When you're an Australian expat living in China, half the fun is that when it's freezing cold in December, you get to go home where it's warm for Christmas holidays.
The other half is that in July, when the northern hemisphere is closed for business, you get a long summer holiday too. And so it is that I will be off for the next month - on full pay! Which is to say, the same pay as usual. Which is to say, nowt.
So I've decided to go out with a whimper, rather than a bang. To last you, dearly beloved reader, until I emerge from my coma sometime in August, I have slapped together a very large bunch of photos. No, it's actually a carefully selected, hand-edited, twice-baked collection of images I've lovingly collected in Beijing and compiled in this sweet, sweet album. In fact there are so many, those of us who were alive in the '70s might call it a "double album", a-la Peter Frampton or Ted Nugent or one of those old, old guys.
So, for the next month, for me it'll be no more of ...
|... things clogging the roads like this,|
the Elephant Man of tricycle loads.
|Or this summer version. I include this|
because it's actually our transportation
to the airport - the double-decker
rickshaw constructed of milk crates
|Planes, trains and bicycles. My wife bought a new bike|
last Sunday. Here it is here outside our apartment,
complete with a random Chinese character in the
top left corner to show we really live in China.
|But soft! What's that sticker? I know the men|
at the shop might have thought my wife
wasn't much of a bike rider by the way she
test-rode this one, but they didn't have to
make her feel stupid ...
|I've tried, but it's pretty hard to get it going the|
|Now there's something you don't see every day - kids|
in a car.
|OK now we've got a real problem.|
|And does this woman need to advertise her negligence|
It's goodbye for a while to things like this ...
|Frist things frist: If you're a school photo company telling|
people to watch their spelling, just be a bit careful.
|It's my favourite clothing brand. Indeed, it is the only one.|
Their capabilities don't include spelling, however.
|Farewell, too, to otherwise fine-looking|
products with screwed-up labeling, such
as this magnificent set of golf clubs from
the good people at Biemlfdlkk.
And it's bye bye to Chinese restaurants like this one ...
|Here is a lobster and a crab under Glad Wrap.|
I include this because they were still alive.
Hence the "WTF" expression on the crab's face.
|And it's catch-you-later to cliched juxtapositions of|
new and old Beijing, such as the Bird's Nest stadium
behind this temple, which was constructed in 2008 to
make it look like there was something new next to
|Or how about a five-year-old in World War I flying gear?|
|I include these because ... they're cute.|
To be honest it might be a good time to get out of town for a while. I fear that after nine months of chronicling modern Beijing, I've become a "person of interest" to the local authorities. The other day I noticed them through the window of my 11th floor hidey-hole ...
|I thought: "Hey ..."|
|And then I thought: "What the ...?"|
|It took them a while but they finally trained their beady|
little listening devices in on me. A bit of monitoring of
fearless internet types is to be expected in Communist
China. But what happened next was beyond the pale ...
|The operative moved over for a better look, before|
I drew the curtains.
|The People's Liberation Army does take|
its job seriously. They can never forget
Big Brother is watching. And he's
brooding. And devilishly handsome.
|It turned out my paranoia was, as always,|
misplaced. The man at the window was
one of these guys. They dangle from a
bit of rope on a piece of wood to paint the
|"Occupational Health and Safety" are our|
|In another workplace matter, I was stunned to|
come across this scene when out walking last
week. Collapsed hoardings, bodies strewn across
the footpath ...
|With the area roped off, it was as good a place as any to|
take a nap, these workers obviously reasoned.
|This job too came with sleeping quarters for the|
afternoon break. Little wonder they call China
"the Spain of the east".
|Speaking of footpaths, I'll miss scenes|
like watching masseuses try to learn
roller-blading in their work clothes ...
|... watched by a slightly less awkward looking|
And it's farewell for a while to dodgy DVD
boxed sets, which usually end up on sale in
the markets here for tuppence owing to some
minor flaw in the packaging. Here's a copy of
the excellent HBO series The Wire, which
came across my desk the other day.
See, I wasn't lying. This is the nerve centre right here.
It took me a while to figure out why this show about cops in the gritty drug scene of hard-knocks Baltimore didn't make it to the export markets.
"Yo Bunk! Where we at?"
"Well that's the mo'fo'ing Sydney Opera House right here."
"And the Sydney Harbour Bridge."
Nice photo though. I can see what they were thinking.
And finally ...
|It's worth repeating my favourite people-falling-asleep-in-|
restaurants shot again. Just to recap, it's mid-burger,
mid-text aaaand zonk!