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Hanoi

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china again

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

See my site for December at http://neuage.us/2012/Vietnam/

We left our Hanoi hotel at 5:30 AM; similar time that we got there a few days earlier after the train from Sapa tossed us out onto the payment of Hanoi. And at the airport @ 6:30ish then landing in Guangzhou, China time, at 11ish. We did not have a flight until 8 PM so we took the subway (metro) to downtown, found some Western food, and walked, once again, way too much._DSC4730

A hotel lobby dude at a hotel told us that there was a bus to the airport and we went off to a tall building he pointed to that looked close but it took us 45 minutes of walking before it finally popped up in front of us. It is like walking to the Eiffel tower; only seems a few blocks away and the more you walk the longer it takes to get to it. To cut a nonsensical story short we took the airport bus back which was a lot better than being in a subway and it took less time, about 45 minutes.

So China again. After Vietnam the contrast is startling. China the any-brand-knock-off; Ikea personified land of imitation. Vietnam; Sapa, Hoian, Hanoi… the places we spent the past three weeks in, with so much richness of life. And the food is OK; baguettes and well prepared fruit dishes. Thank the French for their occupation to give a country some class. A few hours in Guangzhou and the land of shopping malls and cheap copies leap out to strangle any possible creative and originality left of its population. What has happened to you China? All those inventions and culture you once produced reduced to copycats.

But…. We are back home, in our adopted country, and it feels good to be headed back to our apartment with all our crap there as well as a cupboard of my belongs at school and shelves of my things in the computer lab: my PhD thesis, National Geographic books from the 1920s – 1940s my father had collected, some antique cameras, a boomerang, posters, a 500 page novel I wrote, ‘Leaving Australia’ and other assorted things. We have stuff all over the place from a shed of stuff in upstate New York to our furniture in our Jersey City home and a shed of our belongings in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia as well as boxes of our stuff in storage at Narda’s sister and at her parents. And now we have about a suitcase of new stuff and a suitcase and a half of our clothing in storage on this plane. I like the Buddhist ideals of not wanting things, of living in the moment, of respecting all life (well at least I do that by not eating animals) but I reckon there is a way to go before I can say I am a Buddhist. Firstly we need to shed four houses; three in the States and one in Australia that we no longer want or can afford. We should shove all of them over the fiscal cliff. Of course the good thing about traveling is that we have seen almost no news for three weeks so perhaps the world did end on 21 December though after seeing 22-million Chinese today I doubt that and maybe the States did go over their cliff… who knows? Does anyone really care? What was so good about the village people back in Sapa is that they just live day to day pretty much the same as they have for the past thousand years. Take away CNN and BBC and the ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation) and etc. and stay clear of newspapers – easy to do when there are not any around in English, and the world is such a nice place. When we retire we will not watch the news anymore or read about the nonsense in the rest of the world and wherever we are will be just our grand life in our everyday grand adventure of living life to the fullest.

Four days before being back at work. I suppose I have lots to do to be ready for classes; lessons to write, ties to sort out to wear… I bought four more on this trip so now I have more than a hundred ties from around the world; not boring basic business ties but unique, usually from thrift shops – my favourite place to get ties; they are there because others didn’t want them because they were too different to wear but I wear them. I got my newly self-designed shirt I had made in Hoian and so much more.

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China below Guangzhou today Vietnam below – which has more soul?
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In less than a month we will be off again – to Australia for a week – Chinese New Years week and this will probably be my last blog about travel until then. Probably including then too because what could I possibly blog about Australia? I will visit my son in Melbourne and that is great but not something I normally blog about though I did mention him in a blog when he visited us a few months ago here in China, that was special. We are going to Narda’s granddaughter’s Christening and her son turning 30 party but that is for her to blog about. She blogs but it is on paper in her scrapbook with tickets and stuff from places we went; much better than my blogs, more interesting and intelligent writing but I am only the other one who reads them. Then again I get about two or three hits to my blogs; no doubt all three from Chinese censors and I really just write for myself to remember what we did.

What I am looking forward to the most these next four days before returning to work is working on my videos. I have so many from the past three weeks and aside of I didn’t take my computer on this trip and Narda doesn’t have a program that I can use with my camera, besides there has not been time to go through a hundred if not hundreds of short clips to make about four five – seven minute movies to put on youtube and etc. I have more than 400 videos online from the past ten years so a few more will get me caught up to date with our travels. Plus I want to make webpages for this trip and they will be linked from http://neuage.us/2012/Vietnam

What I will think about in the future when I am being told my lesson plans are not quite to the  American Standards (yes those standards that keep America in about 25th place in education in the world) that our school is so obsessed about is not the next lesson plan or lesson unit that a principal or two are demanding but of walks with tribal people in their villages outside of Sapa. That is what is important in life – to have been exposed to people who live wholesome lives who are not grabbing at material possessions and soulless educational expectations. The children we met were happy, learning, holistic and so full of enthusiasm unlike the children we teach who spend days and nights hunched over computers memorizing facts for the next test and who lose all sense of creativity because they have no concept how to apply learning to life only to tests.

But it is all good… life is good and I am happy that at 65 and close to retirement that I am once again reminded of the wholesomeness of life and that simplicity really is what is complicated at achieving. I lived this way in the 1960s, living in communes in California, Oregon and Hawaii and no doubt in the future Narda and I will be living in some village in Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Thailand or in South America with all our belongings that we have collected in the rubbish dump and all that we will have will be each other and our most basic items to survive then we will have arrived at freedom and correct living.

Writing this on China Southern flight Guangzhou to Dalian with too little sleep to stay awake much longer but there is still an hour left of this bloody flight and Narda has been asleep for the past two hours… lucky her but I have four days in front of me to sleep and make video clips…. Yippee.

Thursday morning the third of January – some sleep and looking out the window – damn where did the warm weather go? Jack, our driver – the real Jack – not one of his mates – as usual, was waiting for us at the airport in Dalian and drove us the one hour ride home getting us back to Campus Village at midnight.  It is so nice to be home; the maids cleaned the apartment and did our laundry whilst we were gone and I just dropped out a lot of laundry to do.

Turned on the news after three weeks and righto the world did not end, the Yanks shoved everything back up on to the cliff and we even made a ten-percent increase overnight on our Chase stocks. Life is good.

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Christmas Day Hanoi

25 December 2012 Christmas Day Hanoi

As I forgot to add this URL the last blog I scribbled out whilst dashing to a plane in Hoi An here it is http://blog.travelpod.com/members/3bybike We met this couple and their about ten-year old daughter at our hotel. They left Denmark last June and rode through Europe, Thailand, Cambodia and now Vietnam on their way to Australia then to South America on a year-long trek. I traveled with my two boys back in the 1992s but we took planes and trains from Australia through the States, England, France and Germany. They were 8 and 10 at the time and I was a single parent trying to keep track of us; I should have taken a bike built for three and trekked around with them instead of going the comfortable, but by no means easy, way.

After days out in the thicket of humans, and an evening in, after finishing the Book Thief and receiving yet again Shantaram for Christmas – I had read the first hundred pages a year ago and didn’t like it, I will give it another go. But not being in a reading mood I will try and blog. Not sure why I do, I get something like three maybe five hits when I blog so I know I am not writing for anyone else. Nevertheless – to remember, I tell myself – take notes.

Christmas Eve, how does a city get so crowded? It was not a weekend, and do communists even care about Christmas – wait they do; why give up an opportunity to sell just because of beliefs?

We decided to purchase a Christmas Tree and have Brendan and his girlfriend over for The Day. There was more Christmas crap than in the States at a Christmas store bankruptcy sale…

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It was a bit of a chore but we did get a little tree with stuff on it for about three US dollars and a string of blinking lights for another buck; 20 dongs which now sits blinking crazily away in our house.

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Our house is a three stories affair. The first floor is a bit of a garage for us, Brendan parks his motor scooter there when visiting and there is a bit of a bar or coffee area there. It was or sometimes maybe, a café; we don’t know, we are renting it through airbandb (https://www.airbnb.com/) as we have in other cities (Melbourne, and Harlem in NYC). The lounge/living space is on the 2nd floor with a kitchen and the bedroom is on the third floor. We have balconies overlooking Truc Bach Lake and West Lake (Ho Tay). The narrow house is on Nguyen Truong To and easy walking distance to the old section, easy if you are not us. We managed to take over an hour to walk the 20 minute walk getting lost all the way last night, Christmas Eve. Of course with so many people out it took more than an hour to get home.

The house is good though with a few things that would have been better; they did not leave a quilt or blankets and we huddled under sheets and bath towels and we ran out of cooking gas the first day and the shower doesn’t work but there is a stove in the café downstairs that we were able to fire up. We had a candlelit dinner on the balcony on Christmas Eve with Brendan, girlfriend and us…

dinner-resized

Life is good here; a combination of hustle and fast and slow. On the way back from Brendan’s house this afternoon the taxi driver tried to tell us the 72,000 dong fair was 72,000,000 something like going from $3.50 to $35. When we purchase fruit, mango being our favourite, the price really jumps. This is a cheap place but sellers quickly change prices. Often though the price is like 10,000 dong more, like fifty-cents, and in our world vs. their world to us it is not much but to them….

Last night we ate at a local-like place, meaning there were no other westerners in the place and they had a menu with various ways to have your dog prepared. Grilled and boiled were the most popular. I like dogs but I cannot imagine eating one. But I don’t eat any animals and it is for the same reason, I like animals and I am not going to eat something smarter than me. It all started out for religious/spiritual/metaphysical reasons back in the 1960s but even then I think I thought eating an animal was a bit barbaric without the other reasons. I have never come at it since. I believe I have gotten rid of every fiber of religious/spiritual/metaphysical bits out of me so not eating meat is not based on beliefs as I basically don’t have any; though of course every thought is a belief of some sort. I suppose just the image of killing an animal to eat it is too gross for me to contemplate eating one. (perhaps this is why no one reads my blogs, I am too opinionated – of course no one reading my blogs does not prove this because if no one reads my blog then no one would know I may be too opinionated.

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I shot this photo on the way to the shop this afternoon. Who could possible want to kill them and eat them?

What I often wonder is how people seem so happy when surely they are not making big bucks? A lot of people have so little. A lot of people walk around all day selling stuff from what they carry. For example I watched this woman with her fruit and nuts and she walked down our street a few times with no one buying anything. After a while she stopped and chatted with some folks for a bit then picked up her baskets and went on. She was always smiling or at least not appearing too gloomy. Of course she did not know I was tracking here with a 300 mm lens on my pricey Nikon camera from the comfort of my balcony drinking my overpriced flavoured soy-milk.

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We have had a good stay. We did not go to any tourist stops this time in Hanoi, we did a lot of that last year. We just had a little living here time. Tomorrow we are off to Sapa on the overnight train for almost a week then back here for New Years a couple of days then back to cold Dalian, China to work enough to get our sorry asses to Australia in February. Life is good and if it really did end back on the 21st as so many believed it would then whatever dimension we are living in is quite good.

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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.

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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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Jinshitan Storming

Jinshitan Storming  Sunday, November 04, 2012  blogs 2012

We had our storm. Nothing like Sandy visiting the East Coast of the US but the earth had its moments of spitting and farting then the electricity went off. I was doing non-significant stuff at 6:15 am on a Sunday morning; writing up my lesson plans for my broadcast journalism class for the week. Is this nuts or what? Firstly, I should have been sleeping in, or at least playing with my Nikon or sitting on the balcony enjoying a cuppa but no, I was working on my bloody lesson plans. I do enjoy what I am teaching – “Broadcast Journalism” creating in-house twice weekly TV-like shows of announcements and stuff, presented by my class, played in upper school classrooms. This past week we visited the main television station in Dalian; took me a month to get through all the ‘red’-tape to do that one. I made a comment in the main control room of the television station to my students, ‘this is where they would take over if there was a revolution’ and the kids moved away from me, saying; “we have no idea who he is – he is not with us”. But aside of my thinking I was funny it was interesting. A couple of weeks ago we started Skyping with the Canyon School in Bhopal, India and we are working toward creating a documentary in real-time between our classes so that is a bit exciting.


Our neighbours, here in Campus Village, at Dalian American International School, let us know there was no electricity, OK, we are old but we knew that. However, we realized there was power in the hall – some backup generator thingy. We moved our coffee pots, blenders and what-nots out to the hall. We often say where we live is like living in an assisted-living establishment. Me being me moved a table to the hall and set my computer back up. Someone said I was addicted to computers, huh? And on I went with my lesson plans – didn’t need the modem, just the laptop which was already low on battery.

Here we are (well, not me, I was taking the photo) in the hallway this morning – looking for electricity;

The girls (yes, I can call them that as I am 65 and they are all ‘considerably’ younger than me) walked to the beach, which was far from calm, and took these photos:

This first is the road to the beach we ride bikes most morning on though this morning because of the winds and rain and no electricity; not that that has anything to do with not exercising but it is an excuse and any excuse not to exercise at six am is good;

And no, those are not the ‘girls’ picking up stuff along the shore but locals – of course we are locals, but they are extreme-locals. I assume they are collecting some animals that have burrowed into the storm-washed beach. Glad I am a vegetarian and not one who would eat burrowed sea animals.

When they came back the electricity came on – not sure what is with that. And even more strange was that the storm ended. We walked to the main road and hopped the first bus, shelling out our 1 yuan (15 cents) and went to our favourite photo-printing shop. They do such a great job and the price is so cheap – like 5 yuan (80 cents US, 77 cents Australian) for an A3 glossy photo and I am not sure what we paid for a lot of A2 – letter size prints and a dozen 5X7’s but the total bill was 110 yuan ($17.46 US) for a large pile of photos including some 20 pages of Narda’s blog she has been writing with photos and text.

The large A3 photo was of my favourite recent photo – Narda in Jackson Square, New Orleans, last July – home for years of my almost youth – I was a street artists there in the early 1970s – in my early 20’s. I took the photo as a black and white so this is not a Photoshoped job. It has a French look to it.

We thought we were clever enough to take a bus in front of the art store home. It wound all over the place through Jinshitan, past the light rail stop and we figured it would come back to our area but it ended up back at the art store. In our simple senior citizen type of way we thought it was funny. Nevertheless we got our sorry assess back home without much more effort.

Yesterday was a simpler day, we went into Dalian on the school’s shopping bus, got our month’s supply of crap from Metro, put our suitcase full of crap back onto the bus and took the light rail to Kaifaqu where as usual we spent way too much at the local western goods shop, Harbor Deli, buying over inflated-priced cheese and peanut butter, caught the shopping bus back home from Kaifaqu and booked the rest of our trip for winter holidays. We are spending the five-weeks in Viet Nam. We booked the Green Mango Hotel in Hanoi for a few days; we saw it last time in Hanoi but stayed elsewhere, then we are off to HoiAn for a week, one of those great places to be in the world. Then back to Hanoi for Christmas and a few days after. We have a week after we have not planned; leaving it open; maybe to go to Laos or Myanmar – where we still want to live and teach.

Last week was Halloween; something we have managed to escape from for more than a decade but this year the owner of our school asked Narda to judge – probably knowing we were escape artists – we surely hid last year, and for me to take photos. I didn’t mind, but Narda just does not take to this holiday. It is not Australian or Dutch – she sees it as just children begging for lollies.

And I am ending this rather mundane week with what we see many times outside our window – fireworks. I use to like them heaps, and even bought a box when my son, Sacha, came to visit, but it seems a lot of money that goes quickly. For Sacha’s visit I got a box of 36 rockets – which of course was well worth it – I was so happy to have him here – up from Melbourne – but still as often as they set them off – how they afford it?

One last little complaint about my un-interesting life and even less interesting blogs; the storm, Sandy, which left so many without electricity and Internet wiped out half of my reading audience of my blogs. I was having 8 – 10 hits each time I posted a blog then last week’s on neuage.me – https://neuage.me/2012/10/28/rambling-weekends/ I only had three hits. So without sounding pathetic that is it for this week. Just read recently about people getting hundreds of thousands of hits a day for their blogs – I average 8 – 10 a week. Go Neuage!!

HaLong Bay and Hanoi and 40 years ago

I like my hundred plus ties that I have bought whilst traveling the world. Now I am working on vests. Today we shopped amongst thousands of material stalls in Hanoi I got some great material for vests and when we get back home; Dalian China, next week I will get them made up by a clothes maker from our school.

Holiday!

What does it mean? Over and out and on the way again. Two months’ work, seven days then out of here. Incomplete sentences all in a row. Make it three and my teaching career is becoming robust. Here, there, where/what are we on holiday from? In the 1960s I would take a holiday from myself; being the responsible ageing teacher that currently I am I will not elaborate on what taking a vacation myself entailed. What is remarkable is that I remember the 1960s, I was there, Summer Of Love 1967 or was it 1968? I was living in a commune in 1969 then suddenly I was in Hawaii with girlfriend and her year-old daughter in tow. Now I am in Hanoi 42 years later. The one-year old, Desiree Eva, now in her forties is my friend on Facebook, the mother, San Francisco extraordinary Flower Child did not survive to this day. We were in one of those New Age cults; the Holy Order of MANS, I was going to be a New Age priest. Carol Ann was traveling the highway to being an illuminated Flower Child. The road became so bumpy we crashed too hard; holidays were not to be had.

I am happy though as this photo taken today in Halong Bay of me, me still alive at 64 shows… There is a short clip @ http://youtu.be/03QyKgBVIMw of our trip through the bay.

Forty plus years later I am no longer a street person; my New Orleans street artist days of the 1970s are behind, my single-parenting days of the 1980s and 1990s in Australia are past. One son is doing well as a hip-hop recording artist and graf artist in Melbourne, Australia, my other son, signed by the LA Dodgers; a promising pitcher committed suicide over a love lost a few years ago but every day I wait for him to e-mail me and say ‘sorry dad’. Almost every night I wake to him asking me to help him get his career back on track.

Listening to the announcements on this flight to Hanoi in Chinese as we start a short holiday I am amazed by all that has past. Now I am an expert. My working visa says I am a foreign expert. I have a PhD. I am Dr. Neuage. What a long ways from the streets it has been. Listening to Macy Grey, ‘I Try’, we played that song at my son’s funeral, then I listen to Janis Joplin and I use to dance to her in San Francisco in a different mindset than now. I was always in front of the stage – she was so hypnotic. I am hypnotized on this flight between Joplin and Macy Grey.

Mê Cung Cave. Two kilometers south-west of Ti Top Beach in the Mê Cung Grotto or Bewitching Grotto we saw where people lived thousands of years ago… before the Yanks bombed and acted stupid in the Gulf of Tonkin, HaLong Bay. Were they happier than us without all these trinkets we collect? Now we tourists take photos and paste the photos in youtube and in our blogs. Johnson and McNamara, 47-years ago thought big-business in the States could profit over a war against the Communist Viet Cong guerrillas. Now they make a profit off of us Westerners. I use to protest and burn my draft-card (many times) in D.C. and San Francisco and NYC shouting something or the other. Did it make a difference?

I spent seven years writing a book about my life – more than 150,000 words, ‘Leaving Australia’, there was so much I wanted to say to my sons, then, I just stopped one day. I spent the same amount of time writing my PhD thesis and it is just as long. I made two leather bound copies with gold printing; one for my son who decided to stay on the planet and the other for me. No one else will ever read it; it is a comfort to say so much about myself only to my son and me. I would have said a lot more, stuff about having a son who became a major league pitcher but I had to quit.

Narda is quite good at getting a bargain and she did it yesterday in Hanoi, though she had be tougher than usual…

This past week the weather is changing a bit from being hot to cool there is little else to say. School is continuing to be a rewarding experience with my main focus in the classroom to teach EAL students along with those who want to learn java script, PHP and etc. instead of just Dreamweaver. A few weeks ago it was ESL ~ English as a second language; not long ago there was EFL with the language supposed to be Foreign though the F word had other interpretations, now we have English as an additional language – EAL; soon it will be ES, English Sucks. I am stuck with English. We had one class of learning Chinese then told our instructor we were too busy and we would try and resume next year. One of the primary features of age is to realize that ‘what’s the point?’ has value as a motivational dead end.

Photo on the left is from the Bong Mecung caves.

It is so interesting working at Dalian American International School; where once I thought my life was a bit unique (enough that I wrote more than 150,000 words about it – 570 pages, with pictures) I am finding everyone I meet at our school has had much more interesting lives and I wonder why I did not start teaching in international schools long ago. Oh I know why, it took me until I was in my mid-40s to begin university then I went 14 years in a row as I raised my two sons. 1991 – 2005, then last year I did another full year to get a postgrad to get teacher’s registration in Australia so I could teach in China. Good golly. The fact is that I could not get hired in New York City. My last school, Ross Global Academy, got rid of the over 50-year olds so they could hire a bunch of kids cheaply straight out of uni, only to have the school closed down as one of the worse schools in NYC. I spent two years trying to get another teaching job then we gave up. Now I am happy for the process and at 64 I am loving teaching and being the technology integrator coordinator k-12.

Dalian American International School has a good mix of teaching couples in their late 50s and early 60s with a couple of us in the mid-60s range as well as young teachers. Some have been teaching for thirty years some this is their first teaching gig. We blend so well together. A lot of teachers have been teaching in international schools for decades.

From Africa to the Middle East to South America and throughout Asia and their stories are so much more interesting than mine. We have a couple who, with their young child, just managed to get out of Libya as it was being bombed by NATO and the Yanks. Their story surly does not put the States in a very good light and I hope they publish what they went through to move from their teaching in Tripoli to their job at our school. Teachers who worked in Saudi Arabia and tell what it is like teaching children of the royal family. How children are millionaires by fourth grade and how they treat the teachers. Stories from around the world in the educational arena – perhaps we could put together a book just of experiences that would make teachers in the comfort zones of Australia, the USA and the assorted places where teaching is a million worlds away from the classrooms of the International Teachers.

We bump through the sky now, skirting some typhoon that has recently havocked the area. Narda’s son, Brendan, is in Hanoi, she is so excited that we are almost there. Brendan stayed with us a few months ago in NYC and last March traveled to Ecuador with us before going on to Peru and Narda and I went back to NYC to her job and my being excited about having a job somewhere in the world to go to where I am at now.
The last time we were in Viet Nam, about five years ago, we toured the south, from Saigon up to Muni thinking someday we would get to Hanoi for a visit. Back then I was working at the Dwight School in New York City and we were happily living in Brooklyn with no thought that in a few years we would be living in China and on our way to Hanoi for a week holiday. I like the unpredictable parts of life that are good, it is the unpredictable parts I can barely manage. We are all like that. When I played Farmville, more like when I was obsessed with it a year ago; I had so many dead neighbours: my dead son, my dead brother who died of AIDS in 1992, my mother, my father – who we went to New York to look after in 2002 and who died in 2007 age 101 and nine months and there were a few other, life was predictable. I kept giving myself more gifts or my alternative personalities (I had about a dozen Terrells giving me gifts in facebook).

The holiday is going great. At the moment I am writing this on a boat in Halong Bay, the cool night air, just a calm before a typhoon is supposed to come by tomorrow but apparently we should be back on land before it hits. Narda is going strong in the bar area singing with others to karaoke videos. We have several Aussie males, couples from Ireland, Poland, England, Honk Kong, Israel, and our fellow teaching couple from the States; as shown in the boat photo on the left. I am sure they can be heard across the bay.
It is early, only 9.30 PM. I am not that much into singing and since I dragged my computer along I may as well as use it. They seem to be loudest with Queen songs. Good golly they are off key.

I went out on a kayak with Frank, one of our traveling teachers with us in China. As the sea was getting choppy from an approaching Typhoon Nalgae we stayed near the shore.

And whilst I do not know if I have learned much in life I did see that the chicken went before the egg as two motor scooters went by with the chickens first proved to me on the way to somewhere.

I have so many photos of Narda landing a bargain, and today was no exception. I have a folder full of photos of statues and Narda but I like my series of photos with her in shops around the world getting something at a price she thinks is reasonable.

Hanoi is great. More like India and Ecuador in its back to basics life styles. China is trying too hard to be like a Western country on steroids. It is one big building site with an IKEA feel to it. Because Mao managed to knock everything down in his forward purge of the past China is all new. Even the historic sites are really rebuilt historic sites made in the past few years to look like they were really left behind from the destructive force of the Cultural Revolution.
In Hanoi they have yet to come to the concept of traffic lights and it is all quite chaotic.
A friend of Narda’s from Adelaide taught for nine years recently in Hanoi and she said seven years back it was just bicycles everywhere and quieter. Above is so typical, though of course it is the same in China. We have learned to weave through the traffic and get across. We have gone a long ways, as it was only six years ago when in Guangzhou it was three days before we crossed the main road across from our hotel to get to the Peril River.

Eventually we learned to use the locals as a human shield to cross and we use that technique in all Asian countries.
We got swept up in all that is good of the night market. Narda paid 30,000 Dongs ($12 US) for a Lacoste knock off which would have cost maybe ten-times more in the States.
Below you tube videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucKSOMxv0cg for our night market clip

I was impressed by the females at the shoe section. Some things past all cultures, like women, shoes, sales.

I put up my videos as youtube videos soon after taking them or they get forgotten. I think I have about 450 videos up from our past decade of travel. http://youtube.com/tneuage
My clip for the boat trip we are on, where I am writing and I can hear Narda’s voice above everyone else’s. Good golly I am married to a 57-year-old party girl; is at http://youtu.be/03QyKgBVIMw. There are lots more of our latest trips. I am trying to keep up with our collection at http://neuage.us/travel with the latest in the section > http://neuage.us/travel/2011/

We got foot-massages after hiking the caves yesterday. One of those things to do in Asia. I use to think old men married young Vietnamese women for sex, now I realize it is for the foot and neck massages.

Narda writing her blog.

got to tell ya about this

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yesterday perhaps before