my head like some kind of cartoon Buddah – I was happpy to dismiss this a being a playful exaduration. However a few days later I was sitting on the bench outside our accomodation reading a book, and a butterfly landed on my hand. It was a big one too, it had a black and yellow striped body, like a wasp and black and bright blue wings. I looked at it for a bit and then decided to shake it off, I’d heard that the blue in the wings was a mild poison and would cause a whole lot of itching.
Then in the same afternoon another butterfly landed on me and chilled out for a while (this one didn’t look poisonous so I left it to leave of it’s own accord). In the same week (I think) I got this picture of one of the local eagles. (Don’t get too excited it only looks this good from some major cropping action).
Eagle 6