China start

December 13, 2006


I can’t say that it has been an easy/healthy start into living in China for a month. Just getting to Hobart’s airport for my flight out last Wednesday saw the car’s radiator hose blow up with a huge pressurized “bang” that sent clouds of steam into the passenger compartment fogging up the windows. Luckily, being 4:30 in the morning there was no traffic on the road and I managed, somehow, to blindly steer the car off the road onto the grassy verge. Without too much panic, but with some regret, I left my friend, Miche, with the broken down car and hitched a ride to the airport in time to catch my flight.

Such was the beginning.

beijing_6beijing_7I’ve now been in China for seven days. Four of these days have seen me in bed; first with a pulled lower back muscle (the result of the cramped conditions on the plane) and now with a sinus infection (the result of the persistent air pollution).

The good news is that, with Sally’s knowledge of Chinese herbal medicines, I am on the mend. Before, when I developed sinus infections in Russia and Hungary because of their air pollution, these infections were always much worse and, in the end, required antibiotics to cure. Now, the black liquid that Sally has formulated is working and by tomorrow I should be up and about and exploring the town of Jinan that I arrived in on Sunday night after four days in Beijing.

beijing_9beijing_4I’m excited. From the little I have seen, it has all been fairly amazing. One first observation is that the people are consistently friendly. I have yet to run into the sort of anti-foreigner, why can’t you speak our language, verbal abuse Asians might encounter when coming to Australia or America. Give the Chinese people any indication that you are trying to learn their language and they beam the sweetest smiles. Ordering a meal might be difficult, but their good manners make it a pleasant, difficult experience.

And besides, no matter what my physical health is, being with Sally certainly makes the heart grow stronger.




December 5, 2006

All this past week and even earlier I have been walking the property saying good-bye to all the little people that live here. For I am leaving Windgrove. Tomorrow. My first trip out of Australia in six and a half years.

china_kookaburraTo be honest, despite the hugh joy and real excitement in my heart at the thought of meeting up with my partner, Sally, there is, as well, a wee bit of trepidation and a few butterflies built into the leaving.

Is this because I am now 60 and am losing my sense of adventure? Is this because I’m turning into a grumpy old man, set in my ways and content to just potter in the garden? Is this because my last trip was before 9/11 and travelling is now, if not dangerous, more tedious with long security checks?

No, no, no to all three questions.

china_echidnaThe simple fact is that Windgrove is a place where I have sunk deep roots into the landscape. Leaving one’s home and one’s family is always hard.

When I returned from my last journey in 2000 (to England and America), I was living a fairly simple life in the Peace Bus. Now, however, a substantial home has been built. There is a domestic familiarity with the place that makes it easy to want to just hang out here, forever.

china_wombatSo where am I going? China for one month. More or less staying in the relatively small city of Jinan (population, 5 million); southeast of Beijing towards Shanghai. Sally is there already at a university hospital studying traditional Chinese medicine and I miss her enough to want to leave Windgrove behind for a few weeks. During weekdays, while Sally is at the hospital, I’ll be engaged in learning a new language. The spoken language of the locals, for sure, but also the silent, unspoken language of the customs and culture of this fascinating country. During weekends, we’ll be exploring any number of “tourist” spots.

My desire is to be able to keep writing my blog while away and share what I am experiencing. If internet access is easy enough, maybe even twice per week. Stay tuned for Windgrove in China: stories of flailing chopsticks.

Lots to do. Need to get packing.