Tweets this Week (2009-02-22)

  • landed okay in Beijing. Great flight (well compared with the flight from Boston!) It’s lovely, sunny and clear. The new aiport is stunning #
  • Woken up to snow in Beijing. Pardha is videoing it, it’s the first time he’s been been in the snow. #
  • Beijing restaurants so far: Korean, Indian and Western. Looking forward to having a *Chinese* meal at some stage! #
  • Shivering in a taxi back to hotel after a 3 hour meeting in an almost unheated room. Beijing is freezing and it’s snowing again. #
  • I’m at Wudaokou, Beijing, China – http://bkite.com/04HXI #
  • China is an amazing place: two hours ago our plans for the next two days had fallen apart, but now it’s all sorted via e-mail. It’s 10pm.  #
  • More snow in Beijing. Lovely snow covered bamboo outside my hotel. http://twitpic.com/1jocu #
  • I’m at Wudaokou, Beijing, China – http://bkite.com/04J7C #
  • I’m at Wudaokou, Beijing, China – http://bkite.com/04J7F #
  • Wet and cold will be the order of the say – Photo: http://bkite.com/04J7N #
  • Still in awe of Pardha’s bartering skills at the Silk Market last night. Sadly not enough of this rubbed off on me, I’m still pants at it! #
  • Waiting for my last business meeting for this trip to Beijing. I’m pleased with how the trip has gone, and looking forward to going home. #
  • My suitcase is far to small for travelling going home – help! Yes, I did a *little bit* of shopping! #
  • Left Pardha in Beijing-he’s off to the Forbidden City today and the wall at Badaling tomorrow. *I’m going home* 🙂 On way to airport now. #
  • Having a cup of oolong tea at the airport. Oolong isn’t my favourite tea but it makes a nice change. #
  • I’m at Heathrow, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04NPd #
  • Back in the UK at last, and waiting for my bag in Terminal 5  – http://bkite.com/04NPk #
  • Traffic is awful, we’re stuck on the M25 and home is feeling quite distant still. #
  • I’m at Cambridge – http://bkite.com/04O8D #
  • Enjoying my Puh Er tea and trying to figure if virgin Broadband is bust, nothing on their service page. #
  • Virgin Cable now *does* have a local area problem: two engineers told me it was it was my box. Gggrr! #
  • Enjoying a walk in the late afternoon sun
    http://bit.ly/176ikY #
  • Impressed by *Vacqueyras* 2005 from Sélectionné par Laurence Féraud #
  • *北京* blog post http://tinyurl.com/c9xt9y #
  • *Gong Fu Tea Set* blog post http://tinyurl.com/aaalw9 #
  • Finally finished all by blogging covering the patst couple of weeks: time for a nice cup of tea! #
  • at Parkside Police Station : http://schmap.me/48up9y #
  • Good news, the goldfish seem to have survived the cold and the ice. All four are still in the ‘pond’. http://twitpic.com/1mp89 #
  • Surprisingly Son of Rambow brought a tear to my eye! Nice film. #

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Gong Fu Tea Set

So I’ve set up my tea tray, and all the bits. With some glue to seal some holes. and trimming the rubber feet to give the tray a bit more of a slant it works really well. The teapot, tray and money frog are all made from Yixing Clay (I hope!). So I’ve made some of the nice Longjing (龙井茶) for Michael and some of the new Pu-erh (普洱茶). Great fun! I’m also enjoying using my Ch’an Chu (Money Frog, 蟾蜍) you can read about them here.

Gong Fu Tea Set

Tea Tray 蟾蜍, Ch'an Chu Money Frog 蟾蜍, Ch'an Chu Money Frog Yunnan Chi Tse Beeng Cha, 普洱茶 Gong Fu Tea Set

Q & A

Finished the Book of Slumdog Millionaire on the way back from Beijing. Michael saw the film while I was away and thought that the book was better. I certainly enjoyed it. The structure with the quiz show timeline linking in with short stories from Ram Mohammed Thomas’ life was really engaging. I thought the ending was a bit cheesy, with a good Bollywood twang!


“Q and A (filmed as Slumdog Millionaire)” (Vikas Swarup)

北京

One of the PhD students at Peking University took us out for lunch on Wednesday to one of the campus restaurants, which was fun. We ate a big bowl of nice noodles for about 50 pence each. He also gave us a tour of the PKU lake, which was frozen and were were able to walk across the ice. Lots of people had been skating on the lake the previous week, but the snow meant that they weren’t skating while we were there. In the afternoon we went to Tsinghua University.

Lunch on PKU Campus

Walking on the frozen lake at Peking University Pardha at PKU Lake

In the evening, Pardha and I went out to the Xiushui Silk Market, or Silk Street (秀水街). It’s a massive place, and fairly hard work with hawkers trying to sell you a large array of stuff. Pardha wanted to buy some silk dresses for his wife and daughter and he was an amazing barterer. The women on two of the stalls commented on how tough he was (in a respectful way!) and I think both parties had a good time. I watched! Thanks to his skills, I got 10 silk ties (rather nice) for about £10. On the way out he bought a couple of tea sets, and I was lured into buying a purple clay tea tray to complete my Yixing clay tea set that I’ve built up over various trips to China and Malaysia (I’ll write more about that later). The tray is rather large and heavy, and the price came down from £200 to £30: Pardha reckoned he could have got it for £25, so I didn’t do too badly. Now that I’ve got it home there is quite a bit of maintenance to do: leveling the tray and sealing a few holes! I think it will get there. After the Silk Market we took a small three-wheeler scooter to Tiananmen Square. The temperature was below zero, and by the time we got there we were both freezing cold and ripped off! We had a quick look at the entrance to the Forbidden City, and were there to see the lights turned off at 9.30.

Tiananmen Square at NIght

It’s impossible to see get a taxi from that part of Tiananmen Square, and we had a fairly long walk to try and find one. Finally, I couldn’t take the cold any more and we popped into a rather grand hotel for dinner. The hotel was grand but in a dusty and cluttered faded sort of way, and the food was expensive and bad! But al least it was warm and we we heated up nicely until the hotel turned the heating off about 10.30! Luxury indeed.

On Thursday we visited the Institute of Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. We stopped for a brief lunch at a nearby restaurant, where we were the centre of the attention and the people int he kitchen all came to look at us an give us wave! Come to think of it it might have been because I was in a jacket and tie, rather than because we were foreign!

Pardha, lunch near ICCAS Graham, lunch near ICCAS

We had another visit to Peking University, then walk down the road from the hotel to a little tea shop, where we spent close to two hours tasting lovely tea with the owner and his mother. I bought some very nice Longjing (龙井茶) and a disk of Yunnan Pu-erh (普洱茶). Pardha bough loads of tea: he also bought some Jasmine and another type of Green Tea. We had a great time and got a small discount from the shopkeeper. I also came away with a Money Frog, which I love, more on that later.

Pardha in Tea Shop, Beijing

We spent a long time in the tea shop, I finished the scanning of our notes to send to India, spent a frustrating 40 minutes printing out my boarding pass in the ‘business centre’ and after all that we had to dash to a restaurant for dinner 30 mins before the place closed. I had a nice meal, but Pardha couldn’t find any vegetarian stuff he liked so had some biscuits in his room. The restaurant started turning the lights off on us about 10.30!

蟾蜍, Ch'an Chu Money Frog

Early morning, 北京

The night I arrived in Beijing I was lucky enough to sleep for about 10 hours, right through till my alarm at 8am. I’ve not been so lucky this morning, and I’ve been up since 6am. I forgot to take melatonin last night at bed-time, so I’m wondering if that made any difference? Who knows?

Beijing is freezing cold! Some snow fell yesterday and I forgot how cold the university building are: Pardha and I went out in jackets and then sat in shivering in offices – when we finally got in a taxi home we were chilled right through! We’ll be wearing warm coats and beanie hats today.

This is being quite a different trip to China. It’s been really hard finding vegetarian food for Pardha, so we’ve eaten in two Korean restaurants, a western restaurant in the hotel and an Indian restaurant (which was great)! I’m still waiting for a Chinese meal! I don’t remember there being so many Korean and Japanese restaurants in Beijing when I was here last, the Korean places have great Kim Chi, and lots of veg options.

Graham, Indian Restaurant on Chengfu Rd, Beijing

Pardha, Indian Restaurant in Chengfu Rd, Beijing

We’re staying at the Xi Jiao Hotel (北京西郊宾馆) which is close to the Universities that we’re visting. The hotel was only US$59 per night, so I was a bit hesitant about what it would be like. The rooms aren’t very glamorous, but they are very quite and warm and have free wired internet!  

Xi Jiao Hotel, 北京西郊宾馆, Beijing

Xi Jiao Hotel, Beijing

We’ve got three meetings today, and if we have time afterwards we’ll go out to Tiananmen Square in the evening and try to see some Beijing Opera at Laosche Tea House. I can then take the opportunity to buy a little bag of tea! I tried some tea yesterday in one colleagues office which was really nice, and Justin gave me a written order (the bit in brackets says something like don’t sell him the expensive stuff):

justins-tea2

Tweets this Week (2009-02-15)

  • having a pain au chocolat in the UCL students union café in Gordon Street #
  • Waiting for Pardha to pick up his bags and meet me at Paddington for the Heathrow Express #
  • heathrow terminal 5 is good. must find a sandwich my tummy is growling #
  • landed in Boston. Its -1 and there is snow on the ground #
  • I’m at Doubletree Guest Suites Boston – http://bkite.com/04uNr #
  • Awake at 4:30, maybe I should have tried to sleep a bit on the plane. Hum – http://bkite.com/04uNS #
  • Well I have a view of the river, and from here it looks frozen! – Photo: http://bkite.com/04uV7 #
  • The advertising is true, three blades are better than two. My advice, don’t downgrade, ouch! #
  • Had a lovely salad at the *biggest* salad bar I’ve seen, at the Wholefood Market across the river from the hotel. – http://bkite.com/04vxx #
  • Inner courtyard vertigo at the hotel – Photo: http://bkite.com/04vXe #
  • Starting out for a day at MIT. The library foyer is an impressive start #
  • lunch at MIT student union, with mango bubble tea #
  • Having a gin martini at the Top of the Hub at the Prudential Tower in Boston. Perfect, sigh! #
  • Legal Seafoods not quite what I remembered it to be: the service was top notch but the tuna less so. #
  • Getting ready for a day at Harvard. Looking forward to it, it should be a good day. #
  • Having good clam chowder at *au bon pain* in Harvard Square #
  • Heading out for dinner to the Parish Café in downtown Boston with Stephen http://bit.ly/UKHOx #
  • had a nice couple of Sam Adams Winter Ales with my mushroom and steak sandwich. nice restaurnt #
  • Buying a flatbed scanner was cheaper than getting my notes scanned at a service shop. The notes now go to India for analysis. #
  • I love this Shenton Valentines message: http://bit.ly/wv77W #
  • It’s 10:30 and we’re still scanning. The bar shuts at 11 and I really hope we get this done by then! http://twitpic.com/1h869 #
  • Relaxing in my room until 2pm late checkout: fly at 8pm from Logan to Heathrow, then onto Beijing – http://bkite.com/04CVy #
  • Wishing I was home to get a hug from Michael on Valentine’s Day. #
  • Mexican lunch near Central Square. Excited to have horchata, but it was vanilla flavoured
    http://tinyurl.com/cvcffn #
  • Impressed with Google StreetView, good viewvof where I had lunch. Shame it only works in the USA. http://twitpic.com/1hpyh #
  • *Leaving Boston* blog post http://bit.ly/f848v #
  • I’m at Heathrow terminal 5 – http://bkite.com/04EpY #
  • I expect to be in Heathrow Terminal 5 for the next n hours or so. – http://bkite.com/04Eq1 #
  • n = 9 #
  • I’m at Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel – http://bkite.com/04ECU #
  • Had a lovely light lunch at the Tea Restaurant in the Spfitel. Better than being cramped in T5  – Photo: http://bkite.com/04ED4 #
  • Waiting at the gate, our flight is due to leave in 40 mins. It’s been a long day. #

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Leaving Boston

image1718929903.jpgI’ve had a good trip to Boston with Pardha. We’ve done well for the work that we came here for, and eveything is falling into place nicely. We went to the Top of the Hub at the Prudential Tower where I had a wicked Hendricks Gin Martini looking out over the great view of the city at night. Also had dinner at Legal Seafoods with some Harpoon beer. Met Stephen for a “gourmet sandwich” and nice locally brewed beer in Boylston Street. It’s been really cold and windy, but clearly it’s actually milder than it has been because the river of ice has melted since we got here, and there are just a few sheets of ice left floating by.

We’re flying back to London in a few hours, then have something like seven hours in Heathrow before flying on to Beijing. Arrive in Beiijing on Monday midday, local time. I’m not going to think too hard about that and I’ll trust on my (new) melatonin tablets to sort me out a decent sleep once I’m there: but hopefully that will be after my first meeting at 4pm!

Mobile Blogging from here.

River of Ice

Pardha and I arrived in Boston last night after one of the quietest flights I’ve been on. There was hardly anyone on board. The films were rotten: watched half of a new Simon Pegg comedy that left me cold, and that was it for films. Great Dan Snow documentary about the emperor Hadrian. The Charles River is frozen, which is exciting.

Graham, Boston

Pardha, Boston
 

We’re staying at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Cambridge, close to the Universities. The room in the hotel are small suites, which is workeing out well as Pardha and I can work together in the front room, separate from the bedroom. The hotel is very quiet, all the floors below 12 are empty and there are 15 floors, so things must be a bit tough.

Had a great lunch today at the Whole Foods Market, with a massive salad bar with probably 40 different salads, in large industrial tubs. The salads were sSold be weight in paper trays. All the salads I had were excellent (including seaweed 🙂 ) except for the vegetarian ‘chicken’ tofu in a  smoky sauce, which was vile.

Tweets this Week (2009-02-08)

  • *Skiers welcome heavy snow in the Alps -Times Online* blog post http://tinyurl.com/cbjs9l #
  • *Back to Brévènt* blog post http://tinyurl.com/cgl883 #
  • *Les Grandes Montets* blog post http://tinyurl.com/dx4cep #
  • Train to London from Cambridge took 90 minutes: but I’m glad to actualy be here #
  • I’m at Holborn, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04ie5 #
  • I love taking the bus in London, nowon my way back to Kings Cross. I spent only about 5 mins in the Chinese Visa Application Centre. #
  • I’m at King’s Cross, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04ifN #
  • On the 12:06 back to Cambridge – http://bkite.com/04ifQ #
  • I’m at Cambridge Railway Station – http://bkite.com/04ilp #
  • I’m at Cambridge – http://bkite.com/04inV #
  • Going to try Jerusalem Artichokes for the first time-hope they are OK — http://tinyurl.com/d5z8m2 #
  • I don’t believe it-I’ve cut another finger on a kitchen knife. I ought to he banned from the kitchen #
  • Desperate for a beer after 13 hours of work. Off to London tomorrow-early start. #
  • SO a train to Liverpool St becasue of overhead line problems to KX; #
  • SO a train to Liverpool St becasue of overhead line problems to KX; http://tinyurl.com/ypsslj #
  • On the (quiet) 06:48 to Liverpool St. About an inch of new snow still falling, but a sense of calm at the station. #
  • Café Nero is a fine place for a business meeting! http://bit.ly/r9wA #
  • I’m at South Kensington, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04nqC #
  • Really nice pain au chocolat at Miss Ellies at South Kensington Tube Station – http://bkite.com/04nqL #
  • I’m at Farringdon, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04nz8 #
  • I’m at Caversham, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04nWA #
  • I’m at Paddington, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04o1O #
  • applied for my USA visa waiver online, on train from Reading, failing iPhone battery and 2 hours before deadline. I fly on Monday, what … #
  • Looking forward to a restful day *after* doing two loads of washing, ironing and packing. #
  • Having lightly fried lambs kidneys on toast, with Worchestershire sauce for lunch: makes me feel like a bit of a monster. #
  • I’m at Cambridge – http://bkite.com/04qst #
  • The build quality of Michael’s new iPhone isn’t perfect, can feel the plastic back protruding over the chrome front—it’s going back! #
  • Rediscovering Round the Horn—combining iTunes libraries to prepare for second iPhone #
  • Getting fed up with twitter spam followers—just blocked 10, and feel a bit better! #
  • Off to Hitchin for dinner. That will be an adventure. #
  • I’m at Cambridge Railway Station – http://bkite.com/04rOq #
  • Reading reviews of Mobora, where I’m having dinner I’m Hitchin: reviews are mixed. http://bit.ly/tbXO #
  • Bluergh! The Clipper organic, fair trade Earl Grey from the West Cornwall Pasty Co at Cambridge train station is horrible. #
  • Surely Hitchin must have GPS coverage? #
  • Phew GPS is back http://twitpic.com/1e50s #
  • I’m at Hitchin, ENG, United Kingdom – http://bkite.com/04rUw #
  • Having a nice pint of Shannon IPA, brewed at Potton, at the Sun Runner. The Mordue Mullet was a bit dark – http://bkite.com/04rVu #
  • At Hitchin train station on our way back to Cambridge http://twitpic.com/1eaff #

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