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Rotterdam2020

Our current status (Narda and me) @ home – we arrived in Adelaide after 10 weeks in the Netherlands and flights back via Amsterdam and Singapore where we spent 17 hours – we have been given amazing help with a home in Swan Reach along the Murray River where we did our quarantine of two weeks in Adelaide until the 8th of April. Thanks to family, friends, strangers… for so many good thoughts, offers of help and keeping us positive. After our fourteen days in quarantine plus forty-five in isolation, except for daily walks and bike rides, and protective shopping, as of 23 May 2020, we feel good. Cheers. Updated Saturday 23 May/2020 8.40 #Perseverance Road, Vista, South Australia

#TieChallenge

WHAT ONE DOES @ HOME IN ISOLATION – Tie Challenge Day 47 updated updated 23 May /2020
1. where is this photo taken?

The ties are due to needing to wear a tie when I was teaching in New York & China (2002 – 2014) – I started collecting ties from thrift shops etc. around the world for the next decade. Instead of tossing them out I am doing this dumb challenge as I am @ home and cannot visit you. I think there are over 100. Perseverance Road, Vista, South Australia
 https://neuage.org/ties/

February 20, 2020

This is our story of our stay in Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel which is between Gouda and Rotterdam. We took the train from Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel on 29th of February two days after the first coronavirus case in the Netherlands. In those days, when we thought of it being primarily in China with a few cases in the States we did not take any extra precautions. How different the world would be a month later. Our trip was cut short by three weeks with us returning to Australia’s quarantine toward the end of March. Narda’s writing is in italics and mine whatever else. Starting with arriving at the train station in Arnhem. Our neighbour drove us to the train station as it was rainy that morning. It was a fifteen-minute walk with an already increased luggage amount six weeks which with we arrived in The Netherlands six weeks ago.

We have included a few of the photos we took (we took a couple of thousand to be exact, 30 – 40 I have used in my series ‘Thoughts in Travel 2020‘)

They wanted to build an e-hub, offering e-bikes and e-cars for rent. Two fresh faced young Dutchmen offered us free coffee in exchange for an interview.

“Your main concern?” (in impeccable English)

“The price”.

“Other concerns?”

“We have ‘being wobbly’ issues if you offer e-scooters”          

“No e-scooters”

We were reassured and took the train to Arnhem Centraal. Today was a train carnival. We started, getting a lift from Eef, our kindly neighbour. A day pass from Actievandedag.nl, so plenty of time, between spits (my new Dutch word, meaning rush-hour). The next train (we did not plan ahead) took us straight back in the direction we had just come, heading for Breda via Nijmegen. A bit out of the way, but with little wait time. After an hour of lovely scenery came an announcement that this train would stop in Den Bosch. What the hell? I could not find it on the map. Turns out that this is the ‘local’ name for ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Not sure about the ‘s, but we knew it from Hans Albers, and our host, Fred as it has Jan de Groot’s Bakkerij selling ‘Bossche Bollen’. We have yet to try this. If it involves chocolate I will be there. Apparently long lines are the order of the day on weekends, it is THAT good!!!!

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

train Arnhem to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel

A couple of friendly girls helped me with my smartphone challenges and mapped out a good route to Nieuwerkerk an de Ijssel. So back again, this time headed for Woerden (near Utrecht) on the local train, stopping every 5-7 minutes. One more leg and we’re there. No Uber. Tried 3 times. Raining. We considered the bus but could not find our bus passes. A MAJOR CATASTROPHE. No not really. We hoofed it, took about ½ hour for a 17-minute walk. Not awful, though Terrell was a shining star insisting on taking the bulk of the weight. When will we learn to travel with less!!!! We woke up the next morning feeling rather sore.

Now we are settled, feeding our funny bunnies, who have residence here, once a day.

Fred settled our TV/cable/remote woes remotely from Dubai. He actually turned things off and on from Dubai! The guy’s a miracle worker. Blimey. And patient and kind.

The coffee machine makes great coffee….I select ‘mild taste’ and add ½ cup of hot water. Dutchies are into spoon-standing-up-straight strong. We have ridden our very large Dutch bikes to Jumbo. I can sit completely upright; for me the mark of an excellent bike. We also drove to a hardware exactly the same as Home Depot (USA) or Bunnings (Australia) in search of face masks, which are sold out, as they are all over the world.

Covid-19 End of February

About 84,000 people in at least 56 countries have been infected, and about 2,900 have died. A new element to our trip.

so it begins - Covid-19 cases 26th February 2020We cancelled our China Southern and Guangszhou o/night stay for the next trip in June; luckily a full refund. We bought a new non-stop flight from Perth-London. Less variables, I guess. The virus seems to be spreading pretty fast.

(bought ticket Perth to London on 27th February. Our flight is for the end of June 2020, not sure if that will happen.)

It rained the first four or five days at our new home so we only did short bike rides around our neighbourhood which consisted of two-three story attached houses with canals all over the place and dedicated bike paths giving us the illusion we could ride in safety as, like everyone else here, we don’t have helmets.

our neighbourhood ride

In Australia we get a $200 fine for not wearing one. Perhaps the bike riders here are deemed safer drivers or the fact that the bike rider is always right if there is an accident – the vehicle running you over, takes the blame no matter what the situation. The local shopping centre is Reigerhof (https://winkelcentrumreigerhof.nl/) with our favourite grocery store, Jumbo, and favourite bakery because they have fresh low-carb bread baked every day, Bakker Klootwijk, and Hema – a Dutch variety store-chain that we like; we even found one in Berlin a couple of years ago. There is a large Albert Heijn supermarket with more in it than Jumbo but generally more expensive and taking only cash or a European credit card which we don’t have. Jumbo and Hema were the only two stores taking our credit card, by mid-March no one was taking cash due to the virus, so our shopping became limited. The shops were quite early in the social distancing dance with tape on the floor six feet apart to wait in line in. Several shops had either glass or plastic in front of the checkout person, not for protection like in a New York City liquor shop where shop keepers are paranoid of robbers but to keep out sneezes and coughs. Though Narda, the ever-perseverer managed to get one shop keeper to take cash. This was in those days when the shop keepers did not only want the customer at quite the distance but only a European card could be swiped for a purchase. Narda wanted tape to wrap around something she was packing. The shop keeper said absolutely no cash only a European credit card. Needless to say, once Narda wants something, consider it hers. She left the change on the counter a good distance from the shop keeper and she cautiously scooped it into the cash register using a glove. Of course, I wanted to purchase a fridge magnet, offering cash…no deal. If only I were Narda.

We did go for a car drive to find a hardware store to get a tool to raise my bike seat. Fred and Chantel have the most wonderous car, with graffiti on the side. We get interesting looks from others. These two elderly people, obviously infected with something, driving this car. If they hear me talk, they quickly realize with my New York accent (which Narda says I have but I believe my accent is clearly Australian) we are being typical New Yorkers, and they no longer look quizzingly at us.

To Utrecht March 3rd                                    

After 3 angry flashes from cars coming toward us, I decided to pull over and figure out how to turn off my high beam. I can’t blame the Dutch for everything! Terrell discovered the solution quickly and we headed off again, slowly as I go. Terrell keeps reminding me that I can drive up to 80 km/hr and am currently ‘only driving 55’. Thing is, we have this competition going. It’s called ‘String of Pearls’. It started in our big-beast-caravanning days, when we would see who could accumulate the most cars following very close behind us in a ‘string of pearls’. On this trip I made it to 12, which I think is my record. Then I pull over, they drive past angrily, and we start again.

Well on this trip, returning from Utrecht, choosing ‘no freeways’, and ‘no tolls’ we were hit with a short but very intense hailstorm. I pulled over again, and we had tomato soup with balletjes (me), without for him; a nice little pub. The last part of the trip was dark and hairy, roads had narrowed to single width with significant waters on either side. When a car came toward us, they would move to the side a bit, and I would pass them with a pounding heart.

Oom Piet and Oom Rienk helped us devour a significant amount of cake, apple pie, some sort of nut tart and a sugary mix of cream and custard. Licking our chops (it was a good stop to the bakery on the way) we chatted over coffee about Oom Piet’s war experiences; Terrell missing most of it as it was conducted in Dutch. Rienk smartly reminded his brother-in-law that ‘Terrell cannot understand you’. Piet lifted his game and continued in pretty good English. He’s a trooper.

View from Pete's window

View from Pete’s window

The day was lovely. We had lunch with Hans and Jose and then together saw an art exhibition in the Central Museum, a local well-known surrealist painter named Moesman. Interesting is a mild way to describe it. Coffee afterward at the museum. 

Deze thema’s fascineerden de Utrechtse surrealist Moesman. Surrealisme staat bekend als een beweging van mannelijke kunstenaars. Als grote namen kennen we vooral Dali, Magritte en Ernst. Nu zijn ook de vrouwen aan de beurt.

Deze thema’s fascineerden de Utrechtse surrealist Moesman. Surrealisme staat bekend als een beweging van mannelijke kunstenaars. Als grote namen kennen we vooral Dali, Magritte en Ernst. Nu zijn ook de vrouwen aan de beurt.

I took photos at the Moesman exhibit, but I am not posting them here as this would then have to be classified as adult only. See for yourself…https://moesmania2020.art/

with Hans and Jose in Utrecht

with Hans and Jose in Utrecht

Now we are watching Biden take the lead. Hmm. Perhaps this will be a good thing. Folks just want Obama back and that’s the closest they can get to their beloved former president. We’ll see. All we have on TV is Super Tuesday and Covid-19. Even hand sanitiser is impossible to buy. Apparently, the Aussies have done a panic buy on toilet paper. Shelves empty! Pretty funny. Just wonder where they heard that they might need so much? Reminds me of one of my images from Jinshitan  when we taught at Dalian American International School over there in China. I called it toilet paper bride – 2011.

grocery store in Jinshitan, Dalian, China with their display of toilet paper made into a bride – 2013 – just saying…

Rotterdam March 4th

Yesterday I gorged myself on cake and apple pie with slagroom. So today I’m trying to make up for it and increased my fast to 18 hours. It was OK, not too hard, you just have to keep up the coffee intake.

Hitland Parkland - Capelle aan den Ijssell

Hitland Parkland – Capelle aan den Ijssell

A beautiful sunny cold day, not too windy, we headed off on the bikes in the direction of Rotterdam. We found a park called Hitland…not quite sure of the origins of that name! But despite our concerns it was lovely,lots of great bike paths and scenery.

I think we stopped in Capelle aan den Ijssell and walked up and down the shopping street in an unsuccessful quest for croquettes. A little bonus, we found another giant Kringloop (second-hand store) and bought a sugar spoon for Frasier.

Yes, we did find a good second-hand store; I had a couple of records in hand for Sacha, as I always get him some strange (to us) records when we travel; he has a large collection back in Melbourne. As we were riding bikes we only left with a coffee cup for me, choosing to come back later with the car to get another suitcase (all ours are full and we already have so much more crap to drag back) and the records. Unfortunately, when we did come back a couple of weeks later the second-hand store as well as most others were closed due to the virus, so we bought a new suitcase for way too much money at an empty shopping centre near us. We had a two-hour bike ride which I find extremely helpful in controlling diabetes, my sugars go from an unhealthy 9 to ten to a normal 5.5 or so. I found I can get the result from riding for less than an hour, sometimes even half an hour if riding into the wind. I never get such good results from walking, weightlifting, though back in Adelaide I was getting that kind of result from doing aqua Zumba. I spend a good part of the day in retirement mode.

me in my daily attire until afternoon - is it retirement or is it isolation or is it quarantine or is it just me

me in my daily attire until afternoon – is it retirement or is it isolation or is it quarantine or is it just me

Terrell’s new tour plan. We ride into the wind for as long as we can manage, then come back with ‘the wind in our sails’. A very nice plan. He has an impeccable sense of direction, and when we got back to our town, rode straight home. I would have taken many different turns, so luckily, he was in front! 😊

or my interpretation of me on a bike using Moesman’s painting…

Rotterdam March 6th

Next day the same criteria, heading north-west this time. Through some dodgy cow country, in the rain, along narrow roads which we had to share with cars, then following A20 to the turn off to Moordrecht. BONUS. A gorgeous ancient town, best of. I complemented a few random citizens on the beauty of their town, and they responded enthusiastically with anecdotes. Then the next bonus, was the River Ijssell, which we had not yet been able to locate, up to this point in time. We rode over the hill; these are extremely rare, and I suspect this one was merely a dyke, though there’s nothing ‘merely’ about a dyke, and found another Pont. For 1.25 EU each, we took our bikes to the other side of this very serious river.

And the third bonus, we finally found our croquettes! A day late, but good. Terrell had the bami-filled version, also good. The trip home was simple, follow the Ijssell River back to Nieuwerkerk aan den IJSSELL. Duh!

As one who doesn’t shy away from compliments, I am constantly lost, I just don’t tell Narda and power forward; she thinks I know where I am headed but I never do. We took more than an hour to get to Moordrecht, on the bike trail following the highway. I just made a lucky, ‘let’s go right here’ direction and we stumbled upon Moordrecht. I could easily live here; the old town is about three- or four-square blocks. It seems like a simple easy to live place with clean air and not far from Gouda, another half hour or couple of hours if you get lost like us, ride up the path. Another day we were off doing one of our random bike rides only to discover if we stay on a particular path from near our house, Moordrecht is exactly fifteen minutes away from our door riding a dyke, and what true-blue fellow doesn’t want to do that?

Rotterdam March 10th

Back to ‘against the wind’, we rode along the dyke with a 35km wind blowing at us. It was gorgeous, long stretches along the Ijssell River, fast flowing river on one side, and lowlands (below the river) with green waterlogged fields and many canals on the other. Then we would come across small towns, with the obligatory old church, and some lovely old houses. Some modern blocks of flats, three stories high with a room or two on each level looked attractive as a living option. There was always the view of the river and the community which is a nice combination.

 ‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’, (I am six years old and the biggest and oldest in my class) said the girl in the yellow jacket to me, the handy nearest Oma.

 ‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’,

‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’,

I was getting pretty hungry. The plan was to stop at a café (like a fish and chip shop but with croquettes). Nothing open until 4pm. So we kept going and found the Zalm (Salmon) restaurant. Classy, no room except at the bar, which we took. An hour later, we were served some expensive stuff, which satisfied the hunger. Flashy place, nice to go to in the evening for a function I think, but not really our kind of place.

A halfway stop for apple pie and coffee and then we sailed home, fast and easy.

This was one of my favourite bike rides. We took a couple of hours to get to the restaurant though that was not our goal. We had no end game. The wind slowed us down so going home was ‘a breeze’; no, I didn’t say that. We rode around through some small village, probably a burb of Rotterdam, there was no place to eat open, so finding a place to eat by 2 in the afternoon was becoming the thing to do. Narda has been maintaining her fasting thingy of sixteen hours and that had passed by a couple of hours when we found this one place open. We spent fifty euros for a ten-dollar meal to sit amongst the trendy folks of Rotterdam who were not concerned with social distancing. We came close to walking out after an hour and fifteen minutes when we it was past three; my bloody sugars were upset, Narda’s fasting was no longer fun, but then our food came. We were unable to get a table, the place was booked full, so we languished at the bar. We had a glass of orange juice while we waited and were contemplating where such expensive and prized oranges would be from that they could charge ten euros when the food arrived.

The ride was great, aside of a strong wind shoving itself at us, the view along the river was specky. We came across a large lift bridge, the Hollandsche Ijsselkering, that had a lock beneath for barges and signs with stories about the area and the great floods of 1953 when thousands died (1800+ in The Netherlands). Because the dykes broke from a large storm from the North Sea, a Delta committee was appointed to repair the dykes, this bridge was the first result. Narda reads some of this in the video above. This bridge protects the lowest-lying part of the Netherlands and was the first of 13 to be completed.

 ‘Ik ben 6 jaar oud en de grootste en de oudste in mijn klas’,

Rotterdam Harbour

We found the largest land based modern windmill in the world. Its wing tips can reach a speed of 350 Km per hour, it can fully support 16,000 households and its whooshing noise does not bother anyone.

(And does not cause cancer as trump claims)

The world’s largest wind turbine, Haliade-X, on Maasvlakte 2.  107-metre-long blades. 248 metres high and has a 12-megawatt capacity, sufficient to generate energy to supply electricity to some 16,000 households.

The world’s largest wind turbine, Haliade-X, on Maasvlakte 2. 107-metre-long blades. 248 metres high and has a 12-megawatt capacity, sufficient to generate energy to supply electricity to some 16,000 households.

https://www.futureland.nl/en/visit

FutureLand Rotterdam Harbour https://www.futureland.nl/en/visit

FutureLand, Rotterdam Harbour with the world’s largest wind turbine, Haliade-X

This turned out to be a car day and we found Futureland quite easily. An interesting presentation of the latest extension to the Rotterdam Port.  The new port, Maasvlakte 2 will be covering 20 square kms, and offering a port of 20 metres deep to accommodate the largest ships. The land is being reclaimed from the sea. We watched these purpose-built ships drawing sand from the seabed further out and pouring into place to build the new port.

Nice drive out there, no traffic and interesting industrial scenery.

FutureLand is the port at Maasvlakte 2 built out of reclaimed land. Watch our video. This is an amazing place. At the visitor’s centre not only are there many displays explaining it all but there are interaction virtual spaces; for example, to find what you are suitable at. Of course, I figured I should be a captain of a major ship but after going through the exercise I came off as best to work in the engine room doing what I am told – like being married.

Regardless of the less than anticipated results of employment opportunity I learned a lot about this area and how Holland reclaims land. In this ever-expanding port, huge ships pump out water and sand forming new land; the depth of the water is 30 – 40 metres, deep enough for the largest ships in the world to bob about in. As with everything in our life lately, we were lucky to have seen this as it was closed soon after our visit due to the virus.

On the next day, March 09, Narda’s lifelong friend from Hamburg, Mäu, came to visit. She stayed for a week and at that time there were not so many Germans with the virus. A couple of weeks later they were one of the most infected. We did two trips with Mäu; Rotterdam Centrum and Gouda.

Chipcards are complicated. You have to swipe in and remember to swipe out or you lose all your credit. So, armed with 2 of them, I went to collect Mäu from Rotterdam Centraal. Punctuality is paramount! The train arrived at platform 14, as promised at 5.25pm and we dashed off to platform 15 to take the Sprinter back to Nieuwerkerk.

Mau from Hamburg - Narda's friend since meeting at a music conference in Budapest 40 years ago

Mau from Hamburg – Narda’s friend since meeting at a music conference in Budapest 40 years ago

Last night a walk through the bike paths of our area, Mäu style!  Not another soul in site. It’s rainy, so we’ll just have to talk. 😊

Lock down! There is nothing else on the news except Corona virus. And nothing else in my head. Every day, more crazy updates. I’m am obsessed. I cleaned the floor twice yesterday and felt better.

when there were 5,833 deaths world wide from coronavirus

when there were 5,833 deaths world wide from coronavirus

We are not panic buying, but we wash our hands and sing ‘Happy birthday’ twice, as instructed. The online chemist has sold out of medical alcohol (there’s a joke there somewhere but I can’t make it) and so I have ordered 12 little 100ml bottles of the stuff. The predictions are that it will get much worse; the USA has only just begun. They are woefully under-prepared. We saw huge crowds (on TV) at airports where folks dashed back to the USA ahead of being banned from landing there. No sanitizers in sight, and people are crowded together.

on bus to Gouda

on bus to Gouda

We have decided to hunker down, only shop when the store is pretty empty and as little as possible. Bike rides are good but we will avoid visiting our relatives for now. Chris and Stu are looking at virtual church, and Bren in Pakistan cancelled his trip to Egypt, and could be teaching from home until the end of the school year. We have decided together with our exchange partners to stay put, and perhaps postpone going home. So we may be here a bit longer if the bloody Schengen zone lets us. I like the idea actually.

on bus to Gouda

on bus to Gouda

It was a nice few days; a trip to Gouda by bus 190, along the dykes. We wandered though the old town, checked out the beautiful town hall and tasted some stroop wafels from a place that claimed to make them from scratch. The bus ride back was hairy; a very competent driver with her pedal to the metal on a road designed for single rows of cars, and steep drops to water (River Ijssell) on one side and low country (lower than the water) on the other. Then another bus, driving the same way coming from the other direction. We thought we were in Cambodia!!! Better to keep your eyes closed, though I did not make that suggestion to the driver.

Mau enjoyed the Kunst Museum in Rotterdam. We were too tight and uncultured to go with her and ate apple pie instead. But together exploring the back blocks of downtown Rotterdam was fun. Nasi Goreng and Satay Chicken was yummy at a great little café overlooking the yacht harbour. You can see I don’t step out much, food wise. Mau got back to Germany just int time before the borders closed!!!!

Mau heading back to Germany on Friday only had her ticket to Rotterdam Centraal, so I went with her for the ride there, and then back. Nice coffee (Koffie verkeert, my new fav…lots of milk).

Then there was bike riding to Seven Houses, or Zevenhuizen as it is locally known. Following Terrell’s impeccable travel plan of always riding into the wind on the way up, we managed a 45 minutes ride over the wetlands, and a 20 minute ride home. The thing was we were riding INTO the wind the whole time. Not sure how that is even possible…unless the wind conspired and changed direction midway!!!

Sunday, March 15 was a strange day as we reviewed our situation. Discussing the possibility of extending our stay here until things improve. Fred and Chantal are also keen to lay low at our place. No one is going anywhere. The numbers are skyrocketing in Italy, the new epi-centre. On Monday March 16, Europe closed its borders. Today March 10 Spain is catching up to Italy in numbers and France has locked everything down. Folks have to fill out a form to go anywhere.

To Amsterdam

Schiphol, Amsterdam airport rush hour during covid-19

Schiphol, Amsterdam airport rush hour during covid-19

We did our Last shopping at Hema and Jumbo at Reigerhof Nieuwerkerk aan de Ijssel, taking the five pm train to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. We booked an airport hotel – forget which one at the moment – took the shuttle to it only to discover that there were three with the same name and we were at the wrong one. We were already tense and stressed from the train ride and a bit grumpy. To make matters worse I put our luggage which had grown in size from since we left Australia to another suitcase and another bag onto a baggage cart which I got stuck in the revolving door. The girl at the desk was annoyed and had to get someone else to help move the door inch by inch to finally get it to move. I tried to be sorry and polite, but she was not impressed and chose to comment about why I couldn’t have figured out my crap would not fit into the revolving door. I am sure it had something to do with her thoughts about an elderly person on the loose. I noticed she had a run in her stockings which made me feel equal in inside thoughts we both harboured.  And of course, she was a millennial which is one of my constant pet peeves. We did get another shuttle to the proper version of our hotel which was a crappy version of what we had seen online.

Next morning, we wandered through the empty airport and got our flight to Singapore. The flight was quite full, and the dozen hours went by OK. We did have one turn of fortune on the flight…my vegetarian meal – the alleged vegetarian meat balls were meat – I had my food taster tester sample it because it looked too much like meat to me and Narda gave the roadkill verdict. I called the flight attendants and pointed out their grievous error. It wasn’t their fault as the meals are made outside and they just warm it up and throw it at us the hapless passenger. I had at least four flight attendants apologize included some in charge type of person. I pointed out that I had been a vegetarian for about 55 years, and this was not vegetarian. As compensation along with a proper vegan type meal I was given a 75$ (Singaporean) coupon – about $50 USD – to purchase something from their inflight catalogue. I immediately found a watch I liked – one of the Citizen brands that cost about $1500USD. Realizing it was best to find something under $75 we found about two items in the whole catalogue. We needed a portable charger cube for phones and too many devices we cart around so we got one with interchangeable plugs we can use in travel for $50 bucks and that is our good news story.

To Singapore

We got to Singapore worried as usual. We had read that Singapore was closing the airport for all transit passengers at midnight, Sunday. Our flight is due to leave at 11:55.

We booked an airport hotel day room at the Aerotel Transit Hotel, Terminal 1. We are not allowed outside the airport unless we go into 14 days quarantine have visas and sing their national anthem. The airport itself was empty – we were there at 7 am and were to leave at 11.55 pm so finding our way to the Aerotel was easy. We had paid (too much, like $213 USD) for 12 hours; with that we got two meals and three-hours to use in the premium lounge after the 12 hours so all in all it was fine. The room didn’t have a window which was fine as we slept right away for hours after our overnight flight from Amsterdam and suspect meal. We were the only ones in the dining area, and we could look out at the many airplanes parked for who knows how long sitting on the runways. Which we find quite sad – this whole virus thing makes us sad. The Aerotel has a rooftop swimming pool but our swimming gear was in storage somewhere for the flight to Adelaide. The lounge was good too and we just ate our selves sick until our flight to Adelaide. We were concerned that the flight was about 75% full as it was one of the last flights to Australia at the time.

so it begins - Covid-19 cases 26 February 2020

so it begins – Covid-19 cases 26 February 2020

To Adelaide (Swan Reach)

Like they say on those dating sites (not that I know – read about them on some newsthingy) ‘it’s complicated’. We arrived at the Adelaide airport, got through all the checks. The checks are what has kept us tense: Amsterdam, Singapore, Adelaide – everyone taking temperatures all over the place. Singapore was particularly annoying as they had set up stations every 50 meters or so with testing and things being pointed at us. We were nervous we would get separated and sent off to some quarantine space for 14 days. We had read enough horror stories to keep us in a hyper psychotic state of mind, more than our usual hyper psychotic state of mind. Luckily, we survived it all. We got a taxi to Narda’s sister, where Narda’s ex-husband had left a ute for us and several family members had packed it with food. (We made a list and my list was different apparently to what people are used to; one sister said she would never ever go grocery shopping for me again and what is tempeh, spirulina, chia and about 30 other items anyway?) Apparently, she spent hours at a few places trying to get what was on my list…sorry.

Our house exchange people from our home in Rotterdam have our house and car as they are having issues getting to their next destination. We had hoped to stay in Holland, but the government would not renew our 90-day visa and we had the fear that if one of us became sick and hospitalized in Holland the other would be sent home which is quite nightmarish. So, we came home three weeks early. Meanwhile, Fred and Chantel were unable to get to their next house exchange. Narda’s son, Stu, put up on Facebook that we needed a place for a couple of weeks and a family member had a holiday house in Swan Reach they were not using and Narda’s ex, Peter, had an extra ute for us to take. It all worked out wonderfully and we had a great two weeks just chilling out in the Riverland.

ferry to Swan Reach

ferry to Swan Reach

packed up with our baggage and two weeks food supply from Narda's sisters for 14 days quarantine

packed up with our baggage and two weeks food supply from Narda’s sisters for 14 days quarantine

Narda's special Isolation wine

Narda’s special Isolation wine

We have ended our quarantine and are happy back in our home. Fred and Chantel are in northern Queensland – getting the last flight out of Adelaide. They will stay until the Dutch government flies them back.

In the future we will look back and see these guys in their apartment and in our house. We will remember them as a very special young (40ish) couple, dealing with a hell of a lot more than the average person, virus or no virus. She is permanently confined to her wheelchair, a victim of the horrible permanent disease, Muscular Dystrophy, and he is her full time, and I mean FULL time loving caregiver. They are full of courage and the spirit of adventure, and despite these setbacks, travel the world with enthusiasm and gusto. We feel privileged to have met them and to make our home exchanges with them. From both ends, our exchanges had to be cut short in this strange new world but we both plan to resume and complete them when all the drama is over. They have become our friends. Hey Fred and Chantal, we will see you again. If you have guests, we’ll just have croquettes with you and maybe some tomato soup.

Fred and Chantal

Fred and Chantal

We have no idea when we will travel again. We can’t even take the caravan out. We have a trip booked for July – September: UK,  then Queen Mary II from Hamburg to NYC, DC and a house exchange for a month in Chicago. Looks like that will be postponed for a year as we won’t travel until we can have a vaccine. I update my homepage every day – https://neuage.org/

in the meantime

Daily writing https://neuage.org/2020/

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2018 – 2019 Thoughts in Patterns

2018 – 2019 Thoughts in PatternsLeaving Book 1

Leaving Book 1

2018 - 2019 Thoughts in Patterns

(https://tinyurl.com/y29ygazd) published 05/July/2019 in eBook & Print Edition (664 pages) As with all Amazon books read the first ten % free.

Thoughts in Patterns 7  (https://tinyurl.com/y3p5lggf) published 05/July/2019 in eBook & Print Edition (170 pages). As with all Amazon books read the first ten % free.

Thoughts in Patterns 7

Thoughts in Patterns 7

Last!

June 18 – 24, 2014

Last!

Add-on at end of page as of 8 pm Tuesday 6/24/2014

Last week at our school, Dalian American International School, Golden Pebble Beach, Dalian Development Area, Dalian, China.

Last time at Discoveryland. That is good after four times. This is one of those places I would never have gone too. I took my children to Disneyland in California in 1992. Discoveryland, here, five minutes from our school in Golden Pebble Beach, is a diluted Chinese version of someone’s concept of what a Western theme park should be like. For the third year we have taken the upper school for a day out. There is a blurry, merging shadow between parenting and being a teacher. As a teacher I can say meet me at our meeting point at noon but I am not saying anything about those ninth graders holding hands and going into some area that does not appear to be supervised by a so-called responsible adult. I recall as a single parent hearing one of my sons kissing in the backseat of the car – he was about 12. I did not turn around or look In fear of what I would see. Even worse was one morning when I went into the kitchen and there were two girls in pajamas. They informed me they were staying with my 14 year old. Holy cow. Was I to say something? What had they said to their parents? Was I a bad parent? Then there was the time when my younger son, about 16 at the time, when I walked into his room and he was curled up with a girl on the bed (they had their clothes on) and I said hi to the girl by the wrong name. She had long blond hair like the one I thought was his current girl friend and in my defense she looked the same. I was in the dog-house for quite some time following that.

 

I am sitting here next to some roller coaster ride eating fruit; everything else to eat is so Chinese —- The last time I was here I was with Narda because one of our teacher friends had his 60th birthday party here, not sure why as Narda and I really dislike this place. Anyway we went into their eating area in hopes of finding something to eat. And sitting down with our overcooked white rice and slimy MSG infused vegetables we were treated to the spectacle of a girl throwing up next to us. We got up and left quite quickly without eating. Really! When the Chinese throw up their own food it is time to move on. This time I brought sandwiches.

 

So sitting here my ex-parenting days come back of my role in life. I am surrounded by children’s bags. Dr. Neuage can you watch our stuff? So off they go leaving me with their gear. Now I am being asked to take a video clip when the roller coaster and their screaming selves comes around. Another child wants to know if I know where her phone is. How would I know that? Wait I am a teacher. My parenting days are long gone. What is the teachable moment? I know…. “Hey keep track of your stuff or you may lose it”.

 

Last! Last few days of using Internet in China. What a horrible place to try and get stuff done online. Not only is wireless almost non-existent but often when it is available it is so slow that little will download. Now I am home back in Campus Village trying to recall pages of text I wrote on the iPad which somehow disappeared when I got home.

 

It was a good day compared to the past three times when Discoveryland was packed and the weather was hot. Because it rained part of the day… damn this was actually interesting back several hours ago before I lost all that I wrote.

 

I had commented on, as it was live at the time, the daily parade that goes through the parkbut now it does not seem that interesting. It was overpopulated with scantly dressed Russian and Chinese girls.

 

Last! This could be my last official school teaching job this life-time. Good. Bad. Yet to know. We left Adelaide shortly after 911 occurred in NYC and I started teaching at the State University of New York at Albany. I taught ‘Globalization and Culture’ http://neuage.org/gc.htm for a few years then taught as adjunt at a couple of other colleges and became the Director Of Technology at the Albany Academy for Girls and Albany Academy for Boys which is not the Albany Academies. After six or seven years upstate we went to NYC and I taught at The Dwight School then at the Ross Global Academy before our three years at Dalian American International School. Now we are sitting in Hong Kong with last week being our last week in China and the starting of this blog which I was writing at Discovery Land and wrote some more at an airport or two and now in our hotel in Happy Valley Hong Kong. I am hoping this is our last trip to Hong Kong for what is the third time here for. Last October I had four stents put in to keep my heart pumping along then last November to see if things were still flowing OK and now to see if the past is equal to the tasks of the present.

 

Yesterday was a bit difficult. The Adventist Hospital is tops. A good vegetarian hospital with really great caring staff. The little downsides yesterday were the five hours of tests I had to have. Things like having my arms tied down over my head for twenty minutes at a time (did that twice) as I laid in an x-ray machine that made me feel like I was in a coffin. I am claustrophobic as is and I had waves of panic but somehow managed through it. I have no idea how people who are tortured maintained any sanity when I barely manage 20-minutes. Whatever you do keep from giving me any state-secrets because I would pass them on after the first few minutes of torture. I grew up in a heavy Christian family that used to tell me that the Russians (1950s) then the Chinese (1960s) or whatever communist group was in fashion would pull us out of our farm house in Clifton Park New York and torture us because we were Christians. Maybe that is why I have spent the last 50 years of getting away from Christian indoctrination because of the torture that the Russians and Chinese would inflict upon us. I had Chinese nurses and doctors torture me yesterday but it was because of my heart so maybe that is OK. Other torture silliness yesterday included being on a treadmill until I almost was dead. They had lots of wires hooked up to me and the treadmill would go faster every few minutes and then they would take my blood pressure. They got me up to 180 and said just one more minute. Now I do exercise going for walks every day to the beach and I lift weights almost every day. But walking on a treadmill that was going 4.2 times faster than my legs possibly could move was really nuts. I kept thinking what state-secrets could I give them to stop this torture but I was coughing and panting so hard I could not get any words out. Then of course there was the intravenous in my hand pumping in who knows what to my body for their tests. When I was in the x-ray machine I was told I could not fall asleep, not that I would but if I did and began to snore they would need to start over. There were other less stressful tests and lots of blood-letting and tube fillings as my life essence was drained out for them to look at underneath their microscopes. OK just tell me I am old and I have a faulty heart and let me on my way. I go back this afternoon to see what those results are and hopefully they won’t say that I moved when I was in the machine and have to do that test over though this time for five hours and that spending 20 minutes on a treadmill until I was close to death was not enough and that now I have to be a part of an upcoming experiment that involves being in some Honk Kong marathon up their mountains with intravenous fluids flowing through needles into several parts of my body.

So Discoveryland was not as bad as yesterday at hospital but it was a bit annoying. I amused myself looking for creative Chinglish signs;

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and getting a new Facebook ID photo;

Discoveryland Dalian China

Discoveryland Dalian China

and taking photos”

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Last time using squat toilets. I managed to make it through three-years and not once to have to have squatted on a squat toilet https://neuage.me/2013/06/02/skip-to-my-loo/squat-toilet/ though I use them but not to squat and more I will not say.

 

Last time I get to watch Narda’s elementary music classes when she has other stuff to do. For example, the last class was kindy; most of whom were crying because she is not returning next year. One child has been crying since 9 am and it is now 11. Good golly when I was that age my mother was putting me up for adoption and then I got adopted by a house full of Christians which twisted my brain into difficult to repair fragments of reality. The children wrote notes to Narda such as:

 

Dear Ms. Biemond I will miss you

you are in my heart

for evey and erey

I will relly miss you …”,

 

Dear Ms. Biemond

you do evey thing for us

we love you Ms. Biemond

you see evey people is crying

because about you are liveing (I think she meant leaving and not living – it would be mean to cry because she is living)”

 

Not to worry we are watching “Muppets Take Manhattan”. Meanwhile my own middle school advisory class is running amok next door but it is the last day so it is all groovy. Of course no-one is crying because I am leaving though an 8th grader gave me a hug and I thanked her and recalled when I returned from heart surgery last October that she was the only one to run up and give me a hug and say she was glad I was OK. Middle-Schoolers are to adolescent obsessed to see much beyond their own world and to high school students I am a means to an end (to get good grades to get to university). Elementary are the ones to teach to get great emotional stroking though when I taught them at Ross Global Academy in New York City (a Charter school full of public kids from Harlem) they were quite terrible. Students at Dalian American International School were exceptional. I have never seen students that were so good. Maybe it is because of the international community that we were sandwiched in and lots of students actually lived in Campus Village and we saw them all the time outside of school too.

 

And all the pressures of not knowing if we could even get out of China. Now over as we head out. What happened was that soon after returning from my softball tournament https://neuage.me/2014/05/25/softball-and-wedding/ I had my passport on my desktop at home in Campus Village. We needed my passport to get a hotel room and realised it had gone missing from my desk on the same day that the cleaners cleaned our apartment. They come in Tuesdays and Tuesday after school it was not there. We looked everywhere. We spent two days looking through every speck of our apartment. Thursday morning when Narda went to get some clothing she found a credit card of mine that had been with my passport amongst her nickers that had been returned from the wash on Tuesday when they cleaned our house. We had notified Campus Village that my passport was missing and when we found the credit card – which was fortunate as we were going to cancel our card which would have made travel difficult with no way of getting a new one sent to us from the States before we were to leave China for good. We figured that somehow the wallet with the passport and credit card had fallen into the tub of laundry and the cleaners had found it melted and my passport probably ruined.

 

Getting a new passport is difficult and is only one-half of the problem. I went to Beijing to the Australian Consulate to begin the process which eventually took three weeks. But when I did get the new passport it took us three more weeks to get the Chinese work visa put in. We got it four days before flying out. Of course getting a work visa for my last four days of work is nuts but that is the nature of our lives.

 

Last shipping of same stuff around the world. We sent stuff at the start when we went to the States in 2002. For a decade we went back to Australia sometimes twice in a year and each time dragged more crap back to New York. By the time we left New York we had more than a five-thousand dollar bill to send our stuff to China only half of which the school paid for. Some of that stuff originated in New York during my past before I took it to Hawaii then to Australia in 1980 and back to NY in 20012 then to China. Last month we sent our crap to Australia more than six-thousand dollars worth; ten and a half cubic square meters of what? Some of which originated in NY then went to Australia in 1980 back to NY in 2002 then to China and now back to Australia. We had 86 boxes which included such crap as my yearbooks from Shenendehowa Central School between the years 1954 and 1965, letters from people in the 1960s (actually letters are like antique collector’s items as few write them anymore), Mardi Gras coins from 1978; along with our bikes which we have become very attached to, my father’s desk that he had since the early 1900s (he was born in 1905) and even a chest that originated in China and that my missionary aunt brought to New York in the 1930s. It is all now on a ship somewhere floating past pirates and where the Malaysian Airlines plane fell into the sea headed for South Australia to fill our garage along with a shed full of crap we have had in storage since 2001 and stuff stored in family’s sheds. Amongst all our stuff are two books about decluttering that Narda picked up once from a course we did in NY on how to declutter our life which I think we have failed miserably at.

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Last time of taking photos of business that makes me wonder what were they trying to say? Did this shop say you would get a stomach ache from eating their cakes?

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And the last time of living in what we called our assisted-living quarters.

 

I forgot that I will be 67 in a few weeks when I pranked a neighbour. Brandon our mid-20s neighbour who as strange as life can be is from the same area of upstate New York that I grew up in (we have two others; Sean and Jean, who also are from the same area and even so close that Jean’s sister lives across from where I was adopted) started the Asian thingy of putting his shoes outside of his door. First his sneakers and work shoes then a few more shoes. People started to do things like put his shoes on the elevator or in front of other people’s doors then eventually someone put a shoe rack out for him and more shoes began appear. I wanted to put a pair of female Asian style glittery high heal shoes amongst his manly shoes but did not want to spend too much. A couple of weeks ago we found the perfect shoes and for 25 RMB (about four US dollars). I put them amongst his shoes on a Sunday night. Monday other teachers asked him if he had a visitor – actually we all had a bit of a go at him and he just kept saying he had no idea where they were from. Then Erin put an ironing board against the wall next to his door so I put it up and put the shoes on them. More things appeared over the last week there including condoms, beers bottles, Vaseline, and when we left it was a sort of a piece of art. I will miss our time in China it has been good.

 

In front of Brandon’s door. Note the hair dryer (a few more ended up there) considering he keeps his head shaved or very short this was definitely needed. This display was much larger when I left with many more things added.

Brandon's shoe rack before we added much more on the last couple of days

Brandon’s shoe rack before we added much more on the last couple of days

The shoe rack started off like this

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Add-on

After five hours of testing yesterday I saw Dr. King who put in four stents last October and he was concerned about some results so he sent me to take another test. The one where they inject dye through your body and shove you into a large x-ray machine. Much like yesterday except this one gives a metallic taste and whenever they inject more dye it burns through the whole body.

 

So after the test he says he will call me at six tonight which he did to tell me I have more heart disease – new disease that was not there eight months ago. Damn ! Now we have to run around and get our lame ass insurance company to OK the surgery to happen in the next few days. We have already canceled our trip to Hanoi but hope to still get to Laos next week. Bloody heart…. having five planets in Leo with Saturn and Pluto and Sun and Venus and the like squaring Jupiter – give me a break I don’t even believe in that stuff.

 

June 26

 

Get heart surgery tonight at 7 pm at Adventist Hospital Hong KongDSC_7592

watching the world go by in Hong Kong

watching the world go by in Hong Kong

Hoi An, Vietnam

Friday, December 21, 2012

So quickly to find our life is not as adventuresome as the next person to pass by. Everywhere we travel their life is so unique and interesting but we no complain. Getting on our bikes this morning to look at local house rentals; we had heard a house goes for about $400 a month and who would not want to live here? We met a couple with a ten-year old girl traveling the world for a year on bikes. From Denmark they started last July coming down through Europe and the past several months biking through Asia. The father and girl have a tandem bike with the girl in front and all their belongings for a year with them. They are telling stories about how Cambodia is the poorest of the Asian countries they had been through. They told how large areas were just huge rubbish dumps and as they rode and air-conditioned tourist buses went by they were constantly surprised at the poverty and pollution. Of course we were those tourists flying around Cambodia on air-conditioned buses a couple of years ago. I had some relatives that were missionaries in Vietnam and Cambodia and growing up in New York I was drowned with their stories of poverty in those places. This couple with the child will be travelling for a year through Southeast Asia, Australia then South America. Maybe that is what I should have done with my kids. Next time I see the travelers I will grab their blog address and put it on here knowing their blog will be so much more interesting than mine.

It is quite the change from -15 C when we left Dalian last Saturday to spend winter break in Vietnam.

Hanoi was hot, like in the high 20s and I think around 32 the first day. That is centigrade not Fahrenheit. We stayed at the Green Mango which we did not like as much as last year’s place but breakfast was good and for only a couple of nights it was not the end of the world. Actually speaking of the end of the world; we have been in Hoi An for the past five days and every evening there has been end of the world movies.  Last night we watched the ending of the Body Snatchers and the night before we saw some of The Day of the Locust and before that there was some desert thing and some climate and other snuff us out on the 21st of December tales. Tonight we were are watching Hellboys and Armageddon; unfortunately, I feel to sleep half way through Armageddon though Narda said Bruce Willis saved the world by exploding a nuclear warhead into an asteroid. Thanks Bruce for letting us live to see another day.

When I was in a cult order, 1969 – 1978, there was a lot of narrative about the Mayan Calendar. One of our leaders even wrote the pope to alert him of the end times saying it was vital to sync our calendars together to prepare us for when the shit hits the fan sometime in the future; in 2012 on December 21.  Then as an astrologer during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and up until 2003 (my son committing suicide put an end to such stupid belief systems) I believed in this nonsense.  So what does one do after waiting for more than 40 years for an event to happen? Well if it was not for some bloody roosters in the backyard I would have slept longer but at 6 am I sat in a sort of naked state in front of my window and posted Facebook photos of our trip so far. Outside the window another beautiful day waiting for our exploration and as soon as Narda wakes up and we have another breakfast of fresh fruit and museli we will be off into the world around Hoi Ann. I think we will rent motorcycles today.  We rode bikes every day so far, four days, and my butt hurts so something more comfortable will be great. By the way, today, the 21st, the world did not end. What this should tell everyone is that we can only live in the moment that no one has ever predicted the future and no one ever will because the future is based on what we do now and what we do now is always so changeable. Oh well such as life, insecure people believe in and hang on to non-realistic teachings. The whole human race is crawling forward at roughly the same speed and no one is really more evolved than anyone else so believing that someone does is really detrimental to one’s growth.

In Hoi An we are at the Orchard Garden Homestay for a week. It had top marks in trip advisor and we have not been a bit disappointed. We have a bungalow on the second floor.

 view from our bedroom
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Last night they gave a party to all the guests, about 20 of us. People across from us are from Adelaide, and just a suburb away from our home at that, some New Zealanders, Dutch – lots of Dutch here; Narda being from Holland and an Australian she got to be from the two main groupings in this town, and a couple from Poland and some folks from Brittan. We had a full meal and wine. The hospitality is really good.

So I found material I liked – to replicate a shirt I saw back in October when we spent a week in Yantai; a shirt of two materials doing alternate things, a plaid panel and a solid panel with opposite sleeves and cuffs and collar.

The tie I bought at a street shop for 60 dongs, about 3 dollars. I will make a series of them – suits my thinking; swatches of patches sewn into a non-coherent form making up a whole – it has always explained me now I can wear my personality on my sleeve. Next I will go to more colour and try for three then four swatches.  “Clothes created from multiple thoughts – some which even are capable of co-inhabiting.

Narda has a different approach; she is more organized and fashionable and found her fashion in the same material market that I did.

She drew out both our set of clothes so I suppose in the Narda-Terrell slumber-assisted living over 65 sort of consciousness we possess she would be the designer.

 my-shirt
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Narda found some rock-the-boat material, designed it and showed the chic chick the three layers she wanted for her over 55 party-poser win.

Of course designing and having our clothes made does not take from our –its-good-for-the-economy purchasing sprees we embrace in the local clothes and jewelry markets. Not actually sure why I found 5 new shirts and some ties in  my shopping party bag when I  lighted home,  one flowery shirt of which Narda claims if I wear she will not be privy to my existence, has taken my fancy.

_DSC3498Dongs are the trendy choice here though they will take the US dollar. 20,000 dongs equals 96 cents USA. We rented a scooter for a day for 100,000 dongs – five US dollars. Travelling roads the width of a footpath we stopped at little one room houses that had a shop front for our Vietnamese coffee. We have been drinking coffee this way for more than a year since last being here. At home a spoonful of sweet condensed milk is enough; here they put a lot more. We got our little metal drip coffee maker last time in Nam and not able to get Vietnamese coffee in China we get our beans ground just right to make pretty much the same cuppa. Of course the best coffee is supposed to be Weasel Coffee or ca phe chon. The coffee beans that have been carefully selected and digested by a weasel, then used to make coffee. Yumm!

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We were at dinner a couple of nights ago, the only ones at the restaurant when we were asked if we were staying for the dancing. Of course we said we did not feel like dancing we had just come for dinner. Though somehow we were transferred from our balcony eating spot to the main dining room with a stage and being the only ones there we felt most self-conscious when the dancing started –  cham dance, it is the ethnic Cham people, who are from this area who do these dances though we did not have enough knowledge to have a clue what was going on. . It went on for an hour – four girls, who changed customs four times showed us four dances. Another couple came in for a drink, from Queensland, of course it is mostly Australians here, then left after one dance so it was us wanting to leave but being too polite we stayed.  I have no idea what the dances were about; one they had water pots on their heads, and two they had big umbrellas and another was something about a fertility dance that they seemed as embarrassed dancing as we did watching.

I did make a good contact with a local Water Buffalo, even making a video of him that I said would be on youtube which made him most excited but I deleted it by mistake and only have a portrait to show for my efforts.

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Hoi An, like all poorer places in the world sees tourists as dollar signs. It is impossible to sit at a meal or have a coffee or even walk down the street without the parade of people trying to sell beads and trinkets. It is not as bad as some cities we have been to but it does wear on you.

We did go for an hour boat ride for 100,000 dongs, again less than five dollars. The driver was the same age as me, 65, and he did look the worst for wear making me realize that our lives are probably a bit easier in the long run. Narda drove the boat for about 20 minutes. At first the driver was not sure about her wanting to take over but as most males soon realize it is usually best to give her what she wants and after a few nervous moments the guy went to the back of the boat and relaxed as we went motoring down the river, Narda at the helm.

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Narda the boat driver

Narda the boat driver

The big way to hustle tourists here is through friendly banter; ‘where are you from?’ of course we say China and some laugh and some walk away but we are from China – it is where my drawer of socks and jocks are so that is home. The second question is ‘do you have children?’ then if we are foolish enough to say yes and start talking about them out comes the trinkets, or maybe we would like a massage, or a boat ride or usually some clothes made. Already our suitcase is double what it was when we came here and we get too much made for us back at Campus Village as it is. My most recent big garment is a cape. The talk of the school. Even the guards stop and look and second graders say I look like Batman, Count Dracula, and etc. I wore it to a school dinner and fellow teacher, Pat Herding, asked if it was Narda’s – that hurt – for a half second – but I love it. It comes down to my knees, has a hood and is wool with silk lining and even pockets inside. With the material it cost $60 US. I will take a photo when we get back and post it.

Last weekend we were in Hanoi and we are going there tomorrow for Christmas then on to Sapa on the overnight train for a few days, taking the overnight train back to Hanoi for New Years and a couple of days later back to Campus Village to work on Standards Based lesson plans. Talk about taking the fun out of education and taking away creative learning. One thing I have done is change my classroom from a table learning space to a more comfortable interactive sphere of learning. I took out desks dragged in a couple of sofas – of course without asking because administration only knows how to say no, and put a rug in and a coffee table and I have a great space. I project on the wall some clips that references our learning – I am teaching video broadcast journalism in my high school course then we have discussions, and I bring in a laptop cart of utrabooks and some kids sit on the sofa and some go to a couple of tables I have in another area of the room and we get more done than we use to. I still have to take my class to the computer lab some days for programming work because the software is only on the desktops at this time but I feel the learning environment supports a student centred learning and I still manage to integrate the standards.

In Hanoi last week we were there to hang with Narda’s son Brendan and meet his girlfriend.  The weather was great. Apparently it had been cold and raining then the days we were there it was so hot. It was all good. Now we get to spend Christmas with them. Usually we go to Australia for Christmas so this will be our first one in a while not there.

I have taken heaps of video and photos but my laptop stayed home and I do not have the programs on Narda’s so I will wait until we get back to do videos and make a webpage for this trip, probably. When I do everything will be at http://neuage.us/2012/vietnam after 6 January 2013.

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Ferry from Yantai to Dalian

Ferry from Yantai to Dalian

Youtube clip at http://youtu.be/gcx5Ll4V0iY

Yantai is a coastal city on the Bohai Sea in Shandong province. It’s located in the northeast of China near Qingdao and Dalian. Total population is about 6.5 million people. Yantai port is located in Zhifu Bay overlooking Liaodong Peninsula across the sea. The Yantai Port Passenger Transport Station is at No.155 Beima Road.

Ferry from Yantai to Dalian is advertised as six but it took seven hours. It is quite basic. Not finding anything on Google or Youtube that would tell us about it we chose the 8 berth room – they also have six and state rooms. I was able to use the electricity to use my computer and the room full of Chinese was fine except for some loud snoring. Walking around the ferry is good. Well worth the ride taking the day trip. We left at 9 AM and got to Dalian at 4 PM. The 8 berth was 210 Yuan about $35 US. We got a taxi for 7 yuna – a bit more than a US buck from our hotel, The Golden Gulf Hotel. In Dalian it was chaos and impossible to get a taxi to figure out what we wanted so we hoped the first bus which eventually got us to the light rail which we took home.

The people were friendly and as usual there was always someone wanted to get into a photo with us;

We spent a lot of time on the upper deck – on a clear calm day in October.

The ferry terminal in Yantai.

Back in Dalian it was total chaos getting off the boat. We were herded onto a bus which ended at the Dalian International Passenger Terminal. We wanted to go to Metro to get groceries but no one could understand what we wanted so we got on the first city bus we saw. It wove around the city and we could not get a grip on where we were. We forget what a big city this is – only 6.5 million but it is so spread out and every time we go to Dalian we find new areas. Eventually we saw the train station and walked to that. After the quiet city of Yantai being packed amongst so many people was quite trying. We did get to the light rail and eventually got a seat and home by 6.30 pm. Campus Village is our home – we forget this. With the café open and we could just order a meal sent up to our apartment it all becomes so easy. I doubt we would do this ferry ride again. The toilets were shocking and the room was really crowded with four bunk beds. Narda did fall to sleep and I spent about five hours putting together photos and five videos to post on youtube.

Today is Saturday and believe it or not I am looking forward to getting back to school and the routines there.

Next trip is in ten weeks to Viet Nam for three weeks for winter break, then to Australia in February for Chinese New Years.

to Yantai China on OK Airlines

Monday, October 01, 2012 Dalian Airport

I am not sure whether it is our airlines; OK Airlines, or the sign over the gate we are departing from that causes concern.  Not that I am concerned, this is China, what could possibly go wrong? I am sure these local flights are up to export standards. Like our shoes. We were just commenting before leaving home that we both have Rockport shoes that have really gone the distance, made in China. Narda got a pair she still wears from the Lake George, New York, outlet store ten-years ago and she has worn them in India, Viet Nam, Cambodia, tromping around France, Australia, Thailand, China and of course the USofA and they are still in good shape though she put a bit of superglue on them this morning but the leather is good. My Rockports I got at the same shop in Lake George about seven years ago and they are still good. We have bought shoes, bags and etc. here in China that fall apart quite quickly, so there must be an export quality that lasts. I am hoping the same is true of OK Airlines between here and Yantai where we are off to for the Fall/mooncake Festival holiday. The reason we are going there is because no other destination seems to be available. Narda looked at one place we had thought of going to and the tickets to there have gone from $200 US to more than a thousand dollars in the past week.

I did not know what to make of their airline magazine – did this say the airline was in ruin or that OK Air is groovy.

They are so polite about their air services at the Dalian International  Airport (think 1980s Albany, New York, or Adelaide Airport about 1985) they keep playing this loop “we regret to inform you that flight …. has changed gates…”. Usually the regret an airline would report is that ‘OK Airlines has run out of fuel and has landed on the freeway’. But that we are going from the gate for ‘Abnormal Flights’ seems something they should be regretting.

Not to worry, we are coming back on the ferry – about 6 – 8 hours. We looked it up, a huge boat, and there was a Google story about how a few years ago the same line had their ferry catch fire whilst between Yantai and Dalian and 22 people of the 300 on board survived. Now Narda is a bit nervous about the ferry.

We have been talking about disasters this whole holiday (well the first two days of it).  We decided to climb to the top of our local hill which has a great view of the sea, our school and valley.  This picture does not do our climb justice – it took us almost two hours to get to the top and we were so puffed out. In the distance is our school and behind the strange ship they built along the highway headed into our resort district.

Continuing with our disaster conversations we worried what to do if a poisonous snake crossed our path, then we worried about what to do if there was a forest fire and we got caught then we wondered if there were bear or other crazed creatures in the woods then we just worried. It took us another hour to get down and we ended up at the local spa but their prices were out of proportion to what we made as teachers so we walked home.

Here I am at the Five-Star Golden Pebble Tang Dynasty International Hot Spring Resort at the bottom of the hill – which was a mountain to us, with my mate, obviously a remnant of the Tang Dynasty. I told him I was a Leo but he didn’t seem impressed or to understand so we walked on in blissful ignorance of our un-importance. 

Another view of our school and where we live at Campus Village.

View of the sea from the top.

My concern re. the small plane we are taking to Yantai is that the wheels look to small and I am sitting right across from them and the propeller seems to be going a tad bit slow…

And what is with the writing on the side of the plane facing my seat of where to evacuate?  Evacuation Direction – damn… I never know what to do in those kind of situations. And there was no pre-flight speech about dropping down air masks and putting them onto the children last or is that first?

And that  we are on a “Modern Ark” is disturbing at some level… but I did get to like our little plane – which did get us safely to Yantai.

But those bloody Chinese cab drivers – ours give us the fright of our life all the way into town; weaving, and creating lanes where there was none and going way too fast and of course there were no seat belts in the back. I am always terrified driving in a cab in China but then again we did arrive OK.

We wanted to go five-star but not at a Western chain so we picked the only 5-star Chinese because we want soft beds and most hotels the beds are incredibly hard. We are staying at the Golden Gulf Hotel – an old hotel right on the shore. And what a great walk along the coast it is. We like this city – so far, the most of any we have been in. We even found the old area, a Hutong, right behind the hotel – kind of a Chinese New Orleans or old town in Barcelona.

not to worry – we got the buffet dinner and that was really quite good and now off to a soft bed and tomorrow is Tuesday and we do not have to go to school and write up bloody lesson plans or standards or whatever mind-numbing thing we are to do in the future. Why we can not be like the world’s best schools – Finland – where they start at age seven – that by the way is when I started at Shenendehowa Central School in Elnora New York in 1954 – the first year of that school – and look at me… well I left home at 16 – didn’t finish tenth grade – but at age 44 to 58 did every uni degree possible and now, like the Finnish schools I feel a academically OK – maybe I am an OK Air type of person after all.

the past in the present

July blog and some of June too

Sunday, July 29, 2012 PM
Spending this week at Bellbrae Country Club, five minutes from Bells Beach, an hour from Melbourne; 1992 my father came to Australia, he was 87, traveling alone, from upstate New York. I was with my two sons, Sacha age 11 and Leigh, 8.

We rented a large mobile home, collected my father from Sydney Airport and drove north to the Gold Coast and Brisbane, spent a couple of weeks getting back to Adelaide and parked in front of our house in Victor Harbor with our mobile home. I am not sure who was the most handful on the drive; my children or my father – they were all so demanding. Not only was I the sole driver, cook, sorting out three complaining humans but I seemed to be the unofficial happy person to keep everyone else the same. Bottom line, we got to Bells Beach a month after collecting my father in Sydney. Sacha said he would surf no matter what. We parked his surfboard in the toilet of the mobile home and I doubted the wisdom of bringing it from the get-go. We parked overnight on the beach in front of the ‘no camping’ sign. Sacha proclaimed the water too cold, and that was it for my eleven year-old surfing champ. The next day we dropped my father off at Tullamarine Airport, took our mobile home to the rental agent and flew back to Adelaide, with an unused surf board.

Twenty-years later we are back. A different configuration; my father and Leigh are dead and I am here with Narda. Sacha and his girlfriend visited for the weekend. We all went to a micro-brewery and the Jack Rabbit Vineyard. Sacha long ago left his surfing career behind and is happy with his life; working with and recording hip-hop, working with asylum seekers from Iraq and Afghanistan and etc. Sacha left a few hours ago to go back to work in Melbourne and we are watching the show Mad Men, waiting our next group arrival; Narda’s son Stu, wife, Claire and of course the seven-month old granddaughter, Maggie. The one who covers are fridge back in China.

 

 that is me on right – the one with the blown-away look – Sacha is the other one. Bells Beach.

This is now but this is just an add-on to what I was going to post a few days ago….

One month later than I was going to write. Not a long time but not on time to be current, except as reflections of then compared to now and long ago reflect in now like any normal hologram type of holistic comparisons. Then again one year ago today I was packing to move to China and that seems not too long ago; ten years ago I was packing to move to New York; twenty years ago I was doing my BA in journalism, something I never really used; thirty years ago I was a single parent living on a farm with my two boys and on it goes, all seemingly just moments ago. I wrote a book for my children, “Leaving Australia” (550 pages leather bound, two copies; one for the one who decided to stay on the planet and one for me) in which I listed everywhere I was at on Christmas for the years 1965 – 2005 (when I stopped writing it) and I had been in something like 35 places in those 40 years at Christmas.

Last Christmas I was at:

1965 – Key West, Florida, alone
1966 – New York City, with a girlfriend whom I cannot recall
1967 – New Orleans – have no memory of the day
1968 – Glen Ellen, California – living in a commune
1969 – 1970 Honolulu – in a religious Order with Carol Ann
(whose daughter I helped raise for a while and whom is a friend on Facebook 42 years later)
1971 – Clifton Park, New York with a girlfriend, forget her name
1972 – Clifton Park, New York at my parents
1973 – New Orleans with a girlfriend, not sure which either Rita, Chialeah, or Robin or Tamzon
1974 – Cheyenne, Wyoming – in a religious Order – trying to be celibate
1975 – Syracuse, New York – in a religious Order – failing celibacy at an alarming rate
1976 – Baltimore, Maryland- in a religious Order – failed again
1977 – Towson, Maryland
1978 – Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland – with a girlfriend, Beverly, who wrote recently that she did not want to be in touch with me ever again; after not being in touch for like 30-years, then finding me on-line and emailing me to say she did not want to be in touch again – why do females make so little sense?
1979 – Towson, Maryland with a different girlfriend than the Christmas prior, I think she was Lynn, who committed suicide – I think it is my Venus conjunct Saturn/Pluto all in Leo square my Jupiter that gets me with people who do these things… just my dumb luck to be born with Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo, exact to the minute, and with Mars conjunct Uranus in the 8th house – no wonder….luckily I no longer believe in that crap! Especially since Mars and Uranus descendant go through where I live in northern China, where we return to next week – talk about weird; Uranus was at 25 Gemini when I was born and that is the degree and sign it was in when discovered in March 13, 1781. [I love this quote: The discovery degree of Uranus has been found to be primarily important in three categories of individuals. The first is writers, particularly those who achieve wide recognition during their lifetimes. The second is political reformers, and the third is astrologers. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born with Mercury at 24 degrees Gemini. Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle both had Jupiter at 26 Gemini and Aldous Huxley had his Jupiter at 25 Gemini, the discovery degree of Uranus. http://www.stariq.com/Main/Articles/P0000270.HTM%5D Of course I am living proof this is not true.

1980 – Honolulu with wife number one
1981 – 1982 – Adelaide, South Australia with wife number one and Sacha
1983 – Adelaide, with wife number one, Sacha, and Leigh
1984 – Clifton Park New York with my brother and parents
1985 – Clifton Park New York with my brother and parents and two children; Sacha age 4 and Leigh age 2 and a half – I traveled alone from Australia to New York with my children – not so easy
1987 – Mt. Compass, South Australia, with my children (three different
homes, a different one each Christmas. Uranus rules my 4th house and I have never kept a home for very lone)
1988 – Port Elliot, South Australia, with my children
1989 – Middletown, South Australia, with my children
1990 – 1994 – Victor Harbor, South Australia, with my children
1995 – 1997 – Hackham, South Australia, with my children
1998 – 2001 – Christies Down, South Australia, with my children
2002 – Clifton Park, New York, with my 97-year-old father, with Narda
and two of her sons
2003 – Round Lake, New York, with my 98-year-old father, Sacha,
Narda and her son, Stu.
2004 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, with Sacha
2005 – Paris, France with Narda
2006 – Melbourne, Australia, with Sacha
2007 – Crossville, Tennessee with Narda and her son Chris and his wife
2008 – Melbourne

To cut to the chase here I am for the tenth summer, actually winter in Australia, staying in our little apartment upstairs from the in-laws. For ten years it was part of our summer holidays from New York, this time it is our summer holiday from China. Nevertheless it is our last time in this house as the parents are moving out and a change once again is in front of us, except we get to spend our summer in winter once again.

Two weeks ago we got a taste of summer and that is really what I want to write about as it really does bring into memory so many decades. We left Dalian, China in the warmth and arrived in Atlanta with 40 C (104F) greeting us for the next two weeks. After driving off with Narda’s son Chris’ and his wife Jessica’s car we got off the interstate as soon as possible and in Mississippi stayed at a motel that looked not as bad as the ones next to it. Yes it is true that motels in the south are almost all run by citizens from India. A curious situation that has been reported (even a movie was made about it) in the NY Times – “According to the latest figures from the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (A.A.H.O.A.), slightly more than 50 percent of all motels in the United States are now owned by people of Indian origin.” And that was said in 1999, now I would believe from our experience over the years it is about 87.46 % though I may be off by a fraction.

I added “Life behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream” to my Goodreads Book list to read. Unfortunately the list is growing and the read for pleasure vs. the read because I am teaching the bloody subject (Adobe CS6, and too many other programs) is becoming a gap too wide for this year. Saying all that we stayed at this place either called the Motel Alabama or the Alabama Motel; usually we read up on a place first but we read after that people complained that there were drug dealers and prostitutes all over this place. Having watched five seasons of Breaking Bad I was up for an interesting night and kept looking out the peep hole in the door for interesting action but nothing seemed to be going on and suffice it to say we had a good sleep. The importance of a good sleep was that we were jet lagged to buggery and actually fell to sleep as soon as we checked in at 3 PM for a couple of hours with our bodies thinking they were still on the way to work over in China. No matter how many times we told our bodies it was 3 PM and not 3 AM they just would not pay attention.
Driving route 80 over to Selma we saw reminders of the 1965 civil rights walks. So much has changed since “Sheriff Jim Clark had issued an order for all white males in Dallas County over the age of twenty-one to report to the courthouse that morning to be deputized… Seconds later, the troopers began shoving the demonstrators. Many were knocked to the ground and beaten with nightsticks. Another detachment of troopers fired tear gas. Mounted troopers charged the crowd on horseback…” from Wikipedia.

We found a soul food restaurant in Selma and the food was good – the people there reminded us of our life in China, where everyone seems to stare at us like we are aliens. I suppose they do not get many of us type of people in their area. Back in 1965 we would no doubt have been beaten as sympathizers – hungry sympathizers who did not want to eat at McDonalds over in the white area.

Our end game was New Orleans. I had wanted to take Narda since meeting her eleven-years earlier and seeing her play saxophone in her big-band, the ‘Little Big Horns’ at a firemen’s ball in Adelaide. New Orleans is my favourite city in the world. Of course when I was a street artist in Jackson Square 40 years earlier life was a shade different; I was younger, I had not gone through the 40-years I just experienced, the world just seemed to be an easier and more liberal place in the early 1970s. There were only about two and a half billion people, now there are seven billion. But that was then and now my dream back then of being with a jazz saxophone playing female had come true. I have a photo of me in 1972 selling picture poems alongside Jackson Square at http://picture-poems.net/ and in my mind little has changed.

I never liked the first few blocks of Bourbon Street with its strip bars – not even when I was young and feistier than I am at 64 and eleven-months.

Further down the street, about @ St. Peters the music clubs take over and all that New Orleans is known for fills the air. Of course even the French Quarter changes over forty-years. I could not find the music clubs I loved in the late 1960s or the gallery I had further down Bourbon Street. It was called Tiphareth, after the Tree of Life – middle path on the Kabbalah. Tiphareth is the beauty sphere. I sold my art and a few other’s craft and art things there. It was at the end of an alley off of Bourbon that seems to no longer be there. I was in New Orleans in 1967 – 1968 with lots of journeys in and out; hitch hiking back to New York occasionally and once stowing away on a freighter bound for England which I got into heaps of strife because of. After a few years in a cult order (1969 – 1971) in Hawaii I was back in New Orleans 1972 – 1973 before going back to the order for another five years. It was those years in New Orleans I remember best; selling my pictures alongside the fence of Jackson Square with all the other artists; reading astrology charts and tarot cards for people; telling passing girls how well our charts synchronized, for personal gains I will not elaborate on here. I rented a large house at the end of Bourbon Street and because none of my hippy friends made money I paid the rent from my street art stuff. We could not find the house anymore – in its place there is something newish which is too bad. We did find some good music halls and listened to late into the night which surprised us as we usually are off to bed when the young people are going out.

New Orleans is the best. I still keep in touch with a few people from those days; Randy Dandurand who I had known since our days in Los Angeles and San Francisco during those days of fun at the end of the 1960s, then he got me involved in that Order in Hawaii in 1969 and that stuffed me up for a while, but I returned the favour getting him out of it in 1972 when he was in charge of some station in Nashville and we headed off to New Orleans. When we got there we were almost out of money and slept in our sleeping bags on the lawns of Tulane University out in the Garden District where passing students the next morning woke us and someone told us to piss off. I spent my last five-dollars on some water colours and art board and made a few pictures and sold them at Jackson Square; which became my source of employment for a couple of years. Randy now lives in Eugene Oregon and makes a living off selling old shit on EBay. I still keep in touch with Dell Crowther who went off to Guatemala during the Regan era because of his political disagreement with the US and he built a huge weird house in San Pedro la Laguna on Lake Atitlan. We visited him a couple of years ago; he is so depressed and quite ill but refuses to come back to the States. He is 70 now. We are the only people to ever visit him in Guatemala but I doubt if we can again. Guatemala is so dangerous and Dell is so difficult and it is all so far away from China and Australia. When we were New Orleans hippies we all looked up to Dell, he was just this really cool person. My how times change us all. And there is Shane who changed her name to Mariya —- and I keep in touch with her on Facebook but I have not seen here in person since 1994 when I took my two boys, age eleven and eight at the time on a trip around the world and we stopped in Louisiana to see Mariya, Los Angles to see Daniel Bushnell who I was in that Order with in Syracuse New York and Towson Maryland and I see on Facebook but we don’t seem to say much to each other, Hawaii to visit Randy, Indiana to visit Tamzon and New York City to see my brother who was dying of AIDS then we went to London, Paris, Germany, and Switzerland; it was a good trip. And there is Tamzon, she joined that Order from our days in New Orleans and seems to have had more favourable thoughts toward it. She befriended me for a couple of weeks on Facebook but was upset about what I had said about her in my Leaving Australia book which I had as a pdf on-line but I took it off to save some people embarrassment though I do not understand why some are so precious about what they did in the past. She seems to have dim thoughts of me now.

The only people I still know from four-decades ago are the ones I met in New Orleans; except for my first girl-friend from the early 1960s or was it the mid-1960s? who I keep up with on Facebook and who will hopefully one day sell our houses in upstate New York and Marta Waterman who I knew as a child and who is writing a book about my brother.

We liked the Treme series and drove around the area which has been re-done, for the most part. It is next to the French Quarter and the music is less touristy and more authentic some say. I have always liked the street musicians and there are still plenty of them about. See my youtube video —- http://youtu.be/QGzf4mQVNtQ
After a few days in New Orleans; and Narda loving the place too, though maybe she tired of so many of my stories from so long ago, we went south and stayed for three days at a bed and breakfast in the Bayou. We did the tourist thing of going on a swamp alligator airboat, it is on youtube @ http://youtu.be/hYxw0-T8O7c. Spent a couple of days wandering around to the tip of Louisiana and put our feet in the gulf where it was so warm but having forgotten to bring our bathers we did not plunge all the way in.

Leaving Louisiana we stayed somewhere in Alabama. It was so hot that we were in the motel pool within ten minutes of checking in and planned the next morning to be back in Atlanta by early afternoon.

As they say, ‘one never knows what is around the next corner’.

Narda was driving on the interstate rolling along at about 70 mph, 112 Kph, I was looking at something, probably at our new Nikon D5100; what a great improvement to the little digital camera we had been using, when there was a big bump, our car started swerving all over. We were in the middle lane. Narda said, ‘he hit me’ and I waited for the glass to break and the car to roll but when we hit the concrete block in the middle of the highway separating us from oncoming cars I felt everything would be fine. Narda said she was waiting for the pain to hit. When we came to a grinding halt and the car stopped Narda discovered she could restart the car and went off chasing the truck that hit us. I could not believe it but of course it is such a Narda thing to do. The back wheel was broken, we were in shock, and we are off. Luckily the truck pulled over and stopped. I took lots of photos and by the time I got out of the car Narda was already standing in front of the driver, ‘what was that?’ she demanded. Fortunately the truckie was a good bloke and rang the police and took full responsibility. He somehow did not see us when he changed lanes and clipped us sending us across a couple of lanes.

Luck was on our side that no one was in our lane or the next one over except for the truck that sent us on our merry way. The interstate was extremely busy and there was just this little break in the traffic when we decided to kiss the wall. And of course we were lucky to have the bloody wall as some places there is no dividing barrier which would have meant we would have been going across the lanes coming toward us too which would have killed us off for sure.

We stood in the sun, 104 degrees, 40+ c, for more than two hours watching the heavy traffic go pass us, waiting for a police then a trooper then a tow truck. Having been in three previous serious accidents and never getting a scratch I wonder what keeps me going. I survived the 1960s, car accidents, marriages and just so much and I am still full of gas – well probably that is not the correct analogy at my age… We rented a fire-truck-red Volkswagen and got our sorry asses back to Atlanta, though still in shock, by that night, Friday.

I said to Narda on Sunday as we boarded a plane to Chicago > Beijing that if we had been killed we would be having burial things done about then. We spent a night in Beijing and went on to Adelaide the following day. I said we had a great chance to re-boot our lives. Maybe we were killed out on the Interstate and now we can re-craft our new lives. It has been a rather liberating feeling – that we had this choice either to be dead meat or to keep on living and embrace every day anew.

At the moment I am writing this in Horsham, Victoria. We left this morning, 26th July, Thursday, and got this far on our way to Melbourne; doing another road trip. This is so different. Whereas driving Atlanta to New Orleans is filled with towns and cities and massive freeways and wild truck drivers; here is not really nothing, there is the outback, which at the moment is quite green due to so much rain of late, single lane each direction roads, with massive trucks – road trains they call them and instead of the single trailer they pull two and even three giving us the feeling that we truly would be cactus if they hit us.

Of course we stopped at the The Giant Koala another of those Australian Big Things. Located in Dadswells Bridge, Victoria…

Tomorrow we get to Melbourne and I am excited that my son will stay with us for the weekend, the one that is still alive; the other son visits too often, but in reality he is dead, and his visits freak me out. It is almost nine years ago since he flew from the Dodger’s headquarters in Vero Beach Florida to Sydney and went off of a 15-story hotel balcony when his girlfriend broke up with him. The Dodgers were looking for him and were concerned because he was acting strange the week leading up to then and he left without telling anyone. I had a dream recently that he had pitched a perfect game but of course that is not true at least not in my realm. I have been having dreams for all these years where he is in some sort of trouble and he asks me to help him get back on track to get back into baseball then I wake up and say ‘no you are dead’. I hate those dreams and I get them regularly month after month year after year. It is all so disconcerting.

Then I remember the 1960s and early 1970s in New Orleans when I had nothing and how simple it was. But then again it could be true that we died out on the Interstate a couple of weeks ago and all this is just some wayward thoughts coming through someone else. Just like my son asking me for help and I awake and say but you are dead, we may awake and someone will tell us that we died out on the Interstate. For now, I will go back to Leigh pitching a perfect game, somewhere in the universe; http://neuage.org/leigh.htm the perfect son.

Life is good

If you are in the International Airport in Beijing near gate 33 there’s a machine that churns out wifi codes – just put in your passport – five hours worth so I am spending my last three hours in China on line and on Facebook (so banned in China – thank you Astrill VPN for a great year of service). So Narda collects me in about fifteen hours or more in Atlanta then we do our road trip, staying at one-star motels, through the south for ten days – goin’ find the real Amerika’ then to Australia and on and on. This was my 7th flight out of Dalian in my first year here (10 months actually) Four international (Australia x2, Thailand, USA) and three local (Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing) – Next school year we plan to travel more – old age come and get me ’cause I ain’t slowin’ down’. I can only say “Life is good”. And one of my goals for my 65th year is to get to visit North Korea – just up the road 200 miles – like going from New York City to our house in Saratoga Spring New York – just an afternoon drive.

Learning2Connect Shanghai

September 11 2011

A brief scribble from my end of the desk in our office in our apartment @ Campus Village, Dalian American International School, No. 2 Dianchi Road Golden Pebble Beach National Resort, Jinshitan in the Dalian Development Area (DDA; Chinese: ) in the Jinzhou District, Dalian, Liaoning province, China.

I thought I would have so much time today to write blogs, work on some 15 videos I have too many clips for, maybe even do some laundry instead of leaving it for the laundry woman to do; however, I am exhausted and it is not even eleven am. Luck that I even got here last night then until 1.30 AM I decided to twitter and google plus and Facebook; though I am finding Facebook really quite boring these days – too little worthwhile content and after a few years of hearing what people are unhappy about, who they are or should be or not sleeping with or how much they have drunk or what they are having for tea, do we really care? I was up all bushy eyed or is that bushy-tailed? At 6 AM after a solid four and half hour sleep I was excited to get into all that was presented at the learning2 conference in Shanghai. Of course I had probably less sleep the past few days keeping up with so much at the conference and now that it is almost eleven AM I am ready to sleep. I figured home alone for two days; Narda is in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, a smallest town of eight million. She went with five other women – they hired two drivers for four days – and drove the six hours up. I didn’t spend any money in Shanghai at all thanks to our school, but Narda, what a worry. She said on the first day, couple of days ago, that she had done a bit of shopping. I figure those women will be coming back with a u-haul. Our shipment from the States was to be here last week but now of course it will be sometime in October so we are stuck with what we brought and the u-haul of stuff Narda has probably bought.

I will write a lot about my technology gleanings whilst at http://www.learning2.asia/ on my educational blog http://neuage.us/edu/blog.html later this day.

but basically… Spent the time at the conference because I have wandered around Shanghai several other times and I had a bit of a mandate from the head of our school to gather and gather I did. As far as technology conferences go there were a few things that were interesting and one actually new. The new was that anyone could have a un-conference meeting by signing on a board. There were several interesting ones. I found the keynote speakers did not have anything new to say and even at times not only me but others said ‘what?’ It was the overused ‘my four year old or six-year-old or whatever their child was on about using technology. There was a lot to the point of way too much of family in the presentations. We all have families most of us have children and grandchildren and yes of course they are using flip cameras and using the web and doing creative stuff from the earliest ages, so what? I have taught kindy and first grade and assisted 2nd graders in NYC with their hip hop YouTube videos. Come on presenters let us get away from hearing about your ‘special’ family and your ‘special’ life. We come to see nuts and bolts and integration from a cosmic level these days. Good golly this is not new rocket science. Cave people discovered with fire they could cook, read a novel, and create a weapon, stay warm and so much more to the point of their version of technology integration was much more organic than ours. Throughout history we have integrated.  I have seen this, talk about how my 7-year-old can do this or my six-year-old buys LSD on eBay and on and on at conferences in New York City (CUNY Annual IT Conference) and at those groovy IT conferences at Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills and heaps of other places. Are IT parents so needy they have to tell us about little Matilda and how she can waltz and blog at the same time? We learned about websites, none of which were new to me at least. Conferences are known as a place of heightened egos and claims of possessors of great knowledge but in today’s world the practical ‘this is how we are using something’ in the classroom is the important thing. I did learn from the InDesign class and the Moodle class and a few like that. The presentations in the main hall were just self-serving, ‘this is me, these are my children’ – forget it mate. Have at least one Raymond Kurzweil presenter to take us to a new place. The Kurzweil Educational Systems begun in 1996 shaped so much and his ‘The Singularity Is Near’ and daily blogs so surpass anything I saw at this pony show.

 I think for me the most useful moment of the conference was taking a taxi to the airport at the end. Our main purpose was to learn about implantation of a one-to-one laptop program; see what others are doing, what platform, what was the process. I shared a ride with the middle school principal from the American International School of Guangzhou who had just started their one-to-one laptop program. In half an hour I gathered more than I did in three days at the conference.

Saying all that I am glad that I went and I believe the connections that I and the rest of our school team (six of us) made will be very valuable in our integration of technology. Because it is only at these conferences that we meet others doing the same thing; if I avoid the keynote speakers unless it is a Kurzweil or someone who really has something to say, I will be fine.

So back to getting home. Blimey talk about luck. Forty years ago when I believed such nonsense I would have said my higher Self was taking over or I would have gone on about a full-moon in Pisces back when I traveled the conference circuit yakking on about astrology (hey that is how I ended up in Australia) at the end of the 1970s. Now I am interested in spiritual-machines and the cybeSelf and SecondLife. Back to getting home… so I was told the plane left at 10.35. At 7 PM I thought to grab a taxi and head out to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Firstly a couple of women want to share a taxi – can’t go wrong with that. Secondly they are the ones who have just started a one-to-one laptop program at the American International School of Guangzhou so I collected and collated the info I came to the conference to get. I get to the airport and figure I have a few hours but I saw the domestic China Southern section and figured I get lost so easy I would never find it again so I go and get in line even knowing I have three hours before my alleged 10.35 flight. I get my ticket and an emergency row seat which I always ask for so I can stretch and wander on. It is 8.15 PM and I happened to look at my ticket which reads 8.15 boarding time. Rushing through security and panting down to as is always the way the gate is the furthest away I fall onto the plane which is already boarded and they close the door and the bloody thing starts moving. It even left fifteen minutes early. The last time we were leaving Shanghai for Dalian, a long five weeks ago, the plane was delayed three hours. So I get to Dalian at 10.15 instead of 10.45 (even though I was told I was leaving Shanghai at 10.35 – a mix up of course and the apologies for my near heart attach have been placed) and there is my driver waiting for me and I have a lovely ride home. He doesn’t speak English and I forgot what my two words in Chinese were. He even played classical music and drove rather slowly instead of the 140 kilometers an hour our other driver taking us to the airport did.

First time I have no photos or video – did some with my phone, but I have so many photos and videos of Shanghai I will give it a miss. Think I will go take an afternoon nap then work on my educational blog.

First Steps to Dalian

After being interviewed via Skype in Shanghai 31 December 2010 for jobs at Dalian American International School – we flew to New York the next day – first of January 2011 – we have taken the for-real step of getting there. Today, almost five months later, the shippers collected our many boxes, about 40 of them, a desk and a chest, and drove out of Jersey City to put our belongings in storage to ship to Dalian.

We have spent months sorting and getting rid of nine years in New York of accumulation. Then when we thought we were finished we were told to take out any DVDs, CDs, Videos, Tapers and hard-drives, computer parts and a lot of other things. We just spent three days doing that. Then as they were loading the boxes this morning we received a phone call saying everything had to be counted. We had labeled each box describing content such as clothes, books, dishes and etc. Now they want the number of everything: ten pairs of socks, 12 new pairs of jocks, 17 tee-shirts, and one embarrassing box says 16 pairs of shoes (that would be Narda’s, not mine). And not only that, but whether the sheets were wool, cotton, linen… good golly what are getting ourselves into?

But now the house has one empty room. The rest of the house, all three-stories, is full of furniture and belongings. Fortunately we were able to rent it to four lads from India who are happy with a furnished house. Including a lot of electric goods, a well supplied kitchen, beds, blankets, cupboards, lamps…. Then there are the two houses in upstate New York, both rented out and both with our belongings in places, like the attic, basement and even a part of a shed. We will never get out of the States. Then there are all our belongings in Adelaide South Australia and our house there.

Maybe someday we will just give it all up and be happy with nothing and teaching/living/learning in a third world country.

Now with seven days left in this house we have to get ourselves packed with what we will drag to Australia. In one week we are moving to Harlem for 17 days as we rented this house from the first of June.

Back to Dalian…. yes we are excited. I have started making a list of what I want to teach. I will get to that tomorrow. Today we managed to see our belongings begin their journey.

Move To Dalian

got to tell ya about this

was me

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yesterday perhaps before