Finding Myself in China: My 11.45 am flight left at 1pm. Knowing that this would happen, I had bought my international ticket from Beijing, and chanced travelling to Beijing the day before. That also meant that I would need accommodation on the 14th. After checking the Internet, I came across the Beijing Aulympic - Olympic - Hotel, located very close to the airport. The fees were very very very low and that suited me fine. I did not expect however, that the hotel would be as nice as it was.
From Chinese Winter to Australian Summer : Homeward Bound 2010
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This article relates some events in my life as I traveled from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to Brisbane in Australia, in January 2010. Containing 5 separate stories first published at Magic City Morning Star News between February 1st and 5th 2010, it contains photographs that may not have appeared in the Magic City Morning Star News Edition. The photographs are not specifically placed to match the article text.
I write this whilst sitting in the heat of Queensland's Perfect weather; hence the 'hot air' title, but the story is actually about the snow and ice in Baotou in Inner Mongolia.
From the time I first arrived in Baotou (June 26th) until I finished work there on January 10th, I had not had much opportunity to do any sightseeing, and so therefore, have not had much to offer readers in the way of photographs of the area. The city itself does not really have much to offer, other than a number of parks and gardens; the most interesting of which in my opinion is the Grasslands Park. I have on many occasions visited or seen a variety of parks, but usually not with my camera in hand, and I don't own one of those mobile phones with the ability to take photographs. Those types of mobile phones are far too complicated for this feeble mind to work out. I'm still coming to terms with using mobile phones, and in an up coming story you will come to understand just how difficult modern technology is for me.
Anyway, getting back to the point at hand; just before I left Henry's Private English School in Baotou on January 10th, the city received a few hours snow to add to the ice that was left over from the one day of snow we had had about 6 weeks earlier. With 4 days free between ending my employment at Henry's school, and my flight back to Australia, I took the opportunity to take my camera out to a rather deserted looking park alongside of which is some type of water storage facility.
I had visited the park twice before, once in Summer and again a few weeks ago to see if the water was frozen. On neither occasion were there people to be found there, so I am guessing that it is not a popular place. Once we got the fresh snow I went up there again with trusty camera to capture these shots. On the map, the area looks like a river, but it can only be a dry river bed that feeds into the Yellow River. I have been told that it takes an hour to drive out to the Yellow river. This tributary is just 'up the road' so to speak, on the edge of town.
It is hard to describe. One half of this river bed has been filled in, and the rest of it has been turned into a series of water catchments. Each segment is quite long and each has at one end, water that is just an inch deep. At the other end of each segment it is probably several meters deep. Who knows? But there is a barrier of sorts between each segment, on the other side of which is a 3-5 meter drop, at which point there begins a new catchment area. Each segment has a concrete 'bottom / base/ floor,' so that the water doesn't seep down into the water table. It appears to be a place where flash floods are trapped, perhaps to avoid letting water run out into the desert to evaporate. These two photos (below) are of workmen who were digging a trench beside what can only be described as a 'dam' which separates the various segments.
It wasn't until I went on a few more meters that I realised why they were digging the trench. Apparently, underneath the surface there is some kind of 'heater' to melt the ice, which then flows down into the next segment. It was quite interesting to watch the steamy water running through the ice. The park constructed alongside the water catchment is also quite interesting, with a number of sulptures or themed features. It's worst feature was that it has no WC's (Washrooms). Yes that was me furtively lurking about under the bridge - won't tell you what I was doing!
At the time I took these photos, the water was frozen, and tracks across it were visible. What was interesting was the depth of snow on the surface. It seemed to be far more than we had a few blocks away in the Kunqu District CBD. Now I have included here a photograph of two penguins, but those are just for show. Like those who take photos of them, they are just dummies. The Ice sculpture behind them is created by a series of pipes through which hot water is pumped. The pool tables out in the snowy park are not however for show! They are real! For some reason however, (perhaps -20 degree temperatures?) they were covered and no one was using them. (That was not a redundant statement!) The tables are located in the same park as the penguins, which is to say, at the end of the block on which I lived (Linyin Road), at the intersection with Gangtie Dajie.
The photo of the people walking on the ice was taken at a pond on Tuanjie Dajie, within walking distance of where I was living. I traveled past it every day on the bus and was determined to go there and get some photographs. Of course if you come from a place where it snows, these photos mean absolutely nothing, but for those of us from places with decent climates, they are interesting.
So there you have it. Just a few photographs I took before heading back to Sunny Queensland Australia, where everything is beautiful one day and perfect the next! (It says so in the State Advertising Campaign!) I hope you enjoyed this little snippet from my life. Within days I will publish a few more articles of what has transpired since these photographs were taken. If you would like to see some more photographs of Baotou, go to the links contained at the bottom of the article entitled: Sitting Pretty in Baotou Inner Mongolia. (That article was specifically written because I knew that my first employers in Baotou were disreputable.)
I am writing this little story whilst sitting in the Summer heat in Brisbane Australia, but the story itself takes place in the Winter Cold of China. On January 14th 2010, I commenced my trip back to Australia. The temperature at that time was varying between minus 15 and minus 20 degrees. It was for this Aussie, despite living in China for 7 years, truly cold.
Although in Baotou, the buildings come equipped with central heating - a simply marvelous invention - once you hit the cold outside air your system goes into shock. Everyday when I went to work, the first thing that happened was that my eyes would run rivers of tears. Half the time I couldn't even feel them. The other thing that happens is that your nose begins to run. But not to worry, in 2 minutes flat the snot freezes up and you are OK until you enter warmer air. But this story is not about nose snot!
Having air traveled between Baotou and Shanghai on occasions, I pretty much knew that it would be fruitless to buy a ticket direct from Baotou to Brisbane. This because the planes in Baotou are always many hours late, and of course, they did not disappoint me on January 14th. My 11.45 am flight left at 1pm. Knowing that this would happen, I had bought my international ticket from Beijing, and chanced travelling to Beijing the day before. That also meant that I would need accommodation on the 14th. After checking the Internet, I came across the Beijing Aulympic - Olympic - Hotel, located very close to the airport. The fees were very very very low and that suited me fine. I did not expect however, that the hotel would be as nice as it was.
View from my hotel Window
When I booked the room I asked for a driver to meet me at the airport, and he did. That sounds simple but it really wasn't. Firstly, I had no idea where to find the bus, and despite the fact that someone at the hotel could speak English, it was still difficult to get directions with regard to the meeting the bus. I ended up doing that in Chinese. After a few phone calls, I found myself waiting on the 4th level of the airport in a pick up area (not that sort of pick up), and finally my phone rang and as I tried to answer it, the driver introduced himself. The phone call was from him just to make sure I was the right foreigner. The drive to the hotel was short, but noting how we got there reminded me of a guest comment on the hotel website warning that taxi drivers can't find the place. No wonder! The name of the hotel on the brochure is 'Beijing Aulympic Airportel,' but in every other place it was just Beijing Olympic Hotel.
Except for the Chinese breakfast which I still won't eat, every other facility and amenity that you could wish for was available. The room was spacious, airy, clean and above all, warm. In fact, just as I do in Baotou, I slept with the window open to cool the room down. Central heating delivers just one temperature in all rooms, and I prefer a cooler sleep, even in winter.
The first thing I did upon entering the room was hit the Internet and post articles for Magic City Morning Star News. After that I checked emails. Later in the evening, having read that google had removed their censoring of politically incorrect content in China, I decided to try it out. Yep! I typed in Tiananmen square massacre photos and had everything I could wish to read, available at the click of a button. (Next morning I couldn't access the Internet at all! mmmm?)
Left Frame: R.P. BenDedek on Yancheng TV Program
I prefer local food to hotel food, and so for both dinner and breakfast I went out into the streets and found a local dive. For dinner, I ordered Qingjiao Rousi, and ended up with a different dish. Eh! you get that. None of us spoke proper Mandarin (they came from Sichuan) and I knew that they had difficulty understanding my pronunciation. No worries! It was a great dish. I even had a floor show. The Twenty year old boy who served me ended up in a fight with the drunk cook, and I thought for awhile that it was going to be a full on punch up. Everyone was embarrassed to have allowed the foreigner see the event - but hey! - I have seen worse in China. Fist fights usually occur between members of the 'Gentle' sex. This was the 2nd time in 7 years I have seen males fighting. I have lost track of the number of 'fairer sex' fights. Gotta watch those Chinese women!
On the 15th, I took the bus back to the airport and boarded a flight to Hong Kong. The journey took about three and a half hours, and by the time I arrived, I was just about broiled. I proceeded to the Washroom where I stripped off my long underwear, a T-shirt, 2 pairs of thermal underwear tops, and a sweater, and swapped my boots for regular shoes. Just as well I had taken an extra empty carry bag to stuff my underwear into. I couldn't have sat on the next plane wearing all that clothing for the next 9 hours.
Well that is all I want to write at the moment. I hope that you have enjoyed this snippet from my life, and hope those of you having a stopover in Beijing now have some information at your fingertips in regard to where to stay.
The Beijing Aulympic Airportel room cost me just 199 rmb for the evening. Address: No. 36 Xiao Tian Zhu Road, Shunyi District Beijing, 100621 Fax: 86-010-64548082 Telephone 86-010-58271122
On January 14th I flew from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to Beijing. That night I stayed in the Beijing Aulympic Airportel and next day flew to Hong Kong where I connected with a Qantas flight to traveling to Brisbane Australia. The three and a half hour flight from Beijing was quite pleasant, and I spent a reasonable amount of time talking with 'Vaibhav' an Indian who was returning home to India after a month of working in Beijing.
In Hong Kong I transferred to Qantas Flight 98, which left Hong Kong at 22.45 local time on it's 8.5 hour trip to Brisbane. I have traveled Qantas countless times, but never have I witnessed the 'extra security precautions' that were taken in Hong Kong. We were all made to line up single file and be 'inspected.' We had to produce our passports to the first inspector, and then 'some people' (not specifically mentioning ethnic persons of the Muslim persuasion) were quizzed by a second officer.
Bribie Island looking out to Moreton Island Queensland
Once we had our boarding passes checked, we headed down the ramp to baord the plane. Then we discovered that we were to undergo individual hand luggage inspection. Having security officers looking through your unmentionables is bad enough without having everyone else having a gander as well. I realise that security is necessary, and that perhaps the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had received a 'tip off' about some specific matter, but I gotta tell you folks, all that 'strange' security was a little unnerving.
With that out of the way however, we passengers settled down for our flight. Now as I have said, I have traveled Qantas many times, and I always enjoy talking to the staff. I am one of those passengers who simply cannot sleep on a plane, not even in the fancy type of business class section (you know - the one almost like 1st class). Additionally my legs cramp and swell, and so I am constantly walking up and down the aisles to keep the blood circulating. I therefore always appreciate the friendliness of Qantas staff. It can't be easy for them having to get from the galley past those queing for the washrooms and those of us blocking the aisles.
I can honestly say that I have N-E-V-E-R encountered a surly, impolite or obnoxious Qantas staff member and simply don't understand why it is that from time to time, Qantas staff get a bad rep in the press. They are always very friendly, and except for this specific trip, have always been female. I was to discover on this trip however, that most of the attendants were male. There was John, Craig, Terrance Chin, Lucas, and there was also a Brendan, but I can't read my notes so I can't remember if that Brendan was the pilot Capt. Heslin, or another person. There were two female crew as well, but I only got one name, that of Gabrielle.
Surf Side Bribie Island
You might well ask if I usually go around taking down the names of the crew. Well actually I don't, but the flight started with such a laugh, and the crew were such characters that I did in fact write down their names. So how did the flight start with a laugh? Well - it was like this.
As we were taxiing out to the tarmac for take off, an announcement was made, and it went like this:
'Ladies and Gentlemen, we are just going to dim the lights a little to enhance the appearance of the Cabin Crew.'
Everyone on the plane burst out laughing at the announcement and so I figure that it was just the right thing to say after scaring us all out of our wits with the extra precautionary security checks. I might also add that dimming the lights didn't enhance the cabin crew's appearances.
Monteville Swimming in swollen creek and Bribie Parachuting
Throughout the flight I made frequent trips to the galley area, and at various times talked with different staff members. They all appeared to get on very well together. During one brief discussion with an attendant, the subject of Google's troubles with the Chinese government was raised. I mentioned the troubles I had had with my own website, and that led to mentioning that I am a contributing columnist for a 'newspaper.'
As a joke, that attendant told another that I was a journalist with 'The Australian' newspaper, and that I was doing a story on Qantas Flight Attendants. I joined in by saying that within a few days my article and comments on the staff would be posted and everyone would know what the standard of service was like. The joke was kept up for the rest of the trip. I never did work out if anyone bought that story, but at in the final analysis, this is that article.
Congratulations to Qantas for a job well done.
We arrived at Brisbane Airport 10 minutes early and as a result had to sit and wait to disembark - and that is when I finally fell asleep. Go Figure!
I have written over the last few days of the progress of my relocation from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to Brisbane Australia, and in one of those articles, I mentioned that mobile phones are too technologically challenging for me. Today I just want to share with you some of the 'Murphy's Law' type of frustration I have suffered in relation to mobile phones.
I bought my first mobile phone in 2002 and only did so because I had planned a long road trip up the east coast of Queensland, and figured that it would be a prudent thing to ensure that I could contact 'emergency services' should the need arise.
I had a great trip and the phone came in very handy, although my kids complained that I didn't answer any of their text messages. It could text message? Go Figure!
In 2003 I moved to China, and the first thing I did of course was buy a 'SIM' card for my mobile; and the phone rejected that move outright. Back in OZ on holidays I went to the dealer who told me to call the service department where, having failed to unlock my phone using the appropriate command codes, sent me to someone who would physically unlock it so that I could use it in China. No Luck! I gave the mobile to my sister-in-law.
In 2008 whilst living in Yancheng, I finally purchased a mobile phone. I bought it while on a trip to Suzhou, and it cost only 400 rmb. It was a nifty little thing and I loved it dearly.
Unfortunately in May 2009 it fell out of my pocket during a rickshaw ride and I didn't discover that fact for 24 hours. So once again - no mobile phone.
At that point in time I was being conned into going up to Inner Mongolia to work for a private school in Baotou. The boss told me not to replace my lost mobile phone for she would surely buy me a new phone. You know what they say: If it sounds too good to be true - then it probably is!
The phone she gave me was a piece of cheap junk that had no English in it and was only useful for making local calls. (In retrospect I can understand the reasoning behind providing a phone that would cut me off from the outside world.)
When they found that I couldn't work the phone, they bought another with some English in it, but when I quit by simply walking out of the office and moving out of my apartment during the middle of my shift, I made sure to leave that phone behind.
Then I purchased another phone and it has been bearable to use. Bearable simply means 'I can use it!' which is a Chinglish expression meaning I don't want or don't like something, but will put up with it!
I brought the phone with me to Australia, and as soon as I checked into my hotel (Chermside Motor Inn 644 Gympie Road Chermside), I set off for the nearest newsagency to buy an Australian SIM card. And that's when I fell foul of Murphy's Law and my own stupidity.
The shopkeeper ask: 'Which type of card would you like? The Telstra this or the other name that or the other cheap crap or......."
I said: 'Look, I don't care. I just arrived in the country and I need a SIM card so that I can use my phone and contact my family.'
With that he sold me a Telstra Start up pack for $30 which gave me $30 worth of calls. I removed my Chinese SIM card, inserted the TELSTRA card - and nothing happened.
'Give it a minute mate!' said the Shopkeeper. 'It has to register on the network yet! You receive a message shortly! Maybe you'd like to read the instruction manual while you wait?'
"No thanks!" I snorted: "She'll be right mate!"
From Monteville looking down the valley
A little while later I received messages asking me to 'save this' and 'save that' into my phone, and with that done, I tried to call family. Nope! It wouldn't let me. I went back to the hotel and tried again. Again nothing! Tried again but by this time I'm beginning to wonder if 'Your phone is not registered,' meant more that 'give us some time mate!'
So I did what any Aussie male would do in a situation where nothing works - I read the instruction manual. Well it turns out that whereas in China you just buy a card, stick it in your phone, and 'Bob's your uncle!,' in Australia you have to provide all sorts of personal information before you can get a telephone number. (and China is not a 'free' country?)
According to the instruction manual, I could telephone TELSTRA or I could go to their Website and do what needed to be done. Unfortunately, the motel didn't provide landline connection to the internet, and as my computer is so old, it would not cooperate with whatever system it was that they had working in the motel for 'wireless' connection.
Too exhausted from all my travelling and the frustration, I decided to get a fresh start the following day (Sunday). I also decided to go see Avatar at the Mall. That was no easy task. I couldn't find the ticket office. I even asked the guy who collects tickets as you enter the cinema. 'Down at the service desk!' he told me. I couldn't find it! So I went back to the Motel and collapsed.
The next day - Sunday, I paid my $30 deposit to the Motel Manager to have the landline phone connected to my room and then made a call to Telstra. Naturally the service was automated and I sat and listened to all the choices that the 'voice' gave me. By the time it had finished, I couldn't remember which button was the appropriate one, and had to wait while the confused machine recited the instructions again.
Flooding rains a welcome relief after years of droughts.
I settled on 'Press One,' and waited. Then it gave me more choices, and I made the appropriate choice. Then it told me that my call might be monitored for instructional purposes and that I should tell the operator if I didn't want the call monitored. Then it told me to listen to all the advertising that would play while waiting to be connected, and even reminded me that I could do this registering on the internet.
Eventually I heard the ringing tone again, and waited to speak to a real live person. Instead I got:
'We are currently undergoing maintenance on this service. Please call back in 24 hours.' OK! What to do? The answer seemed plain. Forget about registering the phone until the next day, and just go to the movies. (I had discovered by then that the tickets are sold at the snack bar). I had seen that Avatar was on at the cinema in the local mall, so off I went.
As I entered the mall I saw a Telstra shop. What luck! So I went in to see if they could help me, but was reminded yet again, that nothing is simple in my life.
I went to the service desk and stood beside another fellow who was waiting there. After about 5 minutes I asked him if the place had any service staff. He assured me that eventually someone would come and speak to me and then I would have to wait for the first available person to talk to. And that is just what happened. I waited and waited and waited. I had my name taken down and the nature of the problem, and then waited and waited some more.
Montville business premises
Finally a lady comes to talk to me and after a brief discussion, we head off to their 'customer use' computers. This lady was really helpful navigating the system.
Finally she says: 'OK! Now we just need your address. Where do you live?'
'In Inner Mongolia China' I informed her.
'Oh! That won't do! Can you give me an Australian address?' she asked. So I gave her my sister's address. 'OK! Now what is her telephone number?'
'I don't know!' I reply. 'The number is in my computer!'
'Is there anyone else whose number you know?'
'I know my brother's number, but I don't know his address!'
The lady smiled one of those 'oh isn't it fun to be dealing with old people' smiles. Then she asked me where I was staying. So I told her. She asks if I know the address and telephone number. I assured her that I did. She types in the address and then I opened my mobile phone to show her the hotel telephone number.
The computer then informed us that they didn't match. Oh Crap! At that point I gave up and left to go to the movies. Much later I discovered that I had provided the telephone number for the Olympic Hotel in Beijing. That was a rather silly thing to do, but not as silly as both of us having failed to look up the Chermside Motor Inn telephone number in the phone book.
Next day, when Telstra services had been restored to normal, I phoned the company, went through all the automated service, and finally got connected to a wonderful chap - in the Philippines! Well, at least he got me connected! Problems solved. Or so I thought!
Not long after finishing my call to the Philippines, I discovered two things. The first was that I could now make calls, and the second was that my phone battery was critical. OK then! Before I start calling people, I will charge up the phone. Right? Wrong!
I'm using a Chinese phone in Australia, which means that the charger plug won't go into the power outlet. So it was off to buy an adapter. I went back to the shopping center, bought an adapter and put my phone on to charge.
Inside Poets Cafe Montville
At the mall I used the "public use" computers to send everyone an email listing my new telephone number.
Some hours later I discover that I had missed two telephone calls. I called the first number, and got one daughter's answering machine. I then called the next number, and got a lady's voice on the phone. Thinking it was my daughter, I put on a fake Indian voice and started to talk - AND SHE CUT ME OFF!
I then texted a message which said: 'Don't you recognise your father's voice? Maybe I should have spoken in Chinese.'
Over the next 3 days, everyone I contacted insisted that they had never received such a call nor any such text message. Then I got an email from my brother asking why had I sent his Wife a message about not recognising her father's voice. Did I not know that her father had died the year before. Well at least the explanation gave everyone a good laugh.
So there I was in Brisbane for 48 hours with no way to contact anyone. Well actually that isn't quite true, for I had paid for the landline to my motel room to be connected, but no one answered their phones. At least that was understandable.
My sister had an operation the day before I arrived and my eldest daughter had had a 'C section' the day previous to that. Everyone was out visiting everyone else in the various hospitals and of course telephones must be switched off in the hospitals.
Between Murphy's Law, dreaded technology, and Telstra, I spent the first 2 days in Brisbane, incommunicado and judging by some of the emails I get from Magic City Readers, that is just the way they like me!
I have this week been publishing an account of my trip from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to Brisbane in Australia. I've written about the ice and snow in Baotou, my stay at the Beijing Olympic Hotel, My Qantas flight from Hong Kong to Brisbane, and my troubles getting my mobile phone to work when I arrived. Today I am going to tell you about a recent activity that would have shocked my father, were he still alive. I went fishing!
My father tried his best to be a good father, and he loved fishing, but fishing is one of those things that I put on par with having teeth pulled at the dentist. My dad loved to fish, but for some reason thought it was a good thing for me (certainly not for himself), to take me out in a little boat with oars and outboard, to try my hand at the game. My father simply couldn't get it through his skull that I simply did not W-A-N-T to be sticking worms on hooks and nor could I master the simple art of tying hook and sinker on a fishing line. I frustrated the hell out of him on every occasion we went fishing, but he persisted. And I never learned a thing. Watching paint dry in my opinion was just as exciting as fishing, except when he would catch a shark.
Driving into Maleny - beautiful countryside
My dad would hook the sods and spend ages dragging them to the side of the boat where he would proceed to bash their heads in with a hammer. I remember on one occasion when, having concluded that the shark was dead, he proceeded to drag it into the little boat. He miscalculated. No sooner had he managed to get the 2 meter monster in the boat when it came back to life. The boat was only 3 meters long (if that), and being shorter than either the fish or the boat was long, I was terrified.
I have always been terrified of sharks, and with good reason. My father's favourite fishing spot was down at Hayes Inlet near the Hornibrook Bridge at Redcliffe, and the area was infested with the monsters. Hell they infest all the rivers as far as 40 kilometers inland. I've had a close and personal encounter with a shark in the ocean, and I fairly walked on water - or was that ran on water to get away from it. Such is the morbid and ingrained fear of sharks that once when I went swimming in the Hanjiang river, just 100 metres from the Yangtze River junction, that it took real will power to convince myself that I had absolutely no fear of being eaten by a shark there - 1000 kilometers from the sea.
Another thing that drove my father crazy when we went fishing was that I seemed to have a wonderful knack of getting my line tangled and he spent most of his time untangling my lines. To add insult to injury, if we ever caught anything, I simply refused to eat it. But all that said and done I do admire my father for having had the patience that he did. It was something I could not give my own boys, cause they knew more about fishing than I ever did, so we didn't indulge in the pastime together. Sorry boys! Given my disdain for fishing, you can imagine my reaction when my little brother decided it would be a great thing if we caught up with each other and spent some quality time together by going fishing. I did gently try to dissuade him from the idea, but his love for the sport overrode his aural senses, and so it was that I found myself going on a fishing trip. At least I knew I was not going to have to contend with sharks, for he had chosen to go to Lake Baroon.
The exact distance from the heart of Brisbane is unknown to me, but I can estimate that it is around 90 kilometers. It's a small manmade lake which in parts is at least 34 meters deep. This I know for a fact, because my brother, the penultimate sportsman who never likes to leave anything to chance, has a sonar device installed in the Kayak (our mode of transport for the occasion) that lets him know not just the depth of the water, but where the fish are, and whether or not it is worth the effort to circle the area in an effort to catch something.
Old style queenslander home in Landsborough
Now you did read that right. In a lake - no sharks - with sonar and paddling around in a kayak. No ordinary kayak mind you. This one has peddles that you ride like a bicycle (both of you) and they power the kayak, being as they are, connected to paddles under the kayak. My brother assured me that I would not have to contend with worms, hooks, tying lines or untangling them. And he was right. There is no sinker on the line, and he uses lures with multiple hooks. You don't even tie them on the line. You just snaplock them into place and 'bob's your uncle.'
While all of that sounded great, what I was not sure about was the actual kayaking. I can't keep my balance at the best of time, and he warned me that I must never move suddenly or lean too much to one side or try to turn around in the kayak. So there I sat in the damn thing, transfixed like a kangaroo in the headlights of a car, fearing to move a muscle.
By now you have already noticed a number of photographs taken of the countryside location of the Dam, so I will show you a little map to give you an idea of where we were.
Of course, given that most people reading this live in the USA or Canada, it ain't gonna be of much use to you, but you never know when you might be passing Australia and feel like dropping in.
As kids we were often taken on long drives in the country on the weekends. I'm not sure why because I'm sure we drove dad crazy. It did however leave me with a love for the countryside and the Maleny-Montville area is certainly one of the more beautiful places that can be found within a short distance of Brisbane. Located to the north of the city and with views of the ocean, the area is quite hilly. The Glasshouse Mountains can be seen from most locations, and they are remnants of ancient volcanoes. Their name derives from the fact that from the ocean, they reflected the sunlight and so appeared to be made of glass. My brother was kind enough on our return trip, to stop in several places to allow me to take these photos which I am presenting here today for your pleasure. Just 4 days later I was back in the area with my cousins just for the drive. We went up to Montville for breakfast at the Poets Cafe and had a bit of a 'chin-wag.'
We like to say that Australia is the lucky country, but within that country, I think the city of Brisbane is the luckiest place, because whichever direction you go, there are great scenic spots to visit, and of course, Lake Baroon where I went fishing, is one of them. We had almost no rain from 2001 to 2008 and our water supplies were down to just 5% if my memory serves me right, before we finally started getting rain. According to my brother, Lake Baroon is currently only at 40% of capacity, although given the rain we have had since the fishing trip, it has probably improved.
Tibrogargan - one of the glasshouse mountains - did I get it right? Spelling right?
Never having been on a kayak before, I did not want to take my bulky camera out on the water and more's the pity. The wildlife is spectacular. Brother did however take his pocket camera, which is how I come to have a photo of me releasing a fish. Dad would drop dead if he was still alive, to see me with my fingers in a fish's mouth.
The photo is not staged, and I am proud to say that I not only caught the first fish of the day, but caught enough to have to release one since it would have taken us over our permitted catch. I did rather well for myself actually. Three big bass (less one I let go), one something else which, while small, was a legal sized fish, and one something else, also small, which my brother dropped while getting it off the hook. I did tell you that I don't take hooks out of a fish's mouth - yes? Well I don't!
We had a good day, and my brother learned a new side of my character. While Nixon couldn't chew gum and do something or other as well at the same time, I apparently couldn't talk and peddle the kayak at the same time. And when I didn't talk, I tended to think a lot, and that too was not conducive to peddling. Oh well! You get that with beginners. At one stage we were peddling along when something struck my line. I quickly grabbed the rod and started reeling the fish in, but almost immediately the line went slack. Oh well! Doesn't matter!
Only shot of me fishing. Brother in right frame with his kayak
About 5 minutes later brother yelled: 'I got one! Bring your line in so we don't cross tangle!' As soon as I started reeling the line in, I realised that it was a bit heavy and all of a sudden the line went crazy. We both had fish on our lines. I reeled mine in but brother dropped it before he could get it in the boat. Mine was a littlie (small one), but brother lost a big one. Them's the breaks!
It was an interesting morning and well worth the effort. It's hard work watching brother load up that Kayak; sticking in the peddles, attaching the sonar, loading the storage compartment (which leaked and flooded) with all manner of strange equipment. It was equally tiring watching him dismantle it all. But I did help him lift the kayak onto the car. It was a good day, and I am thankful that my brother gave me the opportunity to go fishing. Now I can add that to a long list of things I have done and will never do again.
Next time he invites me out, I'm going to nick off with the kayak before he can load anything into it and just cruise around the lake. Much more interesting I think. Then again, if he doesn't get that dam leak fixed, I'll probably drown while strapped into my seat.
I do hope that you have enjoyed this little story about my vacation, and I hope you don't expect any more such stories.
My idea of an exciting activity is getting up from in front of the TV and going out to the swimming pool to cool off in this summer heat. But if anything exciting happens, I'll be sure to let you know about it.
A una di queste chiamate, ci fermiamo a fianco a una coppia di giovani. Non solo i due incauti avevano diversi sacchetti, ma portavano con sé anche una torta. Dopo varie discussioni con la bigliettaia perché la torta nel pulmino proprio non ci stava, provano ad aprire il finestrino e a passarla alla ragazza seduta di fronte a Justine. Visto che non riuscivano a spostare il vetro, sporgendomi, faccio alla bigliettaia: "Lo faccia passare da qui" (okkei, va bene, ho detto solo "da qui," il resto della frase era sottinteso!). Io, anima ingenua, credevo che una volta saliti i due giovani avrebbero trovato il modo di riprendersi la torta. E invece no! Mi sono fatta una decina di chilometri di strada sterrata con una torta gelato sulle ginocchia! E giusto per renderla ancora più precaria, era una torta a due piani con complesse decorazioni, tra cui un drago giallo con occhi e baffi di cioccolata. Avevo il terrore di spetasciarla. A questo punto, però, ridevamo da non riuscire più a respirare.
Storie dalla Cina in italiano: Dal momento che Shijiazhuang non è proprio il paradiso del turista, una volta cambiato il biglietto e anticipata la partenza (per andare sul sicuro avevo comprato un biglietto sul tardino, non si sa mai di aspettare un bus una vita e mezza, perdersi nella campagna e rimanere bloccati a Shijiazhuang!), l'unica attività a mia disposizione era il sopralluogo a uno dei centri commerciali della piazza della stazione (unico negozio degno di nota il supermercato, ho preso certe cialde al sesamo buonissime da sgranocchiare al rientro)
Dopo 45 minuti di strade tutte uguali, siamo finiti nel bel mezzo della 'zona commerciale,' dove il traffico si è fatto insostenibile e venivamo sorpassati da arzille nonnine con ceste piene di spesa. A piedi, ovviamente. Qui ho cambiato autobus, sempre seguendo le indicazioni del foglietto. Lungo la strada, sono stata messa in allarme da dei cartelli: Longmen caves: 11km. Longmen Caves: 13km. Longmen Caves: 15km. Avvicinandosi alla meta, i chilometri dovrebbero diminuire, non aumentare ¡ quando mi sono resa conto che stavo viaggiando nella direzione sbagliata avevo gia trascorso più di un'ora e mezza in autobus e mi trovavo ad oltre 15 chilometri dalle grotte. Ho fermato un taxi.
My 11.45 am flight left at 1pm. Knowing that this would happen, I had bought my international ticket from Beijing, and chanced travelling to Beijing the day before. That also meant that I would need accommodation on the 14th. After checking the Internet, I came across the Beijing Aulympic - Olympic - Hotel, located very close to the airport. The fees were very very very low and that suited me fine. I did not expect however, that the hotel would be as nice as it was
Sulla Chaoyang Wai Dajie, anonimo e un po' trascurato, sorge il Dongyue Miao (dove miao sta per tempio, che bella parola!), un tempio taoista sede anche di un museo di tradizioni popolari. Le guide lo ignorano o lo liquidano in due righe come lovely, la piantina della città non lo riporta nemmeno; a mio parere è uno dei più bei templi della città. Oltrepassato il primo cortile attraverso un colorato portale si ci si trova di fronte alla sala di preghiera, alla quale fanno da cornice oltre 70 nicchie, ognuna con una divinità in trono e un corteo di cinque statue a grandezza naturale su ogni lato. Ogni nicchia corrisponde a un diverso “dipartimento” dell'inferno taoista e ce n'è veramente per tutti i gusti, dal Dipartimento degli Spiriti dei Boschi, al Dipartimento delle Divinità della Porta, al Dipartimento delle Morti Violente al Dipartimento della Rettitudine dei Funzionari. E le statue, vivacemente dipinte e restaurate di recente, sono delle più varie.
Una ridente domenica mattina di fine marzo, un'allegra comitiva di 4 giapponesi e due italiane si è inerpicata su un minibus alla volta di un villaggio a una novantina di chilometri dal centro di Pechino, Cuandixia. Cuandixia è situato nel fondo di una vallata abitato da uno sparuto numero di famiglie (circa una settantina) che hanno deciso di aprire le loro case ai turisti. I punti di ristoro sono le loro cucine; il museo delle tradizioni popolari, il soggiorno di casa.
A circa duecento chilometri da Pechino sorge la cittadina balneare di Shanhaiguan, nota al grande pubblico in quanto punto d'inizio della Grande Muraglia. Fortunatamente, appena finiti gli edifici nuovi cominciava la vera città vecchia. Visto che stavamo cominciando a deprimerci sul serio, abbiamo deciso di imboccare uno dei tanti hutong, compiendo una specie di viaggio in un'altra dimensione. All'inizio pensavamo di essere finite in mezzo al mercato, la strada era costeggiata da banchetti con ogni tipo di prodotto, dai bottoni ai libri ai vestiti militari, ma ci siamo poi rese conto di trovarci nel centro commerciale locale: i banchetti erano allestiti all'esterno dei relativi negozi. Raggiunto un bivio alla fine del primo hutong abbiamo preso a destra, verso la sezione "cereali e carne"
Circa una ventina di minuti dopo mi si avvicina un altro cinese ad attaccar bottone, raggiunto dopo poco dal nonnetto di ritorno dalla sua passeggiata. Il nonnetto approfondisce la storia dell'americana e del cinese parlando delle relazioni uomo-donna in occidente. Riferendosi alle donne, usa il termine kaifang (开放), che io interpreto come "cordiale”,"caloroso”, ma che poi scopro significare "disponibile”. Le occidentali hanno l'abitudine di abbracciare gente a destra e manca, ivi compresi i nonnetti al parco. A questo punto me ne sono uscita con un esterrefatto: "Eh?!”
Sabato mattina, dopo un cambio e quaranta minuti di metropolitana, ho raggiunto Haidian, quartiere alla periferia nord-ovest di Pechino, sorta di villaggio satellite. In mezzo al nulla, si erge la stazione della metro, un edificio quadrato che pare l'entrata di una bisca clandestina. Il parco era pieno di nonnini dediti alle attivitèpièsvariate, tra cui le acrobazie col diablo. Non so come, ma la versione cinese suona. A dire il vero, sembra uno sciame di mosconi impazziti. Uno dei nonnetti, poi, era un genio del diablo, faceva certe acrobazie da Cirque du Soleil.
Summer Palace Beijing: Touring Beijing: Statue di bronzo rappresentanti una fenice (simbolo dell'imperatrice) e un drago (simbolo dell'imperatore) all'esterno della Sala della Benevolenza e della Longevità.
Sabato sera, in un locale di Pechino, ho conosciuto una ragazza cinese, Sophie. Lei e un amico scattavano alcune fotografie al gruppo live. Era molto gentile e dopo un po' di conversazione ha invitato me e le due ragazze che mi accompagnavano a visitare un nuovo quartiere artistico di Pechino. Abbiamo subito accettato con piacere
Built in 1406-1420, The Imperial Palace, popularly known as the Forbidden City, was the permanent residence of the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It's buildings are divided into two parts. The front part, or the 'outer court,' consists of Tai He Dian Hall, Zhong He Dian Hall and Bao He Dian Hall, which are taken as it's main body, plus Wen Hua Dian Hall and Wu Ying Dian Hall, which are taken as it's two wings, Where the Emperor held important ceremonies
From the airport one may take the fast train into Hong Kong, or as the Chinese say, 'You can just.......' The trouble with that is, unless you can read Chinese, or have someone with you to guide you, you can't just do anything. I found it very confusing and wasted a lot of time trying to find my way OUT of the airport and onto the train, but having finally accomplished that, when I arrived at the final destination, I had no idea where I was, or where to go, or who to speak to, for, although Hong Kong was under the control of the British for so long, no one seemed to be able to speak English
If you do an internet word search for Badaling, you will find many addresses to choose from in your pursuit to know more about the Great Wall. After leaving the great wall we traveled to the Ming Tombs. Unfortunately we never got to go into any because there was a good deal of restorative work being carried on at that time. One of the lesser appreciated side effects of the 'Cultural Revolution' was the amount of malicious damage done to these tombs and other relics of China's past, and our guide was quite open in informing us of some of these events. Such a pity
Now while the tour itself was interesting, the real experience commenced upon leaving the compound. One cannot imagine what it is like to be literally surrounded by hawkers, who will not take no for an answer. They jostle you, prod you, beg, and harass you. They know that if they keep it up you will buy something. Fortunately my meager knowledge of Chinese permitted me to tell them to 'rack off'; that I wasn't interested, and that they charge too much. Not even the Chinese contingent escaped with all their finances intact, for like the westerners, they simply gave in and bought unwanted items.
Feng Qiao Road runs behind my school. Eventually it becomes Xi Zhong Shi Road (West-Middle Road) which turns into Dong (East) Zhong Shi Road. This then becomes West and East Bai Ta Road, which eventually curves around a park and canal to intersect at Dong Bei Street. A right turn at Dong Bei Street runs takes you to the City Gateway and on the otherside it is called Lou Men road. I followed Lou Men road a fair distance until I ended up in a little village, at which point I turned around and headed home
The day I was due to Leave, Zhan Yan turned up at my house saying that his summer camp had been cancelled and none of his family were in town. So guess who came with me? There is no commentary apart from the fact that it costs 50 RMB for the entrance ticket
These photos were taken from the park near to the Qing Chuan Jiari Jiudian (Holiday Inn). This next photo is taken from the other side of the Bridge looking back to the scenery behind me at the time I took the previous photos. The tower is the TV tower. One can apparently (for a modest fee) travel to the top, but the following morning when I actually went there with friends, it was closed for a special conference. Typical! Just about everywhere I have been in the world, I go to visit places that are closed for the duration of my visit.
Expats in Baotou City: Where to Eat in Baotou: The Seven Pizza bar is located on the 1st floor (western description). It is located just one block from the Main Road Gangtie Dajie and LinYin Road. That intersection also forms the North West Gate to Ba Yi Park. It's not an Up market Joint, and nor is it one of those places where the Chinese stare at the foreigner like he is a monkey in a zoo. It's a 'home away from home' place for foreigners.
The interesting thing about the ride is that as the train leaves each station, a uniformed attendant salutes the departing train. At night, people dance, talk, roller scate etc. An Island blocks the view to the ocean. The sculpture of the boy is urinating
Located at the south foot of Qixia Ridge, Yue Fei's Tomb (and Temple) is one of representative historic sites of Confucian culture in West Lake Cultural Landscape as well as the place for the famous national hero Yue Fei. As a model of Chinese cultural tradition of loyalty and filial piety known to every household, Yue Fei has been respected and cherished by people with their sacrifices for centuries in this sacred site.
Arriving at the Hotel at 7 pm, we booked in to once again find ourselves faced with a room with one queen sized bed in it. Again we insisted and received a twin room. We stayed at the JinHui hotel which you can find listed at www.ctrip.com. It is located at LuoHu (lor - who) and is 2 minutes walk from the cargo vehicle border crossing into Xiang Gang (Hong Kong).
The Hong Kong Hotel was located in a back street, about 10 minutes from the Bund. We spent two days in the area before taking the train to HangZhou, where we spent a couple of days exploring 'West Lake'; and visiting "Shaoxing" about which I have already written at Magic City. The photos contained in this file are nothing spectacular, but for those who have never been to Shanghai, or never been to China, they might offer some insights.
In July 2007 I traveled to Macao and then on to Chengdu. My first trip took me to LeShan and Chengdu's Giant Sleeping Buddha. After that, I traveled with my friend Mingxing to EmeiShan (Mt.Emei). The photographs in this file are those from our first day of travel on the mountain. We did not go to the summit until the next day.
What a shocker to discover that at Sydney I had to collect my luggage, exit the airport and travel to the domestic airport and check back in again. They decided to break the rules and send us prior to our luggage, and in my case, that meant waiting at Brisbane airport for 2 hours post-arrival just to retrieve my luggage. My time in Brisbane was mainly spent staying with relatives and living a mundane existence. Although my daughter apologized for not providing me with more entertainment that having a baby throw up all over me; that type of 'daily life' was in fact quite novel for me, being as it is, something other than what I experience in China
On the Matilda Trail by Captain Sandy Stewart. Today we are going to head north to Mt Isa, but before we go we have a few things to do. First of all we have to go to the FLYING DOCTOR HQ and thank them for the tip of when the plane was coming in. On our way back to town we went past the Vortex guns built by Steiger Vortex as a rain making exercise in 1902, it failed. We are now crossing over Lagoon Creek heading for Longreach. Cruising west 80 kms to Ilfracombe we stop to have a beer at the Wellshot Hotel and guess what! THE PUB'S GOT NO BEER.
Spanish Lighthouse at Corregidor Island had a signpost letting us know how far from home we were - The Centerpiece at the War Memorial for American Soldiers in Manilla - Corregidor Island Battery looking toward Batan - Military tanks at the Philippine Military Academy
Since 2004 he has been writing academic articles, social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both here at KingsCalendar, and formerly as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News (Maine USA) where from 2009 to 2015 he was Stand-in Editor. He currently has a column at iPatriot.com and teaches English to Business English and Flight Attendant College Students in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province People's Republic of China.)
BenDedek originally created the site to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.' Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah. Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters
(The Download book does not contain a section on Seder Olam)
Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.
When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]