Thursday, March 29, 2007

Week 12

Well I've now been here for just on three months, and it looks like I'll have the option of staying on for another month or so afterwards (coming home around mid-September) It seems that this is when everyone else is due to leave, and they wanted me to stay until then, but didn't fix the dates in the contract! I haven't yet decided whether to stay on or not, I guess I'll see if they're willing to offer me more money, which I'm sure they are, because Geoff (who, unfortunately, had to leave us early due to his wife contracting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in her hand, and having need of dental surgery) was offered more money to stay. He didn't go into negotiations, because no amount of money would have convinced him to stay, so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to squeeze out of them, but I'll see how I go.

Other than that, I'm just having to keep on keeping on. I'm utterly disapointed that I'll miss seeing my sister getting married, which will happen this Saturday. Congratulations Leanne, I'll be thinking of you.

Until next time

Friday, March 23, 2007

Week 11

Nothing much happened for the first part of the week, and then it was St Patricks Day!
A few of us took the journey deep into Shenzhen (bus down the mountain, then another bus into the city, then the subway, then another bus to the place - almost 3 hours!) to an Irish pub. Wayne bought his pipes, and was a big hit. After a few beers I was able to be persuaded to do a Fling, and that was less of a hit, but a hit nonetheless. After many drinks there, we hit the Maccas around the corner, and then took a taxi home. We got home a little after 6 am!

We have also had a change in management within the band. Our (now ex-) pipe major wasn't doing a very good job of leading the band, so we held a meeting with our boss, and the PM/band manager position has passed on to Wayne (who is the next-best player, despite being the youngest member of the group!) who I'm sure will do a much better job

The other big thing to report is that my Wii arrived yesterday (Xavier purchased it for me, and posted it over) so there was much rejoicing, and much playing of games! At last now I have something to do when we're not playing/rehearsing that isn't crosswords!

Carry on

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Week 10

I don't really have much to say this week, I've been playing a lot of computer games with Wayne and Ashley (Civilization IV, Command and Conquer - Generals, Age of Empires III and, of course, Worms world party!) often staying up until almost sunrise.
We're back playing again, despite still being on "days off", although we're just playing at the Station for the official visitors. This morning, though, the train arrived and there were about 4 people on it, so I suspect that we're playing just for the sake of it. Still, it's a job.
Can't wait until my Wii arrives (I've had it shipped from Aust. so that when I get home I don't have to import games)

The weather here has been very humid the last week or so. Trying to get laundry dry has been a nightmare! Right now, I've got linen hanging up all over my room, with the heater on full, in the hope that I have something to sleep under tonight. Also, it means that it's been very foggy, so there's no decent views to be had (unless you count standing at one end of a bridge and seeing it disappear into the fog). Consequently there's been no motive to go for walks, which is about the only form of exercise I get. Consequently I've been feeling fat and lazy. Oh well, such is life!
Carry on.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Week 9

We played today for someone really special (The vice president of China, or someone of about that importance). It was obvious that the managment of The Park were going to extra lengths to make a good impression - they had us do a rehearsal (which consisted of us sitting around for a couple of hours without being told what was going on, then doing exactly the same stuff we do every time a dignitary comes to visit), and then on the day they brought out the red carpet etc. And you knew he was important because of the size of the entourage he had with him!

Anyway I've managed to get my pictures uploaded. Check out I haven't yet had a chance to get captions to them all, but bear with me, I'm working on it.
I did end up going to Hong Kong (photos not yet off the camera - sorry) with Aragorn and John. It was very confusing, because people there drive on the right side of the road (the right side being the left side), and people China drive on the wrong side of the road (the wrong side being the right side). So after spending the last couple of months dealing with trafic on the wrong (right) side of the road, I go back to dealing with traffic on the right (left) side. It's got to the point where I no longer know which way to look when crossing the road!

While I was there, I took the time to check out the Hong Kong Science Museum - the equivalent of our Questacon. That was quite an eye-opener! They had a big exhibit on Operational Health and Safety (make sure you wear your hard-hat at construction sites kiddies), in their "human body" section, they had diagrams indiciating the acupuncture points, which I never would have expected to see at a science centre (1,2,3 Reaction).** But one of the coolest things is their "Energy Machine" (like the thing with the billiard balls in the lobby at Questacon). It is huge. It towers 4 floors, and is apparently the largest such machine in the world. (The balls are much bigger than the ones at Questacon though, and it's not nearly so densely packed). The downside though, is that once you look at it a little closely, it's not quite so impressive - the various gates are computer-controlled, and they'd shut off a couple of parts of track. The set of chimes was not actually struck by the ball, but the ball going past the chimes trips a sensor that plays a recording of chimes! and little things like that.

Victor, my roommate, the Texan, has just acquired for himself a Confederate flag. He actually has a song on his computer whose chorus goes (and I never would have believed it had I not heard it for myself) "Some niggers never die. They just smell that way". But he's a nice enough chap.

Oh, and I remember what it is I was going to write last week. The metro system in Shenzhen is really good. It's clean, it's easy (if you know what station you're going to) and it's fast. When the train pulls out of the station, it accelerates at a rate that is, I would say, akin to moderate acceleration in a car - you can feel somewhat heavier, but you don't have difficulty moving. But it keeps this acceleration up for fully 20 seconds! That might not seem that long, but when you think about it, it's quite impressive! (think how long it takes to get up to speed in a car from a standstill, and that's not even at constant acceleration).

I think that's about all for now. Tune in next week for another thrilling instalment.
Cheers, Owen.

**The Twins (Aragorn and John) have this game they play, called 1,2,3 reaction, where they make a potentially explosive comment, to try and fish for a reaction. It can be quite fun to watch!