A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

Reflections From A Rice Field

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, Today while I was out riding, I remembered something very important. But it quickly went away. It then came back later and slipped away again. Tomorrow (16th) is not only my Big Bro’s birthday but also Mi Mate Gazza Bazza’s.

It’s been a hell of a long time between Birthday Beers guys and I’m sure it will stay that way for sometime unless either of you board the Noodle Train to China and bring along a couple of cases of Boags….oh, and while you’re at it you might as well bring a couple of Cascades as well.

To celebrate I’ve got a couple of frosty cold Tsingtao’s and a few extra Sedrin’s in the freezer. Neither come close to beer brewed on Tasmania but hey, they’ll do to help celebrate you two skelewags’s birthdays. Hope you both get off your butts and actually go about doing something to pass into your next year of your old age (hahaha).

Why not a BBQ with friends and family? Great idea Bro, I’m happy that you’re getting into the swing of things! Why not a night out at the smoky Tote seeing bands and getting hammered? Great idea Gazza Bazza, I’m happy you’re getting into the swing of things too!

<u>The Rice Field Shots</u>

All of the photos in this entry are actually rice fields and not a river or a lake. When thinking of rice fields most people think of murky and muddy fields. They become that way only during the planting process, prior to and given the right day they offer a mirror image of not only what is above them but also from the right angle, what is around them.

I bet no one ever thought that hey. So, like, I so totally love this time of year! You got that girlfriend, mirrors all around…how’s my hair?

<u>The Food Shots in This Blog</u>

Beef Noodles with Amy was a rather fine way to celebrate your birthday dinners. I’m so glad you suggested it…hahaha!

As for celebratory seconds, we now have a real fries joint in town called 'Happy Fries’. It’s an American chain eatery trying to break into China and both the fries and the onion rings weren’t too bad. To tell you the truth it’s been so long now since I’ve eaten fries and onion rings that I really don’t have any idea what they are supposed to taste like.

I’m not a potato fan and onion rings give me gas, but it’s your birthdays; So I figured I’d go totally over the top and eat Western to celebrate. Happy Birthday Beers N Noodles toya both…..shane _________________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Rose Tattoo The album was &#8216;Nice Boys Don’t Play Rock N Roll’ I thought that was one album you two knuckleheads would agree on…tee hee __________________________________________________________________

Reflections From A Rice Field

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

Good Morning Drunkstable....I mean Copper!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Morning Drunkstable, what’s a two cent coin made of? Sorry Constable, I meant Mining Copper, a dangerous job ey! Oh the things we actually got away with when we were teenagers.

China's willingness to gamble so much in one of the world's poorest and riskiest nations testifies to its determination to acquire the commodities it needs to maintain its economic growth and social stability. In Mt. Toromocho in the Peruvian Andes, for example, the only copper deposit said to be larger than Aynak, China is relocating a town and its inhabitants to get at a mountain of copper ore.

Why the Chinese? Because they have money, they have lots of money! One day, when there is no more copper elsewhere in the world; The Chinese will have copper.

For the past almost a year as I have made my way back to my school from either the city or a long and muddy rice field ride I’ve always past by many other of the towns riders, all peddling a gleaming machine and clad in tights, oops I mean bike clothes, making their way either too or from Tangkuang town which is around twenty five kilometres down the road from my school and also happens to have 'supposedly’ the world’s second largest copper mine.

Due to it being a main road with speeding buses, trucks and cars I’ve always said a happy no to any offer to join them but today I woke and said, Good Morning Copper!

The day was absolutely beautiful with flocks of happy sheep sharing the blue sky above and me sharing diesel and petrol fumes with anything that sped by. Some of which were going so fast that they had me worrying that for the past year I had been missing something grand and my mind began to fill with thoughts such as;

Maybe they have buildings made of gold, streets paved with copper and all the street vendors spend their wealthy lives handing out free Beers N Noodles.

With thoughts of free Beers N Noodles running through my head my legs began pumping harder and soon I was like The Road Runner, except I didn’t have to personally say &#8216;Beep Beep’, everything that sped by took it upon themselves to do that for me. When I arrived I found the town almost empty so I quietly rode around in search of the free Beers N Noodles, gold buildings and copper streets. After about half an hour I found a happy old man who had one of my favourite street noodle snacks of all time, especially when I’m out riding.

I don’t know what its real name is because everyone calls it something different. Many call it Mien Pi, others something that sounds like Niang Pfs but putting the name aside they are cold, fun with chop sticks because they are slimy and come in a vinegar based soup which you can add soy sauce and/or chilli to but as I am usually on a long ride I always choose to pass on the chilli!

As I was eating what seemed like a billion buses arrived from which a trillion people got off and all were wearing the same blue uniform. It was like something from a movie and soon the streets were full of people who looked identical. It really was the strangest thing and obviously it was &#8216;shift change’ at the copper mine as once the &#8216;identicals’ filled all the little eateries around me new &#8216;identicals’ began filling the buses.

Tongkuang…..As a ride it was the easiest ride I’ve done in the past year, a little longer than some but it was on a main road and from the looks of it, it isn’t that old. Two lanes each way, grassy medium strip and a nice wide and safe (um…kind of safe…well, as safe as it gets here in China) road shoulder to ride.

Also no real hills which was a bonus after all the riding of been doing over the past week.

I still had several hours until the sheep went to sleep so after my noodles I slowly made my way back to Dexing leaving the main road to ride through several old villages where the population healthily tendered the lush green rice fields. Watching them made me think of Tangkuang’s population, all of whom are there for one reason and how unhealthy the town must actually be. As I rode I remembered several Dexing locals telling me that &#8216;so many people’ once died each year due to the water being filled with poison from the copper mine but since they built the large &#8216;filtering plant’ that number has dropped by more than ninety percent.

As I continued to ride back to Dexing I passed several billboards reminding me that Dexing is the &#8216;Copper Capital of China’ and as I passed those billboards I questioned; am I included in the other percentage?

I then giggled to myself and said; I smoke, I drink and I ride obsessively in China! My life is like daily &#8216;extreme sports’ but without the bungee cord!

<u>Now For a Bit on Copper in China and Abroad</u>

Jiangxi Copper Corporation, China's largest copper producer, is looking to explore more mines abroad as it aims to increase its annual output from nine hundred thousand tons in 2010 to one and a half million tons during the &#8216;12th Five Year Plan’ period (2011-2015) and invest in projects overseas to meet China’s demand for copper raw materials, which are needed as they expand the business over the next eight to ten years.

Jiangxi Copper may invest anywhere there are good opportunities, though some risk may exist as risk is always proportionate to reward. Maintaining the sustainable economic development and environmentally friendly policy proposed by the central government requires the company to expand business at various locations instead of just one.

Jiangxi Copper now owns two copper mines overseas, in Afghanistan and Peru.

The company acquired the Aynak copper mine in Afghanistan and the Northern Peru Copper Corp in 2007 and raised one billion dollars on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last year to fund the projects. The Afghanistan project, of which seventy five percent is owned by Metallurgical Corp China Ltd and twenty five percent by Jiangxi Copper, has been delayed due to the discovery of Buddhist relics at the mine that are more than one thousand five hundred years old.

As one of the main drivers of China's metals industry, Jiangxi Copper plans to join the list of the top five hundred companies in the world within the next five years.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS: and for those looking for a nice piece of ass after a long ride; Head to the towns Donkey Eatery, I'm sure there you'll get your fill! ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Pink Floyd The album was &#8216;Animals & The Final Cut’ ____________________________________________________________

The TongKuang Town Adventure

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

The 2013 Visa Medical Shambles

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Mobile Phones! So many people need an operation to get theirs unstuck form head and hands and maybe out of their butt!

I find it rather strange that some people who seem to always have their mobile in their hands also play a big part in not using them correctly ie: maybe to make calls to find out simple yet extremely important information that would help save so much expenditure and several weeks being wasted!

<u>2013 VISA Medical Shambles: Part A</u>

From Monday, 20th May through to Thursday 24th May I asked and reminded my FAO (Foreign Affairs Officer) to please, please, PLEASE call either the Shangrao PSB (Public Security Bureau) or the Shangrao Entry & Exit hospital (Immigration Hospital) and as always with my FAO the reply was…yes it will be ok.

Thursday evening came and I asked one last time, did you call either place? It is ok, the headmaster will give us a lift in the morning as he’s going to Shangrao.

So after having no food or liquids since ten the previous evening we arrived at the hospital at ten the following morning (several hours after leaving Dexing) to find that they can no longer do medicals for foreigners and that all foreigners must now go to Nanchang city. I asked how long this had been in place and found that it was well over a year ago so I then asked my FAO if he made any calls at all that week?

No, but it will be ok. How will it be ok when you’ve just wasted an entire Farking day of MINE!

<u>2013 VISA Medical Shambles: Part B</u>

From Monday 27th May through to Thursday 30th May I once again asked and reminded my FAO to please, please, PLEASE call the Nanchang Entry & Exit Hospital to see if A: it is the correct hospital and B: what times they do the VISA Medicals for foreigners.

Yes, this week I promise I will call.

Thursday evening we had our Children’s Day performance and I was happy to grab a taxi and head to Nanchang that evening and after finding my FAO I asked if he had rang the hospital and asked both questions.

It will be ok and we can leave tomorrow morning and do the medical in the afternoon. Cool I thought, he did call and this time all will be well.

The following morning I met him in his office at eight, found him in a state of confusion and after asking what the problem was, found that he was only then searching for the hospital address and phone number. Fark Man, you’ve once again had all week and you still haven’t called or even found out the damn address, it’s a nearing four hour bus journey, I haven’t eaten since ten last night and I’m so damn thirsty.

What the hell is the matter with you! Its’ ok, it will be alright. Whatever!

So once again after not having any food or liquids for nearly sixteen hours we arrived at the hospital well over five hours after leaving Dexing to find the hospital was closed for lunch, which I expected. We took a seat on the front steps where we met American Miles who has been teaching in Nanchang for the past year. He seemed really cool so we all decided to spend the afternoon walking around and once the front doors opened he stopped being American Miles and became GIGANTOR,

I honestly thought the building was falling over; Or that an alien spacecraft had arrived and was blocking the sun. My FAO is the young guy on the bridge next to Gigantor..extremely smart BUT!

Anyhow, once Miles had collected his results, I grabbed a form and began to fill it in to be told, 'I’m sorry sir, we only do Foreign Medicals in the mornings’. I looked at my FAO and my blood began to boil. The counter girl then told us we could return the following morning. I checked my phones calendar &#8216;just in case I was wrong’ and reminded her that tomorrow was Saturday.

Yes it is and you can come back tomorrow morning. I thought cool, she works here all will be well.

The afternoon was spent walking around Nanchang constantly snacking to fill my empty stomach and then grabbing a comfy chair and table at a Coffee Shop/Bar where Miles and I swapped travel stories over a few whiskeys.

<u>2013 VISA Medical Shambles: Part C</u>

Once again after having no food or liquids since ten the previous evening we arrived at the hospital at ten the following morning to find that….you guessed it, the hospital was closed because….you guessed it, the hospital doesn’t open on weekends and needless to say my FAO didn’t speak the entire journey back to Dexing.

After so long here in China I am used to the simplest thing turning into a shambles; But sometimes it just becomes too damn ridiculous to comprehend.

All of that time and money wasted on buses and hotels etc simply because someone can’t stop texting or chatting on Weibo. We live in the same building, only two floors apart and several times both weeks I rang and said; Hey Dude, what are you doing? …Nothing…OK, how about coming up and we can look for the phone number and address on my internet, it will only take five minutes;

Oh maybe tomorrow, I’m busy chatting at the moment. <u>For those saying, don't be so hard on the dude.</u>

He does sweet bugger all classes each week, but his timetable is spread over the seven days, his is supposed to be my Grade 7 & 8 classroom assistant but lately rarely turns up and when I really need him I find him in his office on the internet AND at the end of last term he lied to me for two months and stole over 10,000 Yuan of my salary and lost it all playing Mahjong leaving his family to pay his debts.

<u>Why did the school not get rid of him?</u>

This is a very small town and the school timetable is eleven days on and two and a half days off. Students and teachers are up at 5:50am and in bed at 10:00pm, so it is extremely hard to find teachers who want to work such hours. Also, even I know that he is a good teacher and the students respect him very much but the fact is he has a Mahjong problem.

<u>So is he a good or bad person?</u>

He teaches Grade 9 and as it is nearing the end of term their timetable has become absolutely horrific due to the end of year final exams. They will leave Middle School and enter High School and it is this set of exams that will determine what high school they enter therefore also determine the rest of their lives. Due to this they haven't gone home for some time as they are made to stay at school and continue to study each weekend and not going home means that their parents/family can't give them money to top up their Canteen Card.

Therefore, no money no food!

Last month he gave his entire salary to his class to top up their canteen cards and for the last month I've been paying for his dinners each evening but instead of asking the school for help he simply goes about it the wrong way. Last Friday evening in Nanchang he knocked on my hotel door and told me he needed to go to the hospital and asked to borrow money and I of course being the caring guy I am gave him 500 Yuan simply because I never get sick and have no idea how much a doctors/hospital visit costs. About ten minutes later I thought, hey, we've eaten the exact same thing all day and evening and I feel fine so I went down stairs and asked the hotel staff if they had seen him.

Yes they had and they had shown him to the Mahjong floor!

<u>Why Did I Pay For Two Rooms & Not Share?</u>

He spits, hocks and snorts a thousand times more than any AFL player.

What they do in one game he does each and every five minutes and it doesn't matter where; the classroom, restaurants, cinema, taxi, supermarket and even in my apartment....he was evicted for that one. I was like, I throw my students out for spitting and you yell at them and then hock, snort and spit at the back of the classroom the very next minute but you don't do that shit in my apartment...LEAVE!

He's a good looking guy and the girls are into him...until five minutes later when he hocks, snorts and spits. I remember when we went to see The Hobbit, the cinema girl was right into him and just as he was about to give her the money for the tickets he covered one nostril and totally gave the other one a free ride.

Both she and I actually jumped back in total shock and disbelief! Hey, he's the one appointed by the school and local government to look after me; What the hell can I do except dodge loogies and try not to barf at dinner sometimes. So I guess the question is actually not 'is he a good or bad person'? The question actually is 'am I a sucker and a stupid person or a caring one'?

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Linkin Park The album was &#8216;New Divide’ That’s for you Cristina my Moo Moo Cow iSister! Miss you and Kungfu Ken…oh and those delicious Macau egg tarts! ____________________________________________________________

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