The Orchid Pavilion in Shaoxing

A Tourist in China

I made a quick decision in January 2008 to go to China, to teach English.  I recall it all now and shake my head at my sudden decision of the offer.  When I returned home after signing the documents I went online to research. I wanted to find out more about the place I was to live for the next year.

It was a bit overwhelming.  As I had not been planning a trip to China it was all new to me. I was very surprised to see that there was so much to see.  I was very impressed!

Depressing First Impressions

I arrived after a long cold winter and was most shocked to feel very sad and depressed by what we saw.  Trees had no leaves; Everyone was rugged up in dark clothes to keep warm, and there was little colour about.  I was rather shocked actually, especially as when we entered the airport looking for the folk that should have been waiting for us, it looked like a destruction site.  It was.  The new Pudong airport was about to open, and the old one was a mess – as we walked through it, we wondered what was going on!

Playing Tourist

It wasn’t long before we were exploring Shaoxing, and in the early days I went to a place called The Orchid Pavilion or Lan-Ting.  (I grew orchids at home, so was keen to see what orchid flowers were there!)

Lanting will forever hold great memories for me. There are two parts to the famous Lanting – the area where hundreds of students and families meet each weekend for barbeques, and the famous place that has a very long history, although I understand it has been recreated here, and may not be the original site of the story.  

Further Information

According to Planetware

“The Orchid Pavilion, set in impressive natural scenery with bamboo woods and winding streams, is situated 14km/9mi to the southwest of the city. A stele with an inscription by the Emperor Kangxi (reigned: 1662-1723) is housed in the pavilion. Outside the pavilion a picturesque little lake extends for some 30m/32yd. In the center of this lake is a stone tablet with two ideograms which, roughly translated, mean ”goose pond”. They are attributed to Wang Zizhi, who in the year 335 wrote the famous ”Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Poetry Collection”. The pavilion was therefore already in existence in the 4th C.”

I understand that in woods near a stream a number of poets gathered. They were sitting beside a stream and drinking wine.  The bowls of wine were floated in the little stream. When the bowl reached one of the poets or writers he was obliged to write something. This was all done writing Chinese characters or calligraphy, and is believed to be one of the oldest pieces of calligraphy in existence.

Another website Yoyo says:

“The garden nestles against green hills covered with luxuriant trees and dense bamboo groves. Around Lanting are murmuring crystal-clear streams . In the garden the five architectures-the Geese Pond Pavilion, the Wine -cup Floating Pavilion, the Lanting Tablet, the Imperial Stone Tablet Pavilion and the Right Wine-cup Floating Pavilion, the Lanting Tablet, the Imperial Stone Tablet Pavilion and the Right Wing Army General Temple are fine works of art

My Thoughts

As you can guess it is a very famous place. I did enjoy seeing the place where the poetry was written, with little cane seats around the meandering stream, and it is a wonderful experience to sit and imagine what it was like all those hundreds of years ago when the poetry was written.

Lanting - the Goose Pond

At Lanting – The Orchid Pavilion – The Goose Pond

I don’t recall seeing any orchids here.  Maybe, I will get to visit it one more time.

Have any readers visited Shaoxing or Lanting?

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Living by the Seaside

Seaside Living

I have always loved the sea!  It has been my joy living by the sea and have done so for much of my life.  I spent my childhood days a few short kilometres (or miles in those days) from the sea at Brighton in South Australia.  It was not far and I could catch the train from home or later ride my bicycle.

It was at Brighton in the sea that I learned to swim in was a government-sponsored program to teach us how to be safe in the water.  Brighton is in St Vincent’s Gulf.  It would have been easier to learn to swim in a pool, but there were few around in those days.  Most days the sea was calm, but some days we had to swim in water that was a little rough.  And we had to look out for sharks.  I do recall seeing the fins of several, but don’t recall if it was on swimming lesson days.  Someone would blow a whistle and we would all hasten out of the water.

I like to See the Sea

Most of my life we have lived close to the sea.  In New South Wales, we lived for some time in a house on the Esplanade.  The children were very little, and we just had to enjoy the scenery and ambience of seaside living.  We’d go down to the beach and paddle or play on the sand, but I don’t recall swimming there.

I feel that we have been lucky to enjoy seaside living.  And I can look out from my balcony where I am now living and see the sea and I drive along the esplanade often.

History of Bridges

The Hornibrook Highway Bridge – Photo taken by me on 21/09/2019

The Bridges over Bramble Bay

Back in the early ’80’s I travelled from the northern suburbs to Redcliffe to work.  I always picked up a co-worker along the way and we crossed on the first bridge the Hornibrook Highway Bridge, which was built in the 1930’s.   It closed in 1979, when the first Houghton Highway Bridge was built.  These days there are two bridges, one for northbound traffic and the other, the last one to be built, the Ted Smout Bridge, for southbound. Luckily, I cross here around twice a week and I always love the scenery.

This is what is left of the old bridge

The Remains of old bridge on the southern end

There’s good riding and walking pathways, and at low tide, you can walk out on the sand.  It is interesting to stand between the two bridges.  The left-hand one heads north, and the other is southbound.  I get my “fix” of the sea whenever I cross.

Photo taken at high tide by me.

In the Middle of the two bridges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Little More Bamboo

More Bamboo

As readers will know I have a real “penchant” for all things bamboo.  Today I found one of my favourite fashion stores has clothing made from bamboo.

I notice it when I am in the train or driving my car, and when I am out shopping I find all sorts of things made from this amazing plant.

Today I headed for Brisbane (not all that far from Deception Bay), looking to add to my summer wardrobe.  I had been into some large stores but didn’t find what I wanted, so thought I’d try one of my favourite places.  TS – or Taking Shape.  And it was my lucky day as there was a discount on all stock!  And they had new stocks of bamboo clothing.

More Black

Really I get sick of so many of the current fashions – where black is the dominant colour.  Oh, how I’d like to wear bright colours more, but finding what I want is a challenge sometimes.  However, I did manage to find two dresses which I liked made of bamboo..  One is a cotton one, yes, with black background, but a delightful array of bright coloured flowers – almost hiding the black.  And I found one to fit.

Then, the bamboo ones.  Some were in black so I ignored them.  And I soon found one – which you can see on this page. 

green bamboo shoots

About Bamboo Fabric

It was when I was living in China, surrounded by bamboo, that I learned about some of the amazing things that are made from it.  I learned too that there are variations in the manufacture, and some does not have a lot of the bamboo fibre in it.  I try to get more “naturally manufactured” bamboo fabric, but it can be a mine field.

TS or Taking Shape is introducing a greater range of bamboo products now, so I will be looking with enthusiasm and hoping that it is the more natural fabric.

The dress I bought today looks great on and feels amazing.  I might just wear it tomorrow.

Do you like to buy products made of bamboo?

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My Fair Lady

The Movie My Fair Lady

I do remember the movie My Fair Lady – it goes back to 1964 when this film first made it to the screen.  Was there much discussion about it in those days about the words of Henry Higgins?   Though I do think we all saw the funny side of the words that were uttered by Professor Higgins.

I wonder what would happen if it appeared in a new movie in 2019? No doubt some women will hear it for the first time.

Today (September 15th, 09) issue of U on Sunday features man stories about women – I think to publicise breast cancer and fundraising for the cause.

There was a small piece from Rory Gibson, “you’ve got male” on page 3 reporting on some research that women are less likely to be resuscitated by bystanders than men who need resuscitation.   He comments that it might be the #metoo movement which is “killing women”.  Men may be afraid to help, because of the risk of being accused of sexual harassment or similar.

Really?  If men never sexually harassed, abused, assaulted, or raped women in the first place, it probably wouldn’t be an issue.

Oh, well, I could go on, but not here, and not today.

I’ll go back to reading Invisible Women, my book of the moment with so much data about the discrimination of women.  I have no doubt it will be a conversation that will continue for a few more generations to come.  What do you think?

 

 

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Invisible Women – Stories of Bias

Invisible Women – The Book

I don’t know how I found it – just good luck when I saw information on the book Invisible Women. I think I was just wandering around in Google.  Being a bit of a feminist, when I saw the title I had to explore a little more, and I read quite a bit about author Caroline Criado-Perez.  Then I just had to “get” the book.  I am on a waiting list at the library – a lot of women found it before me!!  So I tried it on Audible. 

Audible was on my phone but I’d never used it.  So I thought I’d try it.  I am perhaps a third of the way through the book and am pleased that I listened to it, as there’s quite a lot of information about the bias against women.  Eventually, I will have the book from the library.  I will compare – the written word or audiobook?

Publication

The book was published earlier this year (2019) and it has taken only a short while to reach us here in Australia.  Caroline has done a lot of research on the bias against women, something that we women experience almost every day.  So much in the workforce, but so many other ways too.

I have watched some videos with Caroline.  Here is one that readers might find interesting.

Another article I found about the book is here.   I will be watching over the next few months to see/hear/read any stories on the book.  It doesn’t seem to have “hit” the media here yet.

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To Gympie

To Gympie

I am a member of the Older Women’s Network Qld and travelled to Gympie for an AGM and other festivities last week.  Gympie is roughly two hours north of Brisbane, and I had to collect one of the delegates from Brisbane Airport.  There was another to collect from Margate on the Redcliffe Peninsula. My experience with the group is limited, as the meetings the branch I joined, clash with another commitment.   I have a lot to learn. The event itself, including lunches and dinner, were held at Gunabal Homestead, just south of the city.

Historical house - photo by Di Hill

Gunabal Homestead

 

The Older Women’s Network has been around since 1985 and is made up of groups of women who are generally older 50 years of age, working to make life better for senior women.

I stayed two nights in The Muster Inn and was quite happy with the motel, though occasionally heard traffic noise. Wasn’t a big deal. Otherwise comfortable. I liked that there were mirrors on the wall in the bathroom, such that I didn’t need to lean over the hand basin to put my makeup on!!

What is there to see at Gympie?

It was very dry, but quite a few patches of green around the town.  The golf course was healthily green, and over the weekend there were quite a few folk playing.

I have been to Gympie on many occasions, and know that there is a lot to do.  My friends and I drove to Curra, north of Gympie, as one of our members lived there.  There are a lot of kangaroos around, and there is evidence that many have been on the lady’s lawn, but I only saw one, and it wasn’t there.

After being told that I would not see any kangaroos on the road, I came across a large male in the middle of the road.  Luckily he moved quickly after giving me a good look over.

I always suggest that travellers visit the Information Centre to get the latest information on places to visit.  They have great brochures and info.

The Homestead was great for our events, and the food was excellent too.

Have you stayed there?

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The Best of All

A Visit to Springbrook

What a day!  It really was The Best of All. We have lived in Queensland for around 47 years and I had never visited the Hinze Dam or Springbrook, despite it being only a short distance from the Gold Coast.  I had been staying at Southport for nearly two weeks, “looking after” my son’s unit, garden and on some days my two teenage grandchildren.

One day I decided to go for a drive to Springbrook.  I had a short window of four hours, as my grandson called to ask me to pick him up early.  He had not gone to school but had to work that evening.  It was the first day of his new job.

I headed to Nerang and up the Nerang-Springbrook Road.

The Dam

Along the way, which had thick bushland on both sides of the road, and acreage properties on either side of the road, there was a sign that pointed to the Hinze Dam.  So I turned and went to investigate.

A walkway to the Dam

To the Dam – taken by me

The History of the Hinze family on whose land the Dam was built.

Info along the walk.

There’s a cafe, a lookout and Information Centre near the dam wall, with a view out over the dam.

I walked around taking photos, before departing and heading back along the road to Springbrook.

First Lookout at Springbrook

Photo taken by me

The High Rise Buildings as seen from Springbrook

This was the first lookout that I found.  It was a very cloudy day, but the tall buildings of the Gold Coast were visible in the distance.  Again I was impressed, and after a walk and taking a few photos, it was back to the car and more.

Low on Fuel

I realised I was low on fuel, and that there was nowhere around Springwood to get more fuel.  I watched the gauge and kept my fingers crossed.  As it turns out, I made it safely back to Southport!!

The Best of All Lookout

My next stop was a lookout called “The Best of All Lookout”.  I had to walk through rainforest for quite a distance until I found a most extra ordinary view!  This is what I saw!

From the Best of All Lookout

The view from the Best of All

 

The walk through the rain forest was interesting.  I could hear rustling in the debris on the forest floor.  Birds?  Lizards? Snakes?  I still don’t know, but I did see some interesting birds including this one

I met a bird!

Photo taken by me

Walking in the Rain Forest

It was a great view, though smokey and then a rain cloud approached.

View from The Best of All Lookout

The Rain Cloud Approaches

 

POSTSCRIPT: As I write this bushfires are ranging through Queensland and New South Wales, with so much bushland tinder dry because of the drought.  I am just hoping that these amazing scenes and wonderful bush animals and birds remain safe.

 

 

 

 

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Living in a Box

Is it Your Wish to be Living in a Box?

Some 20 years ago, a friend of mine moved into “public housing”.  I thought it was like “living in a box”.  She was slightly disabled, 55 years of age, and alone.  When I visited her, I was shocked.  I had not visited this sort of housing before.  The building was some 20 years old, was dark and gloomy and very basic.  There was a small main bedroom – big enough for a queen-sized bed, but with little space surrounding it.

The kitchen was small and pokey, with room for a refrigerator that when in place prevented one accessing some of the cupboards.  A pokey loungeroom where her tiny dining table sat, blocking off the walkway.  The bathroom was basic plus it was also the laundry.  A short walk away was the clothesline – at least she could hang her washing in the open air, but as you can guess it was challenging with only the use of one arm!

I’ve heard many references over the years suggesting that older people were put in boxes, waiting for them to die.  Of course, the public purse did have to be careful managing the limited financial resources.   My friend still lives in this property – and sadly little or nothing has been done to improve it.  She is still living in this gloomy box, with no other options.

Is a Tiny House better?

Here we are in 2019 and smaller boxes are seen as “TINY HOUSES” and are considered suitable for housing.  I’ve lived in a van,  and I have visited builders of tiny houses and spent some time in some to see how I would feel living in one.  In those with the bed in the loft, I consider them unsafe/unsuitable for seniors.   They are very small and while one can sleep, eat and watch television I would feel quite closed in, and uncomfortable, but if there was community space nearby, it might be workable.

 

Tiny houses

Photo by Sylvie Tittel on Unsplash

What facilities do older people want in an apartment?

I am not going to explore that here – but I do have a sense that builders of community houses, houses for senior solo folk, think that the bare minimum is all that is needed.  One day I will explore this more.

Maybe readers can make suggestions.

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Who is to Blame for the Pollution?

The Words of Greta Thunberg

I was listening to the radio the other day, when there was a piece about the wonderful work of climate activist Greta Thunberg.  She said that it was the “older people” who were responsible for the problems with our climate.  We older people are to blame for the pollution.  I yelled at the radio that it was not the old generation.  I do not believe our generation is to blame for the pollution or the resultant climate change. It  was perhaps the generation after me.  The Words of Greta Thunberg on that day on the radio made me angry.

Life When I was a Child

I was born in Adelaide during the war.  There was no plastics in use in our homes at that time.  We had very little household rubbish.  Food scraps went into the compost heap in the garden, wooden and paper rubbish were burned in our back yard incinerator – usually a recycled 40 gallon drum.  Yes, it filled the air with polluting smoke, but our population was relatively small and it was not considered a major problem at the time.

Nappies were towelling squares that were washed in the home laundry.  Disposable nappies didn’t come into use until  1965.  I don’t recall using them for our two children.  They were an additional expense too – and of course we had a good supply of the towelling variety.

During the first 20 years of my life, I don’t recall using many plastic items.

Increasing Rubbish

Over the years domestic rubbish increased.  I remember when we had small bins of rubbish and the rubbish man would come into the back yards to collect the bin and carry it out to the truck on his shoulders.  Then bins got bigger, until we required two large plastic bins which are left on the kerb for their appropriate collection day, usually once a week for household rubbish, and fortnightly for “recyclables”, which apparently only small amounts are recycled.

These days there are rubbish collection points, so if you have excess that will not fit in the bins you can take it to “the tip”.

Where is Rubbish Thrown?

I think we have all learned that many folk have no consideration of the rubbish they no longer want.  Many seem to have trouble determining what is supposedly recyclable, so despite the good mission to separate the waste, much of it is not.  It might all just thrown in the bin.  Plus, there is an increasing attitude that it is ok to throw rubbish anywhere.  If it is thrown to the rubbish bin and misses, many do not bother to do anything about it.  It is common to see rubbish that is just thrown from the car window.  Our streets, beaches, highways and other spaces are scattered with rubbish.

Out on the Highways

As I drove around Australia,  I saw many stopping areas where there were bins for rubbish, but so much of the rubbish was NOT in the bin, but loose on the road and other areas.  In fact, one day I worked with some Lions members on a major highway in Western Australia, picking up the rubbish that clearly had been discarded from passing cars.  The amount was astounding. Why?  I can’t understand why people can’t dispose of it properly.

plastic bottles on top of body of water by Samuel Zeller

Plastic and other rubbish that is polluting our waterways.

Is it the Younger folk or the Older ones that are causing the Pollution now?

What would I say to Greta if we came face to face?  I would congratulate her on her amazing work.   Then I would try and explain to her that she should not blame the older generation for the overuse of plastics.   The younger ones tend to be the ones that would replace an item if it was not 100%.  Older people still try and repair things first.  Younger people are more inclined to randomly throw rubbish than older ones.  Our generation is very concerned about pollution and care of the environment.

We have all contributed to the terrible state of our planet, but I don’t accept this young lady’s words that it is the fault of the Older Generation!

What do you think?

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A Tenant’s Nightmare

Home Sweet Home

After several years of house sitting, and an unwanted health issue, I thought that I had best find a place to live and recover.  I want a “home sweet home”. Somewhere to live happily, for as long as I need it. After months of hunting, I eventually found a unit to rent, though I knew it would not be my forever home.   It was new, near the beach, had a pool and promised community activities.  As it turns out, it is not my favourite place and I look forward to moving out – if I can find other affordable housing. 

Disappointing Tenants

One of the attractions was the pool.  A small but wonderfully cooling place to swim in the hot weather, as the local beach is not a good swimming beach.  Then a group of tenants spent a lot of time there – swearing, drinking beer and wine and leaving their empties everywhere.  I had to step over their rubbish to get in the pool, so I stopped swimming.

There was a lot of trouble with some tenants, and a few were given their marching orders. Over six months things really started to deteriorate.  Cleaning around the property became random if at all and some tenants continued their bad behaviour.  Some would party all night, and the worst ones were given their “marching orders”.  Across the road from the units was a house where there was a lot of bad behaviour during the night, yelling and fighting, cars screaming, police coming, so much so that some nights I would barely get to sleep.  Crazy dogs often barked all night.  Several tenants I spoke to also found it difficult to cope with.

Unit for Sale

Then I learned that three units were on the market – and mine was one.  I had real estate agents and prospective tenants visiting.  And I was told I might have to move.  At the same time, some new health issues appeared.  I feel guilty asking my nearest family member, my daughter, to help me.  She works full time, plus has two busy sporting daughters to run from place to place.

Looking for a Forever Home

I am in the rental market because I don’t have the funds to buy.  I and others who are in this predicament find it just too hard to try and find something suitable.  If you are in the private rental market, it is expensive.  Getting public or community housing is most difficult.  What is the solution?  Do I go into the expensive private rental market and move frequently?  It is too expensive.  I am trying again to get into the public/community housing, but it is not easy.  That though is the only way that I am likely to find an affordable, likely forever home.

Do any readers have similar problems?  Any solution?

 

 

 

 

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