Saturday, November 12, 2005

Rather randomly I was wondering if it's possible to lip-read in Chinese. I would have thought the intonations make it pretty tough. If anybody knows, please tell me.

The end of a busy working week and after a decent night's sleep I'm feeling relatively refreshed for the weekend. I've found out some more about the Szechuan pepper from this website which I may use again for similar purposes. I've realised that it's very difficult to avoid this spice, especially if you like spicy food which most of the people around me seem to (and I'm perfectly happy with), so I guess I'm just going to have to learn to like it. I think I'm beginning to get used to it now but the first time I had it, nobody warned me and I thought I was having an allergic reaction. Anyway, to warn anyone else coming out here, do eat it but be warned of the effects. It's pretty easy to spot so this is what it looks like:

The Szechuan pepper

Another warning for the gastronomically weak, skip the next paragraph if you're not feeling up to a strange food tale.

As a little appetiser for lunch yesterday, we had cold, marinated beef lung. It's actually very tasty but I tried my best not to think about it too much as, though it's thinly sliced, bits of it are a very alien texture and shape. Wouldn't be my first choice next time but I'd be willing to have it again some time.

Unfortunately, though my work is currently going well, next week I'm going to have to put it on hold to prepare my first talk on Saturday. I hope they won't be dissapointed when it's not three hours but, and I may be rocking the boat a little here, I know that the second two hours of a three hour talk are practically impossible to take in and are of little use to the speaker or audience. Because nobody in the group I'm in knows any string theory, before I get onto my work I'm going to have to explain: String theory, branes, large N gauge theories, chiral lagrangians and the AdS/CFT correspondence in detail which I guess will be good for me at any rate.


So, at last, time for some more photos. Today I've been to the summer palace. This is in the North West of Beijing and was the summer retreat of the empress Cixi. It's truly stunning with a vast lake as its centrepiece. I don't know a great deal about the history as most of the text outside the buildings was more about day-to-day life but as far as I can gather, Cixi was bad news. The palace however, built in the Qing dynasty was not and contains many temples, opera buildings, stunning bridges...and on and on. I'm sure I only saw a tiny bit of it and walked half way around the lake which itself took almost an hour. Anyway, here are some photos:

These are from around the lake where there are stunning rock formations and what I presume are weeping willows as well as some cherry trees, currently not in blossom but I'm sure it's an incredible sight when they are:

This is typical of the buildings around the lake. This one was used for Chinese classical opera and surrounding this building are several temples as well as the dressing chambers of the performers.

In the distance from one side of the lake you can see the mountains. I'm not sure which these are but in the haze they appear stereotypically far-Eastern:

I tried to take a panorama of the lake. Because of the position of the sun, each photo has a different light quality so, even though I've altered the light on each, they don't blend very well. Also, blogger only allows very small pictures so I've had to lower the quality considerably:

One form of classical Chinese bridge:

... and another, this one seriously steep but I think very elegant:

This one is not so elegant. Me with lions and dragons may turn into a bit of a photo theme:

and finally, a little off topic, this is the strange building in the middle of the campus that I've been trying to get a photo of. It's the centre for micro-gravity research and sticks out like a sore thumb. Not quite sure what goes on there but I am intrigued.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sorry, could you just clarify which is the dragon and which is you?!! phnar phnar!!