January 1st “The January man he goes around in woollen coat and boots of leather” (Christy Moore) Well no woolly coats and boots here but not an auspicious start to the New Year, I spent most of the day not far from the throne room again!
January 2nd My usual remedy for ‘the runs’ was not working so it was a nice slow walk to the hospital, just up the hill. When we got there, we found they had moved to a new place half way down the hill! I gave the doctor a print out detailing everything that had happened since my biopsy, including a restaurant meal on the evening of 29th December. He settled on a bad case of food poisoning the same as me. Sigh of relief.
In the afternoon, I started getting worried again, blood was appearing in my poop. Checking Dr. Google, it seems that 100% of men who have a prostate biopsy have blood in their poop. Strangely, I didn’t until today. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
January 3rd Stomach seems to be improving, had a walk to the supermarket for some probiotics based on advice from daughter Sammy J. and various sites on the web. Managed to stay out of the smallest room in the house!
January 4th It’s just one of those days that you have now and then. I’m sure there’s a tune that goes like that. First off, I hate the aftermath of the ‘runs’. I feel like there’s a ton of concrete in my belly now. The doctor gave me ten sachets of ‘polyfilla’ with no instructions. The pharmacist told me to stop taking them when I had stopped running. I guess I took one too many! Anyway, enough of my health problems, at least for now, or this will turn into an episode of ‘Emergency Ward 10’, (for you younger readers think of ‘Casualty’).
Huan’s PC was playing up a lot today again, Windows 10 freezing on start-up, so I decided enough was enough, and took it to the repair shop. We had to leave it there because the technician, (loosely speaking) was out until the afternoon. I got Huan to explain as much as possible, including the fact that this PC has previously had an HDD problem, repaired by software. He called us at lunch time and asked us to bring the cable as the PC was OK. “Which cable?” I ask! I ended up taking the power cable, the VGA cable and the monitor. Guess what, the technician wasn’t there yet again. The lady in the shop told us the monitor was not working correctly. I spent a few minutes with her and did some fault finding my way. She was right, but the VGA part of the mother board was also not working. They had been testing using a VGA/HDMI adaptor. Anyway, we ended up buying Huan a new monitor with an HDMI connection. She is happy again now and that’s the most important thing.
January 5th No walks today, I think I’ll let my body get a little stronger first. I spent a lot of the morning online with Microsoft Support. With all the freeze-ups and repairs that had taken place on Huan’s PC I was no longer able to network them. They eventually sorted it out for me. Yet again, for those in China, there are benefits to having legal software installed on your PC!
The rest of the day was spent putting all the data back into Huan’s PC that I had removed before taking it to the repair shop. Photos take the longest time of course. Some software had to be re-installed, Alipay, QQ, etc. This time I installed QQ Interational for her, maybe it will stop half the rubbish that seems to come with QQ locally.
January 6th Spent a lazy day indoors again. I had left our two computers supposedly exchanging information over FolderMatch when I went to bed last night, only to find out this morning that I had made a ‘booboo’. Before going to bed, as usual, I switched the wifi off, which, unknown to me, stopped any data transfer. Our computers, for some reason, are networked through the wifi unit. (I should have remembered this!) Anyway, that meant that today was more data transfer and re-installation of more software on Huan’s PC. She’s now all singing, all dancing again. All data there and the software to view it, Picasa, VLC, Libre Office etc. In the end, quite a good day.
January 7th “Monday’s child is fair of face me…” Shopping day again, not a very big shop though as we still had a lot left from last week! Wandering around Baijiahui, our local supermarket, I spotted three faces that definitely were a bit ‘fair’ and not local. My first thought was “Russian tourists”. However, following them down the escalator I heard English being spoken. Of course I had to get in there didn’t I? “English Huan! They’re speaking English!” No shyness on my part! It turns out that one was from the UK, one from New Zealand and one from Tunisia. Foot in mouth disease, I said to him, “You don’t look like a Tunisian.” Immediately I found myself apologising for my PC oversight, in this case PC being Political Correctness. (God knows how I would survive in the UK these days!) It seems they are here helping out with the Olympic weight lifting teams in our local sports hotel. It’s a government run hotel built especially for events like this based around the Olympics. At least it’s being used now. Hopefully we’ll meet up with them again in the next three weeks before they return to Beijing.
January 8th Life is almost back to normal now. We had a nice, steady, eight kilometre walk, down one side of the river and back the other.
It seems that either the owner of the hotel that used to be adorned with a ‘Holiday Inn’ sign has started work again, or someone else has taken over. Can’t say I think much of the colour scheme though, and there’s no longer a Holiday Inn sign.
And the last photo for today, (well you haven’t had any this month so far). My son keeps making me jealous on Facebook by uploading photos of him eating bratwurst. I wasn’t able to find any of that ilk, but here I am with a 哈尔滨儿童香肠 (Hā'ěrbīn értóng xiāngcháng) otherwise known as a Harbin children’s sausage. It’s called a children’s sausage because it has leaner meat and less fat than the ‘adult’ versions. It’s nice, but unfortunately, a ‘brattie’ still beats it by miles.
Finally today, back to Huan’s computer again. I couldn’t get the Taobao chat app to work at all and I needed her to speak to the buyer to make sure I bought the right battery for our laptop. In the end, it would appear that Microsoft Edge doesn’t support the necessary pop-ups. Using Internet explorer fixed it! Battery ordered, now all I need to do is find some software.
January 9th An improvement on yesterday’s walk, just over ten kilometres today. We still went the same way though, up and down the river but with a couple of extra bits to give us that little more distance.
Some of you may remember previous blogs with views from our bedroom balcony, some with a torrential river, some without, but all with a fairly nice view. It’s not quite the same now! Hopefully when all the work is completed it will look presentable enough but as you can see, it will definitely look a lot more man-made than natural!
And lastly for today, Huan removing my power! She does like to give me haircuts, far more than I like receiving them. Today I tried to make a video of her cutting my hair and me cutting hers. For some reason my camera, instead of recording a whole video, only recorded two short 5 minute segments at the beginning of the process. I’ve asked on the camera FB page what went wrong, it looks like possibly the SD card I am using is not good enough for 4K videos. Anyway, here’s a screen shot.
January 10th The weather forecast was fine, the weather was not! Ah well, lazy morning then. I also had a lazy afternoon because Huan had another committee meeting to attend. It seems that the existing maintenance company have been asked to leave by the local courts, they have agreed to go in ten days. Who the new company is I have no idea, neither do I have any idea if they will make any progress in getting our gas put back on! I don’t particularly want to drill holes in the kitchen wall and put a gas bottle on the balcony, but we could end up doing just that.
After dinner I had a nice fast walk. I was alone so managed eight kilometres in one hour and twenty five minutes. With Huan in tow, it would probably have taken an hour and forty eight minutes. “Where was she?” I hear you ask. Well, some of the ladies in our buildings are doing a little 大妈跳舞, (Dàmā tiàowǔ), the literal translation of which is ‘Aunt dancing’. We usually just call it ‘Dama Dancing’. In my view it’s time Huan had someone else to talk to and have a little fun now and then so I’m glad for her. She only started the day before yesterday so I was absolutely forbidden to make a video! I did take a couple of photos though and I will get a video at sometime in the future. (PS What do you think of Huan’s haircut?)
January 11th Nice long perambulation this fine morning, nearly thirteen kilometres. We decided to keep it fairly steady though, no ‘sprinting’. Huan wanted me to make a video of the street market that we often walk through so being the dutiful husband that I am, I did. If you want to see it, you’ll have to visit my YouTube page. Meanwhile, here’s a screen shot, not of the market, but of us with me introducing “General Dogsbody” and the “Prime Minister”. Can you guess which is which?
Evening time I was back on the laptop again trying to get it to speak to me in English instead of Chinese. I got there eventually although I’m still not over happy with it. I think we have major problems with this laptop as it was bought new with a Chinese install, which I got them to change to English. I think they did that with an illegal version. Later on we converted it back to Chinese for Huan. Somewhere along the way I think all the original Acer tools and stuff disappeared!
January 12th A lazy day today, cereal for breakfast, a nice slow walk, full English for lunch, German bread and Italian salami sandwiches for tea. It all made a pleasant change.
January 13th No people in our house this morning, just two fat lumps of lard! Huan didn’t fancy walking, too lazy, and I hadn’t slept well so I was too lazy too. It wasn’t much different in the afternoon although this lardy lump did some more work on the laptop. I spent ages on the internet trying to find a way to get the right recovery disks or software but as it was bought in China, it seems almost impossible. Gave up in the end! Instead, I went through all the folders in Windows explorer deleting any that had anything to do with software that was no longer installed. This included Alibaba, Alipay, Tencent, Kingsoft and all kinds of other stuff. The total number of files deleted was over 21,000! I was a little apprehensive when I went for a restart but it seems OK. I followed that by installing my (bought in Harbin) MS Office 2003, all OK there. Now the little beast is all ready for our next trip to hospital. I’ll be able to edit photos, keep next month’s blog up to date and watch some videos while I’m lying in bed wondering what’s going on!
January 14th “Just another manic Monday.” Well, not so manic really as Monday of course, as you all know, is shopping day. We also seem to have found the best time to go, early in the morning as soon as the store is open. Here’s the Minister of Finance at the checkout!
January 15th After a two day hiatus neither of us really felt like walking but we went for it anyway. We did fairly well, but we, or should I say I, was too lazy to take any photos. Instead, here is the route we walked. Spot all the twists and turns to reach eleven and a half kilometres.
January 16th Boots back on today and a little longer walk taking in a little of the country side and our mountain park walk. For me there is something really special about mountains against a pure backdrop of blue sky and that’s what I was looking for today. I didn’t find it but I thought you might like this one instead.
And just to prove we did the mountain park walk here’s one of each of us nearly at the bottom again.
January 17thOff the beaten track today and a little exploring down paths and tracks we haven’t been down before. Sometimes it makes a change and today we didn’t stray too far. Wildlife spotting was not quite what I expected, no pigs, ducks or chickens, just a few dogs. Mum ran away and one little black pup seemed to have been ostracised by the others but these three were very happy together. I couldn’t get very close, they were far too nervous. I guess if I had sat there for a while they would eventually have sneaked up to say hello. Ah well, never mind, they are cute though aren’t they?
On our way home we heard music coming from somewhere, a bit like a brass band. It took some searching but we found them in the end. It wasn't a brass band, more of a saxophone one, with the addition of some clarinets, flutes and a trombone. They might not have sounded perfect but, bearing in mind who they are, I think they're doing pretty well. They are in fact, all 'snowbirds', (retirees who travel to Hainan in the winter months), including one of our neighbours. Nearly all of them have taken up learning an instrument since they retired. They certainly put me to shame! Check out my YouTube channel for the video. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQdDjjD_0qYthEuj9UwQeuQ?fbclid=IwAR168TTJfSjZiCsfs6qA8Jvl271YGfOxHmt2n3OzxLmwgJWlidiC_w73eDI
Christmas has been and gone as I’m sure you all know but today we got a Christmas card along with a calendar from my youngest brother and his family. Check out how it arrived, and what it says on the envelope!
Lucky us, we also got another pressie today. Our tenants in Ledong, despite our protestations, had asked their daughter in Harbin to send us some sausages. She then phoned to confirm our address, when we again protested that it really wasn’t necessary. She didn’t listen of course so today this is what arrived. I guess that’s my lunch sorted out for the next two weeks!
January 18th No boots today but a long distance! Well, no walking either! Huan was busy for the first half of the morning making dumplings and patties. Once she was finished and we’d had our morning coffee it was downstairs to the car repair shop. Our car wouldn’t start again yesterday, the standing voltage had gone down since Monday, (when we did have to have a jump start) to 6.8 volts. While Huan was busy I had been googling and decided that the battery definitely needed replacing. Should be easy, yes? Well, not in Wuzhishan. It was not possible to buy another battery for our car anywhere here so we had to drive to the dealership in Sanya. It seems because we have a 2.3L engine our battery is special, the cost of the replacement was ¥800.00, (about £90.00).
It doesn’t look very special does it? Note to self – When this battery looks like it is on its last legs, look for a replacement on Taobao! We also got some clarification while we were there of the new rules about buying cars in Hainan. As of the 1st March the sales of diesel and petrol cars will be severely limited. Hainan natives, with their Hukou (household registration) in Hainan will be able to buy, provided they have won the number plate lottery. Mainlanders and foreigners will not be allowed to buy at all. So, if we win the lottery there will be no new car as I’m a foreigner and Huan is officially a mainlander. Of course we could, as we are allowed to, buy an electric car. Problems that come to mind are range, coming up the mountain from Sanya or Haikou, public charging points, they hardly exist yet and lastly domestic charging, when you live in an apartment block that doesn’t even have enough parking never mind any charging points! I guess if we get that rich we’ll be renting cars a lot!
January 19thWell we really motored today, five kilometres in fifty four minutes! What’s more, that ‘little slip of a girl’, who says I walk too fast, was with me every step of the way, at least until the last few hundred metres. She only slowed down then because we met a neighbour so Huan walked home with her, having a gossip. Our route was also ‘up and down’ not all on the level. Check out the screenshots below.
January 20th Having broken the world speed record yesterday we decided to slow down a little today. Huan thought we were going very slow until I showed her the Endomondo readings. I think today it was me trying to slow her down. She was also playing ‘director’ again with subtle hints about the scenery and photos. Who am I to argue?
It was the leaves on the ground that took Huan’s fancy, a touch of Autumn on a tropical island. What took my fancy was a new hotel being built. Well, not being built, being refurbished. I don’t know if it was an apartment block before or a hotel before, but here is the sign of what it will be! Once it’s completed, I’ll try and do a Keymission video there and report back to you.
January 21st “Gloomy Monday morning / I’ll never make it to work on time”. (The Black Hollies – worth a listen). Of course, I don’t have to make it to work on time any day, just to the supermarket on Monday. An uneventful trip although a little worrying. For some reason there was almost no milk left at all and what was there, was ‘skimmed’. Personally I can’t stand it, full fat is always the order of the day for me, but beggars can’t be choosers! The rest of the day was scanning some documents and then synchronising folders between Huan’s PC and mine. I quite like Mondays really.
In the evening Huan came back from her D2 (re-read previous days if you can’t remember!) and told me all about a planned OAP trip on Thursday to a park somewhere near Sanya, a night in a hotel and a boat trip, somewhere near Sanya. She asked me if I wanted to go, (Price - ¥80.00 each.) Do you know, I’m pretty sure I never answered the question, but we’re going anyway! Photos and report will follow!
January 22nd Boots back on this morning and a walk down the country roads towards Changhao village with a detour through some smaller lanes and tracks. No really steep hills, and no speed either so we both really enjoyed it. Not having taken photos for a while we went a bit berserk today and took thirty two. You won’t want to see them all of course so we’ll just put two here. The first is a gaggle of geese. I actually took a short video of these for the noise they were making. No wonder people use them as ‘guard dogs’.
The second is a little piggy who didn’t go wee wee all the way home, or anywhere else for that matter. Its relatives ran like mad but he / she didn’t. We weren’t sure why but looking at the way it was holding its tail I thought it may have been a little ‘constipated’! Anyway, we didn’t want to get too close on this occasion.
January 23rd Lovely weather this morning, not too chilly and definitely not too hot, so we decided a countryside walk was in order. It is nice to get off the tarmac roads and take the tracks through the trees now and then. We don’t live in a big city but like all towns, there is always noise of some sort. Getting out into the countryside takes us away from all that and gives us some wonderful scenery to boot!
Another video of the local ‘wildlife’ taken today, not half as noisy as yesterday. The ‘parent’ was very quiet indeed and just tried to subtly keep us away from the brood. They were cheeping away like mad but very quietly, so much so that they are difficult to hear on the video unless the volume is turned right up. They are cute though, aren’t they?
January 24th Day one of our Snowbird tourist trip or perhaps I should say the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ because we never seem to know where we are going. Here we are on the bus.
Our first port of call turned out to be Betelnut River Hot Springs, the driver got lost going there, it’s not so easy. We had to do a couple of U-turns on the highway (where allowed of course) before we eventually found the place. Our immediate need, or at least the “team’s immediate need” was food so it was straight to the restaurant. Now if you go alone you probably get a choice, we didn’t. It wasn’t bad though and enough for me, I don’t like to eat too much at lunch time.
After lunch we were left to our own devices until four PM when we had to return to the restaurant for dinner. We took that time to sample all the various pools and of course I was busy testing out my Nikon Keymission in the water again. Here are the ladies in the Green Tea pool. I’m not sure why they weren’t drinking it!
One thing we always do in these places is go for a fish supper! That is, you are the supper and the fish eat you! Here’s me being nibbled, including in my ears!
Those pesky little blighters managed to draw blood on my chest, where, according to the hospital in Haikou I had an infection. Anti-biotics are not working so well, perhaps I should spend a lot more time with the fishes!
We had no choice at dinner again but it was a pretty good meal and most definitely filled the rather large space in my insides. We had no food choices because we went with a tourist company, two days, including all meals and one night in the hotel, ¥80.00 per person. I would recommend a visit, maybe, more details, including (individual) prices, phone number and map, can be found in my album http://thehainanforum.com/m/photos/browse/album/Betelnut-River-Hot-Springs/owner/Unclebob
Our second ‘activity’ was to be an evening boat trip. True to type, the bus driver got lost trying to find his way out of the hot springs village! Success came eventually though and we were off. There were no further mishaps and although we were a little late, we weren’t the last coach to arrive. Here’s a picture of our ‘little’ boat. You can see more in my album http://thehainanforum.com/m/photos/browse/album/Sanya-Boat-Trip/owner/Unclebob
We then had a two hour drive to our hotel, in Xinlong. No photos from there, it was too dark. The hotel didn’t even have a name outside and no business cards either. On the surface it was pretty good. All the walls had been freshly painted and it appeared quite new. Looking more closely told a different story though. The rubbish bins in the entrance were overflowing, a bad omen to start with. Once we got to the room, we had to use the key to open the door. The card didn’t work, and the ‘slot’ for electricity was disabled. The deadlock on the door didn’t work, the balcony door didn’t lock. The glass shower ‘wall’ had disappeared. There was no toilet paper. The A/C had gone yellow with age and lastly, the kettle lid was broken. At least the beds were OK and we were cream crackered enough to sleep all night.
January 25th We had to be up and out by half past six to be taken somewhere for breakfast. Why don’t Chinese hotels serve breakfast? It wasn’t far, but for me not worth it. No choice of course, just rice soup and bread with a little pickle, not even any boiled eggs!
Then began our second day which turned out much different to what we had been expecting. We knew there would be some shopping involved but we also thought there was a trip to a park somewhere. We were wrong!
Our first port of call was a mattress outlet. The tour guide gave us all a long speech explaining that we had no choice but to ‘follow the leader’ as this was how they made money and kept costs down. Fine, but three hours of lectures and people trying to sell you foam mattresses? They weren’t cheap either. The one you can see here costs ¥10,680.00 which at today’s rates is £1,200.00. I haven’t lived in the UK for a long time but that still seems steep for a foam mattress.
I got fed up after a while and managed to escape to the attached shopping mall, ‘Capital Outlets’. Being so early, I had almost the whole place to myself. I found a nice little boat but at ¥810,000.00 I decided Huan wouldn’t let me have it. I thought she might let me have this though, two seats, space for shopping and 4WD. Only problem, foreigners can’t buy cars in Hainan anymore!
Back on the bus after more than three hours, it took longer for us than all the other coach parties because one of our party spent ¥20,000.00 in the mattress outlet. Time for lunch then. For me, a bowl of rice and a little egg plant. I had to keep reminding myself how cheap this trip was.
Next stop was ‘pots and pans’ or what they called a European Utensil’ outlet. This time I refused to go in and had a wander around what is called in English ‘Xinlong Bar Street’ whereas in Chinese it’s ‘Xinlong Style Street’. There were definitely no bars and not a great deal of style but I did bump into another foreigner. I did try to have a chat with him but he seemed a little reluctant. It was also quite difficult to get him to smile. As you can probably guess, he is from India and he was working for a restaurant there.
Third stop was a ‘Health’ outlet, probably Chinese medicine. I stayed outside again, lay on the grass and looked up at the sky!
Was it over yet, were we going to visit a nice park? No, our fourth stop was a ‘Jade’ outlet. Here’s a photo of Huan giving me the (not quite evil) eye for mumbling and grumbling again. I didn’t go in here either.
It still wasn’t over, and by now I wasn’t the only unhappy teddy. One of the other passengers was trying to get the coach to go back to Wuzhishan when the guide told her, we have one more place to go. It should have been two, but we spent too much time in the mattress outlet!
So our fifth, and last outlet, was Xinlong Coffee. This time I agreed to go in. I didn’t stay in long though. Like all the outlets today, photography, stills or video, is not allowed. Of course all those with mobile phones, doing it sneakily, were fine. I had my camera around my neck so was singled out. If you can avoid the lectures this isn’t a bad place, a little history to see, and a lot of tourist paraphernalia to buy. I’m still wondering though which tourists buy dishcloths. Question for you, recognise the wallpaper?
No dinner today, just the coach back home now. Our guide left us here, I assume ready for her next bunch of tourists tomorrow. We went back down the highway to Lingshui, turned off for Baoting and then carried on to Wuzhishan. Five lots of shopping in one day is enough to wear anybody out, and Huan is no exception!
January 26th & 27th Lots of work going through videos, converting, combining etc, then the photos too. Not so easy with three different cameras to work from. Lightworks especially was a problem when combining MOV and mp4 files. Still I got there in the end. You can see the videos of day one on my YouTube channel. Day two videos will stay with me! Last job, update the blog and sync folders from my PC to Huan’s.
January 28th Just a bop bop bopping a shop shop shopping along! Yes, it’s Monday. The weather was also pretty miserable so that was it, at least until nine in the evening when the electricity went off. It was only our building, again! Someone eventually realised that no one else was going to call the maintenance company so they did. I was in ‘grumpy old man’ mode of course and was busy saying that China could land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon but we couldn’t have a stable electricity supply. I used a lot of other examples too but I think Huan only translated this one, probably just as well. The response from one old lady was to quote from Chinese news that “Europe is banning the use of the 500 Euro note”. Now what that had to do with anything I have no idea! When the ‘electricians’ arrived we had ‘Christmas’ lights for a while, on then off, then on then off while they tried to narrow down the location of the problem. You’ll never guess where it was, the flat above us, which not so long ago had been leaking water into our kitchen and balcony. The electricians just removed their breaker completely so they’re in for a shock (pun intended) when they return.
January 29th Miserable weather again today! Binge watched ‘The Bill’.
January 30thBeautiful weather this morning so, not before time, we had a stroll around the river. We’d had six days of no walking and I think we were both more than ready for it. Not far from the house we spotted our first ‘wildlife’, maybe spring is in the air. This looks a lot different to the slugs that I have seen in the UK, longer and thinner, what do you think?
Now you may remember me saying that I particularly liked the mountains when they are set against a clear blue sky. Today they were!
January 31stLast day of what seems to have been a short month, probably due to ‘something on my mind’. We took a walk around the town today, Huan decided that a leg of lamb would be fine for Chinese New Year. I have been trying to get her not to bother this year. I failed but at least she has agreed no ten course meal! As it was the last day, I was looking out for photos, without much success I’m afraid. All I could find was a little flora, no fauna. First it was the ornamental flowers, these are all over Wuzhishan for the Spring Festival holiday period. This is the display we passed today.
Second, it was a tree. “What kind of tree?” I hear you ask. Well, I’m afraid that is one for you to answer because I have no idea, other than it is not bananas!
So, that’s it for this month, hopefully dear reader, it meets with your approval! Next month’s missive will either be posted very early, or very late, I haven’t quite decided yet. From me, and from the C in C it’s goodbye until then!