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Written and edited 16-01-17, by Michael Brosnan.

MIKE IN HONG KONG,  CHINA, & TAIWAN  WITH RHODA

Some Chinese translations at bottom.
Please excuse spellcheck.


May 30- 2016

Dear Marney arrived around seven, to pick me up for the airport.
We 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.
Then, 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.

Well, it's 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.
Then 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 privileged live.
We 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 underpass.
We talk to two men picking at a cheap rice meal, their dog sharing. They say they have no hope, and  there are 300,000 families, = 1,000,000 people on the list for a Statehouse.
Nearby 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 afford.                              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.
By now 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 people.
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.
Am 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.
Aust. lamb rack chop HK 102=  gm = nz 20 dollars =1 chop=85 gm =1 bite ! Beef =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 house.

DAY THREE.

A 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.
For 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.
So, 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 at night.
By the second day there, I have no reflux, and no cramping.
The 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 am amazed.
She also noticed my “sleep apnoea” as I would often sleep before her and she noticed that I would stop breathing.
So 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.
(I have 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.

DAY FOUR.

RHODA  AND I IN YUNNAN PROV. WESTERN CHINA.
Rhoda has for years being involved in an eco-village concept called’ Son of man' in four centres  Dali, Lijang, Fe Jiang (an island just off 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.
Two 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 find out.
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.
Just 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.
CHUN XIACHENGDU  (JESSICA) WORKED FOR NGO ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION XIAO JIHENAN.  MOTHER OF 12 YRS. OLD GIRL SHENG NA , FROM HENAN CHAO YNGTAIWAN  (HERO) AIRFORCE PILOT EARLY RETIRED
SHU ZHEN‘’(SUSAN)HERO’S WIFE.
AH XING
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,
Eat 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”
LANGUAGE
 
A 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 memory.

Manafest Bao  LeFull
Zhangxian
Ma FanTroubleMa FanTravel

In Shangralar
 New language Tibetian !
Hotel Food           Full

Ran out of puff !! Too many languages.

To continue.
Awoke 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 new houses
Now 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 group 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 Lake Turkana in The Rift Valley up under Ethiopia) Still love the memory of that smell.

DAY 6.

Hero, in their new people mover, drove us along the mountain to where Cong yi (Joy)
(the 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 for 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’
So 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 him after that,and Hero drove Joy back to his yurt and us home.
The 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.

Day 7.

This 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 well.
I 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 stay safe.
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 etc,
So a piao liang  (beautiful )morning for laoshi and Xsiu Shings.
Still having trouble getting out off China with e-mail, silly me, I knew China had banned Google
e.g. 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 young people.
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 friend.
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 is so 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 place.
Well, 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.
Rhoda 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 introduce.
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
(aboriginal )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.

DAY 8.

Well today we went to the farmers market where I bought many veggie plants as well as a good hand tool and other stuff.
I 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.
After 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.
The 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.
I wechat 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.

DAY 9.

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 fire lasts about 20 mins. Am expecting results.
Watered our new plants and had a little sleep in case i go out tonight.
At 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 the 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.
Jerad 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 in a 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 The 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.

DAY 10.

Up 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 fed them on!
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.
Jeannie was 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 Wechats 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.
The 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.

DAY 11.

Well, we awoke to a dreek day, “of all the plans of mice & man” Including Rhoda, she wanted to take me hiking up the mountain today.
Rhoda did another moxa. on me after Chi Gong, done on the veranda, before breakfast.
Then 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 him tomorrow.
Dreek or no dreek, my garden is loving this rain. (It is the rainy season here.)
Afternoon 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 .
Home 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.

DAY 12.

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.
My 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 ?
Rhoda 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.
We 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 course.
These people here are so sensitive, they anticipate your every need, so charming.
Hero 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. An 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.

DAY 13.

Up 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 heat and
i was pleased to get away from the the constant Chinese verbosity for a rest, so I just have to write.
Was 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 shelter 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

DAY 14.

Up at the usual six and into Chi gong, breakfast, (oh my G.! they eat so much.))
We 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 Morocco, but 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.

Day 15.

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
Do you come from China or Taiwan?                                                                   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.
I went round them all twice and made them repeat what they had written. Ten o’clock school out and laoshi got a standing ovation.

At 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 eat them.
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 like
of our large bush nettle in the forest though. There was organic trash all over the land that Zhu Ming had brought in, rotting down beautifully.
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 horses together.
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 abound. 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 of the money and pays them a pittance. So much for Communism. What a funny old world.
We called in to visit the rich man’s twoyc who also manages his pig inceminating business but,he is  not home. There was a talking myer bird there. they always looked Chinese to me !
Home before the rain, dinner and bed once caught up with writing.

DAY 16.

Arose 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 varied breakfast,
I’d like to talk about rubbish here.
Everywhere 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 nengqutubu .
This afternoon we will go to town, you to  play music, and me to get on Wifi. jintian  xiawu   women  yao   qu chengli, 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.

DAY 16.

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 shop.
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.

Then 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 approves.
We five had a bit of a rest, me writing and then we all away to play in wild flowers.
We drove thru Le Jaing township north and unfolding before us were these magnificent higher needle pointed mountains, around 7,000 mt’ in height, wow.
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 the distant purple.
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.
When 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 soon inundated.
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.
Hero 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..
Up at six, writing, chi gong, packing, and away where we picked up Zhu Ming and Wang Mei his partner / flat mate ?,  then off to Farmer Yau ‘s
Even this early the hundreds of ponies with over dressed Chinese tourists on, amazed me. A long drive through interesting farming and big mountains.
We came to an unusual  edifice where tourists abounded.
Most of the team walked down these many steps to better see the view with a myriad of tourists. Not for me, and Zhu Ming. <livingspace@163.com> At the entrance way they had built two rock 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 ??
Also another 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.
On 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.
We 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 dedicated man.
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.
Wanting 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.
The 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 the animals.
Just two steps dawn from the kitchen is a menagerie of, hens many, geese 8, pigs 14, buffalo 2 dog 1, and rabbits 3.
He 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 night.
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.

Day  18.

Well, 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.
We 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 minorities.
The going got really tough, and the red clay slippery as there was a little rain, which is never far away.
About 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.
Down 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.
When 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 Judge. He; and Mr You are great company and great hilarity was had all round
It 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.
As 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.
She 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.

DAY 19.

Got up first before six and have caught up with writing, as we go back today and will be on the road all day.
Well, 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,  when 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.
As 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.
So, 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 gesture.
Had a pee amongst the animals, and said goodbye to them all.
Big 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 !!

DAY 20.

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.
We 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 Dili.
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 hungry.
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 !

DAY 21.

I saw a sparrow today.And a water snake in the river yesterday.
A 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.
As 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 towel.
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.
Then, 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.
We then 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 top.
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.

DAY 22.

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.
Last week we drove up to Lijiang to stay in your other house.                     Some of you came home to Dali.
The rest of us went to Farmer Yau’s organic farm.                                            On the way home from LiJiang to Dali,
We went to a beautiful old city Was lovely coming back here.                               I have done a lot of writing, About your life here.
Beautiful, your love and friendship for each other. I love being with you all.
Class finished, and a standing ovation for Laioshi.

After 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.
Rhoda 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 hospital.
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.
So 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.
As we 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..
After 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.

DAY 23.

Looks 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.
How 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.
Rhoda 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.
Well up 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.
Back 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 usual 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.
Xio is 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,
But the 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 bike.                 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.

Day24

Have 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.
Was 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.

DAY 25.

Up 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.
The 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)
The 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.
There 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 handy.
He has bought the lease outright and is to start the foundation and for a log house from his own forest.
He 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 here.
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 eat 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 as  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.
Rhoda 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.

Day 26.

Well, another massive day.
At 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.
Cow, 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.
They 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.
The 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 that.
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  shared with Ah Bo.
So, the farm,  is supported by all of that , though it is in it’s embryo stage.
They 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.
I 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.
Shades 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.
There 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 vitality.
After 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 here..
We 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 night.
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.
We 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.

DAY 27.

Rhoda early 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 wants 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
Talking : 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.
1932 : 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 dad.
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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”
1936 : 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 FOLK.
Poor 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.
The 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.
I 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.
My 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 lives.
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 “Cherry Farm’’
On 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, “well 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
1942 : 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 the strap for being late for school
I think I knew ,way back then I never wanted a JOB. I wanted to work for myself.
1943 : 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 for eating.
Saving all the time, I was well on the way to having my own business.              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 )
I 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)
!947 : 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 life ay.
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 was.
 Rabbiting
Possum hunting and selling the skins Shearing sheep.
Butcher, skinning sheep in the big freezing works felling  th Bushman 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.
1950 : 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 I had 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 )
1953 : 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.
1955 : 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 into politics.
What 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.
Fleur was 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.
Again 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
.Since 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 farmer.
It was then i had the time and got very involved in organic land management, and applied it to my farm
Was 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 community

DAY 28.

Spent 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.

DAY 29.

Had 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.
The 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 collar.
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 Rainbow Cafe.
On 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.
Tonight 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.
Just heard, 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.
This 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 today.
Goodbye Dili, I may never see you again, but will never forget you.

DAY 30.  1-7-16

Well 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 pouring rain.
Started climbing from there on as ,Shangrila is at 3,500 mts. ! , very little cultivation and lots of black yaks.
Arrived 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.

DAY 31

In 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.
.
So, 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.
To 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 to the ground and has been rebuilt to look old. and that the young backpackers stay in centre city, so will attempt to get there.
Siting 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 guy working at the cafe.
Ordered an omelette as hoping the NZ guy will turn up.
Out 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 Wouldn’t 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.
Might 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 a 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.

DAY 32.

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.
Walked 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.
Left 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.
Ensconced in 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. Very nice
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.

Day 33.

Well, 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.
We 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.
All 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 full on.
Out of curtesy I bought some beers, 58 rm. against ten in the street, but was well worth it.
Later 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 beautiful.
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 Christopher.
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.
Headed 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
The
kiwi 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.
We all 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 them home.

DAY 34.

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.
My wee, minimalist room is “just great ”  and the place teams with 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.
Next, a 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 damage ay
On the way home, called back up to my last lodgings and bought a plastic bottle of his “ tibetan grape Wine @ 80 rm. Back  home, tried to have a little nap, but Chinese TV too interesting.
Abe 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.
We 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.
They 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
As 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.
Something 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 that 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 buildings here ay ) beyond to the hills in the the mist. Could be Wales or Dunedin.
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.
Popped into the Nightclub, good crowd there. Took photos of the four Tibetan men singers and scarpered to bed as of north in the morn.

DAY 35.

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.
then !! 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 into bed.
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 rare“whiteie’’ here.
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.
Two 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.
We 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.
They 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 till 4-30.

Day 36.

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.
Confusion 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 ! )
The 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 own.
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 sticks.
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 mule.
I soon found The—- Hotel in Upper Yubeng 120 a double room. Couldn’t get the Boys on Wechat but they did arrive.
It 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 !!  

DAY 37.

I 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.
So, went 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 there.
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 taxi
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 age, 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)
We 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.
Passing 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 it became a raging torrent, as a lot of fall by now.
While a dropping  track is good, it meant lots of wet shiny hard quartz 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.
I have 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 )
After there, 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.
The harder 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 granted ay.
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.
We 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.
By 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.

DAY 38.

Chang 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.
It 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..
We had 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 ?

DAY  39.

Was 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.
I think 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.
Walked 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.
On the 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
Stopped at 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 street.
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.
“Water 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.
Got 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 Philippines.
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.

DAY 4O.

Up to a lovely morning, and more South China Sea on telly, had the most wonderful hot shower, this place is amazing.
Wechat 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 situation.
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
Women 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.
I 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.
A 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 rain, I 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 to see.
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 good.
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.
The 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.

DAY 41.

A 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.
Back 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.
I have 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
Can 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. NZ 18! 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 about 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, where  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.
Was 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 !! )
Also, 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
power. The 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 light.

DAY  42  This will be my 4th day @ ‘’ 3 are 3 “ With “ Water  Melon “

After 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.
Well, 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 ! )

Day 43.

Found my way into the temple. Many, many steps up to get there, quite a penance already.
They, 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.

DAY 45.

Decided 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 had 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 resources.                                                                              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

DAY 46.

Having 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.
Managed 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.

DAY 47.

Having 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  described 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.
This 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 treasures.          Water 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.
I 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 make a 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, such kindness.
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 well !!

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”
I 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.

22-7-16

Didn’t 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 caught up.
Six 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” with us.
Went back to the same  restaurant and, THE NIGHT OPERA CONTINUES.
First 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 . )
A 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 performing monkeys.
I understand, as there are so many new aspirants coming on “the market” in China, any job is  a JOB. It looked sad and even disgusting to me.  ( Oh for my little fairy )
 I 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, and octopus
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 syndrome children.

23-07-16

Up 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.
Sat 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.
So, 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.
A 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 town, 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 welcoming sign.
I got out, retrieved my luggage, then asked the price. After lots of gesture she wrote down in her phone,,,,, 150
I 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!
Up 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.

NIGHT OPERA.

Walked 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.
A 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.
Went 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.
Spent the rest of  morning on computer and watching the wonderful CCTV. 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
Tonight enjoyed the same restaurant, which i find is “The Cuiwanuipin  Dali  Yijiaren “ or as I met them back up near Dali in Yunnan, The Yi People, another mountain minority in Dali area.
They do a unique ethnic  dance which I have on video. In this case, the colourful 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

25-7-16.

Morning 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.

26-7-16

Up 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.
Managed 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 worse 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  he 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
I 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.
From hell to a dream. This  lovely couple Phyllis and Gabriel met me 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 a 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.

27-7-16

Up at 6-30 as was to walk with the kids  at seven, but they didn’t go as roundup had been used 0n 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..
Twelve 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.

28-7-16

I’ve got 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 the 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.
My 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 Franziska.
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 further 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.
Vanessa, 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.
Singing 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 days”                                                                                                                     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 same vibes.                                                                               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 thought we would..
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.

29-7-16.

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 the opportunity.
I 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 good.                         10-30 and really hot, not much on and big afternoon, so will have a lie down.
Got up and thought I had better finish the library book I brought with me
“A BOY OF CHINA”   In search of Mao’s lost son. Which they extended 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.
Gave 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.
Had a 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 them.
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.
So, 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 says.
In no time he had  attracted sixty people around him.
He 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 wife Salong
They have two boys and Salong is a wonderful singer, ( I have nick named her “ Joan  Biaz “
There 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.
He 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.
They 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 here )
First about ten yrs. ago, they built yurts and lived in them, as cheap to build.
Then 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 vulnerable.
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, including siblings.
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.

30-7-16,

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 over.                                          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 fish each.
Then pronto, Phyllis, Rita, ——, I, and five boisterous pre teen lads set off to see organic farms.
Drove 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 chickens  extensively.
We 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 audience.
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 play 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 !
The 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.
But, 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.
Next, we followed  Andy into the city of Taizhong to his ware house and 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 with him.
So home at seven after a massive day, especially in the heat
Getting 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.

Sunday 31-7-16

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 in touch.
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.)
She is here with ten players, and we had two hours of a fascinating  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.

01-08- 16.

Up at six and morning with visit to poor tied up dog, still scratching for fleas.
Left 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 they 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.
Now, 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.
Phyllis 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.
Cooler 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 organic, 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 there.
I 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”

02-08-16.

Up 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 goodbye.
I have enjoyed myself, so much here of this week, esp. the Children and Young People.
Learnt a lot, esp. about tolerance.
Came 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.
Last 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.
Now 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.
So, 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.

Well, 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 !
Also, 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.
They 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”
Several, 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.
03-08-16
Up early, and my last walk around this lovely environment, the quietness, forested hills,  few birds, new garden and compost, grinning dog, and general ambience.
Phyllis had to go away to buy stores at an early market, so we had a nice goodbye.
i 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 early.
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.
She 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.
I 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 parted.
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.
 A 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 . His 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.
After 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.
The 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.
So, 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.
And for me, to have all that plus, this wonderful home/ place / property /  spiritual entity. Thank You, Thank You, to The Universe, and whoever else is responsible and Love, Aroha.


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