A Travellerspoint blog

February 2005

THIS IS MY TIANYANG - read for details

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you

These pictures were taken during my first Walk About in Tianyang. I fell in love with the town upon arrival. It's maybe a little dirty or dusty for some, maybe a little too small for others, but me, I love it!

Tianyang is built along the one main road in town. It's also the road that takes you from Nanning to Kunming with Baise being only one hours bus ride...that is if the bus leaves straight away. Usually, it doesn't. As with most forms of transport in China with more than two seats, it won't move until it's full.

So Baise, it's about a 2 hour bus ride away!

The main road is a heap of fun to cross especially after a big night at the Market Place with friends. Use the towns only set of traffic lights I hear you say. I would, if I wanted to die! No, traffic lights in Tianyang only tell the little things that are going straight to stop. The bigger things like trucks and buses, the things that would really hurt just keep going. Also, in China, anything turning has the right away.

So, I take my chances crossing the road and doging anything that moves that hasn't been cooked!

You'll be able to tell the towns main square in the photos...it's big, it's concrete and it's boring to look at. It begins at the main road and goes way back to the lake in the photos. On the other side of the main road from the square is the towns Market Place. It's the hive of activity and a heap of fun. My little school is accross from where the square meets the lake, so I'm right in the middle of things.

A heap of fun when the KTV's booming, especially when there are about 4 of them within the 40 second walk to the square and the main road.

Behind the lake are the tomato fields or farms. Infact, the entire area is made up of farms. Like I said, the town is built along the main road and only one street back from the main road is farm land. Where I am is the only real built up area, but it only goes back about 4 streets before you hit farm land. Anyhow, behind the Lake is BBQ Street. At night time it is filled with beer guzzling males and beautiful tea and water drinking females. The one thing they share in common is what goes on the BBQ. Anything goes on the BBQ in Tianyang. I've eaten things from Pigs Eyes to Frogs to Throaty bits from who knows what.

BBQ Street is a heap of fun....if you dare.

I spend my lunch times and weekends walking around the towns farm lands. I love the way the fields change every few months. One month rice, next month or two tomatoes followed by corn in some and water melons in others. Oh yeah, I'm writing this on the 11th September 2005 but the photos were taken back in February/March so I'll just add it here.

The people, the people are poor. Some aren't ofcourse but mostly they are farmers. I earn in one month, probably more than most would earn in a year. Sounds heartless yes, but if you compare it to Australian money, you couldn't live on it at home! There are some cars ofcourse but most are passing through. Most people ride bikes and electric scooters. Most farmers cart their goods to the market on three wheeler bikes.

The farmers with less money use a push/pull cart.

It always jolts my heart to see both men and women struggling to push a full cart along the road, usually in little plastic flip flops. I've added a photo of this common sight on our roads, it's become pretty much the norm for me now which I'm unsure if that is a sad fact, but it's reality. Sometimes I'll climb onboard and get a ride just to make them giggle and laugh. On one or two occassions I've had them on the carts and me struggling to ride, push or pull the cart along. Like all countries, life is very VERY hard for the farmers here and financially non rewarding.

They are farmers, will always be farmers and most of the time their kids will be farmers.

But I'm happy to say, I've spent alot of time with the farming families. Whilst out walking I'm invited in for a beer or dinner. They, like in most countries, they are some of the most unselfish and giving people you will ever hope to meet. They have sweet bugger all but would give you what ever they have of the world. They have dirt floors, one barelight globe, bare wiring, holes in their shabby walls, a little black and white TV and radio, usually no DVD and never a house phone. They usually don't have a toilet, it's either a little bit of the animal pod with trees grown around it or mate, it's in with the pigs you go.

But they always have a smile, good cheer and an open plate for you and each other.

Alot of my students are from farming families. They are smart, funny and very hardworking especially out of school and on weekends. Where they find the time to actually go to school I have no idea. How they do their homework I have no idea. One of my students parents runs a food stall at the market place just down from where I sit. I see her working until 11:00 to 12:00 alot of nights serving food, washing dishes etc and she is only 10 years old. She tries so hard and gets so frustrated. She is so tired, she drops off to sleep in class as do other students. I try to sit with her on her work breaks and we go through her English books. I've noticed when I'm around her mother allows her as much time as i'm willing to spend with her. Like all the kids in my area, they don't have much at all but they are still happy.

I guess this goes for most kids in their situation.

That is my Tianyang, and why I love it so much. It may be one of those towns that most pass on through but I'm glad I stopped and stayed.

Beers N Noodles Toya...shane

My Tianyang - Walk About

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Tianyang Arrival

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you

The day began with a group 'new recruit' photo on the front steps of Bucklands. I bussed it into Guilin with several new teachers.

Soon I was onboard a rather comfortable bus and heading into Chinas south west. A few hours in, at a road side stop I shed my thermals and as we sped along the highway towards Kunming I watched as the scenery and the colours changed. Everything became a richer and brighter green.

Banana trees began to fill the fields and the smile grew larger upon my happy face.

As the light left the Chinas southern skies and motorists coming our way luckily thankfully put on their head lights we arrived in Tianyang. Of course I had no idea we were there until the girl whom worked on the bus smiled at me and motioned me towards the door. As I stepped off the bus I was welcomed by many people and a huge bunch of flowers. I was introduced to the principal and many teachers. We all filled several little Tuk Tuks and sped away towards...

I had no idea, down that way!

We arrived at the school and I was so happy when they told me the buildings on 'that' side of the fence were a Middle School. Cool, I though, as small I'd hoped for. I was shown my room and after many happy smiles and handshakes I was left with a beautiful young girl whom took me out to the towns most up market restaurant. The girl turned out to be Yang Yang, someone who would become a very close friend and help me as much as I needed over the following months.

She also soon began to make the most awesome meals I've ever tasted in China.

As I write this I'm settling into my new place of living. It's very simple and comfortable. I have everything I need which isn't much. Mainly a wok, a gas bottle for the shower water, a bed, a computer (looks outta place here) and some cane chairs and a table. Everything is tiled like everywhere in china, easy to clean but bloody chilly! My computer is in Chinese so it's lucky I know most of where things are on XP.

Also lucky for me I bought my own version of XP.

It seems that there have been only two foreign people in town in the past that the school and teachers know of and they were the last two teachers. Prior to me there was a fellow Aussie and an American. The town is exactly what I search for when I travel, not a bit of English, barely any street signs, dirt and cobble stone alleys and roads and of course the street stalls selling noodle soup and the dirty outdoor market place.

I love it already!

I'm being looked after by two lovely Chinese girls, Yang Yang who is 21 and Mandy who is 25. They know English well enough and both are very cute indeed! We have just been for a walk to the bank to open an account but there were so many people we left and spent time eating fried fish, tofu and chicken feet instead. All the good stuff...MMMMMMMM! I have my first class on Tuesday. I'm going to sit in and watch Monday. It's funny, everyone here has layers of clothing on and I'm walking around in a tee-shirt.

I don't feel cold at all.

Oh well, time for a beer and to watch some Chinese television. Gee, I've missed that over the past five years NOT!

Beers N Noodles Toya...shane

My New Pad in Tianyang County

My New Pad in Tianyang County


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My New Pad in Tianyang County (7)

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Guilin N Yangshuo

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you

After watching 'The Land Down Under' fade from my window and crossing the big blue we finally entered asian air space.

My first stop was the Hong Kong airport where thankfully I had under an hours wait for my Dragon Air flight to Guilin. Um, Dragon Air, who is Dragon Air? Anyone heard of Dragon Air?

Can I change to some one I know! Please! Even the name sounds unsafe!

Here I met two other new recruits for Buckland's China. A fellow Aussie and a Canadian. We boarded our Dragon Air flight and once I heard the soothing sound of the Australian Pilots harsh Aussie accent I knew I was safe!

I did wonder what he had actually done wrong to end up flying for Chinas Dragon Air.

Two hours later we touched down in Guilin and were met my James from Buckland's who drove us to Yangshuo. I finally got to meet Owen and Jennifer in person over the next few days. I met Jennifer first. I had liaised with her on numerous occasions throughout the process of choosing a recruiter in China.

Guilin and Yangshuo were, how to say it...they were bloody cold! I had gone from the humidity in Queensland to the dry heat of a Melbourne summer to a Chinese Winter. Thankfully in the south and heaven forbids the thought of a Northern Winter!

Once we arrived at Buckland's I quickly ran to my room to don the thermals.

For those who want to know or are trying to choose a recruiter to come to China, Buckland's are a more than a great choice. I'd had been looking at their website for several years as I heard about them five years prior whilst in Yangshuo. I was offered room and food for several hours teaching per day and if that went well, a job somewhere in China. I still had many countries before me then so I chose to continue on my merry way.

They are very legit and as you read further into my travelogue you'll see they will do their utmost to help you in anyway possible.

For following near week I spent the days with fellow 'new recruits' from all over the world. During the day Betts, Owen and Jennifer would inform us of China and its happy, confusing and masterful ways of life. They helped several new teachers through a bout of Culture Shock and managed to settle most people into a present comfort zone. I've found that Yangshuo has the ability to do that no matter how false it really is to the rest of China.

I was amongst the very few people whom had actually travelled Asia prior and had had the chance to venture from Yangshuos motherly walls.

On my free days I would grab a bike and head out into the fields, climb a mountain or two or sit and relax in a warm café. Nights, well, my nights are pretty much the same no matter where I am. I would head to where ever the food was hot; the beer was cold and the conversation flowing into the early hours of the morning.

Finally the evening came where we were to choose our destination. Luckily I had been liaising with Jennifer and Owen for some time and they pretty much knew where to send me. The only real question was, how small and dusty do you want your town. The smaller, the dustier, the better and as long as it doesn't snow I will be happy. When my time came to visit Jennifer in the room with the big map I was welcomed with 'hey, how does a pool in the school sound'.

I was sold and leaving the following morning.

Beers N Noodles Toya....shane

Another Drunken Evening at MC Blues

Another Drunken Evening at MC Blues


Another Drunken Evening at MC Blues (1)

Another Drunken Evening at MC Blues (1)


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Another Drunken Evening at MC Blues (4)


Bucklands Group Photo

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Yangshuo Heaven

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Victorias Melbourne - The Greatest City On Earth

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day Toya,

Upon my arrival in Melbourne I took the sky bus into the city. It dropped me off at Spencer Street Station where I stood slacked jawed wondering where the hell I was. When I had lived in Narree Warren our next door neighbour was working at Spencer Street Station helping with all the underground work before the above ground work could begin. By the time the above ground construction began we had sold the house and moved to Queensland. What the? Where the? WOW!

I took a train to Flinders Street and headed across the Yarra to South Gate to visit my Tribunal pals. I received a warm welcome and we headed out for cold beers and a chat whilst I watched the Melbourne girls walk on by. Summer is a beautiful time anywhere in the world. I spent the night at a friends place.

We sat chatting into the early hours about all the stuff you talk about when you have just given everything up.

Melbourne to me is the greatest city on earth. It has something for everyone no matter what time of the day or night it is or where you are from. I had spent many years living in Melbourne's inner most suburbs. My life was work, music, bands, beer, movies, biking and walking. I was never in a band but most of my friends were and still are jumping around stage.

Brisbane's 'The Onyas', Sydney's 'Astroid B612', Tassie's 'Mustang' and Melbourne's 'Bored' to name a few.

If and when you visit Melbourne head to the Tote Hotel in Collingwood and tell Richie Ramone (yes that is his real name) that Shane sent you. He'll either scream obscenities at you for knowing me or throw you out the door or if your lucky, both. No really, the Tote was the second home.

It's Melbourne's greatest band venue besides Richmond's Corner Hotel.

I preferred Richmond so I always lived a short stumble from The Corner Hotel and drunkenly paid for taxi's home from the Tote. Made no sense then and still doesn't now. Richmond is a much more beautiful part of Melbourne. That's my defence! Both have their fair share of overseas bands, but the Tote sees a lot more local acts. Riche also has his own small Record Label called 'Full Toss Records'.

He re-releases many older bands albums along with current bands.

Mate, if you can't make it to the Tote in person grab a beer, turn up the music N click here

Quick plug: the greatest Australian bands of all time would have to be either Sydney' Def FX or Melbourne's The Underground Lovers. On a more gutter level next in line would be Bored, The Hardons, The Celibate Rifles, Exploding White Mice and anything that Fed Negro (St Kilda) is in, has been in or is conjuring to bring forth from his deranged mind (to name a few; The Brady Bunch Lawn Mower Massacre, The Band Who Shot Liberty Valance, I Spit On Your Gravy, The Gravy Billies &The F*ck F*cks whom at one stage changed their name to the C*nt C*nts as one of the pubs they were playing in insisted they change their name...so they did!

Enough said.

Ok, back to the Travelogue.

Work took up too much time, but for that to happen you must allow it. I spent most of my work years in different Commonwealth Government Tribunals during the day and at night doing the live video links for the AFL Tribunal. The AFL hired both myself and my day time Tribunals court rooms several nights per week.

Hey, I had the dream job of most Aussies whom followed footy. I of course had never followed Footy and had no idea who was who and why the media was trying to break down the door. I got to have dinner with the Tribunal each night and listen to a lot of Law and Police talk as that's whom made up the AFL Tribunal, QC's, Police and ex-Police. I'm unsure about currently as they have gone through big changes. I found that more exciting than footy and footy players.

I would usually be reading Lonely Planet guides.

Both jobs gave me many perks such as free footy tickets, black tie do's and dinners at the MCG with all the big wigs, access to free door lists at certain band venues and great views of Melbourne city, Western Port Bay, the Dandenong Ranges, the or THE MCG (sorry guys) and the cities garden areas...a 360 degree view baby! Both were great jobs, paid a heap of money and I got to meet the 'those and thems' from the court room to the footy field. I had to say good bye on two separate occasions before I could finally let go of it and the people within.

Once in 1999 and the second and final time in 2003.

In the morning I made my way back to Flinders Street Station, boarded a V/Line train and I comfortably railed into Gippsland. I was met by my family with huge smiles, a couple of tears and some very cold beers from bro. I spent the following few days at my brothers and then headed back to the Kettles (Mar N Par) where I stayed for the next week.

It was fantastic to be home and spend time with the Kettles.

We spent breakfast, lunch and dinner together each day. It had been many years, maybe too many years. I met up with friends I had not seen for several years one of whom works in the retail industry. One sunny after noon I left his store with a 40 gig iPod for the price of a 20 gig and several other small items. I busied myself for many hours trying to figure out a 10,000 song, song list to fill my iPod.

It's much harder than you think!

On the 16th January I said my sad good byes to my family and I headed back into the city to then head back out of the city but on a different side. I stayed with the person whom had been and still is the most special person in my life. Late the next afternoon we said our very sad good byes and I headed back into the Law Courts. I stayed at a buddy's new abode. In fact I slept on his surfboard cover. If you haven't tried one, give it ago.

Heaps of padding and very comfortable.

The beach smell reminded me all too much of the coast I had just left. I sat wondering whether I was doing the right thing. All too early the alarm went off and I grabbed a taxi to the Melbourne Airport where after a few hours delay I waved good bye to the greatest city on earth, my friends and family and what was my past.

  • **** Why have I written all of the above when I was actually never going to? (I finally sat to write it on Wednesday, 22nd February 2006)

Several people have contacted me through my Travelogue and have asked me many questions about my past and the hows and whys to the question of teaching over seas. I don't mind writing about it, I just never thought anyone would actually want to know.

For those reading this and are either travelling or considering travelling, join Travelpod, live your life's dreams and truthfully tell people about the stories that make up your past that then allow for your future! Don't question what you have no way of knowing the truth of, especially if you are also writing publicly about yourself and expect others to believe your writings! That's also for the misery guts whom questioned my Trans Siberian adventure.

Travelpod is for family and friends to keep in touch. It's for those whom have the eternal flame that creates the courage to leave the safety of their homes for destinations far and wide. It's also for those whom like to sit back comfortably with a hot cuppa, relax, read about it and happily write to the writer of the Travelogue with their questions.

It's not for your criticism and unfair judgement!

Enough said, please read on and enter the world that has now become My China.

Beers N Noodles Toya...shane

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Gold Coast (Seeya Later Mate)

***If someone was to ask me the question, 'Mate, how hard was it to give up life on the Gold Coast?' I'd say, 'Mate, one of the hardest things I've done. I had a DREAM life there in paradise!'

OK, ready for this;

I'd wake and swim for one to two hours. I had a choice between the pool and a short ride to Surfers Paradise Beach. I'd then ride my bike for up to four hours. I'd ride down to Coolangatta and back, or way out the back of the coast, past Hinz Dam and make my way back down towards Burley.

I'd then return home along the beach track, shower and ride to work at Southport.

Work was in Australia Fair on the 12th Floor. My desk over looked the Marina Mirage and the wonderfully big blue ocean. The side windows over looked the coastal suburbs all the way back to the hinterlands. Work was raising money for any charity that needed it most at the time. If there were bushfires in Queensland we'd raise money for the Queensland Red Cross and hospitals such as the Gold Coast Hospital. If the Deaf Blind Institute was down on funds we'd all jump in and raise as much money as we could in the little time we were given.

I worked with a heap of great people with big hearts.

After a long five hours work (tee hee) I'd head across for Korean or Japanese and several beers with friends and I'd then ride home, swim and then relax in the spa. Of course my salary was nothing compared to what I was earning at the Law Courts but my happiness, relaxation and health was up by 500%. My working hours were also down by ten per day when the working day included the AFL Tribunal. I was earning enough to eat, pay the rent and patch my bike tyres when needed.

I'd also throw a couple of beers in there too.

At home I'd sit with my Spanish buddy whilst she made beautiful clothes in her little sweat shop, 'the garage turned sewing room'. Man it was hot in there over summer! Accompanying her beauty was a beautiful soul. I was so happy I answered her add for her spare room. She was a self taught seamstress. She had taught herself whilst moving from Spain to several countries around the world living with different family members.

She made clothes for all sorts of people, from the unknown to several television personalities. Her creations were also well loved by a rather expensive boutique in the Marina Mirage. The owner was a flamboyant man who would drop in to collect Angela's creations, flutter his eye lids at me and we'd all then sit for coffee and a chat.

The second room was taken by a beautiful young university student. Her man was a fantastic guy who always had a big happy smile and a friendly hello. They would spend most nights helping down at their second home, The Church. At night whilst the 'children' (as my Spanish friend called them) were at their second home or out for dinner somewhere we would either head to the beach or chat over cigarettes and play with my Boy and Girl Katz.

At any given opportunity I would be teaching her English for her benefit as well as mine. Both Boy and Girl Katz had developed great love for her as she spared them no expense. To the Seamstress's horror they also developed a great love for her sewing room and everything within. Boy and Girl Katz are now, as always, over loved and over fed.

The one thing I miss most, besides friends and family of course, are my Boy and Girl Katz.

I had spent several confusing months sorting out my life's belongings. I was always a collector of all things unneeded and never to be used again, therefore I carried a house full of 'stuff' around. I went from box to box trying to decide what I needed, and of course I needed it all...NOT! One morning I woke up and said *&%$ it! I decided there and then that I needed none of it.

I spent several nights following borrowing a friend's station wagon, loading it full of my life's belongings and dropping it all at Charities Front Door.

I kept my laptop which was my television, DVD player and stereo and two mid sized wheelie cases of clothes and 'things'. I had also spent the same several months converting my 1500 CD's into MP3 and transferring them onto DVD disk. I must say 14 DVD disks are much easier to pack and carry around than 1500 CD's. You can go an entire weekend and never have to change a CD. As for the $30,000 worth of hard back books I had been collecting for most of my life. They went to.

When hardback books reached $50 on the Australian market I joined the library, stopped searching second hand bookshops on weekends for 'the one I still need' and spent more time with family, friends and my bike.

My life was now ready to leave the past behind and live my dream of being a foreign teacher. How long for? I can't and won't give a time period. My family would love me to. Then again, even my parents want me away for as long as possible (hey, can you blame them!). No, not in a bad way (I think), they know me too well and knew my life wasn't going where I wanted it to work wise.

It seems that having almost everything in life can become empty, boring and meaningless. That is, if you wake up one morning and feel inside that it's not what you really want, actually mean it, listen to yourself and follow through on the feeling. My best 'friend' in the entire world, whom was losing me at the same time, helped me through it all with her big heart and understanding of what life is really about. She taught me a lot, maybe too well! No more on that subject and that is how myself and Boy and Girl Kats ended up boarding with a Spanish Seamstress.

I had also made friends with a lady whom I sat the TESOL Course with. At the time we both lived in the same area. We spent hours talking about our overseas dream. I explained to her what Asia was like from my perspective. It of course has to be different from every ones own perspective. I'm sure no two people can think the same thoughts on a place that defies logical comprehension. We shopped for our lap top computers together and I began teaching her how everything besides Email works on a computer.

By the time I left she was getting the hang of it all.

On the 12th day of February 2005 I gave my little babies a huge good bye squeeze, said my sad good byes to the Uni students and Spanish I then headed to the airport. I gave my beautiful Spanish Seamstress once last good bye hug and sadly smiled as she drove off waving.

I then stood in line waiting to pay the astronomical price for my over weight wheelie cases. Don't fly Jet Star with overweight bags! My Gawd! Even the checkout girl told me to fly Virgin next time I take these 'things' anywhere. Hey I said, you should have seen the truck load I actually brought to Queensland! She smiled and didn't really give a hoot what I was taking where.

It had been over a year since I had seen my family and friends in happy Melbourne.

It was time for a Big G'Day!

Good Bye Australia

Good Bye Australia


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Good Bye Australia - Sunshine Coast

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Good Bye Australia 7

Good Bye Australia 7

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)