Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not hiding, working!

Got back to Sydney and did the usual, took a week to get over my PHD (post holiday depression!). A friend of mine and I both agree, the highs of the holiday are never the same for the folks at home... Coupled with my FIL's condition, the joy of our holiday is hard going at the moment...it takes a while to get back into the swing of everything once more and then a 21st on top of that.
We had a fabulous night at Emad's, a Lebanese restaurant in Sydney with family and friends. Plain good fun!
Now sort of/kind of trying to get everything done a little bit at a time each day with all the extra travel we are doing between sick beds and home. Bear with me once more for the next little while please.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Back in Beijing by ourselves was good, but we really missed both our son's company and his communication skills. We did manage to navigate our way on the underground, back to the silk/pearl markets for a final shopping fling.
Have been quiet...my FIL has gone into a hospice and will probably not return home. We are doing quite some running around and looking after my MIL at the moment. Yes, it's THAT sort of year

Friday, September 18, 2009

Inner Mongolia...still

We ate at a Chinese 'chain' for lunch (3pm mind you) and I admired our very young waitresses hair band: it was immediately taken off her head and presented to me! Our son has written to the restaurant group thanking her for her kindness...all employees have a staff number, a truly good idea. And the food we had was spectacular once more....wish we had chain food as good as this in my hometown. My China trip sounds like an adventure for foodaholics and I truly think it could be such a trip for serious foodies.
Big siesta and very late dinner finished our last full day in Inner Mongolia.
Before we flew out we went to an ancient temple and then an amazing modern arts museum/precinct. Hopefully the Chinese will not destroy all their history in the name of progress. Back to another amazingly modern airport: we were early for our flight and unlike anywhere else I have been, they readily changed our very cheap priced tickets for seats on the earlier flight!!!!!!
Very mixed feeling when we got back to Beijing and our son went back to TianJin and we caught our cab to the city for our last 2 days

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Inner Mongolia

There is something pleasing to say we ate Mongolian Hot Pot in (Inner)Mongolia! And it was sensational!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We arrived early afternoon, our hotel on the outer limits of downtown Hohhot. Our first (wrong) impression was that there was very little there. We were, however, the objects of amazing scrutiny. Being 'older' people travelling with our mid 20's son is an unusual family travelling dynamic, but the blatant stares were a little disconcerting initially. Our son explained that many Chinese from this part of the world would rarely have seen tourists from other countries, let alone a family such as ours. And the fact we were travelling independently too.
We went to the Grasslands the next day, about 150km from Hohhot but an eternity away from civilization and crowds. Discovered Yurtels, our word for the pre-fab rows of concrete yurts (with concrete floors and air conditioning units on the outside)...not the mental picture I had of the fold-up felted numbers I had seen in National Geographic as a kid. Not a cloud in the sky, we saw a 'show' of talented horse people and wrestling...interesting. The journey was outstanding, fantastic roads as we had experienced everywhere else in China.
That night a fabulous Inner Mongolian dinner where we were adopted by a group of Inner Mongolians who were just astounded we had travelled there and that our son was such a good Chinese speaker and good Chinese boy looking after his parents the way he did...another night of too much beer being bought for us as a tribute to our travels.
The next day, we travelled the other direction past coal mines and more working power stations than I ever thought possible! To the desert and sand dunes that just appear out of nowhere. Fantastic! The boys let loose and did a sand slide down a dune and then had to walk back up. We all went in a converted army car, "surfing" the dunes. No OH&S considerations here...old fashioned hold on by the skin of your teeth and keep your fingers crossed....the best part of the journey!
More next time

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Party and Tianjin

Ahh, another child successfully off our hands and into adulthood: great party/meal at Emad's Lebanese restaurant in Cleveland street, Surry Hills (NSW). Spectacular chocolate cake from Chockers in Vaucluse courtesy of long time fabulous cake maker Briar Toose. Spectacularly unwell on Saturday and part of Sunday...too old for long night sessions now I think.
Meanwhile, back in China, we caught a fast train to the 4th largest city in China, Tianjin, a port/industrial/university town south of Beijing. These fast trains go from 6am until 11pm, leaving every 10 minutes...yes, every 10 minutes! And the cost? About 10.00 Aussie dollars...the Chinese realize that they can only grow the road system so far and are really rapidly developing their public transport system. And the more public transport they build, the cheaper it becomes...perhaps a lesson for all of us.
We just hung around and had a really laid back time in Tianjin...out to dinner with a whole lot of student's, our son's professor/private tutor, his mother...another spectacular fun filled evening, so cheap (12 people, too much food, yes, lots of beer) around 40.00 Aussie dollars for absolutely everything. The Prof says our son Dirk is the best student he has ever had...where did that lazy high school kid disappear too?
Next....Inner Mongolia

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Saga of the Great Wall-Yin and Yang

Our son arranged our tour of the Great Wall...we went via a jade shop and then to the wall...I did a little of it, enough to say I had been there and the boys climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed...you get the drift! Absolutely amazing and beautiful and admiration for the sheer physical feat of building it. Oh, all those toned legs from all those stairs!
Back to lunch at another jade shop...we told our guide/driver that we had not agreed to any shopping stops and had in fact already done 2.
Heated words,then we said that wherever he took us next, we would not go in and just get a taxi. He said he would drop us off then and there...AND HE DID!!!!!!!!!!!! On the road we were on, a major highway...but, I will say, at a bus stop. The 3 of us got out of the car in shock and amazement and just laughed. The people at the bus stop realized something untoward had just happened...our son of course had no issue...he reads and writes and speaks Mandarin fluently. However the young man he asked about which bus went to Beijing or the underground stunned us by paying our bus fare when we got on. He escorted us to our final train stop (which was only about 10 stops out of his way!!!!!!). What an amazing Yin and Yang experience!
Add to that, the best fun dinner that night at a very local place to our accommodation...no westerners venture into this restaurant as not one person spoke English or was there any part of the menu in anything other than Mandarin...stunning meal, lots of toasts to each other (beer is very cheap) and our entire meal cost the princely sum of about AUD $7.00.Will leave the missives for 2 days...off to Sydney to set up/prepare for our daughter's 21st dinner tonight

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reverence for the age-d

Our 2nd Beijing day was at the Summer Palace...being Aussies, we came in the 'other' way, climbed a squillion very tall and shallow steps (NOT designed for this short lady) and were greeted with a stunning panorama...worth all the whingeing on the stairs!
So many older Chinese were doing Tai Chi, others exercising in a very vigorous manner and, most impressively for me, part of a 'band' that was being conducted in an amazing building playng ansd singing traditional Chinese folk songs. All for the joy of it and keeping a fresh and invigorated brain as they age.
Back soon

Monday, September 7, 2009

More OIC

Finally left the south...known as one of China's cauldrons with very good reason, and flew to Beijing to meet up wth our son.
We stayed in traditional 'suburb' of Beijing in a hutong in a non-tourist area of town. Local food and shops, walking distance to Tian An Men square...what a place. Big in all senses of the word...wide majestic streets and busy and bustling even at midnight.
Off to the Forbidden City our first day in Beijing...we didn't realize that 4 million people (or so it seemed) would be there at the same time!!!!!!!!!! Crowds, heat and crowds and heat...not my favourite combo at the best of times. Went walking to escape the crush, seemed my legs were walked off up to my knees that day. But the food.....I am ruined for Chinese food outside China now.
More tomorrow

Saturday, September 5, 2009

O.I.C....Only in China

Back last Thursday from China: have spent the last couple of days with family and ordinary things such as buying food! And planning and preparing for our daughter's 21st birthday celebrations.
China...WHAT a place. Our Mandarin speaking (reading/writing too) son Dirk made a potentially challenging country so simple for us. I cannot believe his skills and patience, translating back and forth for us and our Chinese acquaintances. And just how much fun we had as an unlikely family troupe (age-d parents/independent travellers)
First stop, Just my hubby and I on a boat cruise down the Yiangtze river. We flew to Beijing then directly to Chongqing (pronounced Chong Ching) to see the 3 gorges and dam project...how inspiring! The river is immense, the rate and scope of building astonishing and if anyone has doubts about China becoming the economic juggernaut of the world, just go there! Modern roads everywhere! And the scenery...powerful combo plus the fabulous people we met on board. Going through 4 of the 5 lochs is astounding too.
Will continue the China Saga over the next few days as I don't want to clog the arteries of the blog with too much too soon!