A Travellerspoint blog

November 2006

The New Danger

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya

I noticed today that I had a new danger to face whilst walking the streets of Baiyin. Not only do I now have to look down I now also have to look up. There are what I now call 'bombs' everywhere waiting for the unexpected person.

Bomb Threat Number 1: Uncovered 'man-holes' - don't go getting all politically correct on me and call them 'person-holes'. They have been man holes for a long long time and that's what they are. Ok, a big danger you face almost everywhere you walk or ride in China are uncovered holes in the ground. Many have the actual 'cover' sitting somewhere near but the 'workers' whom last 'worked' there couldn't be bothered putting the cover back on. Most sadly, just have no cover at all. These can be found on the busiest streets and footpaths along with the quieter side streets.

Bomb Threat Number 2: Doggie & Kiddie Bombs - I guess at one stage in China's history 'doggie bombs' wouldn't have been a problem. Fido was dinner! Now that he's not and it seems that every second person in Baiyin has a puppy or two there are hundreds of 'doggie bombs' everywhere. I'm not saying that everyone should carry a plastic bag with them like back in Australia, that would be good but it won't happen in this society, maybe Shanghai and Shenzhen, that's about it.

Beside each foot path here in China (or most parts I've been too) there is a little island or garden where a few trees are planted and in other parts of China grass and flowers can be found. What I am saying is why don't they drag or train their dog to take a few extra steps to the island/garden that separates the path from the road.

At least 'most' of the young kids are trained by their parents to head for the island/gardens to drop their bombs when it's time. Yep, children up to the age of four seem to just stop and take a dump anywhere they please. It leaves me completely speechless every time I see it happen. Usually there is a public toilet within a minutes walk but no, little Ling Ming is allowed to just squat in the garden. Like I said though, most head for the island/garden. Some I'm afraid to say just drop their bomb on the foot path.

Males of all ages can also usually be spotted facing a tree in these areas at any time of the day.

Bomb Threat Number 3: Ice Bombs - Today whilst I was walking along I discovered a new threat and one I consider pretty bloody dangerous. Here in China we have guttering but there are no 'down pipes' but a short pipe that angles the water out on the footpath. Winter is a bugger of a time to walk around the shopping area in areas where it actually rains. In the south they build these little coverings so the rain doesn't go in the shop door, but what you actually have is a footpath with hundreds of gutter less coverings that run onto the footpath.

Hence - the amount of people that walk on the road. Very strange building idea!

Anyhow, today I spotted two kids throwing stuff at the guttering. I thought maybe there was a cat there so I headed over to save the cat only to find frozen water. I then looked back the way I had came and found the same all the way along the footpath. These 'Ice Bombs' are actually hanging over the footpath. Many look pretty bloody heavy and some even sharp.

Oh the dangers I face in this tough life I lead.

Whilst I'm looking down protecting myself from 'doggie & kiddie' bombs I have dangerous 'ice bombs' above me and whilst looking up protecting myself from dangerous 'ice-bombs' I am threatened by 'doggie & kiddie' bombs. Any water on the ground is now almost frozen over, so what happens if I step on a 'doggie & kiddie' bomb on the way to work?

Like I said, oh the dangers I face here. It's a tough life peoples, real tough. But someone has to do it. Thankfully me!

Beers N Noodles to ya...shane

The New Danger

The New Danger

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

A New Warmth For The Freezing Cold

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you all

I thought it was time for a quick visit to Travelpod Land and offer a few words of wisdom.

Snow really is cold! If you can stay away from it, do so! It really is wet, cold, slippery and useless! The only thing it's good for is to look at from behind the warmth of your window!

BUT...maybe I will break.

Last night as I was walking around town after my nightly 'Around Tenish Noodles', once again those horrid little buggers gently began falling from the sky. After a few minutes I felt my first 'warmth' towards good old Frosty. As I was walking snow flakes would fly into my nose on an in take of air. At first I thought I had a blood nose but there was no blood. Then it happened again and when I realised what it was the child within leapt out and I began to giggle.

Those passing by must have thought I was crazier than what I they already think I am.

From then on I looked around me with a new 'fun filled' vision. Soon I will be building snowmen with the children at school. On weekend walks through the parks I will be invited to join in snow fights and building snowmen.

It really is gonna be a new life experience for me.

I always promised myself I'd never teach in the north due to the climate, but here I am. I find myself walking amongst that which I wanted to stay away from AND it was my own decision. I actually could have been teaching on the tropical island of Hainan Island, but instead I chose to head north and fulfill promises I had made to myself and another special person who'd been given the back seat for too long.

So from the warm tropical lush greens to the barren north I've come.

Whilst walking last night, after my little giggle and new awakening I realised that this really will be a huge life experience full of adventure and learning. Not only will I get to live, work and ride around a desert city but in that same city I will have a second new life experience that of snow, freezing temperatures, learning how to dress properly and sadly that sandals really will have no place here until sometime next year.

Now that really is a bugger for me!

I look at my sandals each morning as I put on my layers of thermals and polar fleece and remember all the good times we have shared. Memories of warmth and sunshine flow through me. Oh poor poor Shane! OOOOHHHH!

Sorry people's, I was actually telling you how excited I was beginning to feel wasn't I.

Oh yeah, how cool is this. I will also have my first White Christmas. I'm actually getting very excited about that one. It wasn't until last night when I was chatting to a friend on the phone that it sunk in that there are only four weeks until Christmas.

Me being me was still living in October. Man time flies when ya havin fun!

So, to life in general. What have I been doing?

Sweet bugger all really. School is just awesome and teaching my kids this year is just a dream. My one year 'Teaching Syllabus' is coming along great. The kids help heaps and we chat about what to add in for next time etc.

I stoopidly tried going for a bike ride yesterday and after forty minutes I headed back home to jump under the doona to warm up. It's just too cold. When I looked out of the window it was snowing, no wonder my nose, cheeks and ears felt like they were going to burn off.

I guess it really is walking from now on. It's hard to comprehend. It's just not the same!

Life's been pretty much about having a heap of fun at school, walking around to keep fit N healthy, chatting to people on MSN, creating new Lesson Stuff and getting frustrated by putting on and taking off layers of clothing. I went for a few hours walk out into the hills the other day just to have a look at the Desert Mountains covered in snow. I must say, they look a lot better covered in snow. I forgot my camera so I'll have to head back out again soon.

The attached photo is of the Castle Thingy outside my bedroom balcony window. This is what I wake up to each morning. How Beautiful!

Before I go let's have a look at what I get to experience all in one year.

1: The Desert 2: Living in a desert city. 3: Riding through the desert. 4: Living amongst a huge Muslim population. 5: Big Snow 6: Living in a snow filled city. 7: Learning how to live with snow. 8: Hating layers upon layers of clothing. 9: Building snowmen. 10: Having snow fights. 11: A White Christmas. 12: A White New Years 13: Both 11 & 12 spent indoors.

So in one year I will experience both climates I never EVER wanted to experience. For those people who know me, when you really really think about it, isn't it amazing how stupid I can be!

Just adding it to the list hey. You're not amazed huh... HHhhmm!

A million beers and noodles to you all...shane PS: remember, life really is one long noodle!

Bugger, Frosty Is Here

Bugger, Frosty Is Here

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

Did I ever tell you that I HATE HATE HATE SNOW!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you all

What can I say, I really am a freak. Until today I had been enjoying my extended 'Shanes Summer'. Until today I've still been in shorts and short sleeves. BUT, yes, there is always a BUT! When I arrived at school this morning someone said to me;

'You do know it's been between +3 and -1 each day for the past four days'.

Actually I didn't know and really didn't want to know. I'm very happy in my extended summer so;

LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR said I with my fingers in my ears as she replied.

After the mornings last class I was heading down stairs to go for lunch and I heard hundreds of children yelling and screaming outside. I thought something really bad had happened so I quickly headed out the door to find...something really bad had happened. It was snowing!

HATE SNOW...HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE SNOW!

Useless, good for nothing, cold N wet stuff it is.

HATE SNOW...HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE SNOW!

So peoples, the furnace in my body went out today and as of tomorrow it will sadly be winter for me. I shall join all the other freaks on the streets dressed in multi-layers of clothing. Oh how uncomfortable as I know that when I'm inside I'm gonna be too hot with the heating on in the classrooms.

The snow we had today wasn't the Christmas Card type stuff. It was just little flakes slowly drifting down and melting as they hit the ground. Someone happily told me (as they were jumping up and down clapping their hands) that the Christmas Card snow will probably arrive next week when it reaches minus 17.

I nearly fell over.

Next week!

So they say they said!

I don't like they, them say too much!

BRRRRRRRRRR!

HATE SNOW!

BUGGER!

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

The Great Southern Corn Ride Part 2

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you all

Huang Chwun or The Yellow River, the life line of southern Gansu Province.

Takes many hours to get there but once you reach it it's a beautiful place to be. My Teacher Friends and I spent the afternoon on the banks of the Yellow River a few weeks after my arrival at the 'Green and Leafy' town of Si Long.

Well....not my type of green and leafy and not my type of town I guess.

Today I decided on heading further south along what I've named 'The Great Southern Corn Ride'. For me it's a real treat and as beautiful a ride as it gets up here in southern Gansu. I get to follow a green artery for as far as I wish. As already stated in my last Corn Ride entry, the greenness really doesn't go that far back but for me, it has to be enough. So once again I found myself peddling past happy smiling farmers whose lives are spent in their fields and are more than happy to offer a huge smile and wave followed by a loud HELLOW!

On my last Corn Ride I actually had no idea where I was going and how far I could go. I ended up stopping and spending much of the afternoon in little villages being chased by local village children. When I got to school and was asked where I rode and how far. I was told that if I continued I would reach the Yellow River and a town called 'Noodles'.

Sorry I really have no idea and can't remember the name of the town but will find out.

My Singapore buddy sent me a map that has both Chinese and Pinyin. I just need to get it to school and have the Chinese English Teachers tell me where I've actually ridden to. That's a job for next week.

I woke this morning to a beautiful warm and yellow sun in a huge cloudless blue sky and decided to point the front wheel south and ride until I reached the Yellow River and the town called Noodles. It was such a beautiful ride. What I actually found when I reached my southern destination was something I really wasn't prepared for.

For all those Hothouse Freaks out there, grab your walking stick, point your walking shoes this way and make your pilgrimage to Gansu China mate. This town was unbelievable. Not only was it huge but it was made up of row after row after row after row after row after row after row after row of mud brick Hothouses.

For those who think I put too many row after rows in the last sentence, point ya pilgrimage shoes this way mate and head on up to the town of Noodles. It really is like nothing I've seen before. The Hothouses create the most extraordinary labyrinth of back streets. I seriously got lost. It really isn't that often I get lost in any city or town but at one stage I actually had no idea which direction to ride to find my way out.

Finally I caught a glimpse of the mountains and knew I had to head the other way.

Whilst I was lost in the maze of Hothouses I spent time with young children playing marbles, pulling carts full of veggies and then I heard the sound that all bike riders dread...the sound of air escaping in a big whoosh from one of their tyres.

People often ask me, 'How do you get around China without speaking Chinese?' Easy, actions! For the following forty minutes I would stop and ask where I could get my tyre fixed. How did I do this? Push on my front tyre and show them. After a giggle they'd point me in a direction through the maze. After repeating this many times I finally found my way back to the main street where several old men had set up shop with some tools, patch kits and replacement tubes.

No matter where you are in China, even the most remote village you will never have a problem getting a puncture fixed. Remember, most people in China still get around on some form of bicycle. There is always a Mr Fix It close by. After having my puncture fixed I headed for a huge bowl of noodles to gather some energy for the long ride home.

By now it was around 4:30pm. By the time I got home it was around eight.

When that sun goes down and is hidden by the mountains it gets bloody cold up here.

Believe me, by the time I carried my bike up nearing 60 steps to my apartment and was welcomed by the warmth of the Steam Heating God I was a very happy man. It was a warm end to a perfect day. I also found a little hotel in Noodle Town I can stay in. I intend on returning to spend a weekend amongst the hot houses. I didn't have time to head across to visit the other part of the town on the far side of the Yellow River.

Another day, another bike ride.

The Great Southern Corn Ride part 3...coming to a Travelpod near you!

Beers N Noodles to ya...shane

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

Lets face it mate, English is a real bugger!

Hey Hey and a big G'day to you all

Several years ago I received an email from a friend, it was about the English language and how much of a bugger it really is. I thought it was great but deleted it anyhow. Ever since arriving in China to teach I've been trying to find it. Each time I get asked a straight forward and simple question by a Chinese English Teacher my mind returns to the email that I deleted so long ago. Their English is what we know as 'Text Book English'. This means there IS an explaination for everything and there IS a rule hidden there somewhere.

Sometimes I have to shake my head and simply say...I really have no idea!

Finally the email I deleted long ago has made its way around the globe and has returned to me. I now offer it simply as a minutes giggle in your day.

There is no egg in the eggplant, no ham in the hamburger and neither pine nor apple in the pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England, French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted. But if we examine its paradoxes we find that Quicksand takes you down slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If writers write, how come fingers don't fing. If the plural of tooth is teeth, shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth.

If the teacher taught, why didn't the preacher praught. If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what the heck does a humanitarian eat!?

Why do people recite at a play, yet play at a recital? Park on driveways and drive on parkways.

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language where a house can burn up as it burns down and in which you fill in a form by filling it out.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which of course isn't a race at all). That is why when the stars are out they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible. And why it is that when I wind up my watch it starts but when I wind up this story it ends?

Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery? If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a race car not called a racist?

Why are wise men and wise guys opposites? Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?

If horrific means to make horrible, does terrific mean to make terrible?

Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked and dry cleaners depressed?

Why is it that if someone tells you that there are 1 billion stars in the universe you will believe them, but if they tell you a wall has wet paint you will have to touch it to be sure?

If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he become disoriented? If people from Poland are called "Poles," why aren't people from Holland called "Holes?

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