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Luke and Sarah's Nanjing Blog (3)



Birmingham couple Luke and Sarah Pinney are taking a year out to work in Nanjing, home of the Chinese car company that bought Rover. They haven't got cars on their mind though... not when there's a typhoon to cope with.

I should have known we were in trouble when I saw stars in the sky. Birmingham isn't the best place to see stars but compared to here it's Patrick Moore Paradise. We count ourselves lucky to see Venus and the moon setting through the haze most nights.

So we woke up the next day to typhoon Wipha although a hundred miles from the centre. I am well set up for riding my bike in the rain but a typhoon is another matter.

By the time I arrived at work I needed a good dry out and so did my bike. The indicator horn shorted out so for the next 24 hours it went off every second. For 50 minutes back home and to work again the next day the horn drove me mad.

Beep, beep, beep.... it was driving me beeping crazy. It could have been worse though. If it had happened in Brum I probably would have been arrested but because people use their horns so much here people didn't seem to take much notice.

Anyway, it stopped the next day after it had dried out and I've now got a biker's coverall to cover the driver and bike.

To make up for the lack of stars there are lots of fireworks. I used to get excited about seeing them but apparently after you lived here a while you don't even bother looking and I can see why.

Every night there's a reason to set some off - opening a new restaurant or starting or finishing one of the many new buildings or just to wish a business good luck. There are hotels near us which set off displays most nights that match the ones at the Bournville Summer Fair.

You may have heard that the Chinese like kites. The second night here Chloe said 'I can see lights in the sky'. For a second I really thought it was an alien hovering in the sky; of course it was just a kite with flashing lights on it but it was a weird sight. And the kites here don't seem to need any wind to fly.

And finally, in the sky at Nanjing tonight you can see the full moon. Tonight is mooncake night/Autumn festival. Mooncakes look like a pork pie but filled with different flavours of hard jelly. One's enough, but we ended up with dozens.

Anyway, we're settling in nicely. Beginning to understand how much things are and saying basic phrases like 'I don't understand' - wo budong and 'How much is it?' - Duo shou tian? I'll send you some great Chinglish phrases later.

Had my first crash on my bike when one of the many dopey cyclists veered in front of me. In avoiding him I hit the raised concrete verge, lost control of the bike and landed on my knees on the grass as the bike slid down the road.

I was fine and bike only had a few scratches but that was probably because by the time I lost control I was only doing about 10mph. That's the benefit of riding a bike with a top speed of 25 mph.

We're off to Putuo Shan next week for a few days. A quiet island that has one of the four Buddhist holy mountains with lots of temples and nice beaches. Should be a nice break from the city.

Still hot enough here for the aircon and solar water heater. I'll be in touch soon with stories of our holiday.

Zai jian

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