All posts by Mark

I'm a full-stack linux consultant from the UK but currently living in Istanbul. I specialize in rapid development of web/mobile apps using HTML5 typically using Bootstrap, AngularJS, Modern Perl (Catalyst/DBIC) and PostgreSQL but have worked with many other technologies and languages as well. I'm fluent in English and Turkish.

2 updates in one day…

Tomorrow we head off to northern Guandong curtosy of the young communists party – they’re taking us up there to do some travelling and teach English to English teachers. Not really done much today – rehursing a pantomime and sorting lessons out. About to go swimming and maybe watch a film later… Been quite hot today at perhaps 33ish

Adapting to a foreign country

Not much having happened since yesterday I tought I would write about some of the main differences between England and China. The first one that springs to mind is that of the weather. It has been boiling hot so far and even the torrential rain we had while travelling from HK to China was a nice 26 degrees or so… The hardest thing to get straight in your mind about this is not that it is hot but that when you are inside it is actually colder than it is outside. I still can’t shake the habit of wanting to put on some extra clothes before braving the outside weather conditions and then feeling shocked when the temperature rises by 10-15 degrees when I step out of the door!

Another difference is in the shops. The same as happened the other day in the department store seems to be common practice. I went into a shop to buy a pack of playing cards (costing $2.50 which is something like 16 pence) and took it to counter 1 whereby the woman filled out the order form in triplicate and gave me a slip to take the the cashier. After I had paid, I had to go back and sign a copy of the form and could then collect my pack of playing cards. This needless bureaucracy seems to be China’s answer to unemployment.

The food is very very good although horribly fattening. As we are VIPs here we eat seperately (although that will change when the children come) so is is probably the equivalent of a formal hall every day, if not better. We usually get served perhaps 7 food dishes plus soup and rice and also one or two pudding dishes – usually watermellon or mango, althought we have, on occasion, had dishes such as toffie-fried bananas and deep-fried apple. Mmmmmmmm! The rest of the food has been quite interesting although we’ve not yet been presented with noted dishes local dishes such as those containing dog or cat. In HK some of us had turtle-shell jelly. Tasty… Ruth’s guidebook had a traditional saying about the food of this region which goes “They eat anything with legs except a table, anything which flies except an airoplane and anything in the sea except a submarine.” From what the locals tell me this is very accurate. I eagerly await…


Greetings from China!

Just in a school outside Shen Zhen and it’s really nice and hot. We were in HK for a few days getting toi know each other. Lots of photos from there and I will put them up on the internet if I am able however the internet connection we ahve at the school here seems quite slow. Ah well!

HK was wonderful although when we all went into the middle of the city I was very tired from jetlag and so on. We were liing in quite a remote HK island in a sort of youth hostel in a forest. There were lots of fun creatures everywhere. All of the creatures seem to be very much bigger than in England – butterflys about 3* the size, and massie spiders all over the place. Also tonnes of lizards everywhere. In the past few days as we were leavuing HK and today in China there were some massive storms – really very fun and much bigger and hotter than English storms. The thunder and lightening was also very impressive.

Went shopping in Shen Zhen for the first tiem today. We all went to a local department store and I tried to buy some shorts. I took the shorts off the rail and took them the the checkout. The women there laughed at me and lead me back to where I had picked them up. She then tried to work out my size and then put the shorts back and filled out a form specifying which shorts and the cost. I went back to the till and paid the 68 yuan for them. She just gave me a reciept and said some things in mandarin, which of course I didn’;t understand. I then looked a bit lost and went down the escallators and had a wander around the lower floor. I went back up the escallarots and there was the woman with two (!) pa\irs of shorts in a plastic bag… Apparently this is not particularly normal even by Chinese standards.

On the way back, a girl got her bag stolen by some people on a motorbike. The police were quick to arrive – probably because we were distinguished visitors, however they held her and several others in the local police station for a few hours and then told us that because we were resident in the school (though only for a week until we go travelling in north guandong) we should have registered with the police. We all had to hand in our passports and several went back to the police station to register officially, which went though without any problems. Pfew!

Pimms, films and overnight punting

Ahh I love may week its just such a wonderful opportunity to catch up with people you’ve missed for the past few weeks. I’ve also been madly panicing to try to finish off my lessons before we fly off to China in 4 days time (wooooo!!!). Tuesday was very much a day of recovery – got up about 2pm after emma ball, did some work and then went to see Ruth and Ed at Emmanuel (Nat was, alas, still sleeping). Got back about 10 and Dave, Zish and myself watched Back to the Future 2 – the first time I’ve seen it. I can imagine it being an awesome film when you’re 12 but for someone who’s thought a lot about time travel, the paradoxes involved and the special and general relativistic aspects of it all it’s kind of predictable. The problems with a Cambridge degree…

Thursday I woke up quite late, roasted a chicken, did some work for China then went into college to do my washing and some shopping around the town – all good fun. Met up with Esther for the first time in ages which was really good and then headed to the Emmanuel/Caius CU picnic and then overnight punting. It was good to spend more time with the Emma CU people – especially as the few that I know really quite well were not there so I could get to know some of the others better. Overnight punting really is the thing to do.. it was lovely and warm and a clear sky so we did a lot of star gazing. The moon was very large, full and quite orange as it skimmed around the horizon lighting our way on the misty water. We got to Grantchester about midnight and headed back between about 2 and 4. Got to sleep about 5 and then woke up about 11:30. Perhaps this weird sleep pattern during mayweek will help me better adjust to the -7h we will experience upon arrival in HK.

May week…

Yay has been lovely and summery here for the past few days. Sunday, Zishan and myself went to Jesus Green for a few hours – there were loads of people down there mostly from Holy Trinity and Eden, joined later by some StAG. HT had got permission for a bouncy castle and Zish bought his guitar so we had a bit of a mess around. Also played some Frisbee and French-cricket. All in all a nice way to spend the day even though it was very hot (I heard it reached upto 34 here although to me it seemed more like 30-32 region). After church in the evening I went out for a meal with Ellie, Rachel, Alastair, Abi and Christina (Some of the Sidney 1st year Christians) at Bella Pasta – deja vu from being there at the same time the week before for Heather’s party! Got back about midnight because the service was very slow and watched “Back to the Future” for the first time – what an amazing film!

Monday I got up about 9:30 and met up with the ISEC guys – was good to see them all; next time we are all togeather we shall be in HK! Then went to Helen’s 21st at Newnham. It was really nice to see lots of the Newnham girls that I’ve not kept in contact with this term, and also a lot of the Theologians were there. Went straight from there to Corpus for a meeting about their mayball (which I shall be working at on Friday) and then I bought some juggling balls and various other things and went back home. Tried to sleep but couldn’t so I just practised my juggling and so on. About 4:30 I thought it would be cool to bleach my hair again because I was feeling bored with it. I’d tried to get it all shaved off earlier in the day, in preparation for China. However, the queue was really long and I didn’t really want to pay £10 when in HK you can pay about 10-20p and probably get a nice massage thrown in too! Anyway, I bleached my hair and then suddenly remembered that I left all my gel at home! D’oh. Ran out to the shops and gelled it up and then ran to Emma for 6pm for a workers briefing.

Emma mayball was really good. I love just being able to work at these things and you get to know the other workers quite well, and also get to chat to the guests that you know. As I seem to know most people in Emma and lots of Sidney people were there too, I spent a long time just chatting. I was meant to be a “Fire Steward” however unlike what I recall of Sidney last year where John gave everyone a good site tour and safety briefing, had there been a fire I would not have known what to do. None of the committee seemed really to know what was meant to happen so we were told to just “stop anyone from smoking and here are the fire extinguishers and fire exits”. Ah well good thing that there wasn’t a fire I guess! The magician was really good although it wasn’t really traditional magic as such – he was jumping on broken glass, banging nails and screwdrivers into his head, swallowing swords, escaping from strait jackets and the like. The Emma mayball was quite good fun – the dodgems had pulled out at the last minute and the queue for the ferris-wheel was always about an hour long. There wasn’t as much food as I seem to recall there being at Sidney last year and they seemed to have had a lot of problems with acts dropping out of their schedule. There were some fun things like sumo wrestling, a human gyroscope and a sort of bouncy castle wrestling match (sorry, Serena!), and they did carry on throughout the night. However you would think that they could have scheduled the Ceilidh in a larger venue. Serena and I went there but there really was no space to move and even after they started implementing a one-in, one-out policy the small room was jam-packed. The broken glass on the floor didn’t help matters either especially as all of the ladies tried to take off their high-heals. Ellie got glass in her foot and I’m sure a good many more people did as well. Wandered around Cambridge with Ruth, Nat, Tom and Ed until 7:30 when I went to Greek Bible study only to find that it had been changed to 9am. Went back home and went to bed about 8:30 and got up at 1:30 feeling quite refreshed. All in all a quite enjoyable night!

More lazy days in the sun

It’s been lovely and sunny the past two days here in Cambridge. Friday was the Harry’s garden party at St Johns college which was gloriously sunny and Rachel gave a really good talk. We had a game of croquet as well. Finished the Da Vinci Code which is a very good read although very dubious in term of presenting fiction as fact which does kind of detract from the story line quite a lot. Today (Saturday) I’ve been just sitting around. Watched Indiana Jones’ “Last Crusade” which was exciting and been playing on guitar a lot. Also read some more of the dead sea scrolls. In the evening we went out to see the new batman film which was really good although Zishan seemed somewhat disappointed with it because his friend had told him it was amazing; it was however really good. Started my mayball sleep pattern edging round to that 8am bedtime although on Monday I have to be up and out for the day by about 10ish – meeting in the morning, garden parties in the afternoon and then some mandarin learning and then the mayball itself from 6pm-6am. Perhaps some punting to Grantchester for a spot of breakfast afterwards. Might also be going punting over Sunday night with the Eden crew.

Busy week

Wow I’ve somewhat neglected this blog so I probably ought to say a little about what i’ve been doing these past days. Monday and Tuesday were spent pretty much just relaxing reading a book about Qumran and the dead sea scrolls – very interesting and useful for my dissertation next year, but hardly a break from work. Had lunch with Felicity on Tuesday which was good fun. Wednesday was quite hectic as I went to the language center to learn some mandarin (as I’ve done on several other days too), then had lunch with Solveig at Clown’s cafe which serves really nice food. After that I went to the course-choice session at the Div Fac. So many good choices to choose from but for technical reasons I’m not allowed to do them 🙁 Then saw Ellie and we went to Kings Evensong which was quite nice although hard to hear anything because of the acoustics. I guess thats not really the point of it though. Then went to college group – also good fun and we had a picnic and played croquet after.

Today has been spent having a meeting with Ruth and Anna about arrangements for China, then started reading the “Da Vinci Code” which is a very gripping book. Read something like 300 pages in just over 3 hours and then had my one-to-one with Kim looking at Isaiah 54. Then went to the Barn and stayed outside chatting until about 12:20 – always good fun! Luke was teaching me how to juggle and I think I might take a few balls to China in the summer and try to learn properly. It’s something I’ve always quite wanted to do but never been able to learn the trick of.

Only 10 days…. wooooo!!!!