Friday, 25 September 2009

Holed up with a very sore foot.

Yes well that says it all really! I have a very nasty and painful right foot which does not seem to be getting any better despite advice from doctors, friends, relatives and my Mum! So I am trying to rest it as much as possible - everyone said to do that!

This means I have a lot of time on my backside in a chair so I have started writing for the internet - have a look at my articles and photographs at

I'd love it if you left comments on the articles and while you were there click through to a few of the ads on the page if they interest you.........that way I get paid for my work!

New post on my art page

Please visit and have a look at the blog I have started for my art. I love to receive comments so if you can master leaving one (I know it may not be easy for some) then please leave a comment about the pieces or some guidance for me to improve.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

"How expat are you really"???

Today I went walking with a lovely group of (mostly) women in Nanjing. We wandered the streets close to the city and discovered lots of really authentic Chinese communities where people have obviously been living for many years. There was a fabulous market in a back street where there were absolutely mounds of wonderful fresh produce and also some live animals (including snakes) for purchase, presumably for consumption. We also visited a Buddhist temple which had an 'antiques market'. The woman who led the walk was patient with the slower people and we really just ambled along mingling and talking and generally enjoying ourselves with our cameras at the ready. How lovely!

During the walk I was talking to one lady from Europe and I would like to recount our conversation because it has made me think about the question in the topic - "how expat are you really?" The conversation went something like this:
1. Hi, are you new here in Nanjing?
2. Yes I am. I have only been here for a few weeks
1. Welcome, I am sure you will love it it is an interesting place.
2. Thank you. I am already enjoying it and starting to find my way around.
1. Which compound do you live in?
2. I live at Muxuyuan - it is a bit out of town on the eastern side of the wall
1. So who else lives in your compound?
2. I don't know any of the people yet, except our immediate neighbours. It is hard when we don't speak Chinese yet.
1. Oh but who are the other expats living there?
2. None. I haven't seen any other western people in our compound or in our community. It's nice really - I feel like a bit of a novelty, though I could sometimes do without the attention!
1. Yes but you do have a driver that can take you around
2. No I don't have a driver
1. Oh then you use the cabs
2. No it is a bit expensive when you live out of the main city. So I take the bus
1. OMG - that is so unusual. You are so brave! I have been here for 3 years and I have never taken the bus.

This conversation has really left me wondering about the experience of being an expat. We have chosen not to live in expat compounds in any of our overseas experiences and we have always chosen to live as close a life as possible to our neighbours. I know we are earning more than many Chinese so we will not be expereince life as the Chinese do - that would be too hard for us.

Monday, 7 September 2009

A fit of the giggles

I am spending a lot of time catching busses in Nanjing. People here are just not that used to seeing expats outside the city walls – well it seems that way to me. Each time I get on the bus – and even just waiting for the bus – I often wonder if half my breakfast is still on my face or if I perhaps have horns growing out my head! I truly am the object of a lot of staring and more than a little giggling. This attention is quite blatant and I am getting used to it and just taking it in my stride.

Today I got on the bus and sitting directly across from me was an older couple with what appeared to be their grandson sitting on their knee. They were obviously doting grandparents and he was the apple of their eye. However they did not have the view of him that I had. He was about 3-4 years old and sitting directly facing me. Where the fly in his pants was there was no zipper and so he was just sitting with his tiny penis peeking out of the hole. As we went along he was giving it quite a lot of attention and I just couldn’t help but giggle! Grandma and Grandpa had no idea – and I doubt it would have mattered to them anyway – but it really had me almost in a state – a fit of the giggles and no-one there to share my giggles with! Even the people sitting next to me remained totally composed and seemingly oblivious. I could barely contain myself and on exit from the bus just burst out laughing. It was one of those rare moments of absolute joy!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

On our way to China

Our arrival in China has been a long awaited and anticipated event! We left the UAE on the 3rd July and it is now almost the 3rd of September. So the move has taken the better part of 2 months and they have been very interesting months.


Leaving the UAE we headed from Abu Dhabi to London. We had never been to England before and so we were really looking forward to this very first experience of Pommyland! Heathrow airport was one of the most frustrating parts of the journey. We couldn’t believe that an airport that can move a major number of aircraft safely and efficiently could get people movement (immigration, customs etc) so wrong. We stood in line for over an hour (perhaps nearly 2 hours) just to get through immigration. The system for doing this was ad hoc and disorganised and unnecessarily long.  However once through the procedures it’s a quick train trip to Central London and to our hotel in Paddington.


During our London stay we managed to fit in a number of the major attractions and also managed a trip to Coventry for the Godiva Festival. I think Ron was looking forward to naked ladies with long hair riding horses in the main street – it would have been very disappointing for him as the only Lady Godiva we came across was a woman of our own vintage dressed in a long white period costume ‘frock’ and wearing a wig! She did not have her horse with her at the time and remained fully garbed for Ron to have his photo taken with her! However it was a brilliant day and the sun shone (30+C) and we even managed to get a bit sunburned! I hear this is basically unheard of in England! The day in Coventry also included a music festival and a carnival as well as a lovely trip through the English countryside by train. We noticed the canals along the way and thought that one day we might return and explore England via the canals.


London was abuzz with tourists and it was the weekend of the Gay Pride celebrations. We did the red bus tours and also walked for mile upon mile to see the Tower Bridge, Tower of London, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. We walked a lot in Kensington Gardens as it was so close to where we were staying. We saw “Wicked” at one of the theatres in the West End, “Peter Pan” in a special tent style theatre in Kensington Gardens and did a jazz show at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho. I am not sure we could have fitted too much more into our 6 days. I think I would like to live in London for a while, or at least in England, and explore more of what there is to see, particularly to visit Scotland, Ireland and Wales as well.


Back to Abu Dhabi for a quick flight change and on to Brisbane. In Brisbane we caught up with family and really just relaxed and recovered from jet lag. The trip took close to 36 hours all in all and was only saved by being able to upgrade to business in the first leg. We will never look at flying in the same light again – wherever we go now it will be business class – it is just so much better and generally worth the cost to upgrade (if and when we can afford it!). After catching up with Helen and John, Garth, Mum, Gary and Fran, Di and Stan in Brisbane we fly down to Sydney. On the Central Coast we stayed with Deb and George and Terry and Brian and had a fabulous weekend away in Orange doing some wine tasting and merrymaking! It was lovely to catch up with all our friends and share some very precious time with them. One really funny highlight was Ron and Murray dressed as Emiratis taking a day trip around the Central Coast in Murray’s little yellow sports car. It was a hoot! We caught up with all Sydney people, both family and friends and then shot off to Melbourne to see Nerissa.


And then on to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for a few days. We stayed at the Sunway Lagoon Pyramid Hotel (how many words does there have to be in a hotel name!) Anyway it was just like being in the Middle East again – lots of women in black robes – it was quite strange really! I think the hotel must be very popular with Emiratis and Saudis – they were everywhere! I was the only white woman swimming at the pool – all the other women were sitting around in their abayas and shaylas and watching their children and husbands swimming. There were some Japanese and Korean tourists who were in stark contrast with their skimpy clothing and swim suits!


Unfortunately I was robbed in the shopping centre and it left a really nasty taste for Malaysia. Apparently there are gangs that work the shopping centres regularly – so the Police told me. Malaysia is a beautiful place to visit and a lovely culture but watch your purse! We rode elephants, visited temples and watched a fabulous cultural show. However I am not keen on KL and if visiting Malaysia again I think I will head out to the coast and a more relaxing beach style holiday.


And now we are in China! So look out for the next few posts where we will introduce you to Nanjing.