Tag Archives: People’s Republic of China

Where’s Your Fire?

the-fire

In the furore about the vulgar, crude comments by Donald Trump in 2005 about sexual assault of women whenever he feels like it (and sexual assault is the correct name for his godawful conduct), comments which were made just after Trump married for the second time, having divorced his first wife after having an affair with his now new wife (and later dumping her for another trophy wife, Melania Trump, I have to ask – why are people so surprised?

This disgusting behaviour matches his record of misogyny and serial philandering let alone all the other dreadful, insulting comments he’s made about black people, Mexicans, Muslim people, prisoners of war, immigrants, veterans suffering from PTSD, a Gold Star family daring to criticise him, dithering over the use of nuclear weapons and so much more.

But let’s be honest – he’s not alone in his demeaning and disgusting attitude towards women. He’s the end result of Republican male office-bearers repeatedly behaving like complete shits towards women – legitimising rape; legitimising pregnancy through rape by refusing abortions; introducing or trying to introduce legislation to control women’s reproductive rights; treating women like mindless bimbos.

Trump is the spawn of the underlying racist undermining of the first black president, Barack Obama, since he was first elected to office. Republicans Federally and at State level have treated the president with a contempt which is unprecedented, fanning the flames of bigotry and racism which Trump is simply echoing. None of them stood up to Trump with his birthing crap, simply endorsed it by not saying anything. The Republicans have well and truly shot themselves in the foot – a bunch of selfish, Establishment-serving losers.

And so many of those Republican gutless cowards criticise Trump’s comments but don’t have the moral strength to withdraw their endorsement of him. Thank god some Republican leaders believe he’s crossed a bridge too far and refuse to align themselves with this sorry excuse of a human being.

But also I’ve been reading responses by women which brush aside his misogyny, make the argument that it was so long ago and can’t the media find anything else to say about him.

I do have to say that I find it unfuckingbelievable that any woman worth her salt would demean herself by still aligning with someone who isn’t a joke, he’s an absolutely monstrous,  excuse for a human being – a greedy, rapacious, sexist, vapid, cruel, horrible, stupid bully and thug.

I’m simply no longer staying quiet because, while I believe in the strength of the sisterhood, I’m going to call out women who sell themselves right down the drain when they back a woman-hating thug like Trump because they sell out the cause of all women when they choose to belittle themselves before such a disgusting woman-hating man.

Trumpettes, the rapaious right-wing harpy Ann Coulter and other women still slobbering over Trump:

  • Where the hell is your pride?
  • Where’s your self-esteem?
  • Where’s your self-respect?
  • Where did the wild you were born with go?
  • How did your wild get so hopelessly lost?
  • How did you get domesticated and so tamed that you’d vote for a woman-hating thug?
  • Where’s your inner strong-armed woman?
  • WHERE’S YOUR FIRE, FOR GOD’S SAKE?

 

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End of Empires

Uranus in Aries

Uranus in Aries

I sometimes feel a bit schizophrenic you know – on my other blog (http://thecrazycrone.org) I post digital art of elemental nature spirits, which I can see in photos of trees, flowers, scenery, waterfalls, etc. And on this blog I bang on about matters political. I think I ought to rename it: “Metaphysics Meets Marxism 101”!

As I was saying in another post, I often wonder why half my life was spent as a Marxist and the next half as a metaphysical crystal worker and whacko artist!  Perhaps it reflects the fact I’m a Libran Sun with Libra Rising which makes me able to see both sides of a situation.

Well, anyway, I find the Marxist part of my life very helpful because it’s made me curious and it’s helped me understand quite a bit of how capitalism works. I don’t buy the claptrap peddled by Western media, I like to hunt around the internet to look at what’s behind stories and what is really going on with the propaganda outlets (read: Establishment media) of Western governments.

But I also enjoy reading stuff in astrology about world events. For example, I was fascinated to read a book by the astrologer Liz Greene (The Outer Planets and Their Cycles) which records a lecture she gave where she mentioned the astrological situation surrounding the Soviet Union and predicted its collapse based on transits occurring in the national chart. This was a decade before the Soviet Union fell apart.

So now we’re looking at an astrological era where Uranus has been stirring things up with Aries and Pluto has been similarly doing a Trickster job with Capricorn. All sorts of upheavals have happened under the first duo – the Japanese earthquake happened just as Uranus was heading out of Pisces (which covers earthquakes) and into Aries which pretty much coincided with the tsunami. While these events where happening,Pluto in Capricorn has been heaving out all sorts of hidden information about governments, the Establishment, plutocrats, super-wealthy rip-off merchants, the banksters, oligarchies and huge corporations.

No wonder there’s uproar in so many nations around the world!

So, onwards and upwards, cupcakes!

“Make the US great again”.

“Make Britain great again”.

We’ve heard these words, haven’t we, with Trump running around squawking them in the US and those who voted for Brexit, leaving the European Union, in Britain?

Do you really, really think, though, that things can go back to empires past?

The reality is that there is no going back because “great” meant subjugating other nations to access their resources and cheap labour.  The US and Britain are “great” because they have grown rich by ripping off/interfering in/bombing nations as the West has been ascendant.

It’s hard to lose your status as a major power in the world but that’s what is happening – we are in a uniquely historical time of watching a major power going into decline, the US, and a former great power hankering for times gone past and trying to ride on American coattails. In the process they are trying to hinder the rise of China (by having a few bob on India) and undermine Russia – resources, resources, resources!

This is reflected in demands to make Britain and the US “great” again, when in reality the “great” days are over and we are witnessing great shifts in spheres of influence.

Precisely because of that, the US is even more dangerous as it flails around trying to hang on to its former glories.

So one of the very good reasons not to get side-tracked into the good boy/bad boy Hussein argument I mentioned in my last post about control of oil being the driving force behind the Iraq war is because in the background, precisely the same arguments are being used to start fomenting war with Russia and China.

Putin’s a monster and expansionist, so the media and Western leaders say, which is a bit rich after the chaos of the illegal war in Iraq. The Chinese are control freaks because they don’t have a multi-party system (what?  with the current parties in the US, Britain and Australia looking more like Tweedledum and Tweedledummer???) and are building bases in the South China seas. We are constantly told that these two nations are aggressive, expansionist and must be contained.

It’s not a popular thing to say, but China has always claimed sovereignty over Tibet. It was not a magically benign and spiritual country – it was feudal with Buddhism being used to enforce that feudalism – reincarnation was used to get people to accept their place in the order of things, with a grand time for the top dogs and misery for the serfs at the bottom of the heap. Am I a fan of everything China has done in Tibet?  No. But the US and Western nations use Tibet as a propaganda tool and I’m deeply cynical of their  motives. It’s also not likely that China will let go of Tibet when the US is waiting to step into the breach right on China’s doorstep.

Similarly, the reality of the Crimea is that it was part of Russia from 1783, when the Tsarist Empire annexed it a decade after defeating Ottoman forces in the Battle of Kozludzha, until 1954, it was handed over to the Ukraine by the  particularly stupid Russian President, Kruschev, without asking the population but hey, when he chooses to act in a non-democratic manner, that’s okay when it favours the West!

Of course, if you say this, you’re then accused of being an apologist for Russia and China. Well, no, actually. It’s simply that if we take off our rose-coloured glasses about how wonderful the West is, the reality looks a bit different.

If you have a quick squizz around, you’ll see that the US is beefing up its proxy states, like Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Ukraine, which are all muscling up to China and Russia, ignoring – in the case of Russia – a tacit agreement that the Ukraine would be neutral (and don’t forget the CIA was up to its necks in the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych leading to thanti-war movemente country now being run by fascist nationalists), increasing US troops in Europe and countries bordering Russia, holding manoeuvres in waters close to China, US ships entering the Black Sea (a very provocative move) and generally encircling China and its Russian neighbour.

A lot of this information has disappeared under the welter of media coverage of the political circuses in the UK and the US. But it is a festering sore. And so I’d like to suggest that when you see hysterical reports about the expansionist goals of Russia and China, you might like to consider whether they’re truthful or not.

Because, in the final analysis, it’s the US, with backing from other Western nations, expanding towards the Soviet Union and creeping up on China. Russia has certainly moved into the Crimea but it was always Russian territory. And the Chinese are bopping around in the South China seas to protect its flank from US attempts to step up aggression on its doorstep.

The war drums are beating, albeit it fairly quietly at the moment. But don’t be fooled. The decline of one global power and the rise of another hold the seeds of global conflict. The fight for peace continues!

 

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Fear/Courage/Creativity

StarStuff 1

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on creativity where she talks about fear, courage and their relationship to creativity.

It got me to thinking about fear and courage in my own life.

The most fearful – and the most courageous – step I think I’ve ever taken is when I quit the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) in 1996.  I had been a member for eighteen years and Vice-Chair for eight years.  I knew when I quit that I would lose the respect and friendship of people I valued. I knew people in the Party would consider I’d stepped onto the bourgeois path and been infected with bourgeois ideology, and I would be an outcast.

I also knew that I had a drinking problem, due to the stress of the pressures I was putting on  myself as well as trying to live up to expectations in the Party, and also knew that one person who was aware of this would use that to denigrate me and trash my name.

I still went ahead and quit.

I felt a huge surge of relief – that I’d finally had the courage to be me, and not the political activist straitjacket I’d forced myself into because it was the only way I could see to express my deeply held social justice beliefs.

I stepped right out of the comfort zone communism had occupied in my life but it took a lot of courage to take the path less travelled than stay on the path of least resistance. I’m proud of my decision and actions which led, eventually, to a far richer, creative and inspired life.

Of course, the next scariest thing is to admit that you were once a communist – a real party pooper. Some people may leave my life, I hope they don’t, but I need to be true to myself, not cower behind cold war poison. And what can I say?  I quit the party for a number of reasons: because I’m an individualist, not a team player; because I didn’t like the games people play in politics, even in the Communist Party; I’m an idealist; because I believe – from personal experience – in life after death; because I wasn’t a practical person and trying to pretend to be one was – literally – driving me to drink; and because basically I will not allow my ideas and thoughts to be dictated to by any organisation or political party.

In fact, it was the role of alcohol in my life which started opening doors to a spiritual life and a creative life for someone who had never seen herself as creative in the slightest.

I had to quit my union job in the mid-’80s due to repetitive strain injury and was flailing around a bit trying to decide what direction to take. I came across astrology quite by chance and was drawn to get a reading. I’ve mentioned it previously but the first comment from the astrologer was: “Please don’t get upset, but do you do drugs?”.  I was quite taken aback by this insight from a complete stranger, and said no, I did alcohol!

It sparked an interest in astrology and metaphysical beliefs which, I think, had been quietly brewing and, finally, in 1996 burst through the mental and very logical blocks I’d put up to anything but scientific thinking. In February that year I did a mandala workshop where suddenly my artistic skills emerged, I saw myself as a creative, artistic being and I realised my artistic forte is symbols rather than real life images. Then I connected with the Tarot and crystals.

You would say it was 360 deg. turnaround in my life. But in many senses it wasn’t. I was always interested in people, individuals rather than mass movements. I loved listening to people’s stories and experiences. In art, Tarot and crystals I was able to expand that interest into service through mandala art – by creating healing art for people and teaching mandala art to people, through advising people with Tarot readings, and teaching people how to tune into crystals and work with their healing energies.

I am quite sure that many would expect me to denounce the Communist party and beat my chest in attrition at my life as a commo. But sorry, that’s no going to happen. I learned a lot of skills and developed self-confidence. I met terrific (and yes, less than terrific people) in the Party for whom I have utmost respect. They see a life of service through political activism which is entirely right for them because each of us, as I’ve come to realise over the years, is an individual with personal beliefs unique to each person. It was I who changed direction, who understood – finally – that I am too anarchist, individual and eccentric to fit into an organisation with a structured framework, a scientific approach to society, and a belief that the minority is bound by the majority view.

I don’t see myself as a Pied Piper for the world and it’s a huge relief to dump this self-imposed responsibility. I believe in magic, happenstance, synchronicity and a mystical life. I am more often than not off with the fairies although my husband kindly catches my feet as I waft away and brings me back down to earth. I’m happy now to occupy my niche which is to create art and writing which, I hope, helps lift people’s spirits, inspires their creativity and makes the world a better place in some small way.

I still believe in social justice, in equality of all people, in redistribution of wealth to ensure that billionaire corporations don’t behave with complete immorality in gorging on wealth why they screw good, honest working people into the ground. I do my bit with support for social action groups, donating to activist organisations but knowing that they are the practical people and I’m not. Such a relief!

Returning to astrology: it not only tripped my inner lights, it also offered to me an insight into how we, as creative human beings, live on earth.  In Australia, I came across the Aboriginal concept of songlines.  For European people, this idea is quite puzzling, out of our comfort zone but nevertheless it resonates for me in a quite different way.

Aboriginal people can track Country through songlines – relating earth maps, if you like, through the form of song.  I once watched an elderly Aboriginal artist, in the series “art & soul” by Hetti Perkins, an art curator, writer and activist, look at a painting by another artist and start singing the songlines of the art.  It was quite extraordinary and, of course, quite outside the norms of Western culture.

But it struck me, watching this programme and reading about songlines, that we human beings have astral songlines – soul songlines, if you wish.  We incarnate here on earth, but resonate with the starstuff of the Universe and, by understanding our individual make-up, our heritage, our DNA, we can get a good idea of what our heart and soul yearns for in this life on earth of ours.

One thing I’ve realised is that, by learning to understand my own natal chart, my calling is to explain my beliefs to people through my own personal experiences and to show how you can track your own soul songlines. So in the next few posts I’m going to explain how astrology works, in fairly simple terms, through the main aspects of my own astrological chart and that of my husband, and how that’s worked out in my life until now.

 

Steve JobsBlessed are the nutters

Chinese Whispers – Beijing (47)

We didn’t stay long in Guangzhou before flying to Beijing. In those days the domestic planes were flown by air force pilots so we shot along the runway at an amazing speed and walloped up into the sky so fast we all thought we were heading off to the moon. Similarly our landing at Beijing Airport was just as speedy but we did arrive safely, much to our relief after this white-knuckle flight.

Beijing Hotel

Beijing Hotel

We stayed in the Peking Hotel, a very posh place, where we had the delight of watching Senator Ted Kennedy strutting around with his entourage – nothing like a US Senator expecting his due from the minions around him!  The hotel was on the main boulevard and was centrally heated, a fact we really appreciated as it was bitterly cold in Beijing and we’d flown out of Australia in mid-summer.

The Beijing Hotel was also handy for shopping in the many little outlets we found in the old centres of the capital city.  I think we were lucky as I’ve read that many of these have now been bulldozed and replaced with modern buildings, so we had a chance to look at old China before the new appeared.

I do feel nostalgic for the rather mysterious places we saw except that the people there were obviously living in poverty with very basic living structures. It’s easy for us in the West to be romantic and regret the loss of historic housing – except we didn’t live in them with their overcrowding, poverty, lack of sanitation and dirt alleyways.

We were there in winter, and Beijing looked grey, foggy and rather austere, but incredibly busy.  Tienanmen square was huge with sightseers from the provinces, but it was such a big space the people on it still looked quite sparse. But all around you could see the roads absolutely full of bicycles and very few vehicles. Cars in those days were mainly for official use, the traffic was utterly chaotic but somehow cyclists and drivers managed to mesh quite well together.

The Chairman Mao Mausoleum hadn’t been open long when we were in Beijing.  Mao Zedong had died in 1976 and, although he wanted to be cremated, a decision was taken to build the Mausoleum in the middle of Tienanmen Square, with it being finished in early 1977.

I looked up the history of the Mausoleum on Wikipedia and was fascinated to find that it was a collective effort from around China:

“People throughout China were involved in the design and construction of the mausoleum, with 700,000 people from different provinces, autonomous regions, and nationalities doing symbolic voluntary labour.[ Materials from all over China were used throughout the building: granite from Sichuan province, porcelain plates from Guangdung province, pine trees from Yan’an in Shaanxi province, saw-wort seeds from the Tian Shan mountains in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, earth from quake-stricken Tangshan,  colored pebbles from Nanjing, milky quartz from the Kunlun Mountains, pine logs from Jiangxi province, and rock samples from Mount Everest. Water and sand from the Taiwan Straits were also used to symbolically emphasize the People’s Republic of China’s claims over Taiwan”.

Mausoleum of Mao Zedong

Mausoleum of Mao Zedong

We were very lucky to be allowed to join the queue of those paying their respects to the embalmed figure of someone so respected and revered in China.  There were long queues, people waited quietly and patiently, and it was quite awesome to finally enter the Mausoleum and see the transparent, crystal coffin with Mao Zedong’s embalmed figure inside.  The Chinese people passed by the tomb with great respect and with many in tears as they paid their homage to a man who had helped establish the People Republic of China in 1949.

In the mornings you’d look out from the windows of the hotel onto cold, grey scenery enlivened by so many people practising  Tai Chi on the streets.  It was fascinating to see the slow, deliberate movements being performed by so many, and interesting that this was a very popular keep-fit exercise carried over from olden times.  We also saw many practising Tai Chi in the mornings when we were staying in Shanghai.

We had the opportunity of visiting a farm just outside Beijing and it was a reminder of the feudal past of this huge nation.  There were only dirt roads, very small houses, roofs covered with sweetcorn cobs drying out in the winter air, lots of geese, chickens and animals such as pigs. People were obviously poor as nation-building had really only begun in 1949 after the ravages of the war and Japanese occupation, plus the military action to oust the US-backed Chiang Kai-shek forces from the mainland. But wherever we went we were greeted with such warmth and friendship that my memories of my 1978 China visit remain a lovely memory for me. I might also mention the honesty – a couple of us left things behind in our hotels, but we’d find them turning up eventually wherever we’d moved to, having been forwarded from the previous hotel we’d stayed in.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

We also visited the Forbidden City, a place of quite stunning beauty and art treasures.  It’s hard to describe the splendour in which the old feudal leaders had lived – the Emperors with their huge wealth, courtiers, living in isolation from the peasants who weren’t allowed into this huge complex – hence the name “Forbidden City”. We saw a huge marble staircase which some poor sods had dragged hundreds of kilometres for it to be installed in what is the biggest palace complex in the world. I could go on and on about this place, because it’s absolutely staggering in its size, history and artistic wealth.  I’ll just provide a link to a longer description in Wikipedia Wikipedia – Beijing’s Forbidden City.

We were given an extended history of the Forbidden City by one of the historians responsible for the complex in one of the very ornate rooms. As we were given details of how the complex had come into being, the creation of its treasures and structural wealth, we were given the ubiquitous jasmine tea to drink while we listened. We clattered away with the cups and saucers, nonchalantly filling our cups from the very graceful teapots which were topped up continuously by helpers – that is, until the historian casually mentioned that the tea service we were banging around so unceremoniously was around three hundred years old. There was instant silence and we all froze, suddenly holding the cups with both hands, putting them very carefully on the saucers, and then giving away the tea-drinking in seconds!

great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

I almost forgot our visit to the Great Wall of China – absolutely fantastic to walk along this historic edifice, to look at the length of the wall extending far into the distance and know that we had just a very small glimpse of this amazing construction. It was also a bit humiliating – you don’t realise how steep the wall is until you start climbing up the slope, so there we were struggling along, only to be overtaken with great ease by obviously older men in the uniform of the People’s Liberation Army cruising past us, along with other older Chinese men and women who left us in their wake! And the ache in the back of my legs the next day was excruciating as we’d been leaning at such an angle to walk up the wall!!!

From Beijing we flew to Dalian, a fishing town, which I really don’t remember much about. I do know it was perishing cold but again the hospitality was extraordinary, as it was wherever we went.  People seemed delighted we were offering the hand of friendship and they were only too willing to return that friendship. I did have lots of photos but got rid of most of my whole collection – family, holidays, etc., –  after we’d done some travelling, lugged big albums around with us on our various moves, and because I got fed up when my family back in the UK indicated they didn’t want to meet me when I went back for a holiday in 1994.

I will also add that the Chinese people have a wonderful, earthy sense of humour.  We were prepared to be very serious and respectful as, really, when we visited China it was only just opening to the world and no-one  knew much about it. But the Chinese we met loved jokes, would roar with laughter when we told them jokes and were endlessly amused by our gallivanting around the various places we visited.

We flew back to Beijing (again with flights resembling fighter jet landings and takeoffs!), and after a short stay, set off for Shanghai. It may be a fascinating city but I can’t say much about the place, because I got bronchitis quite badly so ended up in my hotel bed for most of our stay. I was treated by local doctors who provided me with antibiotics but also very interesting Chinese medicines, lots of packets of various herbs in tiny pillules which I had to swallow by the dozen.  It was very effective as I was up and about pretty quickly, in time for us to set out to Shandong province and visit an oil field where we met a women’s brigade.

In my next post I’ll cover the ‘burbs, so to speak: Shandong, Changsha in Hunan Province, and finally Guangzhou again.

Chinese Whispers – China in 1978 (46)

All You Need is Love

Enough of the childhood clear-out and back to my travels!

I saw a photo today of racks of sweet corn cobs drying in the air, and it took me straight back to the first time I and my husband visited the People’s Republic of China, aka China from now on.

In 1978 my husband and I had the opportunity to tour China at a really low price (as it was early days in the tourist industry) for three weeks.  We stayed with friends in Sydney, saw the start of the Sydney-Hobart Boat Race on New Year’s Day, then flew to Hong Kong , where we stayed overnight.

We were one of the first groups to visit China when it started opening up and it was less than thirty years since the PRC was established in 1949. We  did a bit of the tourist stuff in Hong Kong with all its glitz, glamour and kitsch. The next day we caught a train to the border, got out and walked across the border. Suddenly we were faced with rather stern-faced Chinese soldiers in uniform and you realised you were in a completely different world. We climbed on to another train which took us to what was then Canton and is now Guangzhou.

To say we – and all the others on our tour – were excited and nervous would be an understatement. President Nixon had visited the PRC in February 1972 and Australian Prime Minister Whitlam had normalised relations with China when he was elected in November 1972.  But China was still a bit mysterious, not very well  known, and really quite exciting since no-one knew what to expect.

We got settled in our hotel rooms in Gangzhou (which were lovely and comfortable, in case you’re wondering what accommodation was like in those days), and found waiting for us flasks of jasmine tea, something which greeted us in every hotel we stayed in and every function we attended.  We then met our tour guides in the evening. And all our preconceptions about stuffy Chinese officials went right out the window. We had four guides – the head honcho, his deputy, a young woman obviously being trained as an interpreter and guide, and a fourth man whose interpreting abilities were brilliant. As I’ve done simultaneous and consecutive translating at university when I studied French and German I could see that this interpreter had an intuitive gift to translate Chinese into everyday English, not simply translate the words which results in rather wooden conversation.  We also thought that, as there’d been a period of turmoil in China just before we went on our tour, this guy was being rehabilitated from past difficulties under the previous regime, known as the Gang of Four.

Our translators/guides entered a meeting room with a trolley of drinks and hors-d’ouevres and proceeded to talk to us, crack jokes,  and dish out the booze and tucker. One of the first things we tried was called Mao Tai, a spirit which tasted and smelled like rocket fuel and had to be sculled down to avoid the stench of the drink.  Our translators quickly put us at ease, were great, convivial hosts, and much to our surprise, created a really pleasant atmosphere. They also looked on with slight smiles and benign gazes as one of our number, who’d downed four Mao Tai shots in a row and who was very voluble, suddenly went silent and keeled over on his side, skittled by the rocket fuel!

It’s such a long time since I visited China in 1977 that I can’t remember all the details. We were on the go from 9 in the morning until 10 at night and by the end of the tour we were completely knackered as each day became a blur. The Chinese seemed determined to stuff as much as possible into our visit, which was wonderful as we saw and experienced so much, but it was quite exhausting by the end.

We visited Peking (now Beijing), Shanghai, Shandong Province, Changsha, Dalian and finally returned to Canton (now Kwangchou).  We saw schools, factories, potteries, artistic centres, villages, communes during the day, visited oil drilling sites, and in the evenings we watched movies or other cultural events.  The one thing I really remember is the way the children were treasured and cared for. Although adults had pretty functional, dreary clothing, the kids were dressed in bright colours, padded clothing, looked like little dolls in their bubble-like parka jackets and were so delighted to greet and entertain us when visited their schools.

At communes we were taken around agricultural and engineering production centres and made so very welcome.  People took great pride in their achievements and opened their homes and centres for us.  I do remember visiting a private house and being amazed at the bright colours of the interior – as if the functional dress most people wore was balanced out in the privacy of the home by bright red, orange, gold, turquoise, blue and green bed covers, wall hangings and so on.  I also remember plonking down on a bed (all the places we visited were very compact) and feeling like I’d jarred my spine from top to bottom. There was only a mattress stuffed with straw which was incredibly hard, a far cry from the interior sprung mattresses we were used to at home in Australia!

One of the noticeable features of that early tour was how people worked together collectively as labour was plentiful and cheap. We were in a small coach in one area where a whole heap of people were pushing up a telegraph pole. It was obvious that they’d never seen foreigners before as they stopped, looked at us, dropped the telegraph pole, and ran to the road to smile and wave cheerfully at us. We felt like kings until further down the road where we saw people in the approaching village scattering from a truck in front of us. We found out soon enough why they dived for cover – it was a truck collecting sewage (night soil) which had sprung a leak gifting us and the village with a most appalling stench.

In the following posts, I thought I’d break down our visit into Beijing, and then the provinces we visited, as well as one about food in China (yummy mainly but challenging on the odd occasion!).

 

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