A Travellerspoint blog

February 2009

How Much MORE Can A Koala Bear?

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, I couldn't stop myself from putting the blog together. So soft, so cuddly and so sleepy. I have received so many emails about koalas being saved during the latest bushfires and as wonderful as that maybe I sat and wondered how many people actually know that soon, maybe sooner than we think, there may no longer be any koalas left in the wild to be saved during such disasters. So I put this page together from information taken from childrens sites to different newspaper articles and I think it will surprise most people who read it as the news is all bad, infact extremely bad. Photo's (from many of the emails that have been doing the rounds) can be found beneath the text as usual. Extreme drought, ferocious bushfires and urban development are killing Australia's koalas!</b> And could push the species towards extinction within a decade!</b> Koala is an aboriginal word meaning "no water". The koala is a marsupial with a backward facing pouch. The baby koala climbs into its mother's pouch which has two teats and stays there for 6 to 7 months. When the koala is born, it is the size of a broad bean. The adult koala spend 19 hours sleeping or just sitting on a branch. If a flood threatens the koala's home, it is able to escape by crossing the water, because it is a very strong swimmer. The call of the koala is like wood being cut by a saw. Because this animal is rare in the wild, it is now protected. The koala has a large black nose, short fat legs and is covered with thick, woolly, grey fur. The koala has one baby a year and it takes 35 days to be born. It is only 2cm long and can't see and doesn't have any hair. The adult koala grows up 80cm tall and looks like a small bear. The Queensland adult koala weighs 5 to 9kg and a female, 5 to 7.5kg. In the south, they are larger. The koala has two thumbs on its front paws and rough pads on all four paws to help grip slippery tree trunks. The koala eats eucalyptus leaves and shoots. It climbs with its sharp claws to the very top of the branches so it can get the young leaves. The koala rarely drinks because it gets all its moisture from the leaves. About 5 hours every night is spent on eating leaves. It eats about 500g to 1kg a day. It eats the leaves by putting them in its mouth on an angle, and grinding them up with its molar teeth. Eucalyptus leaves have a lot of poisonous substances and the koala is the only other mammal other than the Greater Glider who can eat these leaves. <u>Seriously Mate, How Much MORE Can a Koala Bear!</u></b> Alarms about the demise of the iconic and peculiar animal, which sleeps about 20 hours per day and eats only the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, have been raised before. They have been listed as a vulnerable species which could go to extinction within 10 years. That could now be seven years. South-eastern Queensland has the strongest koala populations in the vast country, meaning extinction in this area spells disaster for the future of the species. The biggest threat is the loss of habitat due to road building and development on Australia's eastern coast - traditional koala country. The joke is that koalas enjoy good real estate and are often pushed out of their habitat by farming or development. "I've driven pretty much the whole country and I just see environmental vandalism and destruction everywhere I go," "It's a very sorry tale. There are koala management problems all over the country." Massive bushfires that raged in the country's south for weeks during the Australian summer, burning a million hectares of land, would also have killed thousands of koalas. Meanwhile, there is the worst drought in a century, genetic mutations from decades of inbreeding in some populations, and the widespread incidence of chlamydia, a type of venereal disease that affects fertility, to further cut koala numbers. Moreover, the animals are often fatally attacked by pet dogs. "In south-east Queensland, the koalas are just in people's backyards and the dogs just munch on them". <u>Koala Numbers</u></b> Confusing the issue is the lack of data on the number of koalas in the wild.

Figures range from 100 000 animals to several million. What is known is that there were once millions of them ranged along eastern Australia. The hunting and slaughter for their furs in the 1920s eradicated the species in the state of South Australia and pushed Victorian populations close to extinction. Public outrage over the killing of the big-eyed "bears" put an end to the practice, but Victorian stocks were unfortunately later replenished with in-bred animals, leading to a lack of genetic diversity in that state. As a result, genetic problems such as missing testicles and deformed "pin" heads emerged in Victorian koalas, said University of Queensland academic Frank Carrick. Carrick, who leads a koala study project at the university, estimates the national population of the marsupial at about one million. And while he doesn't believe the animal will be extinct within a decade, he acknowledges that numbers are contracting. "Though we don't really have an accurate figure on how many koalas there are in Australia right now, we do know one thing - that it's going down. Because we keep chopping down trees and their food source," he said. It will take 40 to 50 years for the koala to recover sufficiently from the effects of the latest Victorian bushfires, drought and development. "Exactly how small do we want the population to be before we push the panic button?" he said. <u>Habitat</u></b> The koala is found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It lives in high tree tops in National Parks and forests. The koala likes to spend his day curled up in the fork of a eucalyptus tree. Their powerful legs help them to keep their balance in the trees. Dan Lunney, a senior research scientist with the New South Wales state department of environment and conservation, said koalas cover roughly the same territory as they did 20 years ago. In some areas - Victoria state and Kangaroo Island in South Australia - koala numbers are growing. But in New South Wales (NSW), which tracks the east coast of Australia, the koala is a recognised threatened species. "That means if nothing is done about it the population will continue to decline," he said. "The issue is not how many there are; it's whether they are declining or not." Lunney said while the Victorian bushfires would have killed large numbers of animals, as long as some koalas survived and as long as sufficient bush regrowth is maintained, the population will recover overall. "Koalas can take a fair bit. That's why we've still got them," he said. "But they do have a threshold at which they can't continue." He said populations are at most risk of dying out in areas where new houses are being built, putting them at risk of death by cars and dogs. "Koalas in the NSW coastal areas are the most vulnerable because that's where the human population is increasing," he said. "As the human population increases on the North Coast, the cost is coming out in the survival of koalas. Road kill - it's a common way to see wildlife." Drought, fire and flood have always been part of the Australian environment, "but when your habitat is fragmented, all these things are exacerbated", said Erna Walraven, senior curator at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Walraven sees the koala as a flagship species, with the health of their populations serving as an indicator of the wider health of the wildlife of the bush, including bandicoots and wallabies. "My view is that there are a range of animals under that five-, six-, seven-kilogram range that really are quite vulnerable to increased development and land clearing on the coast," she said. The koala is in there with many other species, native Australian icons, that are under threat.". <u>And a Little Extra (from the Herald Sun)</u></b> Not just humans emerged from the ashes after amazing feats of survival in the Victoria fires. Animals of all shapes and sizes are starting to limp, stagger or be carried from the worst-affected fire areas. Many are so severely injured they have to be destroyed, but others are being taken in by wildlife carers across the state. Healesville Sanctuary has taken in emergency cases, despite being threatened itself by fire. Among its current charges is Bellerine the possum, who was found in Healesville with third-degree burns on her feet. She was given her name, which means "little shoes" in French, after all of her feet were bandaged. The sanctuary is also treating a young echidna, which was picked up in Chum Creek and brought in yesterday suffering smoke inhalation. Healesville Sanctuary senior vet Rupert Baker said although carers were receiving a lot of animals, they had not seen the huge numbers many were expecting. "Tragically, this could mean that the heat was so intense that most perished," he said. "There are also huge areas that wildlife carers still can't get into because they are still closed off, so we have no idea how many are out there." Dr Baker said people wanting to help animals should leave out water in fire-affected areas. They should also keep dogs and cats locked in, to stop them savaging weak or injured animals, and call a wildlife carer as soon as they find an animal that needs help. Dr Baker said Healesville staff had a busy week, evacuating more than 200 endangered Tasmanian devils, mountain pigmy possums, helmeted honeyeaters and frogs. Meanwhile, Sam became the most famous koala in the world when firefighter David Tree stopped to give him a drink amid the devastation of the Victoria fires. Pictures of Sam, who turned out to be female, travelled around the globe and featured in major newspapers including The New York Times, London's The Sun and on CNN. The image provided a much-needed picture of hope in a week filled with news of despair. Yesterday Sam was recovering in Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter.

Carer Jenny Shaw said she suffered burns on her paws and was in a lot of pain, but was on the road to recovery. She was put on an IV drip and is on antibiotics and pain relief treatment. "She is lovely - very docile - and she has already got an admirer. A male koala keeps putting his arms around her," Ms Shaw said. "She will need regular attention and it will be a long road to recovery, but she should be able to be released back into the wild in about five months." Mr Tree said he was surprised by the reaction to the photograph, which was snapped by a fellow CFA volunteer on a mobile phone. He said he was in the middle of backburning at Mirboo North when he saw the stricken koala. "I could see she had sore feet and was in trouble, so I pulled over the fire truck. She just plonked herself down, as if to say 'I'm beat'," he said. "I offered her a drink and she drank three bottles. "The most amazing part was when she grabbed my hand. I will never forget that." Mr Tree and his brigade then received an emergency call-out to save a house, but minutes later Sam was picked up by wildlife carers. She is one of 22 koalas, 14 ringtail possums, several wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos that have been handed into Gippsland carers. Anyone who finds injured wildlife should call Wildlife Connect on 13 11 11. Beers N Noodles toya&Atilde;&#130;&Acirc;&#129;c..shane __________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by the Jazzy sounds of Dave Brubeck The album was 'Take Five His Greatest Hits' __________________________________________________________

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

Black Saturday Friends Family & Southern Australia

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, For those in Australia you really won't need to read most of what I have written but I think maybe you should read 'the mind numbing stupid comment' below about Australia made by someone who has obviously never been to Australia and who also obviously has no idea about natural disasters at all for that matter. I for one could imagine her/him giving this same answer about the Sichuan earthquake in China last year. They had mobile phones, surely they could have rang the people at the bottom of the mountains! Thousands of villages would have been saved. Yeah, right...ok! Over the past week I have been getting many emails from people from all over this beautiful planet of ours checking to make sure my family was safe and that I was ok. So I decided to put this page together for those who live out of Australia and are trying to comprehend some of the answers I gave to their questions about the fires that Australians face each and every year during the summer months. Of course some of these years are much worse than others and thankfully there is a large gap between these years. But, sadly due to natural causes (and also like this year, the works of the insane) this gap can never be and will never be far enough apart simply due to Mother Nature. So this page is for all of my friends that I have met over the past nine years, mostly during the five I have spent travelling. I still keep in contact with many of them and a close bond has grown between us. This actually goes way back nine years ago when I first met Polish Rafal in Yunnan Province in China. Depending on what life throws at us sometimes many months may fly by between contacts but normally like at present we chat on Skype or Yahoo almost daily. It has been a long time between beers for most of us though. The first thing any of these people asked me was whether my family was safe. Amazingly nearly all of them remembered that I was from Victoria in Australia. Humans are amazing creatures, within us all we have the ability to care so much for each other and when something of this magnitude occurs the caring and love naturally flows just like that blood that runs throughout our very body. But strangely humans also have the ability to not only destroy each other but to also have brought the very planet we walk on to the brink of a destructive no return. No matter how hard I try I will never understand the human mind. We have almost destroyed the very thing we need to survive. I told everyone that yes, thankfully my family was safe then (and are still safe now) even though there were huge fires almost surrounding them. At one stage they came very close, much too close but thankfully the wind changed direction which also sadly meant that it turned the fires destructive force in another town's direction. I spent several days living on the edge of my seat always hoping for good news and dreading the worst. Thankfully the worst never came to me like it did to hundreds of families across southern Australia. It is times like this that I question living so far away from my family and friends. Have you ever been in another country and been on the phone to your mother and father while something extra bad is happening around them that could change all of your futures for ever? On this occasion the town they were in was surrounded by huge fire walls. No matter how hard they tried they can never hide the emotions and fear that lay just beneath their steady and calm voices. It was a horrible few days and to make it even worse, when I heard that the winds had picked up again I had to spend well over four hours walking around my little Chinese mountain city trying to find a phone that could ring out of the country. When I did it then took nearly ten minutes for it to do what ever it had to do and get me through. Of course each time it didn't I had pictures in my head of the lines being burnt down. Which then led to other horrible thoughts. Over the past several days I have been getting emails from mostly Asian friends asking about the fires but when I try to explain it to them I don't think they can truly comprehend what a real Australian bushfire is about (or any bush fire for that matter) How powerful it is, how hot it is and how unpredictable it is. In my mind they are thinking of small patch of bush with several trees engulfed by flame and those flames being only the size of the trees. I try to explain that a bush fire such as this one can move at an estimated 60 to 100 kilometers per hour (40 to 60 miles per hour). When you look through the photos on this page the photo of the fire truck that reads Tynong is very close to my town. In fact with fires that move so fast Tynong is much too close to my town. I also try to explain that the fire does not stop at the tree tops. That it can be compared to a tidal wave in its sheer size and length. I try to explain that a fire like what southern Australia has just gone through can kind of can also be compared to a volcano. In fact when I first returned to my school and the Chinese English Teachers came to say hello I showed them pictures of what was happening and they all actually thought it was a volcano that had erupted. Both have smoke and ash that turn day into night. Both fire and lava will destroy anything in their paths due to their intense heat. . Both have the destructive ability to destroy towns far from them by fire from the skies above.. My home town was being covered by embers for days and it is these embers that allow a bush fire to spawn. A new fire is soon started and under the right conditions, within minutes it begins to leap from tree to tree and soon enough it joins its parent and becomes one. I try to explain to them how hot it is at forty degrees and that we have several of these days in southern Australia each year. For them most though, to even grasp what forty seven degrees is like is impossible. That also includes me as I've had many years worth of 38 to 41 degrees, maybe 42 but never over. I wasn't going to do a blog page on what happened but when I come across the following comment (below) made by a complete idiot who has no idea what Australia is really like from its weather to its natural disasters, the first thing that came to mind was that this persons 'mindless comments' really were no different to the innocent questions that have been asked by some of my friends. My friends, unlike 'the mindless person', actually know that they have no idea about Australia and are simply trying to comprehend what such a situation would be like. The 'mindless comment' person on the other hand, actually thinks that he/she knows what its like. And also had the never to give advice! Nonetheless, I the 'Honest Answer By Someone Who Actually Knows' below I hope will explain what happened, the conditions, how unpredictable a bush fire can be along with being descriptive enough to explain Australia and our land all in several paragraphs. For those who need more I have added more information on Australia and our severe climate along with more information on what happened recently. Photos can be found at the bottom of the page as usual and as it's all about my homeland the music of choice was my good friend Darren the Busker. If in Melbourne you can usually find him tapping his strings at the Swanson Street Walk end of the Bourke Street Mall. To my friends and family, I love and miss you all very much. To all the everyone that had a hose or a bucket in hand.......Beers N Noodles toya.....shane <u>A MIND NUMBING STUPID COMMENT</u></b> Government and media will keep the focus on arsonists while it is obvious that THE DEATHS ARE THE RESULT OF NOTIFICATION SYSTEM FAILURE 1) all these bush fires are visible by some satellite round the clock 2) every human there has a mobile Millions of dollars spent to imitate the attempts to stop what is not possible to stop while seems nothing was spent to notify the people to save them. You do not say everything you understand. You understand that you are in global warming and possibly as early as next summer you could get into the same "unique" conditions. So obviously something has to be done regarding these bush fires. Situations in which people die because they have "plan" but have not real shelter and have no real information is not acceptable I think. This is the point which should be discussed by government, not arsonists. Don't load me about absence of mobile signal in towns, OK. Even if it is so, the firefighters have enough hardware to receive the data. The primitive weather satellites have the infrared picture round the clock. Excuse me my meddling anyway, it is your right to live and die as freely as you want, me too. <u>HONEST ANSWER BY SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS</u></b> In response to your cold message about these bushfires: I live in Queensland, Australia in a regional town, not unlike that of the towns destroyed by the bushfires in Victoria. I cant help but to feel as though some people have been mislead with what is going on over here, but what we do know is that the victoria bushfires are on our televisions every night, on the radio overy hour. Some fires are believed to be started by arsonists, others by lightning and others unknown. What I can say is that if you dont know about bushfires and living in a rural area or living in Australia fullstop, then don't try to act as though you know all the facts of what is going on over here. Some people just do not understand our climate over here or the way things work. Victoria, like other states in this country, experienced a heatwave making this whole situation worse. Yeah, theres satellites and mobile phones and landline phones, but what use is that when the mobile towers are burned and the power lines are burned, and besides, half the people have no reception that far out of a city or suburban area, so none of it is of any use to them. For some, their homes are all they have and if they wanted to stay and fight, its their choice. Some say its foolish for them to do so, but to us Aussies will fight till the end and save what we hold dear to us. Some might think that they had plenty of warning, but they didn't. The facts are this: the bushfires were burning away from the King Lake area, moving in the opposite direction, to them is posed no threat. But the wind suddenly changed direction, pushing the fires towards King Lake and surrounding areas. The wind and the fire were moving at over 100 kilometers (or over 62 miles) an hour. Everyone who was there in King Lake said that they had less than five minutes before the fires were in their backyards or burning their homes. This isn't a suburban area, its a rural community with plenty of trees and bushland so the fire spread easily. The fires were so fierce that the sky went black like it was night and no one could see anything even if they were nowhere near the fire. These people had no warning and no way of seeing that this was going to happen. The only thing they could do was try and get out as quick as they could. People couldn't see on the roads because of the smoke and they crashed their cars and they caught fire and burned people alive. There was no warning and the last that anyone in the area knew was that the fire was moving in the opposite direction away from them. By the time people saw the fire coming and they packed some things it was in their backyard and surrounding their houses. It wasn't a 'notification failure' at all, it was a horrible force of nature which was started by some idiot who decided to light a fire in the middle of bushland while there was a massive heatwave going on.</b> We can only 'blame' the deaths on the supposed arsonists who started all of this and mother nature. The arsonist picked the wrong place and time to start a fire and it got out of control. Not even thousands of fire trucks, volunteers, firefighters and our special water bombing helicopters could have saved all of those people and stopped this fire, and thats not coming from me, thats coming from firefighters themselves. This fire is the worst we have ever seen, look at the pictures and you can see. Could you stop that fire with your garden hose that now doesnt work because your water supply has been cut off because of the fire? Some people need to grow up and stop being so ignorant. Have some sympathy for the hundreds of people who burned alive. </b> <u>SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA AND ITS INFERNOS</u></b> Bushfires in Australia, particularly in the south-east of the continent, occur more frequently and extensively than anywhere else in the world. Many species of flora in Australia have evolved to rely on bushfires as a means of reproduction and they are an interwoven and essential part of life for all flora and fauna on the continent. Large bushfires often merge to form fire complexes which can burn millions of hectares of land and pose a major threat to human settlements, particularly in rural areas. Fire complexes, which are most common in Victoria, occur in roughly 20 year cycles (90s/00s, 20s, 40s, 60s, 80s, 00s) during which, drought breaks and vegetation recuperates before succumbing to the next wave of drought, rendering vegetation dry and subject to ignition, predominantly from lightning strikes. While bushfires occur almost all year round, they are concentrated during the summer months of December to February, although this can sometimes extend from September to April, this is known as the 'Australian bushfire season' and varies depending on the region. Many bushfires or fire complexes involve a peak periods of time, sometimes as little as a day, in which the wind and heat increase the unpredictability of the fire, this is when most fatalities occur. The most notable of these days are often given names based on the day on which they occur. The most intense, extensive and deadly bushfires commonly occurr during heat waves, such as the 2009 Southern Australia heat wave. 173 people have been killed in fires raging through Australia, making this the deadliest bushfire in Australian history. Nearly 815,447 acres (330,000 hectares) have been burned and 750 homes have been burned to the ground. In 1983, 75 people were killed on what was dubbed the Ash Wednesday fires. 71 people were killed in similar fires in 1939. The country's prime minister, Kevin Rudd calls the fires "mass murder". "This is of a level of horror that few of us anticipated. There are no words to describe it other than mass murder," said Rudd. The combination of Australia's long term drought, a record heat wave with temperatures as high as 117 fahrenheit (47.2 C) and winds over 60mph, sparked the dozens of fires across Victoria. Temperatures in Victoria today reached 47&deg; Celsius (115&deg; Fahrenheit), with the combination of temperatures and high winds helped to fuel the fires. The fire was reported to be moving at an estimated 60 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour). Some are being investigated as arson. Over 60,000 firefighters are battling the various blazes. These fires although common in Australia have caught people unprepared due to their intensity and speed. Survivors of Kinglake tell of how up until 10 minutes before the fire started to tear through their country town people were unaware of how close and dangerous the fire really was. More than 30,000 volunteer firefighters were battling fires after dark, when helicopters and planes that hand-dumped millions of tons of water on the flames returned to base for safety reasons. 24 people from Kinglake and Kinglake West have died and hundreds of houses have burnt to the ground. Over 1,500 people in Kinglake alone have been left homeless, left with a town which has mostly burned to the ground. Many people have been caught in the terrifying position of staying and fighting for their houses or fleeing before the fires arrive. Many of the people who have died have attempted to flee in their cars too late and were caught in the middle of the inferno, some being burned alive. Despite the efforts of firefighters, many towns have been totally destroyed, leaving nothing but piles of ashes. Witnesses and survivors of fires in Marysville and Narbethong, Victoria, describe the towns as being totally wiped out or substantially damaged. <u>Quick and Ferocious</u></b> "It was very quick and ferocious and took everyone by surprise," said Jack Barber, who with his wife, a neighbor, six cats and a dog sought refuge with five other people on a cricket field surrounded by trees in Kinglake. "All around us was 100-foot flames ringing the oval, and we ran where the wind wasn't. It was swirling all over the place," he said. "For three hours, we dodged the wind." Firefighters battled more than a dozen blazes that burned out of control across Victoria state Monday, although conditions were much cooler than Saturday. Forecasters said temperatures would rise later this week, posing a risk of flare-ups. Blazes have been burning for weeks across several states in southern Australia, common for this time of year.</b> But the worst drought in a century in the south had left forests extra dry, and Saturday's temperature was 117 degrees (47 Celsius), the relative humidity was 7 percent, and the wind was gusting to 50 mph (80 kph). "I cannot fathom in my mind anything more hellish, firewise," said Jim Andrews, senior meteorologist at accuweather.com. He added that Australia's vegetation, such as eucalyptus and gum trees, contain flammable aromatic oils. He said temperatures in Australia were much higher than in Southern California, where wildfires raged through canyons last year. Authorities are investigating the fires, some 20% of them are being called arson or have being started by human error, leaving much of the scorched land a crime scene of ashes. Some of the fires were reignited by arsonists after firefighters had already taken control of them, according to one fire official in Victoria. Others are believed to have been started by lighting tires on fire. "Some of these fires have started in localities that could only be by hand, it could not be natural causes," said deputy commissioner for the Victoria state police, Kieran Walshe. Fire fighting operations chief, Steve Warrington says that the fire departments "know [they] have someone who is lighting fires in this community." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Victorian_bushfires

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

Its a Bird! Its a plane! Its the Lantern Festival!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, 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 entire city has gone mad! Everyone from the age of three to eighty three have all turned two and are running around the place throwing firecrackers at each other, twirling sparklers and staring into the sky above all with a huge smile on their faces whilst covering their ears with their hands. Yes, some seem to be able to do all of the above at the same time. It really is like a war zone out there and the booming never seems to cease for even several seconds. The 2009 Winter Beers and Noodles Adventure came to an end yesterday when I finally made it back to my school and as it was evening I failed to notice how obscenely filthy my apartment was. What I did notice was that I was sneezing all night with a huge headache so I headed to bed early. When I woke and headed out into the kitchen I was leaving 'clean' footprints as a trail. I then noticed that there was a thick coating of, I would like to say dust but it was actually dirt and it was everywhere. We obviously had several dust storms whilst I was way down south. Guess who left all his windows, draws and cupboard doors open to air out prior to leaving? You can't guess, really...haha! Me, I left them all open as I thought it would be good to air the place out! I began cleaning at 10:00am and quickly forgot breakfast and then lunch. I had to sweep and wet cloth the entire house and contents three times and also wash all my bedding and most of my clothes. It wasn't really what I had in mind while I was on the bus home. When I first got home I looked at my washing machine and nearly ran over and kissed it. The only problem with travelling in winter time is hand washing winter clothes. Each time I had to wash my pants and shirt I felt as horrible as most people in China don't own a fridge let alone a washing machine. All clothes are hand washed and one a daily basis. Anyhow, after a few hours today and on around my third load I didn't feel like kissing my washing machine anymore...more like kicking it but I then remembered that it was doing all the work for me so I did actually give it a gentle little peck on the cheek. Around five in the afternoon I had finished most of what needed to be done so I headed out along the river for a few hours and on my return journey I was more than happy of the days chosen destination. I was walking back on the 'other' side of the river and all around me there was huge booms and colourful flashes in the sky above. To my right and across the fields is a village that runs along the bottom of the mountains along a dirt road for about five kilometres. At night time it is covered by a blanket of darkness as it is a village and not a town or city. Running along its entire length were bright and colourful flashes. Then to my left was the city in all its BOOMING glory!! As poor as it maybe there is certainly enough Yuan around to end the Chinese Spring Festival with a celebration that could almost equal the Sydney New Years display. Well, no! Not really, that was a huge exaggeration on my part, but it really was awesome. There were no 'City Fireworks' at any of the squares, instead many stores had purchased truckloads of their own and were all at war to see who could make their part of the sky the most beautiful and at the same time deafen as many people as possible! And those who wished to participate in this war simply had to turn around and make a purchase! There were a billion trillion small stalls that had been set up all over the city and that lined several of the city streets. Every year the Chinese Spring Festival scares the absolute hell out of me. I'm serious, all the young children as young as three or four are all armed. If you smoke and can't find your lighter this time of year, don't bother buying one, simply ask the nearest young child if you can borrow their lighter. They'll hand it over with a big smile and when you give it back they'll light a cracker and throw it at you. And then run away giggling their little Chinese butts off! Anyhow, today being the fifteenth day of the first month of the Lunar Year makes it the last day of Spring Festival which also means that I must begin teaching in two days (on the 11th) and if my timetable is the same as last term that would mean it will be only two and a half days until I can head back to Xian to meet Luo Wei as she will be returning from Kaifeng city to begin work on the Monday. I don't work Friday afternoon! Why would anyone work Friday afternoon for heaven sake! It also means that in just over four months the 2009 Beers N Noodles Summer Adventure will begin! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane

PS: below is some information on the history of the Lantern Festival. PSS: below the information are the usual photos some of which were taken this evening. The rest are of Spring Festival decorations from several parks in Guangzhou city in Guangdong. To see them in all their beauty you will need to look at my bog page for 'Spring Festival/New Year.' PSSS: All of this is totally illegal in most of out countries. You just can't have kids runnng around with lighters and for most of my life I haven't been able to by any type of fireworks. Yet here they are all simply a small step away. Most probably due to their absence, the entire scene seems so unreal and scares the absolute shite out of me! Why? I couldn't count the amount of sirens I heard tonight! Thats why! ________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by 'Playing For Change If you've never heard of it you simply must go to; www.playingforchange.com I don't know much about it but from what I can gather a group of very caring people took a trip around the world and recorded buskers and special 'music groups' all performing the same songs. Not only did they make a film about it but also mixed them all together and made a soundtrack too.....Awesome! From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe. This and other songs such as "One Love" will be released as digital downloads soon; followed by the film soundtrack and DVD early next year. Sign up at www.playingforchange.com for updates and exclusive content available only to those who do. Join the Movement to help build schools, connect students, and inspire communities in need through music [/i]________________________________________________ Legend of the Lantern Festival's Origin </b> The Lantern Festival dates back to shrouded legends of the Han Dynasty. Over 2000 years ago. 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 colors through the streets on the first full moon of the year, providing a spectacular backdrop for lion dances, dragon dances, and fireworks. The Modern Lantern Festival </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 multicolored 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. Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan</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

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival


Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

Its The Chinese Lantern Festival

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

The Adventure Ends with Stelaes & More Snacks

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, The 2009 Winter Beers & Noodles Adventure comes to an end. The last nearing month and a half has been wonderful and thankfully as I spent most of it in the south of China it was also very warm and comfortable. Now I'm back in the north it is much colder yet at the same time it is warmer as up here we have water pipe heating in every room. It's just a pity you can't take it with you when you leave the house or hotel. So what are the main thoughts gained from this winters adventures? Food! Food! Food! Honestly it is all about food here in China. I have eaten so much food this last month that I'm ready to burst or head to Jenny Craig. It also doesn't help spending an entire month in the city that was once known as Canton City as this is where the Chinese food that we all know comes from and it is everywhere and so cheap. When I left Guangzhou city I promised myself no more snacks so the last few days I have tried to stay away from food but it has been an impossible task because everywhere I've walked, on all street corners, at all sites there were hundreds, thousands and in some places billions of tempting food stalls and all of them offering something delicious yet different than the one next to them. In the end as hard as you try not to, you end up taking a sample from each one. You then walk away satisfied...until you turn the next corner. So besides walking around for hours each day I have actually visited a few sites. Yesterday I stumbled upon Xian's oldest mosque around mid afternoon and was shown around by an English speaking member. I'm positive I've been to this mosque before but I can't find any information on it on the internet. He called it The Ancient Mosque and I can't be bothered sifting through my thousands of photo's to check. I actually thought it was a temple when I first entered and then I saw the symbol on the Prayer Hall roof and realised that it was in fact a mosque. The following is bits and pieces from the of the LP's description of the 'Great Mosque' as when I read it it totally described the mosque I visited yesterday except that the Great Mosque is China's largest and the mosque I visited yesterday is Xian's oldest. Then again, as far as I know I was probably in the Great Mosque. But I remember the Great Mosque to be much...um...greater in size. The Ancient Mosque is a fascinating blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture. The mosque begins with an obvious Chinese temple feature, the spirit wall which is designed to keep demons at bay. The gardens, with their rocks, pagodas and archways are obviously Chinese too. The Arab influence extends from the central minaret which is cleverly designed as a pagoda, to the enormous, turquoise-roofed Prayer Hall at the back of the complex, as well as the elegant calligraphy gracing most entranceways. [/i] I spent the rest of the day simply wandering around here and there in the backstreets. Well...um...to put it another way, wondering from snack stall to snack stall and market to market. I love visiting all the markets and watching everything from chili power to different oils being made by hand. At home we simply visit the supermarket but here many people never visit the supermarket due to lack of finances or 'way of life'. So when I come across such things I like to stop and watch for awhile. I then begin to think about life and how even back home things actually were once all done by hand.

I know my nieces and nephews would never believe me! I then try even harder to be more thankful for the life I live now. Today I visited a museum that I have always been near but have never actually set foot in so I decided it was time. Found just across from the cities Wenchangmen Gate (just down from the huge South Gate) is what is known as the Forest of Stelae Museum. Stalae's are simply stone tablets with engravings upon them and obviously the engravings and those who engraved them are very important and very old or I guess they wouldn't be in a museum. The entrance fee is 30 Yuan and to find it simply go to the South Gate and walk down Shuyuan Xiang (the little Art Street) and continue to follow it around to the right. For those who love calligraphy and engravings you will spend most of your day here. For those of you who are like me and simply love anything ancient and beautiful, you too will spend many hours here trying to figure things out. I had a wonderful time and apart from the main hall where I found myself walking around huge stone tablets incased in glass, I found most of it very exciting. In fact I spent around twenty minutes trying to find the owner of the thick Aussie accent I heard from time to time. Each time I heard it I would quickly follow it but no matter how quick I was no foreigner was to be found. The answer soon came when I was leaving one of the halls and a Chinese family followed me to my next destination. Aunty asked where I was from and I told her I was from Australia and soon after I continued on my way. Just as I was leaving one of the Chinese guys began talking and there was the owner of the thick Aussie accent. In the next hall we introduced ourselves and found out we were both from Melbourne. That would make us the two coolest guys in Xian right! Ha Ha Ha Ha! Aunty was trying her best to persuade him to stay in China and to teach English to help him also work on his Chinese which from what I can gather is about as good as mine. When I reached the Sculpture Gallery I let out a big 'Oi Yor!'. Oi Yor is the same as us saying WOW or Damn, or anything along those lines....anything that needs a bit of an emotional outcry! The Sculpture Hall was beautiful but man it was colder than watching a footy match at AFL Park during mid winter. The huge life sized Rhinoceros was colossal and totally worth the visit to the Arctic Circle! I spent the rest of the day lazily wondering around the streets before heading home around eight for a short rest before heading across to the Youth Hostel to try their chicken salad. I can't say it is worth the money but it surprised the staff when I ordered something other than my normal Club Steak Sandwich with two Jim Beams and cola. So that's it, yet another adventure comes to an end to allow me to rest and get ready for the next one which thankfully will be a summer adventure. Somewhere in between I'm sure I'll throw on some blogs about life, school and a couple of bike rides here and there. Beers N Noodles toya.....shane PS: photos can be found below all text as usual ___________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by The Smashing Pumpkins The album was the greatest Pumpkins album ever, 'Gish' ___________________________________________ <u>Stele</u></b><u> Forest Museum</u></b><u> </u></b> Xian's Stele Forest (Bei Lin) Museum is located at 15 Sanxue (Three School) Street, near the south gate of the City Wall. Established in 1090 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1279), the Stele Forest Museum in Xian is well-known nationally for a fine and large collection of more than 1, 000 inscribed stones, engraved during a 2,000 year period from the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is a good place to get close to Chinese history and culture. The museum, covering an area of 31,000 square meters is divided into seven major exhibition halls, which mainly display ancient calligraphy, historical records and stone carvings. <u>Exhibition Hall One</u> mainly displays the text of twelve Confucian classics carved on 14 steles. The twelve works include the Analects of Confucius, the Books of Changes, the Books of Songs and some others. These twelve classics are must-do readings for intellectuals of China's feudal society. The stones were engraved over 2,000 years ago when printing was not yet invented. In order to preserve these works well and pass them down to later generations, the rulers ordered them to be carved on these stones. <u>Exhibition Hall Two</u> exhibits calligraphy steles written by the prominent calligraphers of China's ancient Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Tang Dynasty witnessed a flowering of creativity in many fields. Chinese classic calligraphy reached its golden age during this time. Visitors will find works of Ouyang Xun, Yan Zhenqing, Zhang Xu and many other noted ancient calligraphers in this hall. <u>Exhibition Hall Three</u> also exhibits works of calligraphy. These steles were inscribed with five varieties of calligraphy, seal characters, official script, regular script, running hand and cursive hand. From these steles, visitors can have a clear idea of the development of Chinese writing. Chinese calligraphy forms an important part in China's magnificent culture, so these stone tablets are of great importance to explore China's long and magical ancient culture. <u>Exhibition Hall Four</u> contains various stone sculptures. 200 works from the Han Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty are displayed, including portraits of Confucius, Buddhist scriptures from the Tang Dynasty and much more. <u>Exhibition Hall Five, Six and Seven</u> are also well worth a visit. Hall Five displays steles engraved with historical records from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial age. Many famous and significant poems are displayed in Hall Six and Hall Seven.

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven


Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

Forest of Stelae Museum &#38;amp; The Ancient Mosque Adven

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

Kaifeng Ancient & The New. Life,Walls Food & Parks

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, After a night spent in and out of half sleep onboard the Beijing bound train I rose for a coffee at seven when the lights and the crazy morning train music came on. Most mornings when I wake onboard a Chinese train I wish for a chance to stream the train radio into a real breakfast show like the JJJ, RRR or PBS breakfast shows. Strangely though I find streaming into (or is it onto?) a western radio station very distractive, in fact I find it almost impossible to concentrate on doing what ever it is I am supposed to be doing. I guess only those who have lived away from their homeland for a long period of time in a non-English speaking country could really understand. I find now when I am working on lessons or a blog etc I don't listen to my favorite radio stations from home because between songs when the DJ is speaking I simply can't concentrate and my mind fully focuses on whatever mumbo jumbo they are talking about on the radio. It was the same for me when I arrived back in Australia eight years ago. After a long period travelling Asia no matter where I sat I would become totally absorbed in ALL the conversations around me to a point that it was most probably bloody rude, but no matter how hard I tried to block them out it was impossible. For those who have left their country and have travelled to an Asian country for a short period of time it is the same but around the other way. All the sounds are new and so alien that you find it impossible to concentrate on reading the English novel you have in your hands. All around you you can hear the clickity clack of a new language, tuk tuks passing by, bells and whistles and a million other things that just don't exist back home. So tonight my plan is to piece together and write this without shutting down the radio and returning to the comforts of my iPod. So far I'm not doing a very good job at all! Back to it! Around eight in the morning and after saying good bye to my Beijing bound friends I grabbed my pack and departed the train at Zhengzhou station where I was met by Ying with a big happy smile. We headed across to McD's for an ElcheapO coffee and some Mc Muffins and a catch up chat. We then headed to his uncles place for what was supposed to be a small session of green tea, but of course that soon turned into a huge lunch of dumplings and a few too many rice wines. Which of course is just what you need at ten in the morning after barely any sleep the night before! Around mid day we were pottering along the Zhengzhou - Kaifeng Highway chatting about how quickly Zhengzhou was growing and that it would soon be swallowing Kaifeng as one if its suburbs. Ying believes that Kaifeng will lose its name and become part of Zhengzhou but I rather doubt that the Chinese government would allow one of its famous ancient cities to be lost into the present day growth of China. Especially one that has an even more ancient city buried nine meters beneath the current one! After checking into my usual beautiful family run hotel I spent the afternoon sobering up whilst doing some hand washing and then sleeping. Around six I finally heard the happy tapping at my door that I had been waiting to hear since I left Xian over a month ago. I rushed to the door to find Luo Wei with a big happy smile on her face and after jumping around yelling and screaming like teenagers we headed out into the cold winters evening and raced across to the night market for some catch up food.

(Luo Wei was back in her home city visiting her mother for Spring Festival) For those of you who don't know, Kaifeng city is one of my most favourite cities here in China and besides the Jinghong city (Xishuangbanna) night food market, Kaifengs night market would be at the top of my list. Of course there are others that are much bigger, but you must remember, it's not the size of the food market, it's what you do with it that counts! The Kaifeng night market runs the entire length of Madao Jie all the way down to the end of Shundian Jie (which is a good couple of blocks). About half way down it also turns into Gulou Jie in both directions and here is what the LP has to say about it and believe me, I couldn't agree more as I think it has some of the most tastiest road side snacks in China and no matter how hot or cold it is it always seems to have 'that vibe' you are after whilst travelling and at a night market. This veritable marvel and phenomenon alone justifies trips to Kaifeng! [/i] [/i] Join the scrums weaving between stalls busy with hollering Hui Muslim chefs cooking up kebabs and nan bread, red faced popcorn sellers and vendors of shao-bing (sesame-seed cakes), cured meats, foul-smelling chou-ganzi (stinky tofu), sweet potato's, crab kebabs, seafood kebabs, sugar-coated pears and Thai scented cakes.. [/i] [/i] Among the flames jetting from ovens and steam rising in clouds prance the vendors of Xingren Cha (almond tea), a sugary sauce made from boiling water thickened with powdered almond, red berries, peanuts, sesame seeds and crystallized cherries. A bowl costs a mere handful of Kai and two or three bowls constitute a very sweet meal. [/i] [/i] Xingren Cha stalls stand out for their unique red pompom-adorned dragon-spouted copper kettles. [/i] [/i] Also set out to sample is Rouhe which is a local snack of fried vegetables and pork, or mutton, stuffed into a pocket of flat bread. Join the locals at one of the rickety tables and the market peters out into stalls selling clothes, toys, DVD's and books.. [/i] Needless to say that the fact that both of us 'weren't that hungry' didn't stop us from gorging ourselves on all different types of kebabs and an elephant sized 'vegetable pocket' each. Well, to be honest mine was more the elephant sized one and Luo Wei's was more a small teddy bear sized one. Whenever I'm in Kaifeng I simply love coming to this night market and slowly walking around feasting on anything and everything that is sizzling anywhere near by. And I do call 'anywhere nearby' anything within a two hundred meter radius. I then walked Luo Wei up to Dong Dajie (the northern end of the market) where we sadly said good night and then waved goodbye as the cab sped her off towards home. I then slowly dragged my heels back through the crowds as stalls were being pulled down. I even managed to squeeze in two more kebabs before I headed across to Zhongshan Lu to the warmth of my little hotel room. As I have only been here in summer time, I can say one thing about being back here in the winter time. I am thankful for my last 'Winter Purchase' prior to leaving Xian for Guangzhou. As my normal jacket cost only a handful of Yuan several years ago when I was in Shangrila it has done sweet bugger keeping me warm in Shangzhou since winter hit. In fact it really hasn't done much of a job keeping me warm at all over the past few years, I've just been too skimpy to fork out money on a descent jacket so I bit the bullet and finally handed over a hand full of cash for a 'real' winter jacket at Jack Wolfskin. The next few days in Kaifeng found me re-visiting the cities maze of back streets during the day and back at the night market with Luo Wei in the evenings eating more than our fair share of delicious street snacks. I also managed to tick off two things I have wanted to do in Kaifeng which were to walk a part of the city wall that has been restored to its former glory and to also find the new Kaifeng which of course would be found outside the city walls. If you enter Kaifeng from Zhengzhou or Louyang, just as you arrive in Kaifeng city you will see a round-a-bout with a large silver sculpture in the middle. When you see this, on the right of your bus you will see what looks like a 'City Wall' or something similar. As you approach this or drive away from it you will also see what looks like a large temple and several pagodas dominating the horizon. This is where I was told I would find the new city and also on my way there I would find a walkable part of the wall. I have walked many different parts of the wall over the past few years but on previous visits I have aimed for the parts that have been left to decay and have become overgrown. Over the next few years the Kaifeng city walls will be totally restored and all those living close by will be pushed aside and given less than a tenth of what their assets are worth and sadly Luo Weis mother falls into this category. Never having owned anything in her entire life and finally managing to scrape enough to purchase a tiny one bedroom apartment with out heating or enough electricity to run a tiny heater and one light globe in the bitter northern winters, sometime in the near future she will find herself back where she started many years ago, on the side walk with nothing. Back to my city wall and new and old Kaifeng adventure. I began my journey in a little alleyway just off Zhongshan Lu which is just around the corner from my hotel. I began with a huge hearty bowl of noodles mixed with vegetables and potato and then slowly wound my way through the ancient yet familiar tiny ancient streets lined with historic brick and earthen houses until I reached Ximen Dajie near the West Gate of the city. Here I wanted to visit another familiar ancient part of the city and its houses that were beginning to be demolished at the end of last summers Beers N Noodles Adventure. Between Ximen Dajie and the Kaifeng Riverside Scenic Area I found what I expected. The old had been mostly demolished and the new was just beginning to be erected. I was met by bare earth and rubble with only a few old houses clutching at straws. I then made my way to the West Gate where for 10 Yuan I spent an hour walking on the wall and visiting the small museum that is housed in the gate house upon the ancient gate. Kaifeng is ringed by a relatively intact, much restored Qing Dynasty wall. Encased with grey bricks, the ramparts can be scaled at various points along the perimeter, including the South and West Gates. Today's bastion was built on the foundations of the Song Dynasty Inner Wall (AD960 to 1279). Rising up beyond was once the mighty, now buried Outer Wall, a huge construction containing eighteen gates, which looped south of the Po Pagoda, while the Imperial Wall protected the Imperial Palace which can be now found in and known as Longting Park where you can find and climb the Dragon Pavilion which is surrounded by both Yangjia and Panjia Lakes. I left the gates and continued walking along the outer Ximen Dajie and caught Bus No: 13 (you can also catch Bus No 11) westwards towards the answer to my question of 'the new Kaifeng' that I would find out beyond the cities ancient walls at the new square. When I arrived I was met by many people, the old were flying kites and the young either watching the huge television screen that was showing highlights of the Australian Open or roller blading around the squares water fountain. When I stopped to watch the television screen it was showing Melbourne's Tennis Center. I felt like jumping up and down and yelling, Hey Hey, that is where I am from! I used to walk past that every morning on my way to work from Richmond! Directly across the road I saw the wall and gates that I first saw a year and a half ago. After crossing and dodging all the invisible kite lines with my head intact I was met by empty ticket booths so I headed around the corner and after watching several kids running in and out of a hole in the wall I entered to find myself in a derelict and overgrown part of what I gathered after looking across the lake, was a unfinished part of either a huge and new private residential area or city square. After noticing many people on the finished side I decided to walk around the wall and find out. What I found was a beautiful lake side park that was yet to be completed that was surrounded by many new residential areas that could be easily compared to those that can be found surrounding West Lake in Hangzhou or any of those found lake side in Australia. I can't say I was surprised when I found signs reading 'construction by Hangzhou building group'. It was simply stunning and when completed will bring the ancient city of Kaifeng well into the modern arena. As stunning as it was I found walking around the areas away from the lake side to be very dull and boring. I found no road side stalls offering meaty treats or drinks and anything exciting like that that can be found within the walls of the ancient city not so far away. When I received a phone call from Luo Wei wanting to meet for dinner I was glad to leave the area. We spent our last dinner together for the next several weeks and then spent the next several hours walking around the night market area before I put Luo Wei in a cab home. I then headed to the lake area to watch the locals letting off booming fireworks that continually set off both car and motor bike alarms. Amongst the booming sounds people were using whips to keep spinning tops spinning and others were setting alight paper lanterns that began to fill the skies above. After an hour or so of watching the latter and staring dreamingly across the lake at the beautifully lit Dragon Pavilion and its surrounding bridges where Luo Wei and I spent our first night together when we first met nearly two years. I then slowly walked back to the Night Market for some more seafood and meat kebabs before heading back to the warmth of my hotel room where no matter how tired I am I am always welcomed by a half naked Britney willing to share a warm shower with me before bed. After a beautiful sleep I packed, checking out and left my bag at the front desk. I then headed into the little alleyways in search of something delicious for breakfast. During my feast of dumplings I got a call from Luo Wei and then headed to the KFC near the lake area to meet her and her friend. We all shared coffee and they then headed their way and I headed mine. They went shopping and I headed into the back into the alleyways in search of some new Ancient Things I have not come across in past visits. Around two thirty we caught a bus to the train station where we said our sad good byes and I went to catch my train. Of course it was over half an hour late and finally just after four I headed to the platform. Here I met a wonderful guy and his delightful daughter. He was so proud of his daughter and loved her so much it nearly bought tears to my eyes. His English was outstanding as was his daughters who mind you, was aged around five. He is neither a teacher nor a professor in the English language but he spends several hours each night studying the English language simply so he can pass it onto his daughter to help make her future better than his was. He was raised during the Cultural Revolution which is a time period that I will never be able to comprehend. Sadly they left the train at Zhengzhou City and from there I listened to my MP3 player and finally arrived in Xian around half past one in the morning Beers N Noodles toya.....shane ___________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by John Butler Trio The album was 'Extras' ___________________________________________

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks


Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

Kaifeng Ancient &#38;amp; The New. Life,Walls Food &#38;amp; Parks

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