Saturday, October 30, 2010

Three weeks in and extremely loud on the Eastern front

Blogging has been on the tips of my fingers for the last three weeks but time simply hasn't allowed. There's a critical point where the number of blogworthy events becomes so high that there's no time to blog about them as you're too busy doing them, and helping to run this conference while attending lectures, writing papers, organising lecture visits and showing people the wonders of Beijing has kicked us way into the criticical region. We've had some fantastic lectures and some wonderful evenings and now, three weeks into this eight week program, I'm feeling very happy with how it's going, even if I'm pretty exhausted. The highlight, in addition to meeting up with some old time collaborators and starting a load of new projects has been having the chance to show good friends around a city which I feel very comfortable in, and to see their impressions of China change from a scary, exotic unknown, to an exciting, inspiring place with so much to offer (we've seen everything from hardcore Beijing punk, to tango in the park, to Sichuan face changing, to kungfu in the early mornings to traditional singing in Tian Tan, and so much more).

So, given so little time (about to head out for another meal) I thought I'd update with a few photos from the 7D, which I'm extremely pleased with so far.

From the Forbidden city:

forbidden city
kid in the forbidden city

and Tiananmen. I love the little doll she's holding limply as the guards march by:
From Tian Tan, on a very smoggy day:
and a close up in Tian Tan:
Sculpture in Tian Tan
and the soju bottles at the end of an evening in a Korean bar in Wudaokou:
all in a row

There are a few more here, and plenty more to come.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Back in town

After a long trip (no extra leg-room on the flight from Doha to Beijing and so I had to stand up for most of the seven and a half hour trip) I arrived, heavy eyed, but excited to be back in Beijing. I was greeted with the heavy smog of a city of 14 million, and the smell and noise to match. Taking the bus from the airport to Zhongguang Cun and walking into the Chinese Academy of Sciences campus felt wonderfully familiar, even though it was the end of the national holiday when I arrived and so the place was deserted.

I took my key from the porter and made my way back to the same building that I lived for two years here, arriving fresh faced from my PhD five years ago. Nothing has changed, the jaozi stands are still there. The copy shops and the hordes of people playing games remain, the grandmothers taking babies for walks in split bottomed trousers (the babies, not grandmothers) are still as numerous as ever, the men, old and young hacking up big spots of phlegm on the sidewalk remain to keep the pavement from drying up, the smart shoed fruit salesmen still talk noisily on their cell phones and in the tennis courts next to my place there is still a group of people practicing tai qi though I have to see if the sword wielding grandmothers still come out in the early morning.

I'd been rather worried that I'd come back to find a post Olympic sanitised version of the city, but thankfully it's the old Beijing that I know and love - the buildings change, but the underlying feeling is exactly the same.

I'll be here for the next two months and I have to say, though I know from past experience that the stresses and chaos all get too much after a while, I'm enormously happy to be back!