A Travellerspoint blog

February 2008

What An Awesome Week It Was

Hey Hey and a Big G´Day toya, How was the week you ask. That´s bloody amazing mate! I was just thinking about how great my week has been! Besides two punctures in the last two days, as usual I couldn´t be happier if I was twins. The big freeze is over, the horrid chill has gone, the skies are blue, the girls are wearing less and all classes have been totally awesome. I´m also deciding on what new Phone/Camera to purchase. It´s a choice between the Nokia or Sony 5 Mega pixel phone/cameras. My current phone/camera is really making some strange sounds. I´ve had it looked at and I´m positive that´s all the guy did, sit and look at it as it is still making strange electrical hissing sounds like its about to short out. He seemed to think it was ok. How could I tell he thought it was ok? I could tell by the way he said OK OK OK OK about five hundred times when he gave it back. I can´t complain it´s taken thousands of shots which include 98% of the photos on this blog. Anyhow, Lines, it´s now all about lines out in the fields. For ten hours over the past two days I´ve been pedalling my way here and there, finding new temples and new places to ride. Some of my old tracks, that I had to stop riding last year due to them becoming so overgrown that they become impossible to even walk my bike through have now been cleared and once again the worlds my rice field. Along with the tracks, all the fields have now been cleared and I think many of them are being readied for tobacco. It is so amazing to watch the farmers go about their business. All the new red top soil has to be hand delivered and bought to the fields by the little bamboo basket full. Watching yesterday and today I´ve found that usually there are two men doing this work. They both have the famous Asian Bamboo Pole upon which two baskets hang. The red top soil is dumped on the road beside the fields and from there they must distribute it where ever it is needed. The rest of the village/family are all creating the lines and then putting straw on top of the top soil. Back breaking work at the best of times yet they spend most of the day there. There they can be found the following day and the day after that and the day after that. Here´s to rural China and the huge amount of hard work that is done to feed the rest of the country! Besides the lines in the fields most of the photos for this entry are pretty much about snacks and things that move that take people from here to there. We have cars here they pretty much have bicycles for most things. Even the beer supplier delivers his beer by tricycle. When I´m feeling a little peckish, I simply head out and find my favourite `snack person´. But there is a problem with this. Due to the `snack persons´ snack store actually being a tricycle they tend to move around the place. This becomes very frustrating especially when you have found you really like. Beers N Noodles toya.....shane ___________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was one of my favourite bands. Karl Wellingers `World Party´ The album was `Dumbing Up´ PS: that `half a thing´ is actually half a cat! Poor bugger must have only half a life left hey! Nice with lemon sauce! Yummy!

What An Awesome Week It Was

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

The Chinese Lantern Festival 2008

Hey Hey and a Big G´Day toya One would believe that this being the end of the Spring Festival would mark the end of the billion bangs and booms that fill the air each day and night during the several weeks of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Yes, one would think so wouldn´t they! Well from my experience all it actually does is remind everyone of their remaining fireworks along with the fact that soon the Fireworks Stores will either be empty or closed. So really it only enhances the fact that everyone should or MUST be the last ones remaining with fireworks to annoy the complete shit out of everyone around them who have pretty much had enough by now. But carry on they will and carry on they do! On this day, the last day of the Chinese New Year Celebrations each town or city will hold a huge fireworks display in their Peoples Square. I was of course told that it would begin at 8:30pm, this was just as correct as the fact that my passport would only be a few weeks along with the fact that the new term begins on the 18th February so I begin teaching on the 19th February. No, the new term actually begins on the 25th February and I hope to be compensated for me beginning one week earlier than I should begin! GGGGRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!! Anyhow, after a huge huge huge ride I met Luo Wei at Yu Jin´s parents Vietnamese Rice eatery where we had been invited to have their Lantern Festival Family Dinner with them. When I arrived I found I had only thirty minutes to eat, race home and shower and head back again. Of course it didn´t begin at 8:30pm. Why would it begin at the time I was told? That´s almost impossible here in China. Thirty minutes later Luo Wei and I caught a Cyclo-cab to the Peoples Square and actually made the beginning of it all. We found Yu Wen Jin and Yan and Crew and for the next two and a half hours watch in awe as the night sky were set a blaze with beautiful colours. After the last of the sonic booms ceased we all headed to our latest favourite bar which is actually directly across from Ting Tings Bar. Why Daniel, Alexa and I never set foot in there I have no idea. We all seem to find it rather comfortable. The tables are much bigger and there is only half the amount of noise, along with the fact that most drinks are much cheaper. Add to that the fact they have silly competitions where you can win bottles of alcohol. Add to that that a few nights before Yu Wen Jin won a large bottle of whisky, a bottle of red wine and nine bottles of beer and a few trays of fruit. That´s pretty much an awesome reason to return! Anyhow as I´ve said above, today marked the end of the Chinese NewYear! A time when things should quiet down, become cheaper and become normal again! Well, as normal as things can actually be here in this strange yet wonderful country that has become like! For those interested in the history of the Lantern Festival continue reading below.

PS: the photos to this entry were taken durning 'another Spring Festival Dinner' with Yan, Yu Jin, Yu Wen Jin, Luo Wei and crew. Beers N Noodles toya.....shane ____________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was the awesome Spermbirds The album was an album every family home should have `Something To Prove&acute; ************************************************************ ****** Falling on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Year, the Lantern Festival takes place under a full moon, and marks the end of Chinese New Year festivities. The Lantern Festival dates back to shrouded legends of the Han Dynasty over 2000 years ago. <u>Legend of the Lantern Festival's Origin </u></b> In one such legend, the Jade Emperor in Heaven was so angered at a town for killing his favourite goose that he decided to destroy it with a storm of fire. However, a good-hearted fairy heard of this act of vengeance, and warned the people of the town to light lanterns throughout the town on the appointed day. The townsfolk did as they were told, and from the Heavens, it looked as if the village was ablaze. Satisfied that his goose had already been avenged, the Jade Emperor decided not to destroy the town. From that day on, people celebrated the anniversary of their deliverance by carried lanterns of different shapes and colours through the streets on the first full moon of the year, providing a spectacular backdrop for lion dances, dragon dances, and fireworks. <u>The Modern Lantern Festival </u></b> While the Lantern Festival has changed very little over the last two millennia, technological advances have made the celebration more and more complex and visually stimulating. Indeed, the festival as celebrated in some places (such as Taipei, Taiwan) can put even the most garish American Christmas decorations to shame. They often sport unique displays of light that leave the viewer in awe. Master craftsman will construct multicoloured paper lanterns in the likeness of butterflies, dragons, birds, dragonflies, and many other animals; these accentuate the more common, red, spherical lanterns. Brilliantly-lit floats and mechanically driven light displays draw the attention of the young and old alike. Sometimes, entire streets are blocked off, with lanterns mounted above and to the sides, creating a hallway of lamps. Some cities in North China even make lanterns from blocks of ice! And just as in days gone by, the billion-watt background sets the scene for dragon and lion dances, parades, and other festivities. <u>Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan </u></b> Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan are balls of glutinous rice, sometimes rolled around a filling of sesame, peanuts, vegetable, or meat. Tang Yuan are often cooked in red-bean or other kinds of soup. The round shape symbolizes wholeness and unity.

www.c-c-c.org/chineseculture

Another Spring Festival Dinner

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

THREE YEARS LIVING IN CHINA! MAAAAAAAAATE!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, Well Well Well! Three holes in the ground!

Five Spring Festivals and three years later I continue to live a wonderful life here in China! Yes, on this day three years ago I flew from The Land Down Under to the Confusing Land Uphere! Doing so made most of my dreams become a reality and a reality they still are. For some reason though I don't thing the Ziyi Zhang dream will come true! HHHHHhhhhhmmmm has she got what it takes to replace my Audrey Hepburn obsession! Strangely both were dancers when young and have that same awesome body shape. One may have eaten noodles when growing up and the other not..but hey....both are beeeeauties! http://www.helloziyi.us/Galleries/pictures.htm So, after three years has it been worth giving up everything I had back in Australia? Ie: A very well paid and comfortable office job and a beach life on the Gold Coast where I swam and rode for most of the day and night and worked for three or five hours! (When asking such questions I never include friends and family. If you did you would never leave home!) [/i][/i] Are you insane! Of course it has been worth it! I have the greatest job in the world and I get to travel the world's most diverse country four months a year. If I acted like I do here in any job I had back home I'd be locked up within days! I've now lived in three completely different provinces and have traveled many more from east to west. From desert to coast, bamboo to sand, rice fields to sweeeeeet bugger all! Life my friends, continues to amaze me as each day passes. Thankfully the amazement is mostly in a positive manner. Believe me, sometimes it isn't and I'm left shaking my head in confusion for days. Things here are sometimes.....simply put.....too confusing even for the Chinese themselves. Many times even they are left speechless and simply go with the flow as it is easier than trying to make sense of the senseless. I have made so many wonderful friends and now have a mat to sleep on in most villages, towns and cities I have already visited if I wish to return. I have traveled on some of the most dangerous roads in the world and climbed some of the most beautiful mountains. I have been eating the worlds most varied cuisine the entire time I've been here and have sat for feasts or simple bread bits with Lama's, Monks, Students, Families, Leaders, Ministers and many wonderfully caring friends. I have walked the silent streets of uncountable ancient rural villages along will the unbearably noisy and confusing walkways of cities that are modernising much too fast. I am on my third bike and all have taken me to places that very few Westerners will ever ever get to visit. That is unless they are crazy enough to ride to the places I do. So, am I satisfied? Am I ready to pack the pack and head home? Are you insane! I've barely touched the surface of this insanely diverse country where the people from the north can't understand those from the south, those in the south can't understand those from the village next to them and those from the far west completely confuse everyone as to what the hell they are singing about along with what country they look like they come from. No, unlike most Foreign Teachers who come here, I rarely suffer the 'I can't do it anymore' blues. In fact I seriously can not remember ever waking thinking that it was time to fill the pack and head home. Instead I continue to look into the future, my Lonely Planet guide and onto the map upon my wall as to where to head next. I've finally got my Visa sorted in a way that it no longer will expire half way through my Winter Break so from now on even my Winter Break will be filled to the brim with ancient and modern wonders and somewhat organised yet confused chaos! I've pretty much decided that this will be my last term here in Shaowu and Fujian Province. Change calls and the winds of change are beginning to stir. While most will be heading to Beijing for the Olympics I will be running in the complete opposite direction and shall watch it from the comforts of a small rural town BBQ area. The world is my noodle and as a wise man once said to me; Remember my friend, life's one big long noodle! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane ________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was Guns N Roses The album was, hahahaha, speaking of noodles, it was the 'Spaghetti Incident' ________________________________________ PS: the photos for this entry are from my Third Year Dumpling Feast! During the day Luo Wei and I headed to the market place and for dinner we invited Canadian Rob, Li Ping (Joyce) and Yu Wen Jin. While Luo Wei wokked up many delicious dishes the rest of us made dumplings......um, correction.... Li Ping and Yu Wen Jin made dumplings and Rob and I simply made a dumpling mess!

My Third Year Dumpling Feast

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

Super Northern Girls Surprise Valentines Visit

Hey Hey and a Big G&acute;Day toya, Speaking of Valentines Day! This entry is for someone special from the north of China. As it was impossible to be together tomorrow for Valentines Day I spent hours this morning walking around Shaowu, up and down hills and all around the city taking photos of flowers and other things she would remember from her last visit. What a nice guy huh! Well, I can&acute;t send her anything as not even she knows how to write her village correctly so that things WILL arrive safely. Anyhow, I got home and decided on a noon nap before I began my `Nice Guy Special Valentines Day TP Entry&acute; for tomorrow and not long after I began dribbling on the pillow I got a text message from Amigo telling me that my school is now growing some strange concrete trees. HUH? All the trees and grass are in the middle of being lifted to make way for a new greener school yard. How would she know that? Knock Knock Knock Knock! So she who was supposed to be in the north had just spent another twenty two hours on board an extremely packed train taking her from north to south. This time though, as there were no seat tickets left she had to get a standing ticket. Luckily a nice person allowed her to share their single hard seat most of the way. This at least allowed for three or so hours sleep. What can I say? Happy Valentines Day to you Luo Wei! Super Train Women returned to me today! Hip Hip Hooray! Yeah Yeah! Ok, that&acute;s enough childish behaviour! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane ______________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was Neil Finn The album was the Valentinish `Try Whistling This&acute;

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

The Beer Man Wedding Feast N Back In The Fields

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, Speaking of Passports, I finally received mine back two days ago! Happily with a new Residential Visa that expires next APRIL! Now my Winter Breaks can be used fully as I lost half of last years too. Believe it or not I was up and out of bed before 7:30am this morning. I figured it was about time to stop sleeping all day and to begin to exercise again. I can't say I really enjoyed doing 'Nothing'. It was good for a week or so but then it just becomes a boring habit that is hard to break. Well, it probably would be easy to break any other time of the year. But not during Spring Festival! Spring Festival time when you don't travel is completely full of food, alcohol and parties. Fun for a time but it all makes me feel lazy and unhealthy. I'm sure I've put on a billion kilos the past three weeks. But then the fun part about putting weight on is getting back out into the mountains and rice fields to get rid of it again. Oh the cycles of life huh! Ha ha ha! So today, like I said up before 7:30am and after a huge veggie, egg and noodle breakfast it was out the door and up Pagoda Hill. I then spent three hours walking along the river and through the cities little market places buying veggies and eggs etc. When I finally got home I had to race back out the door to meet YuWeiJin who was waiting down stairs for me on his motorbike. It was Beer Mans and Beer Girls Wedding Feast today! I love Chinese Weddings, full of drinking games, fire crackers and most of all delicious food! How I figure it is the couple sign their lives away some time before the feast. From what I've heard it can be several years before as it may take that long for them to save for the Wedding Feast. Sometime in between they get their wedding photos taken (complete with jeans under the wedding dress!). When they or their family have enough cash to invite a million people along, then and only then is it time for the Wedding Feast and from what I can gather, then and only then are they considered 'Married'. What ever the time line is, I've enjoyed every Chinese Wedding I've been lucky enough to have been invited to. I feel sorry for the groom though. As they invite such a huge amount of people the poor bugger is hammered by the time the couple finally finishes going from table to table toasting and being toasted. Silly 'Beer Man' chose to carry a bottle of red wine or two with him. Not a good idea when you have so many guests. I think I would have stuck with beer...man! After the huge feast I thought it was time to finally set foot upon my pedals again! I think I've only been on one ride in the last month or maybe much more, and that was with Amigo. Just too damn cold, plus it's hard to ride a bike with your head on a pillow. But today was sunny but still very chilly so I threw on some thermals and off I went for the next two or so hours. Familiar faces poked their heads up from the fields and gave a happy wave and smile. So lazy fat people who kick back and do sweet bugger all. I take my hat off to you. I tried it and failed. It was only several weeks but I guess after riding and walking so many hours a day for so many years the body gets used to what it is conditioned for. Mine is in no way conditioned to do nothing at all. I really did begin to feel horribly unhealthy and found it so hard to get motivated to even think about doing anything...anything at all! Place one foot in front of the other peoples! Get out there and have fun! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane _________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was Inxs The album was 'Live Baby Live'

Beer Mans Wedding Feast

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