Monday, December 26, 2005

Life is so incredibly awesome right now

Life rules. I can't tell you why yet. But its awesome. Some of you already know why. I'll tell everyone in a week or two.

Christmas in China!!

Well, it Boxing Day here in China (for the Americans in the audience which I suppose is most of you, that is the day after Christmas) and I'm busy packing my things for my trip to Beijing. Let me just say that Christmas in China has been wonderful. I was not looking forward to missing out on the family get-togethers and yearly celebrations, but I was pleasantly surprised at how Christmas-y my Christmas actually was.

I had Christmas morning with a Christmas tree and all. Granted it was a 10-inch tall plastic tree, but it was a tree nonetheless. My best presents were from Louise: I got a Chinese chess set, a jar of Branston Pickle, and a book called 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz. Very cool. I guess the only other present I got was a Glenfiddich clock from Mickey, the owner of Hanava, but I think every guy in the place got one.

An Australian couple named Jennifer and Paul invited many people over to their house for Christmas dinner. It was amazing. About 30 people came, with approximately half being Chinese. The food... oh the food. We started the evening off with mulled spiced wine before moving on to the food. We had ham, turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts and bacon, green beans, mashed potatos, sweet potato pie, pork tenderloin, duck risotto & pumpkin. Then for dessert we had apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, Christmas pudding w/cream, mince pies, and fruitcake. It was fantastic.

The coolest part of the whole day was how accepting everyone was. I've met this woman Jennifer before, but I wouldn't say I'm particularly friendly with her. And yet, she invited half of Yantai to her house for a wonderful Christmas celebration. We even sung carols afterwards around the Christmas tree.

Anyway, I missed my family very much at Christmas and I wish I had been there with everyone. I am glad I got to speak to the fam for a few minutes on the phone, but I did have quite a nice Christmas.

I am excited to go to Beijing today as I have not yet been there. Louise and I are flying there today for a few days; she has to fly home to England for a few months. A bunch of my Phi Psi bros are flying in on Wednesday to visit for two weeks and I can't wait to see them. And, as an added bonus Charles is bringing my brand new Apple Powerbook with him.

Life is good.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Another crazy story

I thought I had written about this, but I can't find it on my blog...

A few weeks ago I was in my taxi going home and we hit a pedestrian. The driver slammed on his brakes at the last second, but we sent this poor 60 something year old lady flying! Flipped in the air before she landed and all... I thought for sure she was dead, but miraculously 10 minutes later we were helping her walk around, and 20 minutes later she walked home! She left a dent in the bumper like she was a telephone pole, and another dent where her head had bounced off of the hood! And she was fine! Well, she was after I walked a long way down the road to get her shoes which had been knocked clean off of her!

Luckiest person ever (except for me of course).

Crazy day

On my way home from work today, the taxi I was in was rear ended because no one here knows how to drive in the amount of ice and snow we currently have. Yantai hasn't seen this much snow in over 50 years and it is supposed to snow straight for another 5 days! The crash was not that bad and I was ok. That began one hell of a crazy evening.

I had dinner last night with a some friends of mine that I'll tell you about later. Anyway, I was picked up by my friend's driver in front of a hotel. We drove to another hotel to pick up som Germans who had flown in that day, and we headed to the French Romantic Restaurant were we met with my friend. On the way I spoke to our driver as best as I could considering I don't speak Mandarin fluently and he seemed like a really nice, funny guy. We arrived at the restaurant and ten minutes later as we are about to order, our driver comes running into the place with a mob of people after him. Around ten people force their way into the restaurant despite the staff's best efforts and proceed to beat the living hell out of our driver. The westerners at our table didn't realize it was him at first because there was so much commotion, but our Chinese friends did, and before you realized it half of our table was involved in a massive bar/restaurant brawl. I feel really bad for the driver... he didn't stand a chance. They'd have one guy hold his arms behind his back while another three worked on him. He finally broke away, ran upstairs (where I thought he was going to get thrown over the balcony onto our table), and got beaten some more.

The police came, a few people went to hospital... anyway, they arrested the guys that attacked him, although no ones seems to know what it was all about. We were given a shakey story about a fender bender, but I don't think anyone really believes that. Some of the attackers were arrested, and are going to be in a heap of trouble. One of the driver's best friends is apparently the Chief of Police for Yantai... I think I'd rather not know what they do to him in a closed room. Our driver is in the hospital still, and I don't know what his condition is, although I hope he is ok. He had split open the back of his head on something and at least had a few broken ribs.


Monday, December 12, 2005


Its official... Primer directed by Shane Carruth is the most confusing movie ever made. It is good (winner of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize and Alfred P. Sloan Award), but ridiculously hard to understand. If engineering, time travel, and paradoxes are your thing, then you'll have a blast trying to understand this movie.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


For months I have been trying to upload my Yangtze River pics, but my photo album upload tool would never work and would crash after one photo. I've been trying it every night this week and finally resigned myself to adding every photo I had one at a time... not something I was looking forward to. So, I set about my arduous task this evening, and...

... viola! All of my photos uploaded with lightning speed. I couldn't believe how fast the connection was. Very strange. But anyway, now I finally have all of my pics up on the internet. Ok, well not all of them, because I took pity on my parents who have to view my pics through a dial-up connection, so I only put up the ones that I thought were really worth their time.

Oh, and I've been keeping track of how many people have been visiting my blog, but I've had the counter hidden. I changed that so everyone can view it. I am challenging you, my loyal readers, to make that number increase to 10,000 by June. I can be done. Counter is on my sidebar.

Have fun with the pics! Feel free to leave comments!

Friday, December 09, 2005


Two weekends ago, I went to Dalian to take an exam (it was either there, Beijing, or Jinan... I'm going to Beijing at the end of Dec, and I've been to Jinan, so that settled it), which is a nice port city located north of Yantai just across the Yellow Sea. The test was on Monday morning, and I didn't want to spend the weekend wandering the streets alone, so Louise came along for the adventure. After a night of drinking the evening before Yantai's favorite western watering hole, we boarded the Chinese ferry for six hours of hungover, seasick hell. After a boat trip of unbelievable misery and stench (the boat was filthy) we arrived in Dalian and welcomed the fresh air off of that awful boat. We got a taxi to our hotel, which incidently was used in a scene in The Last Emporer. If you've scene it lately, the inside of the Manchurian Palace was the inside of the hotel. Nice place... listed in Lonley Planet as "Luxery", but worked out to about $50/night.

Dalian was quite nice. Everyone here in Yantai that had gone before said it is a nice, clean town with European architecture, and they were pretty much right. While it was a nice place though, I found that if I wasn't there to take an exam, there would be no reason to actually go. There at no specific sights to see, nothing really making the trip worthwhile other than just a change of scenery, which I will admit was very nice. The shopping was very good there though... I managed to get all of my Christmas shopping done although I am beginning to doubt whether my packages will make it to the US before Christmas. I spent a tad too much in Dalian because the Friendship store there (western oriented) accepted Visa, which is what my debit card it. Oh well, my relatives are getting nicer gifts because of it.

I did quite well on my exam. If I ever decide to use the results, I'll let everyone know what it was for, but I was very happy with the results.

Vacation planning

When planning a trip across the Trans-Siberian Railway (goes from Beijing to Moscow) that one is considering taking in the winter, one suddenly realizes that while Siberia is supposed to be a beautiful sight in the winter, it may be worth going on such a trip in a season when the permafrost is under only a few inches of soil (summer) rather than when there is another 6 feet of snow on top of it. Realizations such as these are why one stops planning said trip and asks one's self where would be a nice climate to visit in the dead of winter... perhaps a climate that would be too hot in the summer time.

When one finds out that you can take a train from Singapore, to Kuala Lumpur, and then through some of the most beautiful rainforest in the world to Bangkok, one starts to look at plane tickets to Singapore. Looking into it further, one decides that he does not want to be shot by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, one decides one will go around by air or boat to Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon) and take the train up the Vietnamese coast, through Danang, to Hanoi where one can catch a plane back to good ol' Yantai. On top of this, when one compares the price of tickets on the Oriental Express to those on the Trans-Siberian Railway, one realizes that a trip through SE Asia is infinitely more economical.

If one where considering such a vacation, of course.