Hello everyone,

My computer died a few weeks ago and I have been unable to access the blog until now. As you know, certain websites are blocked in China, and our blog is randomly blocked at times. I had a program that allowed me to bypass the firewall, but it stopped working right before my computer died. Now I have a new program so I am youtubing/facebooking/blogging like there is no tomorrow.

Quick update before a brief post about my most recent travel. Life is good. My lovely parents came back to visit me about a month ago which was amazing. I will make a post about our travels in the next few days, but it will require more energy than I currently have. I loved having them here though and we had a good time. I am going to find a new apartment in the next week or so because my company’s office if moving. I will be living with a Finnish guy who is currently in Thailand living the dream. I am still working in the same place and was recently sent to Edinburgh (pronounced Edin-burrow but with a Scottish accent), Scotland for a overseas partner “training”. Traveling places is one of the perks of working in the cultural exchange field, but I have to say I was happy to get back to Beijing (until I saw the pollution, which is completely out of control these days). Anyways, about my trip.

A distinct benefit of living in Beijing is direct flights. You can always get decent flights from Beijing to the world’s major cities, so a 12 hour direct flight to London and an hour long flight to Edinburgh was all I had to deal with. I don’t know what I have done, but for some reason I seem to always have the best airplane situations. I have only had one flight cancelled in my life and barely any delays. On my long flight to London I was placed in an exit row, window seat with an empty seat next to me. I watched a bunch of terrible movies and slept, landing in an already pitch dark Edinburgh at about 17:00 (5 pm, I am done with AM/PM though). Edinburgh was bigger than I expected and looked impressive from the plane. First thing I noticed was that it gets dark early. I asked a tour guide about this later, and he told me in late December, sun rises at about 10:30, setting at about 15:00. Interesting but I don’t think I could deal with it being dark so much in the winter and bright in the summer. I hopped in a cab, which cost 20 pounds for about 20 minutes, which is twice the amount I paid for my most expensive cab ride in Beijing (which was like a 50 minute drive on the highway). Ridiculous prices but the cabbie was funny and helped me practice my Scottish accent.

I got to my Hilton hotel where the conference was at, worried that I would have to share a room with someone that would snore, but it was only me in the room. I went to have dinner and met a lot of the people that work for the company we work with and other partners that work with the same company. I obviously had a lot of the same conversation while I was there (involving me working in China, not looking Chinese, etc), but people were friendly and it was a good time. We had one day of sightseeing where we went to Edinburgh Castle, which was pretty cool. It was never physically captured in its history, and when you get on top of the hill that it is on, it is easy to understand why it would be so difficult to storm the castle and survive. Scottish people were very friendly and I tend to like Brits sense of humor (no offense intended by calling Scots Brits). The food was not good, I was not expecting much but was still underwhelmed at the quality of the food. The weather, the food, and the prices would all be a big problem for me if I lived there, but for a short trip, it was fun. The weather actually turned out pretty decent save for one day, so I can’t really complain about that either.

Anyways, just wanted to make a warm up post before I tackle the larger content of my parents trip with me for a week. All the pics below are from Edinburgh, mostly of the castle, some of the hideous sore thumb that is the Scottish Parliament building, a picture of a store with my family’s name, my totally empty and awesome return flight (I was the last person to board, it was EMPTY), and some of tutu’s distant relatives. Hope everyone is doing well, new post coming soon(ish). Peace.

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