March 15, 2010

On Thin Ice

Unlike most of the major cities on Earth, Beijing is not located near any large body of water. Numerous lakes and streams are sprinkled throughout Beijing's districts to compensate. During the long winter months these waterways are frozen solid. Recreational fishermen dig holes in the ice and wait patiently for the fish to bite. Near the banks, old men strip to their undergarments, stretch, and then take a plunge in the frozen water. Less adventurous types simply skate on the icy surface.

I walked a 2 kilometer stretch of the Liangma river, occasionally having to duck under bridges. Several boats had been ensconced on the riverside. I spotted a man urinating in the middle of the river. He was cool as a cucumber as vapor rose from the area around his feet. To safeguard the public, I also contributed some liquid sealant to mend a few cracks in the ice that I came across.


Beauty, like ice, our footing does betray
Who can tread sure on the smooth, slippery way
Pleased with the surface, we glide swiftly on
And see the dangers that we cannot shun.

- John Dryden -

March 09, 2010

Higher Learning

ARNABlog began to chronicle my globetrotting adventures after I graduated from Simon Fraser University. The campus was located on top of Burnaby Mountain, giving it the nickname "high school on the hill". The dull grey buildings and the isolation from the society below also gave it the moniker of "Simon Fraser Minimum Security Facility". Every day, I would join busloads of diligent students on the trek up to the peak. If it snowed just the right amount classes would not be canceled but the buses would not make it all the way up the steep incline, depositing students midway to their destination. We would trudge uphill in snow with heavy backpacks full of textbooks and notepads, leaving our bodies exhausted but our minds still thirsting for knowledge. 


"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." ~ William Butler Yeats

March 08, 2010

Imagine 2010

Five years ago, the Olympics were still a faraway thought in the minds of most Vancouverites. The Imagine 2010 launch event at GM Place introduced the general public to what was about to come in the years following. First Nations hosts, RCMP officers, and Cirque du Soleil performers all appeared on stage before the new Vancouver 2010 logo was officially unveiled.

An inukshuk sporting the five Olympic colours was chosen as the symbol of the Winter Games. The stone landmark was primarily used by natives of Canada's Arctic regions as a point of reference and food cache in the frozen tundra. The precursor to modern day GPS markers, inukshuks show the way ahead while providing hope of better things to come.


This is the moment we have dreamed of all our lives
We'll be the change we wish from others
We'll stand tall for what is right
And in my heart there'll be no doubt
The arms of the world will come reaching out
- Olympic theme song 'I Believe'

February 20, 2010

The World's Tallest Building

Now eclipsed by Dubai's Burj Khalifa in height, Shanghai's World Financial Center was at the time of my visit the tallest operational building in the world by roof height excluding spires or antennae. Resembling a giant can opener, the WFC also has the highest occupied floor on Earth and is the tallest building in China. There are three observation decks with different entry prices, as some people prefer only going to the 94th or 97th floors rather than all the way up to the 100th. I was propelled to the topmost floor by a space age elevator complete with sterile white interior and pulsating lights. I coolly observed Shanghai from my vantage point, tiny automobiles whizzing by hundreds of feet below.


"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory." ~ Betty Smith

February 18, 2010

Slim Pickings

The soft sensitive skin with a wonderful complexion; the dark silky hair that flows through the fingers like the Yangtse through the People's Republic; the delicate beauty combined with quiet dignity - these are all characteristics that Chinese girls appreciate about me. I in turn admire their uniformly slim physiques and usage of high heels. Rare is the day that passes where I recollect encountering more than one fat Chinese woman in public. Most are petite, so they often wear shoes that will give them a higher elevation. Unfortunately, most also cannot speak English.

When I inquire as to whether Chinese ARNABeauties possess any English language capabilities, I am frequently met with blank stares, nervous giggles, silence, and/or awestruck expressions. This gives me no clear indication as to whether they can or they cannot. Cunning women also have the option of pretending not to be able to speak any English, since I will be unable to gauge their proficiency until they open their mouths. This, combined with my vacous grasp of the Chinese language, makes communication difficult.


"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." ~ Winston Churchill