Monday, October 18, 2010

Oops - four months in a nutshell, July-October

It seems that the first paragraph here is far too true and lackadaisical is the word... so much so in fact that I appear to have neglected to actually post this when I write back in October. Ooops! Anyway, in the interest of being lazy and not wishing to re-write everything, I'll post it retrospectively as is, and needless to say, Flo is not still on the train from Shenzhen!

In keeping with my general lackadaisical approach to blogging here, this is my first post in months.

That's not to say I've been lazy on the blogging front, in fact quite the contrary. I've been busy blogging to earn my daily bread, about all sorts of fun stuff related to travel and China and China and travel in varying combinations for China Travel. Of late, I've interviewed big-wave surfing guru Jamie Sterling, been to Taiwan's tiny Jinmen Island, battled windmills in Liu'ao and there's plenty more to come. There's a bit of a backlog to be honest as the summer came and went without much time to catch my breath. The end of July and most of August was a blur with visits from Flo's friend Olive who stopped in Shanghai not once but twice, doing the China rounds with both parents and girlfriend. Christiane and Hubert came to stay and an active three weeks was had all round. Talk about not catching your breath, no sooner had they set foot in the PRC, we whisked them off down south for a whirlwind stop in Zhuhai where we had a friends wedding to attend, a stroll across the water to Macau and a few days in Hong Kong.

With the in-laws dispatched to the bright lights of Macau for the night, we made merry at our friends wedding. A French/Chinese affair it was an entertaining afternoon ceremony complete with an MC, many changes of bridal wear, toasts and the pre-requisite Chinese banquet (suckling pigs - with freaky flashing red eyes and all), Champagne tower and cutting of a cake that was 90% cream, 10% sponge and 100% horrible... by their own admission more for show than for eating!

The next day we crossed the border to Macau and spent the day wandering the streets of the old town before hopping on a ferry to Hong Kong. It was sightseeing a-go-go and Tim and Jan will well remember the aching legs that follow. Not content with exhausting ourselves around town, we also managed a fun-size portion (about 10km) of the famous Lantau Trail, a hike of 75km total that takes you around and about Hong Kong's largest island... that's the one with Disney Land, the airport and the big buddha. We saw the airport from a distance, the buddha from it's base and Disneyland not at all. Instead, it was mostly sweeping vistas of green hills, blue seas and sandy beaches with the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island just visible in the hazy distance, and not a soul around.

Our stop in Hong Kong also heralded phase two of Flo's business project and the creation of Asiadis (as in Asia distribution - geddit?) as an official entity, hurrah! He's been beavering away building his website which should be online soon. He is, at this very moment enduring a 20-hour train journey from Shenzhen back to Shanghai with neither bed nor seat for comfort in a bid to save over RMB 1000 (about 100 pounds). Now that's what I call dedication.

We also did lots of other fun stuff with his parents; biking in the bamboo hills of Moganshan, a few days in Nanjing and lots of good times in Shanghai. Then they left and we continued to potter along at a somewhat slower pace for a while. Work-wise I'm happy, I have enough time to tinker about on some freelance projects and have most recently been bigging up Syrian olive oil and a soon-to-open super luxury serviced apartment complex in the French Concession... it's due to be the most expensive property per square meter in the city and it's just round the corner from my house, if my landlady puts up the rent, I shall bloomin' well charge it back to them. Either that or demand she at least buys us a new sofa. And shower door. And kitchen sink... the old place is starting a crumble around the edges a bit after four years but it's just about holding together.

End of September and beginning of October got busy again with a national holiday fest and despite the crazy work/holiday scheduling (over here you have to work weekends to make up most of the days off) but I managed to wangle a couple of paid out of office days to go down to Hangzhou and investigate the Qiantang tidal bore, a giant wave that washes up the river with a vengeance and gets extra large each year over the Mid-Autumn festival, with four pro-surfers shipped in to rip it up on the water as it flowed through downtown Hangzhou. There's a whole lot more on that here.

The following week was China's birthday and everyone gets a week off so we decided to celebrate by heading to Xiamen for a week of kitesurfing and adventure and finally, finally, I can say I can kitesurf! It was an amazing trip and the first installment is here (and seeing as it's nearly two months later, you can now also read part II and part III if you're interested!). There'll be more to come over the next few weeks but for now, its almost time for bed.

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