Sunday, August 12, 2007

The many degrees of Wuhan

This evening I'll head off on a ten hour train ride to Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, famous for being one of the four furnaces of China and also for having some excellent spicy duck's neck (superb as a snack with a cold beer). There is more to Wuhan than this, though last time I spent more time on the plane and road getting to and from the university than actually seeing it or any of the researchers.

This time I'm staying for a three day workshop on quark matter and again presenting on QCD from the AdS/CFT correspondence. I hope to see a bit of the city as well as discussing with some excellent researchers, both from China and the US, who will be at the workshop.

I spent most of yesterday stuffing myself in the all you can drink for 18 kuai (a little more than a pound) cafe near my flat while working on a current project and getting my talk for tomorrow polished off. I do find the buzz of a cafe inherently conducive to good work and almost without fail have more breakthroughs in these relatively noisy places than in the rather sterile environment of my office.

After spending all day in the cafe, a few of us headed over to Sanlitun in the East of the city, went to Kokomo (up on the roof of one of the taller buildings in the area), ordered a beer, sat back and watched for the Perseids. A strange sight for the others in the bar perhaps but we wanted to take advantage of the fact that Beijing is pretty cloudless at the moment (I speak a little too soon, I fear) due to last week's artificially induced storms and reduced traffic. We saw a few throughout the night, coming from the East, though you really need to be up in the early hours of the morning to catch the height of the showers, as the part of the Earth you are on is travelling towards the patch of dust and rock.

(The Bad Astronomer on watching the meteor shower)

Anyway, for now I'll leave some photos from last weekend, when I took a good friend for a birthday meal at Haiku, one of Beijing's top Japanese restaurants. Well worth a trip for the atmosphere and service. The food is good but sadly by my sushi standards which have been permanently affected by my stay in Tokyo, the food was excellent but not mind blowing.

The first photo is of the Beijing national gallery, currently housing an exhibition of works from the Prado. An excellent collection from Titian to Goya, with lots in between. Well worth a trip (though check online if it's still on). We went there in the afternoon before going for dinner.
Prado in China
I attempted to get a good view of the new, amazing structure which will be the CCTV headquarters. These two, leaning towers which will meet in a tangle at the top should be great for photographing, but from our position we could only get a hint of them.
and some photos from Haiku:
Haiku entrance
Haiku sushi bar
Haiku restaurant
Haiku tables
OK, got to go finish getting ready for the train ride ahead.

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