February 1st “If you don't believe me, If you don't like my plans, You mustn't tell me”, another song to start the month, this one called ‘February Air’ from the band ‘Lights’. It wasn’t my first choice but ‘Xmas in February’ by ‘Lou Reed’ didn’t have the right sort of lyrics. Anyway, a new month begins, the one I haven’t been looking forward to. The nearer my operation gets the more I seem to worry about it. I know I shouldn’t but those of you who know me will know that, despite outward appearances, I am a worrier.
So what did we do today? Well, we went for a walk of course. We’re sticking to easy walks until later in the year so we went around the river again. I was hoping to make a video about the firework stalls but they aren’t open yet. They’ve also changed a lot since last year, all in small steel containers now. There was however a new, temporary, market along the riverside, a farmer’s market. You’ve seen pictures of various birds in cages before so I’ll skip them. I was a bit surprised to see this though, a porcupine. Whether it’s native to Hainan or not I couldn’t tell you but it sure seems a shame that he will end his life as a New Year dish.
February 2nd Yet another ‘blue sky’ day, lovely for walking. We were following this woman for a while, carrying her shopping. I guess it’s fair to say that Chinese people, or more broadly speaking, Asian people, always know where their food is coming from. Yes, that’s a live chicken in the bag on the left. I wonder if it knows where it’s going?
The town is definitely looking good for the Spring Festival holidays, here’s the centrepiece of the town square. When I see these, and there are a lot of them in Hainan, I always wonder about the cross migration of peoples between continents all those years ago. This ‘totem pole’ is concrete but we have a lot of wooden ones too.
Also in the town square were lots of small orange trees. I believe that these oranges are not for eating, just for display. You can see them in pairs outside many businesses during the holiday season. Here’s a peach among the oranges.
February 3rd More walking of course! We thought we would take a stroll past the ‘Golden Mermaid’ and see how she is getting on these days. We passed through the apartment complex that she shares her space with and a resident told us that there will be a ‘seven star hotel’ in front of said mermaid. That would be to the right in this picture.
Now I don’t remember what her face was like on our last visit but it seems to me as if someone has tried to give her some make up. She also seems to have been damaged on her neck. Either you get vandals everywhere or she wasn’t made very well to start with!
Somebody else who seems to have a problem is this little duck. I couldn’t get close enough to get a good shot but have a look at its wings. Those white feathers wouldn’t go back inside. We watched for a while in case it was some kind of mating ritual or perhaps a way to dry the feathers but each time it flapped its wings those white bits ended up sticking out again.
February 4th Up at ten to six this morning, must be old age setting in. Good that I was though, we were at the supermarket before quarter past eight. Today is a ‘busy’ shopping day in China, New Year’s Eve. We were fine but when we got out after forty five minutes, the car park was chock a block!
Being New Year’s Eve and because Huan will have a busy three weeks at the end of the month looking after me, I said I would be the cook today. It would be a little difficult for Huan to cook her normal New Year’s spread anyway with only one electric hob. Yes, the gas is still off! Today we had Western instead, here’s a roast lamb with herbs.
The menu said three to three and a half hours so I took it out after three. I’ll know better next time. It was still tasty enough though and what’s left will give us a good stew for tomorrow and maybe even another day. So as New Year’s Day will be tomorrow, Huan and I would like to wish you all 过年好 (Guònián hǎo), which in case you didn’t know, is yet another way of saying Happy New Year!
February 5th Not a bad night’s sleep for a Chinese New Year’s Eve! It’s usually like a war zone for at least a couple of hours but we weren’t disturbed much at all. We think maybe it’s something to do with a sign we saw on the wall of a fireworks stall where lots of areas are now restricted in the use of them. Here’s one of the stalls, #2 of 6, with the container behind, which we assume is supposed to ‘contain’ any untoward explosions. Looking at how much stock is outside the container I reckon they must take a lot home with them at night time!
Today was a great day. We were very lazy this morning although Huan did make some dumplings for freezing. We were both so happy with how quiet everything was. Standing on the bedroom balcony, all we could hear were birds. Even on our afternoon walk it was still remarkably quiet, on our street all the shops were closed with the exception of a ‘convenience’ store. It reminded me of how Boxing Day used to be in the UK. “Why is it so noisy the rest of the time?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s all to do with excavator mounted hydraulic jack hammers; they are going from early morning to evening, probably nearly twelve hours a day. We have them in front of our house, behind our house, up the road from our house, in fact all over Wuzhishan. I guess it’s not so easy knocking mountains down! Behind our house, it’s not a mountain they are knocking down, but the ‘tips’ of mountains sticking up through the riverbed. We think they are going to put a pedestrian bridge where they are making this hole. It has given a lovely hue to the water though!
February 6th My feet are swelling up again, probably because I’m staying off the Aspirin until I’ve had my operation, so walking is a must this month, as often as possible. Today, I decided a Fujifilm walk was called for, mostly because I wanted to enter the weekly competition on Facebook, the theme of which was reflections. I made a mistake. There was just a little too much wind ruffling the surface of the river and no decent shop windows as most places were still closed. I did find the toilet though and after all, that is where many people go to sit and ‘reflect’!
I am still learning, (or trying to), how to use the Fujifilm so most pictures were sent straight to the bin today. There are a couple of wildlife ones for you though. The first is my friend who is kept chained up outside the local restaurant, poor chap, Don’t worry, he is not on the menu, he is for breeding. The owners have a problem though, his mate ran away! As you can probably see, he is always pleased to see me.
The previous pic was a four legged friend, this one is eight. However, if you look closely he seems to be missing one leg. He ‘fell out’ of his web right in front of us and I think he was trying to find a way back. I didn’t fancy giving him a helping hand, just in case!
February 7th Another lazy morning with an walk after lunch. The adult vocational college down in the middle of town has changed the use of its sports track. It is now a facility free for the public to use. Parents can exercise here –
Children can join in of course, or play here –
And ‘seniors’ are not left out, they can play here –
As you can see, the kids have been playing here too! What about me? Did I exercise or play while we were there? After all, as well as what you see, there is a small football pitch, a tennis court and some basketball courts. Well, I went through the motions even if after many years I may have forgotten the correct starting position.
Evening time saw us finish off the lamb, another nice stew! It also brought us a visitor from ‘oop north’ young Jake Canning. I do like to see other foreigners from time to time and we spent a few merry hours on the balcony lubricating our engines. No evidence though, I forgot to take any photos!
February 8th Jake was off cycling this morning so Huan and I went for a San Yue San Da Dao walk. For those who have forgotten, that is the main street through town. On the way the Shangri La complex has had new advertising posters put up. I thought you might like this one. Great advertising and would have been almost true until they knocked almost all the mountain down around the complex.
Evening time brought more visitors, Patrick, Flora and Podraig. That meant another evening on the balcony for Jake and I, along with Patrick to help us empty the bottles. It was an evening I really enjoyed, haven’t been to bed so late for a long time! However, future invites may be not so forthcoming if my little friend Dodo is not brought along!
February 9th Another morning walk for Huan and I. The cobwebs certainly needed blowing away after yesterday evening! Very lazy with the camera but I did take a short video for uploading on the YouTube channel. This was the accordionist and his resident choir. Both he and the singers are of course snowbirds. Here’s a screenshot.
February 10th Relaxing day today, well for me anyway, all I had to do was go and buy the makings for a salad. Huan was busy making pizzas for our lunchtime guests. We had them all round for lunch because Jake was on his way back to Haikou in the afternoon. As usual Huan excelled herself!
February 11th Another Monday, another shopping day. For some strange reason the supermarket was quite empty today, when we arrived and when we left. Afternoon sleeps required all round, I guess we must be getting old!
My evening plan was to have drinks with Patrick. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Patrick, Jake and Podraig all had what appeared to be food poisoning. That of course got Huan worrying! However, she, myself and Flora were all fine so I tried to reassure her that it was not her cooking! Flora did pop round in the evening, to print something, and, she brought Dodo with her this time. I guess we can invite them again after all!
February 12th A lazy morning, waiting to cook a lunch time fry-up for the visitors. In the end, I cooked just for Huan and I, Patrick still had an upset tummy. An afternoon walk was our only other activity, another ‘stroll’ around the riverside. I have decided there will be no ‘strenuous’ walks until I’ve been ‘seen to’!
February 13th A fry-up for me for breakfast, we have to try and empty the fridge and freezer before we trek off to Haikou. No breakfast for Huan though, she has been struck down with a dicky tummy, just like the others. As it is more than 48 hours after the pizza this would imply that perhaps it isn’t food poisoning but more likely a stomach bug. For the rest of the day I was Dr Bob, not that I could do much apart from making sure Huan’s ‘hot water’ cup was regularly refilled. More Bill binge watching in-between.
February 14th Valentine’s Day but Dr. Bob was still in the house! Huan was still feeling a little fragile so we had a fairly lazy day although Huan did go out for her D2. (Have you forgotten what that is? Check back to refresh your memory!)
February 15th Huan located a ‘Bank of China’ for me, in Ledong, so that’s where we went this morning. I wanted to confirm my pension payments, to change a few more pounds and to make sure we have enough money for the upcoming hospital trip. The bank branch is so new that the Sat-Nav didn’t show it at all but a friendly chappie from the fuel station led us to it. It’s actually on the same street we often eat in, very useful for future visits. It’s a lot quicker to go to Ledong and back than it is to Sanya.
Huan was dancing again in the evening so I decided to walk down with her and then have a short riverside walk on my own. Passing the local college, whose walls have just been painted, I thought I would show you these two photos. This one is fairly normal, we have seen people wearing clothes like this.
However, we haven’t seen anyone like this. I’ll be keeping my eyes open from now on!
Now Chinese people have some habits that we may consider just a little bit strange. One of them is walking on a cobbled pavement in bare feet. It’s supposed to be good for you. I’m not so sure myself!
The ladies were going to dance in the town square tonight and as luck would have it, there was another group rehearsing. They were a much larger group, much more organised and I think they may have been getting ready for 元宵节 – Yuán xiāo jié - Lantern Festival. They look like local costumes but it's a bit early for 三月三 - Sān yuè sān (3rd day of 3rd month), a local Hainan festival. I managed to get a video for Facebook, not one of my better efforts though. Here’s a couple of screenshots.
February 16th Back to a semblance of normality with a morning walk around the river. We had to stop on the way to ‘charge’ our phones with money, just in case. Huan found that for some reason she had been using data which meant she had used a lot more. She was not a very happy bunny! On our way round, we passed some more billboards where we spotted the following gem. If anyone has any idea what they are trying to say feel free to let us know. It does make me wonder, yet again, why are the people who make these signs too proud to ask for help with the English language. It used to be the same in the UAE.
February 17thOh dear, Huan’s new monitor has decided to ‘underline’ the top portion of the screen with quite a broad green line. Checked it on my PC, same results so took it off to the shop this morning. Thankfully the problem still showed up there. I was dreading what used to happen in Hong Kong, the other way around, when the ‘girls’ would complain about the equipment in the communications centre which would miraculously be fine when I turned up to check it out. I used to blame it on their nylon underwear! Anyway, they agreed to replace it but then couldn’t find another one in the shop, not even from another manufacturer, of the same size and configuration. Maybe it will be sorted this week. . .
February 18th “Listen to the pouring rain, listen to it pour”, (Jose Feliciano). Well at least it wasn’t a walking day, only a ‘small’ shopping one. Yes, not much needed this week as we’ll be off on Thursday, up North to the chop shop, otherwise known as the hospital. We started preparing early instead, charging Huan’s pad, checking my laptop etc.
February 19th‘SWMBO’ (She who must be obeyed) told me that I am not allowed to walk, I have to rest before we go up to Haikou. Of course there are always exceptions to every rule, in this case I was allowed a three kilometre round trip to take Huan’s monitor back to the shop and collect a new one. I have to say that I am suitably impressed with the service we received on this occasion. No questions, no protestations, just a straight swap, a new one for the faulty one. The original was a Lenovo, 23.6 inch, the replacement is a Philips 24 inch so no complaints on our side. Here’s a happy bunny surfing the web once we got home.
Lo and behold, the ‘rules’ were bent again and I was allowed out in the evening to make a video of today’s D2, which just in case you still can’t remember is ‘Dama Dancing’. Our neighbourhood group only had four members tonight, probably because today is Lantern Festival, the last day of the New Year celebrations. Fireworks are going off outside as I write this. If you want to see the ladies dancing you’ll have to follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzCTuUAXZBU&t=0s&index=40&list=PLrm74YBD3qG5hMSefKtpaGIH2okgNoBLN In the meantime, here are three of the group walking up to Sany Yue San Square, the fourth member joined them there.
February 20th Happy Birthday to me! Sentiment stolen from the internet.
So, “What’s the recipe today Jim?” (You may just have to google that, especially if you’re a youngster.) Well, breakfast was the usual Chinese birthday one, long noodles and egg, with a few extras such as meat and vegetables. The long noodles symbolise a long life, not sure about the egg, rebirth perhaps? Lazy day after, tomorrow being D-Day! We did our packing in the morning, following the prepared list, worse than going on holiday! Nap time in the afternoon. For me at least, having been woken by Huan taking down all the New Year decorations at what seemed the break of dawn.
On our way out for my birthday dinner we passed two new friends at the gatehouse. One is a little shy and I haven’t had time to get him (or her) to relax yet. The other one is quite a boisterous little chappie, friendly too.
So what was my birthday dinner? Well Huan had all these ideas of where to take me, how to spoil me, maybe even Western food for a change so I think she was quite surprised when I declined. With us travelling up to the hospital tomorrow alcohol is off the menu anyway and I didn’t really feel up to a slap up meal. Instead, it was what we call a ‘choose food’ place, where the choices are laid out buffet style. There’s a set price for two meat and two veg but I went expensive and had two veg, one meat and two chicken legs. It cost Huan the princely sum of ¥35.00, (less than four pounds). Here’s our dishes, Huan’s is the top one, mine the bottom.
A bottle of Nescafe Smoovlatte when I got home and I was fine. I sent Huan off dancing again so I could finish this tonight and get it posted.
As you can see, it’s not the end of the month yet. That is because the next missive will be a special one, dedicated to one subject.
From Nurse Huan and myself, TTFN, see you then!