27th April - visa run
i've been in china a year and a month now, and it's time to get a new visa to live here. so just pop down to hong kong, hand your passport to a travel agent, go out get wasted (thank you people), come back the following morning to find your brand new 1 year business visa. then off to a very hot and sticky electronics superstore to buy a new toy.
The Sony R1 - it's great, but the auto focus is so slow sometimes i want to throw the camera at the object i'm photographing. SNAP THAT BITCH.
On my way back up to Shanghai i traveled via the crumbling suburbs of Guangzhou and tested the R1 taking back lit photos...
15th May 2006 - the germans
now there was a reason for me to actually buy the new toy... a wedding.
with the exception of my aunties and my parents, i'm now the last in my entire small family to be married. but i don't think i can get married now as my damn cousins have just done it so well. joss and kelly with their rolling devon hills and garden marquee and now rawden and elke in landschaftspark duisburg-nord - an enormous 1920's steel refinery near dusseldorf in germany. congrats rawdy, an awesome wedding in an amazing place. thank you for asking me to be the photographer, i hope i didn't disappoint.
their wedding website invited guests to explore "We recommend you bring a pair of comfortable shoes in case you would like to explore Landschaftspark."
while it's a fantastic idea, someone should have told uncle tim not to wonder off on his own, he got lost and missed the speeches and a few hours of the wedding, bless.
well at least he got to see more of the park than the rest of us in the bar. what did happen after midnight? did i loose my camera? who was the girl in the pink dress?
you can see all the photos from the day here elkeandrawden.co.uk
conclusion: i like germany, germans and german things. (especially beer)
12th June 2006 - my birthday
don't make friends with people who are in charge of the free tequila at a mexican theme bar. and if you do, don't go there on your birthday. less of a hang over, more like brain damage.
27th June 2006 - state of mind
as predicted by all whom live in shanghai for any length of time, you go through set periods of emotion living here.. first there is the amazement; "wow everything in china is so wonderful, it's such an amazing place. etc." then comes; "wow what an interesting place, everything here is just so interesting" and after that, about a year into your stay comes "oh my god they're all idiots". and after that who knows, you either end up hating it and leave, you stop caring and live your life in an expat bubble, or you rediscover what you loved in the first place and continue to make the most of what can only be a finite time here. give me another year and i'll let you know.
for example: post office regulations.
(this is the conversation i would have had could i have spoken chinese, with only knowing a little chinese the real conversation and mime was much more insane)
me: i'd like to post a parcel
clerk: what's in it?
me: some clothes and a letter
clerk: no, you can only post parcels here, you need to go to a different counter, buy an envelope, then go to another counter to post your letter.
clerk: it will have to go in a separate envelope
me: what if it's a drawing
clerk: just letters
me: what if it's a letter with drawings on it
me: what if i put the letter inside in the clothes?
clerk: you can't do that
*put's letter inside clothes
me: i'd like to post a parcel
clerk: what's in it?
me: some clothes
2nd July 2006 - new is better than old
this week, the infamous shangyang market closed down - infamous for selling fake watches bags dvd's golf clubs and anything else you could possibly imagine. the now bricked up entrance has a government made banner hung over it stating "ban shangyang market" ... err, you just did!
another banner reading "beat conterfeit and shoddy", good to see that quality control is now a state concern.
what was once beautiful back streets adjoining the market, now being torn down to make way for a shopping centre that will sell the same bags and watches as before, but this time not counterfeit and shoddy, but instead real, imported, massively taxed and for more money than the average local makes in a year.
it may surprise you to know that 'the forbidden city' in beijing
and many other national sites are actually new, though they have been there for a long time, instead of preserving the old ones, they just knock them down and build new ones every so often. i hear in beijing they have started to rebuild the old houses like these as they've realised they shouldn't have pulled them down to build shopping centers in the first place, it's a shame they haven't realised that in shanghai yet.
new is better than old, and that's it.
13th July 2006 - thank you for reminding me jules.
In the leading machine the Head of the Air Force was sitting beside the pilot. He had a world atlas on his knees and he kept staring first at the atlas, then at the ground below, trying to figure out where they were going. Frantically he turned the pages of the Atlas. "Where the devil are we going?" he cried.
"I haven't the foggiest idea," the pilot answered.
"The Queen's orders were to follow the giant and that's exactly what I'm doing."
The pilot was a young Air Force officer with a bushy moustache. He was very proud of his moustache. He was also quite fearless and he loved adventure. He thought this was a super adventure. "It's fun going to new places," he said.
"New places!" shouted the Head of the Air Force. "What the blazes d'you mean new places?"
"This place we're flying over now isn't in the atlas, is it?" the pilot said, grinning.
"You're darn right it isn't in the atlas!" cried the Head of the Air Force. "We've flown clear past the last page!"
"I expect that old giant knows where he's going ," the young pilot said.
"He's leading us to disaster!" cried the Head of the Air Force. He was shaking with fear. In the seat behind him sat the Head of the Army who was even more terrified.
"You don't mean to tell me we've gone right out of the atlas?" he cried, leaning forward to look.
"That's exactly what I am telling you!" cried the Air Force man. "Look for yourself. Here's the very last map in the whole flaming atlas! We went off that over an hour ago!" He turned that page. As in all atlases, there were two completely blank pages at the very end. "So now we must be somewhere here," he said, putting a finger on one of the blank pages.
"Where's here?" cried the Head of the Army.
The young pilot was still grinning broadly. He said to them, "That's why they always put two blank pages at the back of the atlas. They're for new countries. You're meant to fill them in yourself."
Roald Dahl, The BFG
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