Is That Really Ai Weiwei?!

Many of you probably know Ai Weiwei as a highly influential Chinese contemporary artist, noted for his architecture, photography, film, and his openly critical stance on democracy and human rights in China. So you can understand my surprise when G told me Ai Weiwei had joined the likes of Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations), Boris Johnson and David Cameron who have all ridden the Gangam wave (groan). I know, I know…not that again!

When I first saw the video I thought it was yet another parody of Psy’s Gangnam Style. Surely that couldn’t be the man himself! But as Huffington Post UK has confirmed, it really is him! I’m not quite sure what to make of it — but as Sam Parker has said, “perhaps by remaking the global internet hit of the moment he is hoping to draw further attention to internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China, where raunchy pop videos extolling materialism are generally frowned upon.”  It hasn’t gone viral yet like Eton Style, but who knows…it just might?

A Weekend in Cyprus

A few years ago I had the opportunity to interview for a job in Cyprus.  The company had agreed to fly me out for the weekend and since I had never been, of course I said yes!  I imagined beautiful white sandy beaches surrounded by clear blue waters.  But what was I thinking? I wasn’t going there on holiday! I had to keep my head in the game.

The flight to Cyprus was 5 hours from London.  Having traveled to Japan on many occasions, 5 hours really isn’t a very long flight.  However, I felt extremely restless and when we landed I was rather shocked by what I saw.  This might seem silly but I felt like I was entering a war zone.  Everything was covered in dust and there was barbed wired on many of the buildings.

But never mind my initial impression–I told myself that I was probably just tired and nervous about the interviews that would take place the next day.  I decided to venture out to town and somehow ended up at a Chinese restaurant and had my first ever Cypriot Chinese meal.  I knew we’d be having Cypriot food the next evening so I wanted to try something different. It was surprisingly good, even comforting.

The next day, after several interviews and uncomfortable role plays, while stuck in a stuffy office building, I was excited to try an authentic Cypriot meal.  I love Mediterranean food, but to my disappointment the dishes were unimpressive and even the olives weren’t up to par.  Perhaps I wouldn’t be moving to Cyprus after all…

Before heading back to London I ended up having one last meal in Cyprus.  It was probably the best meal I had while I was there.  Don’t laugh, but I had a damn good ham and cucumber sarnie for only £2.50 (Cypriot pounds).  On my way back to the airport I saw signs that read ‘F*CK THE UN’.  Erm…okay.  I later found out that as I was leaving Cyprus, refugees were fleeing to the country from Lebanon.

I’ve always wanted to travel to places that would open my eyes to something completely different.  I like to be blown away and to be honest, I was.  And reading back on this post it might seem like I didn’t enjoy myself at all during my first visit to Cyprus.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t.  But to not feel comfortable and feel completely out of my realm was actually a good and humbling experience.

*****

I doubt I’ll be going back to Cyprus anytime soon but I do wish I had more time to explore Nicosia, the beaches, and take more photos! Sadly, I only have a few shots which I’ll share anyway because it looks like Monkey had a good time!