We’ve all been busy since the last post here, but sadly not much of it has been interesting busy. Just dull busy. With maybe a few highlights…

Two weeks ago I disappeared off to Bangkok for three days. Beijing was in the middle of a huge thunderstorm at the time, and this meant sitting in the plane at the departure gate while we waited for it to stop raining (though seriously, it just looked like an average-to-crap day in Wellington to me). And of course, after we got the go-head to get out of there, we found ourselves in a 20-plane queue for the runway – so it took another hour to actually get in the air.

Bangkok was very quiet, tourist-wise. The unpronounceable airport (go on, have a go. It’s “Suvarnabhumi”) was deserted, and I felt like I had to hotel to myself. A combination of the economic downturn and the political situation I guess. I came back with a lot more work than I left with, with a shorter deadline. Can’t wait to go back.

Last week, the Ambassador presented his credentials to Chinese President Hu Jintao. He was allowed to take four others with him… and since the Deputy Ambassador was ill, Reid got to go, along with the Trade Commissioner, the Defense Attache and a Second Secretary.

Hu Jintao does these ceremonies in job lots, so the Ambassador presented himself between other new-arrived Ambassadors according to ranking in the Diplomatic Corps. Everyone waiting in a small room in the Great Hall of the People until the word was given, then trooped out to shake the President’s hand and the Ambassador handed over the papers (which I believe is a note from our Governor-General saying “this bloke acts for me”).

That done, everyone retired to an adjoining room for a few minutes chat.

I’ll upload the photo of Reid with the President when I get it – however, she is now saying she thinks she met him once before, perhaps when Cullen was in town. Meanwhile, here’s one of a very young Hu Jintao, standing just behind Premier Zhao Ziyang addressing the crowd (via two megaphones) at Tiananmen Square a few weeks before the massacre.

Premier Zhao Ziyang and Hu Jintao at Tiananmen

As an aside, the whole Diplomatic Corps thing is interesting. All foreign diplomatics in Beijing form the local Diplomatic Corps, with seniority based on how long you have been in country. The Ambassador that has been here longest is the Dean of the Corps, which means… well, I don’t know exactly, but if they are all together and someone has to make a speech, it’s likely to be the Dean.

The New Zealand Ambassador arrived just after the Ambassador from the Republic of Djibouti (Africa somewhere, since you asked) and just before the Ambassador from Afghanistan, so whenever they are all gathered together in future and line up for something, he will have those Ambassadors either side of them.

And as a further aside, did you know (according to that font of all wisdom, Wikipedia) that in New Zealand the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps is ranked above the Deputy Prime Minister and Chief Justice?

In domestic news, Zara has been sick, first up with non-specific colds and coughs, then on to vomiting and rather dull diarrhoea (the symptoms of which, entertainingly, only presented between midnight and 6am). This has meant she’s skipped a week or so of school and we haven’t been swimming much, but she’s all good now and we’ve about got to the stage where she actually wants to go to school.

Zac is continuing to be a model, if not rather large, baby who sleeps, drinks and laughs at things constantly (apart from when he rolls onto his stomach and gets pissed off that he can’t roll back). Yu Mei thinks he is a hao hái zi (good child), who is piào liang (beautiful), and they are getting on famously, when Zara lets them.

Here’s a few photos….

June 2009

(click on the photo for the gallery for this post).