Archive | March 2016

I’m Out and about in the traffic

Mopeds. We have a few. 


And they come with their own gloves (like oven mits) and jackets. 


Got a pet? No worries. 


Got a load?


Pulling a suitcase?


In other forms of transport: The metro in Nanjing was amazingly cheap – about 40 Aus cents. Punctual and quick. But like everything in China, crowded. 

The very fast trains in China and Taiwan were likewise quick and punctual but luckily not crowded. There’s a lot of security/population control in China. To enter the train stations you have to show your passport and ticket, have your luggage x-rayed and go through an individual security screening that includes being patted down with a metal detecting wand. How easy to limit movement of people and to stop groups travelling!



Fancy deep fried duck heads?

No, neither did I. But I had this huge bowl of noodle soup for lunch.  The spoon was a ladle. The parsley gave it a nice freshness. 

Not exciting but free in the hotel’s executive lounge. Free bubbles anyone? Only one I had in China. And after the soup, we didn’t need a big dinner. 

Another big lunch. Fast food cafeteria  cold roast beef and cold tofu and vegetables. Not so nice but the cabbage and chicken wings were great. The rice noodles were so-so.  

Street food in Fuzhou’s Seven Lanes and Three Alleys area. Regional dishes. Very yummy. Little dumpling things. And noodles. All served in soup. Way too much. 

More regional food of Fuzhou. Brilliant sweet and sour pork. Asparagus in corn flour based sauce. Boring beef and noodles in broth. But the broth looked good boiling way. 


Japanese curry chain in Taipei. Had this in Tokyo last year. It hit the spot on a cold wet day in Taipei. I could go a bowl now. 

Actually, a decent cup of tea with some Vegemite on toast would be nice too. 


We’re gunna die. Again. 

“Follow me,” says the Chinese guy, as he strides across the pedestrian crossing. 

Look to the left. Look to the right. Cars coming both ways. Look up at Chinese guy. He’s not there. 

How’d he get across the road?!?

We’re left behind, nervously looking at the traffic coming from all directions. And I’m travelling with a Chinese companion. Except she’s been westernised after 10 years in Australia. 

Don’t think pedestrian crossings give you any authority to step out. I think they are just a decorative touch. 

Even with a green walk signal, cars feel they have the right to turn across pedestrians. No give way to pedestrians as you turn. As this photo stream shows. 

Add in bicycles and mopeds that make no noise but come every which way. Amazing there is no more human road kill. 

Ah! I found the key. Don’t look at the traffic. Don’t make eye contact. Walk at a steady pace. (And hope you’re seen. But not as you are knocked under a car, joining the other hundreds of thousands who die as Meecester helpfully googled for me in the last post.)

Alternatively, my tip is pick a local and walk with/behind them. But stick close. The cars and mopeds have a shepherd dog’s knack of separating people. 

Fuzhou – my sort of people

As you travel by fast train through the countryside, it looks like using the word countryside is wrong. 

But there is a distinctly different feel and different look to the cities. 

I’m now in Fuzhou. Great place. More relaxed. It’s not all about making money. Land – build on it. Building – knock it down and build bigger. Not Fuzhou’s way. 

Much more civic pride and civic responsibility. How can I judge as I only speak three words of Chinese and them not always accurately?

Cause there are parks. Spaces just for people to have fun. 

In this park, The Hot Spring’s Park (we never found the hot spring) there were people of all ages variously waltzing, playing Chinese chess, playing badminton, shuffling  jogging, walking, pushing prams, kicking a soccer ball, playing on playground equipment, roller blading, people watching, admiring the gardens. Tulips!?!


 They like tea. People who take time for tea are my sort of people. Calm. Noise free. 

And they have a tea ceremony. (Which I grew impatient with.)



And people take time over lunch, where they have tea. 


And they respect the past and keep it. The this tower. I was told it is over 2,000 years old. People are no longer allowed to walk up it. They wish to protect it. 


And they have a Old Town: Seven Lanes and Three Alleys. Old buildings retained and restored. Yes, they have been turned into commercial premises – movie cinema, restaurants, shops. But what would people want? Left empty? Derillect?  The pedestrian mall let’s you admire the buildings. And there are statues showing scenes from history and explanations in English. Well done, Fuzhou. Ignore TripAdvisor reviewers who say this is crass and rude area. People were polite and the area is interesting and relaxed. 


You know my policy: always look up. 


Look at these decorative street lights. Any city who likeschandeliers  for the street is all right in my books 

(Oh and they stocked shoes in my size. So I bought three. Only regret! I didn’t buy more.)

We’re gunna die

I was warned. 

Scary taxi rides in Korea are nothing compared to those in China. 

Horns are used instead of indicators. If only it was just the noise!

Dirty smelly cars. Both inside and out. Seemed the norm. 

Car doors held together with twine. Or some other part. The dash. The seat. 

Taxis without seat belts.retty standard. 

Taxi driver who argues on his mobile phone while changing gears in heavy traffic as he swerves between “lanes” in light rain. Not that rare. 

See, maybe there are so many Chinese they can afford to lose a few. But we Australians are relatively rare. 

Concierge calls over taxi for us. “We’re going to die,” I say to my companion. The car is struggling along the entrance, battered and dented, filthy, driven by a gangster. The concierge understands me and moves to wave the taxi on. Not wanting to appear a precious Western, I say it is OK and we get in. 

Nah, should have let this one pass. No seat belts. Car stinks. Inside held together by twine. The driver overcharges us and issues a receipt with nothing on it.   

Many of the taxi trips (taken because there is no metro) I travel with one eye closed. Gasping as we come within millimetres of a bus, a pedestrian, another car. 

Google doesn’t work on China. Anyone want to look up the death rate on China’s roads. I’m guessing it is massive. 

Ah heaven. A clean car. And seat belts. I offered that taxi driver a tip if he didn’t use his horn. I was so impressed that he didn’t use it when someone cut in. He said he doesn’t use the horn as it just adds to stress. He drove calmly. And not one beep. My companion, who as a Chinese-Australian doesn’t believe in tipping, was a bit surprised when I gave a large tip. Still cheaper than a taxi in Sydney. 

 With no seat belt what will happen I hit the bars? Any ideas?

In Fuzhou they have London black taxis. Strange, I know. My companion was hesitant as they are more expensive. But a clean car that you can step into. With seat belts. Worth it. 

Inside a London black taxi

On the upside, all taxis are really cheap. So I will still leave a lot to my family when I die. 
Edited to ad: just asked for a taxi. One with brakes and seat belts please. I like living. 

Never again. Well maybe

Remember how I was in raptures about Korea and Japan? I could see myself going back and exploring more. And taking Mr S to experience both places. The food. The friendliness of the people. The countryside. The buildings both modern and old. The parks. 

Well, before last night I wouldn’t care if I never saw China again. Not even seeing The Great Wall or The Forbidden Palace would tempt me back.  The awful pollution. Of all types. Air. Rubbish. Visual. Noise.   

One big building site, slums waiting to be demolished for high rise towers

 And oh! the traffic. And crowds. 

I had seen nothing that would warrant bringing Mr S back to the places I’ve seen. Except to see the shit mess. 

This is going to be a long vent/warning/whinge/critical description. But don’t worry. I finally found some positives and will write about them next post. Or the one after. If you don’t want any negativity in your life, come back in a couple of days. 

Let’s start with the obvious: air pollution. Dar commented in my last post that when she sees photos of air pollution, she immediately thinks China. Sad, isn’t it? 

Imagine knowing your air would never get better!

Imagine only seeing the blue sky a couple of times a year!

The air is thick with fine particles. And it started getting to me after a couple of days. Not only physically – sore throat, headache – but psychologically – anxious that I would get worse from no air and have increasing difficulty to breath. 


Yeap. That’s pollution

What does one hotel we stayed in do to compensate for the air pollution? Pump scent through the air conditioning. Imagine living in one big glade plug-in? I am sensitive to artificial scents. I woke with a rip roaring headache. And I left my bag of painkillers at home!!! Luckily my travelling companion helped out. 

What added to the head ache is the noise pollution. They all beep the horns to let other vehicles they are along side them. Constant, continuous, continual beeping. “For fuck’s sake, we can see you’re in the middle of two lanes. You don’t need to beep.” My poor companion, she never heard such rough language. 

And the shouting! On a 3 hour fast train trip we had multple people shouting on phones. “Mate, you don’t need a fucking phone. The other person can hear you. The whole fucking world can hear you.” Two conversations went for an hour each. Luckily for them the train comes with power points so they could shout without worrying about their phone running flat!!!

And others play their music, TV shows and phone games. No head phones! “Oh isn’t it great that she is sharing the sound from her TV game show! Maybe I should share some Aussie rock and I can sing along and entertain the carriage?” [Note to self: the $20 Aldi sound cancelling headphones I bought the day before I flew out are gold. Just don’t leave them in packed luggage of going on a Chinese train. Have them handy.]

And then every so often, on the train, in the street, in a taxi, you hear a hoking, a deep coughing. And you know what is coming next. Someone is about to spit out a goley. On train again: “Oh fuck. That man just spat into the bin and got it all on the flip lid.” Are you paying attention? Has all this whinging got it you?

Well I haven’t finished. Not even about the phlegm. We were in the front seat of the carriage and the bin was to the left of us. I sat and watched the phlegm slide down the flap that everyone had to push to put their rubbish in. Yes, there are grots everywhere but spitting is pretty standard here. My companion blames the air pollution. But they could spit in a tissue and throw the tissue away. 

It is hard to go to a happy place when theres so much noise. Staring out the window doesn’t help. The place is one big construction site. Not very old buildings, but obviously poorly built, being demolished and slums waiting to be demolished and towers going up everywhere. Let’s build a beautiful (or even an ugly but utilitarian) building. But not worry about the mess all around. (Of course all this demolition and building adds dust and air pollution and noise pollution,)

Which brings us to the next pollution: litter and rubbish dumping. Basically the outdoor things of beauty are small, overwhelmed by the rubbish, rubble, dumped building product (probably all contaminated with asbestos) etc


View from Shangri-la hotel. Rubble dumped along river

All this adds to the visual pollution, not helped by all the massive advertising and flashing lights.  

Three nights and I was ready for home. Felt I wouldn’t even last. Was prepared to find some oxygen tanks. 

Where am I?

Probably should be asking “Where have I been?” But that’s a post for another time. 

Look here and guess:

Too obscure? 

OK, hints: that’s the air quality you can see. Yes, it is shit. It’s not mist. Well maybe pollution mixed in with mist. 

There’s a lake. 

From my 34th floor, I can hear car horns beeping nonstop. 

I have yet to see the mountain where Sun Yat-Sen is buried. (I only arrived last night so can’t blame he pollution yet for not seeing a mountain.)

I bit of googling for you.