Saturday, April 29, 2006

holiday time..

Last week was the last week before the holiday (celebrated because of international labour day, though its the least important of the 3 national holidays in China) and so when I cycled back yesterday night there was even more traffic as usual from everyone working late to finish their work, and then heading out of Beijing. I was getting emails at midnight about the upcoming conference I am organising on May 21st! (granted I was also receiving and replying to emails on a friday night, but we are going out tonight).

Its very enjoyable speeding along overtaking all kinds of traffic -though the faster one goes, the more alert one needs to be to the taxis that cross 3 lanes to stop and pick someone up, or the old lady who'll just get of her bike in the middle of the bike-lane for no reason, or the potholes that seem to be everywhere. I've long held that drivers in China are good drivers: they have to be in order to survive. The thing most drivers are best at is using their mirrors. Since no-one, literally no-one, has any idea what indicators are for, this is totally necessary. For cyclists is tough, because you spend most of your time looking out for signs of crazy drivers changing lanes and pulling over, and without indicators being used, it makes life harder!

I explained to Leon that we have a 'cycling profficiency test' in the UK, where people can get some training on the 'rules of the road' and practise indicating, or an understanding of how to fix their bike. Its optional of course, and i don't remember knowing of anyone else who took it (apart from me), but it helped a lot. In the UK it might not be that important as most people that can cycle (adults anyway.. on the main roads) can drive too -so they understand about roundabouts, indicators etc. In China, people on their bikes can't drive. If they could afford to they would, of course, join the 1,000+ new cars every day on the streets of Beijing. Thus the cyclists cannot understand concepts of going in a straight line, of looking over their shoulder etc.

My little rant over, we are sort of preparing for our upcoming 4 day cycle ride...towards a place called longching gorge with various outdoor sports activities nearby we could do. not sure if we'll get there in a day, but who knows...

Woke up this morning to hear that the EU Constitution is being brought back. Now, I have always been quite pro-EU, IF it could behave responsibly, and since half the member countries are going backwards in today's globalised world, there seems little chance that the EU will go forward, or even agree on any direction to go in! Thus until someone sorts this issue out, lets keep common agreements for another time... Also heard that Scolari rejected the offer of being England coach. great. I am all for having a manager with no experience but lots of passion. Same with players: its always the young ones who are exciting -its only a matter of time before Roony turns into Owen, who is turning into Shearer. All great players, but as they age, they get lazy and less innovtive/exciting. Although it is scary that I am about 4 years OLDER than Rooney. yikes. The big question for May is will Spurs get into the Champions League? Well I am just happy we are getting into Europe through the league for the first-time in my lifetime I think! (even if it ends up as UEFA cup)!.

To end on a more china-note. I use Accuweather to tell me the weather (a little icon is in the bottom of my screen showing me the weather for each of the next 3 days) and it tends to predict 20-25 and varying degrees of sun. But when it comes to the next day, actually Accuweather says 'foggy' and 12 degrees. You can read the next paragraph to discover why:

Despite plans to improve air quality, Beijing had 11 fewer clean air days in the first quarter of 2006 compared to 2005, and has fallen even further behind since the beginning of April, statistics from the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau (BEPB) show. To the end of March 2006, Beijing had only 51 "blue-sky" days, where the air quality does not exceed pollution standards, compared to 62 such days in the first quarter of last year. Despite having unhealthy air quality 45.3% of the time, the city has enjoyed stretches of clean air. During the 10-day National Party Congress at the beginning of May, Beijing enjoyed nine clean air days and only one day that exceeded air quality standards. BEPB denied suggestions that any special measures were taken to improve air quality during the conference. (This congress is an an annual event when the local representatives from all around the country come to Beijing)

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