A Travellerspoint blog

April 2007

A Few Words For Ya..Bugger Computers N To Shanghai

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to Ya Well what can I say? I do know two words I can say One is BUGGER and the other is SHANGHAI. Why do I wish to say bugger you ask? Let me tell you. Last night while doing my double monthly back up on my two 80 gig tiny hard drives (identical back ups. Hey one dies you've got the other. You think I'm stupid don't you..well read on) MY FREAKIN COMPUTER DIED! Really it did. One minute we were sharing a cold beer and having a great time listening to the Infectious Grooves album 'The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move' and then it just died. No warning, not even a hint that there was something wrong. Well maybe it didn't actually die, more like went into a coma without a hint that it would ever wake up again. I tried everything, I pressed all the buttons and turned it back on, it would begin to come alive and then just go to a blue screen that told me if I did this and that it would maybe wake up and give me back all my documents and photos. The blue screen lied over and over again so I tried what every man would try next, I hit it a few times. Just Nana taps but with an edge and a hint of things to come if it continued to sleep. Then I said bugger it and watched a DVD instead. I was pretty lucky as I had nearly finished the back ups and will only lose one months photos if it can't be fixed when I return. Thankfully I have a Travelpod and can use those! I can't warn people enough about doing back ups. Just do them and don't only do one, do two! If a computer hard drive can die so can your tiny back up hard drive. If both tiny hard drives die at the same time, mate you really do have a probem don't you. Maybe then you could question whether it's the device or the operater! Save yourself the heartache of losing everything on your hard drive. All those photos and memories. All the documents. Simply just do back ups. Enough said. What was the other word that was rolling around the tip of my tongue. Oh yeah, it would be Shanghai. Shanghai, Shanghai, Shanghai. I'm going to Shanghai. I never thought I'd be taking my pack and sandals to such an environment but hey, I'm packed and I have a ticket for sometime after ten this evening. Shanghai, I'm going to Shanghai and I am really excited about it too! Beers N Noodles to ya...shane ADDED LATER: Well, I'm sitting in bed in Shanghai. The world outside pretty much sounds like everywhere else in China. I can hear horns and people yealling at each other either face to face or by phone. (Most Chinese can't simply talk. Seriously, they can be sitting opposite each other in a quiet eatery and they still yell. It really is amazing to watch and listen to. I sometimes try to comprehend it and give up). Babies and mothers are chirping to each other and I can smell something very beautiful coming through my window on the third floor. Life is wonderful and I love it so much! OK, the journey here. After playing badminton with Hannah who lives at the gate house to the school we grabbed a 7:30pm taxi that the school booked for us and headed towards Wuyi Shan City. When traveling so far (around one and a half to two hours) its best to have someone 'in the know' book you a taxi. The cabbies want somewhere around four to five hundred Yuan for the journey and with the help of Mr Doo from the school Daniel and Alexa have a set price of one hundred and sixty Yuan. This is my first visit so split it three ways and its not really a lot more than the bus which stops long before 7:30pm.

The cab driver we had seemed rather confused for a lot of the journey and for some time we actually wondered if he knew where the hell he was going. Several times he stopped and rang friends and finally nearing two hours later and one traffic jam we arrived at the Wuyi Shan airport. After checking in we sat for what was for the three of us the best coffee we had ever tasted. Maybe it's because its been some time between 'real' coffees or maybe it really was the best coffee ever made in the entire world. But for three people to take one sip, look at eacher other and say, 'WOW mate, that's a bloody good coffee'. And then repeat it after each sip, it really must have been a great coffee. The plane ride took only an hour and went by without a single bump or flat tyre. I'm always happy when the plane I'm on doesn't get a flat tyre on the journey as I don't think it would be a great idea to just stop and change it..do you! When we arrived we went where? Where did we go? We went where any person who lives in a tiny mountain city would go. We went to Mc Donalds of course. The place where plastic tastes so good the first time and then just gets worse each time after. It was really strange though, all the tables had chains attached to them. My guess was you lock your young child to it so you don't have to worry about it being pinched. The lady on the table across from us got a good giggle out of that and told me in broken English that she believed it was to attach your bag to it so it didn't get stolen. As she was rather cute I told her she had a beautiful lap top and maybe WE could chain that to the table. GRRRR! PRRRRR! YUUUUMMMMY! She gave me lots of smiles after that. Maybe she liked the idea. We tried for the bus and was surrounded by taxi drivers at the door of the bus. Lap Top lady walked on by and told us the bus was the best option. The taxi drivers weren't happy with her. We boarded the bus and waited. No lights and no driver. Others boarded and waited and left to grab a cab. We thought bugger this and went to grab a cab to. We flew into 'the old' airport known as Hongqiao Airport which is about 18 kms from the city. The journey takes from half and hour to an hour. Ours took half an hour as it was well past midnight. I think it cost sixty or so Yuan between the three of us. Not so bad. When we hit the city I sat silently amazed as we drove beneath elevated roads that were sometimes up to four levels high. I had never seen anything like that before. The city seemed very neat and very clean from the taxi. There were trees and little parks here and there and the buildings became a little crazier the longer we drove which meant it had to be closer to the City Square area. We were staying somewhere near the bund but really had no idea where we were as the hostel road wasn't on my LP Map. When we arrived we found our little hostel was on a little road just off the big road we had been driving down with the elevated roads above us. Our hostel is called The Summer Hostel and is on Yongshou Road which is just off Yan'an Donglu. Awesome! After doing the passport and money thing we headed out and walked in the direction the girl pointed the river was. We walk and found everything was closed except 7/11 type stores. So much for the city that never sleeps mate! We found the Natural History Museum but had no idea where that was as Ididn't have my map so we decided as it ws nearing three we would grab a few beers and head home instead. Enough for now...Beers N Noodles to ya...shane The soundtrack to this entry was the band Living Colour The album...if you're a Living Colour fan you really would have the EP 'Biscuits' BUT, if your like me and you were and still are a huge Living Colour fan you would have searched everywhere for the Japanese release of this EP which instead of having I think five songs on it like the normal ep, this one has around eighteen or so. Its chocas full of covers and live songs. It really is worth the search.

Catchya Later Shaowu

Catchya Later Shaowu


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

Its Time To See All Her Faces For Myself

Whore of the Orient, Paris of the East; city of quick riches, ill-gotten gains and fortunes lost on the tumble of dice; the domain of adventures, swindlers, gamblers, drug runners, idle rich, dandies, tycoons, missionaries, gangsters and back street pimps; the city that plots revolution and dances as the revolution shoots its way into town! Now reawakened and is busy snapping the dust off its cummerbund. This city is a city typifying the huge disparities of modern China - monumental building projects pushing towards the sky, glinting department stores swing open their doors to the stylish elite, while beggers, prostitutes and the impoverished congregate among the champagne corks and burst balloons of the night before. History is returning to haunt this city and at the same time, put it squarely back on the map! Taken from the Lonely Planet! You don't really think I could write something like that do you! So, with seven days off next week (1st to 7th May) for Labor Day I have a Golden Week to pack the pack and take off somewhere not too far away.

Tickets are already in our pockets and accommodation has been taken care of. We are staying right in the middle of the neons and the millions of stylish people. It has been several years since I have stepped foot into a city even remotely as modern as this. I'm going to hate the prices. The excessive amount of people in one city is really going to piss me off. After living in rural China for so long, the unthinkably stupid amount of money wasted building one city will really mess with my head. (Hey we have 900 million people living below the poverty line, argh bugger em, lets build a super city!) I actually never thought that I would visit this city during my entire stay here in China (however long that will be). But lets face it, everything you read about it, every time you see it on the TV or in a magazine it reaches into you curiosity a little deeper each time. Now its time to go and see this city for myself. It is time to go where socialism with Chinese characteristics meets shop-till-you-drop commercialism. It's time to visit SHANGHAI!

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

The Tian Chen Valley N Broken Bowl River Adventure

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you What an unexpectedly awesome day today was. After a few nights on the Coronas the day began much too early for me. So I took on my Grandpa's advice and decided that seen as though I was awake I would accept the fact and enjoy the day. So why was the day so awesome? Several weeks ago I headed to the ancient town of Heping with my friend Mary. In my Travelpod entry for that day I mentioned the reason that it had taken me so long to get there was that the school had said on several occasions that they would organise a day adventure for us. It never occurred so off I went off I went with a beautiful girl instead. Well, at the end of last week we got news that the adventure had been organised and we were heading off to the ancient town of Heping. Two weeks late but better now than never. Actually the adventure was organised as Alexa's friend Sonya flew in from England last week. Friday night we had a huge dinner with the school to welcome her and we then continued on to Ting Tings Bar for a Corona night. Stupidly after a huge dinner and many beers we decided to allow Daniel to show us how to play the 'drinking' card game 'Fark Off'. Not really the best decision but hey, it was a heap of fun at the time. I have no idea what time it was but sometime in the early hours we introduced 'The Great Northern Noodles' to Sonya and then went home to set the skies ablaze in beautiful colour by letting off fire works and chasing each other around the school playground with huge sparklers. It's been a long long time since I've done something like that without adult supervision. China mate, ya gotta love it! Huh? I am an adult? Oops, sorry it totally slipped my mind. We were joined by Carol, one of the Chinese English Teachers from Daniels school and her daughter. We all hired a mini-van and a driver for the day. It didn't matter that I had been to Heping before, it is such a beautiful little town and I was more than happy to visit again. On the drive to Tian Chen Valley we found out that the morning would actually be spent on bamboo rafts slowly drifting down what is known as the 'Broken Bowl' River that runs through beautiful Tian Chen Valley. It's a pity I can't write much about Tian Chen Valley or the Broken Bowl River as I've Googled both and have come up with zilch information. What I can write though is that they are both exceptionally beautiful. After a nearing two hours drive through beautiful broccoli coloured mountains we arrived at the Broken Bowl River. The bamboo rafts come with four little bamboo seats and two Pole People to help stop us both crashing into the huge rocky river sides and running aground in the more shallow areas. We spent a wonderful few hours slowly drifting down the river which snakes its way through the lush green valley. Everything was so alive and so full of colour due to the crazy amount of rain we've had over the past few months. When we weren't passing through huge rocky cliffs filled with strange crater like holes we were totally enclosed by a thick blanket of green. It was so relaxing on the mind, so peaceful...so not Gansu! Sadly I was on the raft without the Chinese English Teacher I never got to ask any of the questions I wanted to ask about the rivers name and the customs that allowed its creation. Daniel was yelling some jibberish from his raft but we had no idea what he was saying as we couldn't hear him most of the time. I have added only one picture of what the rivers sides look like and believe me when I say it, the entire time we were making our way down river, not only the sides of the river were the same but the river bed also. There must me hundreds of thousands of broken pottery bowls scattered all along and throughout the river. Daniel and Alexa did the same journey when they first arrived in Shaowu and when they told me about the scattered broken bowls I pictured some here and there in little piles but nothing prepared me for what it was actually like. Sadly I have no idea who broke them and why or even when for that matter. I don't even know if it still continues to happen to this day? Anyhow, an answer will arrive soon enough I'm sure. Our rafting river journey came to an end at the foot of a high cliff. After saying good bye to our pole peoples we climbed the stairs that zig zagged us to the top. At the top we found two skeletons enclosed in glass cases. The story is as it is all over the world. A rich girl fell in love with a poor man. The rich girls parents wouldn't allow them to marry so they both ran away and committed suicide. Their bodies were found a few centuries later and enclosed in glass to become a tourist attraction. Sad story but pretty awesome when you're there! We then spent the next hour or so walking through the valley. The walk took us beneath and between huge boulders where the gap in some parts was so thin that it had actually made some 'large' peoples return the way they had came. True story from six months prior. The scenery was stunning with mountain sides coved with trees all shades of green creating the picture of one hell of a huge broccoli plant. We ascended and descended the mountain by way of steel stairs, some safe others...well...safe enough I guess.

The following was sent to me by my buddy in Singapore. The world thanks you Simon, you're a champion! (Saturday, 21st April 2007) About 350 years ago, when the Ming Dynasty was being replaced by Qing (the Manchus from the Northeast China) a master craftsman of the Royal Kiln in Jingdezhen, decided not to serve the incoming new master, quit his post and came to this remote village of Fujian. The village is now known as Bowl Factory Village (wan chang cun) situated at the jetty of the Tian Chen Gorge-Jin Xi River bamboo rafting. The village's kaolin earth (material to make porcelain) is of high quality and the master continued his practice to produce excellent works. Soon he got worried and stopped making high quality porcelain (when his works were popular among the people). He feared that the Qing Royal police would come knocking one day. He then started making the lowly kitchen bowls and thus the name of the village. There's no legend about the riverbed broken bowls, The only logical explanation is: I suspect that his bowls were so popular that people came and bought lots of them. Transport was by the Jin Xi River bamboo rafts, since the village was not easily accessed by land. Over these 350 years , accidents happened and thus the riverbed broken bowls increased day by day. Midday found us back in our hired minivan heading towards the ancient town of Heping. When we arrived we were met by our Chinese English Teachers brother in law who treated us to lunch and sadly for the second time in several months busted our balls for over an hour trying force alcohol down our throats. Don't get me wrong, the lunch was beautiful and we all had a great time but when someone continually tries to force more beer down your throat it gets a little painful. Especially when there were four people explaining that they had had enough beer over the previous two nights and really didn't want to drink anymore today....over and over and over again. He then proceeded to ring two of his friends who arrived soon after to join him trying to pour more beer into our glasses and bowls. This my friends is the side to some Chinese males that I really can't bare to be around! Not all of course but some. Most of the time it depends on their job and where they are in the hierarchy of life here in China. Enough said, the four of us said our good byes and not long after we were joined by our friend. We all happily entered the ancient streets of Heping where we wound our way around taking photos for an hour or so. It really is such a wonderful place to visit. One of my favourite things, besides the buildings and the one million year old people walking around with big smiles, was the bright green moss that covers the lower parts of the building walls and some of the little stone alley ways. There is something about moss that I love so much. It can add character to almost anything. Look what it's done to my brain! Tee hee. Beers N Noodles to ya...shane The soundtrack to this entry was: The band 'Endorphin' and their awesome album 'Skin'

Tian Cheng Valley & Heping Town

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

The Great Aussie Easter Care Package

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya Yeah Yeah, it's late I know! Build a chocolate bridge and get over it! Put me in my room and roll a rock in front of it! Well, what passed by with only several text messages and without much more of a thought has turned out worth celebrating. I have just received the Great Aussie Easter Care Package. What more do you need in the Great Aussie Easter Care Package other than a pair of 'Bugger' socks, some Cadbury chocy eggs and the latest Triple J 'Hottest 100' double cd. Hey, what more do you need? Well, if you feel you need more then also included was a delightful 'Melbourne' Card purchased at the St Kilda market on a beautiful sunny day. On the front it had some beautiful drawings and on the inside it was full of happy well wishes.

Need anything more?

If so, Spring has Sprung. The flowers are out, the beeza buzzin and life is more beautiful than ever.

Thanks for the thoughts Jude. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaate, your Ace! Here are some Beers and Noodles in return. I hope everyone had a real special weekend. And for those who have children and didn't organise an Easter Egg Hunt for them... BUGGER OFF YA OLD FART!

Happy Aussie Easter To Ya Mate

Happy Aussie Easter To Ya Mate


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Happy Aussie Easter To Ya Mate (5)


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Happy Aussie Easter To Ya Mate (6)

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

Playing In Marys Colourful Village Fields

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya Customs and Traditions V's The new open minded modern generation in China Although ancient customs and traditions must be respected in villages all around the world sometimes they can cause harm to people who no longer think that way in the more modern world we now live in. Or in other words, they can really be a pain in the butt! Like everywhere, here in China there are traditions that the old continue to live by but the younger more open minded generation find frustrating and walled in by. Sometimes, as I found out this weekend, even with the help of parents others can not see past ancient traditions. Being a foreigner here in China has enabled me to become part of many village societies especially in Guangxi. Until this weekend most 'traditions' have been lifted for me allowing me to visit friends homes and return many times after to become close friends with the generations of families that all live together in the one village. I have had the privilege of visiting most of my female friend's villages both with and without other friends accompanying us. Most of the time it was just the two of us. According to village tradition in China if a female brings a male home to her village that can mean only one thing. He is the one she will marry sometime in the near future. I've been very lucky until now. This tradition was explained to me by Yang Yang and Mandy when we first began spending time together. After I understood what it would mean if I was to just appear at a girls village I made sure that prior to each visit my female friend would speak to her family and explain that I am just a visitor. The parents would then explain this to the rest of the village and then it would be open for my visit which then allowed future visits without any misunderstandings. Meaning many village feasts and beer and biajio weekends. This weekend that went a little astray! My friend Mary invited me to her village this weekend, WITH her parent's permission and with total understanding of the above. I caught an early morning bus to Guangze (Gwonza) Town on Saturday. Mary met me at the bus station and we then caught a local 'taxi' van to the next town. It was tiny and pretty much like Tianyang where I used to live but smaller. Her village was a fifteen minute walk from the town. The day was beautiful and we slowly made our way down the main road visiting a temple and several very old and unused homes along the way. The village was on a plane and set amongst the fields. Some full of colour such as pink, mauve and purple. Others were full of shades of green where crops such as tobacco, vegetables and rice grew. Mountains of all sizes and shades of blue surrounded the village on all sides. The largest mountains were part of the Wuyi Shan Ranges that we both wish to visit together sometime in the near future. When we weren't talking the only sound to be heard was silence! Around mid day we finally left the fields and took a track that led to her happy home. It was a simple two story brick house, grey in colour with red window frames. The floors were concrete and apart from a few beds and a television set there really wasn't much more. Her parents welcomed me with happy smiles and soon we all sat for lunch. The food of course was more than delicious as all village food is. After lunch we visited her little school which like her home was very simple. The classrooms contained desks and a black board and the library had a couple of books placed on several shelves. We then headed back out into the fields where several of her students came bounding up to us. They jumped around and it was obvious how much they loved her by the way they clung to her like branches on a tree. We then decided on a huge ride to find a quiet place to fish and then to climb a mountain. So we headed to the only factory in the village where they use flat sheets of wood to make furniture. Here we borrowed two bikes and placed two not so steady front wheels on the road and pedaled in that direction. More of her students caught up with us and raced along side us. Soon they made us swap our bikes for theirs as they had new mountain bikes and they didn't want their teacher riding her not so steady bike. The one I was riding I'm sure had to be the first bike ever built in China and since then it had never been maintained in any way. The children showed us a nice place to fish and then they headed back to the village. The fishing didn't really go anywhere so we headed further into the countryside to find a hill to climb. We dropped our bikes in the long grass and headed down a small track into the ride fields. Our track ran alongside a small river and soon we spent a quiet moment on an old small stone bridge watching the water running beneath us. A little further along the track we began following a local people's track that took us up the side of the hill. It was obvious what the track was for as there were off cuts of wood all along it. I wondered how long this track had been used to carry wood from the mountain above us. As there was no breeze the slightly humid air remained still and the further we went along the track the thicker the air became. Mosquitoes could be heard all around us and little 'things' darted from our approaching feet on both sides. After sometime we decided to head back the way we came as time had caught us and if we were to make it back to her village before nightfall we couldn't finish the climb. How sad as I really wanted to look at the long valley from a height. We slowly made our way back to our bikes stopping for ten minutes to sit on the stone bridge to watch the water flow and to chat. With child like laughter we raced each other back to the main road and then slowly chatted our way back to the village. When we arrived we found that things had changed since we left. Even though her parents had explained I was ONLY a friend and nothing more it seemed the village had other ideas. People were racing around from home to home with their tongues ablaze with their own version of what the future would hold for Mary. Even after it had been explained they decided after all that we were getting married. She had brought me home to meet her parents and that was that. Things got a little confusing for a while. People weren't happy with other people for being so unkind and thoughtless 'after' it had been explained to them prior. In the end we sat in Mary's one bulb dimly lit breezy kitchen and had a quiet supper. I then sat for some biajio with her father and we all began to smile again. Things were ok for now but the sad part is, unless the village accepts my visit for what it was and what had been explained to them, Mary's future could be harmed. If a guy from her village or a village in the area takes an interest in her and finds out that she has brought a guy home to meet her parents prior to him, sadly he will most likely continue his search for a future wife. What she does away from the village is up to her but bringing someone home traditionally has one meaning and in this village, unlike those of Tianyang it is not lifted for anyone. I know her parents were angry at others from the village and maybe they were angry at themselves for inviting me into their home. I do know they believed that I should have been accepted as a 'visitor' and as visitor only. We spent the next several hours all happily watching TV together in their simple lounge room. For now everything was alright. Maybe nothing will come of it, maybe tomorrow or next week or next month everyone will understand who I was and why I was there. Her parents seemed to believe so and invited me back for breakfast the following morning. I was very hesitant at first but after Mary's mother made a very 'special' village treat and made only one bowl which was for me I couldn't say no. I knew I wouldn't return to the village the following morning as imagine what would happen if we were seen together in her home two days running! By torch light and under the protection of umbrellas we all made our way back to the town to grab some supplies and a room for me for the night. Between texts from Mary I spent the night swatting misquotes and reading Haruki Murakami's awesome 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle'. The following morning Mary and her father walked into town to share breakfast together. I decided it was best for everyone if I left after breakfast and allowed Mary and her family to attend the fortnightly Villages Market. I really wanted to stay and be part of the market as every second Sunday people from surrounding villages all gather in the town and buy and sell all sorts of wonderful things. Mostly vegetables and meat but there are many other things to spend your money on also. We sadly waved good bye to each other and my 'Taxi' Van tooted its way through the gathering crowd of Village Peoples. I spent the afternoon walking my usual Temple Hill walk and then walked along the Four Bridges River Walk and back into town. The Minister for Education had invited myself, Daniel, Alexa and several others to the cities most famous Fish Restaurant. The last time we had dinner with this guy he gave us tickets to see the Russian Orchestra that was playing in town. We all had a wonderful evening clicking chop sticks, chatting and filling our bellies. The fish was divine and the beer was cold. Mary called me to let me know everything went well at the market that day and that maybe the people did understand after all. As it always does, time will tell its own story. It may not be the one we want it to tell, or maybe it will tell an unexpected story! Beers N Noodles to ya...shane The Sountrack to this entry was another of Mike Patton's creations; The band is Tomahawk and the album is also called Tomahawk. Freaky, far out and very awesome!

A Visit To Marys Village

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