Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Sa Pa, Vietnam

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012 Sapa

The train did not look anything like the photos but rather a world-war II vintage of a China train (just my opinion). We got the first class soft sleepers though the translation in Vietnamese of the word soft is a hard one inch mat on a metal frame. Four of us in the room; most of the tourist as always in Nam were Australian and Dutch. In our ‘first-class-sleeper’ the Dutch were friendly and they exchanged with Narda stories and drank beer. The two in our room were a young couple from Canada and they promptly put in earplugs and went to sleep.

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I struggled to get a couple hours of sleep as the train made as much noise and shook as much as possible on the track. I am not at all complaining and happily, worse for wear, we dragged out sorry asses out of the train at six am.

Our hotel room was not ready so we went walking for five hours then got into our room and slept two hours and went out walking again. Sapa, I suppose for this time of year – though it could be year-round, was in the clouds or in our terms, foggy. We will probably rent motor scooters tomorrow but the fact that we can see barely a meter in front of us may curb our cycling enthusiasm.

The local tribe people who are constantly selling their goods no matter how many times no comes out; they follow you down the street and keep selling, are quite colourful and a big part of their business is trekking – or we do the trekking and follow them to their village. It is all supposed to be quite the thing to do here but some villages are ten kilometers away and we feel like it has been a trek going a dozen blocks. It is very mountainous. Sapa is like an outlet mall for ‘The North Face’ brand of clothes. Shop after shop sells coats that would sell in the States for hundreds of dollars for $25 – $35 US. Narda bought ‘The Northface’ walking shoes and I got waterproof pants with their ‘gore-tex’ insulation for like 900,000 dongs or $42 for the lot. The pants cost close to a hundred in shops in the West. ‘The North Face’ brand are made in Vietnam so I suppose we are helping the local economy. We did other stuff to help the local economy and fill our suitcases by buying other stuff that we could probably do without.

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The above picture shows how foggy it is here and this is with an extreme close-up.

I have heaps of photos in my Facebook and Google+ and they will be at

http://neuage.us/2012/vietnam next week once we are back in China. And videos too as I cannot edit them on this computer.

And that is it for today.

Christmas Day Hanoi

Monday, December 31st, 2012

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

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

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. Great to be away from Standards Based Testing which in various muddled forms our school is trying to initiate so we can be up there with American education (Students in Shanghai who recently took international exams for the first time outscored every other school system in the world. In the same test, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading.) Not sure why ISS – our umbrella organization is so driven to force us into a failed system. Nevertheless after many starts and way too many mindless meetings we got our unit plans in before leaving. I suppose to further the American education we will need to give our students a laptop, bullet-proof vest and schoolbag and a gun on the first day of school. I am sure there will be a rubric and standard for gun handling. Probably part of the physical education program. Our school is surrounded by a large fence and we have guards everywhere though I have not seen any with guns. Of course we are not in America so we are safe.

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

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

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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Dalian Harbour View Hotel

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Best Western Premier, Dalian Harbour View Hotel

 Sunday, November 11, 2012

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Youtube video at http://youtu.be/mfIh5gvLq9A and at http://neuage.us/BLOGS/25-Dalian-Harbour-View-Hotel.html

Friday morning 6 AM waking up saying to Narda maybe we should stay in Dalian for the weekend; get away from school and campus village – take a break, stay someplace nice. Ten minutes later she has booked into the (Best Western Premier) Dalian Harbour View Hotel; 2 Gangwan Street, Zhonshan District along the port and across from the Dalian Passenger Terminal.

It has been a good though as usual an over-the-top busy week. In my little world I have been teeing people up for my broadcast journalism students to interview. Next couple of weeks we are focusing on interviewing and I wanted to steer clear of them interviewing one another or teachers as is usually the model. Having done my Ph.D. thesis ‘Conversational Analysis of Chatroom “talk”’ – (http://neuage.org/All.htm) and having the bloody 550 page book (165,000 words) sitting in an obvious place in my room for students to say ”wow, you wrote this?” it seems only fitting that I continue with online communication. Person-to-person is always so messy – one feels like thumping the other person if they are not active listeners – well they are active listeners in that they interrupt at every chance to change the conversation to about themselves – oh wait, this is interviewing they are supposed to do that. Nevertheless, we are interviewing only via Skype. Last month we had an hour Skyping session with Canyon H.S. School in Bhopal, India as part of the ISA plan through the British Council School’s team “World Class” (and yes, I have an ever evolving webpage on these projects at http://edu.neuage.us/blogs/schools.html).

Back to this week, so I am gathering people to interview: Brandan – a Silicon Valley programmer with Expedia (his parents work at our school so that was an in, and I make fun of his parents to him which gives me an even more in factor), four of our ex-teachers; two in Brazil – they met at our little school, Dalian American International School, got married then pissed off to Brazil. My students are interviewing them Monday morning. Two others who met at our school last year, then got married now in Qatar – hopefully we have them Skyping with us next week; and a woman who is writing a choral piece for our school to perform, living in the State of Washington, will be interviewed by my student and we will be live-streaming rehearsals and the final performance. I have said to the woman we can do the live-streaming but being in China; last Tuesday we did not have electricity for the day so teaching computing was fun. I had them doing storyboarding. With the school in India we had times where the Internet went down but we got back on enough to have done enough work on our project which was about festivals in our two countries to complete our tasks.

I am trying to get my son in Melbourne to come on board with a Skype interview but he has not responded since I asked him last week. He works with asylum seekers (boat people) coming illegally into Australia and he records and performs hip hop acts so there are two interviews there. He spoke about hip hop in Australia to high school students earlier this year when he visited and I was/am hoping there would be a follow on to that.

As well as driving myself nuts with organizing too much stuff I have set up a 4th and 5th grade project for after school starting late November with N.H.Goel World School situated in the city of Raipur the capital city of Chhattisgarh and a Skype project to do with afterschool high school students, probably with a school in the States. The project I am doing with afterschool  4th and 5th graders I am doing with Narda so we will involving music into the mix and both the coordinator at the N. H. Goel World School and us are quite excited about this. The high school project I am doing with the high school music teacher so that will be interesting too as he wants to try and create a musical piece with two schools at once.

So regardless of how busy we were this past week; and I am also starting our laptop program tomorrow, Monday, and have been doing a lot of work putting that together plus of course teaching my classes, it was time to get out of town.

We took the school’s shopping bus into Dalian, stopped at Metro to get grazing food figuring we would sit in our room and watch the forecasted storm pass by, went to Ikea for lunch and took a taxi to the Best Western Premier Dalian Harbour View Hotel at 2 Gangwan Street in the Zhonshan District across from the Dalian Passenger Terminal and Dalian Port, where we found ourselves in a fairly good place. We booked a suite; small lounge and large bedroom. The view was great looking down at the incoming ferries. There were four that came in on ‘our watch’ including the one we took back from Yantai last month; http://neuage.us/BLOGS/21-ferry.htm.

As we so often do, we did not end up eating all the food we bought instead dragged it back home the following day. We went up to the revolving restaurant just to have a sticky beak, check out the food and view. The revolving restaurant only revolves between 6 and 8 pm so we said we would be back at six; by now it was only 3 pm and raining too hard outside to go exploring so we did what normal hard working people do on a day off, we went back to our room and took a nap for an hour. At six pm we were all smiley at the revolving restaurant with camera, lens, tripod, and video in hand. We thought to save money and I was ordering a vegetarian pizza and Narda was eyeing something dead to eat but the buffet was looking and smelling good and tired of our cheapskate ways (well the hotel was not cheap, being a five star, ‘Best Western’ chain hotel, which in our world means soft beds as most hotels in China one may as well as sleep on the floor the beds are so bad. I think they just have box springs and no mattress usually, maybe a throw-back on Chairman Mao who believed life was meant to be hard) we thought spending 135 Yuan ($21.46 US, $20.66 Australian, 1,480.87 Syrian Pound – OK that is just getting silly) was worth it for the view and the food was good. Sometimes we would eat at the all you can eat Chinese restaurant in Clifton Park, New York a few years ago and then it was only about $11 and actually I liked the food there better. (As there are 7 Chinese buffet places now in Clifton Park listed on Google I do not know which one we use to go to back when there was only one a few years ago; maybe there are more Chinese in upstate NY now than in Dalian – damn) We like the Chinese buffet in Australia and in the States better than the ones here. I think they put too much MSG in everything and I get heartburn. Nevertheless the view was good and in the hour that we stuffed ourselves we went all the way around; beer and juice was free making the revolving restaurant revolve all the more. My photos did not come out well because of the reflections on the window but we did get some from our room and I put it both on youtbue at http://youtu.be/mfIh5gvLq9A and on my webpage for this particular blog – http://neuage.us/BLOGS/25-Dalian-Harbour-View-Hotel.html

A view from our hotel.

We went for a walk, in the early morning rain;

All over China there are these homes for the workers, they are filled with bunk beds and from having peeked into many windows at constructions sites they look quite un-inviting as a place to live.

Narda loves tug boats – she had relatives in The Netherlands who were tug boat drivers and she says it is in her blood. When we lived in upstate New York we use to go to the tugboat regalia in Watervliet, New York. There would be lots of tugboats, most come up the Hudson River from NYC.

Another view from our window looking toward the ship building area.

The ferry on the lower right arrived in the morning from South Korea, a 16 hour trip – it looks quite rusty to me.

And today, Sunday, we checked out at noon, we had already called Jack to come and get us; Jack is our driver, but we call all the drivers Jack, and the one who collected us was not the real-Jack but we were happy to see him and called him Jack and even with stopping at Longshan for groceries on the way home we were home in one-hour.

Home as a tourist destination

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Home as a tourist destination

I was born this
This way
Everything else
I make up
As I go
(July 1995 Hackham, South Australia)

I do not really have a home. I have a tourist destination. I am a tourist at home. Places I refer to as home are not homes but stops on the way home. And like the people who visit the cities and towns I live in I too am just visiting where I am. Of course I am not really sure what home is. Even more removed from the equation is where home is. If home is where the heart is then I would be remiss to say my home is my heart because that would make me slutty. I would have to say that my heart was a tourist destination and at my age I don’t think that is going to happen. I purchase fridge magnets from where I live and my fridge side are covered with magnets from so many countries so many homes. My home is represented by fridge magnets. When I was going through my divorcee back in 1984 which left me with two children to raise my ex-witch of a thingy submitted a report to the Adelaide Family Court about me from her psychiatrist, a person who never interviewed or met me: “… I noticed in his writing that he talks about disintegration within his personality; and there is evidence of thought disorder such as loose associations and flights of ideas, which together with his general suspicious demeanor suggests psychotic thinking”. At the time I was writing children stories and continuing with poetry that I had been writing for decades and as a side note completing my PhD. Anyone who has done a PhD knows there is little sanity involved during or at the end of the thing which in my case took seven nasty years to do. The fact that my home is a tourist destination somehow syncs with my writing and back in 1984 with my ex-witch-thingy and her psychiatrist. The reason I have lived in your home or you may have lived in mine is because we are all tourists at the same destination. We were in Family Court more than sixty times between 1984 and 1998 – my lawyer said a record. Adelaide Family Court was a tourist destination and I had never planned to set up camp there – it was just a stop along the way.

The last time my home was the only place and not a place in between places was in 1964 or 1963. I was about 16 when I left my safe little place in the world, Clifton Park – Saratoga County in upstate New York. I was having some problems at Shenendehowa Central  School ; I think boredom was a deciding factor.  I told some people at a recent party that I still had my yearbooks from when I was in kindergarten and first they did not believe me then they all were just about on the floor from laughing so hard. Damn I thought everyone carried around their yearbooks. I only have them from 1954 (above) to 1964 when I left to find my fame and fortune.  In the picture above I am in the top row third from left when my name was Terrell Adsit. I have gone into how my name became Neuage in past blogs; something about getting an Australian pregnant and she not liking my name and me not hers and Randy Dandurand said ‘you two think you are such new age people…’ – Really! We had met at an astrological conference in Sydney, had a passing fling between Baltimore Maryland and California for a week and ending up in Hawaii the names got changed then we got divorced and I was a single parent in Australia for twenty years. But that is not the point of what I want to say this time.

So I got out of Clifton Park:  and yes that is my mother reading probably not her email and me siting in the trailer being silly like I was eating raw corn back in the late 1950s. This next  photo is of when I first tried to leave Clifton Park, New York. I was about six and I was headed out of town but got as far as the front of the house before getting stuck in a snow drift.The fact being that I was just a tourist in Clifton Park but at the time no one would believe me.

None of this is here now, they put in freeways, and a shopping centre and a Home Depot megastore where I attempted to grow up.

On with what I want to say, home as a tourist destination probably means that of going somewhere and living as a visitor, most likely because it is a passing through moment. I went in 1963 to Florida, to New Orleans, New York City, did the San Francisco stop at the end of the 1960s and lived in a commune across the bay, on to Oregon, to Hawaii – joining a religious cult for a decade – and living during that time in Kansas, Wyoming, New York, Baltimore, New Orleans and a few other places too. Then I ended up in Australia as a single parent with two boys and we moved ten times in ten years and settled down to live in two places for almost three years each. Then I got married successfully again, another Australian, and we tromped off to northern  New York and lived in three places in five years; two of them beautiful Victorians, which we still own in Round Lake NY. We then moved to New York City for five years and lived in only two places there, one of which we still own and even managed to live in South Australia sometimes and yes we own a house there too but we do not live anywhere that is our home still. When we moved to China we thought we were settled but now we have moved twice in two years; in the same building but in different apartments.

Maybe it is because I have Aquarius on my fourth house cusp with the ruler, Uranus conjunct Mars in Gemini in the 8th house – and of course I am married to a Gemini.  And Mars rules my 7th house, the house of marriage, so if I believed in astrology that would explain why I have not felt settled in a home since 1963 – not that I felt settled there either because I was adopted and brought to that location kicking and screaming when I was three years old. So it is fortunate that I do not believe in astrology or I would be quite confused.

I like living here in Campus Village in Northern China. It feels like home but most homes I have had have been tourists destinations (I am thinking of Maui, Honolulu, San Francisco, New York City, LA, New Orleans – my favorite, Victor Harbor South Australia – Victor really is a tourist destination because it is the end of the road – to go further one drives into the sea, unlike most towns and cities that one can drive through on the way to someplace else, Victor Harbor – where I raised my two sons for many years in several homes, is the end of the road. We, my good wife – the one I have now, and I have lived in Paris, Utrecht, The Netherlands, her place of birth, Ferrara Italy, Goa, India, San Pedro La Laguna on the Western shore of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala with my friend Dell, and Eugene Oregon and just so many places. I do not mean overnight places but places I, we, called home, though perhaps for only a week in some places. Mexico City we got settled in as well as in some places in Ecuador, though after only four days in Quito I had to get out of town because I had such a bad case of altitude sickness I just was not going to last in our home there so we got down to the shore and life was good. I thought we were settled in Istanbul but suddenly it was time to leave.

New York City was a fair effort of five years. That is a good example of home that others tromp through all the time. We did too. Every day I felt like I was a tourist except for paying mortgage and electricity bills and all those other home equations but still I was just passing through.

We are all just passing through until we get to where we are now. Home is where we are now. I am a tourist in my own home. I take the guided tour quite often. There are paintings my brother did back in the 1960s. He died of AIDS and I am so excited because his best mates are writing a book about him. There are belongings of my sons.  My son, I spent such a life time raising him, he was signed by the LA Dodgers, then committed suicide soon after turning 20; http://neuage.org/leigh.html. My fantastic still alive son, who even came to visit me here in Northern China is doing so well after all our moving around. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations. I tour my life – it is on the walls, all those places I have lived in; posters, gadgets, my 600 page book “Leaving Australia” that I made two copies of – one for my son in Australia and the other I read when I want to be a tourist in my own life.

And that is all that was on my mind at this time.

Yantai days 2 – 4

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012 Yantai, China

We woke with the notion that Yantai is a doable town and booked another night at the Golden Gulf Hotel , here in the Yantaishan Scenic Area; went to the Yantai Port Huanhai Lu Passenger Transport Station, which is called the Bohai Train Ferry and got our selves a soft-sleeper, first class which we are told is eight people in a room for the six hour trip back to Dalian on Friday. Not sure what eight people, bunk beds we are told, will be like to hang with when six of the people will be speaking in tongues or something that we will not understand. The ferry – see below – leaves at nine am and rocks up in Dalian at three pm. The headlines for today’s paper were that 37 died in a ferry accident yesterday in Hong Kong, so we are excited.  Of course we hope we get on the correct ferry as one of them goes to Korea, a 22 hour trip.


After another big buffet breakfast at the Golden Gulf Hotel we grabbed the # 17 goes along the Binhai Road that follows the shore,  see our youtube video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyTNEHI6XVg&feature=plcp   Our hotel is right on the gulf with this great view

The bus took an hour from when we got on until it came to a place of six other parked double decker buses like itself. We were fortunate to get a seat upstairs in the front, at least to the end, so I could get some video from a good spot. When we got to where it parked, which I think was a university we could not find anyone that could communicate in any of the languages that we spoke (Australian, American, British, and Dutch for Narda) so we stood in front of the buses for what seemed to us a very long time until suddenly a guy started an engine and we tried to be the first on as we had waited the longest but some kid beat us with her parents and we did not get the seat in front on the top level, but never the less we had a good seat until I wanted to get off to some overly lit building at the end of a pier. Narda wanted to keep going but I had not had my way for more than an hour so we went to the end of the pier and it turned out to be a large shell house full of shells. Shells are the biggest tourist selling thing here. Every shop sells shells and they are as tacky looking as a bunch of shells stuck together can be.

The next # 17 bus was so incredibly crowded as most transports devices in China are. We ended up standing in the middle of the downstairs of the bus and amazed as we could be the bus would stop at each stop and another group would squeeze on. In China people rarely get aggro about pushing and shoving – huge traffic jams or over crowded buses and trains – everyone just goes along with it.

We found two places with decent meals that we could eat; one I forgot to write down the name of and the other is behind our hotel in the Hutton area; Druid’s Irish Pub which is a bit pricey but the food is Western. They have special nights with Wednesday being two-for-one night which we did not do because all the mains were meaty and I only eat stuff that is not dead meat. I had a tasty cauliflower soup and vegetarian spring rolls which were very good and some mushroom dish. Narda had something with dead meat in it. Thursday night was half price pizza night which is always good as cheese is not used in Chinese cookery and we needed to clog up our arteries again.

Our local hood – another Hutton – most of these one story areas have been knocked down for new high rise buildings as China, not satisfied with their destruction during the glorious Mao Cultural Revolution days is hell bent on destroying every bit of culture that remains to put up huge buildings – most of which are empty – look on Google to see the many sites for China’s Ghost Cities.


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Taking the number six bus and exploring a winery…

Yantai Hill top

We toured some writer chick’s house, Lin Bingxiu – famous for writing in Chinese, and one photo that took my fancy was this of her as a child with her grandfather and his concubine.


Before going on the number 6 bus we went to the Changyu Wine Museum where Narda made new friends. Actually we sort of crashed a group’s drinking parky. We were wandering about the cellar of the winery and saw lots of people laughing and having a good time so Narda being Narda sat right in the middle of them and soon they were passing her glasses of wine and everyone was getting in a photo with her. At first they looked a bit upset but it was not long before they accepted this Western Wine Drinking Crasher.This shows in the youtube video clip.

 



Continuing with our random bus rides we took the number 6 from near our hotel and when we got quite hungry we got off found a place to eat had some pancake with veggies type of caper then Narda decided she wanted a haircut and that turned out well for a couple of dollars US and of course she had been wanted a foot massage for the past couple of days so we went into a place next to the haircutting place somewhere on the random number six bus ride – because buses in China are 1 yuan which is about 15 cents US we often hop on and hop off – we got a good hour of foot and neck massage. We even got cupping on our feet which is a first. I had a sore back for the next day so I think the young girl was not fully qualified to crack my back – ouch… but the foot massage was great and all for 45 yuan – a bit over seven dollars. The picture below is not a Chinese abortion on a male. It is preparing my feet for the cupping process. Needles to say I was concerned with this scantly dressed female going toward me with a flaming torch.

Narda’s feet with the cups –


Thursday, October 04, 2012

We did the number 43 bus today – taking it from the starting point which is next to our hotel. We read that there was a shopping area and we wanted to find something traditional. I wanted to find fridge magnets; I have been collecting them from each city we stay in over the past ten years and the side of our fridge is fully covered with about a hundred of them. I had no luck but we did have the bus driver drop us off at the Zhenhua Shopping Centre. It was just a regular lots of oversize stores with Western goods but on the side where we got off the bus down the first alley to the right we came across a five story more local shopping area but it was just mainly shoes.  There are a huge number of shoe stores in China but I suppose with more than one-billion people and two-billion feet, shoes are something that are needed. As there was nothing different than any other Chinese local shopping mall we snooped then left. However, I found some good ideas for shirts and took photos and will give them to our clothes maker back at the school. He has made me six vests as well as a couple of suit coats all for very good prices and well done.

Prices of clothes in China are quite high. I have no idea how the locals shop. The last few shirts I bought in the States on sale for like between five and ten dollars and the same ones here are 40 – 60 dollars.

As usual we had people stop and stare at us. This is something I never understand. We are just a couple of old-Western people, me with overgrown tangled hair and Narda looking like Narda. Maybe she is tall being five foot eleven and I am an average six foot two both of us a bit taller than others. Maybe we are the pink devils they heard about in their childhood. Whatever the case people stop and stare; sometimes laugh and sometimes asking to have a photo taken with us. Today I felt particularly self-conscious when I was standing in the middle of a department store and Narda had gone off to find the loo – I looked up and from every direction there were people looking at me, some laughing, and some just staring like I was an alien. Yantai is the most Chinese city we have been in and we saw one Westerner this week at our hotel, a large five (more like a Western 3.5 star) star hotel in a prime location. Prime Minister Bob Hawke has stayed here as well as many other leaders so we are not sure why people stop and stare. I reckon if anyone finds enough words to ask me in English – or Narda in Dutch, who we are I will say I am a famous singer from New York; Terrell from the Terrells, “will you still love me tomorrow?” Blimey, I get confused.

The below shot is typical of what happens; people stop and want to be in a photo with us. This one time we asked the people who were all taking photos of being with us to take a photo on our camera too. This was on the six-hour ferry back to Dalian – see the next blog – Dalian Ferry, also, a youtube ferry – “Yantai to Dalian Ferry”. We probably end up in someone’s Chinese equivalent to Facebook. This has happened almost in every place we have been. I am going to get a tee-shirt made that says “Terrell of the Terrells”. Really look at this photo; how incredibly boring and normal we look.


But what we did find was the best spot since we have been here and one of the better ones in china. If you go over the overpass (there is only one) through the main store or up the side street toward Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital 20 Yuhuangdingdong Road, Zhifu District keep going up the hill. A side note about this hospital – there have been, according to the website; http://en.minghui.org, “Numerous Kidney Transplants in Yuhuangding Hospital, Yantai City, Live Donors Found within Days”…  (Clearwisdom.net) After the CCP’s practice of organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners and cremating their bodies to destroy the evidence was exposed, the Falun Dafa Association and the Minghui/Clearwisdom website formed the “Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG)” on April 4, 2006 and began comprehensively collecting information and clues… showed that there were between one hundred and sixty and one hundred and seventy kidney transplant surgeries performed over a one-year period.”   This has been in the news since the mayor of Dalian’s wife was busted for killing off the Brit dude that was in the news lately and he is reported to be the one who set up prison camps to get these meditators and to use their bodies – many, which according to much on the Internet were used in those body exhibitions touring the world. But I am not political and this is not the aim of my blogs.

So when you get to the Chefoo district and past this glorious hospital going up Yuhuangdingdong Road – up the hill was an amazing little find. We were tired from walking so much and shopping – not that we bought anything – that we were looking for a place to sit down and have our ice coffee and we saw some trees at the top of the hill and headed for there which turned out to be an incredibly beautiful park, YuhuangdingPark, named after Yuhuang Temple, with lots of Buddhist re-built type of buildings. It is also behind Walmart if you end up in such a place.

According to the signs the Yuhuang Temple was first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368) and expanded and renovated in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The layout of the temple is quite formal, of course that is until Mao and his Culture Revolution knocked everything down. Thankfully they are rebuilding this place and it is well worth the visit. We took the number 43 bus because that bus starts at our hotel but you can take bus No. 7, 3, and 41 from other parts of Yantai.

Note in the sign below the destruction years – good on ya Mao and your 1966 stuff… “The movement paralyzed China politically and significantly affected the country economically and socially. The Revolution was launched in May 1966.”

I like the statues of the various years of animals – me being born in the year of the pig – and of course I am not going to eat meat. Narda is the horse. Sacha is the monkey. Not quite sure why people think praying to an animal is going to get them anything. Leaving fruit in front of statues always seems strange too – who eats it at the end? Then again all religious beliefs mystify me and why people believe in anything that does not exist but it is what humans do- good on them.



I was most interested in Passion Square and though I am not sure whether I found it I think I have philosophically and that is what counts.


Ferry from Yantai to Dalian

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

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.

morning walks

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Morning walks before school are what creates our day in many ways. We have been doing morning walks before school for years; ever since living and working in New York City. We tried to walk every morning from the World Trade Centre subway stop to Narda’s school in the west Village, St. Luke’s. I was a bit unemployed for a couple of years though it was more of a study period so I could get my teaching degree to supplement my PhD to work overseas. In NYC I could teach in private schools but it was time to be more international and what’s another degree when one is already in their 60’s? The NYC walk would take about half an hour and I would go on to the gym and workout for an hour and a half to keep the rust off the bones and keep the old body going for another couple of years. The walk along the Hudson was one of my favourite walks in the world, and we would walk whether it was hot or snowing and cold – always the best times.

We continued with our morning walks before school here in Jinshitan as soon as we got to Dalian American International School. Only a few times, when the weather was dreadfully cold, we didn’t walk. Our walks were always to the beach, Golden Pebble Beach, a 20 minute walk each way.  This year since we have been back, a month now, we have been riding bikes in the morning. We still spend about 45 minutes, but we get to see more, going further and exploring areas we normally did not get to when we walked.

Yesterday we decided not to bike but walk and instead of going on the road we went bush – well that is what they would say in Australia, away from the rapidly built up area across from us and the school. A couple of years ago this whole area was country but now it is being built up at a rapid rate. Our school is about five years old and teachers who have been here for a while said there were pigs roaming around and living here seemed quite out in the middle of nowhere.

We have drivers here that take us to the light rail, into town or wherever we need to go. Jack, our main driver – we call all the drivers Jack, because they all are his mates; when we need to go somewhere, whether to the airport or shopping, we call Jack and someone shows up within ten-minutes. When we get the real Jack we joke with him that he is the real Jack, though I doubt he understands anything we say. None of them speak English but they know where we want to go because we go to so few places; airport, light rail, Kaifaqu ,Dalian…  What I was going to say and got into a bit of an off spin was that Jack grew up here – really here. He lived where the school’s football/soccer oval now is.

Before I upload some photos from our walk I want to see if I get blocked for writing something. I have noticed that in Facebook, which we have to use a VPN for which should make us out to be in another country, that if I say some things not only does Facebook stop but I get knocked off line for a period of time and what I wrote does not show up. For example, I wrote about a certain group which is banned for their meditative ways and bang I was knocked off as soon as I put the name of the group in. I was telling how our local ex-mayor’s wife was being charged with the murder of a Brit and it was linked with how bodies were obtained for the shows that are so popular in the States showing bodies. They are prepared and done here in our local city of Kaifaqu, a burb of Dalian. The bodies are those of the practitioners of so and so group which I am not saying as I want to post this and not have it blocked. The other thing I said recently in Facebook was just mentioning how our school was closed due to an approaching typhoon – that the government suggested all schools in our province be closed because the storm was the largest in fifty-years, and I wrote; “who am I to go against the Chinese Government?” and those must have been some keywords that blocked me. The storm changed course enough to go over to the right and hit the Koreas and I had put that the  North one got primarily hit but when I put the words Korea and North together I was blocked again. So we are seemingly allowed to use a VPN though locals I have heard can get into strife using one because it is supposed to be tunneling through the Great Firewall of China which is illegal but we really are watched all the time. And of course there was the fight between Google and our host and I can only get onto my gmail when I am on my VPN – as service we pay for. A few people have had their VPN shut down – the provider, but so far ours, which I am not saying which one, is going well. I think the strife between Google and here is that they refused to not say stuff about the square in Beijing and what happened there.

It is the same with all the guards we have around the place where we live. Are they guarding us from some outside threat or are we being watched and kept track of? We go outside of our compound all the time and there are no threats but our housing and school is surrounded by a large fence with guards at the gates and even guards inside the gate in the lobby of our apartment building and at the entrance to our school.

Back to our morning walk and some photos:

the Dutch-Australian wife in her element - holding freshly picked Sunflowers

the Dutch-Australian wife in her element – holding freshly picked Sunflowers

the strange looking ship in the background on the left is in the middle of the highway leading to the Golden Pebble Beach resort area. Directly in the back is the new million dollar houses that are suppose to look French – we don’t like them, and to the right is our home and school.

fog
outside our window

It is often this foggy outside our balcony; and is now as I write this and it has been like this all day – we hope it is not smog, but on a clear day we can see the sea and the mountains and the guard station at the entrance…

Our maids are so good, very friendly, a couple of them are trying to teach us some Chinese words, Narda is doing much better than me, but we are hopeless. Every morning they have a bit of a talking to. There is a person standing in front of them and they all say a few things back and forth in unison. We have no idea what they say. They line up by size , I got this photo on the way to the lift before our morning walk – this would be about 6 AM on the third floor. On the second floor the guards line up, by size too.

sweeping
sweeping

What I like most about this photo is the guy peeing in the background. A common site in China. Why go looking for a toilet when there is the whole out doors? They use these sort of hand made brooms to sweep the roads in all weather. In the winter they sweep the snow off the roads with them – not that we get much snow. Last winter we had two days each with about an inch of snow.

local dude

The locals are so friendly. This man was along our walk in the countryside.

It really is country where we live but in a few years it will all be built up so we enjoy bush walking whilst we can.

Dalian American International School
Dalian American International School

This was the first photo we saw of Dalian American International School on the Internet and we love walking past it in the morning and thinking back to not much more than a year ago when we were jumping up and down in our hotel room in Shanghai, after our interview, because we were offered a contract to teach at this school. We were so excited. That was January First 2011, we were returning to the States after Christmas break in Australia. We were living in NYC and Narda was at St Luke’s and I was wondering if anyone would hire someone approach 65 years old. By June 2011 all our belongings were on a ship headed to Dalian and by August 2011 we were teaching here – just a bit over a year ago. Now we feel like locals. And yes it is possible to have a good job and be 65.

What we did on the weekend

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

What we did on the weekend

Because the weekends disappear on us and we forget what we did I am going to track each weekend this year to see what we do with all that time. I will add to this for the next 40 weeks.

Date What we did

BOO

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Another chance
time to
re-event
me
you
them
past
not reflected
past
       not shadowed
past
someone else’s
NOW
                         no longer in the future
                                                   NOW
                         no longer in the past
                                                  NOW
                         what a time to re-create me

Who is it?
is this me?

Not me before
Not me future

just me
NOW

no expectations
no hopes
no dreams

   HERE I AM

newly conceived
newly created

fertile
pregnant
alive

Laughing in the noonday sun

Falling from the sky
landing to fly
into all that will be
when I open my eyes and exhale

synchronizing my senses
to possibilities yet to be imagined

Goodbye to all before

Did it ever even exist?

Another chance
to re-invent a new instance of me

BOO

arriving Dalian, China after six weeks away: New Orleans (home of my soul), the south, dying on a freeway in Mississippi or was that Alabama where a truck ran us off the road only to re-boot my life so I can write such stupid stuff as this? And a month in Australia – and back again but not really because back then is no longer now.  terrell neuage 5 August 2012  Golden Pebble Beach; Jinshitan