Friday, 10 April 2009

Our Last Night in Dunhuang

Competitive drinking, karaoke, Britney Spears, Oh Baby Baby, Baijiu burps, pics to follow. On the train to Xi'an early tomorrow. Need to pack case. TTFN.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Hard at it

We've had a couple of long days at the office trying to get the web server up and running and ploughing through the rest of the training. We were supposed to go out for the day tomorrow but it looks as if we're going to need another day at the coalface. We did get out for a couple of hours to see some of the caves including Cave 158 which houses the beautiful 15 metre sleeping buddha. Lucky Buddha, I've managed to get about 4 hours sleep in the last 48. I've never suffered so badly but at least I have a jetlag twin, Alastair has been keeping almost identical hours to me since we arrived so we can compare eye bags over our breakfast eggs.

Our hosts continue to overfeed us at regular intervals; dish after dish of every conceivable (and otherwise) edible is delivered to a straining lazy susan. I never thought I'd associate the arrival of a plate of food with such misery. Just as you're begging for mercy, the noodles and two bowls of soup arrive and it's only when a fruit plate arrives that you can see the light at the end of your alimentary canal. The very moment the borborygms cease is the time to be thrown into a people carrier and taken to a restaurant to begin the whole cycle again. At least tonight's dinner didn't involve any competitive drinking and we were set free early enough to have a leisurely beer at an outdoor shish stall on sun loungers and watch the suited and booted locals go by.

Now I'm off to bed to see if any of that Buddha's narcolepsy has rubbed off. Wish me luck.

Monday, 6 April 2009

The Big Sleep

dinnerAfter one of the longest days ever listening to lectures in Chinese and watching the local kids perform we were taken out for dumplings and beer. It was the first informal meal we've had since we arrived and as always it starts out all nice and polite until the toasting starts. If someone raises their glass to you personally and says "Gambei" it means 'dry glass' and you have to drain your glass or in this case bowl.

Our friend Yichon who is Korean and coming to work for IDP in London this year isn't much of a drinker but he did his best until we stepped in, worried that he might pass out, I hope we haven't put him off.

The good thing is that with booze being a great leveller and all is that the atmosphere lifts, much laughter ensues and you feel a great bond with people who you can't actually hold a conversation with. With stuffed bellies and flushed faces we were driven back to our hotel where I managed to stay awake until 8.oo before passing out for a blissfull, uninterrupted 9 hours of sleep; no dreams, no vile ex-coworkers.

Egg on toast and cake for breakfast, now we're off to do some training followed by a visit to the Dunhuang Mogao caves...and I'm late.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

What time is it?

My jetlag waking hour is 4.00 am. A breakfast of nescafe and crushed jaffa cakes before the five hour wait for work to start, I might have to tuck into that cucumber after all. The local fags have given me a lung ache and I can recall seven extremely vivid dreams, three of which featured a horrible bloke that I used to work with.

I've started reading John Kennedy Toole's 'A Confederacy of Dunces' whose lead character is a more eloquent version of the horrible bloke that I used to work with.

Dunhuang Daze

We've arrived in Dunhaung after spending yesterday and last night in Beijing. Today was a two-flight day changing at Xi'an airport and a combination of jet lag, airline food and nescafe is taking its toll. I've managed to finish my book (Young Hearts Crying, Richard Yates) and watch the entire second series of 30 Rock on my iPod (thanks Kissley, I liked the Tracey/Mozart episode the best).

We just had a short but uncomfortable formal welcome dinner with the guys from the Dunhuang Academy. I think there were pig's ears, liver slivers, assorted gruels and sweet eyeball soup (not really eyeballs — I hope).

I'd like to write more but I'm shattered and the education workshop (the reason we're here) is tomorrow. We're expecting 80 schoolchildren, tell you all about it tomorrow.