Sunday, 21 February 2010


Well here it is! The update this week after some time in Beijing - I would have liked to have done it sooner but the Chinese government have blocked blogging sites as well as facebook and twitter and a whole host of other sites.  I felt somewhat lost without checking my notifications and mails, but i struggled through and had an amazing trip!
Beijing is not a particularly pretty city but it is fascinating.  The sights were amazing - the Great Wall and the Forbidden City were personal favourites.  But the authoritarian run, communist regime still allows for copious amounts of touts offering me "Friend Price" and "Very Special Offer!" I'm glad I left when I did as had a been asked to take one more ride in a rickshaw I may have taken his rickshaw and moved it somewhere that would have been quite uncomfortable for him.
Paranoia also plays a massive role in Beijing, you have to be security checked on the metro system, when going into almost all public places - even Tiannamen Square! However, I reckon this is more to make sure you aren't carrying any placards that could be used to protest in anyway, most of us living outside of China, know what happened the last time someone protested!
The people in Beijing also seem very patriotic, highlighted by numerous people gathering to watch the ceremony of the national flag being taken down on the square.  Yet, they have no hesitation in defecating the ground with their saliva.  I have never been in a place where it is so natural for people to just spit everywhere - very unpleasant!
However, the trip was a fantastic one, and one I encourage everyone to make, just to get a taste of what it is like to be in the capital city of an authoritarian regime!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Thoughts to fill the page!

Well here is my first entry, the aim, as the title states is to get something on the page.  Throughout my blog, my intention is to offer my views on the world, factually and a little satirically also.
So I have just about finished my sixth week in Hong Kong and different doesn't quite explain how things are out here.
The people here have a very different attitude on life, it is very much do your own thing, leave everyone else to it.   In Britain when someone seems out of place, maybe slightly deranged, people take the time to stop, and look, some may giggle, some may be completely awestruck.  Here, people just don't seem to care, the crazy guy outside the MTR station is just crazy. People just walk by and leave him to it.  It may be that people are far too busy here or it may be that they realize that what anyone else does that isn't causing them problems is of no consequence.
Second, spatial awareness, Asian people need to find some.  Picture the scene, me, a rather average sized but quite broad caucasian man vs. the tiny east Asian lady carrying her shopping.  It is like a game of chicken, and yet the consequence of the lady coming off worse  don't factor into her rationale as she maintains her course.  Consequently through guilt of what might happen if we do collide and also the fear that she may have some unknown strength, I always end up moving!
Classes are also very different here, 3 hours of what is essentially a lecture with a few questions thrown in.  I often end up feeling like a know it all as my local classmates are reluctant, at best, to answer questions.  My lecturer that happens to originate from the UK summed it up best when he claimed "Hong Kong students keep their brains in their feet!" That is to say, whenever a question is asked most students look intensely at their shoes for the answer.
Overall, life out here seems a lot more relaxed, its strange to say seeing as I have come to the big city from a little town.  It may be that because I don't live here, I haven't experienced HK in full force or it may be that people aren't as tense.  Certainly when the biggest political protest in HK in recent months is regarding a high speed rail network, it seems to suggest people are more content here.
I hope you enjoyed reading these ramblings, I'm off to Beijing soon, so Happy Tiger New Year!