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 http://picasaweb.google.com/captainowie. 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"http://hk.science.museum/eexhibit/e3f/eem.htm (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.
**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!