There was an earthquake in Taiwan on Tuesday, which severed undersea fiber-optic cables, cutting China off from the internet. Only East-Asian web pages were available, not a huge problem if you can read Chinese, but a major annoyance for anyone trying to access, for example, Livejournal. It wasn’t until last night that I could so much as get into my e-mail account to read the usual selection of share tips and requests for my passport from Nigeria. Fortunately access seems to have trickled back to the level where I can post this, though delays are to be expected for a couple of months, apparently – co-incidentally the same couple of months I’ll be staying here.
In the meantime here is my review of the year. I’ve been cut off from British popular culture to a greater extent than ever this year, so it’s a more personal selection.
Best things of 2006
10. Being away from British media culture – something I don’t miss at all. There may be celebrity magazines and reality TV here but as they are in Chinese I can ignore them easily and go have fun instead of being sucked into the vortex.
9. Adult classes – Teaching adults English may well be the first job I’ve ever really enjoyed. Hopefully next year this is all I’ll do.
8. Hong Kong & Macau – Every time I feel like a holiday I can just cross the border or take the boat, and go to these two very different places. Macau, especially, is like nowhere else on earth.
7. Writing the foodtube blog – My only real creative outlet for the year, and one that has had a lot more interest than I’d expected.
6. Chinese food in general – Nothing like the stodge we get in European “Chinese restaurants”, more like a whole continent of flavours, mostly delicious and inexpensive. Most eaten; Steamed dumplings with peanut sauce, Dan-dan noodles, Yangjaou fried rice, Red-fried aubergine
5. Pulp and Jarvis releases – this has been a great year for Pulp obsessives like mesself – three albums re-released with a host of new tracks, a double CD of Peel sessions, and best of all the solo album from Jarvis, which was a genuine pleasant surprise.
4. Mandy – we may have had our differences from time to time but she’s still one of the happiest, funniest, most fun-to-be-with people I’ve met, and I wasn’t bored with her for a second.
3. June & July – perhaps the best month of the year, living with John, Brent & Macro in a fantastic apartment, going out and watching the world cup, followed by a month of beach parties at what was the best bar in the city.
2. Going to Manila – a real eye-opener and the furthest out of my safe-zone I’ve ever been. It was the biggest adventure of the year by far.
1. Moving to China – it was a gamble, but it really paid off. There may be some things I don’t like from time-to-time but my lifestyle here really can’t be matched anywhere else. Every now and again I stop and marvel at how lucky I am to be able to live and work here.
Worst things of 2006
10. Liverpool Fc – this was supposed to be the year they bucked their ideas up. It wasn’t.
9. Badly behaved kids – though controlling them has got easier and easier I still don’t like having to shout and cajole. Fortunately there are only another two weeks of classes and then I won’t have to any more.
8. Arthur Lee, Syd Barrett and Ivor Cutler dying – three of my favorite people in one year was a bit much
7. Being away from my family – something I’m fairly used to by this point. I’ll see them all next year.
6. World events – a fair amount of bad things have gone on in the world this year. On the plus side Bush looks like a lame duck now.
5. Sands Bar changing management – for four or five months we had a the perfect beach-bar to go to, now it’s just another shitty overpriced disco-pub. It’s a bit too cold to go there in the winter anyway.
4. Expat twats – take an already fairly obnoxious person, put him in a country where the exchange rate makes him rich and the colour of his skin makes him a novelty, and watch him become a monster. There are too many people like this in China, and they give us all a bad name.
3. Accomodation problems – I’ve lived in five different flats this year, four of them in the first six months alone. The landlady in the third place (Miss Lay) selling it right from under our feet was probably the low point.
2. Working all day weekends – I really just wasn’t built to get up at 7 on Saturday and Sunday mornings and then spend all day working. It’s led to me not getting enough sleep and being unable to socialize with anyone I meet as invariably their free time is my work. Next year this will change, though.
1. Health problems – move halfway around them world and you are bound to find strains of every communicable disease that your body just isn’t used to. I’ve never been the healthiest of people at the best of times, and so it seemed that I was constantly ill for the first few months here. The cherry on the cake was being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome in February. I’m feeling pretty good now, though. Must be all the fruit.
I’ve seen a lot of films this year, but most of them were old. Of the new ones the best were United 93, A Scanner Darkly, Borat and Capote. Easily the worst were World Trade Centre (immensely boring) and Material Girls (where to start?).
On the whole, then, a very good year. Let’s hope 2007 is even better.