Thursday, January 04, 2007

Summary of events

I’m in Melbourne again, and back online. The past 5 weeks were fantastic.

But all fantastic things must come to an end (even if my holiday continues perpetually, I will get bored and my satisfaction will decay, resulting in the fantastic-ness evaporating) and here I am in Melbourne preparing for the next step.

Roses Outside Beijing

Click here for large size image

A random selection of things that happened over the past weeks:

Instead of a polite ‘excuse me’, I asked a bunch of cousins in my way to “go away, scram, disappear, evaporate.”
The word ‘evaporate’ tickled them sufficiently, and was commonly used in placed of ‘excuse me’.

Christmas Eve was spent at Tian An Men Square and the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City. Symbolically slapped May under the watchful eyes of Mao Zedong.

Christmas was spent on walking the Great Wall, skiing on artificial snow and soaking in hot-spring water (piped into a huge tub in our own hotel room). Christmas rituals were restricted to a few ‘Merry Christmas’ greetings during breakfast.

I licked a pile of 5-hour old snow in Beijing. The texture was wonderful- it was a cross between fine soap suds, cold air, iced water and dense fog. The smell was exquisitely non-existent. The taste was horrible- it was a delicate mixture of unburnt hydrocarbons, dust, vehicle emissions and factory smoke, delightfully infused into nature’s hexagonal crystal structures from the heavens.

Two of my cousins were surprised that I could write their Chinese names better than they themselves do. Both are girls, and it is common that girls’ handwriting are better than that of boys.

My New Year celebration was held in a dark Boeing 767 at 37000 feet in the air. Four of us pointed at our watches, mumbled something about ‘Happy New Year’, forced a half-dead smile, looked around for anyone awake, and finding none, went back to sitting out our bland, sleep-deprived flight.

Finally test driven a Satria GTI, which was great fun. The clutch was heavy and unforgiving, the engine was happy to rev deep into the 6000s, the gearshift was slick and the steering was heavy but precise. To be able to execute smooth double-clutch heel-and-toe downshifts was a great ego-sweller.

Arrived at Melbourne on Wednesday evening. My current visa entails that I check the “returning resident” box in the arrival forms, which is a rather strange feeling, given that I have always crossed the “visitor” and “studying” boxes. The immigration officer said “welcome back” (wtf...) instead of “have a pleasant stay”. Extremely disconcerting, to say the least.

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