Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quick update

I'm back safely in the UK, which having not been here for 15 months is rather strange. I'm staying here for a couple of days before heading on to Santiago de Compostela.

The last couple of days in Beijing were filled with paperwork needed to be completed before I could officially leave. Boxes had to be ticked left, right and centre in order to prove that I was up to date with bills, canteen payments, doctors, finance offices, keys, internet, books, office space and more but in the end , after much running around (literally) all appropriate duplicates were filed and after a final dinner with my boss and his students I had my final night in Beijing.

Packing was somewhat panicked as I realised that my bags were well over weight and had to throw out or, in most cases give away, a large percentage of my belongings. So, two pairs of oldish shoes, all my novels, toiletries, stationary and various weighty pieces of winter clothing have to be repurchased at some point. There was a nervous moment when I was told my carry on was too large and would have to thow much of that out too, but some gentle pleading pursuaded those concerned that the extra couple of centimeters were allowable.

I'm now in an even tighter position as I find that although my flight with Ryan air to Spain is very cheap, I'm only allowed a total of 15kg stowed luggage and one bag weighing 10kg carry on luggage (I took around 28kg carry on and 20kg or so carry on back from Beijing). Seeing as I'm going to be living in this, probably until Christmas, this is really not a lot, given that the computer and the camera plus a pair of shoes (I wear something akin to canoes on my feet) probably take up a fair percentage of that weight!

Today I've spent in London getting various bits and pieces done and popping into the Tate Modern to see the Louise Borgeois exhibition, which is very interesting (the earthquake crack in the main turbine room does little for me). As I walked around I was struck by many things, probably the largest being the racial diversity which is in general not visible in most parts of Beijing (there are exceptions). This included the number of foreign languages I heard on the trains, in the cafes and on the street. I was pleased to be able to chat briefly in Chinese as I heard the waitress in a cafe talking on the intercom in Mandarin.

People, expats especially, complain bitterly about how crowded the trains are in Beijing but I was rather taken aback that the London underground is far worse. Taking a train back to Wimbledon (where I'm staying with some friends, my parents currently being out of town) I was forced to see four trains go by without being able to get on them. Football fans in the front two carriages of one of the trains singing and shaking the car didn't do much for my feelings of patriotism either.

Still, cups of tea and baked potatoes have bought back feelings of homeliness and yesterday's wonderful blue skies over London have made it lovely to come back home, if only for a couple of days.

Much to get done in the meantime so best be off for now...

1 comment:

James said...

Glad you had a safe journey back, best of luck for when you start in Spain.