Saturday, February 26, 2011

He's leaving home (bye-bye)

In a few hours I leave for the airport. I'm off to China to work on something I can't yet talk about, which is also connected to the project I was doing the last two times I went to China.

Last time I was out there, in Autumn of 2009, I spent several weeks in Xinjiang Province, where things like the Internet, text messaging and international calling were completely turned off by the government following the riots in June 2009 (and not turned back on until May 2010). [Xinjiang, in the West, is an area the size of Western Europe, population about 25 million.]

When I got back to the rest of China I still had to battle with the Great Firewall of China, which turns off access to things like Blogger and Twitter, and while I used my US phone a lot for things like Twitter and email, I discovered when I came home a phonebill for about $5000 had been incurred -- although given that the astonishingly heavy phone usage in China seemed, from the bill, to have continued for over a month after I left China, it was more likely that the phone had been hacked or cloned while I was out there, as even at T-Mobile's extortionate foreign rates, that seemed a bit much.

So this time I plan to do it the easy way.

Bye-bye blog. Bye-bye people reading this. Farewell denizens of Twitter and the folk of Facebook. I'll miss you all, in a very intimate and personal sort of a way.

I'll be back at the end of March.

I've handed the keys to the blog to the Webgoblin while I am gone.

You could read Hayley Campbell's glorious blog - here's an entry about Getting A Man In that is funny, well observed, beautifully written and toe-curlingly embarrassing.

(Oh, and if you're in Edinburgh, my wife is looking to rent a three or four bedroom house or flat in August. The address to email to is at the link.)

Here are some photos I took on previous visits to China. My first trip in 2007. On the Great Wall.

Yaks for sale in the market of Kashgar

An Ixat. I also got a great photo of an Enternit cafe. (And for a similar phenomenon in reverse, check out as described in

My breakfast ticket at a small hotel...

Dates drying in the desert sun. The man who guarded them had been dropped off by his family a few days before. They would come and get him a few days later...

Riding with Khazaks in the mountains south of Urumqi.

Goodnight. Do not break everything while I'm away.

(The hardest bit of leaving is going to be maintaining the exercise I've been doing at home while I'm on the road. Wish me luck.)

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