OMGTV: 48 Hours on QVC in 4 days! Apologies in advance…

This was Soooooo dangerous

This was Soooooo dangerous

So here I am, back from China.  It was utterly fantastic and I promise to do a final post about the last part of the trip, which included Harley Davidsons, hiking down a cliff/up a mountain and Far East Electronics. 

Right now, though, something more pressing beckons…

In fact, I am actually rather apprehensive about it….

…AAArrrgh!!! what’s that coming over the hill?  It’s one of the most insane televisual tortures ever invented – lurking for 24 hours at a time – known as the TSV or Todays Special Value on QVC, this is the multiple-appearance-required featured-low-price-item repeated throughout the day from 0000 the night before to 2330 the night after. 

I tremble mentally at the thought, and by the end of the night I may well tremble physically from caffeine overuse.  Yes, Starbucks et al, rub your collective hands in glee as another addict publicly falls off the wagon with dismal regularity*.

This strange and barbaric practice requires complete and utter knowledge about one’s chosen consumer electronics product, combined with an ability to cope with sustained sleep deprivation and an unreasonable determination to get to the end of the day without a) saying something inaccurate on air, b) falling over and/or breaking stuff on air or c) swearing and/or stripping off on air.  Needless to say, some manage it, and some don’t.  The ones who don’t tend to end up on youtube**. 

Do I look like this? Srsly?

Do I look like this? Srsly?

Yes, dear reader, it’s not just one TSV I’ve been booked for on the 27th July, but two – the second being on the 31st.  Thank goodness the products are nice techy ones, I’ll sneak some piccies on once the embargo is lifted.

So, until midnight on the 27th (i.e. Saturday night) I’m gonna get my head down and study hard.  I will not watch any telly, I will certainly not attend any parties, and I’m definitely not going to do anything non-TSV related…

…Although I am accidentally holding in my paws front row tix for Batman on Friday at a very big cinema.  Yes, I think it’s important for my research that I attend this movie for observational and research purposes.


*Double Tall Wet Skinny Latte please.  I fall off the caffeine wagon every morning when I realise there’s milk and tea in the house, then I imagine the sound the kettle makes when it switches on.  This generally happens before my eyes are open.

**Yes, of course there’s a clip I’m thinking of.   If you want to see it, leave a comment and I may be persuaded to post the offending link.

Back from China Part 2: Chengdu and Giant Pandas

Chengdu Old Village

Chengdu Old Village

After the sprawling civilizationsof Shanghai and Beijing, (previous post) I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at Chengdu airport only a month and a half after the terrible Earthquake– but I saw a city that had weathered a tragedy and was on its way back to normality. 


We talked a bit about it with our guide, who told us that he was taking a shower when the earthquake hit – his first thought was to wonder what downstairs was doing.   He told us that although the majority of buildings in Chengdu were structurally sound enough to deal with the tremors, only a few kilometres outside the city were the images that were reported on the world’s news, so horrifying and stark. Our driver lived nearer to the epicentre and was going to register the damage to his place that evening.  How strange, then, that Chengdu (out of all the locations in China I visited) felt the most like London – stylish, sometimes laid back, the old and new sitting comfortably together.  Both tourists and locals would hang out in the same places, another good sign.

Chengdu is wonderful in its own way, with giant pandas, monasteries and beautiful scenery – the relaxed attitude of our guide definitely influenced my view of this city.  In fact, this place turned out to be my second-favourite Chinese destination after Li Jiang.

Dinner was odd enough to photograph:


Eat your greens

... just a glass of water, please

... just a glass of water, please











[food digression: I feel it important to point out this strange pseudo-cuisine was only prevalent in the package-operated parts of our tour in Beijing and Chengdu; most places we found on our own (or our friends took us to) were incredibly tasty.  The above were specific meals laid on for tourists above shops or in hotels – for example, in Beijing, one gets dropped off at a jewellery factory after visiting the Forbidden City, then herded upstairs to eat after (presumably) buying stuff (- a few tours we did in Egypt had a similar “Steer tourist toward purchase” policy as well).  

We got the impression that every single person who visited before us absolutely did not want to try the local cuisine and would rather have chips.  However, once we explained to our guide that part of the adventure of travelling was eating, we ended up at a fantastic veggie-friendly buddhist temple 10km north of Chengdu City Centre, and I ate myself into a contented food coma there among breathtaking views and pineapple juice, so all was well in the end. /food digression]

The hotel we stayed at in Chengdu was very central indeed, and I think slightly disreputable, but that’s another story.  The next morning was Panda day!  Too excited to sleep the night before, I stayed up watching my camcorder batteries and power monkey charge as I chose my panda clothing…

…then at stupid o’clock in the morning, it was off to the Chengdu Giant Panda Research and Breeding Base, which is massive, and currently holds around 60 Giant Pandas, and a few red pandas too.  On arrival at the base, we had to walk for around 15 minutes before we even got to an area containing real pandas.  This place is like a gigantic health club for these adorable (if clumsy) creatures, a giant panda spa filled with bamboo and stuff to climb on. 

I quite fancied staying there myself.

Pandas are at their most active when they are being fed between 8am and 10am, and when we got there, we only had to share them with about 10 other tourists, another pleasant surprise!  We shot over 25GB worth of Panda Media (thank goodness for the Archos!), and I got some great footage of two pandas playfighting:

RSS / Can’t see the link? click here

By donating extra money at the base, (and if the pandas are in the right mood), you can meet a giant panda and stroke it!!  If you’re wondering what pandas feel like, the answer is just like you’d expect a panda to feel, all soft, furry and sweet.  The panda was stuffing its face at the time, eating apples, biting into one and holding another one just in case.  I’ll put some pics up when I can.  I think I may identify quite a bit with pandas, what with their fussy and ritualistic eating, their willingness to play and their frequent (and graceless) unintentional slapstick manoeuvres. 

I would like to return to Chengdu one day.