Written and edited 16-01-17, by
MIKE IN HONG KONG,
CHINA, & TAIWAN WITH RHODA
Some Chinese translations at
May 30- 2016
Dear Marney arrived around seven, to pick me up for the airport.
made it in plenty of time, and had a lovely parting with Marney
insisting that I come back alive and in one piece, so touching.
Duly,am off into the sky,mentally waving Christchurch goodbye, and soon
landing in Auckland.
It was probably the most painless flight ever as, out of the twelve
hours I would have slept at least nine after a quite nice meal and a
few red wines.
Landing at the massive Hongkong airport, I managed to
find Rhoda, with her big smile and open arms. We jumped into a taxi and
were soon in her delightful house, and to bed.
Wednesday my second day. This morning Rhoda and i took a bus to the
centre to get my first HongKong money which is easy with my debit card
. I got out 2000 Hong Kong dollars, charges just five dollars ATM
charge less than a credit card.
Very hot, so we high tailed back to her cool House.
we took a bus to the exchange and caught the underground train. After
four changes, we got off in Kowloon at Sham Shui Po District. 'where
after a time walking with throngs of people we meet Rhoda’s good friend
Mr Mok. He was a lecturer in social sciences, now retired he spends his
lifetime working freely for the poor. He used to bring his students to
where he soon took us. An almost saintly man,
He finds a street map on the wall of the underground and traces where
we will go.
Now this is the poorest district in Hong Kong, where many of the under
burst up into the brightness and the searing heat and first walk past
very old tenement buildings where the poor live, to underneath a
massive fly over, where we see rows of old furniture and junk brought
from the dumps by the poor set in rows. We walk inside, and lo, there
are little doors and each one hides a sort of dwelling with junk for
walls. There are up to 1000 homeless people existing her, in this one
We talk to two men picking at a cheap rice meal, their
dog sharing. They say they have no hope, and there are
families, = 1,000,000 people on the list for a Statehouse.
the three of us walk to the cloth market. Here, a vast area roofed by
canvas, houses millions of bolts of every material you could name. We
walked along the narrow alley brushed by the material and talked to the
hawkers leaders, friends of Mr Mok. They are activists trying to stop
the government demolishing their market to build high-rise expensive
accommodation, which of course these people can't
A couple of lovely guys.
This whole area is danger of the same
threat, to be demolished. The question is where then, do these people
go. So far there is no answer, and there are 100,000 of them.
Rhoda was failing under the heat. It never worries me, and we off quite
away to visit the” Christian Concern for the Homeless Association.”
They were so pleased to see us and it was a treat to be there. This is
a centre where the homeless can come together, perhaps get a meal, play
music, play pool etc, and generally hang out. It is very pleasant place
run by a few professionals with help from volunteers.
I gave the
leader, lovely young lady, Ms Suvan Law a donation and she made a big
fuss putting it in a special envelope with profuse thanks, lovely
Mr Mok spends a lot of his time supporting these people,
both physically and on a political level. After a warm parting , Rhoda
and I struggled through the crowd, bought some veggies for tea, got on
a bus, bought a couple of beers at the 7/11 shop, and tiredly walk up
the hill to her house, or haven, to end a wonderful day in a world one
would not normally experience.
The layout here: In about 1970, with
the massive influx from China, the Govt. took/bought the land which
then was little villages, from the farmers to build great towers for
the people to live in as they flocked in from China They were somehow
obliged to allow a few villages to remain and here is where Rhoda and
husband bought and renovated. So as I look out the window I see a few
three storied houses, with perhaps two to three families in like
Rhoda’s and, towering around them, almost like a mirage are many up to
seventy five floor towers with four families in each level equaling
well over one thousand people. You see this all over Hongkong. This
place reminds me so much of my boyhood reading of “Brave new World” and
Orwell, not to mention Kafka
After a leisurely morning, we took a
bus into the city to Rhoda’s favourite yum cha restaurant.for me too
oily and carbs, I didn’t enjoy it as much as her.
WE then went shopping in a posh supermarket, or more correctly looking.
sure Rick Cameron will be interested in this, as with——— they are
setting up a new farmers marketing system similar, and better than CRT.
now the monster “Farmlands” which we set up as Otago Rural Trading Ass.
back in 1963.
The price of meat, in this shop ,wow.
rack chop HK 102= gm = nz 20 dollars =1 chop=85 gm =1 bite !
=Wagyu =HK 160 100 gm. =160 100 gm. = nz$ 32 $ = 1 bite !
Eggs Free range HK 55= 6, nz=10.$
Crab large Canada,= hk.380= 100 gms =nz 73. dollars = 100 gms. We
perused other shops, that weren’t as expensive.
Rhoda can’t stand the heat, so we soon headed home to the cool of her
more restful day, mostly in this delightful house eating
out,(Rhoda’s food is so much better as almost impossible to buy the
dreaded MSG free food!) and buying a few things.
There’s a Seven -11
store just down the hill where I buy my two cans of the good old
“Tsingtao Beer” and a Guinness for Rhoda which we have before her
delightful vegetarian dinner.
CHINESE & OTHER NATURAL MEDICINE.
The main reason I have come to China this time.
those who don’t know, Rhoda came to me as a Woofer about six months
ago. she is a Chinese Medicine Doctor. With her then husband they owned
two Bio Dentistry's and a Natural Medicine practice. Her husband died
five years ago so Rhoda has since sold the business, and spends her
life travelling and doing egalitarian things. When she came to me I saw
there was much to learn from her. Whilst I am very healthy for my age,
we all have things not so good going on.
She sparked great interest
in me about her knowledge, so when she invited me to China, to stay
with her in Hong Kong for a few days, and then fly to Kunming in Yunnan
province and on to Dali. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
my two main ailments currently are reflux, which is quite serious,
especially as I won't take the drugs, e.g..Omeprazple, and bad cramping
By the second day there, I have no reflux, and no cramping.
cramp came back with a vengeance by the tenth day ,but I hung off using
Magnesium and Rhoda had another crack at it and up am up to the 14 day
absolutely no cramp. Am up to DAY43 now, and very little cramp and no
reflux.Well done Rhoda.
Rhoda is very much into homeopathy, which she used for both ailments, I
She also noticed my “sleep apnoea” as I would often sleep before her
and she noticed that I would stop breathing.
she comes up with this simple inexpensive trick. You cut off a small
strip of surgical tape and close your mouth with it at night. Now, of
course, I don”t know when / that I stop breathing while sleeping,
others notice, and with the tape apparently I am fine.
had all the tests for S.E. in the past and am pretty bad) Also in the
past my dentist has made me up an apparatus like a special mouth guard
which, can cost up to over NZ 2000 and a new one has to be made after
major dental work. Then other serious cases connect to an expensive
machine.Seems like another win win.
The other thing she teaches us
is a simple form of Ping shui gong = (Chi Gong) where you swing both
arms and on the fifth, bend knees and with a straight back you go
downwards. we do half an hour each morning. They get positive health
benefits from this.
RHODA AND I IN YUNNAN PROV. WESTERN CHINA.
has for years being involved in an eco-village concept called’ Son of
man' in four centres Dali, Lijang, Fe Jiang (an island just
the coast of China, belonging to Taiwan) and Taiwan. We are off to the
Dali hub. So we rise early, and taxi to airport’
Here is where you see the so so many very rich people, so poignant
after my recent experience, a very very unequal country.
So, this rich couple are soon off up into the sky.
hours later we landed in the large city of Kunming. A shuttle bus takes
us one hour winding through this big metropolis to arrive at the bus
station for Dali. The ride from there on was too interesting to sleep,
as Rhoda did. Incessant Hills with either native bush or plantations of
eucalyptus and pine which I found incorrigible, ( turns out the pine is
Pinus Yunnenses, a native of Yunnan ) interspersed with fertile flats
intensively planted in mainly different vegetables. Firstly there was
terracing of the slopes, then on more broken slopes a process I felt
strange. Instead of terracing the land is it worked on the steep slope,
and how the soil does not wash away I can't imagine, but of course will
In the five hours of travel I saw few animals, but
glimpsed, as we flashed buy one lot of animals in a feed a lot
situation. I thought they were ostrich, Rhoda thought they were yak. We
past a few very large cities, miles from anywhere away out here growing
fast, with massive development.
By 6-30 we arrived at last in our
destination Dali ,where we were picked up by two of the inhabitants of,
“Son of man” Village, and wound through the quite large town and up the
slopes of the mountain range to arrive at the house, where others
had prepared a beautiful meal.
The indigenous people in this part of Yunnan are “‘The White” minority.
Driving here, once out of Dali we pass all “White” properties, big
affluent houses, white with a lovely blue band around them.
as many people from over populated countries, who are are flocking to
buy in the likes of NZ, hordes of affluent people from the pollution,
greed and chaos of China’s East, are flocking to buy or mostly rent
here from the White farmers, who become very rich, and they are sadly
drawn by the media to the big cities to often gamble and waste their
money and lives.
The Group’s house is an old farmer’s dwelling,
which are cheep to rent as “The White’s” have moved on. Of course we
love these old traditional places.
“THE SUN OF MAN VILLAGE, PEOPLE”
QING HWATAIWAN ONE OF THE FOUNDERS,
XIU YUORIGINAL TAIWANESE ABORIGINAL AMEI TRIBE.
XIACHENGDU (JESSICA) WORKED FOR NGO ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
JIHENAN. MOTHER OF 12 YRS. OLD GIRL SHENG NA , FROM HENAN
YNGTAIWAN (HERO) AIRFORCE PILOT EARLY RETIRED
SHU ZHEN‘’(SUSAN)HERO’S WIFE.
AH LETHEIR TWIN BOYS 7 YRS
And of course, Rhoda “Our great yellow leader.”Now I can say this as
she once told me she was proud of her colour,
your heart out Lionel Terry. For those who don’t know he was the
remittance man from England who promoted “The Yellow Peril” and the
persecution of Chinese in NZ. On a misty night back in the late
nineteenth century while walking the Wellington streets, he shot a
“Chinaman”. They should have hung the bugger, but he was put in a
mental asylum for life.
Fleur’s father was the top administrator at
Seacliff mental asylum and while courting, I actually saw Terry out
walking. He died soon after, a longer life than the “Chinaman”!
He would be pleased though ,at the anti Chinese buying property here
just now. He would say “I told you so”
great exchange is happening here. I am teaching the girls English and
they are teaching me Mandarin So here are a few words for you and my
Manafest Bao LeFull
Ma FanTroubleMa FanTravel
New language Tibetian !
Ran out of puff !! Too many languages.
to a dreic day, with just enough time to do Qi Gong outside ```when
there was a massive thunder and a big downpour. So a morning on the
computer, lunch then Rhoda, Hero and I, went walking to visit
neighbours. Hero knows many people here.
First just two doors away a
“White”, very short people, rugged with leathery skin. They remember,
as he is 87, the “Great leap forward” He was working in Guangzhou at
that time and was forced back home to work the land. So he walked all
the way. I wonder how long that would have taken, as it took us a day
to get here on transport.. They have two cows in their stables and
roosters in another.
After winding along the lanes Hero showed us a
very old beautiful abandoned House which would have been been rich
families gone to town not needing the money.
Next we revisited
another ‘White” Family who raised chickens for the table. They get 50
RM. each. They didn’t smile much. Sometimes you feel a minority resents
outsiders, but mostly they have a welcoming smile for you.
So that was The White People that were at home.
We then met another friend and were asked into one of the many palatial
these are built by the original White farmers and rented long
term to rich people from the East. In all, we visited three of these
posh, but to me, sterile palaces, compared to the ancient farmer’s
house we are in, but Hero’s friends, were far from sterile and so
welcoming and generous. Mostly new comers here and are interested in
alternative / and home school education for their children which is
also a big part of “The Son of Man”
The last visit was a lady————-
indigenous to the border with Korea and you could see that in her
features. They have an autistic son and are involved with a
of six in building a school for these type of kids She was very
hospitable plying us first with grapes and green tea and then beer and
dried fish (.Reminded me of the mountains of dried fish at
Turkana in The Rift Valley up under Ethiopia) Still love the memory of
Hero, in their new people mover, drove us along the mountain to where
Cong yi (Joy)
man who wrote my invitation) rents an acre of land, (an acre here is
one seventh of ours), and lives in a lovely Mongolian yurt. His wife
Jenny has just left him for a more comfortable house.
He is a lovely
gentle, intelligent man, who you could not dislike. He also teaches in
his home (yurt) alternative Steiner education.
A 27 yr. American
Jewish woofer Jared has been with Joy for two years. He has built his
own yurt on the land and is basically self sufficient and helps
Joy. Another big morose Russian woofer, a musician called in
a while and we talked for hours.
Will talk about Jarred, this
interesting young man more later, as I feel we’ve made a good
connection. ( turned out I was wrong, as he was “far too busy to bother
with me “ )
Our driver Hero arrived back in time for around six when we
all decided it was “pub time’
Hero drove the five of us back into the centre of “ the Old Town” where
we “did” the “promenade” street which has turned from a past delight
into a mecca for tourists. But we found the right pub, and the beer
wasn’t bad, but the company wonderful. The Mexican band had wound up
and was quite hot so as Rhoda won’t dance with me, Jarrad would, so we
set the place alight for a while, good fun.They were all hungry for a
pizza, I wasn’t as they eat too much here for me, but we found their
favourite pizza place and it was sold out. Rhoda and others went off to
find food and Jarrad and i stayed and had another beer with the young
lady owner of the shop Xi Lihe. She also has an organic farm called
Rainbow. She wants me to visit (Funny to us, it is 20 Chinese acres,
seven to one of our acres) but she is able to grow most of her needs
for the pizza shop !! Resourceful young lady, I really took to her.
Jarrad stayed on to “hit the town” with her Never really saw
after that,and Hero drove Joy back to his yurt and us home.
group have a small piece of land here, 8 x 4 mts. which is just a mess
of weeds with a few measly veggie plants struggling to get thru. I am
amazed they are not gardening it properly , so I decided to step in.
morning was taken up with me as Laoshi (teaching) Xue Shings ( students
)gardening. All of our team, plus the people who are taking over here
when this team go back to Taiwan on 3rd August ,and some of their
pupils,(husband is an art teacher) and neighbours.
I think I can say it went well with many of the children boxing in as
had just taught them to deadhead and prune the rose, turned my back to
another job, and there was a little girl with the pruning shears
merrily doing another rose. I put gloves on her , but her protective
father took over as he said she had a sore hand. One wonders why we
can’t let children hurt themselves a little, to learn themselves how to
So, we first pruned a large straggle thorny tree so we
could get under it to weed find and free the few plants, then hoed with
a borrowed Chinese hoe to get ready for planting
Next I asked what
they did with the kitchen scraps, so we all walked out into a next door
common forest where there was a rotting heap of garbage. I dug into it
and was a wet mucky anaerobic mess. I kept digging to let some air into
it, said it would need a small cover, and started a second heap along
side putting lots of bamboo and roughage on the bottom for air, and all
the recent weeds atop that, kitchen scraps to come. Picked up myriad's
of plastic ( China is one big rubbish heap ! partly as many people just
can’t afford to pay for disposal ) and the team and I wound up the
class for the day.
Xio Ji and I (she is a very practical lady
and a hidden gardner, and like several of the girls just needing
showing and encouraging) found some poles, bored holes with a concrete
drill fixing them to he wall where we will grow climbing squash, beans
So a piao liang (beautiful )morning for laoshi and Xsiu
Still having trouble getting out off China with e-mail, silly me, I
knew China had banned Google
gmail and I forgot to set up another from home. We thought we were
right with yahoo as Rhoda successfully got thru to me on it, but Rick
tried fm NZ and, so far no joy.
Had a Pio Liang talk to the lovely
young Jessica 24 about love, and the sadness of her family where the
father gambled his money away and the mother worked to put her thru
university. I am often amazed at the depth of these seemingly simple
Jessica gained a job as an environmental protection
NGO, but ran away from all that to join this group to heal her soul,
and she is now very happy, well adjusted and a delight, a new good
On that note,I think I have been with these people long
enough to describe how I see what they are. They are Christian but not
religious and don’t push it..
They are really just about love, I
have never felt more comfortable with a new group of people
in my life. Their love for each other, and others
tangible and contagious.
Most of the people here have reached their
crossroad or life crisis situations and come here to heal and find
love. One example is Hero, who came here three yrs ago with his wife
Susan and twin boys, was a fighter pilot in the airforce for 27
yrs,took early retirement, became bipolar ,psychiatric illness and was
on drugs for years. After coming here he is off all drugs, has a normal
life and is a delightful man. A revelation what love, good food and a
little of Rhoda’s skills can do, Christian or not. I see they help many
people “ at their crossroads “
I could just see how my schizophrenic brother Tony would love this
it’s been an amazing. experience here for most of a month. This is by
far the longest period I have stayed in one place in China ever, and
actually living with the people, what a privilege and a delight.
They are a wonderful group here. I have learnt a lot and hopefully
given a bit.
has been so good to me, and opened many doors that me on my own, could
not have, a great experience I will never forget. Thank You All, Rhoda
admits that those doors wouldn’t have opened for her, without me to
The general daily activities here are, up at six,
bathroom, I write, they sing together their lovely home composed songs,
(They all have really good voices, in fact on of the Taiwan ladies
)reminds me of Joan Baez, she was scouted for recording but declined)
then prayers and three quarters an hr of the Chi Gong then breakfast .
At some part of the day they go to one of the town squares to ply their
instruments and sing their songs of love and giving, and connect with
the people. Rhoda immerses me in many and varied activities.
Well today we went to the farmers market where I bought many veggie
plants as well as a good hand tool and other stuff.
am a bit worried about protein for my old bones, so bought some great
Aussie cheese and crackers. Angkor, NZ cheddar was there too, but i
like this one. Won’t buy cheese again as mould is endemic.
lunch I was Laoshi again and we got the whole garden dug and planted
using some two yr old compost I found beside the existing heap. Again I
had our whole team, the new tenants with a maelstrom of kids all
wanting to learn. Was a delight.
After dinner most of the team went off to play and sing in the city, I
stayed here to read and write.
girls are not home yet, so went for a little walk and saw a tiny new
moon, wondered what it is doing at home., Am off to bed.
Jared today and he will come here tomorrow to help me with e-mail and
wants to take me to a wild party at night . Am a little apprehensive
about getting home, as this boy is a real party animal. May go. Turned
out none of it eventuated.
The nightly cramp has
come back a bit, so Rhoda is back working on it,This morning she did an
exercise on me. It is called moxabustion and is a little box made of
special cedar wood. There are several holes in the sliding top for the
smoke to emerge. Inside are four little round metal holders. Parts of a
special herbal stick goes into them and they are lit on fire. The heat
and herbal infusion comes out the bottom where I place on the lower
chakra,(extreme lower stomach) When the heat becomes unbearable
one lifts it and wipes the extracted fluid with a towel. The
lasts about 20 mins. Am expecting results.
Watered our new plants and had a little sleep in case i go out tonight.
three we all got dressed up a bit, jumped in the car and the lovely
Hero drove us to a big organic festival. It is a perfect site along
side along side a lake and looking over Dali up to the amazingly
beautiful Cang shan (mountain) range three thousand mt. high,
with 19 peaks, 18 streams, and a cloud formation to die for.
This area is
part of a 700 Chinese
acre (116) nz organic farm , all in organic veggies. Jai Min
owner is very young man coming from Nanjing where he made his
capital in hotels. He also has upmarket lakeside hotels here charging
US 2000 a night, which funds the establishment of the farm.
was there and introduced me to many of his musical hippie friends. The
music there was ethnic and great, I took Rhoda for a paddle
double canoe on the lake, was fun.
At eight we drove home taking
another friend Ah Bao. He is a real character, and has has a swash`
buckling life. two failed marriages, three children and a stolen lover
of another man, who went back to her original lover and he is still in
love with her. Oh the unattainable shrine !
He is originally from
Taiwan, from a young age a very successful businessman but
Triad nailed him. He says in China you can cheat and get away with it,
In Taiwan you can’t cheat, but the Triad runs the place, so when he
became very successful in a material business they demanded it off him.
As i said, he is a rugged fellow and fought them to no avail, so he
shot one of them in self defence, had to flee the country for China, as
the system would have jailed him. He now has a Chinese passport, and
having been here for 17 yrs, 3 more he gets back his Taiwanese
passport. He is now sick of business and manages another of Jai Ming’s
businesses restoring old wooden artefacts, just like my Greg, making
any old bit of wood into an art form. He now wants to stay in China.
at the usual six, they do singing and prayers and at seven thirty we
all do Chi Gong. Then I did a few minutes loashi with the garden again
`showing them how some of the plants I bought with long leaves couldn’t
handle the heat, short sturdy ones are standing up, put some cardboard
over the offending ones as we going away, though rain did come.Then at
eight breakfast of all the good and varied veggie dishes, then free
time where I write.
Ten o’clock and Hero drives us in heavy rain to
another “old town” part of Dili, Xi Zho, where we park and walk to the
centre. The others set up in the square to sing their songs,(all
composed by them) and play their instruments while Rhoda drags me away
to see another enterprise. On the way walking through this, the cutest
“old town “yet, we met a young man selling organic milk, at NZ4 for 500
mill . He said they ran 300 cows, which looked like friesians on 20
acres (three & half nz!) so I tried to find out what else they
Rhoda then took me to “The Linden Centre”
This is a paio
liang old traditional wealthy merchants house (this place was mainly a
merchants town,) restored and run by a delightful couple Brian
Jeanne Linden. He is American and she is Chinese American, they are the
most gorgeous couple you could meet and Brian is so dynamic the Govt.
have given them several other large properties to restore. They are
really “something else” these two. He is a tall golden blonde Yank of
Viking decent, and she a sophisticated part asian classic, and just
lovely gentle folk as well .
The lovely Jeanne showed us around this
magnificent place, then up onto the roof where you are surrounded by
vast flat rice fields'. There was even a bride and her groom out in
them, having their bridal photos taken , so beautiful.
very interested in my knowledge of organics. I asked if she had a
garden , she said no, but was developing one at one of the other
properties, so she took us there.
Before we left the two
receptionists Jo & Jasmine, with perfect English wanted our
as would love to come to New Zealand.
So, we arrive at another big
old traditional mansion with just started renovations, where she showed
me her plans, three good sized plots dug ready with bags of chicken pos
etc. nearby. She showed me the proposed compost area so I showed her
how to make the boxes, the same as mine at home. I will wechat her some
photos of them.
As we walked through the building she showed us her little potholes of
veggie seedlings, so she is on the way.
Sun of Man have a t-shirt which has one of their own original songs
written on the back. I had mine on and asked them to sing it for
Jeannie. We were in the big classic central courtyard of these houses,
and it was like we were in an auditorium, just lovely. We then parted
having made another strong friendship.
awoke to a dreek day, “of all the plans of mice & man”
Rhoda, she wanted to take me hiking up the mountain today.
Rhoda did another moxa. on me after Chi Gong, done on the veranda,
I write and edit all morning , as well as talk to Rhoda about health.
She rang this special Chinese Dr who I really want to see, especially
as my cramp is back. He gave her some instructions and we hope to see
Dreek or no dreek, my garden is loving this rain. (It is the rainy
we went to old city, the girls set up the do the music, I wandered the
city to meet them again at six, where we went to a classic market to
buy food and me look for chives and bock choy plants with no success .
and Hero had prepared a great meal. Writing now and bed soon as I find
it tiring walking slowly with Rhoda. If I don’t walk fast I get
exhausted, same on a mountain in the past.
Well, Rhoda has me taking
a tiny spoonful of some powder and my Frankincense, plus a hot water
bottle for feet, so we’ll see how the cramp goes tonight, as was very
bad last night.I have some Magnesium, but am hanging of it to see if
she can fix it.
How about Chinese medicine, absolutely no cramp last night !!, and no
reflux since I hit this continent.
Yesterday it rained most of the day, poured last night and is still
raining a bit and very dreek.
dear first red rose succumbed to the downpour, with it’s lovely petals
in a heap on the ground, but a cluster of three new babies are
struggling to be born, in this wet, dreek world.
Wonder how my garden will cope with all this wet ?
gave me another moxa. while they sang to the universe. Is vey cold. Of
course, if I haven’t said, we are at 1500 mt. here, and going a lot
higher on Tuesday.
Another beautiful breakfast. They are hard to
describe as a mixture of, greens, nuts,egg, all types of onion, tomato,
fruits, with different mixtures of different types of rice, chilli and
a myriad of herbs,preceded by a soup, and of course so much love. Later
we have a good black coffee.One or two take turns each day to cook.
are waiting on the Dr to ring but his phone is turned off as he will be
meditating, so we will first go to Jerard’s, where Rhoda will treat him
and he will hopefully get me onto internet.
China is the home of
plastic. Hero just gave me a biscuit, and each one was individually
wrapped in glossy thick plastic with America and a small drawing of The
Pentagon on the front. Delicate shortbread, fifty percent sugar,of
These people here are so sensitive, they anticipate your every need, so
drove us to town for Rhoda to buy lunch for Jerard, who she is crazy
about. He is Jewish, and she has a big interest in Jewisim.
hour and three quarters later, mission accomplished. Chinese have not
heard of “time & motion “ ay.
Four pm we off to Jenny’s new
house for her forty second birthday, Me buying some beer on the way .
Lovely party with about thirty people from all over, sumptuous food and
I shared many exotic wines with Jenny, e.g.. mulberry. rose etc. etc..
After dinner two of our girls played the guitar and we all sang. Was
great, but sadly I can just hum as in Mandarin Got to know most of the
people there, and had a jolly nice time. Off and I realised I was a
jacket short ay.
Remembered had hung it up in the yurt so poor old
Hero would drive up the mountain to Jerad’s to get it without a murmur.
They are so generous.
Home in more rain, got my computer connected to the world up and
running ! and bed with my hottie that Rhoda filled for me.
to more rain, usual half hour of chi gong, some writing and breakfast,
the left overs fm. the party, good. Back writing and then the usual
black coffee with Rhoda and Hero. He watches a bit of news on his
i-phone, and told us of the fifty dead at a gay party in Us Of A. What
a strange species we are.
There’s few birds in China ( is it because
they eat them ?) but some here. Guess as we are adjoined by thousands
of acres (NZ !!!!!) of mountain, all forested. There are the cooing
doves, a pretty little sparrow like bird, but with more colour, and a
larger one with a long upright tail. The little ones like my garden.
So, we are off again, helped buy petrol, bought some beer, and arrived
at Rhoda’s art teacher Hua
(Bridge) We bought some sardine like fish called “little white fish”
for him to cook for lunch. A renowned cook.He is a classic big, jolly
man and a lot of fun on his second marriage, the first a wild dominant
creature, one daughter.Second wife, the opposite, twenty five yrs
younger soft and retiring, spends twenty hrs a day in her room with her
mother who has dementia. He says “in trap again” but he does love her.
We never see them.
Oh, it’s lunch time well, what a spread,. the
little white fish that weren’t quite little enough for us because of
the tiny bones and heads. I eat the lot by just chewing up the bones
and heads. Am a bit concerned about calcium and my bones for two months
with no Ostioprocare, little meat and no dairy products.so the more
bones the better.
As well a great dish of tiny shrimps, also from
the lake.Two plates of vegetables, a bowl of pork with equivalent fat
attached, which Hero loved, rice of course, nan, and our beer to go
with it, drank the beer in the traditional Chinese way, out of bowels.I
really can’’t believe how much they eat, and still be as slim as Rhoda
and most of them.
They are always worried about my age, so sent me inside away from the
i was pleased to get away from the the constant Chinese verbosity for a
rest, so I just have to write.
dosing when they all burst inside with a babel of Chinese voices. They
know how to talk. So another adventure, We all jumped in and drove thru
the town and way up the foot of the mountain to get as high as possible
passing small monasteries, as this a national park and a Buddhist
Monastery. We walked for an hour up the steep road, when it started to
rain, as I said it would, and luckily had brought a new plastic rain
coat that Rhoda made me buy (13 rm..) =nz 4 ! We hurried on and luckily
I have my new walking sticks ( Fm. Bivouac ) They are so useful, and
arrived at our destination, a delightful little Buddhist Monastery run
by nine female nuns with free coffee & tea and off course
from the downpour. Walked back down to the car, and on into town where
Bridge took us to a super market where i bought the traditional beer,
and he bought little cups 1-50 = 40 cents nz ! Supermarket so much
cheaper than outside. Then he found “international street” where I at
last bought an English language map.
Then we drove back to his house
where he proceeded to cook us all a lovely dinner, always an event.
Then by eight we drove home, where Hero had to park well away from the
house, so as well i had my sticks as a very steep and rough climb. A
tired but delighted group to bed
Up at the usual six and into Chi gong, breakfast, (oh my G.! they eat
are to change camp today so, packed up and the first car left for Le
Jiang, We left at 10-30 and drove the three hrs North to arrive there.
Rhoda seems to know everyone of consequence in the natural world, so we
visited this upmarket coffee bar. NZ ten dollar as a tourist
place. Small pizza NZ $12. We stayed a while as too hot to play in the
street. Rhoda stayed to do a pasta class , and the family, Jessica and
i drove into the old city to play music and sing. they found a posse
and I spotted a coffee bar with Wifi directly opposite. Ordered another
coffee and climbed these dangerously steep stairs, sat by the window
and wrote. I also we chat Rob Young my new neighbour at home, who had
just checked out my house and garden. Also rang Rob Blackburn and got
cut off before telling him of the tape over the mouth for Sleep
Apnea.Drove back to pick up Rhoda. Couldn’t find her (the wench!) but
the twins and us had fun on this unique wood sculptured playground.
this art work was everywhere, another friend of Rhoda.The coffee bar
owner eventually spotted us and took us to another part and here was
Rhoda queening it out with another worldly group Who were making
natural soaps. They had been waiting to meet me as they were a group
promoting world sustainability.
Their world base was previously in
they said if China wasn’t part of them, it wouldn’t work, as China is a
big percentage of the planet. Their base is now in Beijing. The lead
couple were a delight, and want to meet me again before we leave here.
Ok. so we off to find our new paradise, the groups second home, which
they spend a week each month. After the most convoluted drive round and
round the mountains to get here, but lo, in fact what a paradise. A
central courtyard, with buildings on three sides, looking out to high
mountains which surround us. I have a lovely bedroom with all one could
desire.. Dinner had been prepared by the advanced party, so ,a chat and
bed at 10-30.
Up a bit later at seven, I guess
as a big day yesterday, Chi Gong, a bit of writing and breakfast. More
writing and at 9-30 to 10 from now on I am to run an English class
under Rhoda’s orders as laoshi. I did my preparation and set up at a
desk with my eight Xue Shing on little chairs in front of me.
I had prepared :
Good morningI am your teacher. I come from New Zealand
you come from China or
Li Jiang is a beautiful place. so is Dali.
Do you like China.
I do, but I also Love New Zealand. As it is my home country.
went round them all twice and made them repeat what they had written.
Ten o’clock school out and laoshi got a standing ovation.
three Hero drove Rhoda and I to Zhu Ming’s house nearby ,which he rents
plus an apple orchard . His is mainly a scholar, deep into Steiner,
Goethe and others, in both Chinese and English. An avid organic
proponent which he is converting his orchard to. Such a gentle,
retiring intellectual man.He is big into Steiner and as even done a
course at Emerson College England, where I also have.We all walked a
little way to his acre of apple orchard. Trees about fifteen yrs. old
looking good, though had a strange feathery white parasite hanging from
the foliage, with a bug inside. He had encouraged many lady birds that
There were all the classic “weeds” there that Rick and I
use for our smoothies, cleavers, milk thistle(puha) fat hen, dandelion,
but none of Rick”s favourite stinging nettle, they have plenty of the
of our large bush nettle in the forest though. There was
organic trash all over the land that Zhu Ming had brought in, rotting
PROBLEM, Takes seven yrs. to be certified here,
and a Chinese law could stop him. He has a twenty yr. lease of house
and orchid but the owner is old and as his children have forsaken
farming and gone to town,when he dies the land goes back to the state.
So, it’s that you still, under Communism, don’t ever own the land. Bit
sad for Zhu Ming as he has found his dream, to “own” a bit of land.
Like so many crave, “to get back to the land”
We are living amongst
the Na Xi minority here, and the main industry along side farming, is
horse rides for tourists.. They are a small tough,nuggety pony really,
like the tough little Mongolian ones from The Steppes, going back as
far as Genghis Kan, and as we were driving home around six, there were
litterly hundreds and hundreds of them trudging home blocking the road
which is covered in pony poo. Never in my life have I seen so many
Suddenly Hero stops the car and Rhoda says “do I
want to see the richest man in Li Jaing”s house” I said “no” they went
so I followed. Well It can only be described as disgusting, not one
house, but more like ten ornate mansions where gardeners
The highlight though was, in a roofed folly like place, were eight
crone like, delightful very old weather beaten ladies, (turned all but
two of them were younger than me !) and a younger lady who spoke
Mandarin and a little English, as minder. One old lady (81) when I
acknowledged her ,asked me to sit down by her in a spare chair, as they
always do. The carer had Roda in fits as, for some reason there were
more flies there than I had seen up till now, (wonder if they eat them
like the birds) So the carers job seemed to be running around with a
fly swatter swatting flies, no mater what part of the body on the old
ladies they were. It was so funny. She was a real warrior woman and the
ladies were ambiguously scared of her. The laird obviously allows these
ancients to sit and soak up the feeling of has wealth.
Rhoda said it
is almost a Triad situation, as this guy owns most of the business in
Le Jaing, including the whole horse business. the farmers own the
horses, but hebus loade the thousands of people in keeps most
the money and pays them a pittance. So much for Communism. What a funny
We called in to visit the rich man’s twoyc who also
manages his pig inceminating business but,he is not home.
was a talking myer bird there. they always looked Chinese to me !
Home before the rain, dinner and bed once caught up with writing.
to another very wet, rainy morning. The rainy season lasts five months
here i’m told. Slept well thru all night, no cramp but very itchy skin,
esp. front of arms and stomach, another research project for Dr Rhoda,
though my coconut oil does a pretty good job. Chi Gong and another
I’d like to talk about rubbish here.
you go, outside most , esp. indigenous houses there’s a little heap of
rubbish burning. The smoke is so offensive.. I asked Rhoda what’s the
gen. She said everyone pays $200 a yr. for water and rubbish.
Apparently there is a rubbish collection centre somewhere and you are
supposed to take it there as these people do,but most just burn it, so
sad and ugly. I don’t remember how much of China is like that, perhaps
I’m more aware now.
Good morning class. haozaoshang tongxuemen
This is the second day of English lessons from your teacher. zhe shidi
ertian de ying yukelai zhi ni men de laoshi
Do you like these lessons. ?
I asked Chendu= Jessaca = (Cheeky) if she would translate back into
Mandarin for me To be laoshi to me
ni xihuan zhege kecheng ma?
Did you there was heavy rain , and today. zuotian
wanshangxialedayu ,jintian yeshi.
today because of the rain,we will not be able to go hiking .
jintian yinweixiayu , women bu
afternoon we will go to town, you to play music, and me to
Wifi. jintian xiawu women yao
nimen qu changge,wo qu shangwang.
I love your company, as I hope you do mine.
wo xihuan nimende peiban,wo xiwang nimen
ye xihuan wo de peiban.
Yunnan. is a fascinating place. yunnan shi yige
miren de difang.
But Iwill also love going back to New Zealand. danshi woye
xihuankuaiyao huidao xixinan.
Finish class, they are fast learners, all at different levels.
Good morning students. This is your third class today. The
weather is better today
The sun might shine and be warm.
We went to Le Jaing yesterday, It was fun.
We met Shun Zhi & Xiao Ping at the soap
He told us about the World sustainability Organisation. Then you all
went to play music in the Old City. Class finished.
I went to find coffee and Wi-fi.
kind Hero drove us home and a beautiful meal was ready for us.So, half
the troupe are off back to Dili after lunch as the twins don't like to
be absent from volley ball too long. It was a hilarious parting, these
guys do love each other.
Left here were Rhoda, Hero, Jessica, and
the lady who they had asked me to name, with the new name of Jane, Xio
Ji, and me.
At breakfast it was decided I would find a
suitable English name for Zio Ji, and she accepted Jane which i think
really suits her, she is a classy lady. Hope her daughter Na Na
We five had a bit of a rest, me writing and then we all away to play in
drove thru Le Jaing township north and unfolding before us were these
magnificent higher needle pointed mountains, around 7,000 mt’ in
Then we started wending our way up the approaches of
them, all the while ,with the needle points in view and a vast plain
below growing, you name it.
Having just left 2,600 mt. on the valley
floor we drove up to near 4,000 mt. thru, don’t think I have mentioned
yet, the land on the mountains is covered mostly covered in a variety
of pine, ( puzzles me as to weather they are indigenous, I am sure this
Farmer You will set me straight tomorrow). At that height we dipped
down into an alpine valley and lo, the flats were a sea of purple, and
getting closer, it was flowers.
Seems you pay for everything now in
China but Hero took a different route and we walked a way down to
frolic in the wondrous place. It was a short strikingly purple flower
putting on the show, after the rain.
I pointed out a rainbow that
had magically emerged behind us,It was interesting to watch these over
civilised people, years since chased to the towns. reveal in the nature
of their past.
To a degree, it comes up with all of us, our roots of
the past, but I think it’s more poignant in the likes of china. Xio Ji
Jane, in particular is a woman of the earth, loves to get back to
it, is fitter,walking much further than the rest of us into
I see our family as a good example, I was lucky
enough to be raised on three acres that Dad bought and built a new
house on for us all. Both mum and dad were examples of “back to the
land”. Mum was an avid gardner and we soon had goats, then a beautiful
jersey cow that the girls named Melony, whereas dad loved horses,
especially draft, all of which passed on to me.
Though I’m the only
Brosnan that went “all the way to end up with a farm “ but all our
family are great gardeners, (better than me)
I feel that roots thing going back to Ireland, especially when I go
there and stay on the farm we left in 1853.
So I am seeing it here with these lovely people.
I looked closer down valley I realised the white mass at the end was a
dam being built, so it’d obvious these beautiful flower fields will be
Well, of course, that’s” progress” , and if we
insist in that, and most of us do, electricity for the people is more
important than flower fields for the tourists.
We sped down the hill
calling into a very big Tibetan monastery where i met Spring a
delightful young guy motorbiking around China, he thinks he can help me
with my VPN, so after perusing yet another “old city” we drove on to
old town Le Jaing and eventually found his Youth Hostel. He tried but
in the end we gave up. Gave him my card and he may come to NZ.
took us to his favourite restaurant, a real ‘‘people’‘ place which I
love, and best meal yet, at 100 rmmb = nz 20 for the seven of us.More
like the china I am used to!
A tired crew, home and bed..
six, writing, chi gong, packing, and away where we picked up Zhu Ming
and Wang Mei his partner / flat mate ?, then off to Farmer
this early the hundreds of ponies with over dressed Chinese tourists
on, amazed me. A long drive through interesting farming and big
We came to an unusual edifice where tourists abounded.
of the team walked down these many steps to better see the view with a
myriad of tourists. Not for me, and Zhu Ming.
<email@example.com> At the entrance way they had built
mountains, and me with my interest in geology! studied the rock, and it
is the same as the large smooth yellow rock back on my farm. But, the
punch line is, we always called them, Chinaman Rock“ Had the Cantonese
gold miners who came in droves to pick over the tailings the white man
had discarded in the early 1800s and are now very rich business men in
nz. named them such ? ! especially as that rock is yellow and scattered
all over the mining areas of Central Otago ??
connection with our farm is. The tree we call Populous Yunanences (same
name here) which Fleur and I planted alongside our new farm house,
lines the highway here, as we might use oaks, they must like it,..
There was an especially big one here so i discussed it with Zhu Ming
and, of course, it is indigenous to this provence. The same pine which
is everywhere too is actually Yunnan pine.
We drove on to a small town where we had lunch.
then to fabulous Farmer.Yau Shu Xian”s place, who Rhoda has raved about
since I have known her. How to describe this place, even though I have
heard so much of him from Rhoda.
He is a little fit “ White “
ethnicity man and his wife a Tibetan. They welcomed us with open arms
and he took us up to the most palatial guest area, then took us around
the fish pond which steps down from us,all the while `picking cherubic
peaches and other fruits. Is, like “The Garden of Eden “ difference
being, you can eat as much fruit as you want without being banished.
talked for a while,with the traditional tea, then I asked for my room
as was exhausted. No time for a lie down though as he had us proudly,
on a grand tour of his farm.
Well, here again, how to describe, His
organics and soils were almost perfect, but it was the “weeds” he
concentrated on, and he had a use for every one, as I did.. It is a
very large farm, esp. compared to the average.He is a most unusually
After a while we stopped at a corn field to weed
around and filled baskets with.. The same plant is i’m sure is the most
prolific in my garden at home. I opted out as too buggered, and sat on
a rock studying “weeds” and the wonderfully structured soil.
to write I left, with Rhoda concerned I would get lost telling me the
name of our host. While i had a fair idea the direction of the house, I
did get a bit lost and mentioned to the natives the name, and of course
the minorities don’t speak much Mandarin. Leaving one I turned quickly
not seeing a big rock and fell heavily on the concrete. Little damage
to me, but broke my lovely old watch I bought with Cate in Fort William
many years ago. Oh, but the sweet Chun Xia, Jessica has fixed it, wow,
what a dame.
So, in a convoluted way I found my way home to write.
farmers eventually trouped in with great baskets of that “weed” which
they threw into the water of the fish ponds. Apparently they are
vegetarians, and some for the pigs, chickens etc.
He then took those us who were brave enough on another grand tour of
Just two steps dawn from the kitchen is a menagerie of, hens many,
geese 8, pigs 14, buffalo 2 dog 1, and rabbits 3.
hangs the pork for up to six years to cure. The squat toilet, along
duck boards thru the muck, is out there too, and we pee in a bucket at
Dinner in a classic Tibetan kitchen was a grand affair,the
spread amazing. Every morsel grown or made here on the farm, the only
thing they buy is salt.
Theirs and Rhoda’s friend Peng Can Hua, The
Judge arrived late for dinner and Mrs Yao filled the bowls all again,
so that when we all finished, there was almost as much food as when we
started, such hospitality
Farmer Yao proudly brought out his home
made Maka wine which is a bit hard to take. I left them for bed a bit
earlier, esp. as my bum gets so sore on these very low stools.
for the first time since arriving in Hongkong I had bad reflux last
night, (we decided it was the lashings of whole garlic and chilli i
ate) Ended up taking pill,and what with Hero making noises like he was
going to die, Zhu Ming with the light on reading at one am, and me with
my reflux, not a very restful night.
Chi Gong, some writing, breakfast and all of us of to climb a mountain
with a Tibetan Temple perched on top.
We started walking at The Judges magnificent rose garden as, The Temple
goaded us from what seemed an impossible height.
set of and saw the forest is nearly all Yunnan Pine, quite strange to
me, as used to pines as plantations. We soon came across a couple of
retired bureaucrats who Mr Yao knew, quite strange I thought, with
sheds full of pigs and goats of all types and ages. The goats were
everywhere in the forest as well. I wondered if they had not found out
what goats do to forests in history.
Most interesting, was Mr Yau
darting every where finding all sorts of precious food and herbs,
mushrooms, fungus ad many sorts of herbs, which he tucked into his
little pack. Funny as, my first interest in Yunnan was a particular
Yunnan restaurant in Shanghai where they served all sorts of mushrooms
and fungi and the walls are covered in pictures of these colourful
The going got really tough, and the red clay slippery as there was a
little rain, which is never far away.
half way the lovely girls quietly tried to get me to pull out, and
there I even spat out my teeth in exhaustion. ( never before happened
and, no one laughed !)
It looked impossible but I plodded on, until,
as happens the beckoning Temple looked in reach and that was enough to
egg me on to eventually, to my satisfaction and the vocal delight of my
mates, gain The Temple, they also deciding It was another record for my
age, which I doubt. as they are a tough lot.
We stayed a while, admiring the view, eating organic peaches, perusing
the Temple, and generally enjoying our feat.
hill wasn’t a picnic either, and with the top steep quarter the knees
started talking to me as they always do on the long decent on Mt Cook,
but as it got a bit easier and dryer, and I stopped listening to my
knees, it got a lot easier.
Well on down and Rhoda hurt her leg in a
slip,. She bravely hobbled on and also came right after a while.She had
walking poles but had lent one to Hero which made all the difference. I
could never have done it without my new sticks. Hero could have
fashioned a stick, but these people are so generous with each other,
and I don’t think they have mastered the use of the sticks yet.
we got down to the pig and goat farm lo, here was The Judge with his
pickup truck, so he of course knowing the farmers had us all in to the
shelter for tea, which was so good as we had no water in all of the
five hours apart from copiously eating peaches.
So then,we all piled
into and onto the pickup and merrily were driven the last little bit to
his rose garden.It was four thirty by then and the Judges plan was to
do us all a sumptuous dinner, so Jessica and the newly christened Jane
jumped on the back of his ATV and we drove to a Muslim restaurant for a
great meal and a bottle of the top Chinese wine, purportedly worth 3000
rmmb= nz 750 ! We believe it would have been a gift to The
He; and Mr You are great company and great hilarity was had all round
happened we had to go back to The Rose Garden to get some of the honey
comb so two of the girls, of course “Cheeky Jessica” and Jane would hop
on the back of the ATV and we followed.
Peng Can Hua then took us on a grand tour of said garden and extensive
environs. What a place.
his wife won”t live here and lives in Shangralar,he mostly stays in his
provided house in the town. He has built himself a smaller house and
rented the whole rose garden and extensive buildings to a copper mining
magnate millionaire for twenty years. The leasee is doing extensive
renovations. Peng will get the whole shebang back when he will be
retired and live on there.
We drove home and Rhoda asked me if I would like to go for a walk. So
tired I let them go and wrote till they came back.
is avidly looking for an acre of land here for her and Joy to practice
the permaculture which she has a fixation about, but not yet
experienced, and found another piece tonight on another farm of Mr
You,s, is very excited.
Got up first before six and have caught up with writing, as we go back
today and will be on the road all day.
of course,Rhoda would, take Hero and I to see her new possible acre of
land. We walked, and called into a neighbour who had invited us to a
tea. As is common, the wife came out but he still in bed at nine. We
walked on towards the river where, near the banks Mr You had many years
ago planted a grove of aspen, protected on the perimeter with one row
of, the hardy Populous Yunnanesnese.
Thru the trees, on the river
bank, is the beginnings of a highway, a new one from Le Jiang to Tibet.
Now, the road is to be twenty mt. wide so will need to take some of the
aspen.Years ago, when he planted the trees, the neighbours laughed at
him saying they would take to long to grow.
Well, he is now being
compensated 2,000 dollars a tree for the ones they take, about a
million dollars, and still has a beautiful forest of aspen along side a
major highway facing the river.
On the way home, as usual I always
walk faster than Rhoda and co. as I get tired walking slowly, so I
burst on ahead, to wait for them at a fork in the road. Well, this time
it didn’t work, as they diddn,t see me and me them either,
they slipped up a side road. So, lost again, but my strange “homing
device” eventually found the way.
Rhoda is giving our hosts moxabation, so have caught up with writing,
Wow, the cicadas are loud here.
I am caught up, I am going back editing and the daughter in-law just
walked past me with an enormous basket, of that “weed” on her back,(
looks as big as her ) to feed the animals.
Just ten meters. in front of me, I se Mr Yau fishing, I
expect that's for our lunch in about an hour.
it’s ANOTHER MEAL lunch, and what a one. Yes a lovely big fish from the
pond delicious,and ten other dishes, pork done different ways, bacon
very faty how they like it, a fennel and soy meal, bamboo the best
delightful,a potato dish, another green, bracken tips I think, rice of
course and then, as if not enough, potatoes boiled in their jackets
came later, I did’nt need any, but had to try to see if they were as
good as mine, and yes they were. All with his own Chinese Maka wine,
which I felt was better that the Rmmb 3,000 one.
Then, Rhoda goaded
them up to get me up to dance. I said “ I’m too shy, and you have”t got
fast enough music” she put on her Indian one, and Mr Yao was the only
one brave enough to breast up and join me. Good fun as a parting
Had a pee amongst the animals, and said goodbye to them all.
parting as it has been a wondrous two days, except I had my usual hug
with the host, and with this small mans strength and ego, I heard a rib
crack again ay,
A fast drive, two hours back to lovely house, where
while a meal was being prepared, the rest of us, including man who may
take over the property when they all leave for Taiwan, polished of ’the
three bottles of beer i brought with us. I have been very good here, no
beer in a week till now.
Tomorrow we drive back to Le Jiang
By the way, put one of Franziska’s’ patches on my rib and no more pain
Slept in till eight, as caught up on writing, and just packing to go.
will be sad leaving this wondrous place.
So, chi gong and away, having breakfast in a tiny roadside restaurant,
just noodles and an egg, but enough for me.
then drove on to about half way home, and went on a massive detour to
find good coffee and peruse probably the cutest “old city” I have been
to. So far of the main road, very few tourists.
Had coffee in this
kinky tiny bar., THEY, had ANOTHER meal, but I abstained, then we
walked this delightful little town, and later wended our way home in
The welcome we received, was as if we had been away for years,
and a delightful fish etc. meal was tucked into, and for once I was
Sweet Jessica tried to send my story home on her computer,
but to no avail. But I did get a message to Marney. Bit of an
urtication with Rhoda of me taking up Jessica's time , what’s
that all about !
I saw a sparrow today.And a water snake in the river yesterday.
quiet day. In the morning, Rhoda, Jane, Hero and I went for a big walk
“thru the alleys and byways”. so much to see just walking, oh what we
miss removing ourselves from the past village life. Everywhere here,
you walk thru intensive population and buildings, then suddenly burst
out into a verdant green activity of plants and fruits, then back into
human living space again.
The whole place was a series of little
villages, which are either joined, or patchworks, so charming. Hero’s
aim was, to get us to ANOTHER friend of his. This lovely couple were
busy doing renovations to extending their house with the help of a
neighbour, and i felt we might be imposing,
but no, they, as usual would ask us in for tea and the compulsory chat,
while the neighbour worked on.
usual, on such occasions, when there is avid conversation in their
dialect, I will quietly get up and nose round the culture. First I saw,
someone was into pottery the wife I suspected, as there were misshapen
and failed pots from the kiln with plants sprouting out of them
everywhere. Then, as they were building, they had shifted two very
large rose plants.One looked as if it would make it , but the other was
giving up. It was three meters. high and the leaves had tossed in the
I joined them again and said as I once had dabbled in pottery
I felt someone here was into it. it transpired, he had once taught
pottery and these were some of his students work, and they were good.
I asked them about the rose, He said he knew it was in jeopardy, but
their daughter would not have it trimmed. they brought the lovely young
lady out of her room, and as she had some English, (whereas the parents
had none) they obviously convinced her I was “an expert! ) she
gracefully relented. (Women and cutting trees ! )
So I got to work,
with an assortment of saws and the best, a hacksaw, and in no time had
relieved the top heavy plant of it’s burden. I felt the other one might
survive, and in deference to the lass, left it to it’s fate.
wended our way back thru village life, and as Rhoda was happy to dawdle
with Hero. I walked on with the athletic Jane, and the last section
home is a steep cobbled almost goat track. As usual, I decided to keep
up with the fit Jane to push myself. I made it but was buggered at the
Some of them are going to town to play music, and i was to go
to get the money that Ching Hwa (Hanna) had paid for my Taiwan flights
rm. 1440. But rhoda caught me napping , decided I was too tired and
should stay and do it tomorrow. I obeyed! , then found i still had
enough rmm. in my wallet to pay her for the ticket.
They are all in
a huddle deciding wether to accept the man’s offer to take over The Le
Jiang property. They are not keen on him, he is a classic business man,
and as they have put a lot of work, physical and soul, into the two
properties over the last ten years,they would like to have people of
their ilk carry it on, and they do find them, so he’s out I feel , and
i agree with them.
After breakfast, I was laoshi
to my very keen class again and, for the first time Hero joined in.
They learn so fast, this could be his first English class (will ask)
and he picked it up straight away. I am amazed how fast they do.. I
can’t imagine me learning Mandarin so fast.
Good morning class.
This is your fourth lesson, I hope you like it.
week we drove up to Lijiang to stay in your other
Some of you came home to Dali.
The rest of us went to Farmer Yau’s
On the way home from LiJiang to Dali,
We went to a beautiful old
city Was lovely coming back
I have done a lot of writing, About your life here.
Beautiful, your love and friendship for each other. I love being with
Class finished, and a standing ovation for Laioshi.
lessons, five of us piled into the car to take Xiy Yu to the hospital
to have an x-ray as as she hurt her elbow learning to roller skate last
night. I had watched them and, it was an accident waiting to happen on
the concrete, Rhoda never sees it that way as,’’ It’s just fate” Dear
old fate gets a lot of unjustified blame I feel, though I say nothing.
took me to an ATM to withdraw some more money and then dropped me at a
lovely quite sophisticated coffee bar, got me on wi fi and left for the
This place is a delight, hao chi coffee, dead cool old, prob. 1930s
English music, and great atmosphere, could be in Paris.
Rang Rick, no answer, so wechat him a note, and tried audio.
as have caught up with writing, may do a bit of editing and just wait.
Seems like a pretty posh part of town as, interesting people walk past
as I watch out the widow sitting at street level.
Well, the crew are
back and Xiu Yu just has a small fracture, just have to stay in a sling
for two weeks. I bought them all a coffee and while we were there one
of the tiny electric cars crashed into a flash car.I’m told it is a
rental and wealthy young woman driver flounced out of it and obviously
tried to blame “the universe” or something other than her.
left I popped in to say hello to the rainbow Girl” in her little pizza
bar almost next door and then followed the team across the road to the
young organic farmer’s posh restaurant. He wasn’t there so we looked at
The Taiwan crim’s ———-wonderful woodwork, and while doing so—Ming
arrived, was very welcoming and introduced us to his partner—————- He
wants us to visit the farm so we made a date for next Monday morning to
at least meet up there with his partner.
It’s two o’clock, and Rhoda
is hungry again, so we went to the great home made noodle and bun place
again and had great fresh buns filled with lightly steamed spring
onions. So good.
Picked up Jane who had bought all the stores, and off home..
dinner Rhoda was to walk down to the bottom of the hill to meet Joy,
who was coming to talk business and walk with her, as his old three
wheeled bike couldn’t get up the hill. I was to accompany her down the
hill. We met the lovely Joy and they off.
I strolled along the
street watching the populous as they did their evening ritual of
sitting in the street on the stone forms in contemplation,or yarning to
each other in the approaching dark. One old guy beckoned me to sit
beside him in silence ( of course, as they don’t even speak Mandarin)
gazing out into the square. After a while and, like “the pied piper,
another old man emerged out of an alley followed by some kids playing
this fascinating stringed instrument. I waited until he settled himself
among the others in the square merrily playing, and walking over, got
up close to look and photograph him. It is a three stringed classic
piece of art work called a San Hu. I was mesmerised. He was so
engrossed he took little notice of me, I turned around and was struck
by the unbelievable billows of cloud , hanging off the top of the
mountain synchronising with the music.
After a photo I sat there,
mesmerised again on the classic hewn stone form, gazing up the mountain
with the music at my back. What an experience.
Was getting dark so,
always aware of security I hiked of home. At the top of the hill, in a
lesser square, (a carpark really) were a few more malingerers, notable
a friendly old guy 81 who would have me sit beside him. He was sucking
on a unique device. About a meter long heavy steel pipe, which towards
the end had a little up stand, where he stuffed some tobacco and herbs
? sucking away emitting the most interesting smell. I sat there for a
long time as the fingers of darkness crept upon us.
In that short
time, so many people, of all ages and sizes tumbled out of the
surrounding houses to sit on the long hewn stone form along side me, or
just stand to chat, I guess about their day and life. These moments are
precious to me, in the grand swirl of the universe.
I dragged myself away with the click of my sticks on stone to a welcome
home After a beautiful day.
like another good weather day, so nice without the rain. Xiu Yu is
feeling better today. Well, as Hero was setting up for singing I was
standing watching the beautiful images on the computer screen, and they
started to sing. ( I might not have said, this group are connected by
skype with the other three groups on a synchronised screen, and they
sing and relate
together. )They always hold hands in a circle, and
while I stood there mesmerised by their voices, a little seven year old
hand slipped up into mine. I think the wee twins took a while to accept
this strange homo sapien, but seems i have made it. They are
delightfully adjusted little men, full of energy and mischief, but
respectful when necessary.
This whole experience here is a lesson in
child rearing with love and respect, far removed from the so called
norms of The West. A great learning experience.
No English class today as my class is busy otherwise.
nice, Jon Webb just skyped from his home in Hoi Nan, Vietnam. He looks
great and is doing very well, built a house and bought more land which
is all going very well. Loves his Tina, which is the main thing.
just showed me how to video and I used her as the model. she was her
usual provocative self, consequently wants me to delete it. Must send
it to Rick..
Rhoda, Hero and I went for a walk up the mysterious
track, that has been too wet to do before.No houses as we are at the
limit, but all the way up were little side tracks to small terraced
gardens, with mostly several walnut trees in the middle (shade I guess)
and all sorts growing.
Sadly, all the way up, the sides of the track
had been sprayed with a herbicide, probably just a surfactant, as it
hadn’t killed anything, so perhaps not the dreaded roundup.
the mountain we stopped at a small tea plantation where, looking down,
with the massive lake in the distance, were myriads of these tiny tea,
and otherwise gardens, with mostly very old men tending them. So I
guess the farmers have left their old houses, like the one we are in,
but some of them, still have their hands in the soil.
home,writing, a little rest and away again, in two cars, first to “the
swamp” a beautiful peninsular with, what i would call a massive lake on
both sides, the team settled to play music and love, while, Rhoda and I
did coffee in this tourist place @nz$ 10 a small cup, but the view
upstairs and the ambience was worth it. We walked to the end, watching
fisher people pull in their net. Lovely place.
Ching Hwa then drove
us thru horrific traffic to pick up Xio Li at her pizza shop to then
drive to her “Rainbow Farm” those eyes.
For one young woman’s
effort, this place is amazing, and can I do it justice here. She comes
from Heinan Prov .previously worked in Beiging as a cloth designer and
has leased this 20, acres for twenty years on. It’s the best looking
soil I have seen so far, after her hard work, with the help of
Wwoofer’s, Great as of course it has been subject to the
abuse of artificial fertiliser, insecticides, and herbicides that are
endemic in China. No
wonder we are wary
of Chinese produced food, and I will be more so now.
flat out in the process getting it back to LIFE.She has an eclectic
range of food growing on one side, supplying most of the produce for
the pizza shop, and a large field of rice in the other half,
punch line, as well as the common solar water heating system, she has
installed two of the first photo voltaic panels i have seen in Yunnan !
She is worried about the weeds in the rice, but I couldn’t help
her there as know nothing about rice, but will research when home and
we chat her.
She has several different composting systems, and
including a compost toilet. Has used E.M. but says, too busy to make
more. I questioned this and suggested some help from her friend Jarrad,
who is familiar with it.
She has hens, ducks, rabbits, a fish tank
which she cycles to another tank to make fish poo fertiliser and two
lovely big dogs, which I won over.
With the dirty pond she is
worried about and wanted advice, I suggested she get rid if the two
ducks (mud rakers) , use E.M, and as it is just from the water table,
with no movement, aerate the water some how, perhaps with a tiny
electric motor. It would be worth it as well as other uses, she could
grow fish in there.There is a nice little house here, that she built
herself with a Tibetan stove as she has woofers, three at the moment
who look after themselves there. She lives in another house five
minutes away by motor
Xlo Li left us there to wait for our lift, as said would walk to her
house. You don’t often meet a young woman like this, and damed
attractive with it. This is another highlight of my visit to Yunnan.
Home, lovely dinner, and a long chat with Rhoda about indigenous
minorities here and around the world.
heard about the “goings on “ in Europe, Britain leaving the EU. I could
be “fiddling while Rome burns”, but, “what can i do” Hope my affairs
are as good as pos. back home.Tried to WhatsApp Mander, not sure if it
went, don’t think it did.
Rhoda, Hero and I headed off on a big hike
this morning. We picked up a friend and drove as far up the mountain as
pos., to the bottom of the chair lift, then started walking, steps,
steps and more steps for miles.The friend drove the car back to town.
a beautiful walk, mostly thru a Yunnan pine tree forest. I found the
incessant steps hard, but went ahead, gaining on the flatter bits and
taking my time on the steps, so I didn’t slow them down. Was a great
walk but pretty tough for me, I don’t seem as fit as I was at home. (
Oh I forget about the height, about My Cook up here !! )Anyway it was
retrace our three hour walk, or climb higher to the gondolier station
and ride back, which we did, where i bought the tickets at only 150 rm.
for the three of us. Was interesting studying the tops of the forest on
the way down.
We caught a taxi down town to pick up our wagon, then
Hero drove us to Walmart where I bought a heap of NZ Whittaker's dark
chocolate for the girls who have been so good to me with computer etc.
Then Hero, we felt, wanted a night of from family, so we wondered and
found a good noodle restaurant nice, home late and bed.
early as to be at Joy’s at eight thirty to visit another piece of land
of interest to Joy and Rhoda to do their permaculture on. There we met
up with Joy, and Mr Yuen, the man who is renting the big piece of land
which is up a mountain way north of here, and another man, plus three
kids who Joy coaches.. Was supposed to take an hour, but have learnt,
an hour in Yunnan (or is it China) could mean anything. A hundred k’s,
about half way to LeJiang we stopped in the village of Er Yuen then
headed for the hills. Well the one hour drive up that road can only be
described as hellish. As the road became almost bank to bank with
branches, we burst out into a barely defined clearing and were”the
beekeeper,” a leather skinned smiley old (just 71! )man embraced us.
The buildings are both past it, a mud brick and a concrete one.
property is very big by Chinese standards, 360 acres = nz 90. It is
common minority land to be leased to Mr Yuen for thirty years at a
whole charge of 700,000 rmb, paid up front. (thats how they do it)
whole place goes from flat to sloping, and a big part of it is planted
in all sorts of mature fruit trees, neglected, but saveable.
is plenty of underground water there, where he has dug and concreted
wells, but would need electricity to pump up the hill. He as just two
solar panels now for bit of light, but is an electrical engineer, so
He has bought the lease outright and is to start the foundation and for
a log house from his own forest.
doesn’t want financial partners, as too complicated, but will look for
like minded others to perhaps build their own house and share the
bounty of the place. He wants to follow the “eco village” concept, here
again. Great to see so many young people interested in these principals
This is where Cong ( Joy )and Rhoda may fit in by building a
yurt, only rmb.10,000 ( $NZ 2,000 ) sharing the bounty and naturalness
of the place.
The beekeeper——— liked me, guess as I was/am old, so
took me around his 35 hives, mostly squares cut into the mud brick
walls of the house with a board front, just propped closed by a stout
stick, or the mud brick walls around the garden.
The place is a
haven of trees, shrubs, and a multitude of herbs so wild flours are
abundant for the bees. We had a jar for lunch, which was delightful,
albeit with a layer of comb and dead bees on top. Managed to evade the
wild life, and the honey was lovely. He sells it down in the village to
make a meagre living, added to in the past by rmmb 200 a month from the
Govt for care taking the place while vacant.
On the way home Yuen
took a side road which led down to this beautiful mountain lake, which
we would call a large tarn. We stopped on the edge on a vast lawn like
grass land foreshore, eaten low by cattle and mainly goats, as this is
on common land, As I have written before, around the world, this is
common with common land. if there is a blade of grass, they
it, if there is a stick, they burn it.
Not so bad here as it rains,
(though you get much more production if you let it grow) same
in drylands, Albeit, a lovely place to rest, lie on the “lawn” or have
a conference on what the day had brought forth.
Two local youths
arrived on motor bikes and ran a net out into the lake, then splashed
and threw rocks to frighten the fish in, but no luck.
We then proceeded down the horrific road to civilisation and on home.
asked me what I thought, and I said I wouldn’t touch it with that road
access, but she said, Mr Yuen was confident a new highway is to be
built within the next two years. If you can believe that, it makes the
place very interesting.
Well, another massive day.
ten am Hero drove Rhoda and I down to Gia Ming the young organic
farmer’s massive house by the lake where they had run the festival, in
the middle of his massive organic farm.
We were asked upstairs, given the ritual tea, and I proceeded to ply
him and his lady partner with questions.
The Farm : 290 ACRES = 72 NZ Very big for China. Organic, no
certificate, as anyone can buy one he says in China.
Mostly vegetables, organic, Pigs 11, goats 5, Cows 2, Chickens ——, All
fed in closed circuit from farm.
lovely very big (prob. Holstein) She is a beauty, bought from a well
bred large (100!) herd, and has a six month heifer calf along side.
are housed, seemed funny, you walk in the front door of this marble
palace to see the cow, along a spotless marble floored passage way and
thru a side door, and here she and calf are !!, on a concrete floor,
tied up, and hand fed with hand cut grass brought in on someone’s back.
precious dung shovelled into a barrow as “it” happens. Didn’t find out
where the urine went. Funny, he asked me for help to run more cows and
how to make cheese. I told him I would employ a European cheese maker,
and that we had up to 3,000 in one herd, that I cold help him, but he
would have to ask questions, gave him my card. Rhoda thinks their
English is not good enough to be able to communicate. I didn’t feel
Economics : Hard going. They came three years ago from
Nanjing, where he was into some sort of big business. Here the farm is
a sort of hobby, as he has an interest in upmarket lodgings, charging
up to $ US 2,000 a night, along the lake front, two large organic
restaurants, and the antique old wood restoration business
with Ah Bo.
So, the farm, is supported by all of that , though it is in
it’s embryo stage.
are in the process of setting up a membership system as well where
there is a yearly charge to be involved in the property and produce.
had heard they charge up to five times for their produce, but he said
they charge about 70 per cent more which is reasonable when you see how
much poisons are sprayed on “conventual” food. Where a cabbage might be
3 dollars, he might be 5, fair enough. I think I believe him, esp. as
people wouldn’t buy at five times !!
I asked him where all this
poisoning is leading to, and what hope is there. His answer was, as I
also see it.”in the young people” like himself. I hope there’s enough !
Govt support ? : They pay lip service, and with the massive corruption,
most of the money doesn’t get to the farmer.
Garlic : How much Fert. and sprays. “ Massive “ Costs
Conventual garlic, NZ $2-50 kg in china.
of home. Looking out the office window, on one of the man made islands
are rabbits. They put two on there, now there are twenty two and not a
blade of grass (like the common land ) they have to feed them as they
live in a desert.
We then were taken for a walk in part of the farm,
and they grow everything. Was interested to see my first lucerne (alf
alfa) plant in China. They were growing a small plot of it for the cow.
was blight on some of the plants and they were wondering. I asked if
they had tried EM. They don’t know how to get it. I said, talk to
Jeered as he has it.
We went from there to Ah Bo’s workshop well,
what can I say, Our Greg would have loved it.Every imaginable ancient
artefact in wood, and he, like Greg is an expert at restoring them.
Ah Bo is “one hell of a fella” a real personality full of charm and
perusing his treasure trove he took us just down the road to Gia ming’s
sister’s very upmarket restaurant and we had probably the nicest lunch
yet.They are doing up the old house next door as another up
market hostel and Ah Bo’s work is very evident
next drove him out to the main road where he is looking at a block of
100 acres to lease with others right next to the main road. Rhoda and i
didn’t like the smell of the deal, we feel the lesser is just turning
the land over to make a profit, also the lease is just thirteen years,
too short to do much. most inorganic as massive traffic passing day and
Drove back to Ah Bo’s for more coffee and fill in time before
we go into town to pick up Rhoda’s friend from Hong Kong Ou Ruofei,,
where at five thirty we set of. Just as well as the traffic was hellish.
On time she arrived, a nice lady with some English.
home at seven thirty and no time for Rhoda and I a beer, so nice meal
and later she and I did our little ritual sitting in the gloaming with
our glass of beer chatting and bed.
off to Jared’s yurt to help him with his health and to learn more about
his Jewish origins, in which she is very interested . She
private time with him so i stayed.I don’t think he wants to help me
anyway, as is “ too busy’’
Wrote all morning and then we all were
driven to ———— the couple who are taking over the place when they go,
for a celebratory lunch. Well, what a lunch, these people sure know how
to eat, a very Piao Liang meal, all from another——-provence
: these Chinese people sure have the art, it just doesn’t stop,. It’s
like, when there’s a gap, it doesn’t seem natural, dirty or something,
so has to be filled, and if you want to speak, you can’t wait for a
gap, you hopefully find a lull, and but in. You wonder what all the
words are about as you ask a question that requires about three words
and one to five minutes later there is a gap.
Got so exhausted
sitting on a low stool listening to the incessant chatter in Mandarin I
eventually, to ensemble's dismay lay on the concrete to rest,
which eventually motivated them to get moving.
As we are parting on
Friday, I have been asked to tell my story to the group here tonight,
So, I have only one hour before dinner to write this as have had a nap.
: Born, to highly intelligent parents Thomas and Alma Brosnan. Dad,
previously a NZ champion cycle rider, was an artistic hairdresser,
people came from all over the provence to have their hair styled by my
1933 :Dad bought and built a house on one and a half, =10 Chinese acres
on the edge of Dunedin.
I started reading very young which has been a big part of my life, and
made me distain “school”
: Mary and I were attending St. Bernadette Catholic School when I was
four and a half, and I have this vision of the nuns peeking round the
corner watching us eating lunch. I knew already dad was not keen on the
church, and also, I thought, as mum was a good cook, she made these
little pies in tiny brown pottery dishes, and the nuns were curious or
jealous, the mind of babes.
Anyway my father was a prodigious reader
of the scriptures and all manner of deep stuff, whereby he decided The
Catholic Religion was not the right path, so he pulled us out of the
church, and we never went back.
As a family, we were an eclectic
mix, Mum was an atheist, Dad was very spiritual, my sisters religious,
and me,, a wanderer, seeking spirit, even up till this day. In a way
that’s why I am here. First, we set up our own church in our own house.
After that, as mum wasn’t keen, we went every which way.. The two girls
took up different religions, I bought a piao Liang leather bound bible,
followed the girls, but could not see the truth in their religions, and
“wandered in the desert of wonder, looking for my path” I believe I
found it in universal LOVE, as I believe we are all looking for and is
manifesting in this place with you people.
Dad was kicked out of the
nest, and lived above his shop, and after about ten years, and two more
children he belatedly married Blanch Fennesy
THIS NEXT PIECE, WRITTEN LATER, WAS NOT INCLUDED IN MY SPEECH TO THE
old Dad. Mum was the strong one, as women often are. She didn’t get on
at all with dad’s Irish family ( So sad for us kids as she cut us off
from that side of the family, and her side “ the Butchers” were a cold
lot, so we have had to make our own “families”, and i still am.
worst part was, as she didn’t get on with dad, she put us boys in the
same pot, so the house was totally matreacal, the boys were ignored.
survived that, as I buried myself in books, had a good dad for a while,
and was born i’m told, an old soul, and especially a surviver.
dear brother Tony wasn’t so lucky, he is five years younger than me,
and did not have much of dad before he left, and mum poisoned the minds
of the rest of them about dad, the girls never knew him at all,I am
having to educate them even now that they had their dad, and he is very
much part of them. I might have been a bit tough on Tony, as he was
always a lot harder than me, and i had to knock him around a bit when
practicing boxing, to stop him killing me..
Sadly especially later
in life, he tried to emulate me which he never could as we are so
different. except for sport, where he gained more medals. He gained the
Eastern Southland Rugby team and the Southland Middle weight boxing
title. But he always worried me, as he just wouldn’t lie down, and
would eventually be matched with Morris Tuck from the West Coast, who
could have killed him. He was on his way towards a mental condition
already, and we know where those boxers end. One night in Invercargill
he was matched against a pretty good Polynesian guy, and as Tony
would’t lie down, he pulled rank and Tony won. I really encouraged him
to retire, albeit with a good record. (better than his brother) well
done. Eventually I won out.
It took me years to realise, I must not
talk about my achievements, which, as i have said he would immediately
try to emulate. I saw, this was bad as it frustrated him, and didn’t
help his mental health.
Tony was always a little different as a boy,
but I felt all he needed was love, which he never had. He stayed at
home with mum and the girls for too long and I was always away in the
mountains or somewhere.
So, late in life, as a married man with five
kids, he became skitzafrenic. I watched it happen. He was a carpenter
and then working on the Avemore dam. They came down to the farm a lot,
often to help, tailing etc., and before my eyes I saw him go
crazy. He was quite bad, even threatening
to kill his wife, so he
was interned in a mental hospital. They wouldn’t let me near him that
first time, his family weren’t interested, as they had such a hard time
with him, so there was just me. I was very supportive of Lyn and the
kids, as thy would have had a “hell of a life with Tony for years, and
it was important they split up especially for the kids, as he was very
hard on them, and with Lyn they all have done so very well in their
The second time he was interned, he was under two wise
doctors and they were pleased to have someone from outside care about
him, so I visited a lot. One visit he said to me “I am coming up to the
farm to stay with you next week” I was horrified as he is bigger and
stronger than me, and I was actually scared of him. I talked to the
doctor and he said I was to monitor his drugs etc. and if trouble to
bring him straight back, and if it went well he would get out of there
and into a flat at Waikari a step down hospital.
The time at the farm was a howling success, so he was allowed to leave
a visit at the new place one day sitting under a tree, I said to him
“who in your life have you had to talk to”, he said “no one” ( his wife
was a great mother for the kids who have all done exceptionally well,
but not a communicating partner.) so I said to him,
you have now in me.”
So, for the last forty years I have been Tony’s
career,as well his oldest son Mark, in latter years has really been
there for him as well.
Tony is great’’, Mark and I have helped
him to be stable enough to buy his own little house and garden, and
apart from the odd downer he is quite normal and has a pretty good life.
1939 : At age seven, ( the age of the twins here,) I got a job,
delivering newspapers for 6 shillings a week
= 3 rm. for 6 days a week, but I had to give my mother 3
shillings for board
My Auntie Val got us all Post Office Savings Book, and i saved 1 or two
shillings a week
: Got a better job delivering milk seven days a week getting 15
shillings a week and had to give my mother 10. In the winter when it
was freezing and getting up at 5 in the morning I got a pound = (20
shillings) and was allowed to keep 10. I would sometimes get
strap for being late for school
I think I knew ,way back then I never wanted a JOB. I wanted to work
: dad bought me 2 ferrets and I would ride up to 20 km. and back to
catch rabbits, skin them and sell the skin for fur coats and the body
Saving all the time, I was well on the way to having my
1946 : as
WW2 ended, I hated school as had read more intellectual books than all
the teachers together so at 14, I convinced my strict mother ( she had
divorced my great Dad by then) to let me leave school. and I go to MY
school every day since, as I love, my sort of education.
I had done
well at wool classing, winning the open (all ages) class at the winter
show, so I told my mother I was going to be a wool classer, that
convinced her, Ha ha.
The pay was only one pound and a penny a week,as I was an apprentice
learner, and I had to give mum fifteen shillings for board.
( Great way to learn the value of money )
stayed about a year and was buying wool and rabbit skins by then. But,
like many of you, my plan always was to get “back to the soil”, out of
town and into the mountains, ( my website says a bit about this)
: At 16 I bought a little Fordson truck, and making my own mind up by
now, as I felt “ I was a man” and drove way up into Central Otago
getting a job working in the woodsheds with the sheep. wow, this was my
After that I did many contracting things, first to make
money to buy a business, and second as I loved most of the work, which
Possum hunting and selling the skins Shearing sheep.
skinning sheep in the big freezing works felling th
fellingt the big native trees for timber to build houses.
Then four years of and on at sea as a fisherman
Other things, hard to remember.
: At that stage I was learning all facets of the fishing life. making
nets, splicing wire and hemp ropes, how to sail the big ship (“The
Taiaroa” 40 meters long with 11 of a crew,) navigation and all the
reading to get to be a skipper of a ship. The Caption, Old Jock Black
offered me the mates job, but I declined as by then
saved enough to buy my own ship. Why I learnt navigation was I nearly
went to England, where ships were cheaper to buy one and sail it back
to nz. But I decided to get one built in Hobart Tasmania (cheaper than
nz) There, I could have built a sixty footer with a twelve ton freezer
for Twelve thousand pounds.
Well, “of all the plans of mice and men” (Steinbeck )
: At the town hall dance, i met my future wife Fleur, and decided I
didn’t want to be at sea for up to two weeks at a time and married.
: Got married to Fleur and bought a very small dairy farm 80 acres =
rm. 550 on the slopes of Mt Cargill Dunedin milking only 20 cows for
5,250 pounds. Bought another 80 acres later, = 160. There, just one
mile from the town we had a good life, half town, half country, which I
have always had.
Michael Stephen was born quite quickly then, was Marney-Anne Veronique,
Gregory and lastly wee Jacque.
Fleur was very attractive, and soon got into modelling, and I was soon
with politics and I was getting onto cooperative type company boards,
and the houses were encroaching onto us, after 10 years we decided to
look for a bigger sheep farm more in the country.
1965 : We
eventually found this dry, raped, 1600 acres, approx. rm. 10.000
Chinese, running only 500 bad sheep, for 25,00 NZ pounds
This was my
opportunity, within three years we were running 3,000 very good ewes,
with all the original ones gone and earning enough money to get the
family out of the awful tiny house and build a new one.
very artistic and clever. she designed and put on blueprints the whole
house. she knew a lot more than the builder, so she got what she wanted.
I was getting into politics, and Fleur floral art, so we had our own
interests. Eventually I brought the sheep flock up to 5.000 with
sometimes up to 200 cattle as well.
1974 : Our marriage had
disintegrated and Fleur left for Christchurch where the farm bought her
a lovely old house which she proceeded to renovate in her artistic way
For two years I was broken hearted, but once I got over that, my life
grew wings, and still is.
We were both to travel overseas that year but Fleur wouldn’t come, so i
went alone, the beginning of my extensive travel
1974 I have travelled for up to five months every two to three years,
usually with some organic and or conservation reason (vehicle I call it
) never paid, but just managing financially from my own efforts as a
It was then i had the time and got very involved in organic land
management, and applied it to my farm
involved in setting up the the main standard for Organic NZ, “Biogrow
and soon up to 800 people from all over the world, including The then
Prime Minister David Longey visiting the farm to learn what this boy
had gleaned from the universe
So, here i am again learning and teaching organic farming and learning
Chinese Medicine from Rhoda.
I hope this brief story is of some interest to some of this lovely
most of the day at Ah Bo’s workshop,that evening had a big celebratory
dinner with the whole crowd at a friends Tibetan meat restaurant,
including Zaho the artist, who, by the way just bought an electric
three wheeler, three yrs. old for rm. 1400 rmmb
The meal was a riot, such fun and, never seen so much meat. Ah Bo came
home with us, and they made a bed up for him.
a hell of a night as, my reflux came back with a vengeance. Took two
pills but was 2-30 before i could get to sleep, Guess it was the
massive meat dinner last night ? So, my stomach, is still vulnerable.
highlight of the morning was, Ah Bo went next door to the the old
indigenous couple and bought the most delightful white puppy for rmb.
50, NZ 10, a cinch ,off them. Well, what a todo. After a while the tiny
old White woman came in and demanded it back, as she said, her husband
had dementure and she wanted it for her grandson. Even by then, Ah Bo
and the dog had bonded, as he is such a personality, so, what to do. He
eventually won the argument and she went away carried the chain and
Rhoda had to write a report, so Hero drove her friend
Jessica, the other Jessica, who speaks a bit of English, and i to town
to buy some stuff for the rest of my adventures.
Well, the usual
performance, driving round and round. We bought some organic coconut
oil, some beer for tonight, but, could we buy a memory stick !. They
call it a USB, and not one in sight in the whole town Lovely Hanna gave
me one when we got home, I gave her 500 rm. as a donation for staying )
The other thing, a 4G card, so complicated I didn’t buy one.
So late for lunch I bought us a pizza and coffee again at Shou Le’s
the way to dinner lovely Jessica helped me get a G4 card so i could use
my phone anywhere without wi fi, what a bloody hassle. Anywhere in
Indochina you can buy a phone card on the street in a couple of
minutes. Here, we must have spent hours getting it sorted.
we went to Zaho the Artist for a parting dinner.Well, he is the most
large “cuddly bear” you could meet. The meal was amazing, and what fun.
Rhoda especially made the most of it. Great last night.
the old man next door is wandering around in dementure, trying to find
the little white puppy and his wife is following him.. Sad as rhoda
thinks Ah Bo will have to give it back.
So, what an experience this
month has been, I don’t remember a fuller one, or more enjoyable. I
will miss these special people very much, but have great memories.
town, Dali, It’s people, both indigenous ( White ) and those fleeing
from the carnage of The East, and especially, the brooding massive
green, black, or blue mountain range, that menaces the whole town from
above, has to be seen to be believed. On the other side to the East,
the seventy km. lake, as lovely as lakes are.
Rhoda and her friend Jessica left for Hongkong and I left for North
Goodbye Dili, I may never see you again, but will never forget you.
DAY 30. 1-7-16
up early and heart felt goodbye, lots of photos and hugs. Hero (and he
is) struggled thru the horrific traffic to get me to the bus at nine,
and away North, goodbye lovely Dali, and people.
ALL ALONE IN THE BIG WIDE WORLD,, THANKS RHODA FOR THE LAST MONTH.
SO, YUNNAN AND SICHUAN HERE I COME ALONE..
Uneventful trip. Stopped for lunch half way at a desolate diner in the
Started climbing from there on as ,Shangrila is at 3,500 mts. ! , very
little cultivation and lots of black yaks.
at the bus stn. in the same rain, very cold, the altitude I guess. Rang
the wrong number for an hour, then found lovely Hanna’s itinerary and
rang right one. Very little English, but eventually a man came to pick
me up. Piao Liano hotel, right in the middle of the most tourist area,
but way around back alleys from the main tourist street, is why so
cheap I guess. The room is like a Tibetan palace ( if there is such a
place ! )‘a room to die for”, not what i’m used to.
But lo, of all
the plans of mice and men!! due to circumstance, I am out of money, not
even enough to buy a meal. A girl in the supermarket showed me an ATM
close by, but it wouldn’t accept my card, so after “all that food” for
the last month I had my one lovely Tinghou beer, my last biscuits, and
a piece of chocolate ,and to bed at eight as warmest place.
the morning breakfast in the kitchen around a classic Tibetan cooking
stove, with the traditional logs sticking out the front. There were
just two other families, a couple from Shandong Prov. with two
delightful children, the girl about eight, hell bent on learning
English wrote “My name is Lilly” and I had to respond. The mother and
Lilly could speak just enough English and with my limited Mandarin. we
could communicate. In no time they had a man from the hotel to take me
to a bank. I asked Lilly if she used a computer, and I think yes so I
got out mine, showed her my website and gave her my card. she was so
excited. The others were a young couple, who also knew a bit of
English. they will all be back tonight, so will be fun.
They went to
the famous forest and the man took me to my old favourite, the Bank of
China and, piece of cake, they had plenty of money. He didn’t want to
take anything, but i forced fifty rmmb into his hand, I felt so
appreciative, and he wouldn’t be paid much.
So am back here,
caught up with writing, This place is gorgeous but in tourist mecca,
hosts have little English, and would like to find a place with
international young people to hopefully find VPS . Shall venture forth.
to foot. Not seen a “supermarket so full of rubbish, though the meat
section interesting. Great hunks of pork, feet ,faces, just couldn’t
spot an anus.
Strolling along , the street, all manner of cutely
named shops aimed at the shopping addictive rich tourist. Very
colourful and an attempt to look Tibetan, wouldn’t be at all surprised
if majority owned by Han.
Though, I must say, so far, this town
seems to be mostly Tibetan people, Such an interesting change, they are
so different, such dignity, powerful (body and manner )and in a rugged
way, gracious. Nice to be staying in a hotel with them, though not sure
about the fermented yak milk tea! for breakfast. Never got used to it.
continue my stroll, not far and struck the chic “Compass Cafe” and a
waitress who speaks English, and a charmer. So, it’s a pretty good
capachino, wi fi, and she told me about the area etc. “ I am actually
in The “Old Quarter” and the reason it isn’t obvious as on my
birthday eleventh January 2014 this whole quarter was burnt
the ground and has been rebuilt to look old. and that the young
backpackers stay in centre city, so will attempt to get there.
here by the street window, so interesting watching, the mostly older
Tibetan ladies walk past. A very pleasant place to hang out Still
trying to get a VPN going. She also told me there is a Kiwi
working at the cafe.
Ordered an omelette as hoping the NZ guy will turn up.
of the blue, as usual for me, I meet him. Christopher George from
Brindwar (made famous by John Key !! )in Christchurch volunteering at
“The Compass Cafe and hotel” too dear @ 400 a nite for me., I asked him
about VPN and he said he got out well just with ‘‘outlook” so spent at
least an hour and got me on Outlook and out. Hallelujah
take money, so I pressed 200 rm. into his hand as a donation, (they
love that word here )
He also told me of a section of town still Old
Tibetan not far away, so found it and found a kinky restaurant with
Pino Lang wine @ 40 a glass (wine dear here) went in had a glass with
interesting young ladies, and they told me of a Tibetan Family Hotel
just round the corner, so went there and is really me,. Bit dearer @
200 a nite . but speak English, and you are really in a family, which i
love. So will go there on Monday after the two days I paid here on line.
just walk back up the hill and have another glass of Pinot with the
girls and a meal. One of them already has my wechat. She told me where
I should go north when i leave here, as I, as usual “don’t have a clue!
where i’m going next.
Walked up the hill, called into the Tibetan
home stay to do a deal, e.g.. bed & breakfast for 200 if I stay
while, but not home, so around the corner and had two good French Pinot
with my new young friend Duonion Cao. The food passť, so wandered down
to find a good Tibetan meal. Called
into “Compass” and Christopher
gave me two places. Went to one and after a hilarious attempt at
language with five ( Tibetan ) women! I gave up, and the same as last
night, too busy to eat, had my seaweed, and still living of the last
months Chinese diet ay. A couple of biscuits left and a piece of black
Wittikers chocolate. and bed.
Breakfast with the two
lovely families, esp. Lilly’s family from Chingdao in Shandong Prov.
said to call if am there. Got their Wechat. They may come to NZ.
up to the new Tibetan Home stay, offered a deal, if i stay a few days
200 including breakfast. They agreed, so the nephew came back with me
to help with the luggage. On the way he showed me the good Tibetan
Restaurant I was looking for last night, and found a shop that had what
I feel sure has REAL coral. Hell of a price I feel, 388 for a small
piece, I think big enough for a ring told him to put it aside.
my hotel ok and half way to new place, and walking with the nephew a
big flash car stopped. Was his uncle, the owner of the place I guess,
took us the rest of the way up the steep little hill.
my new, very old Tibetan room , (The wide floor boards looked as if
they have been walked on for hundreds of years, and I guess so) I set
about making myself at home.
I am on the second floor, with a very
nice outdoor area half roofed, with tables and chairs with plugs for
computer etc, with the monastery towering over us and a great view.
Well, not satisfied with meeting Chris my 22 yr. Kiwi hero
of the keyboard yesterday, in walked a 22 yr old Kiwi couple who are at
my old home town Dunedin, and Uni there !! She is a marine biologist !!
and he environmental science ay !! We will have dinner tonight at”my
hopeful find” of a Tibetan restaurant. This was great, esp. The
Traditional Tibetan Hotpot
Well. i’m back in The compass Cafe, and
here are my new Kiwi couple having a Western lunch as, they are all
Yunnaned out, as been here a while, I know the feeling sometimes, “Oh
for those good fish and chips at the bottom of Kennedy’s Bush Rd,
albeit made by Chinese !!
Had a good computer chat to Rhoda in
Hongkong . Think may have a glitch with Outlook as they are saying have
blocked. Came here to see Christopher but not here on Sunday, will
catch him tomorrow.
Caught up, Outlook ok I think,no more tit bits, Bye my friends.
what a night last was. The young couple Shaun Burton, and
Jacquetta Udy from Dunedin and I shared a hotpot in this “best tibetan
” ( had cased the town out already and supposedly found the two best
Tibetan places) and it was really good. Best meal i have had, a hotpot
,lots of vegetables and noodles toped by a ring of finely sliced yak
meat.I guess it is the slow steaming that makes it.
On the way home,
I had been hearing loud music thru these windows since being here, so I
said “lets have a look”. Well, what a todo, hundreds and hundreds of
mainly Tibetan people sitting in tiers, surrounding a dance floor,
watching a series of delightful dancers and singers, while eating from
tiny steaming hot pots.
They wanted us to sit down, but i indicated, we had eaten. I/we will be
back there tomorrow night for sure.
trudged on up the hill on this little road hewn from solid volcanic
basalt I’m sure, till approaching “home” I said “lets see if my little
bar is open “ and no, but across the road we admired a beautiful
frontage of a building, lit up and to die for, so again I said to my
not so cheeky young friends, “ lets have a look’ Well again, such a
place, stuck in the middle of these back street alleys. Band stand all
set up and an ample dance floor beckoning. Decor so ruggedly
Tibetan.The top wallah would have us sit down and a lady kept our
glasses full with another good Yunnan tea. Two attractive women arrived
and soon after a large group of middle aged important looking men
arrived in a big group..
Who were they. After a while and lots of
merry drinking , the two most important of the group were introduced by
a minder to the two ladies who proceeded to “Gambia” (small shot
glasses where you throw back the drink in one gulp). Seemed strange, as
the women handled it while egging the men on, who got very drunk, one
eventually being helped out by the minder.
What we decided was that
it was a Communist Party Group out for fun, and the two ladies were
contracted to entertain the top men.
On reflection later I wonder if I am imagining things, and these guys
are a group of business men and not Party Members.
along the most fascinating entertainment was on show. (which I have
videos of) The Tibetan men singers, with their deep barrel chested
voices were something to behold, the women singers were top class as
well, there were photos of the men’s group being introduced to the
President of China around the walls.So, we had walked into quite a gig,
Shaun plays the trumpet and organises gigs in Dunedin, and he approved
Out of curtesy I bought some beers, 58 rm. against ten in the street,
but was well worth it.
on, I said to the two kids, “ I bet you won’t come out and dance with
me’’, but they did, and we wowed the place with our different
dancing.We no sooner sat down and a minder came over to us and
indicated for me to get back up. Same as Indo China, they love it that
this crazy old guy gets up, which always gets the crowd up. so we three
obliged. This time we were dancing with the ethnic women dancers and
singers, and one of the two women guests could not resist, and joined
us.Then, the two minders joined, so we really got them going Was pretty
tiring and only later Shaun said how the altitude 3,400 mts made it
hard for him. So, the height is affecting us more than i feel, though
Rhoda has given me a high altitude homeopathy.
Bye the way, i have
been writing here outside for some time and the deep droning chanting
has been pervading us all morning from the big Monastery above, quite
Just had a great breakfast, if a bit Western. Two lightly
fried eggs with just made lovely flat bread, lots of butter, (first
since landing on The Continent) honey, fruit, banana and apple. Keep me
going for the day.
Lunch time, so will go back to those two places
to get their cards and find out what’s on tonight on my way to The
Compass Cafe, hopefully also to catch up with my computer man
Called into The flying Tiger Cafe and a young Cantonese
chap was having lunch on the veranda. I chatted him up and find he has
a Hostel business called “3 are 3” where he hosts up to one
hundred travellers. Said he could do a single room for 80 rm. just a
few doors away from The Cafe. I followed him there and the room with a
bathroom is tiny, but advantages : He speaks quite good English, tv. in
the room and at last he was able to show me how to get onto CCTV In
English, and more importantly for me, two Chinese programs on tv with
English sub titles, and a chair and table inside to write on, which is
lacking here. So, I have basically accepted it for tomorrow.
down the main street to my Compass Cafe, and it was closed, and so
buggered, came home to have a rest before the night arrives.l
kids arrived home from their motor biking and we settled down to try
our host’s Tibetan “grape” wine. was pretty good so we all had one.Then
in walked Abe, a very nice young American guy who joined us in our
cups.Good deal for kids with little money at 10 rm.a glass.
four then headed of, first popping into The Flying Tiger where I had a
glass of their cheaper French Pinot at 30 rm., then walked across to
the Night Club and got a card (bit useless as all in Mandarin) We then
walked down to last night’s dancing, hotpot place, which was in full
swing again with ethnic dancers on the floor. Abe can speak not bad
Mandarin so, he tried to get a price out of them. They started at 250
rm. ea. first but what with the noise and confusion and The Kids with
little money, we left, Abe saying he would go there with me tomorrow,
as the Kids leave in the morn.
I then took them all way up the hill
to find the other good Tibetan Restaurant, but as I had not brought the
address with me, as it’d seemed easy, (it was as if it had vanished
from the site!) we couldn’t find it. Blotted my copy as their “pied
piper! I wanted to go way back down to last night’s good Tibetan
hotpot, but young buck Shaun who has a hunger fetish ,dragged us into
two dubious places, with not a soul in them, even got to ordering, when
I managed to drag them away.
We did go back to my place,had good
Shangrilar beer and shared a large hotpot, which was a great meal. They
were all too tired to pop into the Night Club, so I dutifully followed
Shaun and the lovely Jacquetta left
early. I got up, had a tricky shower, packed, (getting easier ! ),
wrote, had the ample breakfast, then told them I was going, paid, just
the 200 rm. a night, and
trundled on down the road, round the corner
and to “3 and 3 Hostel. “ Water Mellon” (nick name !) the young owner
was still in bed, but the minders plied me with tea and ——— fruit and
got me into my new tiny room, where I promptly turned on the telly,
watched USA bombings and mayhem for two minutes then my favourite when
in China, Chinese news and programs, and off course, “The Great
Helmsman Mao ” was on again, Never failed to see him whenever in China.
wee, minimalist room is “just great ” and the place teams
all sorts of people. Moved a small table and chair around till I found
a cosy posey on the veranda outside my room to write.
One of the
main reasons I have shifted here to this tiny room is, i have Chinese
TV with english sub titles and Asia CCTV in english. Just watched a
great program on that, a debate between four top intellectual Chinese
and four Australians, about their counties relationships. The first
half about The South China Sea, and then economics, starting off with
the Chinese hanging to the old “hot potato” “ If there was a war
between China and USA. where would Australia sit., indicating that they
would support the US. Then on to “would the same apply in the issue of
the South China Sea ? “ The second half was on reciprocal economics,
Great stuff, never watched a better program involving China.
program with Westerners defending China about the philosophy that China
is heading for “The big meltdown” which I have been subscribing
to.Interesting.to hear another side. Headed down to my favourite
Compass Cafe to hopefully catch up with Christopher, but , he away
sick. Abe was there though, so we had a good chat, he helping me with
where to go from here North. He off to rest and will come to mine at
6-30 to “do” the town. Had my coffee, don’t need to eat. ( one
advantage being outside Chinese culture, one doesn’t have to eat
eat three times a day. No such things as scales here, so don’t know the
On the way home, called back up to my last lodgings and
bought a plastic bottle of his “ tibetan grape Wine @ 80 rm.
home, tried to have a little nap, but Chinese TV too interesting.
arrived so we had a couple of wines and headed off, but didn’t get far
as just around the corner, about fifty mts. was a quiet but exotically
Tibetan building restaurant. Not a soul eating. We, especially Abe ( I
probably enjoy people better than buildings ) couldn’t resist so we
ordered their hotpot @ 79 rm. and meat buns 30 rm. Abe liked it, nice
but too bland for me and had to ask for chilli which sorted it.
then wandered and looked into a few places Abe had found on the
internet, but, no life so gravitated back to our neighbourhood and into
the same night club which Abe was keen to experience. It was missing, a
lot more people, I feel they may have kept it personal for the big wigs
last time. We were obliged to buy one of their expensive beers of
course and it was a great night, The same resident four Tibetan men and
various good women singers.
Later in the night, they started asking various members of the public
up to “do” a turn.
usually ask me up to dance, but I was quite happy they didn’t, but Abe,
quite a reserved guy really, was itching to go on stage and sing his
favourite Neil Young song from Harvest. I egged him on, so he braved
it, picked up the guitar and away. He wasn’t too bad, and of course got
a grand applause and the white Tibetan scarf that they hang around
performers they like, which is what he wanted. I was presented with one
when with Nick Banks in Kathmandu, is above my bed. Abe was
disappointed at his performance as said was so nervous, but so proud he
did it and got his scarf.
Next day got the N0 3 bus @ 1 rm. into
town and the market to buy a few little things, and I never cease to be
awed by markets around the world, such a fascinating experience
one would expect, got back on the No 3 bus and it took me miles away
from here,on the way back, The classic old Tibetan ladies put me of the
bus and pointed the way in the distance.
Was worth it as, got photos
of hand road making. Teams of men dealing to these big bluestone slabs
(basalt i think) with one flat side. Every rock is tediously chiselled
on the flat side to create grip, placed in a bed of sand, then
followers would cement and grout them into permanent position. Lunch
time when back, so took a bee line for my Cafe and Christopher was
there and spent some time on my computer again, what a man.
I have omitted to mention. This Provence, and China per say I guess, is
inundated with electric vehicles, esp. scooters, motor bikes, and the
staple three wheeled goods ones for transport. You wonder
they are SO far ahead of us.
It’s 2-30 and too tired to do tourist
things, so will slip back to my secure little nest and watch China
debating, the South China Sea, North Korea, THE US of A, and floods of
course. And If that’s not enough Channel 4, and what the American media
has hatched up.
Back home in my little nest watching Mao save the
world. I find it hard to believe the bullshit propaganda they still
infuse Tv with about Mao, though I can’t resist, yet again watching it.
They put a lot of work into it.
Had a couple of beers,sitting out on
the common veranda sipping, everyone gone out for dinner, (they’re
prompt to eat here. ) I am looking down the alley past so many prayer
flags, and the wide, one & a half mt. eaves, (No leaky
here ay ) beyond to the hills in the the mist. Could be Wales or
Snuck down the hill with my brolly and had a slum meal,
(when I went to the toilet I wished i hadn’t eaten, and won’t again.
Sure enough, woke with a dickey tummy, but chased it away.
into the Nightclub, good crowd there. Took photos of the four Tibetan
men singers and scarpered to bed as of north in the morn.
Taxi and we called into China Bank on the way to the bus stn.Just in
time as bus left in ten minutes, so away.
First part much the same, lots of yaks and little cultivation, I guess
as pretty cold.
!! for about 100 ks.. following a big river, I think, the worst road
ever, perhaps excepting back in 1974, the tiny roads in The Nepalese
mountains where the carcases of busses lie, next to or in the rivers.I
was very cognisant of these memories, as we crept within inches of the
road edge when passing with turgid, brown, almost evil looking waters
swept down from the mountains below us.
I shook the driver’s hand
when, after five hours we arrived in Derong, where I am told to my
dismay by the bus driver, that no bus goes any further and I would have
to get a taxi at 250 rm. to get near Yubeng. The taxi drivers couldn’t
understand me, when a thoughtful young man took me to The Police Stn.
The arrogant boss fella there was some help with a voice exchange phone
app. Took me to a little restaurant where two lovely young lasses had
just ordered a massive meal, which I points to as an example to
waitress, and they beckoned I share theirs. Not looking a “gift horse
in the mouth “I joined them. Was delightful, especially as hadn’t eaten
all day, and they wouldn’t have eaten a quarter of it before they left,
a bowl of vege steamed buns not touched, so I had a few more. The Chief
Policeman then said I should get a room for the night, so he took me up
these stairs. Well travelling all day around hundreds of precipices,
and at 3,600 nts. I was exhausted already and when the next day I
counted the steps, there were 90 to the door, then the old bag of a
receptionist but me in a room 39 steps higher on the op floor ! a
lovely big flat though at 150 rm.
After a lie down the music in the
square was irresistible, so down the bloody steps I went ay. Well. in
The Square the music was accompanying the usual Tibetan circle dancing,
where every able person dances their traditional dance round in a large
circle. Was tempted, but didn’t get in, just sat amongst the ladies, to
the distain of the men,only gap and watched. Home, and literally fell
Had great sleep on a very nice bed, best yet, woke the
next morn fresh, ready for another foray. Packed my gear as too many
steps up here. breakfast of noodles and little yak meat 12 rm. then
tried to communicate with the taxi chaps, and in despair went back to
the police stn.
Well, they were so good to me, all ten that I had
tied up (lucky there wasn’t a murder! ) Eventually, after a tortuous
verbal journey, it transpired there is a mini bus to a place called
Bengasi ? and then a bus to Dequin, which looks close to Yuberg. I
asked if there was a coffee Bar to wait and write.
Blank faces and
they offered me to rest/sleep on their couch. I really hadn’t realised
how far from civilisation I was, no such thing as coffee bar ay.Then
they produced a tube of coffee powder, next a couple of steamed buns,
next one of the girl police gave me a jam roll, next three green
gauges. Well the noodle bar owner even took a photo of me as a
The bus was to leave at twelve, a long wait,
but the police were so good to me.I asked to go to the toilet and they
gave me a key. Was amazed, as was the worst yet, a big basket of used
toilet paper plus a heap more going way up the wall.Don’t know if i’ve
said, but the toilets in this part of China, won’t take toilet paper.
An excited cop then grabbed me, hustled me into his car and drove me
over the bridge and into a bus. Was real local, but a buss.We drove all
the way back down this raging
brown river, which to my dismay, I find is actually The Yanksie, here
again we meet.
hours on I see quite a big town approaching on the far bank, and
guessed it was Bengasi. The bus stops and a young lady in the seat in
front, grabs me saying i must get off and that she will help me. She
sure did, trundling my case across an iron bridge to the Police depot,
saying her brother was a cop. She rang and a young cop got out of a car
and took us up to the centre where he asked a taxi driver if he would
take me to Dequin. He declined, but the second was a yes ,and my young
lady said 50 rm. there was one other in the taxi.
Well I am writing two days later, as not time, so can I remember ,as
that much to see on that two & a half hour drive.
soon came into a whole different climate, the driest most bare
mountains ever. We must have been in rain shadow. Every where were 4 to
12 inch water pipes, creating green patterns, dotting the mountain
sides. We soon entered a National park and the flora was lovely
changing with altitude, the trees here seem to get bigger as u go up. I
haven’t said, we are climbing all the way, spectacular switch backs in
he road constantly. Soon it turn into a sort of flatter moorland style
growing low stuff like heather and the most spectacular bevy of
flowers, mainly yellow, with blue throughout. All the way up the
mountain are animals, grazing the sides as if they are bred not to
stray on the highway. There are cattle, mainly yak and yak cross,
horses, pigs, and on the moorland, which is heavily grazed, a large mob
of black faced, dorpper looking sheep.
Then we saw them, high snowy
mountains surrounding us. Then on, down down, more switch backs, to
reach the town of Dequin, where the car took me straight to the
familiar face of the police stn.
Here again this weary, lost traveller was warmly welcomed.
said I could get a taxi to Xidang, then walk or horse ride the five
hours over a mountain and down to Yuberg. They suggested I get a taxi
to stay at The Flying Monastery for the night, but after all my
questions, they decided to drive me there, how generous. Half way there
we stopped for a
couple ,The girl with a hat on you would wear to
the races in NZ, walking and they gave them a lift. I asked them “where
are you going” They said “ Lhasa” I said “would they hitch hike ( no
comprehend ) or walk all the way ?” They “didn’t know” we took them
into the back packers where they could get a room for 30rm. and they
walked out. I asked them if they would get to Lhasa tonight! I booked a
room for 120 rm. and it was a bad room, smelt, the worst deal yet, but
people wise, had a great night. The Kiwis Shaun and J— were there so we
finished of the Tibetan wine, and I hoofed it to find food. In a
restaurant I was inundated by Chinese.,wanting my photo and we chat.
One group heard me talking, came over and said they were going to
Yuberg in the morn, would i like a ride in the taxi they had ordered.I
had already promised to make up a party of eight in a van, but I felt,
these three young men (around 18 ) who spoke good english would be able
to teach me more Mandarin etc, so joined them for dinner and promised
to meet them @ six for breakfast and watch the sunrise over the
spectacular mountains right out front. Back to my stinky room and slept
Phone went at 5-30 from Tom , their
leader so up and 0ff down to breakfast failing to see the sun as the
usual cloud, but still spectacular.
Back, packed, stored my case,
threw on my back pack and caught the taxi with the boys. Another hairy
ride, they take such risks here, but they survive I guess by the
allowances they make for each other. I wouldn’t like my chances If I
was here for long though.
Arrived at Xidng at the foot of the climb and many small horses, well
looked like large ponies, and find out later were mules.
all round, but with the help of my new friends, I got a cute gelding
mule for 300rm. and 20 for my bag on a baggage mule.
We off, with my
little owner walking alongside. The boys set off walking ahead of us
but we soon caught up. I wondered if Tom the biggest would make it to
the top. .
I made good friends with The Mule Wranglers, esp. when I
told them I was eighty four!. One wanted to hand wrestle me and was
surprised when he couldn’t handle it, (little buggers ! )
poor wee mules would stop for a breather every short while and I felt
sorry for mine. There were two food stops on the way up but I had my
The boys caught up with us at the second one and I was so
pleased to see Tom struggling up last, and is where i remembered to
lend him my sticks.
After three hrs. of donkey plodding we gained
the top and sat for a while in front of a Tibetan stove, hoping the
boys would arrive as in case they didn’t find my hotel i would want my
And” meiyou” so of down. Now in NZ we mostly lead a horse
down hill, as so hard on their front legs, so as all the others mounted
I led my wee fella on down ahead of the rest. On a flatter bit, I rode
and got off again.
Reaching the bottom was sad saying goodbye to The Wranglers and my wee
I soon found The—- Hotel in Upper Yubeng 120 a double room. Couldn’t
get the Boys on Wechat but they did arrive.
was just three, but they wanted to eat ( Chinese ) I had a couple of
small Dali beers while they all had coke and joined them in a meal, as
is nice to eat together.
Crawled into bed at five, went to sleep and woke at five in the morn ay
got up at six as getting light, packed, and as i know how boys like to
sleep, left a note to say was going down to the main Lower Yubeng
township to have breakfast and would see them down there.
down and down, all the time veering right away from the village, (
lucky for walking sticks as could never have done it without as all wet
grotty clayey loess) Decided I was on the wrong track I started the
massive climb back up and a group of Chinese caught up with me, saying,
they had come from Lower Yuberg.
I doubtfully turned back down
thinking the track only went down to this famous waterfall, but I
decided to go on down and it wasn’t the waterfall, there was a bridge
across and sure enough I found the groups tracks having come across
So, was the intrepid elderly traveller “found” again, ? But,,
the signs are so bad here, they only said up and on to the Waterfall.
But, again to the rescue two more Chinese maidens. They first said I
must get a guide and asked a “likely lad” he said “ 300 rmb. I laughed
and the girls hatched another plan and said “come with us “ I followed
along a muddy track past delightfully ethnic Tibetan houses and horses
feeding for the days grind, to what they said was part of Lower Yuberg
and a cross roads where they would go one way to the waterfall and me
the other on to Ni Nong where they said you could get a bus out. This
puzzled me but I was so grateful to, “my saviours.
While we were
talking and saying goodbye, an US. couple walked by and said they had
just stayed the night nearby and they had wi fi, so they took me there,
had a lovely noodle breakfast and sent Tom a written message of where I
was having asked a likely Chinese man to write it in Mandarin as no
pinyin on the door. He cheerfully obliged and not long later Tom burst
in with his usual exuberance to say, they three were on past down the
track enroute to the waterfall and he doubled back to find me as he
said “ I promised to meet you down here “ how decent of him as he
apparently had an argument with Uyen about losing time. they must learn
to get up in the morning.. It was ten and I said i would stay here and
write asked “ an hour” and he said would be longer. Well gosh, it’s one
now and no sign of them, when two guys walked out and said it is a six
hour round trip to the waterfall, so I could have to wait for another
three hours, and that it is about four hours to walk to Ni Nong to a
They were nice guys “Jack” a 24 yr old Chinese from —— and
Chang a 48 yr old from Korea, so I left Tom notes and off with my “new”
mates, who had already hired a Tibetan driver to take us back to Flying
Temple who walked with us all the way out.
The boys had wanted to
take me along at first, even though they were amazed at my
they suddenly said it would be too hard and dangerous for me to come,
and to wait till the morrow and get a horse back over the hill. I
persisted and they relented.
The beginning was hard as, ankle deep
mud and some uphill. though we were lower now at 3,200 mts., all uphill
is hard, even stairs.The Tibetan driver was carrying nothing so I
suggested I pay him to carry my bag as, though not near as heavy as the
other two it had my computer etc. aboard.He instantly agreed and that
set me up for “this one hell of a long walk”. They treated me like a
baby, worried and chastised me for going too fast.I have a
certain speed which am comfortable with, and go best left to that, with
very little stops, I guess as used to Mt Cook where if you stop it’s
hard to start again.
As we were going down the river, it was even
harder for the many trekkers going up so they would be mostly on the
ground catching their breath, ( as with the wee mules on the first day,
you could feel them heaving between your legs, and I always let them
stop as long as it takes )
My three new friends would delight in
telling them how old I was, either Chinese, English or Tibetan,and good
fun was had all round.
This is a three to eight hour trip. One chap
was resting and I said Ni Hao Ma (how are you) Ni senti hou ma he said
“hen hou, then we asked him how long he had been walking, he said six
hours, I cheekily replied “ Ni mei you hen hou “ ( not have good health)
walked on with ,what had become my constant gait,our “guide” striding
ahead and then waiting. Then we reached a rough Tibetan tea house we
think about half way. There was a whole Tibetan family resting there,
who were very interested in “this old man” in these wilds, so I plopped
myself down between them for a vibrations chat. As usual the old women,
often with no teeth,( probably not as old as me !) go into fits of
giggles at any attention, while the young one beside me was really
interested. They gave me the traditional yak milk tea which usually I
have a job to get down, but this one deserved a second helping. The
patriarch kept trying to out stare me with his amazing light blue grey
eyes, and later came over to our group and demanded to see my passport
as he didn’t believe my age.(talk about male ego,, on both sides ay !
!)The hardest part of that, was struggling to get it out of my underarm
pouch, as I do know my chronological age. I did amaze him They left us
traveling on up hill, good friends, the young lass last, looking back
waving to me This “old guys name” is spread all thru the mountains.
a raging torrent under a bridge I asked where is The Mekong. They said,
“this is it!” Wow, the last time I had it’d acquaintance, was the whole
length of Laos Cambodia, and on into Vietnam. On down a bit
became a raging torrent, as a lot of fall by now.
dropping track is good, it meant lots of wet shiny hard
slippery rock to descend and am proud not one slip, though could have
have never have done it without the marvellous walking sticks, esp.
with my new ear balance thing.
So, after three hours with about one
to go we gained the usual, if small Buddhist monastery, where we
stopped for a few minutes. I was feeling a bit grumpy at the well fed
monks flashing and comparing the newest cell phones.
My point is,
all the way down this most beautiful forest track, though every few
meters, attached to trees are the big green bins, similar to our wheel
bins, mostly full, or overflowing out into the forest and into the
previously pristine river. Also sometimes great heaps of plastic
bottles actually dumped beside the track. I have a thing about what the
Buddhists take from the people. Here I have photos of myriads of prayer
flags festooning the track above heaps of trash. Are they for the
planet, hence people, or just for themselves.
I have written before
what I see, all over Indo China, the enormous wealth and pomp of
Buddhism . The palatial temples on prime real estate, and the poverty
outside the gates, and it’s said poor people who keep giving, to get to
heaven I guess. Who am I to judge, but I see it everywhere.
also written before after years ago, working amongst Tibetans, that i
don’t go all along with the “ do gooders”, never having been there,
spouting “Save Tibet” as, on acquaintance, albeit the savagery of the
Han invasion, the fact was, before then, most of the common Tibetans
were near starving, whilst the Buddhists were the elite living
literally of “the fat of the land”. ( It has always amazed me what
people will put up with and suffer, for a religion )
the track was way better . Knew it would be as the monks sported
several flash motor bikes. I strode along at my constant pace till we
met an odd looking thing. A small diversion of the river which looked,
for all the world a swimming pool for tired trekkers. After many photos
and going on I saw it was a an intake for a concrete water race running
along the inside of the track. Jack was very worried about me now as
the track was level with the river dropping 500 to 1000 mts. below. and
we were on a ledge of a precipice for kilometres. On a bit, he asked if
i was a little nervous, and the obvious answer was “no”, though without
my sticks, and my ear affecting imbalance I wouldn’t have had a chance,
they are great, took me so long to find out about them.
part for me was earlier, as I said the river falls a lot so, much of
the track is tumbling shiny, marble type rocks which are evil to
maintain footing on.But, thanks to my sticks, and nearly new great Keen
Tramping Boots, ( thank You Adrian Daly, who introduced me to them, and
on my second pair ) I had one tiny slip, a lot less than the others
who're wearing runners.In some ways i was foolish doing this route as,
with my relatively fragile bones a slip could have been a big
tumble, and not having heard one helicopter since in China It would
have been well nigh impossible to get me out of there, esp. as it
wasn’t far from dark when we did get out. Touch wood, but as I oft say,
“ someone, or something looks after me” though i mustn’t take that for
We could now see the pure red of the main Mekong River,
( what a tragedy ) and the level track was becoming closer down to the
The Red Mekong where I could see a bridge across and his car would be.
All the way from Little Mekong I kept up with “our Tibetan”in his
footsteps, as i find it drags you along, he was most impressed.
passed several heifer cows, bells tinkling on this narrow track, and to
their consternation squeezed past them, so above the bridge, when we
had to drop down an ill defined track in a scree slide, a milking cow
jumped down before us but didn’t slow us up as she could handle it even
better than us
So, four hours was our aim and in just over, at seven
we gained the luxury of our friends modest van, he doing thumbs up at
me constantly, as he had been doing since about half way. I guess they
thought this old guy wouldn’t make it. I must say in retrospect, it was
one of the most intrepid treks I have done.By the way, what to do then,
as nowhere to stay! on the track, unless The Buddhists would take you
in, though the worst was past by then.)
The ride back was
another saga. Driving here is horrific at best, is hard to explain. No
rules it seems, from round a corner a forty ton truck will approach you
right on your side, with nowhere to go at last moment he manages to
pull over. That’s just one thing.
This hour and a half trip our
driver was on the phone all the way, mostly in angry argument, phone in
one hand, changing when tired, gesturing with the other hand as if the
other person was there in the cab, steering mostly with elbow, plus,
the roads are already so narrow, is a nightmare, though you just have
to get used to it.
Gained Flying Temple and Jack was to take us to
his good lodgings which turned to be my old backpackers, which i hadn’t
enjoyed. Anyway they were pretty good company, and is a big advantage
to be with Chinese / English speakers, so we took a dorm at 45 rmb. ea.
then Tom, the leader of the three young boys we chat me to say, as i
thought, they got out to late from the Waterfall, and would stay there
other night, so i made the right decision.
Jack had been starving
for hours, and I was not even very hungry, though all I had had all day
was a bowl of noodles plus of course my Body Balance powder. ( At 24,
he loves to learn so I am trying to convince him he lacks minerals, so
his body has not been fed, hence hungry.) He had trouble waiting for me
to change my stinky clothes but then found a very good restaurant from
his knowledge,and he was in for a massive dinner, which seems all so
many Chinese think of.
We had a few hilarious beers joined in by, it
seemed the whole place and Jack proceeds to cook this massive hotpot,
the favourite in these parts. I did it reasonable justice, but piked
before these two little guys finished most of it up. I became quite
bored at Jack’s ebullient exuberance for the food, which to me was
mediocre. Still eating he got up. lifted his shirt and rubbed his puny
stomach with glee. You just have to go along with all this as, face is
still alive and kicking in China.I kept wanting to sleep and excused
myself to wander to a comfy bed while they eat on.
Korean, left us early for Shangrilar. Goodbye to a lovely, gentle,
intelligent little man, and thanks for his kindly support on the trip.
Tom we chat me to say they had got out and went on to Dali, so I won’t
see them again, unless in NZ.
had rained most of the night as usual and was still a bit dreic, so
Jack and I found last night’s place open and just had my usual noodles,
no yak only pork which I rarely eat. Pork not good, but the rest great,
keep me going till dinner ay.
Both washed clothes in good washing
machine hung out and am now sitting upstairs with sun coming thru the
windows writing. Lovely.
This is a favourite posey to see the
spectacular mountains, which is the main feature of this place, and
just now they are peeking thru the almost constant cloud..
dinner in the same place, but just three dishes this time. Was good,
but no yak just pork. Left most of that to Jack. I went to bed and he
stayed up till after midnight chatting to girls waking me up and I
always find it hard to get back to sleep. With that and a talkative
stomach I slept badly Where to go tomorrow ?
awake at five and my stomach told me to find the toilet in the dark and
yes, not good. Couldn’t find my natural stomach pills for that, but
hoped it was a short term one. Went once again and found my pills, so
hope the bus ride will be ok.
So, decided to taxi and bus from
Dequin to Shangrilar, had a fond parting with Jack who is going to
Lhasa, Tibet, the border of which is just around the corner.
things have settles for me, so packed and trundled down to the main
road where dozens of taxi vans are touting for business. Immediately
approached by one and he said 40 rm. I said 30 and we were away.
Stopped to say another goodbye to Jack and his fellow travellers and he
said the charge should have been 20 rm. I said am very happy to pay NZ7
for quite a long ride
Arrived in Dequin and the 9-30 cancelled so bought a 10-30 ticket.
the street looking for wifi and coffee but no luck, till I asked a
young woman and she took me to China Mobil, across the road fm. the bus
stn ! They were so hospitable, to me, sat me down at a glass table,
made me the traditional tea and said, “go for it with wifi.
bus, mostly Tibetans many women with babies, and one quite large one,
sort of parked herself, feet in isle beside me. After a while I
politely indicated to shift to another seat, mainly to give her more
room, but they always seem to fill the bus anyway.
Good trip back
over that amazing shan, but I was too sleepy to see much more than my
favourite yaks. Stomach ok already, thanks
Benzilan, back on the banks of the Yanksie River for MORE food. I went
in and looked at the classic lunch consisting of THREE different plates
plus rice of course, walked out and bought some green gauges from the
Sitting on the veranda, spitting stones into the ever
present trash bucket, a man , obviously a successful middle class
business man walked out from the feast and, trying to get this strange
“whitie’s” attention, rubbed his very ample stomach with obvious pride.
The first time I was in China, this was even more obvious as, the
emerging novo riche had more of a little pot stomach, which they would
rub with pride. So many centuries of hunger, we are so lucky in New
Zealand Then, of down The Yanksie and out onto the plain where the main
feature of interest for me apart from many more yaks were the picturesk
high drying racks for the crops, barley etc, and three hrs. later ,
rolled into Shang-rilar bus stn.
There was having the usual tussle
getting understood and a young man I had made eye contact with on the
bus, came to my rescue, and for 25 rm. this doubtful driver would take
me to my old digs “3 are 3”. As I felt, he didn’t have a clue where
this was, and went in circles till, as they do, he found my home.
Melon” welcomed me and said my tiny room was full, but would give me a
better on at the same 80 rm. Wow, what a room, the best I’ve had, and
only 80 !. Really a home. Will put the word around for him.
settled while watching CCTV China with the incessant dialogue about The
South China Sea ( My young host said this morning “there could be a
war” and his friend wants to join up for the army) The US is certainly
Sabre Rattling, and China will not agree to the arbitration with The
Back down the hill to the good Tibetan Restaurant past
the super market. A couple of beers and a yak pizza which I only eat
half, was enough for me, while the couple with a little boy in front of
me, had a massive hotpot and then ordered a pizza as well.
The interesting thing is, with all the food, and a lot of carbo.,
there’s very few fat people here.
Up to a lovely morning, and more South China Sea on telly, had the most
wonderful hot shower, this place is amazing.
Rhoda and she off to Chang Mai, Thailand soon to visit another eco
village with Joy and some of his pupils, back in Hong Kong on the first
August before I get there on the 3rd.
Christopher in Compass here
told me a China Mobile is just ten minutes down the road, so walked
there this morn and the two great lasses had a hell of a prob.
understanding what I wanted, but with the aid of my wonderful app
Chinese / English they decided as this town is in a Tibetan Autonomous
Area, G4 doesn’t work,so, anyway as long as I use wifi, it seems i
don’t need data !! ( me and tech !! ) Back writing in “my cafe”, lunch
time, and here I go again. (people, culture watching ! )A couple with a
lad have just sat down in front of me, eating with knife and fork,
which is unusual here, in fact i think it is a first. They are ordering
plate after plate, ( one is always enough for me ). Another plate
arrives and the lad, with an ecstatic look on his face, shakes his
knife and fork with glee, as if he had been starving in jail or the
like for years, and these are middle class people, of course, who can
afford to eat in these places, they are not poor, as of course there
are plenty of, though as I oft say, it’s never as bad as the media
portrays,.Media must sell, and it seems the masses love to read about
other people’s pain. I guess, if it lessons theirs. What a negative
Like, the wonderful one liner, “I met a man in Chicago
who danced with his wife” ( not me, Frank Sinatra ) I met, saw, one
positive program on CCTV this morn. the old hot potato. third of the
worlds food is wasted, or worse dumped in land fill, and this young
Iranian American ontropnere has set up a business using an app (??) and
contracting mostly up market restaurants etc. to recycle their waste
food, in a very professional way they distribute to the poor. She would
need some funding support. Didn’t see where that comes from. Must
follow her up when home, as i know, we do it in a small way in NZ.
I see the “sunney day has turned into pouring rain out the window
in China : Am reading a very good book I loaned from The Christchurch
Library. Mao’s lost Child “ A Boy in China “ It’s a very good read,
esp. as it covers much of the country where i am now, while the author,
has about the same opinion i do about Mao, and esp. where his family
are concerned, he quotes that, since Maos epic, the women of China
have, in a sense been liberated, and it’s very obvious here now, as in
most countries, in my observation that women have most of the power,
and expect equal treatment, rather than coping with the oppression and
chauvinism of the past. So, one up for Mao.
Reminds me, every time I
have been in China there’s ‘ Mao’s Long March’ on telly, and sure
enough, there’s two hours of it on every day now. Though it’s totally
glamorised and untrue as opuit for the masses, and I do believe most
here are coned, I never fail to watch it. Why, it’s pretty well acted,
the history is fascinating, and it’s easy to see thru the bullshit.I
believe China was, is, and will be a big part of our own lives.
almost feel like am in a zoo here, sitting writing beside the window
creating constant attention from the many and varied passers by. Some
just quizzical, but a lot flash big smiles almost as if they know you.
(am i that handsome. haha !! ) others, when you smile at their child,
almost come thru the window with pride. An unusual experience as, so
much of this trip is/ has been.
So, where to go next. It,s so
comfortable here but I do want to explore further north into Sichuan,
where I just touched into at Derong. I planned a bit wrong,
backtracking from Derong to Yuberg to here. Now, it’s a big thing going
north again, I have had an amazing time / experiences up till now, do I
need more. I have ten days left before I must be in Kunming, and I
would need least four of them travelling up north and back there, which
leaves me six days.
Much and all that I am in momentum, and it’s
hard to stop, I guess it would be wise to slow down. I am thinking, I
now have a good friend in” Chengdu, Cheeky, Jessica” who hopes when
leaving The Son of Man to go home to Chengdu to claim her inheritance,
a small piece of land and a tumbled down past home, to restore.
plan could be, come back again, another year, fly into Chengdu, stay
and help her rebuild the stone house, then that is the best jump off
place into Sichuan, Qinghai, and Tibet, a whole other set of
fascinating experiences. Oh, there is a gap in the
will hoof it.
Back at the flat watched coverage of China’s famous
opera “Warhorse”, based on a farm boy who’s horse went to WW1. Be good
Down the hill and back to my Tibetan restaurant, couple of
“Snow” beers and a small 25 rm. yak and veggie dumplings, ( seems the
yak had trotted of into the shans ! though, with lots of chilli, very
This is a very big place. I”ve got to know the owner, who I
was originally introduced to by a Tibetan friend, and he is very
friendly and looks after me.
After the meal, whilst finishing my Pi
jiu, I thought, “who needs opera” it’s all happening here” As William
Blake said “ There’s a World in a Grain of Sand “ and if you are into
homo sapien watching, it’s all opera here, with all these wealthy
holidaying nova riche Tibetans but mostly Han, flaunting themselves.
girls at China Mobile, and many others, are worried about my security,
saying “ as you are only one, be careful” so have started carrying a
hidden knife, much use that may do!
I find, if you keep smiling you seem to survive.
dreic, but not raining yet day. News on CCTV interesting but sick of
The South China Sea. Tv out again, is not the jungle, but not much
works well here.
Rang Rob Blackburn, hassles with house renovations otherwise all
well.Writing in my room.
down The “Compass Cafe” again, weeing with rain, Nice mail fm my
brother Tony in Dunedin. Will I venture out into “the wilderness” or
stay in this pleasant Tibetan town ?
Have been pretty fortunate with
my, dare I say amazing adventures so far, often wondering if I will
make it home. Not like me to sit still but, might be wise.
nine days to catch the train in LiJang, where i may still have
connections for a night or two, to then get to Kunming and Taiwan
i sit around here for that long ? Do still have this great little
flat at “3 are 3”@ pittance for what it is @ 80 rm.
i’ve been paying up to 250 rm. for less. It is a delightful small town,
and have made a lot of acquaintances here, and do love the way Tibetans
cook their food, especially Hotpot.( Here I go again, all
food, it’s catching !! )
On that note,, I must say, “it” has become
here, quite a part of my life, esp. when settled in one place and not
too busy, travelling, trekking, riding mules, finding new digs, or
making more friends to learn Mandarin, off to eat.
So, looked around
the streets for a Tibetan restaurant with a more varied menu, but no,
all hotpot ay, was heading back towards my old place,
owner was sitting outside smoking (of course. ) So, with this affection
we have developed, ( one tradition still stands out, they still revere
and care for their old people. ) of course I ended back there.
earlier so full. he pointed upstairs, I looked up there but too few
people so less opera. Found one empty table in a crowded room
downstairs, ordered a Snow beer, being looked after, out of the myriad
of waiters, by i am sure, his son, who rushed back with another bottle,
which puzzled me till he showed me a minuscule mould dot inside the cap
of the first one
So, only having spent 25 rm. last night on the only
other option for me, delightful veggie dumplings, ( he must pay good
cooks) I lashed out and ordered the “small” hotpot @ 80rm. It was SO
good. All tables have the usual fire (gas here ) in the middle or the
table, where they place this copper taurine like cooking pot thing and
turn on the gas. Have often had them with others, which is best as so
much food and, as Jack showed in Flying Temple, it is an event. Lifted
the lid and lo, every veggie you could name, capped by a generous
circle of thinly sliced yak meat, with more chunks mixed below. There
are sliced ginger, broccoli, cauliflower, potato, my favourite
mushroom, chillies, and many other tasty unknowns, all bubbling away
creating the most flavoursome broth.
With more chilli on the
side, which I’m prone to adding, is great until you get to the
wonderful broth , which you drink from the raised bowl, and much of the
chilli filtrates down into this, and can be a bit much, even for a
chilli lover like me. This put me into a coughing fit, which can
happen, and a group of ladies, who had been keeping an eye on me, were
very concerned, calling the waiter. ( Poor old bugger !! )
outside of me, “The opera of life continues “ At the table next to me
were five Tibetan youngish ladies with a dominate young male at the
head. He tried to get my attention at the start, but i didn’t like his
vibrations already. ( I did save his I-phone from falling on the
concrete floor as it slipped out of his back pocket). He was proud of
his perfect male body and all macho and chauvinism. A lady,sitting on
his right, who would obviously be his wife, leant sweetly toward him
with a big smile, and said something nice. He, in the loud angry male
voice, attacked her. Her face changed to hurt as he hurrahed on for
some time, asserting his, seeming to me ridiculous male
other four women sat quiet for some time, but I could feel women’s
bonding, till they all just laughed at him. After some time, he got up
and walked out. I am endowed with a good imagination, but this looked
like “The real opera “ to me.
An evenings opera must end as my host
gave me the most affectionate goodbye. He doesn’t need my money, as
hundreds of tourists spend a fortune here. In NZ, you might think, he
was gay, but not here, feelings are common, as I have for my new friend
,south of Dunedin.
I feel safe here, but am cognisant of the many
warnings about being alone, and stay very aware, which, though am
terror to enjoy danger, I always am, and pleased it was still
DAY 42 This will be my
4th day @ ‘’ 3 are 3 “ With “ Water Melon “
all this time here, I thought I had better peruse the famous Monastery,
which towers above me. I feel a bit naughty as, that’s what the hordes
to tourists bus here to visit. ( my reverence is not obvious ) Funny, i
have always wondered where the entrance is and, as it was only nine,
there were no hordes to follow, That was to be nice for me as less
crowds, but walked all the way around the usual hill boasting the
place, i failed to find an opening ay, so walked the hundred meters
home, watched Chinese politics ,till the obvious failure of my TV,
hopped under the covers and had a rest, to be fresh for the next
“opera” Well am still just below the top of Mt Cook !!At two, am back
writing in “The Compass” where I have gravitated down to An Americana
coffee which i find better here and more the price of our far superior
coffee. ( don’t know why, coffee is so much dearer here as, they grow
lots of the stuff.)
Caught up on writing, will send a few e-mails and walk home and prepare
for the next opera.
light opera tonight but, I am wondering why I enjoy the “opera of life
“ here more than at home. I guess it’s the expression, exuberance, and
who cares who’s listening, forgiving the volume, which is so foreign to
us. (not so foreign to Meiguo (Americans )perhaps!) who I can
hear all over the coffee bar often. ( Oh well, we are all different,
isn’t that why I travel ! )
Found my way into the temple. Many, many steps up to get there, quite a
walk in, pay some money to two monks, are given a couple of lighted
joss sticks, walk around, push the sticks into sand and some, esp. the
older Tibetan ladies bow low in prayer facing the temple.
to head south today. Sad to leave this lovely town and esp. “Water
melon “ and “3 are 3 “ Has been a great stay and I told him so, and
will refer to others.
His uncle and sister drove me to the bus Stn
on their way somewhere. She was an interesting lady, wish I
related to her earlier.
Being almost last to book on, I was right in
the back of the bus, with an interesting man on my right and a classy
woman with daughter on the left. Once I chatted her up and got to know
her, ( six hour trip ) she kept offering me tit bits of food, and as I
hadn’t eaten all day I accepted, although I had food in my bag. they
don’t like a refusal.
The trip back was uneventful, esp. as I had a
job keeping my eyes open. Stopped half way to use their so primitive
toilets, and I had some freshly cooked chips, though they don’t know
how to brown them like us.
Mining and quarrying are endemic in
China. I suppose as so many people need a lot of
Jessica (one of “Son of Man” had e-mailed me to say the group would be
in their house in Li Jiang until the Wednesday and offered me to spend
a couple of days with them again there, so they picked me up at the bus
stn and we drove back, thru all those horses again up onto the mountain
to their great old previous, farmers house.
It was lovely to be back
with them but i regretted it as they where so busy cleaning up to leave
the place to go back to Taiwan on the 3rd Aug. ( I will miss them there
) so I just stayed the one night, where they drove back to Li Jiang,
where Jessica helped me buy a train ticket to Kunming for the 23rd
noodle soup again !! and the English guy I met at Naxi last night
walked in with his Chinese wife and her boy. He sat with me and was
interesting, Is a stone mason, lives in Portland
Did a grand tour of this Old Town today. World Heratage, and worth it.
to talk to Rob, but not Jane, as not at Black Betties. E-mailed Jane
about Taiwanese eco village. Think she is too busy to take much notice.
my usual noodle soup, and a young lad,——— sat on a stool opposite me at
my table. Said nothing until I said hello ( most of the very young ones
know a bit of english ) He was really keen to be my friend, even asked
me. I said “yes” and shook his little hand. Took some time for me to
realise that he was with a family. ( what initiative ay ) First a
brother joined in then a delightful little girl. whom I
as pio liang. as usual they all wanted photos with me, till the beaming
parents came over and were so supportive of the kids. Jack wanted my
phone no. I said, “which one ?) then suggested we chat, so they
promptly installed we chat. Jack will go far.
So convenient, Bank of China just over the road. Took out 600
rm. should see China out.
is the cutest little “ Old Town “ and just found out it is one of the
fifty Heritage Sites. They have tried to keep it original,, whereas the
frontages on the main walks all cobbled, are glitzy tourist shops, any
side alley, and back into the houses and Inns are full of old hidden
courses from the
hills above abound, and though there are signs to say, no sewerage,
washing clothes, or vegetables, that happens in abundance. They will be
washing the soil from the roots of spring onions below a bunch of
washer women with soap and dirty clothes up stream. Most people look
great, but I wonder how much sickness there is as they nearly all
smoke, have bad chests, still spit incessantly,, and there’s a lot of
filth about, but i still love the place as, it / they are so human.
walked the whole town today, perusing, and looking for a coffee shop, (
pretty rare and so expensive ) I have this wonderful English / Chinese
App. where I just write in English, press done, and hey presto,
Mandarin and lo I even have Pinyin, and, spoken Pinyin. It also has
other languages as well. With my App. at last I found a quite classy
cafe restaurant, ordered their only one coffee @35 rmb. = NZ8 and lo !
it was an instant America !!, but the ambiance was lovely.
On down the last perimeter road / track and I
find. A Cafe upstairs, with a sort of dark night club below. The girl
serving the Cafe could speak quite good English as was from Hongkong,
and she had a real coffee machine. It was 38 rmb = NZ9, but she said “
it was proper, and the others did in fact use instant ! It was quite
good and as I was the only one there we got chatting, and she insisted
I share some noodles with her she had made. Her English name is “ Sugar
Then another girl, her friend, joined us. Her English name is
Virginia, which she spelt on my we chat as Virginiay from Chongqing in
Sichuan Prov. We had a lot of fun, good company and, of course they
want to come to NZ.
Got a bit lost with their wrong directions, so
just retraced my steps. Started raining, and for once, as nice day, no
umbrella. As I was striding thru the market past birds of every kind
being killed and plucked, a young man thrust an umbrella into my hands,
Home, a wee rest, and off out into the main street to
find sucker. Found a new place, again of the “White “ minority where
had a couple of “Snow” beers @ eight rmb. ea NZ 1-80 , sat imbibing and
THE NIGHT OPERA CONTINUES.
This little girl. I
would say about six, with the whiles of a twenty yr old. A very “old”
little girl. Precocious in the extreme, but handled with style.
Attractive and knew it. jealous of any other pretty girl, disdainful of
little boys, I was more her meat. I made the mistake of noticing her
as, i do with all little ones, so she parked herself at my table and
while doing complicated lines and graphics with a pencil and ruler, she
would look up to be noticed, and bat her eyes at ‘ this old guy”
tried to ignore her as was a bit much, so she tried it on another
middle aged chap, and although he was fascinated, he had his own little
girl to spoil and attend to, so she would strut around with the pencil
balanced in her little ear, eventually going to ground deciding no
doubt, she was above all of us, found a spare table and appeared to be
doing some serious graphics, all the while looking disdainfully around
at the more average spoilt ,loud kids. She never once uttered a sound,
she didn’t need to, it was all body language and eyes. I kept wondering
who her mother was, as the waitresses all looked after her, the old
adage “it takes a village to rear a child” applies a lot esp. in the
more rural China. Her mother turned out to be the sour faced, manager /
or owner of the place.
THINK HAVE MISSED A FEW DAYS ABOVE.
sleep well last night. Get so tired in the day time, I am wont to have
a snooze, and that has never worked for me as, I then don’t sleep well
at night Spent the night going thru Tim's case, and what might come up
if I have to take the stand. Covered some good stuff I feel, hoping
this might put me to sleep, but no.
About eight in the morn.the
power went out, as it is prone to do all over, so popped around the
corner for breakfast..Had my great noodle soup in the same place where
I am very welcome now Spent some time with the help / or hindrance! of
the obliging receptionist ringing my hotel in Kunming. They tried to
charge me 250 a night, but i persisted in saying I had booked and as i
was a member with their card it was nearer 190. Eventually got it for
the original price of 197 rmb.
One o'clock and the b.—-power still not on but can still write and am
pm and power on, so think I got an e-mail to Mike. Richard rang and
wants to take David Round, and Richard Allison over to “Gloriavale”
Went back to the same restaurant and, THE NIGHT OPERA
my little fairy / hobgoblin was absent, and the waitresses couldn’t
understand my gestures as to where she was. Then, in a flash she just
appeared seemingly from under the armpit of the waitress, and it was
all on again.
No ruler or pencil behind the ear this time, just the
real thing, she knew she had a captive audience in this old fella. So,
in the cutest little voice, she started to talk. She would lean into my
obviously part deaf ear and, with such a serious communicative face
proceed to inform me about the / her world in short version then run
off only to return a minute later with more snippets.
As long as I
aquessed and nodded approval, she decided we were in full understanding
and friendship. This went on for the duration, to the fascination, or
amazement of many of the other diners, and the knowing grins of the
waitresses. . She was not adverse to work either as, a waitress would
click her fingers and she would jump into action delivering crockery
etc. and when later I wanted another Snow beer, I just pointed at the
empty bottle, she knew precisely. She would whip to the cabinet, and
the right bottle would appear at my table, her with a gracious smile. I
asked her mama later her age, she said curtly “seven”
So, where to
with an exceptional little individual like her? I wonder how long it
would take the system to ‘dumb her down with “school etc “ a little
individual who, I could envisage becoming ,, a famous artist,
performer, or perhaps, business woman, rather than “work fodder, as
grist for the mill.( She reminds me of a tiny Franziska . )
comparison , while walking home after my delightful experience with my
little film star, I stopped in wonder as, in the large foyer of a new,
big building, were about twenty five young men and a few women lined up
in rows, and their superior in front having them perform in unison.They
were jumping up and down, clicking their heels etc. like robots, or
I understand, as there are so many new aspirants
coming on “the market” in China, any job is a JOB. It looked
and even disgusting to me. ( Oh for my little fairy )
should add, that as well as attending opera I did eat, and this meal
was one of the best i’ve had, mostly a green, lots of sliced chills,
Richard MacDonald asked me of my favourite impressions.
Stuck at the time, I feel it was the alternative education I
experienced, especially around Dali, ( which I have written about ) The
droves of, often intelligent people, running away from “the progress! “
of China’s Eastern seaboard, from the pollution, stress, and greed, who
often see no future in that for their children, and look for a
different one, which often involves a freer, more natural and human
education, either home schooled or small specialised ones that suit a
particular individual, for instance, the six couples I met with down
early, an indifferent shower, e.g. hot and cold, packed and ready for
the taxi, then off to the Railway Stn. There, got lots of help with
directions, even ushered to my cubicle and welcome bottom bunk, by a
lovely mother, who saw me dithering.In my cabin I joined three lovely
young people from Henan who helped me with my recalculate computer.
and wrote for a while, had a snooze, writing again, and are half way to
Kunming at two pm. Whilst, all the time being offered all manner of
FOOD!, by the kids, so common in china, lovely, but another side, like
an alcoholic has to have you join them in cups. After eating all
morning they have just come back with a pottle each of the classic
instant noodles. the smell is tempting ay and at last I succeed only to
find the restaurant had closed at two.
Arrived at Kunming’s railway stn.and followed the throng out onto the
street, rebuffing the taxi touts, and trundled up town.
will I get a taxi to centre city, as I need to buy a new mouse etc, or
taxi all the way out to my “JI” Hotel near the airport. All the mobile
shops shook their, heads as only sold phones not parts.So I decided to
taxi out to near the airport to my old Ji Hotel chain where I
have stayed in all over China and still have my discount card. But no
taxi would stop for me, then luck, ( which happens for me ) a more
dingy phone shop I tentatively entered and lo a mouse, which i tried
and it worked, so that was the problem, a faulty mouse.
He was helpful too and said to stand out front where a couple were
already standing to wave down a taxi.
car stopped, and I was dubious of the “taxi” from the start, and should
have sent him on. First I wanted a price to go the JI Hotel way out by
the airport knowing it should be about 100 rmmb. The couple tried to
help to get a price, but no way. Next, it was a little car with no taxi
ID. at all. the couple thought I would be ok, so I got in, the front
not the back where he wanted to put me. Then he drove round
eventually stopped where a woman was closing up a small shop, which I
photographed, in case, they could have been anyone, and I was
regretting my decision. The woman got in, and i used my app to ask “was
she his wife” Started looking good when the airport sign appeared. He
was a good driver and we made good time until, eight ks. from the
airport he stopped at a fork utterly lost!
I had specifically
registered the hotel’s address on we chat, and had all the phone nos.
The wife (as usual) was way ahead of her husband, so she hassled with
it. Eventually she must have told him to take the fork and away. We
stopped and asked many walkers and eventually found the hotel’s big
I got out, retrieved my luggage, then asked the price. After lots of
gesture she wrote down in her phone,,,,, 150
said “no way” and handed him 100. They remonstrated that they took me
all over. I said, “ that was their problem” and we parted. You never
feel good when you part on those terms but, thats what they rely on!
to the desk and, the woman I had been we chatting, who speaks English,
was there so, all was sorted, and she took me up to a really
lovely room with everything. It made me feel I had been living in the
slums for two months. I normally spurn this type of hotel, but the
contrast was so marked I was ready to enjoy the comfort which, by the
way I am starting to miss in my home.
Got settled, I had previously
asked about food outside, and she said no, so went down to peruse the
menu in their restaurant, boring so hit the street.
less than twenty meters, right next door was a restaurant, which I
could feel, “was happening”. Entered and “what opera” I was transformed
back into the Western mountains with an obvious ethnic people. All
attendants dressed in a very colourful style very evident where i had
just come from. Couldn’t find out which ethnicity it was, A charismatic
leader ( turned out the owner manager) with one of the waitresses was
doing the obviously ethnic dance all round the restaurant.
couple of the women tried to get rid of me communicating “ no english”.
A group of men playing a instrument made of tree roots and singing,
were more encouraging, as it seemed I was an oddity white man there. I
persisted and mentioned pi ju, but no luck, it seemed they didn’t speak
mandarin, till I found a beer in a box, and was sat down at a table on
a stool and was accepted into the fold.No such thing as a menu, just
pictures on the wall. I had a couple of “Dalis” and braved the
pictures. Veggies with meat up to 68 rm., but then I spotted one of my
favourites,black fungus with chilli @18 rmmb ! “just one “ she said,
surprised. they oder so many dishes, and as I walked around at the
beginning trying to see what to eat, most of the dishes were half left.
I guess it’s about “face “ to oder a lot.
It was another great
night, not least when the guru, or leader and his top girl went round
each table holding this small glass of the mysterious liquid they drank
(mountain juice ) when the diners would stand up, the pair would sing
this wonderful song to you, then we would bow and toast each other. Oh
for opera. I wasn’t as popular at the front desk on returning, as, I
guess it wasn’t kosher to cross back into the human world, eating
fungus and being toasted by natives ay, but, just my cup of tea.
down to look at menu for breakfast and no English, and the receptionist
wasn’t much help as, didn’t know beef from pork. I rarely eat pork
anyway, and the pork here is like plastic, so to her distain, I walked
the street again and, of course found a myriad of tiny noodle shops,
found the most frequented one, had a really good soup for 8 rm.. = nz
1-80 eaten among the hubbub of Chinese early morning life, which I love.
the rest of morning on computer and watching the wonderful
I have almost never watched TV in daytime, but here it is so good, I
could watch it all day, and there is absolutely nothing else to do
here. the only reason for this hotel being here is ten minutes from
airport. I was nearly out of money and I asked reception if there was A
Bank of China ( which are everywhere ) here, she said “no” I said any
international bank, she said “no” Anyway it turned out i had judged it
right and have enough. Of course you cut it fine, as not wanting to
leave with lots of local currency.
I did walk up the street today and found absolutely nothing except me
being an absolute white oddity
enjoyed the same restaurant, which i find is “The Cuiwanuipin
Dali Yijiaren “ or as I met them back up near Dali in Yunnan,
Yi People, another mountain minority in Dali area.
They do a unique
ethnic dance which I have on video. In this case, the
owner/manager and the same decked out female, “head waitress” either
with a tray balanced on splayed figures or actually on his head.
Looking closer, you see that the next oder is on the tray while they do
this intricate gyrating dance, they end up at the waiting table, he
bows down and she takes the plate and presents it to the customers. It
is quite an event and attracts a lot of custom.
Had my two Dali
beers, very weak as only two point five percent, and, failing to find
anything else, I had the same as last night, one of my favourites, even
in NZ, black Yunnan fungus, which, thoughI am a terror for hot food,
this is almost to much as, it seems they cook it in chilli. At only 18
rm. it suites my lean budget at this time
and the same noodle shop, even more crowded, had to share a table.
Smashing soup again for the humble price of $NZ 1-80. I’ve always been
a fan of noodle soup when in China.
Then spent most of the morn.
looking for my “again lost story. ( seems a waste of time, but i learn
so much when lost, even on the computer ! )
Back to my Yi OPERA
HOUSE again, quiet until about fifty business men arrived and it was
all on. So pleased for THE HOUSE. The antics of some of these
self importunated men was a play in itself. After my two Dalis, I got
away from my fiery fungus and had meat and a nice veggie.
The dancing pair with tray on head were up to form, which necessitated
a couple of more videos on my phone.
at 5-30, packed and at 6-30 off for my last noodle soup in China..Was
first there but by seven it was nearly full. A sad goodbye to the
girls, amazing how they get to know you, and back to dress into my four
layers of clothes, (weight and space in case ) and caught the shuttle
just in time.
Kunming airport is a sight, as you approach it you
first think it is a perfect mountain through the haze, but then lo,
it’s a building, and i regret it was to late by then to get a photo.
to find my way but, far too early they had got me there. Sat down and a
fifteen yr old lass came and sat beside me and told me her life's
story. Wants to live in USA, New York ay
Off into the air, and
goodbye China. So i’m sitting beside this old man and family. I watched
him scratching his old hands and arms till I couldn’t resist, asking
the usual, “any English” He pointed to his daughter, who swapped with
her husband, who could speak a little English. I told him that coconut
cream was great for dry sore skin and that he should eat it as well.
They were so chuffed, that someone was interested in the old (81 by the
way ) they want to keep in touch.
A portend of the future, we
had to circle at sea for half an hour before we found space to
land then all “hell “ started. Was the second
airport since once in Los Angeles where, I jumped of an Air NZ plane
ahead of the hostesses, as had short time to make the connection to Air
France to Cairo, and went down the wrong lane, actually into America
without a visa. They grabbed this speed hog and incarcerated him in a
room with a lot of black druggies, not letting him go until
signed a paper agreeing that Air NZ had let me through, hell bent on
nailing my, airline. I had to do it or miss my connection, which was
closing the door as i hurtled in.
Luckily, in this case I had
three hours “wait” which I needed as at every turn I was directed to
the wrong place, and the place is enormous, where you have to take a
train and lifts all over the place
to get anywhere. With half an hour to spare I arrived at gate 117
then started counting the planes taking of out of ‘this hell”. One
every one and a half minutes. and this was only one strip, as even we
took of in the opposite direction, after, by the way, waiting on the
taxi strip for near three quarters of an hour for space to take off.
hell to a dream. This lovely couple Phyllis and Gabriel met
and we got local money and looked at getting a local sim card, ariving
at their mountain fastness, which is in the forested edge of
village called Sanyi, at ten pm. Then met the most lovely bunch of
people possible, a bowl of rice etc and bed in a great room with all
one could need.
Up at 6-30 as was to walk with
the kids at seven, but they didn’t go as roundup had been
the roadsides by the council that day. So I had a good walk around
their garden etc. Pretty good except for the compost heaps a
disaster. Either totally compacted with no air or a heap of bone dry
straw and sticks none of which were composting
Breakfast a delight, all raw
Phyllis then took me around, what a place they all have built
up from the ground ,from either recycled or gift materials..
and a little rest, but I got up and wrote, then the most delightful
lunch ever, after which I showed them some of the conservation work I
have done around the world, on my website.
Several then went to town
to play and sing similar to at Dali. Invited me but i said “tomorrow”
to stay home and write. So here I am.
them all fired up about COMPOST. Before seven when I got up Phyllis
already had Silver with the loader turn the first heap of compost, so I
got stuck into loshir mode. That one was mostly dry flaxen, and sticks,
never making compost, with some compacted black material on the bottom,
which so needed turning.. Hard to teach on that heap so took them to
another heap that was just compacted. Got them all, from four yr. old
to me clearing the edges and rocks ready for the forks of the loader,
where Silver from the ground up totally loosened it. a grand success,
both materially and loshiring my s———- as i went on to explain about
layering different materials . In the mean time, others of the gang
were sorting waste polystyrene into big sacks to layer on the living
quarters roofs to A. keep the heat down and B. to keep down
noise of the rain, (they get big typhoons here )
Breakfast and the
food here is the best I have had almost anywhere. Benjamin told me at
the start ,that they recently had made a big study of healthy food and
i am the recipient of the results.
Then I did my last clothes wash
before home, and hung them in the massive drying room where they don’t
have plastic insulation on the perspectus roof and, is very hot.
next exercise was to photograph, which I think I covered well,
especially for people like Jane Quigley who I am involved with trying
to build an eco village with, and Franziska, who is building a new
dance studio. there’s a prefect one here, with a whole wall of mirrors
Another pio liang lunch. The oldest person here is
Phyllis’s mother who is ninety two who sits in her wheel chair at our
table beside me. she cant hear or see much, but very aware and I manage
to get agnowledgement from her. I believe she put quite an amount of
money into the place and will eventually die here. Wonderful really, as
is with family and friends of all ages.
Concerned about lovely
Benjamin’s health, his face underneath his charm is drawn and pale. We
were talking about Gerry the husband of”Joan Baez”, who has an ear /
balance problem like me, but it appears to be a tiny cancer in there,
as distinct from mine, which is mechanical
After a while Benjamin
opened up to me, having first said all was well, but as I expected he
has many problems, mental in the past and psychical now..I could see it
a mile off and would love to help him.
The organic rice farmer
arrived and was one cheeky bugger. After meeting him, we had lunch
together and then drove out to his farm. He has several acres and it
looked good, and ready to harvest. I believe he hires a mechanical rice
harvester for the job. He kept asking me questions and I kept telling
him “ I know nothing about rice “ Snails seem to be a problem, and he
wonders about a discolouring of some of the rice. He picked some corn
for us and I feel it is dryer than ours and, like most produce, in
China, even organic, less tasty.
I have had the feeling all
along that all the food grown here and in china, does not have the
taste ours does. It could be the heat here, as in nz, the
South you go the more taste food has, and I include fish in that, but
that can’t be the case here as it’s the same here at altitude where
it’s very cold and slow growing.
So, if food is tasty here, you
wonder straight away, “has it got MSG in it ? “, and I think that’s why
I like lots of chill or soy sauce in my food in China.
with the delicate wrists, helped me transfer my photos fm. i-phone to
computer, as would be a shame if lost my phone before I get back.
before and after dinner, holding hands in a circle around the
table. I love that, but lately I am
getting a fair
measure of translation from Phyllis, which, mostly not liking to
putting a name to it, is god bothering really, more pointed than the
Yunnan group, who didn’t really do that at all.
I love it here,
especially the children, who are all adorable , but the above has me a
bit worried. Should I say something or, as planed in my mind, “ If it
was too much, hop on a train and travel and stay South for a few
Am also puzzled about Gerry,”
Joan Biaz’es “
husband, the one with the ear balance problem, who never comes out of
his room, but still seems to run the show from his bed. His
booming voice joins in all the Skype, singing, and speeches. While
watching in Dali, I didn’t know about the illness and bed, but got the
When I introduced myself to him over the mike, not knowing he was just
thru the wall in the next room, I said I hope to meet him, about
forming an eco village, and about the balance thing. He
I came to my very pleasant room at seven after singing
It’s now eight and the only place is bed, which “the good lord hath
provideth “ lovely.
Up at my usual old time of
6-15, pio liang morning walking around the district, then talked to the
cooks, where Phyllis said, the big walk was to happen a seven, so off
went with Benjamin and most of the kids, all bar me in bare feet. Was a
lovely walk through towering native forest.
Ben and I went a bit further so were alone and able to talk, and I took
told him how I loved it here,, but, am a little concerned about the
women pushing their values with constant interpretation. I reiterated
Phyllis’e’s comment that “ they weren’t worried about the future as
they had faith” which I don’t relate to.
I didn’t get a direct
answer from him but, his discussion tended to have the same values as
mine, I believe, a more rational, christian view. He is a lovely,
gentle man, who also accepts the feminine in himself, as with me. I
feel better about the group again now, and as Gerry was wheeled out to
have breakfast with us, I asked to talk to him today, and “ anytime “
was his answer.
He is a lot younger looking than he sounded in the
air, though he said he is sixty, (adding with a younger wife ) A good
talk and vibrations were
10-30 and really hot, not much on and big afternoon, so will have a lie
Got up and thought I had better finish the library book I brought with
BOY OF CHINA” In search of Mao’s lost son. Which they
an extra month, on sufferance, but is now again two weeks overdue !!
Well, it’s only money, has been a great read, and much of it where I
have been. If you’re interested in China history, it’s worth getting.
Phyllis 3,500 ?? equals 500 Chinese, and $NZ25 a day for my costs
staying here, which is similar to 100 rm. in China. This is for my room
and three meals a day of an unrivalled healthy quality.
good talk to Phillis and Ben about “The power of one” and showed them
the Mao book. It always seems “the People “ of china are told very
little about their recent history. It’s interesting to have to tell
So, am waiting in my room for Gerry to be wheeled in for a
talk. Here he is.
GERRY. They say they don’t have a leader, or priest as such, bit I see
Gerry as the leader.
around thirty ears ago, as a young man he decided he wanted to do good
things with people “ My heart was touched and I wanted to share” he
In no time he had attracted sixty people around him.
joined The worship Centre Church. who, he says were “ all very old
people around eighty” He became a paster there, but after three yrs.
they decided they didn’t need him.
So, he then went to the
East Coast of Taiwan to work with the Minorities, The Aboriginal People
who, like our Maori people , were subjected by the mass invasion, in
their case, of The Han Chinese driven to Taiwan by Mao, with Kiang Ki
Chek, around 1950, in NZ case the English. This is where he met his
They have two boys and Salong is a wonderful singer, ( I have nick
named her “ Joan Biaz “
they started going out once a week to a public place, And, as they put
it “ to share their love” Then, with the response, once a day.
then went back to the church in Taipei where, at the time there was
great concern about China’s constant demands that Taiwan was part of
China, denying their soverntry and the constant threat of
aggression and missiles
So they decided to run, right around the whole country to find a safer
place to live. (Forest Gumpf)
The group needed a name so, twenty years ago, they named it “ The Son
of Man “
Money to support themselves. They are all wonderful singers and compose
quite beautiful songs.
have talented wood workers amongst them, making original frames, which
surround songs done in calligraphy, with artistic arrangements of dried
leaves and flowers. They also sell home made cards, and when they sing
and play in the street, there is a collection box.
They have changed
the lives of many people, drug addicts, mental conditions, supporting
split families, and especially the children, and as Gerry says
“loneliness “ often is at the root of it all.( it’s hard to be lonely
First about ten yrs. ago, they built yurts and lived in them, as cheap
they bought this one or two acres, here eight yrs. ago, and with many
artists among them who helped design, they built this extensive place,
starting from the ground up to what it is today.
Now these people
are not religious,but christens and are are just into love, kindness,
and being there for and supporting their fellow man, especially the
I’m sure the adults, at times find it hard, lack of
space etc. but for the children it is amazing. Wonderful home
education, not channeled into anything, learning to find their own way,
learning of and through each other. They are so balanced, happy
together, and have such fun. I’ve not seen one kid be mean to another,
I mainly came here to learn how an eco village
works, as we are proposing one here in Christchurch, and there’s no
doubt this one mainly works because of their collective faith.Now, they
dislike the word religion as much as me, but they are dedicated
christians which defiantly binds them together.
I must say though
this is a different setup, more of a commune type. While each family,
has it’s own room or two, and bathroom, all the rest of life is shared.
Works really well here, but might be a bit costrophobic for most
Western people like us.
Up at six, a nice walk,
I want us to sort the third compost heap as neglected and ready for
use. So I want us to dig it
Am worried about the tied up dog. It doesn’t get a run as i think they
are concerned about the neighbours. Surely they should give it away or
destroy it. I believe it is also covered in fleas, as it desperately
scratches itself. I will have to mention this before i go.
Singing and prayers then a great breakfast, including two little whole
Then pronto, Phyllis, Rita, ——, I, and five boisterous pre teen lads
set off to see organic farms.
for an hour and met Andy who led the way for another hour way up a
river valley into the mountains stopping at a famous bridge that
serviced a small aboriginal village,where we had lunch.
Andy showed us their extensive organic farm (garden) where they rotate
then drove to a more public place set up for aboriginal people, and
walked in ( by accident I think ) to a teaching area where thirty
people, mostly women of course. were being taught about how to grow
their own food all organic , by a NGO group (Buddhist) led by a capable
woman called Jane Hu. Their main speaker was a young man, new
organic farmer , Shane, from Kaohsiung. He was great in encouraging the
Jane then asked me to speak, with Phyllis interpreting.
I spoke of how most all of the food in the super market had some form
of poison in it, and few minerals, and so easy to grow your own, even
with a few window or veranda boxes. Also talked about seaweed and
minerals lost from the land and in the sea. Our guide is a bit of a
pied piper and the kids loved him. He took them to a race to
in the water, and they piled into the back of his ramshackle van,
rather than our flash wagon.
We then followed him to another
aboriginal village with a big house and family, which was an indigenous
restaurant and meeting place. Many people were there and the matriarch,
( who shrunk back as, old and wizened, at 77, till she found out I was
84, and she sprung to, and was the life of the party. Not so old ay !
big event there it seems is to make “sticky rice” where, cooked hot
rice is topped into a very large wooden pessel, and an equally large
double ended mortar would be used to pound the hot rice, until you
ended up with a totally glutenous mass, not at all resembling the
original product. Then the mortar would be rotated gathering all the
glut. the grandmother would then scrape it all off, into a tray and
they would pull off little pieces and throw into a ground dry perhaps
wholemeal, roll up into little balls and eat. Well, not for me thanks,
was just like eating flour and water. Most purported to love it.
as with most indigenous rituals it had a specific use. It’s all the men
lived on when hunting in the mountains, or when they were hunted into
the mountains by the influx of Han Chinese from the mainland around
1950, and further back again, they told me the Japanese occupied Taiwan
from late 1800s till after WW2. robbing every useful native tree as
well as whatever else they could lay their hands on.The sticky rice was
what kept these hardy warriors alive while opposing the Japanese from
the mountains to save their country.
Looking at the faces of
many of these indigenous people, especially the women, I was brought up
with a start, remembering that our Maori people, started their voyage
to New Zealand from Taiwan, many many years ago. It was so obvious,
many looked so Maori, I could have been in NZ., and I have many photos.
we followed Andy into the city of Taizhong to his ware house
garden,which is becoming a centre for organic produce. This puzzled me
a bit, but is very new and will come right I guess. The kids loved it
there, as he got them working, digging a well etc, some wanted to stay
So home at seven after a massive day, especially in the heat
home late it was a bit odd, the food was all gone apart from soup.
Doesn’t worry me, as with my seaweed I am not often hungry as have had
my minerals first thing.
Two more days
here, though Rhoda we chat me last night to say a typhoon is to hit
Hongkong on Tuesday, the day I fly back there. Busses don’t run there
during typhoons, but we hope planes will fly. She will monitor and keep
Well, it’s all of a buzz outside of my room here this
morning as I write. A group of visitors are coming for lunch, and to do
plays, and I see they have just arrived.
It’s lunch, and an older
English lady of the group got chatting to me then, sat with me ad we
made a rappoor. They are part of “The School of Payback Theatre” and
she is the teacher.
VERONICA NEEDA. 4 ST ANDREW’S SQUARE.
LONDON WII IRHVNEEDA@GMAIL.COM
+44(0)2572212694 / 44777994599 ( Spare bed.)
is here with ten players, and we had two hours of a
art quite new to me. The children loved it. Hard for me, as in
Mandarin, but is in NZ and Veronica will put me in touch with the
Christchurch group, who, no doubt will speak English. She has a small
house in the middle of London with a spare bed and would have me stay.
Is time again I had a good friend in London.
They all drove back the two hours to Taipei tonight, which is a shame
as would have liked to have got to know her better.
Up at six and morning with visit to poor tied up dog, still scratching
early to drive to another organic farm. Went thru. Tazdong and two more
smaller towns. Am amazed at the buildings here, the most ugly houses
and buildings generally I have seen in the world. I deduced
had nearly all been built since around 1950, when Mao chased the Han
over here, hence, no old buildings,and while that looks the case, it’s
no excuse for building in such a numpty way. Am leaving puzzled.
arriving at ——- place we were hosted in a wonderful house, and I asked
the host why so beautiful and not another one in sight ? He said theirs
was an upmarket restaurant, so it needed to be nice. He said with most
people , it was about money, and not to be spent on a dwelling ! I
found this very strange. Their garden was lovely too, set up with trees
and big lawns with washstands and power points for barbecues.
Their main organic crop is , what they call “jelly grass “ , not grass
at all, looks like a bunchy mint.
They put on a lovely lunch, with lots of cold jelly grass drink. We
then at last had a tour of ” the farm “
They also had hens and lots of veggies in tunnel houses.
and Rita didn’t seem to want to leave, as if perhaps they enjoyed being
in a real house. They were also puzzled at my reaction to average
houses here, so I showed them a photo of mine when home.
now so a large group managed by Slong (Joan) are ripping into the
pathetic garden with loader and all, well done. can’t believe they
don’t grow most of their own food. as the poisons in the conventional
food here !!!!!!!! There’s so much talk, and study about
but less is put into practice ay.
Went to see the poor bitch again,
picked up a good waddie, ( hard plastic pipe ) and got up close to her
as she now wouldn’t come up to the end of her rope, scratched her
behind the ears as I had before. she must have known I was within range
as she gave a massive snap at me, but at he same time, my trusty waddie
smacked her on the head and she receded as I stepped back.
I feel the poor thing is out of it’s head,actually mental, roped up
talked to lovely Benjamin about it and he seems helpless, he said they
can’t let it go as it would kill all the hens, and perhaps some
neighbours! !’m just going to have to bring it up in my morning parting
talk tomorrow. The poor thing needs destroyed.
As I oft say, “ We breed most things eg, anger or love into both
animals and humans”
at six, and soon lots of activity. I see a large group of adults back
in the garden, also with the loader collecting rocks to make it all
level and easier to work.
PARTING TALK TO “SON OF MAN”
As I’ve got most of you here after breakfast, I would like to say
I have enjoyed myself, so much here of this week, esp. the Children and
Learnt a lot, esp. about tolerance.
here esp. to study and learn about “eco village “ as a group of us, in
my home town Christchurch NZ, are in the middle of trying to form and
build one there
I have learnt, I feel, that yours works so well because of your
Faith and Cooperation
Your spirit is wonderful.
Now, just one negative : The dog tied up with a rope around it’s neck,
not able to be let loose.
I believe, it is covered in fleas, has a tumour on it’s bottom, and, is
in a bad mental state, from being constantly tied up.
night, as she wouldn’t come to the end of the rope, armed with a piece
of plastic pipe I walked into her den, and scratched her behind the
ears as dogs like. She must have known I was within range and gave a
massive snap at me but I managed to hit her on the nose and get away.
She is dangerous and it would be kind to euthanise her.
When i arrived here,Phillis asked me if i was a christian. It’s not
christian to keep that dog tied up there all the time.
I also want to tell you that the day after I get home to NZ, with
friends I drive over to the West Coast as have been invited to the
annual concert of the big Commune called “Gloriavale” and to stay the
night, to learn more about these 500 people.
I have e-mailed Phyllis a story about this sect.
this is goodbye, and thank you, thank you all for hosting me for a
wonderful experience this past week, as I leave for Hongkong tomorrow.
within an hour, what do I see, Salong had obviously encouraged her
oldest boy Yuan, the wild boy, leader of the pack who had just recently
lowered himself to talk to me! All comes to those who wait !! leading
the dog around on it’s rope, bonding with it and both having a great
time. Then heard Salong had also washed it for fleas. they then tied it
up next to my flat. What lovely gesture for the dog, and me !
the fact that i had mentioned to lovely Benjamin about the unholy trash
round the place, he had obviously spread that as, both of the great
strong women leaders approached me and thanked me for my honesty, which
is a rare thing, as most people can’t take honest talk.
Salong also is probably the strongest but, speaks little English, so
she does it with acts, e.g.. the dog..
As they know I like to dance, they promised me a going away party, and
tonight, wow, what a party ay.
Upstairs in the common area, a big sound system, and Salong comparing,
what a hoot.
make a thing of dancing for the children, who go out to a lot of
classes and, “are they good” All the different ages in their group do
wonderful synchronised dances, even down to Salong and Gerry’s tiny two
girls doing “Swan Lake” ballet for us. The music and the dear little
girls dancing was such a treat.
I danced along with them all night,
but as I knew they would, they would have me get up on my own. Well, I
performed out front, and the whole forty people faced me and followed.
Well, as usual the little ones were a delight, they were fascinated
with “this old guy’s gyrations”
about seven or eight, really good dancers, had connected with me all
along and, they became “the life of the party” (to me anyway) When
dancing, it’s magic to get a response, and relationship with another,
and these little girls !!
It ended up with such a loving goodbye, and I had to shake every one’s,
down to babies hand.
I had bought some special cake as a treat, but they decided to have it
after breakfast in the morn.
early, and my last walk around this lovely environment, the quietness,
forested hills, few birds, new garden and compost, grinning
and general ambience.
Phyllis had to go away to buy stores at an early market, so we had a
got ready i thought in in good time, but Benjamin said we were late, so
the killer rush. Turned out he was an hour early, so got to the airport
Well, after all that, with the tornado in Hongkong I ended up waiting
seven hours in the airport !
Managed the massive Hongkong airport well this time and was soon on
buss 49A and one hour to Plaza —- where Rhoda was waiting.
hustled me upstairs to her favourite restaurant Vietnamese, (and her
past dad’s ) where she bought us a lovely meal, not before I had found
a toilet to divest myself of three sets of clothes.Was a nice way to
meet and get back into civilisation again, after over two months in
“the wilds of China and Taiwan ‘’
Then grabbed a taxi to Rhoda’s lovely pad and bed.
crept up early as Rhoda likes to sleep on a bit, and quietly wrote. She
had a plumber coming to fix the bathroom who was also adept at
moxibustion, whom Rhoda would have me be a patient for him to teach
her. then another of her many women friends arrived for the morning, so
I didn’t see much of her.
I enjoy Rhoda’s house. As I have said,
it;s in an area “saved” from the development, older three storied
houses completely surrounded by the classic seventy floor tower
complexes, with up to a thousand people in each one.
Her place, on
the first floor consists of, second floor, a lounge and two three
bedrooms. Third floor, lovely airy kitchen with big sliding doors
opening to generous outdoor courtyard . A delight for her many people
she hosts, including me.
By three we both were bussing down the road to Plasa——- and
caught the airport buss.
Was good to travel in daylight with Rhoda pointing out the many towers
they had lived in.
Arrived early, so Rhoda bought me my last small meal, a few laughs and
The usual three quarters of an hour wait for a flight path leaving
already an hour late.
A good flight, meal good too with my usual three pinots which put me to
sleep most of the way.
Auckland and met Richard at Noah’s Hotel across the road and he drove
me round to domestic.
young man said hi Mike there, and it was Tony Chapman from Kurow where
he has sold the dairy farm and bought the Omarama Motels .
dad Jim he said is now with Susie Anderson after the demise of both
their spouses. Susie A I.ed my whole flock of ewes away back.
flying over our beautiful Southern Alps, landed in good old
Christchurch, got cash and trundled over to The Sudama Hotel where
Richard arrived on a later flight.
He ordered a Uber taxi which was a howling success, great driver, great
price = half @ $40 to home.
house was great, Mike had made a good job looking after it, but oh, so
cold. Lit the log fire, but not enough, so also lit the open fire which
was great. The controller for the heat pump which is great for quick
heat is missing.from the wall, but the fires eventually did the job.
SO GOOD TO BE HOME.
we cooked dinner, had a fireside chat, and off to bed. No water bottle
as left it as excess baggage in Kunming, so put on my mountain hut
boots and was warm as toast.
What fortunate people we are. To live in this wonderful country.
for me, to have all that plus, this wonderful home/ place / property
/ spiritual entity. Thank You, Thank You, to The Universe,
whoever else is responsible and Love, Aroha.