its cold. its time to pop home
Its minus something degrees and the it feels like it. There is snow outside; though it snows rarely, the snow does not go away. This year, the snow has not turned black like it usually does, adding to my belief that the pollution in Beijing is getting better, even though plenty of people disagree with me.
It is 2008 yet everyone is thinking about Chinese new year (6-7 feb) and especially about what to do or where to go. Its cold in most of China and heading to the South or to SE Asia is expensive, none-the-less, everyone finds their way. Even if that way is by pretending to be a japanese person to buy your tickets to/from japan (as some of my friends are doing), or if it means taking days off before and after the holiday to get cheaper flights. Anyway, this week train tickets became impossible to buy -and thus the holiday season must be upon us.
The ski season has been a good one. Nan Shan resort has doubled in size compared to last year, including a black run that is well worth the 1 hour drive from Beijing and 20 pounds cost (all included); Hou Hai is packed full of people ice skating/cycling/chairing, as are countless other frozen lakes. I've been skiing twice and ice skating twice. I also organised a Bachelor party last Saturday where plenty of Russians were surprised at the 15 chinese 22 yr olds (mostly women) who turned up at Treasure Island. Leon got 5 lap dances and i think that qualifies as a successful Bachelor party, even though the women were not naked!
We are supposed to be moving office soon, since I have been relegated to the conference table, for lack of space and other staff are moving to Beijing too; my flights home are booked (1st feb-2nd march) and plans are afoot to go to Netherlands, Manchester, Woking, Camden and various other places for either work or pleasure. Tonight i warmed up for returning to London with a fancy Western meal (Alameda -Brazilian restaurant with fantastic 2 course stake meals with wine for under 20 pounds) and organised my trip this weekend to Shanghai.
It no longer feels strange to go to Shanghai for the weekend, as Shanghai feels so close; yet whilst booking flights to Rotterdam and possibly Prague or Berlin, I felt so excited to be going to these exciting places. Though i have been there before, and each is only a 1-2 hr flight away from london and cheaper to get to than Shanghai, they feel like different countries...different languages, cultures and people in each.
I can see why Europe is so attractive and how easy it is to get bored traveling in China. It takes so long and costs to much to see something that is not really that exciting or that different. I can see why Australians love the UK after spending 5 hours flying across their own country without anything changing at all! Europe is a special place and I really enjoyed my trip to Belgium 2 years ago. This time it will be good to not just drink more beer and eat more chocolate but to get back in touch with the concept of diversity, multiculturalism etc along with the issues of terrorism, immigration, politics, war and so many other concepts that are just barely existing in China. There are too many other issues; though some are constant here and in Europe: Climate Change being, possibly, the most pressing one.
For those in China, see you in 6 weeks; for those in the UK, see you in 2 weeks. For the rest of you, come visit!