Archive for October, 2011

iPhone 5

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

   It comes in a nice looking box. iPhone 5. 

There is even an information guide and all the places in the world to contact Apple. If there was a real iPhone 5 then this would be somewhat of a clone but since there is not it is just the China iPhone 5 idea thingy that looks like an iPhone though the software is a bit lacking. I paid 300 Yuan about $47 USD in the street stall or actually table in downtown Dalian. I saw it later for 288 Yuan but what is a couple of dollars amongst friends? It says 64 GB on the box but I think it is more like 64 mg as it says no more memory after two photos. I took one with the front and one with the back camera – both are crap. Now there does not seem to be enough memory to save a phone number. But not to worry as a phone it rings loudly and the time is right whereas my Google Android phone is tired and needs replacing. It does have TV which is quite fuzzy and foreign, I will try it in Australia in December. I do not think it is getting 3G or 4G or any G though I will wait until I get to school and ask one of the locals what all the Chinese writing is about. There surely is no App Store or iPod as it shows on the box.

To activate my real iPhone I have to wait until we get to Australia for winter break to unlock it as no one can do it here – they say it is too new. But I felt trendy for five minutes and that is the purpose of a clone or, well it is not a clone, I actually have the iPhone 5. Now if I could clone a younger me I could feel trendy for even longer. The iTerrell 5 available in downtown China (the software is not up to snuff; lacking memory, short circuits, aged…).

We had a great day, riding the light rail into Dalian with about ten others from school. We went to a fabrics & textiles market; about six floors of just too much material. It was much more organized than the one we saw at the beginning of October in Hanoi. That one was a bit of a mess though cheaper and actually more interesting. I bought some wool for a suit coat and some tricked-out Asian material for the lining and for the lining of another vest. I am getting into vests as I found one of our locals who works at school has a husband who makes clothing and I can get really trippy looking things made. I bought material in Hanoi a couple of weeks ago and those vests came out good now I am going for more. I may have to wait as not only are a lot of others getting things made but too many children are having Halloween customs made for next week. Narda got a lot of material for winter clothing and she has a new dress or skirt or whatever those things women wear is called from material she got in Hanoi. So between getting some new threads and an iPhone 5 that really does little more than rings loudly which is really all one needs in a phone it was a good day.

As always we were not the only ones headed into town. My problem was I really really needed a loo and it took a long time to get to a WC and as in everywhere in China people push and shove but I am bigger than them and I had to pee and I was a bit aggro so I pushed and used my arms more than I normally would have. What is so kool here is that I can have a go at saying things to people I would never say if I thought they knew English. In the States they would just shoot me – here they don’t have guns. Not even the police, the few that are visible. Then you see the heavily armed police in American cities and you wonder which system is really working. I know the foreign press really make China look bad, maybe it is – after all they block Facebook and Twitter and my 400 videos on Youtube and that is really quite evil but I think I see more happy people here than in the States. Especially young people, there seems to be a lot of mirth and carrying on amongst them.   Last weekend we took a day bike trip around our area and found a quiet fishing village.

    It was quite a contrast to all the construction for the million dollar French style homes going up across the street from us. And as teachers tend to do we noticed a bit of a spelling error – I tell you someone is not going to be getting an A anytime soon.    We may have found a place more suitable for us than Campus Village next to the Dalian American International School – why are we living where we work? It may be a bit drafty with the cool air starting to kick in but it looks cheap and we would have a nice sea view – out there in back of us we would be able to see China test its new aircraft carrier to; like prime time journalist. And it is really only a good boat paddle away over to North Korea. I want to go over there and have a bit of a sit-down conversation with them and get some education happening. 

And that is it for this week. Nothing more… just odd things like next Monday the electricity will be shut off for all of the Golden Pebble Beach area from eight AM until five PM. It will be interesting for me teaching my computer courses. Luckily it is the day I have my class in publication and we are working on morning announcements, something I started at the beginning of the school year; DAISlive, a video show we do. It is fun and the students love it. I am finding that even my EAL (English as an additional language – formally ESL, English as a second language) students who have English as a second or third language are embracing it. So far it is only played in the school but my idea is to someday have it as a WebTV broadcast. We don’t need electricity for it this Monday, just our video camera and the announcements and some stories and I have a backup battery for my computer so I can edit and have it ready to put live for the school the following
morning. We did not have electricity for a day a couple of weeks ago and my web design class made sketches and storyboards for their web pages. So all in all we don’t really need electricity. This is China, we learn to live with whatever we are presented with. Though now I am a bit annoyed that I cannot get onto Facebook or Twitter or Youtube even with a VPN; what is with that? But it looks as if my wordpress account (neuage.me) works and so does my account at blog.neuage.info and I think wordpress sends an announcement to my twitter and facebook accounts so no one can read it which is the nature of my life. I suppose having five-planets in Leo was too good of a thing; no one notices me.

Last night teachers got together and showed slides of places they have taught or lived the past few years. What an interesting group of people from Borneo to throughout the Middle East, Africa, South America, Europe and Asia teaching in international schools is really the top employment to have and we sort of wish we had started a couple of decades ago but we didn’t and though it is safe, except for the drivers on the road, here we still would like to have taught in some of the places other teachers have. I think any teacher who had taught in the States and had taught in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, or across Africa would never go back to teaching in the States I know we couldn’t or back to teaching in Australia either. We signed up for the teacher’s conference in Bangkok for next March this week – the start of spring break, so once again we will meet international teachers from around the area. Any one who is young (under 60 I think is young) teach in an international school and your life will be changed. We barely watch news from the States anymore – is anything of interest going on there, really?

Narda moved her blog from blog.narda.us as she was unable to update it to http://blog.travelpod.com/members/nbiemond

What happened to capitalism and what happened to communism?

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

At first we thought it would be a luxury hotel. Then someone said it was going to be a winery still others said a display home. Whatever was going up at such a rapid rate was looking quite interesting. It was going to be kind of French as there is a large development going on across the street called ‘Chateau de Bourdeux’. By the large scale developer Haichang Land Limited. They were over in Paris at a wine festival recently pushing our neck of the wood’s wines.

It was all a mystery until today when after two months of watching this thing being built it looked rather complete and we decided to have a look-see. The person at the front door of the mini-castle, built in a few months, was very friendly and invited us in. The fact he could not speak much English and our Chinese has yet to kick in did not matter. It also did not matter that we looked pretty scruffy. I had not shaved for a few days as it is Sunday and I slum it on the weekend and Narda was not dressed for a party either. We live in Campus Village across the street and have been watching the building from our window.

We really did not expect what we saw. It was like one of those USA Michaels arts and crafts retail chain store had dumped all their most tacky plastic stuff into one place for a showcase; Michaels on steroids. In the main area of the showplace thingy there was a pretend bar where we were served coffee. Wine bottles were everywhere as well as wine barrels. They do not sell or serve wine, it is just for looks. We asked to go on a tour of a display home and Peter (his Western name) Chinese people take on Western names because us simple people cannot pronounce their Chinese names. I know this is good at school, especially in my class where there are four people with Kim for a surname and Korean names I am unable to pronounce for their given names. The Chinese names are even more difficult to say, at least for me. In our office at school, Snow is the one that keeps us surviving in this environment and Sunshine works in the front office too.

So Peter shows us around the ten-million RMB house (about 1.2 million US). It is four-story and looks as if someone read a child’s picture book of France and threw in a bunch of made-in-China things, oh wait! This is China.

They are building 700 of these homes across the street from us. These are summer homes for the wealthy, mainly from Dalian. So far, according to Peter, no one has bought one because they are too expensive. But the idea is they will be lived in for four weeks a year as holiday homes. The rest of the time our neighbourhood will be empty except for us teachers.

We wanted at least a new restaurant or pub or some shops put in but Peter does not think that will happen.

What happened to capitalism and what happened to communism?

There is a video on youtube at http://youtu.be/dTioCA7Ct44

And that is where we live – in the back to the left of Narda on the third floor facing the castle for the rich Chinese and us school teachers get to live at Campus Village but we are happy and that is what matters.

Funny that I happened to be wearing my Tour De Francetee shirt today from when we were there last year in the real south of France. Those cranes to the right of me in the back are where they are building the 700 new homes as part of Chateau de Bourdeux. Go figure!! The blue roof in back of Narda is the school’s new swimming pool. In the hills to the left is Blueberry Farm and a great restaurant we all go to on Friday after school.

HaLong Bay and Hanoi and 40 years ago

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

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.
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/tneuageI 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.