March 12th Back to Wuzhishan and some semblance of what passes for normality round here. The gas has still not been sorted out and we still have water leakage problems from somewhere upstairs. The woman who runs the shop on the ground floor is blaming us, up on the seventh floor. It seems that as if by magic, the water is skipping all the floors in-between and going straight from ours to hers! We do know that it is coming through our ceiling and is affecting both the kitchen and our office.
Nothing could be sorted today and probably won’t be in the near future either. Instead I got on with updating my photo albums and the hospital blog.
March 13th It was a pleasure to sleep in our own bed last night, I only had to get up once! Also a plus, no leakage, which pleased Huan as of course she is sharing the bed. Being back home, and with an empty fridge, today became a shopping day. Not so good for me, I seem to be catching a cold and I decided to have a sneeze half way round, ooohh, much pain in the belly area and a little spurt! Still, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. When we got home our roles were reversed, I carried the eggs upstairs while Huan carried the shopping bags. Lifting heavy things is banned for a while! Thank God the water delivery man carries the bottles into the house for us. Spent the rest of the day on dashcam work.
Huan became a whirling dervish and after a bit of a shouting match on the phone she disappeared for a while. When she eventually came back it seemed that she had galvanised the maintenance company into some sort of action and that the ‘water problem’ has been located. The 9th floor apartment has a solar water heater on the roof, the pipes are fed from there to the apartment via the OTS for cooker fans. (OTS = Open To Sky). The pipes are damaged somewhere in their kitchen and the water is being fed to the 8th, 7th, etc all the way to the 1st (ground floor). Our visible water is now receding, all we have to do is wait for someone to actually repair the damage!
Huan then shone even more with a duck stew, a wonderful change from all the restaurant food of the last three weeks. What did I do to deserve her?
March 14th Slept in today, didn’t get up until half past eight although I did have to visit the little boys’ room twice in the night. No leaks though!
The whirlwind was off again today as we still had water problems. At one stage, it wasn’t just dripping above our kitchen ceiling but actually running. I think Huan managed to sort them all out, work is now ongoing on the 9th floor problems and she also found an 8th floor problem too. Here she is looking at the source of the damage.
I don’t know, as if I don’t have enough problems with my own waterworks the house has water problems too! I don’t think we’ll ever sort out the furniture. In the office, one side is MDF which of course swells with water damage. The other side is real wood but I have no way of seeing what damage there is there, it’s too heavy for me to move, at least until my internal injuries heal enough for me to shift them.
Still, I have a good nurse to help me along. She did leave me alone again tonight, all on my little lonesome, while she went out Dama Dancing again. She deserves the break though. In fact she brought three of the ladies back with her and then later another visitor turned up too. I’m all for it, now all I have to do is try and understand them!
March 15th Still slept late today, nearly eight o’clock, I wonder if it’s the after effects of being in hospital still? Ready to go out when the maintenance men turned up again so this time, I left them with Huan and took off by myself. I really needed to get out for a walk and some fresh air too. I also decided to make a YouTube video, nothing special, just my “Post Hospital Walk”. Lots of talk about kegel exercises and leaky parts!
Once home I removed all the dressings on my war wounds and took a much needed shower. I had been really looking forward to it but I will need a few more to remove all the leftovers of sticking plaster that held the dressings in place. I thought you might like to see the final result of all that digging around in my insides and I promise that this will be the last picture you see of my operation. Look carefully and you will see the four scars. These are the holes that they made to poke around inside and amazingly enough remove my prostate which was about five centimetres in circumference. I have no idea which hole they squeezed it out of!
After lunch, and more discussions between the residents and the maintenance company we had a visit from someone who will, at some time later in the year, repaint our office wall for us. Who is going to pay we’re not sure, it could be the owner of the ninth floor apartment. He’ll have a big bill! It will include some kitchen repairs too although I doubt we’ll have any joy getting our cupboards repaired, or the furniture in the office.
Evening time, relaxed dancing for Huan, back to ‘The Bill’ for me.
March 16th The weekend is here! Maybe I shouldn’t, because it’s processed meat, but I haven’t a good old fry-up for over a month so here’s this morning’s breakfast. I really enjoyed it too!
Huan joined for me for my walk today, she had no ‘other duties’ to attend to. Walking is still not a very pleasant experience. Sitting is fine, no problem, lying down is OK too, even all night, no problem, but, walking = leaking! It’s not much but I’d prefer none at all.
Speaking of water, the river level was very low today, as it had been yesterday, although I didn’t mention it then. Huan had never seen it so low and I pointed out to her that the farm irrigation canal was also completely dry. Well, I suppose they do have to have a clean up now and then, a little bit of maintenance. What they never maintain of course is the river fountains. We have two and the only way we know they are fountains is through the pictures we have seen. They have certainly never worked since 2007 when we bought our apartment. With the river being so low you can see all the gubbins today.
March 17th Another lovely fry-up to start the day after an all night sleep too. Perseverance, that’s what it’s all about, and I need a lot of it. Today we had to go to Ledong and visit our tenants. It seems that the building owner has now activated the security locks on the gates and our tenants need two “NFC Access RFID Keyfob Token Proximity Tags”. As the apartment belongs to us, only we can sign for these fobs hence the trip. I must say the organisation is much better than ours here in Wuzhishan. Two fobs were free, we only had to pay ¥10.00 for a third one for us to use on our visits. In Wuzhishan there was a ¥20.00 deposit for each.
Both our tenants are suffering a little, swollen legs and such like and the gentleman has a couple of injuries where he has fallen down. We reckon they probably eat too many Harbin sausages that their daughter sends them. It’s always quite a pleasure to see them, especially as the gent is such a happy fellow and always so pleased to see us.
Another bonus for this complex, which we won’t be taking advantage of until we have to stay there again, is that the pool has now been filled and the water looks to be very clean. Other tenants told us it was warm enough but they only swim when the sun is hiding in the late afternoons. I wish we had one in Wuzhishan!
There is also a new food court just outside our complex. It’s nothing special, just a typical Chinese ‘poor’ city food court but, it’s something and it’s close. Chicken bits and an ice cream for me, a burger for Huan. I mixed my ice cream with some cold water to give me a ‘fake’ milk shake. It worked.
We did have a little walk in Ledong, less than three kilometres, but at least it was a walk. We popped into the B.O.C to get my account book updated. So far it’s a great little branch, not busy at all. They always make us take a number and then send us straight to the counter as there is nobody else waiting!
Then of course, it was back to Wuzhishan, wearing my granny pants as we were driving again. Going over potholes, manholes or bumps can be a little difficult to say the least. It was highway for most of the way though.
March 18th Monday again, so although we went shopping on Wednesday, today was back into the normal routine of shopping on Mondays. I had lighter coloured shorts on today so as walking makes leaks I was forced into Granny pants again. We did decide to buy some ‘lady pads’ (sanitary pads) for future use, they should be more comfortable. Sales ladies in our local store, Baijiahui, can never just let you buy what you want, they are always trying to push you towards something ‘better’, (read probably more expensive). I had been trying to help Huan but when she got into a conversation with the sales lady embarrassment set in and I made myself scarce.
A trip to the fish market followed, for Huan’s sake. I am told I can’t have fish for quite a while, it’s one of the banned foods after operations. Others are lamb, spicy foods, foods that are very hot or very cold, and would you believe it, even parsley! Anyway, Huan loves fish so I told her she can’t just do without it because of me, I can always have something else. We came up with the idea of Huan making a whole load of meatballs and freezing them so that when she has fish she can cook as normal and I’ll just share the veggies and have some microwaved meatballs.
I’m afraid the rest of the day was a F.L.O.G. day. Can you work it out? A Fat Lazy Old Git day, I was very tired and couldn’t be bothered to do anything at all. Huan wasn’t so lazy, making meatballs in the early afternoon, cooking dinner later in the afternoon and finally dama dancing in the evening.
March 19th A longer sleep would have been nice today but I suppose it was too good to last. Woke up at ten to six bursting for a pee so sneaked out of the bedroom and left Huan snoring. At least the bed was dry!
We went for a mid morning walk, this time me with a ‘lady pad’ instead of granny pants. Today we walked for six kilometres, taking two hours to do it. The last half an hour felt like I’d really made a mistake by walking either too far or too long. I kept having the feeling I was dribbling, I wonder if that’s how women feel at that time of the month? Anyway, when we eventually got home it was nowhere near as bad as I thought. I guess I’ll just have to slowly get used to the feeling of going when I’m not until I’m all sorted out again. I hope it doesn’t take too long. Another reminder to all you men reading this, go for a PSA test before it’s too late!
So, what did we see on our walk today? Well, the jack hammers are back in action behind the house, and in this instance, he even had to hand held pneumatic drills for harmony!
And then Huan wanted me to take a photo of a succulent tree that was flowering. I did try and tell her that the background wasn’t so good but I obeyed orders in the end. The photo doesn’t really do justice to what we could see but I couldn’t find a decent angle.
The rest of the day was what they have all become since we came back from Haikou, lazy, with an afternoon nap, longer for me than Huan again. I also feel that I have a cold coming on. I guess having an operation is not quite as simple as it seems!
Huan volunteered not to go dama dancing but I insisted, she needs to enjoy her own interests and her own friends more, and more importantly, she enjoys it!
March 20th Well what a pair we are! Huan woke up with a runny nose and I woke up with catarrh. I remember hearing my Grandmother using that word and wondering what it meant. It’s not nice! Anyway, I could be lazy and lounge around on the computer but Huan had to go to a meeting of the ‘eleven good people and true’. That’s a joke, the woman in charge, by default because the head of the eleven has never returned from the North since the committee was formed, is very devious to say the least. They are trying to organise another visit to the local government to oust the present maintenance company so that she and her buddies can take over with their own new company. She told Huan to say that Huan was present at the last meeting where the decision was made by a majority of the tenants. The only problem is, Huan was in the hospital with me! I asked Huan to stick it out and tell the truth, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
So Huan came back and told me that the plan was for the existing maintenance company to be out by the end of the month (again). However, they will present the committee with a bill for ¥800,000.00. People were asked if they would sign acceptance of this bill, Huan refused. Quite rightly in my view, all members of the committee should have a copy of the bill, without signing for it, so that they can analyse it. That, of course, will never happen!
So after our usual afternoon nap, mine longer than Huan’s of course, and after dinner, I decided to walk down to the square with Huan and perhaps take a couple of pictures of either her dancing or me playing the fool. In the end I gave up waiting, they were too busy gossiping about the ‘Jilin woman’ and the ongoing maintenance company saga. Instead I thought I would try and get you a nice sunset picture. This one was perhaps a little too early.
And by the time I reached our roof, this one was perhaps a little too late!
Ah well, not to worry. I also met a couple of or neighbours on the roof. Like many Chinese people, they will try and grow vegetables anywhere, I guess it’s a throwback to the time when food was scarce and everybody had to try and fend for themselves.
March 21st Good sleep, no getting up for a wee wee, woke up just before half past six. I can cope with that. Usual morning walk during which I was supposed to take some photos with my Fuji for the FB competition. I forgot the camera! We passed by the street market where I bought a single ‘Harbin’ sausage, it will last me two or three days. They are home made here in Wuzhishan so I am assuming there are no nitrates, or nitrites, included! I also forgot to take any other photos during our walk, not doing so well today am I?
However, I made it up for you in the afternoon when we took the car for a wash, something which it desperately needed! Now, if we only had a villa we could wash it ourselves… We met a new friend there, her name is Diǎndiǎn (点点), it means little. Chinese people, more often than not, give their dogs names with two identical characters. (Patrick did you know your dog’s name is “Peas”?
Just across the road from the car wash, which is a new one, you can see the top of one of the local schools, I thought it would make a nice picture too.
Now I didn’t go with Huan this evening, I stayed in to have a nice shower. However, it seems that they didn’t do much dancing today, instead they took a lot of photos of each other. I wonder if that is because as snowbirds, they will be off back up North before too long. Anyway, here they are, at least the ones that turned up tonight.
And here’s Huan, stopping the traffic!
March 22nd I would love to really understand the complexities of the human body. This morning I woke up at around half past four for a visit to the loo, nothing strange about that I know. However, from then onwards, until I eventually got up, I had the feeling that I needed ‘to go’ despite having just gone. One day all will return to (almost) normal I hope.
Morning walk as usual, with the trusty Fujifilm in hand today. First stop was the car wash across the road, not the one where we went yesterday, which has now started selling cars as well as washing them. He hasn’t sold any yet because he is waiting for the government to pull their fingers out about registering them. You may remember we talked about the law changing as of 1st March, after which time fossil fuel cars would only be registered via a lottery for numbers. Electric cars were supposed to be immune to that lottery and that is what he is selling. They are very cheap, from ¥29,000.00 to ¥39,000.00, less than a quarter of the cost of our car four years ago. The range is said to be 350 kilometres, I would doubt that myself. The cars can be charged at home, just like the multitudes of electric bikes and scooters we have here, but they cannot be charged on the commercial fast chargers. They will also not be allowed to travel on the highway as their top speed is only 55 kph. However, for many people it gives them a car to start out with, and of course for older people, (not us yet!) it gives them a runabout for shopping, visiting nearby towns, even Sanya or Haikou but via the normal roads. So here’s a piccie, would you pay three to four and a half thousand pounds for one? I might consider it, a few years down the line, if they increase the legroom!
Now I had the Fuji with me to take a green picture to enter the FB competition, as you already know. Well, I took over fifty ‘green’ photos in the end, probably far too many for me to make an easy decision. I did think of uploading all fifty of them for you to decide but we’d miss the competition date! This is not the one I chose but I thought you might like it. It is the main street through Wuzhishan and as you can see, we have no shortage of ‘green’ here!
March 23rd Nothing much to report today, normal sedentary walk in the morning, there was a farmer’s market down by the river but you’ve seen many photos from there before. Well, there is one you may not have seen, a juice machine. It crushes sugar cane to make a drink, far too sweet for me though. Spot the QR code so that you can pay with your phone.
Afternoon was nap time again, I seem to be needing many these days, and they are usually two or more hours long. Is it still the aftermath of having an operation? I don’t know.
After dinner I decided to walk down to the square with Huan again. I had my trusty Nokia with me, all ready to record them for posterity, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t get them to do the ‘Birdie Song’. If you’re too young to remember, then Google it!
Walked home alone, all together now “Ahhh, poor Bob.” Thank you! Saw this in a local furniture shop and had to take a pic through the window. This one is for Patrick Quinn and Jake Canning. Surely this bike is more than 125cc?
March 24th Lovely night’s sleep, woke up around seven, wish I could have a lot more nights like that. It’s been quite long time since I’ve slept through as much as I have this week. We had our usual mid-morning walk and today spotted some wild life for you. I put all the photos up on FB where I referred to it as a cricket. However, based on the size, over twelve centimetres, I think I was wrong and it’s probably a locust. What do you think?
I left Huan gossiping along the way, I couldn’t stand around for too long, and slowly wended my way home. Now China, as you may or may not know, posts a lot of signs to encourage the people to follow the law, be kind and so on and so forth. Well I came across one sign which even Huan had trouble translating for me when she got home. It’s something to do with alleviating poverty. This is the bottom of the sign. Don’t you wish it was as easy as this and that you could find the tree? At least I’d have an answer for my Mum after all these years.
Lazy evening for me, shower and shave; more dancing for Huan.
March 25th “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” Well they don’t usually, but today was not a good day. I woke up last night at twenty past two, for the usual, and then tossed and turned for the rest of the night. God knows how Huan was not disturbed anymore than she was! “Why?” I asked myself. “Perhaps it was the coffee.” I answered. Since coming back from hospital I have drunk a lot less coffee than I used to, sometimes even ‘none’ a day. Well, it is a diuretic so I thought it better to ease off a little. Before I went in to hospital I must have been immune to the effects, even late night coffees didn’t seem to worry me. I only had one cup yesterday but it was quite a strong one around half past seven when Huan got home from dama dancing. Maybe I should go back to what my dear old Mam used to do, one coffee a day, mid morning! She always made it with hot milk, long before anyone had ever heard of lattes, cappuccinos and the like. In fact, we still make it that way now and then.
So, being Monday it was also shopping day. There we were, going down the escalator with our full trolley when suddenly, it stopped. Now I don’t know if you’ve checked trolleys and escalators in the last few years but they are designed not to slide, or run away from you. Have you tried pushing the trolley against all that friction from two thirds of the way up to the bottom? I can assure you it’s not easy.
Just to end our shopping on a high, we got to the tills, started unloading and then realised that none of our fruit and vegetables had been weighed and priced! At least the store wasn’t too busy so I could stand guard over what we had unloaded while Huan shot back upstairs to get everything priced up. Thankfully the escalators were working again! Worst of all, I didn’t even think to get the camera out for either of these unfortunate incidents. Blame the lack of sleep!
Some more dama dancing for Huan in the evening, a short walk round the town for me, and then back to ‘The Bill’. Roll on tomorrow.
March 26th It was Huan’s turn last night. I have no idea what time it was but it started with the bathroom light followed by the main light in the bedroom. She was being bothered by a mosquito and her ‘tennis racquet wasn’t working! Still, I’m lucky that the mozzies choose Huan more than they choose me.
Huan was ‘called to a meeting’, the people from the House Book Office, (similar to the Land Registry Office in the UK), wanted a meeting with the ‘eleven’. Well, only four turned up, some have already gone back up North and a couple were busy. The government side said that in order for things to proceed the ‘eleven’ would have to sign a guarantee and put money ‘up front’. At that point, good on her, Huan left the meeting. Sometimes I wonder if anyone really knows what they are doing, on either side.
Yesterday, as you do, I had something niggling away in the back of my mind, I needed to buy something from Baijiahui. Old brains don’t always work the same as young ones! It came back to me during our morning walk today. We have two Baijiahui stores, a smaller old one and the bigger new one. Our normal weekly shop is done in the new one but I remembered that the old one sometimes has butter and cheese slices, not good ones, but OK for a sandwich now and then. So, we found the butter, a lot more expensive than Haikou or Sanya but at least it’s there when we need it. Unfortunately they had run out of cheese slices. I did find something else while we were wandering around though. If any of you live in China, or have visited, you may know that restaurants usually serve soups in enormous bowls. I thought it was time Huan and I had one each for our occasional big soups and stews. Here I am ‘modelling’ mine, what do you think? For some reason it reminds me of Boris Johnson!
Evening time and I was in trouble. Huan went off to her dancing leaving me to go off for a little walk. Well I surprised her mid-dance with a shouted “Bend your knees more, let’s see some bouncy bouncy!” at the top of my voice. Poor girl, I threw her timing off completely and was henceforth ordered to walk home alone, poor me.
March 27th Not much to report today, we had our usual morning walk, nothing special and no photos. An afternoon nap seems to be something I can’t avoid these days, even Huan had nearly two hours today. Huan did her usual dama dancing in the evening and I managed to sneak up and take a quick couple of videos. Not a lot of smiles are there? Perhaps they need to watch some ‘Pan’s People’ or ‘Legs & Co’, both from ‘Top Of The Pops’ or maybe ‘The Tiller Girls’ from ‘The London Palladium’. Showing my age now aren’t I?
March 28th I woke up this morning just after seven to hear Huan already on the phone. She was talking to what I suppose is the equivalent of the Ombudsman, here in China all you have to is call 1234. She was complaining about the length of time we have had no gas and the fact that trying to get it sorted was just leading us on a wild goose chase. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this!
As you are probably aware, we don’t have much of a winter here, although being a big softy I still feel the cold at times. Anyway, spring must be in the air as they have started painting the bottoms of the trees again. Today we thought we would stop and ask them why they do it. I always thought it was some kind of pest control but according to them it was to make the trees beautiful. What do you think? Do they do this where you are?
Remember the new electric cars we saw? Well, there are also a lot of other forms of electric transport here, mostly scooters / mopeds. However, as Hainan is the ‘Bournemouth’ of China we also have a lot of old people and they use something like this.
This one belongs to our eighth floor neighbours, both of them in their eighties. He walks reasonably well but his wife not so well, so they use this for their shopping and to get to one of the outdoor gymnasiums that seniors use. Unfortunately, the police have just stopped him from using it. We’re not sure why, it seems that it may not meet certain regulations. My question would therefore be “Why is a factory allowed to make them and sell them then?” There could be an alternative reason, given by another neighbour, all electric vehicles, or maybe those over a certain horsepower, now have to be registered and drivers must have a licence. That I can’t argue with at all, as well as the old fogeys with their two or three wheelers, we see youngsters driving them all the time here, on their way to and from school!
March 29th There I was thinking I’d done OK, sleeping until twenty to five after going to bed at half past ten, then deciding it was too early to get up so back to the land of nod. Not for long though, at half past five someone was ringing our doorbell! I suspect it was the neighbours but they’d gone by the time I got there. I could see light under their front door though! Too late to go back to bed!
I guess the ombudsman in China, (1234), is no better than the UK one. Today they told Huan that they had been informed that the ‘pipe is damaged’ and they are unable to help further. Back to square one, the gas man ran away with the money, the ‘boss’ of the eleven denies any responsibility and the maintenance company say the boss of the eleven is blocking the repair. Meanwhile all the residents who paid in advance for gas just have to either grin and bear it, or in the case of some, switch to bottled gas. Not so easy for us to do, there is nowhere to put the bottle!
Other than that, NTR.
March 30th Huan decided she wanted a day off today, a bit of a rest, from walking as it were. She didn’t exactly rest, she did a huge pile of washing instead. As she wasn’t with me I went a little faster than we have been going. I suspect I may have overdone it a little. You can see from the lap times that by the time I had completed six kilometres I was struggling a little. I was definitely feeling it in my ‘blood drain hole’ which has not completely healed yet. The doctors did say to walk slowly and not too far in the first three months! After today’s effort, I think I may well heed their advice for future walks!
I got back just before the rain started, just a few spots here and there to begin with. However, by dinner time it was pouring it down along with some thunder storms to keep it company. That meant that there was no dama dancing today. Shame, because they had planned to all wear dresses and also all be wearing pigtails. I of course was going to do my David Bailey impersonation and photograph them for posterity. Ah well, maybe tomorrow…
March 31st Strange weather again today but the rain held off. Seems like it may be coming earlier this year. So, you know all about the ongoing saga of the maintenance company, here’s the latest update. Today will be their last day. Yesterday, they carried out some repairs to some kerbstones where people ignore the rules and park on what used to be a nice grassy area. Check out the work. You may think it’s bad because they are leaving, I suspect it would be just as bad with anyone else, and I fully expect to see them working as normal tomorrow!
The river looks like it could do with a lot more rain. No doubt it will come soon. As it is now, the bed is quite dry and grass has started growing near the banks.
We see quite a lot of these birds on our walks, always in cages of course. This cage is a little on the small side. These little birds can be quite talkative, many of them know how to say 你好, (Nǐ hǎo), which I’m sure you know means ‘hello’. This one can chat too, but today he wasn’t in the mood!
Now we should have finished off this month with a group photo of the dama dancers, all in pig tails and dresses. That was yesterday’s plan, which got rained off, and today only Huan turned up dressed as planned. They promised they would do it tomorrow so let’s hope the weather holds and we can get the picture. Do you think I should be in too?
Well, we come to the end of March, shorter than normal, and with far less interesting walks. Slowly that will improve as my fitness improves and we can start going further and up the hills again. Until next month then, au reservoir! (French for ta ta.)
P.S. If any of you gents reading this have any questions about prostate surgery and its after effects, feel free to drop me a comment, with a way to contact you.