Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Xi'an summer


Cycling

80km to the Qingling Mountains south of Xi'an. Doesn't sound much but it's a long old slog on a push bike.











Inside the city walls.











The third ring road not far from my apartment. Xi'an has thousands of high rise buildings like this. I'd love to see a regular house with a garden. NOBODY lives in a house here.







One day we rode 20km to Gaoxin for coffee - Xi'an's silicon valley. If you imagine the route as an elliptical orbit, I suffered a puncture at the apogee. Typical. Rode 20km home with a flatty. Nick had a spare inner tube but because the bike has stupid wheel rims, it didn't fit. So off to a specialist. 70rmb. The lads let me to do it myself. Push bikes are a doddle compared to motorbikes. Never knew Xi'an had a Thai Consulate.

Trains

Work sent me to Nanjing (for teacher training) on a futuristic high speed train. Xi'an to Nanjing is 1100km. About the same as John o'Groats to Land's End. It only took 5hrs and cost £60.






It travels at 305km/h as indicated by the digital display. These two lasses showed me how to write 'pizza' in Chinese. I'd forgotten by the time they got off in ZhengZhou.

The train was good but not as good as the Shanghai MagLev I rode in 2006 (430km/h). However, it was better than the Shanghai to Chongqing train that took two nights to cover 1600km back then. Like I've said before, things are developing at a furious rate here in China. I laugh when I read about England's HS2 rail system. In some ways we're decades behind.

Nanjing

I made it to my company's posh head office only to discover they use weak electricity. Eh? I've always preferred strong electricity. Perhaps they mean low voltage?








We had teachers from Pakistan, India, Portugal, China and the Philippines. I was the only Anglophone. They were keen to point out that I pronounce choona incorrectly. Apparently it's tuna. Twats. One woman told me she's from southern India, I asked where, she said Delhi ..... ffs.

Explored Nanjing at night and found this soy milk from Thailand.







Conformity

Chinese students attend school from 0700-2200 every day. Including weekends. If you ask what they did at the weekend they don't answer. Because they do nothing. They're really dull. I remember growing up in Northumberland. Childhood was a time of fun, games, adventure, exploration and joy. School was but one insignificant aspect of life that we learned to tolerate. In China education has been elevated to the same importance as oxygen. A rat-race on steroids. If you win the race you're still a rat. I'm reminded of the proverb all work and no play makes jack a dull boy - acutely appropriate here.

There's more to life than just school may sound strange coming from someone who enjoys teaching. But I believe it to be true. Life should be a balance. The pursuit of your passions is just as worthy as the pursuit of education/career. If you follow your passions the universe will deliver. In my case I realised I loved living in Asia AND teaching technical subjects. The universe delivered and here I am. Everything falls into place.

I reckon these kids, at 17/18yo, should be focused on their education .... but not at the expense of everything else. Meh, it's up to them I guess. We all choose our own path. Perhaps I have a skewed perception having come here directly from 8 years in Thailand - the capital of chill. Or perhaps I cherish freedom and would loathe being corralled through an education/employment maze by parents and teachers. I'm glad I was allowed the freedom to make my own decisions (and mistakes) from the age of 16. I was maintaining Naval guns and missiles off the coast of war-torn Bosnia/Croatia when I was their age!

I feel somewhat sorry for students today. Unrelenting pressure and expectation. Crippling university debts for qualifications offering no guarantees in today's uncertain world. Tough times. I'm not sure I'd go (if I was their age) given the current cost benefit analysis of Universities.

Shop

An odd observation. I was in a massive shopping mall with a huge man-made waterfall inside. Incredible. It was heaving - like everywhere here. There were a dizzying number of escalators. The locals can be very pushy and impatient when lining up for things. However, put them on an escalator and it's like a computer going into hibernate mode. They just stand .... dormant. I think it's verboten to walk on escalators. It's amusing to watch people pushing to get on and then zombify.

Westerners

In Thailand I mainly hung out with Thais. However, apart from Kaijin, it hasn't really happened in China. Here we have English, Colombian, American and Serbian. I had more fun with these lads than with the teachers in Nanjing. Perhaps it's a cultural thing?

Nah, it's probably latent racism ... and sexism. Likely some homophobia too with a dash transphobia. Let's not forget to shoehorn some Islamophobia in. Did I miss any? Basically, this photo is a PC crime scene. A group of straight, white, able-bodied males in their prime. The epitome of privilege. Call the Guardian. They must be oppressing someone ... somewhere ... somehow.

Reminds me of an article I read claiming maths is discriminatory. Maths? Well, after some thought, I have to agree. Early maths was developed by brilliant Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and Indians as humanity began to identify patterns in nature, model reality and organise their civilisations. Maths was inclusive.

However, during the 17th century, things took a sinister turn. Modern maths has been developed almost exclusively by evil white men in Europe. Leading directly to 400 years of numerical oppression. 2+2=bigot. Now maths is racist. And sexist - probably. Because equality ... or diversity ... or privilege ... or some white men being clever ... or something.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs. It must be rectified. My solution? Simple. Ban white men from the European universities they established. Men still receive an obscenely sexist 40% of degrees in UK universities. This number needs to be 0%. 
Only then will we have true equality.

I'm glad there's none of that toxic Western BS in Asia. Many Chinese look at Western Europe like it's insane. Weak. Kowtowing to foreigners. Dangerous. Can't really blame them. Perhaps I'll write to the Chinese government bitching about a lack of 'diversity' on TV. Hopefully they'd tell me to STFU .... and they'd be right to do so.


Invest in yourself


A picture says three words. Mid life crisis.

Last piss up December 2016. 7 months ... Woah. I don't think I can go back to that lifestyle again. The whole of 2017 has been epic (sans hangover).

Clean diet, exercise for the body and nourishment for the mind .... it's the only way to go.

On a random bike ride I found a decrepit massage establishment. Perfect. 100rmb and the lovely lasses will have you feeling refreshed. Good laugh navigating the language barrier.








Haircuts are good too. Since I got me heed sharpened I've been beating birds off with a shitty stick. A more effective female repellent is to simply tell them you're skint.

I've had a few skype interviews looking ahead to next year. I got a knock back which is good for deflating the ego and staying grounded.

I rejected another offer in favour of somewhere I've always wanted to live. Looking forward to 2018.

Currently on a 4 week break. Spending the time writing a 'novella'. Aiming for around 10,000 words. Currently at 6000. Hope to finish it before the end of the break. Really enjoying the creative process. You end up in a different world for hours on end. Thinking of selling it on amazon for $1. It's called Hilltribe Love hehe.
Heat
Fuck ... it's been hot in July. One day I checked and Xi'an was 43C. The hottest place on Earth. Hotter than Saudi.

I tend to go out at about 1600 as the sun dips from its zenith. One day a glorious cloud gave me a solar eclipse, some respite from the heat and this stunning photo. Stayed like that for a while as there's not much wind.

We get occasional thunderstorms but, just like the 'spicy' food, they're tame compared to Thailand.

I sat digesting this scene for a while. Pondering the nature of light?  What is it? Rays? Energy? Waves? Photons? All of them? None of them? Will we ever unlock the deep secrets of reality with our limited senses? Do we even need to?

I took this pic in the park, a lone white man in a sea of Asians. Stressing about my UK bank account being locked, the loss of my life savings and work. I was frowning. It was a beautiful evening but lingering thoughts of bureaucratic nonsense clouded my mind. Suddenly, I started laughing out loud, attracting strange looks. Crazy foreigner. Then I started laughing harder and louder. It was beautiful. A moment of utter clarity. Sublime. It suddenly dawned on me that nothing matters. Nothing at all. We're hurtling through space on a little blue ball going nowhere ..... in a gargantuan cosmos we can't comprehend ..... and no one knows why. My trifling issues are meaningless. Funny even.

Isn't it wonderful?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this lovely blog! I've been reading you for a while and can hardly wait for the new entry. Stay well and all the best

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