Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wednesday evening and I have a few moments spare to try and catch up before the flash of the last few days disappears into the blur of the rest of my life.

I believe we're up to Friday by which point Dan and I were feeling pretty shattered from much wondering around and seeing the sights. Days turned into nights as our body clocks adjusted to more nocturnal forays though we managed to do a bit more on the touristy side in the afternoons.

China appears to have a yearly link with another country and this year is Italian year. Consequently they've set up a reasonably impressive exhibition in the World Art museum, possibly the most horrotious building I've yet visited in Beijing though from the inside is reasonably attractive if a little disorientating. They had a decent collection of most of the well known Italian painters from the 13th Century to the 18th Century with a Da Vinci and one of the Caravaggio's which had been at the superb exhibition in London. The lighting in the museum however made everyone crowd around each picture making it all a little claustrophobic. A nice change nonetheless.

A true concrete monstrosity IMHO...

...overlooking a strange Chinese toytown...

...made for some fun silhouette photos.

No photos from the Italian exhibition but a couple from the central chamber in which there's a relief mural of Chinese history around the wall.

Including what may be the invention of the calendar though I'm not sure on this one.

We then headed towards an unknown but impressive structure that we'd spotted nearby which turned out to be one of Beijing's main train stations. Imposing and a mixture between Oriental and Soviet styles, it's another impressive international station. New York manages to have one, Paris manages to have one and it seems that London will have one soon when the exciting Channel Tunnel Rail Link opens.

Saturday was again a late start after spending Friday evening back in the local club in the Korean neighbourhood mostly chatting to Swedes.

It appears that fully grown men when combined with a frozen lake suddenly revert to being six again and though we did have a decent cultural look around the summer palace which is one of the most beautiful temple/palace complexes in the city, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that we spent 90 percent of our time being extremely silly on the immense frozen lake. It's a stunning lake when defrosted and I have photos of it in such a state here but it's also pretty amazing when frozen. Surrounded by many classical bridges, it's solidity made for great short cuts across what is a pretty huge area for some good photos.

Dan warming up pre-gymnastics attempt

Taking time-out to take in the view

Though it doesn't look like it, this is really a high-speed action shot as I daringly whiz past on a block of ice.

...and Dan in similar fearless fashion

With cold bums and cold feet but satisfied pre-ten year old urges we headed back in a taxi to warm up before meeting a friend in the East of the city for another night out.

Saturday night was spent in a refreshingly Chinese club where we were some of the only foreigners on view and we had a decent boogie before depositing a riotously drunk French friend in a cab and heading back.

Sunday, the last official day of my holiday was dedicated to rest a relaxation as I felt in dire need of a proper holiday before hitting the mental grindstone once more. Some good food and a second viewing of The Corpse Bride made for a good end to my weeks hiatus.

So at this point Dan was left, during daylight hours, to his own devices. With map, phrasebook, some minimal Chinese tuition from me and enough money to see him out of most situations I let him roam the Beijing streets. Three days later and he seems to have survived with minimal of fuss in what has to be said is not an easy city for a non-Chinese speaker to navigate.

I've been back at work trying to sort out bits and bobs pre-Japan where, I am delighted to say, wunderground tells me it is around 14 degrees in the day. I really miss being warm as my apartment has been pretty frosty recently and it hasn't been above about 2 degrees for the last couple of months here. I've never missed the warmth as much as I am at the moment and 14 sounds like paradise right now.

In the evenings we have continued to explore the weird and wonderful. Monday evening we stumbled across the beginnings of a Bob Marley birthday celebration where the local bar was showing a movie of him before a big reggae night in Zub. We stayed for some of the movie but were feeling pretty phased by about 11.

Tuesday we were sensibleish and simply watched a movie. I've spoken before about Lukas Moodyson, one of Sweden's most famous contemporary directors who seems to revel in making a diverse range of films. Both Show Me Love and Together are lovely films in their own way, but the same cannot be said for A Hole in My Heart. Panned by many critics for being so shocking, I'd read many reviews which criticised the acting, the music, the morals and the artistic license within the film. What shocked me most perhaps was that it wasn't as bad as I'd expected and left me feeling a little worried that whatever goes on in my own head may be so much more depraved than most film critics. Perhaps this is because it had been talked up so much but I found it a genuinely interesting film, shocking certainly at times, about social degradation and the inheritance of abusive and disturbing tendencies from our families. The sound track for anyone who doesn't like electronica would probably seem overly jarring but I thought that it tied in very well with the implied atmosphere. There are bits of it which are over the top but that's kinda the point so I thought it did the job it set out to do pretty well.

Speaking of electronica, though less about inherited abusive tendencies, Dan and I ended up at the end of a dark snowy wood past a drive-through movie theatre off a wide but empty road in a bar/hut at an experimental electronica evening. A really interesting experience and I hope to go again to this weekly event though I can't say I was hugely moved by much of it. It's strange watching musicians making music, some with guitars, mostly with synths changing wave-forms, playing with feedback and tuning forks slowly building on a mood to reach cacophonous levels of bass and moog as I nursed my jasmine tea, and Dan his Tsingtao. It's especially strange watching musicians make music from their I-books, screens facing away so they could just as easily have pressed play and be having a go at mine-sweeper. Some people were clearly not where they expected as they sat slightly aghast, fingers in ears looking at each other with ticks of bemusement, but some people seemed to be having a great time, ten year old kid included.

Sadly no photos from this slightly bizarre evening.

So now, Wednesday evening, just two full days to go until Dan arcs his way West and I pick up the pace before heading East. I shall sum up in more detail later but it's been a great though exhausting couple of weeks so far. Definitely pleased that Dan has been out here during my holiday time which is few and far between.

Anyway, to bed now to rest my weary and slightly dazed head.


Anonymous said...

Talking all night to swedes? Im so sorry youve had to resort to chatting to vegetables for a good conversation. It must be all the physics talk - I certainly never understand it!! Well... whatever works for you...!!!! wheels x

Anonymous said...

Wow - sliding along on ice blocks?! Glad you are having a good time. P x

Unknown said...

Hi K, I'm just worried that my legendary celeriac fetish may rear its ugly head again. Watch this space...

Hi P, It is highly enjoyable but only temporarily entertaining as a slowing thawing bottom is not pleasant company in a Beijing taxi.

Anonymous said...

jonny, to be honest, if you've got a celeriac fetish, I'd rather not watch if it's ok with you!!!! ho ho!! Mind you, I do like a bit of roasted celeriac hmm yum....