Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I have been taking more photos lately, and I enjoy capturing things here. A common problem with Chinese is they would rather take photos just of people, and not care about the background very much, but with my help I am trying to show some of them that the whole photo is important.
Like this one of two 'friends'.
These are some of the other interesting things to see in our town.
Ladies selling pickled fruit on the street.
Sugar cane - 5 mou (1/2 of 1 RMB) for a whole piece cut up and skinned ready to eat.
A beautiful Chinese boy who really looked board.
Anyway - we have been doing a lot of work and nothing else lately.

We had a pretty good Christmas day - we went to the Maoming International hotel and had a good lunch with bad service. Then we went and did a little bit of shopping and came home.

It really wasn't amazing, but we did meet a few nice people. One crazy Chinese girl called Fish! One crazy old American called Frank. That was what was fantastic - people are better than places, things etc. I just wish I could meet more people around here that I really liked. That we genuine. Many people really like us, but I guess I don't really like many of them. It has always taken me a long time to find people I actually really like. It took me a long time in Aus - and it's going to take me a long time here too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Saying goodbye

I was writing this blog at the beginning of the week but didn't post it:
"It's so painful to say goodbye to the really sweet kids here.
Many of them show genuine sadness that I will be leaving, and will no longer be their teacher. But I can't crack out the water works 28 times in one week, so I have just been telling them that I will miss them and writing my email address on the black board."

Anyway - so it turns out that even though I said goodbye to everyone this week the school has changed its plans and now and I'll be teaching for one more week!!! Well not bad at all really, in fact I couldn't get it into my head that I was finished for some reason, it didn't feel like the end.

But DAM IT next week I'll be walking into 28 different classrooms. All of which thought last week was my last friggin week. Dammit! The first 5 minutes will be "The school changed its mind" "yes I AM going to Wenzhou" "no it wasn't a joke" "no, I don't know why..." etc.

Oh well - the more questions they ask the better right. It'll be a good warm up. :)

Monday, December 26, 2005

News From China : Chinese dissident gets 12 years jail

Chinese dissident gets 12 years jail
From: Reuters
From correspondents in Beijing

December 26, 2005

A CHINESE court has sentenced dissident Xu Wanping to 12 years in prison for "incitement to subvert state power", a New York-based human rights group said.
Xu was detained in March and initially interrogated about his involvement in a signature drive related to anti-Japanese protests that swept China in April.

He was held without access to a lawyer for months before being convicted on December 23, said the group, Human Rights in China.

During his trial, Xu, who lives in the southwestern city of Chongqing, was denied contact with his lawyer "on grounds that his case involved state secrets", the group said.

China broadly defines as a state secret anything that affects the security and interests of the state, but the limits are vague. Rights groups say the laws are arbitrary enough to be manipulated for political purposes.

Xu served eight years in prison for taking part in the 1989 student-led demonstrations for democracy centred on Tiananmen Square. He was sentenced to three years of re-education through labour in 1998 for his part in trying to register a political party in defiance of a government ban.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A video

To Watch Video click here

This is the latest thing from my desk. A video for a Christmas Present to my Mum. I can't send her anything much, but I can send this video of us enjoying China. I hope it doesn't make her miss me too much.
I think I shall in the future try to do this more often!

Cheers everyone.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Frequent Chinese Visions

Mothers holding their little boys leg open so they can pee in the street right in front of the most prestigious shopping mall in town.

Old people cooking dinner in a small pot over a fire in the middle of the debris from a construction site next to the main road. Rubbish used for fuel.

Mothers grabbing their children and pointing out “the foreigners” as they walk past.

Live ducks tied to the handle-bars of bicycles by their feet and ridden through the city.

Police in police cars driving up the wrong side of the road and beeping at everyone while driving their children to school.

The main road of the town where we live being filled with people standing around watching a big screen TV that has been set up outside by a shop to attract attention.

An even bigger group of people completely blocking a road because of a huge performance being held outside a shopping centre and the police not doing anything to stop it.

The road outside our house becoming a total parking lot once a month when all the parents come with their cars to pick up their children from school.

Little girls barely able to see over the pile of text books sitting on their desks.

Little babies running around in crotchless pants to avoid the need for nappies. They are free to pee anywhere and need to be picked up after like an un-house-trained puppy.

A grandmother running after a little child with bowl trying to feed it lunch.

The dog downstairs being fed rice for dinner.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas is comming

In class today I did my last 4 lessons on “What is important?” This is a great lesson because all I have to do is the first 5 minutes of the lesson and then let the students fight it out. It’s great because I almost have to drag them off the stage at the end.

And it always goes into the break. One of the students said “very happy today” when she ran outside to do morning exercise. *smile*

I am in the middle of re-capturing all the video we have shot and I am finally going to cut it together. So soon you can see some of the things we have seen. It’s just going to take about 3 hours to capture again. I am going to enjoy the cutting. In fact, I have been too lazy and should have done it a long time ago.

This afternoon I got the students to choose a Christmas song to sing. From
“Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer”, “The 12 days of Christmas” and John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas” I am happy to say they chose the latter. I don’t dislike Christmas songs, but I think it’s probably this century’s best song, and a good song to show them the spirit of Christmas. It is also easy to sing, and they can understand the lyrics.

Nothing hard about them at all:
So this is Christmas, And what have you done, Another year over, And a new one just begun, And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun, The near and the dear one, The old and the young A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year, Let's hope it's a good one, Without any fear And so this is Christmas, For weak and for strong, For rich and the poor ones, The world is so wrong, And so happy Christmas, For black and for white, For yellow and red ones Let's stop all the fight, War is over over, If you want it, war is over, Now...

So it should go well this week. I also told them a few things about Christmas in Aus. Like my favourite thing was putting up the Christmas tree and how I would always insist on being the one to do it. And how much I loved it and asked every year in November but always had to wait until December.

I also told them the story of the Sega Master system. When we were kids we begged and begged but Mum said that she wouldn’t get one as it would rot our brains. We wanted one SOOOO much, but NO was the stern reply. After the morning’s ripping, where there was no game system to be uncovered, we came to the end, but we had missed one… box… wrapped not in paper, but in black plastic. It was “To John and Helen From Santa.” We knew without opening it. It was a great surprise! How wonderful. We had such a great time with it over the next few years. The greatest Christmas present, and also a really good surprise. And of course, it wasn’t Santa – but Mum being clever and sneaky.

I sometimes wonder how mum did all of the sneaking around. We were always with her when she went shopping (single parent who was a teacher at the same school as us) and we never suspected a thing. Mothers are great.

Brad’s sister is now in Canada. She’s seen the Niagara Falls in the winter time and the photos are SO cool. No snow here, but thank god because it’s cold enough for me.

Only 2 weeks of work to go! Then 2 weeks holiday, then 10 days of camp and then MOVING to Wenzhou. So excited.

You can see the Christmas tree isn't big, but I made some of the decorations myself (something I havn't had to do before) and I think it's got a cute Aussie feel to it. There are no Candy Canes to be found, but it still looks passable

Totally excited

I am totally excited about this new found ability to get my friends' blogs through 'feedburner'.

China - a love/hate realationship. Cencorship. I guess they have the right to do it to their people. But it impeeds my life.

You know, living in Aus, you don't really feel impeeded by the law in any illogical way. Speeding, we know we shouldn't anyway. Paying you taxes - that's just the norm. But here, I feel my freedoms sapped away by the inability to do simple things. Like read blogs in the normal way.

But there are great photo opps. see below.
Some of the best photos so far...
In Nanning Provincial Meusium.

In Hong Kong...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Blog over the last 6 months

The bang bang bash bash of China. 5 days ago

I’m sure at least a couple of my friends will be able to identify with this one..

Chinese people are like children with pots and pans!

There has been bashing of sticks on un-tuned bits of mettle around here for days now, and although it is blessedly far enough away from our house to be just faint background noise, it is still most ghastly! This must be what my Mozart loving Mother feels when she describes my music as “that noise!!!” The phrase “Would you please turn off..” usually preceded that definition.

Anyway – up close these “festivals” or “ceremonies” are nearly unbearably loud. They usually consist of a 3 sided bamboo hut temporarily erected in an inappropriate place. Like on the side walk outside a shop or in the unused space in between two buildings which is in reality a dirt road and in some cases the only access to a number of surrounding houses. The hut is covered in white, red and blue plastic (usually the same stuff that used in the construction of Chinese bags, the largest and cheapest bags with a zip on the market). Inside are hung some Chinese symbolic banners which always look a little tatty.

In front of this is a table with some props prepared. A tea pot, a branch stuck into sand, an incense burner etc.

Around this there sits a few uninterested looking Chinese people. One of them is dancing around and singing SOMETHING so continually monotonous that I wonder if it would mean anything to me even if I were Chinese. One is bashing the loud mettle plate with no particular rhythm. A few others are gathered changing props or sweeping up whenever dancing man has finished with one of the props. Some times some of the important people sit inside the makeshift tent.

The interesting thing, the thing that I just don't understand, is that these whatever-they-ares go on for 24 hours some times. No one looks like they are enjoying themselves by the 3 hour and it seems (like most things around here) that something culturally important is seen as very common place by the locals. People on their way home will just walk right through the middle of such an event.

Sometimes I think “My God make the sound stop!!!” But then I think – “No it’s great, I would never be bothered by this in Australia. I am really living in a different country and experiencing some of the genuine Chinese culture."

Anyway – after about 3 days of constant bashing, it seems to have stopped for the night. Hooray! I wonder if they will continue tomorrow?


Impromptu dinner invitation 6 days ago

In the afternoon, while we were sitting in front of our computers the lady from downstairs came and rung on our bell. All she said was “sir fun” (laterally 'eat rice', but also means 'eat a meal') and gestured down their stairs. So Brad and I followed her down the stairs. It was amazing, a last minute invitation to a huge dinner.

There was Yellow cake, noodles, chicken, artery and cucumber, soup, green vegetables, rice porridge and little processed meet logs which taste amazing.
When we first arrived in China, I really didn’t like Gaozhou food, but now – even though there are still some things I would never touch, I have developed a taste for some of the simple things. It was a great time, us smiling at people but saying nothing except to each other. We didn’t stay long as we had to go into the city to distribute pamphlets for the winter camp.

Last night we started advertising. It’s very interesting walking down the road in a foreign country with a bunch of pamphlets. We started with 2000 and it was very easy to give them away. In fact, some of the local people who looked a little too old to have children of the right age called and put out their hand. I am sure I gave many away to uninterested people, but some people just wanted to know what we were giving out. Chinese people are very curious.

A boy began to follow Brad around and started giving out pamphlets as well (probably to inappropriate people) just for the opportunity to talk with us. I was stopped and showed off my terrible command of Chinese to a few small groups who tried to engage me in conversation.

I think even though we have lived here for almost a year now, most of the local people still have no idea that there are foreign people in their town and NEVER expect to see people from the outside world. I can't imagine being so cut off.

Paula was telling us about her mother’s disbelief about the size of the ocean. She has never travelled much and so just does not have any concept of the outside world. For us in Aus we just jump in the car and drive for 2 or 3 hours we can get some idea of the size of things. But around here, people just tend to stay in the one place.

Thats about all that’s new. We are still planning on Wenzhou, and after speaking to one of the foreign teachers who worked there last year, I am even more excited to get going! It really sounds like a good school. No more expectations than this school, but more equipment, less students per class and less classes. I think I can try to learn more Chinese this time.


New job and Bad x-mas decoz! 12 days ago

We are looking at a job in Wenzhou, and it’s looking very promising. Hooray! I will be very happy to have this job problem sorted out. I am also happy not to be going too far north. It has been pleasant and warm around here for a few weeks now. It got cold for about 3 days, and then reverted to warmth, but not the unbearable wet warmth of summer. It has been dry and cool in the mornings and the evenings, but warm during the day.

That ended last night and today it was rather cool. Still it’s not biting yet.

Anyway, if we go to Wenzhou then it’s not NORTH China and we won’t freeze out butts off too much.

The school wants us to work less time (one third of the time for me) and will pay me the same.

For Brad he’ll work about the same, but be paid also, what I am getting now. SO – that’s a good deal for us.

The only thing that’s a little concerning is that they might want to do a summer camp. And we really don’t want to join in because we want to travel and see China as well as get something going down in Gaozhou again… provided the winter camp goes well.

The winter camp planning is going well. I am making the resources, and all of the dialogues etc. The booklet is going to be very many pages by the time I am finished, but is looking really good.

There are a few Christmas decorations around Gaozhou now consisting of undressed Christmas trees and a pathetic looking display made up of shaved Styrofoam in the shape of a little Christmas house. They are real armatures around here!

We went for a walk up the mountain today with Will, Paula and some of the students. A bunch of girls came but didn’t dare to talk to us. A couple of really nice boys came, and we had a great chat with them.

That’s all the news for now. We hope December is treating you all with gooey niceness. If you have been thinking about it, now is the time to call us! Still cheep, still easy – just email us for the details of how to make it ‘the cost of a local call’ to you! Don’t say one day – that day will never come.


PS - News from China. Well not FROM China, but about China.

China arrests five Tibetan monks
New Delhi, India
02 December 2005 11:19
Chinese authorities have arrested five Tibetan monks who refused to denounce their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and recognise Tibet as part of China, an India-based pro-democracy group says.

The five were expelled from Drepung Monastery in Lhasa and handed over to the Public Security Bureau on November 23, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reports on its website.

They were arrested during a session of a "patriotic education" campaign under way at the monastery since early October.

Two days after the arrests more than 400 monks held a peaceful solidarity protest at the monastery, the centre said.

Soldiers and police put down the protest and "resisting monks received severe beatings", the report said.

Since November 25, "nobody has been allowed to either enter or leave the premises ... The officers maintain strict vigilance of the monastery."

The centre, based in the Himalayan foothills at Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama lives in exile, urged the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture visiting China and Tibet to raise the monks cases with the Chinese authorities.

China sees its occupation of Tibet since 1950 as a liberation of the region that has saved the Tibetan people from feudal oppression.

Beijing formally established a Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1965, but the Dalai Lama says there is no real autonomy and seeks greater rights for its six million people. - AFP
Men get lost mowing lawn 33 days ago

AND, I just wanted to share this with you as well. And keep it for all time in the blog records. As much as Russia sucks I have heard, these men seem to think it's a better bet than here.

Men get lost mowing lawn

November 07, 2005

GUARDS on the Russian border with China arrested two illegal immigrants who were attempting to sneak into Russia on a lawnmower.
The pair told guards at the Slavyanka border post in Khasansky County in Russia's far east that they had got lost while cutting the grass.

But Russia says it is not the first time they have had to deal with "nomadic" gardeners from China.

"We have issued a number of warnings to our opposite numbers in China, but despite that, they seem to have no control over the apparent nomadic habits of their gardening nationals."
1 Comment
For sale - one-inch block of land 33 days ago

This one just cracked me up! And thank god somewhere in the world there is more stupidity than this little country town. (more blog below)

For sale - one-inch block of land
From correspondents in Spencer, Indiana

November 14, 2005

THE world's smallest real estate package has been listed for sale, but so far there have been no takers for the 2.5sqcm lot at $US1500 ($2000).
The postage-stamp-sized block is part of a 0.45ha tract of land being sold by the First National Bank as mortgagee.

Local officials said the tiny lot was probably sold to someone in the 1960s when people were required to own land locally to use a nearby lake.

"It's too small to plant a flower on," said Peter Dorsey of Spencer County's mapping department. Local county attorney Richard Lorenz said the county wanted to get rid of the property and might just give it away.

"Maybe we could donate it ... as the smallest land donation in history," he said.

So refreshing don't you think?

I slept in today, and missed the first class. I was asked by the teachers why I was SO late, and I apologized very, very much to them (I was feeling very sorry). They said “oh, well it’s okay..” It made me think how lucky I am, it's funny because last night I was just reading a contract that mentioned the minute-by-minute deduction for lateness. I began to think how untrusting everyone else is of foreign teachers and how lucky we are.

AND our fabulous friends don't want us to leave... BUT, I can't help thinking another 6 months in this little town and I would be about ready to leave China and never come back.
In fact the possibility of making a move to Taiwan has opened itself, and we are doing some serious looking into it.It's all up in the air.

Brad's on holidays from UNI now and I'm happy to have him back from his trip to Guangzhou... with Cheese!!! And some other great essentials like wine, herbs and a new red jacket for me!


News: China performs U-turn over suspected bird flu 40 days ago

So, I'm glad we still have that return air ticket......

China performs U-turn over suspected bird flu
By Richard Spencer, in Beijing
(Filed: 07/11/2005)

The Chinese authorities performed an embarrassing about-turn yesterday and called in the World Health Organisation to examine three suspected human cases of bird flu, including one of a girl who died.

Newspapers in Hong Kong alleged that a girl from Hunan province in central China had died from an unknown fever after eating a chicken believed to be infected with the H5N1 virus.

The H5N1 bird flu virus
The girl who died had eaten a bird that later was confirmed to have the H5N1 virus [pictured]

The authorities were quick to deny that she had contracted bird flu but yesterday Xinhua, the state news agency, issued a brief statement saying that the disease "had not been ruled out" as the cause of her death, or the similar illness that affected her brother and a village teacher.

"As the cause of the illness was difficult to confirm, our country has invited WHO experts to come to China to jointly carry out further investigation into the cause of illness," said the statement, issued by the ministry of health.

The recent outbreak of bird flu has killed 62 people in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia. Chickens are kept in similar conditions in China as in all of these south-east Asian countries.

Six people died in an earlier outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997.

China has not officially recorded a single human case, which has led to repeated rumours on anti-government websites based abroad of government cover-ups of deaths.

The World Health Organisation has praised China for being more open about bird flu than it was about the Sars epidemic two years ago, in which hundreds of people died before the government admitted the scale of the problem.

But the WHO has still reported long delays before being allowed to visit the sites of outbreaks and in receiving samples from infected birds, from which it could identify transmission routes through DNA testing.

Fears of, at worst, a lack of transparency and, at best, an inability of local authorities to handle the disease, seemed to be confirmed when the two Hong Kong newspapers reported the suspicious illnesses in Hunan on Oct 26.

The girl, He Yin, had died 10 days previously after eating a chicken that had fallen ill. The -village's birds were later confirmed to be suffering from the disease.

But local authorities said preliminary tests had proved negative for the disease, and the state news agency said she had died from pneumonia.

It is not clear why the ministry has now revised its opinion. But some Chinese officials, and -Caijing, the influential business magazine that did much to expose the Sars cover-up, have questioned whether local authorities have shown enough urgency and competence in dealing with bird flu.

Roy Wadia, a spokesman for the WHO in Beijing, said it was discussing methods of testing for the disease with the Chinese authorities. He suggested that the Chinese had been trying to be "thorough" before going public.

Meanwhile, authorities ordered the slaughter of all poultry in a county of the northern province of Liaoning, on the border with North Korea, after it was struck by the country's fourth bird flu outbreak in recent weeks.

According to some reports, more than a million birds have been killed. The North Korean authorities issued a statement saying it was on its guard, and that its leader Kim Jong-il was taking a personal interest.

Hong Kong yesterday banned the feeding of pigeons and other wild birds in response to the bird flu outbreak.

The move was intended to reduce the chances of birds gathering in housing estates and spreading the disease through droppings, the government said.

"The safest and most effective, economical and humane way to minimise congregation of pigeons is to avoid feeding them," said its deputy director of housing, Lau Kai-hung.

Under hygiene laws enacted after the 2003 Sars outbreak, the maximum fine for feeding the birds will be about £100.


Student teachers, Borrowing money, Job search, Noodles. 51 days ago

Student teachers the world over are stupidly idealistic. Last week one of the teachers told me “you must get all of the students to speak English, some of the students at the back just speak Chinese to each other.”
GRRR. I say “They CAN’T speak English, and I can’t make it easy enough for them to understand or all the students who try will be VERY board!!!!”
Some of them can’t even stand at the door and say “Sorry I’m late.” – Something I make them do if they are late. I find it stops the bad students coming to my class late as they have no desire to stand in front of their classmates and speak English, where as the good students who like my class have no problem with it.
Something to show you just how different it is here; 2 days ago one of the students asked to borrow some money!! Simon, who ambushes me outside the classroom often to talk to me on my way home from school, started a conversation on Tuesday just like many other days, but I noticed that he was stammering and stuttering a little more than usual. Anyway – I was really in a hurry on this day, so I told him to “spit it out”.
He said I have broken my glasses, and “I think my father will kill me, so I need to borrow some money.” CRAZY. This is actually the second time a student has asked. Of course I said no, I said “in Australia it’s culturally a very bad thing, and people don’t lend money.” Okay so I guess sometimes people do lend money, but can you imagine asking a teacher. Anyway – as if my answer wasn’t clear, he said, “But you’re in China.”
“I’m still Australian” I shouted while riding away, “good luck with your father.”
Can you imagine that in Aus? They are just different over here. Anyway – he has his new glasses and he seems to still be whole.

I have been doing a LOT of job searching, and even thinking about other countries. I have SO many balls up in the air at the moment it’s a bit hard to keep track on what I have applied for so far. It seems that there are a few good people to contact in regards to jobs in China, and I have found a few of them. It’s more of a waiting game; I think more people will start making their real offers in January. I should be careful not to get clocked into something prematurely because in mid-January I don’t want to have to give up on a great opportunity because I have made an agreement with someone else.

We found the best noodles in town, and perhaps in China… they are SO good and SO cheep, we love it. A huge plate piled with noodles, with meat and vegetables on top is Y10 ($1.63) for the largest size. That’s a plate the size of a dinner plate with a 3cm edge to hold it in… full! I can’t finish it, and it’s actually healthy, hardly any oil. We eat there once or twice a week. We love it! They are Muslim Chinese and they are the best cooks in this country.

That’s all for now, call us any time you like, we have HEAPS of credit on our calling card. If you need instructions for using it, just email for details. Remember – for you it’s the cost of a local call.

LOVE Helen.


just a little to say 82 days ago

It sure has been a long time since we posted something up here, sorry – there just hasn’t been anything great going on.. So if you can’t say anything nice..

Seriously though, the school year is underway, and I have about 2000 cute new students to make friends with, and I am very happy to discover that many of them have a very good command of the English language, and can talk at length on many interesting issues. They are proving to me that many of them are more interesting to make friends with than the teachers. Adults in China have a guarded, careful set of subjects that they are careful to stick to in conversation. Or perhaps their English isn’t as advanced as some of the students. In any case, the students remain my favorite source of conversation and friendship (apart from Brad of course!!!)

However with the good, comes the bad. Recently I have been avoiding one particular student who would (if he could) visit 3 times a week, and seems to ambush me on my way home almost every day. It’s getting a little tiresome, because he is a lovely boy, but we are running out of things to say to each other, and sometimes I just want to get home quickly.

I am actually teaching 30 classes this semester with 28 Senior grade one classes and 2 junior grade 1 classes on Saturday :(
It’s tiring but it’s what we signed up for and I’ll get used to it soon enough. The job is still easier than teaching in Aus much to the local teachers’ amazement. Imagine an Aussie teacher only stepping into the classroom for 2 x 45 minute lessons each day. He he he, it would NEVER happen! But at the same time, imagine what the teachers would say if the school expected them to return to the school in the evening until 10pm to just sit around and answer students questions if they have them. Again, it would never happen.

We went to renew our Visas again and finally got 6 months! Hooray! No more worries until Feb next year.

I miss everyone in Aus SO much and the news that some people are moving away makes me a little sad for leaving. I have this picture in my mind of the Brisbane (or the people) I left behind. I wish that everything back there could just wait for me to return and then resume the normal process of change. (selfish I know). In a few ways I am loving this new life, but in other ways it’s got nothing on my life with my many Brizzy friends.

There are so many people I will always count as my friends, and I guess it doesn’t matter where any of you end up, I will one day track you down and we will stay in each-other’s lives!!!!


Hungzhou (by Helen) 124 days ago

After the summer camp we returned to Hanugzhou. We spent three great days there, one of them was my Birthday, and I had a great one.

Visiting these huge, famous cities has made me realise that next time we find a place to live, I want to live in a bigger city that this. The country side of Australia might b e beautiful, but in China, small country towns are just cities anyway – but with nothing much to do.

Anyway – on the first day in HZ we went to west lake in the afternoon, and went looking for the foreign language bookstore. We were using the lonely planet guide, and if we didn’t have a Chinese person (Paula) with us we wouldn’t have found the place. It had moved and she had to ask for directiong. Eventually after much walking and confusion, we got there. I got “wind in the willows”, a book of Edgar Allan Poe stories and a single National Geographic. The selection was mostly of old classics, or some science fiction without the whole series. Beggars can’t be choosy I guess, but had they had more we defiantly would have laid down some more money for more books.
Also on the first day we went to Starbucks. In Oz, I hate Starbucks, but in China, I love it. The coffee is FANTASTIC! Real cappuccino, real espresso machine. Really 25RMB per cup though. Maybe it was good to only have it for a few days... a habit like that in China could effect our ability to save! Anyway – because of the great love, we took Paula around the side, and explained what and how and why. She looked interested, but when we made the comparison between Chinese tea and Western coffee she made a knowing sound as to why this seemed so important to us.

Day two (My Birthday) we went shopping. I bought some shirts, some singlets, one pare of pants. We got some material for another shirt, and it was all cheap even by Chinese standards. We went to a great street of silk sellers and we were happy to spend a lot of time there. Until we got to the main drag where all the tourist go. We went into about 2 shops – they wouldn’t bargain, and the prices were stupid. So we left. We went back to the cheap section, and bought some more stuff. Then we met Will for lunch. Stepped inside an Irish Bar, intending to eat lunch there, but WOW they were expensive. So we just had a beer (Hoegaarden my all time favourite was there!!!) and went to Maccas. Then to Carrefour’s, a huge French supermarket chain. There we got some imported Nutmeg, Basil, Oregano, pasta and tomato paste. (We had some Spag-bol last night actually, and it was YUMMY!!!) We also got some real French whine for that night.

Then we went and got the return train tickets and rested. Then Brad and I went out for dinner of Italian pizza, had the French wine while drifting around West lake in a one man driven canoe. The funny Chinese mad sang a song which was a great tune, but had 2 words “Ok ok ok, hello hello, ok ok, hello” Chinese are funny!

Day three we went to see some really interesting old temples that were only just saved from the Cultural revolution years my “Jo Ann Lie” a very famous Chinese leader. The temples had many huge buddas and other old things of great significance to the Chinese people, and interest also to us. Some great photos to see, photos say it better than words can.

A few interesting things though are – the wheel of time symbol can be seen. Don’t mistake it for Hitler’s swastika. He stole it from the various religions around that believe in this concept. The Wheel of Time represents the birth, life, death and rebirth, constantly and everlasting. Over and over and over... thinking about it is a bit daunting ;)

The other interesting thing is the SIZE! When you look at the photos (some of them are not great sorry) have a careful look at how huge everything is. Chinese people seem to like big stuff. The lighting is terrible, but then – officially photos are banned in the temples anyway. But that didn’t stop anybody!!!!

After that we went for a huge walk around the other side of west lake, and saw a squirrel (Cuuuuuuuuuute). Brad was asked not to lie down by an ever so embarrassed grass guard and we walked across the longest causeway of the lake. It was a great day, but unfortunately very hazy, so the photos don’t look all that good.

The next day we left on the train for the 32 hours on the train back to Maoming. Got back here what must have been about 12pm at night, and had to wake up the landlord to let us in because the back door was bolted again.

Since then we have been enjoying being home. Brad started studying and is happily confident that one of the subjects is SO easy, he should be able to get a 7. Hooray.

We are cashed up now, and soon to be more so, so new laptops are only a few weeks away. :) I think I’m done. Thanks for all the email on my birthday to everyone who sent one.

And NOW is a great time to CALL us if you like. We have HEAPS of credit on our calling card, and we would love to hear some of your voices. Send us an email for the call in numbers and pin code and the call will only be the cost of a local call to you! We would call you guys, but it’s more than $1 AU each minute. The other way it’s cheaper for us to top up the card.

Okay – that was long wasn’t it? I hope it fits!!!


Holidays and Home 125 days ago

All our holidays in China so far have turned out to be a little more costly than we had originally planed. Despite this we still have plenty of money and have had a great time. One thing we have noticed was all the famous tourist spots that we have been to in China have been raved about by the Chinese. From our point of view, although we have really had a great time and enjoyed everything, it was a little disappointing. This is because the really nice places in China are just average Australia. Sure they are great and all, but to give you an example… West Lake, China’s most famous inland lake, is simple stunning. It is however, only one step up from Brisbane River. And for anybody who has seen some of Australia’s more beautiful places, this is no jaw dropping experience. I sware that from the day I see somewhere more beautiful than Frazer Island, nobody will hear the end of it. That being said, there is still a million and one places for me to see and I hope to see them all. The only place we have visited so far that we have been impressed by was Yangsaw and the surrounding mountain side which is simple amazing. We are anxious to visit the most famous tourist spots as they are both the furthest from us and most likely to provide us with an appropriately jaw dropping experience. For now however we are back home in Gaozhou as I must start studding before it is too late and my assignments are overdue. So holidays will have to wait. Not to worry, we will not leave China without going to see the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, and the Shoaling Monastery.

Can't access in China

While we can access blogger, we can't view our content from blogspot in China. What a bitch!

so go to to see our blog and photos!