Saturday, November 25, 2006

Australian Youth Delegation to China part 3

Picking up where we left off: at the top of a tower in the center of Shenzhen.
From this point you can actually see the first McDonalds in China- much symbolism to be found there if you're that way inclined. Also says something about the Special Economic Zone, no doubt. And Paul's moving there.

After this interesting, confusing skyline tour, we headed to the hotel.
Although it wasn't a big name, it was actually the most impressive hotel we stayed at. A little hard to describe the feel; a 1930's vision of the future hotel, very much something of the The Gernsback Continuum. The restaurant maintained this feel of future Art-Deco, and had a great buffet going. Multicultural cuisine which included sushi, sandwiches, creme brulet (probably some French e's needed there), and Borsche (борш, if my Russian spelling is correct- which it probably isn't). It was my first time trying борш but unfortunately Alexandra told me later that it tasted nothing like the 'real' thing, and she was born in Russia so she'd know.

After lunch we set off for the LNG factory. It was quite a long bus journey to get there, but I didn't mind. We passed some of the nicer spots of Shenzhen, as it was a coastal road (though I'm not sure we were actually in Shenzhen proper).

Arrived after about 2 hrs or so in the bus.

We were given a quick word to exercise caution when entering the factory (basically no smoking), and the an informative lecture about the agreement signed between Australia and China for the exportation of LNG. I'm not very familiar with the process, but we were told that basically they developed a new method of shipping gas (liquified?) which allows it to be stored 400 times more efficiently. They had a cool model of the factory, and the engineer explaining it had particularly good English (and he'd never been outside of China apparently).

When we toured the factory proper, I was struck by the thought that the factory had the strong image association of a James Bond film.
Especially when we were shown to the control room....

Complete with attitude-packing guards....

At this point, in the control room, Thomas was actually able to interpret better than our provided interpreter!
Very, very impressive...

We were then taken on a bus tour around the rest of the site; unfortunately sleep deprivation had caught up with me by this point, and I fell asleep the moment that tour started and woke up as it ended. So much for that.

We then returned back for our farewell dinner, but were held up for about 1 hr in another of Shenzhen's traffic jams.

The farewell dinner was lovely; I believe the mayor of Shenzhen was there, the food was good, and we were all dressed up for the occasion.

Afterwards, we went up to Greg's room for an unofficial awards ceremony; we awarded Thomas for his brilliant interpreting, James for...something (photos I think), Fuchsia for organising our social events, Warren for his musical virtuosity and I took out the Greg Hunt award for using the phrase 'to keep the rabits out' in a speech.

Went off looking for a pub street but instead found something much dodgier with rip-off prices, crap music and a tacky beach/cave setting.

Since we had to be awake at 3.30 am or thereabouts, we decided sleep was hardly worth it.
So must of us stayed awake the whole time, had a good debrief on the trip and plenty to drink.

The bus trip to Hong Kong was interesting for the time I was awake, and indeed there was a feeling of a strange sort of relief when we crossed the border. I feel asleep before we got to the airport, and so blearily checked in and said goodbye to Lawrie and Fiona, who stayed on an extra day. We had arrived at about 6.30, but the flight wasn't until 10.30, so there was time to kill in HK airport. My shoulder-bag's carry strap broke, and there was no one who could assist me in the entire airport (apparently). So that was annoying. But, on the positive, they accept RMB at the cafe I went to, at an acceptable rate, and it was good to see copies of The Private Life of Chairman Mao for sale.

I managed to walk all the way down to gate 60 pr something like that (the furtherest point in the airport), had a 'no-liquids' search on my bag, whereby they took the beer off me (well it was really Jacky's) and threw it out, and then realised I'd come to the wrong gate (a USA flight). So I had to take the 20 minute walk back to the proper gate (15), and realised I had just lost a can of beer for no real reason!

And finally, on the flight home, did I catch up on all that lost sleep.

Now where, you might ask (especially if you're Paul) is the photo of us with Premier Wen Jia Bao?
Was it not afterall he who invited us?

As it turns out, we never did meet Premier Wen, though it was him who invited us over. I suppose Premier Wen had a busy schedule; there's always next time, anyway.

So the best I can offer is a photo of a hypothetical meet of myself and Wen....this is what it WOULD have looked like, perhaps.

He's very tall, as you can see.

And so ends the Youth Delegation to China. It was definitely the most exciting and interesting week of my life. I'm sure most of the people in the delegation will be involved with China in significant ways, in the near future.

I for one would love to go back as soon as possible.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Attention Vegetarians

This message concerns all vegetarians alike who would take to the moral high grounds, sneering and yelling down insults at the eaters of meat down below, accusing us of being inhumane.

Hear, hear.

Hitler was a vegetarian.

Where's your moral high ground now?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I'm still working diligently (though that's subjective) on Part 3 of the China Trip.

Until then, however, there's been plenty going on.

Firstly: The examination period is almost over. This is something which results in a bizarre feeling of anti-climax, because there's a lot of preparation, and then it's over differently for each student. My 'end of exams' day is different from my friends, and so on. And there is a period of adjusting to what life consists of without having to prepare for an exam. Futhermore, language students are in a unique position where they don't actually want to forget what they've learned throughout the year.

This is not entirely different from a gym patron who doesn't want to lose their progress by taking too much time off. With Chinese this seems especially true, as it's rather easy to forget characters and tones.

So with the holiday season approaching, I suspect I'll actually more or less keep doing what I've been doing. That is, going through Chinese and Russian textbooks.

But even then that still leaves quite a few hours in the day. I'll be spending the majority of the holidays in Cairns, so I'll probably work most of it, and of course there's plenty of friends in Cairns to catch up with.

Secondly: I'm still pretty uninformed about politics, particuarly American politics. But it's good to see a better balance of power in the States. This may lead us to ask, Who should be the next Presidential candidates? I'll go with Barack Obama (who is also my personal preference for the next President) over Hilary, even though Time's article on him was not without criticism. Not sure who the Republicans will pick. Rudy Giuliani would probably be a smart choice.

Thirdly: Children of Men. This is by far the best film of the year. So I'd advise everyone to see it if you haven't already.

Lastly: Spiders. Not the Ralph Fiennes kind

but the arachnid kind. Now, as all who know me can attest, I'm a practicing arachnophobe. This is no joke. A photo such as this

makes me gasp, my chest tighten, my skin crawl, and my body shudder. The other night I came home late, and while I'm brushing my teeth I suddenly am overcome by dread, as there's a horrifying, fuck-off-big spider behind the aftershave bottles.
I had not the courage to do battle with it. I spat out the remaining toothpaste from my mouth and fled back to the relative safety of my room, all the way shrieking like a crazed chimp.

The spiders and their webs have been growing and spreading in the bathroom ever since. It's the storm that brought them in. Is it possible that they arrived as a part of some sinister over-arching plan? Every time I micturate or bathe, the dread grows stronger. I can feel multiple sets of 4 and 8 eyes watching me with unthinkably evil, sadistic urges. The bathroom mirror is now covered with grotesque spider hairs, evidence of their predatory hunts. It's only a matter of time before they reach my room. They'll be threading a special, hideous web just outside my door, a web to engulf my entire body. And if they don't succeed there, they'll come in the night and wrap me up whilst I sleep, creating for me a cocoon of blind, constricted horror and dread.

As far as I can tell, theres only one answer.

Move house.

But, as I always say, no point worrying about something that will only probably happen.