Perks of the World Traveller

Having been upgraded to Business class on my flight back to the UK two weeks ago, I felt that my years of flying back and forth from China to the UK were at last being rewarded with some perks. This made yesterdays events even more satisfactory – I arrived at the airport where they told me that since they were overbooked, if I would fly tomorrow, they would give me a free flight  and a 650 quid BA voucher or 350 pounds in cash. At firest I dismissed it but suddenly began to think that it might be worth doing – it was not absolutely vital that I arrived back in Beijing today  anyway. Also, the money meant a free return flight home at a future date. It really seemed too good to be true so i took them up on it. The only downside was that I then had to get home again having been dropped at the airport.

The Long Way Round

Ben drove up from Somerset on Friday to take visit and take a break from his law studies. On Saturday we went for a walk though the Winkworth Arboretum just above my parent’s house which was looking amazing since the Bluebells had just come out to compliment all the other spring flowers. See the pics here. We then decided to walk on to the White Horse in Hascombe, passing Chris Evan‘s house, but managed to get it completely wrong walking a mile or so out of our way. We managed to do a fantastic recovery in the end though by cutting back cross-country over the Hascombe Hills to descend victorious at the pub for a well deserved pint of Adnams Bitter.

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“What harm could one do?”

Okay, I actually smoked 3 cigarettes last night in a moment of weakness…

What can I say?

The truth is it is very hard to resist when surrounded by chain smokers. Blame delegation in action….

However the guilt today has hardened my resolve and I think I am even more commited as of today. We shall see. Friday tonight….

Quitter

I woke up on tuesday morning with the usual part-ashtray feeling and decided enough was enough. I cleared the house of empty fag boxes, dumped the ashtrays at the back of a cupboard and hid all the lighters in a drawer. No distractions. No temptations. No fags.

Thursday today and so far so good except for the massive increase in gum chewing. Almost had a hickup last night when I found an open pack under the sofa which I had missed, but managed to resist smoking one. They say the weekend is the real test. Let’s see if i can make it beyond 9 months which was my last effort…

One day at a time. I’ll keep you posted.

Sailing in Thailand over Chinese Year

Only a year after I was last there, I found myself back in Thailand, this time with Robbie and his parents, Bunny and Montsi, on their boat, Effendi. Over Chinese New Year we flew down and met them for a week of sailing and diving and general relaxation. As we arrived at the Boat Lagoon in Phuket on our arrival I could hardly believe that I was back there again, but must confess some levels of glee thinking about those of you who were with me last year. ;)

After a highly entertaining lunch party on our first day which left all of us in a seriously inebriated state, we stumbled aboard and departed at 9pm. Then, in the way that only murphy’s law can strike, we proceeded to have various things go wrong with the boat, starting with the engine leaking diesel into the bilges and finishing with us somehow tearing a whole in the zodiac. The long and short of these events that we decided to abandon our plan to go up to the Similan islands north west of Phuket because we realised that we wouldn’t have enough time.

Instead we decided to stay around Phuket going to the islands in the area, and spent the rest of the week doing lots or snorkelling, diving and sunbathing. It was a very relaxing few days and at the end of the trip, I actually felt rested and ready to face the world again, rather than the usual requirement of another holiday to recover from the first one!

Anyway, enjoy the pics.

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Skiing at Huaibei

IMG_3640On Saturday a whole group of us drove to the Huabei International Ski resort three hours north of Beijing for a day of burning up and down the longest run! Skiing in Beijing is a far cry from the Alps but it is a hell of a lot closer so we don’t complain too much. It was a fun afternoon and only Robbie managed to stack it ass-over-tit on the steep bit. Plonker.

Enjoy the pics.

Beijing Third Ring Road Collapses

A sewage pipeline leak in the early hours of yesterday morning in Beijing caused an eastern section of the city’s Third Ring Road to cave in, creating a hole 20 metres long, 10 metres wide and 10 metres deep. “Filthy water leaked out of the pipe and poured into a section of the subway line that is under construction,” Beijing Evening News quoted a witness as saying. Since no one was working there at the time, there were no casualties. The accident also created several cracks on the main road. The area has been cordoned off since the accident, forcing 31 bus lines to change routes. Repair work is still ongoing and is expected to last 3 days.

This happened just down the road from where I live. I should imagine that somebody somewhere has some serious explaining to do!

New Year’s Beijing Style

Well it is now Wednesday and I can safely say that I am now recovered from the weekend. Sunday however was not pretty. Spent most of the afternoon curled up on the sofa unable to focus on whatever it was I was trying to watch. New Year’s eve started with drinks at Jaque’s apartment before heading for an excellent dinner at Cafe Sambal. Lot’s of goof Malaysian food to say farewell to 2005. We had planned to get to Ruud’s house party in time for midnight but after much back and forth with the group, I was out voted and it was decided to spend it in Bed Bar just up the street. Apparently there was concern over not getting across Beijing in time and seeing in the New Year en route in a xiao li (beijing cab) gan bei-ing (cheers) with the driver. Some people have no sense of adventure…. bah!

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New Year done and dusted, we hot-footed it over to Ruud’s penthouse apartment in Ocean Paradise. Things did not look good on our arrival when we met the police in the lift on the way up, but our fears were quickly dispelled once we got upstairs. Ruud and his entourage had done an excellent job of turning his enormous place into a venue to rival most night clubs. Excellent fun with lots of bubbles to keep us in the style to which we are accustomed :)

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Later as things were winding down, we headed on to Suzie Wong’s (with a quick detour for a whizz around Tango) where things may or may not have taken a turn for the worst. Suffice to say I found myself stumbling home after dawn. My name at that point escapes me….

All my photos from the evening can be seen here. Other photos at Ruud’s party were also taken Ruud, Denise and Jessie.