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02 October / / Travel
01 October / / Travel / Circus
I’m never good at goodbyes. Especially when I’m the one leaving. This has been an exceptional month, despite the obstacles I faced during my early days here. I’m not going to say that it has been a bed or roses. There were ups and downs, but thankfully there were many more ups then there were downs. There was initially an epic night planned for my going away. It started out as a few people going to a KTV, which then suddenly became my going away party, to which I didn’t have any say in.
27 September / / Travel / Circus
Yesterday, we set off to go bungee jumping, but it seems that out penchant for unexpected adventures has led us astray yet again! And this time we have more victims. First, none of us knew of the plans at all. We pretty set off at half past 10 in the morning. Everything was pretty much going according to plan. We were going to Qinglong Gorge, doing our jumps and coming back by the end of the day.
25 September / / Travel / Circus
My fourth week has passed, the adventure is almost over. I now have only a few days left at the school. This week has brought forth yet more new arrivals. One of which was a fellow contact staffer! It was great having someone to talk and share tricks with. I have learnt so much, and gotten much stronger during this time. The training wasn’t as hard as I expected, but it’s still taxing.
24 September / / Travel / Circus
Last night we decided to check out Beijing Jugglers. A social practice session, not much unlike Juggle Jam back home. Oh how I miss Juggle Jam. The information that I got was that Beijing Jugglers happens on Wednesday evening at Sanlitun, the “foreign quarters” of Beijing. What I didn’t get was that if the organisers don’t know if anyone is coming, the gathering doesn’t happen. So our merry band of circus folk descended upon Sanlitun and found out that the gathering wasn’t on that night.
20 September / / Travel / Circus
Yesterday a few of us decided (pretty much at the last minute) to head down to FUN Party, the opening ceremony for the 2009 Beijing Art Festival, at the 798 Art Zone. We got there pretty late in the day and missed a few DJs and some of the new media works. Arriving there, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was however disappointed at the general lack of video based works.
19 September / / Travel / Circus
The end of my third week has come. This also signals the impending end of this little adventure that looms just over the horizon. Training-wise it’s been good. Both during the week just past and my overall time spent here. I’m still not confident of the way things are run here, but on the bright side, I have great teachers. I’m still trying to get used to being called by my Chinese name.
15 September / / Travel / Circus
Every night from about 7:30pm onwards, the street vendors setup show outside the school. It’s a simple little setup, a trough with charcoal, a rickety wooden seat, small tiny tables, and cheap plastic chairs. You’d go there and order what you want and it’ll be cooked for you over the coals. Simple but extremely tasty. The most popular item on the menu would definitely be the lamb skewers. Tasty morsels of meat & fat barbecued till succulent perfection, with a touch of chilli powder.
15 September / / Travel / Circus
Feicha, roughly translated into “flying fork” or “flying trident”. At first glance, Feicha looks a lot like contact staff. In fact, when I first saw it, I thought that it was a restrictive and boring form of contact staff. I am unable to find much information on the history of Feicha online. But I have been told that it was once a skill demonstration that the guards at the Forbidden City would perform every morning for the emperor.
13 September / / Travel / Circus
One of the skills that I’ve been training here is Straps (also known as Pitiao). Wang Laushi has been teaching me for a few lessons before I was officially enrolled in the school. He has a habit of shouting alot, not in an angry or aggressive tone, but just loud. Unsurprisingly this has earned him the nickname of “Shouty”. His favorite line it seems is “ing wen jiang, very good!”.
12 September / / Travel / Circus
Yesterday marked the end of my first week of official training and my second week at the Beijing Circus School. My progress seems to have stagnated this week. No big improvement in Feicha, nor straps, nor tumbling. In fact I managed to strain my back from straps on Thursday. And yesterday I rolled my right ankle in tumbling class. It’s so frustrating that it happened while I was walking on the tumble strip (which is just a bunch of scatter mats covered with a long carpet).
08 September / / Travel / Circus
I went though the “jian mian” (see/view face) session this morning. The school wanted to see where I was at physically and what skills I already had. It was pretty simple, a few flexibility tests and a quick demo of other skills that I had. It all went well except for my subject choices. First, the school refuses to let me do Aerial Silks or Lyra. They initially didn’t even want me doing straps.
07 September / / Travel / Circus
The school has finally gotten my medical results and I am to be interviewed/tested tomorrow morning. Looks like formal classes will start soon. But I’m still not going to hold my breath for Aerial Silks classes to be open or available. Today has been a good day for Feicha. I began consistently nailing a Feicha throw into a something like a Steve (both while turning around and standing still) from a vertical Feicha propeller today.
05 September / / Travel / Circus
Today was gloomy, both the skies and my mood. Ended up going over to Coolgers for some tea and Internet access. Still feeling tired, frustrated and overwhelmed, I decided that my contact staff skills have stagnated for far too long. So, I went to the Home Of Poi forums and MCP’s site to see what new in the staffing world these days. I downloaded a whole bunch of tutorial videos from MCP’s site to watch when I got back to school.
05 September / / Travel / Circus
I’m still not an official student here yet. I might actually be enrolled proper in the coming Monday or Tuesday. But so far I’ve been able to observe (and at times participate at varying levels) a few classes. A number of the teachers here are pretty cool with me trying to sneak into classes to learn despite being jerked around by the school administration. Also, I might end up doing Lyra instead of Aerial Silks here.
04 September / / Travel / Circus
Today, at my second unoffical straps class, I held my first side planche! I wasn’t really expecting it but it happened. Basically during class, we start off by doing 5 set of holds. 10 seconds of front planche (Chinese style, palms facing inwards and arms bent), back planche, meat hook, and 30 seconds of side planche. Needless to say, the teacher was impressed, holding a side planch in just 2 lessons.
02 September / / Travel / Circus
One usually finds cool enclaves while on travel. One such place is a little cafe tucked in the upper levels of Meilainmei. It seems also that the staff here love acrobats. Which is great for us since we get discounts. And there’s wireless internet access here. Awesome!
02 September / / Travel / Circus
It’s my last night in the 3 person dorm. I was going to move into the spare room at my friend’s apartment for a few days, but received word that a single dorm has become available. I really couldn’t be bothered to move twice in as many days so I opted just to stay in the 3-man dorm for 1 more night. I think my friends were a little disappointed. But then I didn’t have a change of clothes and toiletries when I was met up with them earlier today.
01 September / / Travel / Circus
I’ve just finished my 2nd day at the school. I thought as soon as I turned up at school, I’ll get to training pretty much in a day or 2. But no, the administration here is appalling! First, they insist that after my 7 days of “quarantine”, I must still be subjected to a medical examination that takes about 3 to 4 days for the results to get back. Surely this could have been done before I even got to school.
28 August / / Travel
Temple At The Base Of Huashan Today we caught the bus from Xian to Huashan (aka Mount Hua). After an few hours we were dropped off near to the base of Huashan. After picking up some additional supplies we proceeded to walk towards the mountain. At the foot of Huashan is a Daoist temple. If not for the few direction signs scattered around the temple, you’d think that you’d travel back in time.
26 August / / Travel
After grabbing food at the Beijing West Train Station, we started to board the train to Xian. We didn’t manage to get a sleeper cabin, just seats. Looks like this is going to be a long trip. 11 hours in fact. Beijing West Train Station The train station was sheer bedlam. People sitting around outside, some were sleeping on the floor. And this was just outside the station.
25 August / / Travel
This is the message I get on my iPhone whenever I attempt to get a GPS lock here. I’m not sure if it’s just me, the buildings, or the horrible smog…
24 August / / Travel
The flight into Beijing was terrible. The plane had the smell of vomit and cheese. And their idea of “Canadian bacon” was actually half a slice of ham. But I told myself, it won’t be that bad once I get to Beijing. Oh how wrong I was. My first day in Beijing was a harrowing experience. I was warned about the smog, but I never realised that it was going to be this bad.
24 August / / Travel
In transit right now, waiting for the shops to open so that I can grab a bite to eat. The flight was good. I didn’t get any solid sleep, but at least a few naps are a better than nothing. We landed in a fog. I initially thought were were still pretty high up as I couldn’t see anything from the windows, but the rumble of the cabin when we touched down made it evidently clear that we weren’t as high as I thought.
21 August / / Travel
My last day in San Francisco has brought me to Prepare For The Playa, a preBurning Man festival of sorts. I was looking forward to this as it ment that I’ll be around more alternative types as opposed to the mainstream trend-chasers that I see everyday. Prepare For The Playa The event wasn’t exactly what I expected but I enjoyed myself walking about looking at the interesting clothes and costumes.
21 August / / Travel
After our visit to the California Academy Of Science, we went to the Japanese tea garden. Shelter Metal Buddha Pebbled Path The tea garden would have to be one of my favourite sights during this trip. The serene environment, surrounded by nature. The only let down of the place in my opinion is that all the paths are fenced off with bamboo and you are not allowed to walk or sit on the grass.
21 August / / Travel
We went to the California Academy Of Sciences today. It’s a life sciences museum in built in the Golden Gate Park. For what looks like a small facility, it has a decent sized aquarium and a rainforest inside a dome. It’s all looks rather impressive with shiny glass and gleaming steel all round. Everybody Loves Penguins Everybody loves penguins! Or at least so it appeared as I went on my way towards the rainforest dome.
20 August / / Travel
Today’s wanderings brought me to the SFMOMA. Foyer It wasn’t a particular busy afternoon. There were a number of people, but past the initial gallery the crowd was pretty well spread out. Inflatable House Here’s a piece that’s 2 inflatable houses of different sizes. The larger one is set inside the smaller. And the installation inflates and deflates over time. Undulating Wall And next to the house, tucked away in a corridor is this hallway.
20 August / / Travel
This morning I decided to try breakfast at a shack by the water. Yes, a shack, and a quaint on at that. Breakfast At Red's Breakfast of champions? I think not. Definitely not Ironman food either. As expected, the coffee was terrible. What I hadn’t expected however was for the coffee to taste like stale cigarettes. And with the last bits of grease gone, this intrepid explorer is off in search of some real coffee to finish off the morning.
18 August / / Travel
16 August / / Travel
13 August / / Travel
Spent some time walking around town. Ubisoft Of course, me being a big geek, I had to take a picture of the Ubisoft offices (just like I did the Macromedia offices when I was here 5 years ago). Guiness And after a long day, there was an Irish pub where I could quench a well earned thirst.
11 August / / Travel
11 August / / Travel
Things have gone off to a good start. I’ve got a window seat and the 2 seats adjacent to mine are vacant, a luxury that I have not encountered in years! Didn’t get much sleep despite the extra space. I was however rather comfy regardless. I had to catch a connecting flight to San Francisco from Los Angeles. LAX was absolute bedlam. Maybe it was because they were trying to serve to many flights in the terminal, but the entire layout was unintuitive.
10 August / / Travel
On the plane waiting. The excitement is building. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch some sleep on the way there. Also, of you thought terrestrial SMS was a rip-off, in air SMS costs US$1.90 to send/receive a mere 160 bytes!
10 August / / Travel
I’ll be heading to the airport soon. The excitement is building up within me. Thoughts of the adventures (and insane training) that await me at the Beijing Circus School fill my mind. That question, however,¬†will remain unanswered till after my first stop in San Francisco to visit my dear sister. Onwards!
10 August / / Travel
All packed! Loaded with entertainment, TimTams, Butter Menthols, toys (for the little ones, and to entertain myself). Even my contact staves will be coming with me this trip. However I haven’t weighed anything yet. Nothing here that I could use as a pair of scales. I guess I’ll just have to hope for the best when I arrive at the airport tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to the flight and kicking off the adventure, but yet, I’m feeling so drained and exhausted.
28 June / / Travel
The tickets have been paid for. Now to sort out the rest of my travel plans. I’d have to say that despite the fact that I’ve decided on this trip in early 2008, I’ve been really slack with the planning and organising. And what I’ve done so far was done in a rather haphazard fashion.