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Published: January 24th 2009
...yes, they did. Deliver.
Don't you remember???
Ok. So we ended our last blog, somewhere in october, somewhere between arriving back in Beijing from Fujian (the tea place!) and waiting to find out if the super coolest pizza bar in town delivered to our house. And yes they do. And all we eat now is super cool pizza. And don't our tummies love us for it.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
And Happy 'Niu' Year as well! Niu means cow. (cos the new chinese year will be year of the cow). And it's currently the funniest joke in Beijing, possibly China. We're not sure who makes it funnier, the Chinese who like to show off that they can speak minimal english, or the expats that like to prove they can speak a little mandarin. Come and visit us and make up your own mind.
So what's been happening the last couple months? More Pitchi pitchi mcgregor burlock, and more red tape for the both of us. Zac had to make a quick trip down to Hong Kong in November for a visit to the 'travel document section for chinese and visa section for aliens consular
Photos in the hutong
Me taking a photo of Pen taking a photo. That's art.
department office of the commissioner of the ministry of foreign affairs of the people's republic of china in hong kong special administrative region' to get a new visa. No joke. We haven't changed a word. Look it up on google if you don't believe us. Anyway, no dramas, just a pain in the ass, seems that all is well. For Zac. The cool thing about HK is that you can buy really good mobile phones really cheap, so we upgraded, and so could actually copy a title down that long into the phone. Nice.
Back in the capital, Zac has found some wicked international musicians to play with, and has done a recording in a specky studio (of course it's still a specky studio in china, which meant that although the recording was meant to start at 1, it didn't start til 4 cos all the fu's were running around the bloody recording room 'doing something' like trying to make headphones work) which will be released shortly. The big advantage to this band is a regular gig at 'Piazza Italia', where Sof gets her lasagne fix (and cheese fix (hang on... I thought that was taken care of by
4 of us in the same picture!
Doesn't happen very often. (tea tasting)
the Hutong Pizza triple cheese pizza...), and bubbly fix, and olive fix, and etc fix), and so does Zac, except he gets it for free. It's a regular Saturday night thing in the top floor of this 3 storey Italian bonanza, made up of a supermarket, restaurant, cafe, bar and eccentric old boss. Gold. Beijing needed a place like this last August. Oh well. It was probably meant to be opened in 1997 but the red tape got in the way.
Speaking of red tape, Sof has endured "insert annoying Pitchi pitchi mcgregor burlock story here" yet again. Plan A is in action. Back up plan B on standby.
On a fun note, we both had birthdays, and respective (not respectable!) parties. Sweet. Zac's involved one guy with a garbage bag full of balloons on his head, clam shells in Sof's cleavage, and a naked run in front of 2 police stations. Sof's involved many a cocktail at our new found local, where the owner grows her own mint to add to the mojitos. Yum! Highlight: Sof's boss got her Chanel no. 5 for her birthday. Oh, and Alan, the Chanel no. 2.4 that you sent us smells
So hungry. Gotta eat more. Don't make me look at the camera sof, more eating...
nowhere near as good.
Then christmas came, we spent the day with good friends. Well, they're good friends now! Yeah, you know what we're talking about. No police stations this time though. Then Pen and Kate came and stayed. Ah yes. The Pen and Kate stories...
We sent them off on the standard touristy stuff cos we're sick of doing it. If anyone asks us to go to the Summer Palace again, we're gonna punch them. But our 2 adventurous ladies were quite happy on their own. (love you guys!). Even Kate nearly being hit by a bus after she had to swerve her bike cos of an SMS-ing pedestrian didn't put them off. Much. But we were all really excited to head up to Bonny Doon together. I mean Haerbin.
Haerbin was, well, cold. Really, really, really cold. Don't be fooled by our smiles in the pictures. Zac wore 17 items of clothing. Yeah. THAT cold. Sof came in second place with 21, while Kate held the record at 27. Nice. And Pen was somewhere in the middle around 23. With that many clothes on, you just can't move, you have no peripheral vision. (Hmmm, I
The Big Slide
18m long, 12m high. Yeah!
see a metaphor for this wonderful country!). To cross the road, you have to rotate your entire body, just like that Sesame St clip when Kermit demonstrates what we'd be like if we had no neck. Too abstract? Ok, like a dalek then. But enough channel 2 references. You get the idea, but it was a pain, but it did mean that we were able to stay outside for hours at a time and appreciate the ice festivals.
The ice festivals have been in haerbin for 11/23/10 years depending on which sign you read. They are very popular, and have also become massively expensive. Luckily, the four of us all had South Australian drivers licenses which passed for student ID cards so we got in half price. Worked 3 times. Sweet. We saw the disney one twice, once during the day and once at night. During the day there is NO ONE ELSE there so you can go on the ice slides time and time again and pretend you're 5 years old. Then we found the free dodgem cars, roller coaster, ice bikes (with no pedals) and the EXTRA EXTRA big slide. Being 5 years old keeps you quite
warm. And at night time they light the ice sculptures up with neon. We're split between beautiful and tacky: it's pretty amazing, but they're kind of lurid colours. After hours at the ice festival, much eating of Russian food. It's astonishing how much you can eat when it's that cold.
The non-disney ice festival is heaps bigger, the buildings are taller and it has DONUT rides, but the slides sucked. Can't have everything. The buildings are all replicas of real buildings and are absolutely huge. We were blown away. Lucky tho, the wind was pretty mellow so we weren't literally blown away. Snow blower dude did get us at one stage though.
Something that wasn't quite so incredible however was the tiger park. It was cool to see real tigers up close, but they didn't look very happy. The award to the unhappiest looking big cat goes to the jaguar, tied with the African Lion, who travelled from the tropics to their outdoor Haerbin minus 25 cage. The main entertainment for this park is feeding live animals to tigers. When you buy your entry ticket, you can also select from a range of animals, including a cow. That's
not chinglish on the photo. Anyway, we didn't see any bovine variety become dinner, but someone in our group did buy a chicken. Kate was quite traumatised, not as much as the chicken though in its last 30 seconds of life.
We also had a trip to a brothel, unintentionally. Don't ask how, but we got out of their alive. Zac needed a few beers to recover.
Kate had quite a fanclub in the town of Haerbin. That long blonde hair really attrAs acts attention. We reckon it was just the 27 layers. Either way, the goggle eyed woman in the lift won't be forgetting Kate in a hurry. Neither will the 4820 other fans, regularly asking for signed fa-piao.
One train ride later, we were back in the jing. And off to the Great Wall. Now, we know we said we didn't do the tour guide thing, but this was different. Really different. We hired a driver to take us to a part of the wall we'd never been to before, and not only was there no entrance fee, there were no people. No one. In china. For 5 hours. Just 4 aussies climbing a hill
Tiger Park menu
Yep. It's real. It's exactly what it sounds like.
and a wall. Brilliant.
As per usual, we did take Kate and Pen on a culinary tour of china's capital, to the point where they only wanted to eat chuanr and couldn't eat any more you bing. Good work.
As we write this, the fireworks are beginning to fly. Tomorrow is Chinese new year eve (more importantly, Australia Day eve) and we hope to not get blown up. Wish us all the best. Hopefully we'll have a video equally as awesome as last year's. But that'll have to wait til next time...
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