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May 23rd 2010
Published: May 23rd 2010
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‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take’. Wayne Gretzky

Thought for the week, nothing to do with China - just struck a chord……………if you don’t try ……………

A short pause since my last blog, but then I have been busy climbing a mountain the height of Ben Nevis, so that’s my excuse. And I am continuing the exercise and my conversion to “Chineseness” by starting Tai Chi classes which I take in the park early Saturday mornings. In the same local spirit I have bought my own personal chopsticks to use at home - how Chinese is that! A favourite official phrase here is ‘ ………with Chinese characteristics’. This can be used to refer to all kinds of things and I have decided to apply this to my apartment - so it is now adorned with a giant fan and a young pioneer retro / repro poster (mainly to cover the dirty paintwork) and I have taken up needlepoint, a very Chinese pastime, and strain my eyes over a cross stitch blossom and tea cup design (which I may never finish and certainly will never hang on the wall!). This is life with Chinese characteristics.

I have to tell you a bit more about the Taishan adventure, which was a unique experience - not just the climb but the rest of the trip. We were guests of a very successful and energetic businessman who was opening a new factory in China and is a keen supporter of VSO. The Chinese certainly know how to hold a celebration - we were given the red carpet treatment, flowers to wear, dragon dancers and drummers - the works! Everywhere we went we had a police escort and banners welcoming the British delegation and formal banquets with much toasting and ‘speechifying’ as each Mayor wanted to show off his town. We also got to see the museum which was the internment camp where runner Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) died.

Our team mates were stock brokers, bankers, PR people and staff from London, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong and then there was Laima, another volunteer, and myself - the ones not in business suits! We were on holiday - 5* hotels and a decent bath!!!
So it was fascinating to get a taste of a very different life, and work, style and meet people I wouldn’t usually get to meet. Came back to earth with a bump as we made the journey back to Beijing on VSO arrangements. The ‘hard sleeper’ was exactly that - hard to sleep! Imagine an oven with no door and 3 bunks like shelves on each side and no choice of who your sleeping partners are - get the picture??

So back to work now with the weather getting hotter and heavier. The early mornings are best - I even tried a little ballroom in the park on the my way to the office last week, courtesy of a very nice lady who invited me to share her park bench and ended up dancing me around! Wearing out my shoe leather exploring and still lots more places on my ‘to see’ list - Summer Palace tomorrow - my worry is that I won’t be able to find any new shoes big enough for Western feet - in Chinese sizes I take a 245!

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer, wherever you are reading this.

Gillian x

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you cant really tell this is on top - but it was - honest! the yellow T shirt is courtesy of our host China Foods

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