How I Crashed a Tank

Yes, I’m already rolling out a new post. Yes, it was just a near-seizure. You can guess the driving factors behind this post. So, without further fuc mucking about, let’s begin. A few days ago, mum and I went to the Harbin ice festival. It’s on the river (which is, obviously, frozen at this time of year) and is generally fun. To begin with, we did… well, zilch. Then we went off and had lunch.

Ahh, lunch. Mmm. Part one: Operation Lunch. 😀 First stop: rbt. This is some random and expensive cafe nobody’s ever heard of. It has cool benches, which are swings, but… the food is overpriced and unremarkable. Next: the Parkson mall’s food court. It’s exactly what it sounds like, really. But it’s cheap, the food is tasty, and it’s close by. So ends part one. And yes, I did use an entire paragraph. UMAD?

Part two: the Slide of Epic Lulz. We are back by the river, and mum is preparing to fork over 2£ for a single trip down an epic (it is revealed) slide. She forks it over. She hands over the ticket. The PLA dude (they have a big army) rips the ticket and hands it back. I go up the stairs. Incidentally, the stairs are made of ice. The entire slide is! They don’t call it the Ice Festival for nothing!

And then I’m at the top. And scared. Because I’ll be going down a large (and steep) ramp of ice in a rubber tube. I watch the first batch go down, then quickly grab a spot which looks gentle-ish. To give you a bit of perspective, at the time of writing I weighed around 32 kilograms. So, as I witnessed them shooting down, you can imagine what I felt like.

Actually, it was really fun. I shot down at breakneck speeds, only slightly worried as to whether I might flip over and break my nose. Then I had to lug it back up a ramp. A ramp made of ICE, no less. :( It had footholds, but it was still really hard. Especially when I slipped, fell over and dropped my tube, which went down the ramp until it collided with someone, nearly knocking them over.

Part three: the Mighty Tank! Yes, we finally get to the tank! You see, when we scouted out the place (before lunch), we (or rather I) spotted some form of tank over by one of the slides. And, after I finally got my frigging tube up, I headed over there with mum. We are unpleasantly surprised, as all the tanks are covered in tarp.

Thankfully, they’re not closed. The guy starts one up. I get in. Chug chug chug… aaaand I’ve crashed the tank into the side of the course (also made of ice). Blam. I’m stuck. I get out and pathetically try to push the thing off the wall. I fail miserably. But I’ve learned my lesson: tanks are really hard to drive.

BTW, how do you like the cursor?

The Great Apartment Hunt

We have WiFi now! That’s right, WiFi in our apartment. To “celebrate”, I’m writing this post (nah, I celebrated with a full day of nothing) to chronicle our great hunt. First stop: Bomele 1931. That’s the coffee shop, BTW. Next: the office! Mr Ye’s office, to be precise. Mr Ye is the broker who’s broking us. That is what a broker does, right?

Whatever. I have a near-heart attack when I see the stairwell. It’s dark, smelly and, well, undesirable. Then I see the office and have a near-seizure. Then mum says “But… but someone’s living here, no?” and he replies “Yeah, this is the office.”. I narrowly avoid my seizure and wait for him to get the keys. The keys are got. We set off for the apartment.

And we get to the stairwell. Heart attack number two inbound. It’s exactly the same, but our flat is higher up. Up the stairs we trudge. We, who have done the EBC trek, so suddenly defeated by two laptops, a crappy tote bag and six smelly flights of stairs. We get to the apartment. And… no seizure! It’s rather nice. Not as nice as the one in Kunming, but… nice.

We decide to look at another flat. After half an hour — yes, thirty bloody minutes — of waiting, we give up on that one. Then we find another place with Mr. Ye. That one fails, too. I, desperately, try to and (to some degree) succeed in liking it. Mum doesn’t, and vetoes it. So we spend the night in an eighty yuan train station hotel with rats under my bed.

Well, noises under my bed. The bed is made from plywood boards rather than poles and is thus easier to sleep in than a bed with rats under it that you could see by sticking your head down. :( Morning comes, and I eagerly get the hell out of bed, get dressed and go to Bomele. Then we find one that we like. In case you were wondering, we couldn’t stay in the other one.

Why? Because they’d worked out that we were only staying for four months and that if we signed the one-year rental, we’d just bugger off and lose the deposit. Then I get another near-seizure. From happiness! Because we can stay there tonight, instead of having to stay at the fleapit! Oh joy of joys! And that, my friends, is how we got our apartment.

Next up: I Crash a Tank!

Into Harbin we Charge

Oh into Harbin we come a-chargin’
…no, I’m not any good at rhymes. We’re in Harbin! But it took great sacrifices to get here. We took several long train rides. We slept on all of them but none had beds! We spent about 39 hours on those trains. Not consecutively. That would be savage. But it makes for darn good reading, so I’ll write about it anywho.
Our great odyssey begins in Shenzhen, where I find out that there are no beds left on any of the trains. Alarms start ringing inside my head. How… why… OH GOD, WHY!? We board the train. I whinge, as is customary, my class vanishing with my good mood. I sit on the big navy backpack. After a while, we manage to accommodate all of our bags- at least the ones that need accommodating.
I unhappily take out the Kobo. It’s gonna be a long ride. The people selling food and drink push their trolleys back and forth. After a while, mum’s laptop dies. I take out my laptop and give her the Kobo. It’s probable that if I say “now would be a great time to read the Alan Carr book!” she will hit me, so I say nothing.
Then the train stops. It’s the next day. We are both bored. We get our bags out and check in to the nearest hotel. It has WiFi. I plug in my computer. After about 10 minutes of charge, I stab the on button with the ferocity of a drowning man clutching to a leaf. And I blanch. There’s no WiFi. WiFi up to the third floor only, say the staff. No, I think. NO!
There’s Ethernet, though. It doesn’t work on my computer, but I get to use mum’s. I play with Stevie for a while and don’t get a wink of sleep. This is a very good idea, as it means I can sleep through lots of the train ride.

Hum. I appear to have detailed everything that happened for any of the trains, all in one train ride. Well, I shall be doing another post on the subject of our great apartment hunt. Until then? Just go to mum’s site. She’ll have rolled out 6000 words on the subject, no doubt.

Beijing Again

Hai there, faithful readers! Contrary to what at least some of you must believe, I’m not dead. There’s probably a spambot out there which finds a site, watches it and then, when there have been no posts for a given amount of time, asks, under many aliases, if the site admin(s) is dead. I’d rather not trigger such a bot, so I’m writing a blog post. Nah, mum told me to. 😛
Quick warning: I’ve changed the theme to something less… Christmassy. You’ll get used to it in no time. I kinda miss the animated snow; that was awesome. Still, it’s not Christmas so I’ve got a new (but still sexy) theme. Also, I am in Beijing. It’s cold as Viking Hel. We’re in the same place as usual, enjoying the restaurant’s warmth (ahh) in our chilly hutong (alley-street).
We did the Railway Museum yesterday. That was fun. They had an exhibition, some puzzles (I did mine quickly), a 3D cinema and a simulator. In the simulator you got to drive a high-speed train. It was easy enough at the start, then I got a red light on the console and slowed down till it went off and then stopped at the station. The brakes really screamed on that thing.
Oh, and we did more of the Museum of China. There’s so much in there you need more than one trip to do it all. We’ve made two and still haven’t done it. My favourite bit was the space- bit but I honestly can’t even begin to describe it all. I also don’t wanna spoil it for you. I also can’t remember much. They did have awesome tableaux. I can remember/reveal that much.
Also, I lost my knife at customs in Kunming. ._.

Why Don’t My Legs Hurt?

Hello readers! My legs don’t hurt! Yes, you heard me– my legs feel fine! For those of you who don’t know, I’m in the Himalayas, going on a long march to Everest Base Camp! …No, I am not climbing Everest. I am walking to Everest Base Camp. That is not the same as climbing Everest.
Just to clear things up. So anyway, I’m currently at Gokyo, having seen the first 5 (and skated, without blades, on 1,2 and 4) of the famous glacial lakes (what do you mean you haven’t heard of them!?). Tomorrow we climb/walk Gokyo Ri (peak), and then we do Dragnag. Yes, I know.
I don’t think it’s particularly hard. No dragging and not that much nagging– I hope. But let’s shut up about what will happen, and start talking on what has happened! Like my time machine experiment! Well, technically, the time travel experiment will have happened.
But anyway. One of the most notable things to have happened, in my view, is the lakes! I skated on them, remember? went up to the fourth and fifth lakes yesterday; (been dying to use a semi-colon) the first and second on the way here; and the third is right by Gokyo.
Damn good for skating on. I don’t have skates (toboggan rental: huge profits in the tourist season. Discount for hotel guests: monopoly) so I’ve been skating in my boots. To great enjoyment, even if I wiped out a few times and once fell head-under-heels into some wet slush.
In a fleece jacket. Me gusta. But the most satisfying of all experiences? Walking into the warmth of a teahouse and plonking yourself down, Kobo in hand, by the dried yak-dung hearth. Mmmm…

Happy Belated Birthday… to Me.

Hello readers! I have been paragliding for my birthday! Incidentally, that was the first time I did it. Also incidentally, it’s one of my favourite sports. Here I have a photo of me before take-off:

Le me, just before take off.

Take-off itself is possibly the most terrifying. I wasn’t particularly scared, but that’s just me. Basically, for takeoff you run down a steep slope until you lift off the ground. And by steep, I mean really steep. And by run, I mean really run.

Now, as a pretty inquisitive boy with an odd concern for my own life (funny that) I naturally wondered what would happen if I didn’t go fast enough. Turns out: nothing bad. It’s just easier.

I’m ashamed to say that one of the first things in my mind before takeoff (after clearing up that mess about the possibility of falling off a cliff with our (flights are tandem unless experienced) parachute un-inflated) was the things the wind would do to my lips. Oh, and my lack of gloves.

When I took off those thoughts vanished. To illustrate, here’s another photo:

Now think that photo just sums up my thoughts. This is more of a photo post. And then the landing? The paraglider harness turns into a sort of seat. Beneath the “seat” there’s loads of air-filled slack. That acts as a cushion for landing. I’ll add a video soon. :)

Me, mid-flight

The Cultural Value of Video Games

Let me start off (no intro I’m afraid) by pointing out that film (scarcely older than video games) is considered by many to be an important aspect of human culture. So please, don’t use the “it’s only been around for a few decades” argument. Film has been around for not much longer. I mean, seriously.
Games are also not all the same generic, violent, pointless things many people think they are. That’s like saying all movies are violent, stupid and racist because Taken is a heap of shit. So please, don’t use that argument. Also, the idea that games encourage violence is true. The same, might I add, as it is with books, movies and religion.
Now before I get half a terabyte of hate mail, might I just say that religion has also been used to broadcast messages of peace, friendship and loving to the world. And educate it. The same goes with film, books and games. So honestly, I don’t know why games are not accepted as part of our culture.
Hell, they’ll be the world’s new hobby soon. So just go with the flow and stop fighting it as stupid.

Intelligent criticism (and praise) only, thank you very much.

And Now I Guess I’ll Go To The Himalayas

I have endeavoured to distribute my surplus boredom among you in another exciting blog post from me. Prepare to be bored to the brink of excitement! So yeah, I’m going to the Himalayas. I am doing a blog post about it because I value your audience you are all pawns in my quest for world domination muahahaha mum said so. -_-

So I guess I’ll write about how scared I am and stuff. I have, out of knowing perfectly well how much it means to mum, agreed to do this. It’s a cool thing to do, no doubt. And the bragging rights? Amazing. But really, I am f███ing scared. I mean, who ENJOYS (non-mes excluded) climbing up a s███load of f███ing mountains to get to a few f███ing huts?

It will hurts us. The cold, it will burnses us. And after, we will bragses about it. Thus we embark upon our journey to destroy the Ring. Srsly though, you will nawt hear the end of it. I would like to say that I will write a post about it, then disappear utterly for the next few weeks as my legs re-adjust to a climate of joyful procrastination. I hope.

And For Our 999th Day of Travel, I Get Lost in Bali

Hullo readers. I am in Bali writing about how I got lost. If you would like a post on my recent surgery, see mum’s blog as it is an EMBARASSING CHILDHOOD CONDITION and I would prefer not to write about it. But I will write about this one time today when I got lost.
It started with dinner. We went to Pizza Bagus to have… guess guess guess… PIZZA! And a good pizza it was too. Pizza Bagus is quite a walk away from our hotel, and when mum went for a pee I sat outside the deli window. This prove to be a bad idea.
Mum, upon leaving the loo, looked around for a second and then informed the waitresses that she was going and that they should tell me she had left for the hotel. I, upon hearing the news, set off towards our hotel. I had no idea where to go. I was miffed.
My irritation soon gave way. It’s not fun being lost and I just wanted to be back. So I kept walking. And walking. Then I met some nice ladies who were conveniently rather curious as to why I was walking around without a parent to follow me.
I asked them where monkey forest road was. They pointed. I asked again, with extra emphasis on the “road”. Same. Huh, I thought.There was some animated conversation. They asked me where I was staying. I told them. More animated conversation.
Then they put me on a motorbike and took me to my hotel’s restaurant. There I had to wander back to the hotel, frequently asking directions. You see, small hotel chains are all over Ubud. Things like Artini 1, 2, 3, restaurant and mini-mart are rather common.
So when I got dropped off at the restaurant, I then had to find the (rather well-concealed) Gayatri 2 bungalows. Then I got back here and had to write this post. <.< THE. END.

Windsurfing, Waterfalls, Lidl

So, I did some windsurfing. I’m now a self-proclaimed self-proclaimed competent windsurfer. It’s cool, cause you don’t have to rely on waves being huge and you can fall off the board and not get washing-machined. Or dashed on the rocks. Because, as the name suggests, you windsurf with a sail.
Yess, with a sail. So I have to get it in at the right time, with the right size sail, etc. Too big a sail and it’s too heavy, too small and you won’t move. As I weigh only 30 kg, my sail is a measly 2.5 meters. Largest one I know of? 6.5, I think.
It’s quite hard work, holding the sail up, turning it against the wind, holding it straight, etc. Even for a sail only 2.5 meters long. But it’s fun. Exhausting fun. But I wasn’t exhausted enough to be incapable of waterfall climbing. No, it was not a big waterfall.
No, it was not a fast waterfall, not slippery and not particularly steep. But it was fun. And in the end, that’s what life is for. And once we, as a species, have it all worked out -matter generation, infinite energy, reality altering, time travel, FTL, etc.- it’ll all be about happiness.
Last off, we saw a turtle in the road. Tortle. Whatevs. No, I will not describe a Greek Lidl. 拜拜!

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