From January 2007

Day 2 : Lost

So this morning my taxi driver taking me to work got lost. I had given him instructions written in Chinese on how to get there but it still didn’t seem enough. He stopped multiple times to ask other drivers and even at one point did a U turn on a major road (an interesting experience on its own!). Added to this he didn’t speak a word of English. Eventually we got to the office but I can’t help but wonder if he was giving us the run around!

Some general observations about Beijing:

  • There is development going on everywhere on a massive scale
  • Everything outdoors is covered in a thin layer of dust – presumably blown down from the surrounding desert
  • The air is very dry and the pollution is sometimes visible
  • Nearly every time I touch something like a light switch I get a small electric shock, rather worrying!
  • I have never seen so many cars – if you think London is congested this is something else…
  • Whereas the UK starts to close down around 5pm, in Beijing this is the busiest time
  • You can buy Windows Vista here for 10 RMB (about 1$), legality questionable!

Day 1 in Beijing

Tienanmen Square

Well I’ve arrived in one piece just about – first impressions: WOW. Beijing is on a scale unlike I’ve ever seen before. The buildings are big, brash and there are thousands more being built everywere you look. The streets are alive with activity and hopefully once I’ve got my brain in gear it should all make a bit more sense! Time for some sleep before the real fun starts tomorrow…

P.s. Both Google.com and BBC News are blocked from the hotel connection I’m using. Consider me living under media blackout!

Goodbye UK (Hello China)

China-UK flag

Well it’s been in the pipeline on and off for a good few months now but finally it’s confirmed; in around 10 days time I’ll be moving to Beijing for a few months to work on a project for my company!! I can’t say how excited and nervous about this but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. The next week is going to be a crazy scrabble to prepare everything, I already have a list as long as my arm to take care of!

Update (24/1): I’ll be leaving the UK this Sunday 28th, arriving in Beijing Monday morning. The office I’ll be working at is in the “Zhongguancun” region known as the Silicon Valley of China, north-east Beijing. Whilst I’m planning on posting here as often as possible things might be quiet for a couple of weeks whilst I acclimatise to the local conditions!

Sheep Head (양머리)

Never let it be said that I am not a trend setter in all aspects of life, in fact when it comes to clothes I consider my wardrobe to be the *hight* of fashion. With this in mind I decided to take a leaf out the latest in couture from South Korea: behold the Sheep Head (literal translation), otherwise known as the “Princess Leia towel doo”.

Sheep Head 양머리

For those who don’t speak Korean:

  1. Fold towel length-ways 3 times
  2. Fold the ends over themselves until secure
  3. Turn over and find opening
  4. Pull opening apart till head sized
  5. Place on head (your face may or may-not blur as show!)

Walking down the street will never feel the same again, warm ears and a dry head are just some of the benefits of having a Sheep Head. Worn as an every-day accessory by both young and old this is the essential 2007 look, heading from a republic peninsular to your head shortly. You heard it hear first!

I’m wearing mine right now, are you?! Reader submissions of self-portraits always welcome (although NO cutsie babies or animals please!!).

*sarcasm implied

Defrauded

I got a curious call on Saturday night from my bank asking if I was in Sri Lanka. At this point alarm bells were ringing as No, I was definitely not in Sri Lanka and nor should my debit card be withdrawing money from any ATM’s there. Luckily it seems my bank has a pretty good fraud detection system – the card was canceled immediately and I’ll be getting the £250 they stole back.

A quick search on Google shows that I’m not the only one who’s been victim to this sort of high-tech fraud. Only last Friday were more than 5000 cloned credit cards seized in Sri Lanka –

“About 2300 of the fake cards had been encoded with genuine credit card data from England, one official said, adding that if all 5350 cards were used, the men could have withdrawn up to 400 million baht ($11 million).”

Apparently it’s believed that the credit card details are stolen in England then encoded onto fake cards in Thailand. What’s even more worrying is that there is very we can do to stop this as individuals aside from the usual precautions. At the end of the day it’s more of a hassle than anything else to sort out and one which I could do without!

Living Standards

I just watched one of those foreign property programs on the TV and saw that I could easily afford a decent 3 bedroom house in a picturesque town in the middle of France on what I earn… In London I couldn’t even afford half a room let alone even dream of a house. It’s a rather sickening situation. Renting with a bunch of randoms is OK but I’d love my own space to do my own thing, shame it doesn’t look like it’ll be happening any time soon! Here’s hoping that my bonus will cover a nice holiday somewhere exciting 😉

Microformats

Whilst browsing through my feed subscriptions in Google Reader (highly recommended) today I came accross an interesting article on Read/Write Web about microformats and “The Web Browser as an Information Broker” – i.e. becoming the center of everything you do through standardising the exchange of data which in turn makes the applications that you use to view this irrelevant. For anyone who spends a lot of time online this is a pretty big deal as suddenly your data becomes so much more useful when it’s inconnected and easily accessible. In essance it brings structure to chaos – this can only be a good thing!

Microformats

Could this be Internet’s next killer feature (or perhaps the final death nail for IE)? For a more indepth discussion on what this is all about check out this series of articles which provide a good introduction.