Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sleeping Flowers

(Reposted from FB)

I was out yesterday visiting a school where my company wants to place some teachers. I was with my Chinese colleague who had with him his three year old daughter. Early in the day she picked some wild flowers that she carried around with her for the next several hours. As the day went on they started to wilt and she looked at them very seriously and then said something in Chinese. Her father translated. "She says that the flowers are sleeping." Suddenly there was a loud shout from her. Her father translated again. "She just told them to wake up."

My Birthday Week

(Reposted from FB)

All in all a pretty good birthday week.

Long walk in the countryside on a sunny day on Sunday.
All my classes went really well. Most of them sang Happy Birthday to me.
Great open mic night down at the Lounge on Tuesday with enough performers that we could probably do a cover version of "We Are The World".
Good night at Demo on Thursday, even if the quiz was insanely hard (excluding the bonus round we only scored four and a half out of thirty. The winning team only got about nine.)
Got out of class today to find the department had bought me a big birthday cake.
Went to dinner with some of our office staff tonight at a great local Indian restaurant.
Unexpectedly, in addition to a carved musical box from Teresa, I got presents of wine, chocolate, coffee, an electric razor and a portable phone charger from people I work with.
I don't usually do that well back home.

And speaking of that Indian meal, I am constantly amazed at just how cheap eating out here is. Between us we had eight large vegetable samosas, two large cheese naans and two large butter naans, two large plates of Onion pakora, six different mains with rice, four beers and a banana lassi and in total it clocked in at thirty-five quid. And this is one of Yangshuo's more expensive restaurants. All of it (except maybe the local beer) was delicious.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Tomb Sweeping Day

Yesterday I decided to go for a walk along a section of road that I have never tried before. Normally I hate walking around here because it's all on busy roads with no pedestrian paths and it's smelly, noisy and dangerous. This part wasn't though. I wish I'd discovered it before. This weekend is the Chinese "Tomb Sweeping" holiday, when people go to the graves of their loved ones and clean them and leave flowers and other offerings. The walk took me past an area of cemeteries that, on another day, I probably wouldn't have noticed. Unlike our cemeteries, these were hillsides of small tombs around which there were whole families wielding machetes and spades and other tools and lighting candles and leaving all kinds of offerings: bottles of baijiu, flowers and -  at one that I saw - a whole roast chicken. Looking up into the nearby karst mountains I could see distant bands of figures climbing unseen paths to reach even higher tombs.
When I had passed them by I found myself, though still on a road, in an area of small villages and farms where everything was green and beautiful. There was traffic but not too much, and here and there mysterious side roads led off to other places. The weather was bright and wonderful but the constant sight of mourners put me in a melancholy mood so that as I walked I was remembering my own parents and wishing I could be home to leave flowers at their grave and wondering if anyone has cleared the flowers that I left when I visited in February. 
After some time I came out of my reverie and realised that I had been walking along this tree-lined route for almost two hours. It's a there-and-back walk rather than a circular one so I turned and started back, enjoying the new perspective as I returned to town for a late lunch and a bottle of beer. 
I shall certainly go that way again and explore some of the side roads. It's the first truly pleasant walking experience that I have found in this area. And now, some pictures.