Saturday, August 08, 2009


The last of my China photos for the time being. The train from Shanghai out to the airport is currently the fastest scheduled train service in the world, a mag-lev of extortionate costs and and outrageous numbers. The train takes around three minutes speed up, stays at it's maximum velocity for a few short moments and then pulls to a halt in the airport station 30 km and 7 minutes later. It's a smooth ride with steeply banked curves and is about the cheapest way to get from the city to the airport. Here is a snap of the speedometer as it topped out:

Shanghai Maglev

Since coming back to Santiago my life has been considerably simplified, through both external influence and a little help from myself. Shortly after arriving back my butane canaster which I use for cooking (the norm here) ran out, and I've been left with almost nothing to cook with and little time to organise for a new delivery at a suitable time. I had however inherited a rice cooker from a Japanese friend and this simple machine not only cooks rice to perfection but has a steamer compartment too. The discovery of my constrained cooking possibilities has actually opened up a world of subtle but extremely tasty cooking as I've been steaming fresh fish, marinated in herbs and juices, with summer vegetables for the last week, and frankly save for the streaming cold which is making today less than comfortable, I've never felt better.

Wednesday's offering: The timing still needs some tweaking with courgettes becoming overdone in just a couple of minutes (a minute appears to suffice), but the fish and langoustine, marinated in lemon, thyme and pink peppercorns on top of spinach whole-grain rice is a 15 minute, no hassle treat - served with a dollop of lemon and green peppercorn mayonnaise:
Steamed dinner

In addition to this I made the bold step of phoning up my internet service provider on Thursday and turning off my connection to the outside world (I'm currently in a cafe having just completed today's Chinese practice). Having wasted more hours than I care to calculate watching House I thought that enough was enough and have made my home gloriously, digitally silent. Since then I've read more papers and books than I've been able to for many weeks preceeding and the pile of papers which I'd been slowly working my way through for the last few months is actually looking conquerable. I realise frequently that I'm not terribly good at self-control and so need to impose draconian restrictions on myeslf in order to let life continue efficiently.

Anyway, for now I'm going to spend a little while browsing through a new purchase, Heisig and Richardson's Remembering the Simplified Hanzi, which I've been wanting to read for a long time, before getting back home and attacking the pile of articles waiting patiently for me.

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