Archive | June, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane

25 Jun

I’m still in transit today. By the magic of the International Date line, my plane lands in San Francisco three hours before it takes off. Three hours. Clearly, this means I’m a Time Lord.

I had a lot of fun in Hong Kong this weekend. It was great to see Amy and her family. I even got to go into Macau for a day! All of this and more will be forthcoming in the next week or so.

This is sort of a bittersweet journey to NY for me, happy as I am to go home and see my family. I might not have enjoyed spending this year in Chengdu, but I am sad at leaving Asia. I honestly don’t know when I’ll be back to see my friends in Hong Kong. And that’s a legit cause for sadness. On the other hand, I can get a decent slice of pizza whenever I want at home.

See you all Stateside, folks.


A Series of Tubes

22 Jun

In honor of my last weekend of being in Hong Kong and enjoying my return to normal internet, I think this is rather appropriate.

I’m not the most science minded person on the planet. I’m one of those people who think the M In MP3 probably stands for “magic”. You’re telling me a series of 0s and 1s are responsible for practically everything my electronics can do? Right.

So yes, I’m kind of a luddite. But here the lovely people of the Wolrd’s Science Fair explain how the internet works, in an easy to understand video.

The Internet: Not Just a Series of Tubes!

Escher Filler

20 Jun

I’m still in Nanjing. My cousin Kyle is awesome, the city is great, and the internet is limited, so here’s a cool filler video in lieu of train/Nanjing/cousin shenanigans.

Programming Notice

18 Jun

So, I’m in Nanjing visiting my cousin Kyle right now. Or I should be. I’m not sure about internet access for the next week and a half, as I travel to Hong Kong and then on to home in NY, so this week is going to be filler-heavy. Sorry about that. Have some excellent dubstep, instead.

This video is like the Jabbawockeez had a TRON challenge, which is to say that it’s awesome.

Chengdu: A Retrospective

15 Jun

I leave Chengdu tomorrow. My bags are (mostly) packed, my train ticket bought, and I leave with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

It’s been a long year here. I don’t think it’s any big secret that I was rather disappointed and depressed during my time here. While I met a lot of really cool people and learned a lot of new things, it never quite balanced out the miserable weather and Kafka-esque graduate program.

The scholarship that brought me here was a really nice opportunity, but it didn’t quite pan out the way I had hoped. Instead of this being the first year of a masters, I spent a whole lot of time knitting. My classes were a joke, and it’s hard to motivate yourself to learn another insane language when you feel no real pressure to. My progress in Chinese stalled out and then plummeted. The only real bright spots were hanging out with an awesome group of kids, forays out of Chengdu proper, and watching a ton of DVDs.

I am grateful, in my own little way, that I got to come back over to China. This year off gave me the perspective necessary to realize that, no, I really don’t want to go to grad school right now. I really don’t want to continue living in China. And I really don’t want to continue with Chinese.

It sucks, since that’s what I got my degree in, but hey. Now I know and I can move on and do something different.

Life is all about the journey, right? You gotta take the good with the bad. This year wasn’t ideal, sure, but that’s life. And hey – I got to see baby pandas, Sydney, Jiuzhaigou, Bangkok, Leshan, and a whole bunch more of China than this time last year. So it wasn’t all terrible.

I don’t want to leave this on a downer note, so here are some random highlights from my last year here in Chengdu.



So long, Chengdu.



How to Survive: The Robot Apocalypse

13 Jun

Clearly this is an important issue we all must think about.

H/t Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

The Leshan Giant Buddha

11 Jun

One of the things that I really wanted to see in Sichuan before I left China was the Leshan Dafo. Given that I only have a short time left in China, it was about time that I went. Leshan is about two hours by bus from Chengdu, making it an excellent day trip. Kate and I decided to go on Saturday, fairly last minute, on Friday night.

I am happy that the Leshan Giant Buddha is as large as advertised.

It was a really nice day out, which was unexpected. I spent the day regretting my choices in clothing, but hey. It was sunny! You could see the sky! Blue sky! And visible shadows, even! (Shut up I’ve been in Chengdu too long.)

We may have gotten bored waiting in line.

The Giant Buddha was carved in the 700s by some Buddhist monks, who were trying to calm the river below and keep ships from wrecking on the rocks and currents. Given what I saw of the river next to the Buddha, they didn’t really succeed on that front, but they did manage to carve out a pretty darn big statue. At 71 meters tall, the Giant Buddha was and still is the largest statue in the world.

The rather precarious stairway down.

There are also smaller bodhisattvas carved into the surrounding rocks. I guess they got bored carving the big one?

It was really a lot of fun and theoretically good for our karma? Whatever, like we needed an excuse to leave Chengdu.

If you want to go: round trip tickets are 96 kuai. There’s a bus to Leshan every hour that drops you off in front of the Leshan bus terminal. Lots of guys will try to sell you a ride to the Dafo; don’t bother with them. The no. 13 bus leaves from directly in front of the terminal and takes you through Leshan to the Buddha for 1 kuai. It’s a nice way of seeing the town, too. I’d recommend getting off somewhere along the route and grabbing food; as always, prices on the inside of the park are pretty damn high. Tickets to the park itself are 50 kuai for a student, 90 kuai for adults, so bring a student ID if you’ve got it! There’s a fair amount of queuing involved, so go to the bathroom before you get in line to climb down the stairs. It’s all pretty much paved stairs, so hiking boots aren’t necessary for this trip.