MARK: Greetings from Beijing. Or should I say Lowton, near Warrington in Cheshire.
Yes Cheshire, because this post comes thanks to my “Administrator” Russ Baker, Brother-in-Law and MASTERS supremo.
The reason? It’s down to Chinese censorship!
We have the best wifi signal for 6 weeks, but our friends have “restricted” access to certain sites.
We CAN get BBC news, TripAdvisor, Radio 2 streaming Steve Wright in the Afternoon and Barclays, Tesco and one or two dodgy sites. We CAN’T get Facebook, Google or Radio Frimley Park. Yes Malcolm, the Chinese have banned me listening to you and the rest of the guys…
The other site which the Chinese seem not to like is MASTERS20152016.com
I can just about see the site online, but to quote Ray Croydon – the site is a bit “wibbly wobbly.” You can see random lines of text and photos but in no order and there is no way that I can upload copy or photos. In fact sending emails with attachments is another problem and hence NO photos for this blog post, which is a shame as we have some cracking shots.
So, thanks to Russ, I have sent the copy by email and he has uploaded and I believe put on a graphic – CENSORED!
EARLY OBSERVATIONS OF CHINA
We could write an entire blog on how we nearly didn’t get here. That would take too long. Suffice to say, two days before we were due to leave Kathmandu (Nepal), our flight was cancelled due to the fuel shortage. Rebooked on Air China, that was cancelled (according to the airline website) on the morning we were due to leave! Then surprisingly a giant AIRBUS A330 (200 series – 340 SEATS), managed to land and Sarah and I together with just 140 passengers got on. It had flown from Chengdhu in the middle of China, full of fuel, limited the passenger numbers out and back so it could take off on the short Kathmandu airstrip and therefore did not need the non-existent fuel in Nepal as it had enough to get back.
Never have we been so pleased to see an aircraft! And when it was in the air, it was “chink-chink” and cheers as we had our first glass of wine in 5 weeks.
But we had another treat. It was a mixed blessing as the day before we had invested in two £140 seats on a Buddha Air “Mountain Flight” around Everest. That was superb – a blog in itself.
However, as we were toasting our escape, the captain announced Everest was “on our left”. MY GOD what a view we had this time. Not from one side, but from both the Nepalese and Chinese (desert) side for at least 10 minutes at a height of 35,000ft (6,000 ft above Everest.) Sarah looked at me and said “we could have saved a few quid” and then we both thought “Nahhhh”, how many people see this amazing site twice in 24 hours and from the Chinese side as well. We were and are grateful.
Anyway, enough about Mountains. We’ve been in Beijing, China now for two days and have some quick observations of our time here so far.
SPITTING – NATIONAL PAST TIME
AAAAHHHHHHHGGGGGGUUUUUSSSSSSP – that’s the sound of a Chinese man, no sorry men as they all do it. A nice gargle at the back of the throat and then the flemmy/spitty stuff is launched through a car window, on to your feet as you are walking along or directly in to an airline sick bag only for some unsuspecting soul on the next flight to have an unwanted surprise. YUK.
EVERYONE HAS A PASSAT – the Germans are sending them here!
I have been tracking the VW crisis and glad I sold my motor three months ago! But, I now know where they are being sent. China! Everyone has one, probably because nobody gives a damn about smog and pollution. That said, we have been blessed with bright sunshine and blue skies and “cool” temperatures of 20-23C. The military parade has just ended and obviously the cloud seeding continues to work. By the way Steve Elliott: Can you give Sarah’s KA a spin please as it’s been a few weeks?
VERY VERY CLEVER PEOPLE
China will be the World leaders within 20 years. My prediction, and interesting when you think that in 1860 the British and the French combined to destroy most of central Beijing and all the temples… enough said. But these guys are smart. How about, being able to watch adverts projected on to the walls of tube/subway tunnels! They are so straight they can do it by series of giant projectors and monitors. Very entertaining. Plus you can make calls on their subway, surf the net, watch TV and all in air conditioned comfort. Boris are you listening???
THE CARPENTERS ARE ALWAYS PLAYED IN LIFTS
My friend Mr James Duckworth, loves the Carpenters and always says Karen was taken from us all too early and that she is sadly missed. Well James, you need an Iron Mountain contract over here as every lift you go in seems to play Carpenters tracks. We are in a hotel with 15 floors and typically – I have tried it – you need to go up and down three times to hear the full track. Worth doing after some of the so called “music” you hear and I must say very uplifting for the soul.
DEBBIE BARTON – POTENTIAL NEW SIDELINE FOR YOUR BUSINESS
They have some superb Palaces and Parks here. The best so far has been the “Temple of Heaven”. Away from the temples and gardens you will find groups of people aged between 70-90, dancing to tracks including Boney M, ABBA and the Pointer Sisters (I’m so excited). They bop along, strut their stuff and have a great time, keeping fit, socialising and generally have a laugh. I joined in – surprise that – and was soon performing in front of an audience of about 250 people who thought I was John Travolta. Women (80 years +) swooned, men watched in admiration and Sarah after taking a couple of snaps, made a swift exit. Debbie, how about a similar gig in Camberley High Street or Frimley Green Rec’?
SHE JUMPED IN THE AIR FOR A 40P TIP
You don’t need to tip here. Nice, as it saves on our budget. But we did leave a 40 pence tip to the kind waitress in the Noodle Bar. She had been very helpful trying to understand our sign language. When she realised we had tipped, she literally jumped in the air and ran round the restaurant waving the 4 notes (40p) in the air. She was happy – so were we.
STARTED THE EATING TEST
Before we left for the trip, I blogged a list of food that people had requested I eat….this ranged from parts of a pigs anatomy to locusts. Richard Daw, John Hodson, Alastair Black – I’ve not forgotten. So, I thought I would get in the mood with a little bit of Liver and some duck skin, leaving the tripe stuff, offal and some smelly chicken feet for Day 2. But my goodness, I nearly threw up on the liver, which was glupey and full of intestines. The smell was akin to a sewer and the colour that of….. well make that bit up yourself. So headed off for a Macdonald’s Big Breakfast which was great, but Peking Duck for breakfast was a little strange.
Well that’s it for now. Can we both thank you for your personal emails, Skype calls/messages, comments on the site, and the conversations on What’sapp. We really appreciate them ‘cause it can get lonely now and again. Hopefully more to come after we visit the Great Wall and Pandas assuming we survive the three overnight train journeys which are each 15-17 hours in length.