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Diary, August 2006

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Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Playing Go in the street

Around ten o'clock, Annabel, my mother and I, decided to go for a walk through the compound. First we looked for some minutes with a group of people playing Majong. When we continued we found to man who just started a game of Go. There were also two boys watching the two man play. The stronger of the two men, could speak some English and we talked a little. He was a math teacher. After they finished their game, we were invited to play a game against them. I started playing against the weaker of the two men, but soon made a mistake because I was playing too fast, which caused me to loose a number of stones. I suggested that Annabel would continue. She made some good moves and the other man also made some suggestions, but still she lost with many points, as expected. Above us we heard the sound of thunder and some lightning was lighting the sky.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Arrival of Amsterdam-Beijing Rally

Around a quarter past three, my mother and I took bus number 2 to the World Plaze hotel, where we had heard that the cars from the Amsterdam-Beijing Rally would arrive. When we went into the lobby, we immediately found some girls that spoke Dutch. An a few minutes later we met two men, who travelled with the Fokker 50 along the route. They said that the cars only would arrive around seven and that they wanted to go to the bazar. We decided to join them and act as their guides. The taxi trip only costed 20 Yuan (€ 2). On the way back my mother told where she came from and we discovered that one of the man had an uncle and aunt in common with my mother. What a coincidence to find a "relative" so far from home.

When we arrived at the hotel, the first cars already had arrived. I walked around with three little Dutch flag talking to all the drivers and navigators that arrived. One of the camera teams took a quick shot from me while I told where I was coming from and why I was here. We did not wait until all the cars had arrived. Around ten to seven we decided to walk home because the weather was so nice. At home a send an email to family to ask them to record the broadcast.

Playing with Guang-Jin Li

This evening, I went to play Go again, and I found some people playing Go in the same spot as yesterday. The math teacher, whoes name is Guang-Jin Li, was there again, and he went to get another set of stones and a wooden board to play with me. He gave me a four stone advance. I won the game with 4 points. From this single game, you would say that his strength would be a Dutch 12 Kyu player, but because I know I play stronger against strong players, that do not play hard on my weaknesses, it could well be that he is stronger, but I don't think that he is as strong as some Dan players in Enschede.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Departure of Amsterdam-Beijing Rally

Around 6:30 I woke-up Annabel, and quarter of an hour later we walked out the gate of the compound. I waved just once and a taxi turned into our direction. It costed 6 Yuan to bring us to the World Plaza hotel. At the entrance of the hotel, we met with someone that told us that the cars would begin to depart every 30 second starting at 8 o'clock. Several of the drivers were already outside, checking their cars and putting in their belongings, before having a breakfast. We talked with Ben and Anke Costen of team 59, who made the rally with their Citroen Mehari from 1970. We also met with Henry Wissing and Frank Kleman (our "relative") of team team 67 who drive in a Toyota Celica ST from 1972. We also looked with team 21 who had their engine repeared during the night and I took a picture of Annabel in front of the oldest car in the rally, the car of team 1.

Shortly before eight, it was announced that the police did not like the idea of the cars leaving one by one but wanted to escort the cars till outside the city. This is not the first time that this has happened. The drivers do not like it, because they feel it less safe to leave like this, and that it often causes the engines of the cars to become hot, because the police drives too slow. This meant that most of the cars left as one large group. I took some video of this. There was a Porsche that stalled on the exited and the reason became obvious when we saw the petrol leaking under the car. We watched how the car was repaired and around nine we left for home.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Appearing on Chinese TV

This morning, Annabel and I were visible for a few seconds during the Urumqi-Hami episode of the Amsterdam-Beijing rally, which was shown on CCTV-5 at 10:00. This episode was shown yesterday on Dutch television. Watch the video stream of the program. At 3:15-17 into the program, a part of Annabel is visible on the right side of the screen. At 3:38-44 Annabel and I walk from left to right, while the camera follows Ben Costen of team 59. It would not surprise me if the lady walking in front of us was Ester Visser of team 13.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Visting Heavenly Lake

Around nine o'clock, Xiao-Zhong, Li-Xia, Annabel, my mother, and I, left with a mini-bus to the Heavenly Lake. We had brought enough water, three Turkish bread, peeled cucumber and some dried meat. We drove over the new highway. We had to park the bus at the bottom were the enterance used to be ten years ago. (Google Earth pin.) We bought our tickets and also a map for 4 Yuan. From there we took the cable up. I was surprised by the quietness while sitting in the cable, which gave me a very relaxing feeling. At the top of cable there were electrical carts taking you to the lake, but we decided to take the path through the trees. It was 11:35 when we started at this path. It was longer than expected, and did not lead to the waterfalls, as I had thought, but to the hill from which you could see the Heavenly lake.

We went down to the water front and my mother bought us tickets for the boat tour over the lake. We had to wait some time before the boat returned and before we could embark. At the other end of the lake, the boat laid still for five minutes, allowing us to take some pictures of some of the the peaks of the Tain Shan mountain range.

Back on the shore, we decided to go to the walk to the waterfalls from which the water flows out of the lake. We had to go down many steps before we arrive at a little lake. From there we walked up along the rapidly flowing stream to the waterfall. From there we climbed up to the hill overseeing the lake. Annabel and I decided to walk to the temple, while the others stayed around the area. We followed the path which had been constructed along the waterfront. When we arrived there, we climbed up the path leading to the two "monastries" (picture of Annabel at this point). When we went into the first "monastry", we thought that it was not possible to climb up to the second, but after we made some inquiries, it turned out to be possible. We decided to make the climb although our bottles with water and coca cola were almost empty.

We had to stop several times, but finally (around half past three) we reached the top. Google Earth pin.) It turned out the building was just build over a swallow cave in the mountain, containing some kind of ages old santuary. There was a monk standing besides the table in the middle of the building. On the table was a gong dish, which the monk sounded when we entered the building, and a red candle. Besides the monk there was some kind of player (CD or VCD), playing some music, which sounded kind of spiritual and mystical. There was also a portable TV set. One a plate on the wall it said "phil. Chinese General Taoism Inc." and "Kin Pat Liong Shiao temple". A took a picture of Annabel in front of the building. After some ten minutes we went down. At the water front we decided to take one of the tour boats back to the otherside of the lake. When we arrived there, we could not find the others and decided to walk down to the top of the cable, where we arrived at 15:40 and did find the others waiting for us.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

South Mountains

We left again around nine o'clock in the mini-bus, but this time we drove in the opposite direction. First we travelled to the other side of Urumqi. The road we took was of poor quality and it almost felt like turbulence in a plane, while driving over it. After we went through some hills we drove through two small cities. There all sorts of animals walking freely along the road. We also saw several horses bound to poles in front of houses and people riding horses in the streets. A lot of motor bikes too.

Somewhere along the road we had to pay 10 Yuan per person (except the driver). Not much later we arrived at the top of a hill, from where we could see a radio telescope on one side and Kazakh Yurts on the otherside. (Google Earth pin.) The smell of horses was quite strong, when we got out of the bus, and many children the age of Annabel were walking around with a small whip. Later we saw several of them giving tourist a ride on a horse letting the tourist sit in the saddle, while they were sitting behind them. These children have probably been on a horse back since they very young, just like we here in the Netherlands learn to ride a bike. We walked around a little and returned to the bus to eat and drink a little.

We went over to the gate of the astronomic observation. One the plates, left and right of the gate, it said: "Urumqi Nanshan base. National Astronomical Observatorium Chinese Academy of Sciences. Key laboratorium of radio astronomy." We discovered that it was open to the public and that you could go in after paying 5 Yuan. After Annabel had bought some chewing gum from the person selling the tickets, we looked through a telescope, visited a small exhibition (just some photographs), we looked at the 25 meter radiotelescope, which is part of a VLBI network. (Later, I read on the Internet that this radio telescope followed the Huygens probe when it descended through the atmosphere of Titan.) There were some pictures on a nearby wall and the descriptions contained European (German) names, including a reference to Westerbork.

There was not much more to see, and because we did not want to go home immediataly, we decided to drive a round a little. We followed the road along the little stream. At the end of the paved road there was a parking place. On the other side of the stream there were nine flag poles and a large sign explaining that this was a skiing are, but apart from a little house (which served as a 'toilet'), there was nothing to be seen. After some considerations, we decided to take the little road on the otherside of the stream up the hill. On top of the hill we had a nice few of the surrounding. There was also a cable leading higher up the mountain, but the cable looked very incomplete and all the windows of the house besides the bottom pole were smashed. (Google Earth pin.)

On the way back, we stopped near one of the fields of sunflowers to have a look at the many bee hives that were placed there.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Back to Beijing

Today, we flew back to Beijing with flight HU7246 with Hainan Airlines. We flew in the B-2492, a Boeing 767-34P/ER. We took-off from Urumqi at 13:20. We flew between the mountains and got a clear few of Bogda Feng. At 16:26, we landed in Beijing.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Summer Palace and visiting friends

Today, Mrs. Ma Ji took us by car to Beijing. On the way to the summer park we saw our first McDonalds restaurant while staying in China. We entered the park through the gate near the 17 Arch bridges. (Google Earth pin.) We crossed the bridge and took a boat to the otherside of the lake. There we went to the toilet and met a girl who wanted to be photographed with us. We walked in the direction of the main temple. From there we took a boat back to the island. Andy started to behave badly, and I had to carry for some time. On top of the 17 Arch bridge we watched a man with a small kite on a long string. Andy started to move in the direction of the island while sitting on his bottom. My mother walked in front of him. There were quite a number of people starting to look at them, wondering what was going on. Li-Xia phoned to Mrs. Zhou and made an appointment to meet her during the afternoon. (I got a map from the Summer Palace.)

After several phone calls and some looking around, we finally found Mrs. Zhou, her husband, their son, with his wife and daughter somewhere on the street in their car. The granddaughter of Mrs. Zhou was already sixteen. She did speak English and soon became friends with Annabel. We followed them to the Beijing Fuchunjiang restaurant (Google Earth pin) where they had reserved a room for us, with a round table and a glass rotating disk. The restaurant was quite nicely decorated in a classical Chinese style. We were allowed to select some dishes, and I picked dishes with beans, brocoli, and asparagus. Amongh the dishes they picked there was also a nice dish with brown beans. During the dinner, Andy started to cause problems again and I went downstairs with him.

When we wanted to leave, it was raining outside. We said goodbey at the doorstep of the restaurant and left for the house of Uncle Lin. Again we had to made several phone calls to find the meteological institute and the house of uncle Lin. (Google Earth pin.) We met his daughter, Xiao-Gui on the street, and just a few moments later, he arrived on bike with some water melon and other fruits. We went upstairs and met with the rest of the family. (Mrs. Ma Ji went home.) Xiao-Gui's daughter is exactly 15 months younger than Annabel and she can speak some English. Again Annabel had found someone to play with. Xiao-Bing, the other daughter of Uncle Lin, has a son, who will be four next week. Uncle Lin has been retired for seven years now from his position at the Climatology Division of the Meteorological Administration of China, but he still is doing research and writing articles. Of course, we first had some water melon and we switched on the television for Andy. We also exchanged some presents.

After about half an hour, we left for the restaurant, where they had reserved a room (with a round table). We were given the opportunity to select some dishes. They also ordered some real Beijing Duck, where you put some pieces of meat in a thin pancake together with some spring onion and plum sauce, and eat the rolled-up pancake out of your hands. I was quite happy about this, so that my mother could taste it. She did like it. Annabel too.

The two sons-in-law of Uncle Lin brought us back with their cars. Mrs. Ma Ji had given them some directions, but after we got of the Badaling Express way at some exit that did not look familiar to me, it became clear that they got lost. Ten times they had to ask for directions, when we finally arrived at the home of Mr. Ma.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Forbidden City

Mr. Ma had arranged a car for us for the coming two days. Li-Xia stayed behind with Andy. Around nine o'clock, my mother, Annabel, and I left with Mr. Ma. (He doesn't speak English and I only understand a little Chinese.) Mrs. Chen, the wife of Mr. Ma, had backed some rice, with egg, sweet peper, leek, and some meat, which very much tasted like the fried rice you get in the Chinese restaurants. I hate half of the dish and Annabel also got something.

We first went to Wang Fujing street (Google Earth pin) to see if the cars of the Amsterdam-Beijing rally were there. But we did not find them. Next we drove to the South edge of the Tiananmen Square and looked over the square till the flag pole where we watched the change of the guards. Then we walked back to the car, but first went to McDonalds and bought two Happy Meals for just 25 Yuan.

Next we went to the forbidden city. The driver dropped us at the "West Flowery Gate" (Google Earth pin). From there we walked to the enterance at the South of the city. Somewhere in the middle of the city, Ester Visser (team 13, rallyteam Ladies First) approached us. She recognized us, but could immediately remember from where. When we told her that she met Annabel and I in Urumqi, she remembered again. We talked a little with her. Quite accidentially that we ran into her.

In the palace garden we sat down for some time and had some ice cream and potato chips. We left the Forbidden City through the North gate, took the subway to the other side of the street and went into the Jingshan park. We climbed the mountain, but did not see much, because the tower at the top was closed because of renovations. At the North side of the mountain there was an area with green grass and some trees. We saw several squirrels and Annabel took some pictures. (There was also a girl that wanted a picture.) It was about a quarter to four that we left the park through the west gate (Google Earth pin). While we waited for the driver to return to the car, I bought a Tourist Map of Beijing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Great Wall at Badaling

After we took some pictures in the garden, we left (in the same combination as yesterday) to the Great Wall. We passed through Changping where we saw a McDonalds and a Pizza Hut. Soon it started to become hot, but luckily the relative humidity was not very high.

We parked the car near the cable in Badaling (Google Earth pin), which we took up the mountain. From there we walked to the top, which was still quite a climb, especially for my mother. (Google Earth Pin.) Mr. Ma bought a copper plate for Annabel with her name engraved on it. Then we walked down till the gate in Badaling. After a short resting time, we walked back to the car, which was still 800 m.

We drove back over the Badaling Express way and went to the McDonalds in Changping (Google Earth pin) where we again bought two Happy Meals. After we finished them we toured around a little and also went to the stone quarry up the mountains behind the unit where the house was (Google Earth pin) and I took a picture of Mr. Ma and Annabel there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Home again

This afternoon at 17:37, we were finally home again from our trip to China. We got up at 5:15 Beijing time this morning. We left around six, when it was midnight here in the Netherlands. First miss Ma Ji drove us by car to the Beijing Capital International, where we arrived just after seven. We took flight KL898 to Amsterdam. We were flying with 'City of Freetown', PH-BFF, a Boeing 747-406M. We took of at 10:39 Beijing time and arrived around 14:04 Dutch time, which means that the flight took almost nine and half hours. At 14:51 we took the train to Enschede where we arrived around five o'clock. We took a city bus from the station.

The plants in the front garden had grown high, and the grass in the back garden looked ruined by the extended dry period. I guess we will have to sow some new grass next spring.

After we opened the suitcases, I realized that it might take as long to unpack them as it took to pack them before we left. A lot of things, I simply left in a large brown carton box to sort out at a later point in time. Around nine o'clock in the evening, I started our computer after having reinstalled the hard-drives, which I had removed. It started without problems.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hunters of Dune

Today, I read about some of the reviews of "Hunters of Dune", which will be released tomorrow. My worst fears have become true, now that I know that Omnius appears to be the Enemy that the Honoured Matres are fleeing from. I think much is explained by the entry Too Big for One Book on the Dune 7 Blog. Their self admitted differences in writing style explains the difference between a literairy genius and a pair of pulp writers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Perelman refuses price

Grigori Yakovlevich Perelman, a rather excentric mathematician, refused to receive a Fields Medal, the highest reward in Mathematics, which was reward to him today. Some years he sketched a proof for the Thurston's geometrization conjecture, which is a generalisation of Poincaré conjecture. In the past years mathematicians around the world have been filling in the details and reached the conclusion that his proof is indeed correct.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Daniel and Marty

Today, I read that Marty and Daniel are actually Erasmus and Omnius. My worst fears have become true. I cannot see how this is consistent with the last chapter of Dune: Chapterhouse.

Playing Go

This evening, I went to the university to play Go. I had taken the stones that I got from Mrs. Go last month and the three Go books with me. It was after half past nine that Rudi arrived, followed by Ton. I showed them the stones and the books. Not much later, some others also arrived. Ton and I decided to play against each other where I was given six stones ahead. During the summer he went to a Go camp. In the end he won with 54 points against 52 points. Afterwards, I also watched Rudi and Marcel playing a game.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

More about Perelman

Today, I read about a long but interesting article in the New Yorker about Perelman. It also discusses how some Chinese are appearently trying to receive some credits for having completed the proof, although many claim that this is an incomplete presentation of the facts. At least it explains why Perelman refused to receive the Fields Medal. Quote:

Myst V: End of Ages

This evening, I installed Myst V: End of Ages and started playing it. At the end Li-Xia sat with me to watch me play.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Funeral and family reunion

Today, I went to the funeral of my uncle Dick. I arrived early in De Bilt, and decided to take a picture of my birth house, which was just a few minutes walking from the church. After an impressive church service, we went to "Den en Rust", the same place where my father was cremated on December 6, 2000. Afterwards, I talked with a lot of relatives, most of which I had not seen since my fathers funeral. Around six, I was asked if I wanted to join with the dinner afterwards. It was only then that I realized how late it was. In the past years, my mother helped taking care for my uncle during the Saturdays. But it was also because I still had to travel for one and half hour that I was invited. When I arrived at the restaurant "De Biltsche Hoek", I discovered that many more relatives were invited as well. It was only around half past ten that I finally left for home.

I did have some interesting conversations with a niece, who had discovered that certain autistic traits (she mentioned Asperger's Syndrome) did run in the family, and that she felt that I, at least when I was younger, also displayed these traits. She remarked that I did not like to be touched, which in a sense is correct. It is also true that I do not like tight clothing and shoes. It is also true that it took me a long time to learn certain social skills and that I had some difficulty discerning non-verbal signals, not in the sense that I did not notice them, but that I tended to trust the verbal signals more than the non-verbal signals. I always contributed my problem with non-verbal signals to the fact my nearsightness was only discovered when I was seven. My niece also was nearsighted, and we discovered that we had the (almost) same prescription for our glasses, really funny, she could look through my glasses without problems.

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