Monday, 3 January 2011

Seeing in the Arbitrary Beginning of a New Solar Cycle

The New Year celebrations were a super fun end to the party season here in Beijing. Considering Chinese New Year is still a month away plenty of locals celebrated alongside expats and tourists in this part of town. Our plan had been to head to the super cool factory setting 798 art district for some hardcore techno warehouse raving (I even had my emergency military glow stick) but following a large amount of wine and fondue and a couple of deadly Duvels not drunk since February in Belgium (the most expensive meal of the entire trip it should be noted, though worth it for the interesting company of Dutch embassy staff and Japanese journalists), midnight crept up on us in another bar and the rest of the night was danced away there, to far more civilised music played by the world's oldest and coolest Chinese DJ, and long-held dreams of the moment the clock strikes... were fulfilled. Exhaustion set in at 4am and thanks to luck and a piggy back all returned safely to Happy Village II (or Xingfuercun in Chinese).

As the UK was seeing in midnight I was waking briefly, dry mouthed and thumping headed. As the UK was waking up dry mouthed and thumping headed I was in Dongyue Temple learning about the work of the Taoist's 'Department of Wandering Ghosts’ and the ‘Department for Fifteen Kinds of Violent Death’. Quite different from most previous New Year's Days.

The weather here is generally around -1 but often with wind chill (or when cycling) it's more like -18, which is making me long occasionally for the non-stop sweating and 3 showers a day of Thailand. I've just returned from playing the first organised football for about 8 years for which the 8000 miles of cycling helped precisely zero and I was wheezing all over the pitch, not helped by the dryness of Beijing's air - pollution definitely doesn't seem as bad as expected, and certainly not on the Delhi or Tehran scale, though undoubtedly it's there on the larger scale.

I have something of a feeling akin to having come home being here, and, not helped by winter, Cecily's apartment is very hard to leave - Tiananmen Square and The Great Wall still remain unvisited and instead an armful of DVDs have been watched and a bunch of hours have been whiled away in bed. Not the best use of time but, I think, perfect.

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