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An Englishman in Hainan, Wuzhishan, October 2019

October 1stOctober and the trees are stripped bare, Of all they wear, What do I care?” Strange lyrics, they come from a ‘hidden track’, or so I’m told, from the band U2 and the album October. It is October of course, the trees aren’t stripped bare of all they wear, but I can still say “What do I care?” I’d like to listen to the song but I don’t have it and today, I don’t have ‘the real internet again either’.

Vertigo attacked me again last night but I woke up early enough for a nice walk. I had finished my breakfast and coffee and got myself already to go when I heard heaving from the bathroom. Huan’s not so good today, so it was back to bed for her, and nurse time for me.

As I was housebound, and as Huan did not get her place at keyboard school, I decided to put her stickers on the keys. We have had them a while but were waiting to see if the ‘teacher’ thought it was a good idea or not. They should help her as the stickers don’t only show what the white keys are, but the black ones too.

Rice soup was Huan’s food of choice when she resurfaced. It’s a good job I’ve learnt how to make it without the rice cooker as that was full of the ‘squash’ that Huan had cooked before retiring to bed. She spent the rest of the day resting in the living room so I, being the meany that I am, gave her the ‘hotel bell’ and took a picture of her.

My ‘rest of the day’ was reading, (still no internet), Chinese and guitar. My one minute chord practice is going down for some and up for others. I’ll have to persevere and have patience I suppose. I’m still practicing a couple of songs which Huan thinks are good. I think they’re abysmal but I promised myself a video a month and the next one is due tomorrow. I doubt very much if I will be uploading it anywhere!

October 2nd Took Huan for a sedate walk today, seeing as how she spent most of yesterday bedridden. Once round the town, stopping to buy the necessities, aspirin, (for me), blood pressure tablets (for me, but nor for blood pressure, for vertigo), rubbing alcohol, (for my guitar fingers) and cigarettes, (for my sanity).

After lunch, I tried to record a ‘guitar video’ to show how much progress I have made in a month. I failed miserably! For some reason or other, I have been able to play (2) songs in the office fairly well, but sitting in the living room, in front of the camera, there were far more discords than there were chords! Try again tomorrow.

Evening saw the ladies off dancing, on the bridge to nowhere, so I went with them for my evening walk. We passed a new rubbish bin on the way, actually three bins in one. Yes, it’s our first ‘sort your rubbish disposal point’. I hope it’s not in use yet because although there are three access hatches, there is only one big space inside! Before I left the ladies, I tried for another sunset picture. It may have turned out better with the Fuji but the Nokia didn’t do such a bad job. This is a highly cropped version.

I left them dancing on the bridge and had a little walk down the river to where I knew I could cross it, then back through the town making sure I got at least four kilometres in to make my daily ten. This is the little bridge I used. As you can probably guess, it is impassable when the river is in full flow.

October 3rd Both of us were up a little earlier today and we decided a walk to Changhao village was in order. The road works are not finished yet but, today being a public holiday, we thought there would be less dust. We were wrong, as usual, so we took the first village turning to bypass the dusty road. In that village, we watched a man getting ready, with his harness and tools, and wondered whether he was a ‘lineman for the county’. It looked like official gear he was wearing so we thought he was working either for the electricity company or one of the phone companies. Well, he might have been, but today he was collecting coconuts! This is the first time I’ve seen someone use a harness to do this. More often than not, it’s a local boy with hands and feet only.

Once back at the main road we didn’t turn right or left, instead we went down another track which supposedly led to a tourist restaurant. Needless to say, the restaurant didn’t exist! However, following the track all the way round brought us to the village of Fanna 1 Cun, right next to the ‘learn to drive centre’. Here’s how the cars look when it’s sunny.

We took a water stop here and then walked towards Changhao again, just so we could meet the bus to take us home. Walking back along all the dusty roads didn’t really appeal. Within a few hundred metres, the bus, electric of course, appeared so on we hopped. We paid with cash this time but you can pay with WeChat.

The afternoon was a total washout. I tried again to make a video of my guitar progress but each time I was ‘on air’ with the video I messed it up. Huan asked me to film her on the keyboard and would you believe it, she messed up too. Maybe the camera is haunted! For myself, I have decided to wait until I am a little more proficient than I am now, so I guess I won’t be making a video a month.

October 4th Sandals and phone today, no camera. We had to be home before half past ten for Huan to cook a couple of dishes as we had been invited out for lunch again. This time it was the dance teacher / singing buddy. My job was to buy a few bottles of beer. The spread was not bad at all, as usual far too much for lunchtime, for me anyway.

The other three men present were not drinking beer, two were on the hard stuff, baijiu, and one was on tea, (antibiotics). That meant it was down to me and the ladies. Even Huan was drinking beer; I had to keep saying ‘slowly dear’! I did take a couple of photos of the ladies and their beer but I am under strict instructions not to publish them!

OAP kip in the afternoon and then a lazy evening with only guitar, Blog and Chinese.

October 5th Today was absolutely gorgeous so a long walk was called for but one where we could avoid the direct glare of the sun. We decided to walk along the Wuzhishan to Haikou road, a bit like a rehearsal for walking as far as the rest stop at the top of the mountain. We certainly weren’t going to try that today. Although we went uphill all the way from home, it wasn’t too bad.

We passed by the turning for Za Hao village, 什好库, which we didn’t take as we have been there before. Instead, we shot off down a track, again, and went exploring. We found an organic chicken farm, a couple of ‘dead’ buildings, some more chicken farms and some fish ponds. We even found some puppies that were small enough to crawl under the fence and tried to follow us. Huan put a stop to that! There are many ‘dead’ buildings in the Hainan countryside, probably because the youngsters are now better educated and have all gone to jobs in the cities. It’s a shame we can’t buy one of them.

Soon the path became even more rustic

Until we reached this, which coincided with the last electricity pole. You can also see a roll of telecoms cable at the bottom of the picture, so I guess we now know why there was a path there in the first place.

Our last picture for today is nothing special; Huan thought it was a frog. It is a fountain head photographed through some plants and I suppose the water does look a little like a frog. Whatever, I’m putting it here because I like it!

October 6th One of the things we enjoy about being retired is having no alarm clock in the bedroom. It does mean though, that sometimes we may not get up as early as we would have liked. “Special occasions” means we use our phone alarms but that is a maximum of once a month when we have to go and get my monthly neutering needle. So this morning we were a little late and didn’t get out on the road until nine o’clock.

As a result, a walk around the river was called for, no boots, and no speed. It was such a nice leisurely walk that we took hardly any photos. I thought you might like this one though, you saw this little girl’s side profile last month, well this is her portrait. Isn’t she nice?

The rest of the day saw us wondering if we would be able to rise to my sister Sandra’s challenge and record a Christmas song. At the moment, it’s looking very doubtful but I suppose we do have a few more weeks to try and get it right(ish).

October 7th Today is重阳节, Chóngyáng jié, (also known as ‘Double Ninth Festival’. China also celebrates it as ‘Senior Citizen’s Day’. It seems there are certain things we must do on this day, one of which is to go up a mountain. You can find out more here - https://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/the-double-ninth-festival.htm and here - https://www.yourchineseastrology.com/holidays/double-ninth-festival/.

So, it was up the mountain we went, our scenic route of course, no rough stuff. I did my usual and went a bit crazy with the camera but we won’t bother you with most of the photos. I did think I’d like to dispel a myth though; here is one of our friends, the wife of the ‘boss’ who oversaw all the work we had done on our house in 2015. Does anything strike you as odd, not what you have read and heard about China? Yes, those are her four boys. What’s more, she and her husband are still thinking about another little one, hopefully a girl. There were no ‘little emperors’ here either, the three elder brothers, along with Mum, were taking turns at carrying the younger one. Even better, there was not a mobile phone in sight! They were a happy bunch and quite fun to spend some time walking with.

After lunch, we were supposed to go and watch a show being put on for local senior citizens. At the appointed time and place, there we were, and nobody else! It seems we had yet another communication breakdown on the Chinese side and we should have been somewhere else. We did eventually find out where the show was but a little too late to watch the song featuring Huan’s singing and dancing friend. We only caught the last couple of acts and I was only able to make an awful video, not at all worth sharing. Never mind, I did manage to get a fairly good picture of everybody together for their final bow.

Lastly, for today, a photograph of me. Well, as we were leaving the OAP centre, I saw my reflection in the mirror. I could hardly not take the picture, just look at the hair, and how slim I look! (No heckling in the cheap seats please!)

October 8th The holidays are over so Huan was back to her choir practice today. As for me, well a nice long walk was called for. I set off along the river, going upstream. Now I’m sure you know all about dredgers, those very large machines that remove silt from riverbeds and coastal areas. Here we have a small version. They are removing the sediment from where one of the many underground streams and/or drains feed into the river. You can see the floating dredger pumping the sediment up to a waiting truck on the road, and the water being fed back into the river through a hole in the wall.

Then it was off through the countryside which as you can see here, does not have a great deal of shade. Thankfully, I was walking on this stretch between nine and nine-thirty.

Further upstream I came across this. It’s a good job Huan was singing today or, with me not having my Walter Raleigh cape, I would have had to carry her again!

By now I had chosen my ‘turn back spot’, it was at this bridge, which I decided to make another panorama of, just for you. Mind you, if you look carefully, you will see why it’s always better to use a tripod if you are going to take photos to stitch together.

A few more photos were taken on the way back, walking on the other side of the river. It was the usual, landscapes and cows! So, the last picture of the day is my phone, showing my Endomondo workout details. I think almost twenty kilometres in four hours is pretty good. My feet are certainly not swollen today!

Needless to say, that was me for the day. Huan was supposed to go swimming but the rain showed up so she played her keyboard and watched movies. I had a bath before doing a little guitar practice later.

October 9th Off to Haikou today and aren’t we lucky, we didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night. Mind you, that was my choice because I said we would stop on the way to replace the two rear tyres. That didn’t go down too well with the ‘Minister of Finance’! Before we left though we had to get rid of a hitchhiker, the worry was that if we closed the tailgate on him, serious injury or death may have resulted. I’m not sure if my ‘liability insurance’ stretches to lizards and we wouldn’t have wanted his Granddad, Godzilla, to turn up looking for revenge.

It was a lovely day for a drive and as usual, the roads up our way were fairly clear so plenty of time to take in the scenery. We do live in a nice place.

By half past eleven, we had reached the tyre repair shop which, to Huan’s surprise, was not closed for lunch. In fact, it was very busy. Once our two back tyres were off I was able to show Huan how little tread was left in the middle and explain that we would be much safer once they were changed too. The front ones had been replaced in August so we should be good for another four years now, hopefully the life of the car!

Once we had booked into the hotel and lunch was finished in the little noodle restaurant next door, we tried to have a little kip. Have you ever tried sleeping in a freezer? Early evening Huan said “Let’s go and find that small foreign shop we saw once before.” “Do you know where it is?” I dared to ask. “Yes, behind the hospital through the villas.” came the reply. I knew that was the wrong place but, to keep Huan happy, we went that way anyway. That turned out to a fortuitous choice because although we didn’t find what we were looking for we did find a Carrefour. Even better, it had pickled red cabbage, pickled beetroot, gherkin relish, marmalade and ‘normal’ tinned fish.

For dinner, we had promised ourselves a 大盘鸡, Dàpán jī, which translates as ‘big plate chicken’. The chef, remembering us from a previous visit, gave us the same ‘small’ version again. Note the extra vegetables that we ordered, they go very well with some of the potato mashed in with the juice of the big dish. I guess it’s a form of mild curry and it’s always cooked to order so you have to wait a while. It’s most definitely worth waiting for! We tried our hardest but we couldn’t quite finish it all. “So how much did this culinary delight cost?” I hear you ask. The answer is approximately ten pounds, including the extra veggies and some rice for Huan. I can highly recommend it if you get the chance.

October 10th Woke up to a ‘dead’ phone, as the laptop is awaiting repair I didn’t bring all my usual junk so forgot the phone charger too. Never mind, we were both awake fairly early not having slept so well. We had the usual running around the hospital but, despite the fact it was busy today, we were finished by eleven. I did hang around outside for a few minutes as there was a poor little baby having a blood test, from her foot! Her crying and the needle were enough to make me dawdle around in the corridor. I thought you might like to see where I go to have my needle, can’t find this one in the dictionary!

From the hospital it was a quick drive to RT Supermarket where we stocked up on bread, they seem to be the only shop in Hainan that makes decent sliced loaves. We did our weekly shop there today as well, or at least what is left of the week. I wonder if the residents of Haikou, both Foreign and Chinese, know how lucky they are having multiple Carrefour supermarkets, multiple RT supermarkets and foreign stores to boot!

As you know, we live in Wuzhishan which is in the centre of the island, the mountainous area. That means we have quite a few tunnels to pass through so I took a couple of screen shots from the dashcam today just to give you an idea. The first is going into quite a scenic tunnel and the second is coming out of the last tunnel before we reach home.

Once home I got on with dashcam work, Chinese, guitar etc while Huan cooked some lovely fish, with no bones, another little gift from RT. The rain also decided to show its face again; at least it stayed away for our drives. After dinner, the ‘Three Little Maids’ went off for a walk, not far as the rain had only just eased off and who knows when it will be back again.

October 11th Back to our normal routine today, Huan out singing and me out walking. The only slight difference was for me, no boots, they were still drying after the scrub to remove all slurry traces, no sandals, because I had changed to a new pair, they’re not ‘run in’ yet. I kept to the town and the river but with a couple of small detours, I did get my daily ten in. As I was walking by the riverside, I came across a bunch of guys trying to recover something from the depths so I paused Endomondo and checked it out. “Would it be something awful, would it be something valuable?” I wondered. Well, I guess it was valuable to somebody; it was one of the little boats that the river team use.

And that’s it for my day. Huan was out again this afternoon and when she came home was as proud as punch. The other ladies told her that her voice was dramatically improving. The evening saw her Dama dancing again, also improving. The only thing not improving is her cycling, she hasn’t been out on the bike since we bought it!

October 12th Took the laptop to the computer shop today, what a waste of time that was. All it did was frustrate me and probably Huan with me getting worse and worse. I’ve decided that I will try and do it myself and if that fails, in the bin it will go and something to replace it will be bought. We only need it when travelling so no great rush.

October 13th Today was a non walking / Chinese / Guitar day. I decided to bite the bullet and get stuck into the laptop. It started life as a Chinese Windows 8, probably real OEM as it is an Acer Aspire but along the way, it’s been re-installed many times. If Huan has problems I need to change the software language to English to fix it, not always so easy. It had become slow and the touchpad no longer works. Well, I spent all day on it, reverting back to Windows 7 and completely removing Windows 8. It took me all day because I had to keep downloading new drivers and that resulted in multiple restarts. It is now all done, MS Office 2003 installed, Picasa and VLC Media Player. That’s all we need when we are ‘not at home’. It is faster again, however, the touchpad still doesn’t work. It may well be a hardware problem but we can live with carrying a mouse in our travelling bag! Other than that – NTR!

October 14th Huan was off singing today so I did some more work on the laptop and somehow, don’t ask me how; I got the touchpad working again. The rest of the morning was spent copying the files that we need when we’re travelling, or should I say that I need. Seven seasons of “The Dukes Of Hazard” were also copied across, sometimes it’s good to watch a little English in the hotels.

Today being Monday, we did our shopping in the afternoon, in the rain. Eee lad, it were grand! Baijiahui, (the supermarket), was almost empty, all the locals, and the snowbirds, must have been on a siesta. Before we went though, we found this desiccated object on the shoe rack. After a lot of internet searching, we decided that it wasn’t a creature at all but a dried out fishbone that must have fallen out of our rubbish bag when Huan went out in the morning!

The rain stayed around so I tried freeing up more RAM on the laptop after dinner. I suspect I may end up replacing and increasing it. When I was done, I went to put the lid down and heard strange plastic cracking noises and the bottom cover started to come away from the keyboard side. This won’t please Huan I thought; especially if I’ve broken it completely now! Trying to sort it out I noticed a screw missing. Now bear in mind we have never opened this laptop at all. I couldn’t find anything on the office floor at all and neither could Huan. She then had a brainwave and said we should look ‘where the computer has been’. Going to the second bedroom and turning the flight bag upside down did the trick; out fell the missing screw! Big hugs and thanks to the boss! Everything seems OK again tonight; let’s hope nothing else goes wrong tomorrow.

October 15th Up nice and early this morning, Huan was going to singing lessons again so I was out walking. My boots were back on, they had now completely dried out, but I decided on no hills, no speed and not too far. I walked out about five and a half kilometres and back the same in just less than two and a half hours so not too bad. As usual, a few pictures were taken. We had heard that there appear to be less snowbirds so far this year and this photo would appear to confirm that. There would usually be at least half a dozen or more either sitting or exercising in this area.

I took a route by the river today which shows why boots are a much better idea than sandals at times. At least it wasn’t too wet!

There’s a lot more but I’ll stick to another one of my ‘friends’. This is a strange one. Whenever we get there, he always lets me pet him but when I step away, I have to do so very quickly because he snaps at my hands. However, he will then let me come close and pet him again and then of course, I have to repeat the quick step away.

Huan came home with news of another OAP tourist trip. This was after eleven thirty and an answer was required before twelve! Yes, I know, brilliant organisational skills here. All they could tell me was “Wenchang”, nothing about what tourist site it would be and of course, nothing about which factory outlets we would be dragged to. I declined, I’m not so sure Huan was too pleased about that but I see no reason to be dragged around the mattress factory or some other such place. Strangely enough, one of our friends just went on a trip to Nanshang (see August’s Blog), and had to come back via a European ‘pots and pans’ outlet, which we previously visited on the same day as the mattress outlet.

Huan was out singing with the ladies this afternoon so I took the laptop to the computer shop to get some new, and more, RAM installed. Typical Wuzhishan, “out of stock, we can get from Haikou by tomorrow afternoon”. I suppose that’s not too bad. I left the laptop with them. I’m now wondering if that was a good idea. Hopefully they will not give me one new module and leave one old one with it!

Under orders from SWMBO, I then had to visit one of the courier offices. It seems we had a delivery this morning but Huan’s phone was off, (in class), so personal collection was required. It turned out to be stuff that I ordered for both of us, but that Huan will probably not use. One was a finger strengthener and the other a finger stretcher, both supposedly good for keyboard and guitar players. So far, I’m not impressed!

October 16th Under orders again this morning, I had to stay at home and wait for the courier companies again. Guess what? Nobody phoned before I had to leave home to meet Huan and her singing class for lunch. Her ‘summer’ teacher is leaving Wuzhishan for the ‘winter’ and moving to Sanya. He will return next ‘summer’. It may sound strange until you consider his circumstances. He had a lung transplant three years ago. In fact, before that, he never sang. Once he was on the mend he learnt how to sing, either alone or by lessons, I don’t know. He then decided that he should teach other old people to sing, free of charge. A good man, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, lunch was in here.

It’s not a rare occurrence in Chinese restaurants; most of them have separate rooms for diners and not one big place as we do. I loved the table! In fact I told Huan that when we are rich, (when the lottery win comes through); I want a table like this, even if it’s only for the two of us. “Pass the salt please dear!”

And here are two photos of the whole group. The teacher who is leaving is the one with the vest and the white hair. The second photo was taken over his head.

Guess who phoned just as dinner was coming to an end? Yes, you’re right, both of the courier companies. Obviously, they weren’t having their usual two and a half hour lunch breaks today. Arrangements were made for us to collect the items later.

So we walked home along the river, the two ladies and I. They kept gaining on me, every time I stopped to chat to a four legged fried. Mind you, the ladies only have little legs so I was soon able to catch them up again. Once home I sorted out all the photos and videos ready for sharing.

No dinner at home today; we just had some Chinese bread rolls with red bean inside them. They’re not too bad with a lovely slathering of butter! Once we’d eaten we were off out again, first stop the computer shop. A communication breakdown was experienced there, what had been agreed yesterday wasn’t what was being offered today. We’ll now have to wait another two days! At least the courier trips worked out, one was a new guitar strap, not that I’m ready to use it yet. The free one that came with the guitar was like a serrated edge against my neck! The other package was two microphone stands, one for Huan and one for me. Remember the Christmas song challenge?

Our busy day finished off with buying what we hope, as we always do, the winning lottery tickets for today and tomorrow.

October 17th Under orders again today, and, just like yesterday, nobody came until after lunch. Never mind, I got the microphone and amplifier out and had a go through my old song books. I don’t think I disturbed the neighbours too much; at least no one came hammering on the door. After lunch, we had a visitor, one of Huan’s buddies, who needed the videos I took yesterday sending to her phone. What a palaver, again! WeChat would not allow me to send any of the files; they were all too big, even after converting them with Lightworks. QQ wouldn’t let me send them to Fish’s phone either, (that’s my name for her). QQ in English is fairly straightforward and easy to use. QQ in Chinese has so many extras, none of which I can read, and most of which the ladies have no idea about. I guess youngsters have no problem. In the end I sent the files to Huan’s QQ and she then sent them to Fish’s. Then to my amazement, Fish was able to share them on WeChat. They both think I’m a genius now because it’s sorted. I only wish I knew how!

There was one courier delivery in the afternoon, baked beans. Yes, we can’t buy them here so they get ordered online too. The second courier required another visit by us this evening so we did two jobs at one time. First, we picked up the laptop, going in one direction from the house, and then we went the other way and collected the music stand. I hope one day I will be able to use all this music related stuff. I suppose I can at least use the music stand for singing even if I never improve with the guitar.

October 18th Up with the lark this morning, six o’clock, the street lights were still on and the traffic lights were still in flashing orange mode. I was out of the house before quarter to seven where I found that even the moon hadn’t gone to bed!

I wasn’t really sure where I was going today so I ended up down by the river, as usual. Despite the fact it was so early, or maybe because of that, the outdoor gymnasium was quite busy. I’ve never seen these in any other countries, they’re free and a brilliant idea. Mind you, I doubt they’d last long in the UK; vandals would either steal them or destroy them.

Also, because I was so early I was walking into the sun all the way out, which made for some interesting pictures. As always, I took far too many but I’ll let you see these two.

I was back home before nine having walked twelve kilometres in two and a quarter hours. That may not seem fast to you but it’s fast enough for me! Why was I back home so early? Why didn’t I carry on for a few more kilometres. You might think that SWMBO had something to do with me having to stay in, again, waiting for a courier delivery, again. “You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment!”

A very relaxing morning followed, lots of internet to make up for yesterday when the VPN failed. The expected delivery did come, after Huan had returned home and we had finished our lunch. My afternoon was just as lazy, I spent it browsing electric two wheelers, and three wheelers on Taobao, not that we have any intention of buying one yet. Why electric? Once you reach the age of 70, you are limited to 50cc for bikes and mopeds. Why use Taobao? All the ones in town are too small for my legs, so I was looking at these instead.

October 19th We were supposed to be getting up at five this morning to go on another OAP trip. Yes, Huan asked and I agreed. It was free for the Chinese people and ¥100.00 for me, not bad really. Anyway, it turned out last night that the company in question said foreigners can’t go. The ladies decided that if I couldn’t go then they weren’t going either. I did try and get them to change their minds, but I failed.

We woke up to rain outside so left a little late for our shortish walk. It had to be short because we were off out for another ‘singing people dinner’ at lunch time, supposedly for another teacher who is leaving. On our way out this hole in the wall caught my eye. I wonder if it was the parent or the child who abandoned these poor cuddlies.

Dinner was fine, too much food and if I had been willing, too much alcohol. I wasn’t willing! I’m no longer a fan of large spreads and too much amber nectar, especially at lunch times. The teacher we had seen off last time was still here, he’s off to Sanya tomorrow, so this was possibly another send off for him. Everyone had a great time, they sang songs in rotation around the table. Huan sang with her neighbour but unfortunately, I was out of the room so I didn’t hear them and obviously, didn’t get a video of them. Back in the room, under pressure to sing something, I gave them an abridged version of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, even managed to go wrong on the first verse. Still, it went down well.

Soon it was time to go home and, exactly the same as the last time, this little pooch turned up. It belongs to one of the singers and always turns up after dinner. I don’t know why. Everyone said it wanted nothing to do with ‘other humans’, only its owners so they were all very surprised when it came straight to me and even allowed me to pick it up.

Huan was brave this evening and went off on her bicycle to meet Fish down by the river. They were going for a ‘sing’ the rest of the class. I decided to give it a miss so no photos of this exciting ‘coming of age’ event. I’ll try again next time!

October 20th Huan wanted to go ‘contra flow’ through the village on the other side of the river today. Of course, she had an ulterior motive! We had to pop into a courier company on the main road on our way back! Still, that’s the last of this latest Taobao order.

The snowbirds, although a little later than usual, can now be seen by the riverside. Here’s a couple of budding saxophone players.

There are some beautiful views on this walk; this next photo is a crop from one of them.

Next up is a building we’ve passed a few times but we have no idea what it is, or what it was. If you know, let us know in the comments.

The next one is another panorama; you know how I love them. This is actually a full 360o one, taken just the other side of the building above.

And the last one from today’s walk? Well, remember Huan and the ants? This time it was me, but I did it on purpose. I saw the hole in the rock and poked a stick in it to see what sort of reaction I’d get. They swarmed out in all directions. Luckily for me none of them managed to get all the way up the stick to my arms.

Huan was off out singing again this afternoon at the bridge lady’s house, so called because she used to be a bridge engineer before she retired. I volunteered to make dinner so we did our bit for global warming with a ‘meatless Sunday’; well Monday’s are already meatless because they are fish days. Today it was just a simple vegetable soup, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, some kind of lettuce or cabbage, paprika, cumin, turmeric and ginger. Her Ladyship was well pleased and I enjoyed it too.

In the evening she was double busy, first off with dancing practice and secondly with singing down at the riverside again. When she left for her singing, I fitted the Nikon to her handlebars, switched it on and started the recording then gave her instructions on how to switch it off when she gets there. This is only her second real ride on her bike so I hope the video works and that it’s not too dark. If it does, I will upload it and put the URL up for you.

Postscript: - The video quality was not too bad but the quality of the cycling terrified me so I’m not going to put it up here for you. You will all tell me to keep Huan off the road until she is more experienced. I know I can’t tell Huan anything!

October 21st More mornings like this would be very welcome. I was awake very early again, 6 o’clock, but felt very good. I must have slept well last night. I was out before seven, even before Huan had finished her breakfast. My route today was up the Haikou road. With the highway to Haikou now being open this road is much quieter and makes for a very pleasant walk, as long as you don’t go too far. The scenery is nice too.

Just before I took that photo, about five kilometres out, I called Huan to make sure she was ‘ready for school’. She asked me how far I had gone and then gave me instructions to walk only one more kilometre and then turn back. I said “Yes dear” and then, like the good husband I am, totally ignored her. I had a plan today, walk out ten kilometres or two hours, whichever came first, and then turn round and go back home. So that’s what I did. I almost walked straight past the next photo-op, then I heard a sound in the bushes and lo behold, I was being watched.

I carried on going, uphill, I was looking for the ‘honey’ place that we’ve often seen while driving but Huan and I didn’t get that far walking last time. I found it; I think about seven and a half kilometres out. However, it’s either closed down or it’s not honey season.

I continued onward and upward until I reached both the ten kilometre and the two hour mark. If I had carried on, I think the rest stop on the road would have been within another two kilometres, maybe another time with Huan. We’ll get the bus back from there. I was home showered and fed, with Huan’s lunch on the table before she got back from singing school. I could have lied and said I had followed orders, but I didn’t.

Now when we walk together the pace is usually between three and half, and four kilometres an hour so our last trip up this road, turning round about the five kilometre mark was not bad at all. Alone, I tend to walk much faster, by the time I reached my turn around point I was absolutely soaked. Luckily for me, it was then downhill all the way home and mostly under the shade of the roadside trees. This Endomondo screenshot will give you an idea.

Needless to say, I didn’t want to do any more walking today! Shopping was out afternoon duty, an empty shop again. Of course, in China, unlike the UK, shelves are stacked and fruit and vegetables are rotated so their shelves can be cleaned, while the customers are in the store. Many U-turns were taken with the trolley!

Almost nodded off in the chair this afternoon, one of these days I’ll break my neck! Huan only went dancing tonight so no cycling to the river which meant a big sigh of relief from me. It was a very silent sigh…

October 22nd Today some dummy, who shall remain nameless, was practicing her singing, in bed, at five o’clock in the morning! To be fair, she wasn’t very loud but it was enough to disturb my peaceful slumbers. I did manage to get a little more sleep after. So, I had a slightly later start than yesterday but I hadn’t planned on a long walk today. I did want a hill though so I took the landfill route and checked on the highway progress on the way. It looks as if they’ve done quite a lot since the last walk.

A little later, I came upon a sign. Seeing the tyre tracks I thought I would go that way anyway but soon had to come back and follow the diversion.

I was diverted along the route of the new highway. It won’t be ready for quite a long time by the looks of it. Huan and I were thinking of walking along the route before it opened as we did with the Wuzhishan to Haikou part. We didn’t walk all the way of course, only twenty five kilometres. We think it would be an interesting walk but it’s months away yet, if not a year or two.

Once through all the dirty and dusty bits, and past the landfill, I had the more pleasant farm and village views. I got this next photo peering through a gap in the wall. I’m not sure what the farmer was using the fountain for but the ducks were probably having a good old gossip.

And my last one for today, what is this sign supposed to say? Could it be “Furry Baby” or perhaps “Funny Baby”? It is a shop selling baby things but it seems the Chinese has very little relation to the English in this particular case.

No more walks for me today, I had got my ‘ten’ in and a hill as well. I had a lazy day, guitar, Chinese, Blog, surfing the interwebs and reading. Huan had a busy day, first with a committee meeting. There is still no sign of us getting our gas back, more court appearances are required! She followed that in the evening with Dama dancing and singing by the river. She went on her bike again; I’ll try not to think about it!

 

October 23rd Today I went for a serene, steady, sandal wearing saunter. I was feeling lazy and my legs were still a little sore. Instead of the Fuji I took the Nikon Keymission but there was nothing for me to video or snap. Never mind, there’ll be other chances. Just less than nine kilometres this morning so an evening walk will be needed!

The afternoon saw us both taking another one of those OAP naps before Huan went out singing at “Bridge Lady’s’ house.

She was out again in the evening but only Dama dancing tonight, no riverside singing. I decided to start out with them and make a little video. Here we are, in the lift.

However, there were only three of them so although they are in the video, I carried on filming for my two kilometre walk. I stopped to check on the park bridge progress and noticed the sun shining through the legs so I took a screenshot for you.

Once home, it was Blog, Chinese and Guitar, the internet would have to wait, no access to foreign lands again. Access regained at ten o’clock, will have to leave the video uploading over night, yet again. Here’s the URL - https://youtu.be/exPBMnyZZNA

October 24th No walkies at all today. When I got up only 2% of yesterday’s video had uploaded and my access to the outside world had disappeared sometime in the night. That meant I had to start again this morning and keep checking the ‘little green tick mark’. If it changed to red I had to press ‘try again’ which I was necessary multiple times. The upload was eventually completed around seven in the evening.

Huan was out as usual for morning singing classes and afternoon singing practice. I took the opportunity of cooking today’s dinner, might as well make myself useful. I had already agreed with the Ministry of Food that it would be a chicken (and vegetable) curry, we both enjoyed it, Huan more than me. She likes it just as it is and I prefer to add little extras such as raisins and desiccated coconut. I suspect the coconut was way past its ‘best by date’ and was probably off! Here’s what it looked like pre-dressing.

October 25th Another lazy day today. Well, I did go for a walk but I didn’t feel the need for speed, hills or distance. What I felt the need for was the countryside, peace and quiet. I still walked ten and a half kilometres but it took me almost three hours. Mind you, in that time I managed to take a hundred and sixty six photos, probably half of those in black and white. The first run through I got them down to one hundred and twenty two, still too many. Second run through and down to ninety, still too many for you but OK for me!

So, where did I go? I went across the bridge to nowhere and that’s where I took the first photo. I thought the cloud in the valley behind the hills looked very pretty. Huan liked it too when she came home and saw it.

Villages in black and white followed, here is Zali Cun.

No pigs were spotted today, it looks like Central Government rules have eventually reached Wuzhishan. Lots of chickens were seen though and lots of photographs of them were taken. Here is one showing two of them.

Next up were three ducklings and I was able to get quite close. They had obviously been having a bath and were now cleaning themselves up.

Another village followed, Fuguan Cun which of course meant I had to take more black and white photographs. Just to give you a little variety, this one’s not a building, but a truck. The radiator and the headlamps jumped out at me when I was sorting out the pictures on the PC. I wish I could remember what it looked like in colour!

I left the village and headed to the old medicine factory, the opposite way to our normal route. Lo and behold, another chicken, or should I say a cockerel. I caught this one in the middle of his ‘cock-a-doodle-doos’.

A lot more black and white photos taken in the medicine factory but I think you’ve seen a lot of them before. Leaving there, I had a small obstacle course.

It was worth it though, I stopped here for a wee while, revelling in the sounds of nature and the solitude I’d been looking for today.

Today wasn’t a sandal day, you probably guessed that when you saw the obstacle course. I was wearing my boots. Somebody however, wasn’t wearing his, or hers. Do you think this is some kind of secret signal?

That was going to be the last photo for today but I do like this next one. It’s another black and white one, the subject is the two water towers. I like it is because of all the other details that are visible in the picture too.

Lunch was very good. Here’s a little advice for you, if you have a curry, make sure to leave a little in the pan, add some water to it and heat it up the next day, “et voila, soup du lendemain!” You could even whiz it up, put it in the fridge overnight and have a “Currysoise”. The afternoon brought rain but that didn’t worry us, both of us were staying put. Huan was doing her homework in the living room and I was writing this in the office.

October 26th Rain stopped play! Bob shredded his fingers practicing the guitar; Huan strained her vocal chords singing, (and Bob’s ears). I suppose it works both ways. I did have a break as the rain stopped by the evening so Dama dancing was the order of the day. More Chinese practice, I reckon another twenty years or so should do it!

October 27th I had Huan with me on today’s walk, a rarity these days, it only happens at weekends. She didn’t fancy any hills so we decided to walk upriver through the countryside and back down the main road. The first thing we noticed when crossing the bridge, was how the clouds had come down right to our buildings.

We were able to walk next to the river for quite a long way today, the last time we had tried this, our feet were sinking in the mud. This looks like it may be the route of a new bypass and although not so pretty now, it should be a lovely walk once it’s all done. This is the view looking upriver.

Before too long though we were back onto the tarmac and heading into the sun. It’s a good job we were out reasonably early today!

After that it was a u-turn and then down the other side of the river until we reached the point where we had to go back to roads again. This is the view looking downriver.

We both enjoyed our little stroll, it was long enough, just over fourteen kilometres, at least as far as Endomondo is concerned. The route on the map looked as if it had a few GPS failures with two long straight lines, through buildings, through the river etc. I think the distance is probably correct though, it usually works out between twelve and thirteen but we did add extra today by following the riverbank. It was relaxed enough, nearly four hours.

Today being Sunday, a full English was on the menu, lubbly jubbly. Huan was in the kitchen today, I had volunteered yesterday, not that we worry about these things. After lunch, singing for Huan, bath for me, must try and get some bath salts!

Dancing in the evening for Huan, singing when she got home, I can still hear her now and it’s after ten o’clock. At least my guitar practice is long over, only my Chinese to do now and the internet is playing up again!

October 28th Today I was housebound again, under orders of course. The maintenance staff were coming to replace the touch time delay switch for the light outside our front door. They did replace the switch but the new one was not doing what it was supposed to do. I tried to explain and to argue my point of view but they were adamant it was ‘all OK’. Well, I did what I always do in these cases, waited until they had left and then re-installed the new switch myself. It works perfectly now!

October 29th I was a lonely walker again today, one who didn’t really feel like it at all. Huan was at singing school. However, once out on the road I was fine. As well as walking I was doing my finger stretching exercises. First kilometre stretches for ten paces, relax for fifteen, second kilometre fifteen and fifteen, third twenty and twenty, fourth thirty and thirty and finally, fifth, one minute and one minute. Towards the end, I could feel my right hand forming a claw to match the left!

Today’s plan was another two hours or ten kilometres, whichever came last, but on the road towards Sanya this time. Here’s my u-turn point, two hours in, two minutes after I had done the ten kilometres. As you can see, it was a quiet day for traffic.

On the way back I spotted a little fish farm, these are the things you miss when you are driving. I guess it would be fairly easy to catch a fish here, even for an absolute fishing dummy like me.

A couple of ‘test’ cars passed me but I was too slow with the camera as they came from behind me. After that, my camera was ready, in continuous mode just in case. I never saw them again but this caught my eye, the ‘old’ and the ‘new’.

So, how far did the reluctant wanderer walk today? Instead of telling you the answer, I’ll show you. Here I am, back outside our building, showing off Endomondo. Not bad eh?

Scanning and printing for the ‘students’ in the afternoon. They had bought some music books from Taobao but somehow, as always seems to happen when the three of them try to organise anything together, they had bought the wrong ones! They borrowed a book from one of the other students for muggins to scan and print so they could still do their homework until the right books arrive.

October 30th A reflective roaming along the banks of the mellow meandering river. That’s what I did this morning; along with some more exercises of course. This time I was using the finger strengthener. Index and middle finger are easy, they do what you tell them to. Pinky and ring finger are much more difficult, they don’t like to work alone. I watch guitarists on YouTube and I wonder at the speed, and accuracy at which they change chords, as well as the plucking skills of their right hands. I think they all started playing before they could walk! Anyway, here’s the device I was using today.

October 31st Rain stopped play! Well, Huan went off to her singing lessons with her brolly up but I didn’t go walking. However, I didn’t want you to have no photo for the last day of the month so when we had a break in the rain I took this.

I spent most of the day creating bookmarks for my Yoyo Chinese tests. Presently, if I want to review a test I have to find the lesson, click through parts of it until finally landing on the test page. This way it will be much easier, well, easier to find them, maybe not easier to do them!

And that brings us to the end of another missive from me, a dispatch from deep in Hainan, a report from Robert, an epistle from the East or a letter from a loony! PS I checked to see if I could still use that word, this is what the dictionary says – “loony definition: 1 - silly or stupid: 2 - a person who is crazy, silly, or strange: 3 - foolish or crazy”. I guess I’m in there somewhere. Bye, till next time.

Unclebob 01.11.2019 0 43
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