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Hainan, Wuzhishan, May 2019

May 1st “When I was small, and Christmas trees were tall”, (was a long long time ago). It’s good to get some words that match the day though isn’t it? (1st May by The Bee Gees) I was free this morning, Huan stayed in, so I decided to try the landfill route. I was hoping that there would be less work because of the date and therefore less dust. I was half right. Anyway, the first thing I noticed was the police checking all cars coming into Wuzhishan again. It seems they are looking for pigs, trying to keep African swine fever out. Hainan had been free until recently. I don’t hold much hope for them though; they are not checking every road into the city.

As I mentioned, I was half right, some work was still going on today, here they are preparing the bridge over the Changhao road, you can just see the pillars coming up in the background.

You may remember that the landfill walk goes up for five kilometres, not vertically of course. Here is the view almost at the top, and then going down the other side.

I took a lot of pictures of flowers today, most of which you have already seen though, and I also took a lot of black and white, (ACROS on my camera). I particularly liked this one and I thought you might too.

Evening time saw Huan wanting to walk so being the gent that I am, I joined her. When we got back, we bumped into the dancing ladies who were also going out for a walk so Huan followed on with them. This time, I didn’t need to be a gent, I went home!

May 2nd We went looking for a fish farm today but both our memories were defective so we didn’t find it. We still had a nice long walk though, eleven kilometres. Mind you, it shows that we are out of practice; we were both slowing down a lot as we neared our destination. Nansheng village is where we were headed so we set off down the main road. We briefly saw another of those beautiful lizards before a couple of boys frightened it back into the undergrowth. They told us they only wanted to catch it ad play with it. I wonder how they expected to catch it with a sandal in the hand in the ‘thwack’ position! A short while further on we did come upon some more wildlife, a very small example though. What kind of insect this is I don’t know but it’s pretty.

Lots more photos taken on the way including the now obligatory black and white ones of older buildings. Another creature was next for you though, a dragon! Someone had started carving a dragon but had obviously given up just after the head. Not a bad effort though.

Once we arrived in Nansheng it was time to get the electric bus back home. It was a warm ride; the A/C was off in the bus. Huan and I were thinking that perhaps they are not making enough money. Walking back to the house we bumped into the Mighty Quinns. (Come all without, come all within, You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn) Eat your heart out Manfred Mann, you only knew one, we know three! They came round in the evening so Patrick and I had to have a couple of small glasses of beer!

May 3rd We were very lazy today and couldn’t be bothered to go anywhere at all, even had a nap in the afternoon again. We did go out in the evening though. Patrick and Flora invited us out for a meal and it would have been rude to refuse wouldn’t it. It was a new restaurant for all of us and I broke the doctor’s rules by having not only fish, but lamb too. It was a very enjoyable meal and our thanks go to them for the invite. Both of us ate too much and had to wait a while after we got home before our stomachs would let us go to bed.

May 4th Saturday, so it should be weekend fry-up breakfast but as we ate so much last night we gave it a miss. Tomorrow and Monday will do. After yesterday’s lazy day we decided a trip up the hill to the bridge and back was called for. On the way up we played good Samaritans and helped a worm across the road. There was no way it would have made it alone before being flattened by a car. Here’s the before and after screenshots from the phone video.

The weather changed in the afternoon so an evening walk was out of the question. Never mind, we did a little over twelve kilometres this morning despite ‘Endomondo’ saying it was just over ten. Sometimes my phone stops the fitness tracker when I film a video and it did exactly that today with the worm. Silly me, it took me two kilometres to notice!

May 5th Clouds all over the mountains this morning so I convinced Huan we should walk up to the reservoir. We did turn off a little early, a few hundred metres before the end, and look what we saw before we started down. One of my favourites!

And to our surprise, on the way down, the crab was back in the tree. It scooted inside fairly quickly so I had to use the flash but you can get the general idea.

And staying with animals in trees, how about this one? I thought it was a great shot.

The rest of the day was peaceful for me, working on the computer, speaking to #1 son on Skype. Huan, on the other hand, was rushed off her feet. She had singing lessons this afternoon and walking on the stones this evening. One thing I learned is that I can read Western sheet music much better than what Huan brought home. Hers has numbers for the position of the notes on the scales along with annotations to show pitch and octaves. It is also used in the west as the Tonic Solfa System, but I don’t know which came first. I guess if it’s what you learn first it is probably easier than conventional sheet music.

May 6th Woke up alone this morning, Huan was out before half past six for some dancing on the ‘bridge to nowhere’ with the only other dancing lady left here. After a Monday fry-up, unusual for us, it was back to usual and shopping. I noticed something today and wonder how on earth I haven’t noticed it in the last four years. Check out this escalator warning sign. I thought I read “Be careful clothes sandwich”. It’s only when I took the photo that I realised I was wrong and there was even more to giggle at.

For the rest of the day I was a LOG, which I believe means Lazy Old Git, but Huan did go out for her evening dance, again on the bridge to nowhere. She and the other lady have both decided that mornings are too difficult so will return to the evening schedule!

May 7th Another very overcast morning, made even more gloomy by the receipt of this text on my phone; “Your car, on the 2019-04-28 10:52 in the province directly under the jurisdiction of the county-level administrative division Haishu Expressway 97 km 650 meters Jiazhang Daoqiongzhong to Haikou entrance, recorded by the traffic technology monitoring equipment driving medium to upload Class trucks. It is an illegal act that a motor vehicle other than a dangerous goods transport vehicle exceeds 10% of the prescribed speed. Please accept it within 30 days from the date of receipt of this notification.” Translation courtesy of Google, probably not quite right but the gist is there. Don’t you just love how it says “Please accept”, as if I have any choice in the matter. We did check the dashcam footage and I can’t really argue with them even though I entered the tunnel at 83kph and not 97kph as they say.

So, once the gloom had lifted we went on a walk around the river again, no hills today, and we didn’t quite make ten kilometres. Still, it was enough, as the rain started just as we arrived home. Not as many photos taken as usual, deliberately, and some of what we took you’ve already seen. Here’s one you haven’t seen, another bug. It’s not a cockroach although it does look similar and Huan tells me that some Chinese people eat these.

The weather was still pretty miserable in the evening so Huan had one of singing classmates come round so that they could have a little, very little, practice. I got roped in to sing a song or two from my ‘singing folders’, (from my singing in a restaurant days), but I’m afraid I am very much out of practice!

May 8th Huan out early this morning, twenty past eight, for a singing lesson at nine o’clock. The lesson lasts two hours so I set off up the mountain to the bridge again. Without Huan I was able to go a little faster but still not up to last year’s standards yet. I did ten kilometres in just over two hours. This is a view you haven’t seen before, on the way down.

On my way home, it was a trip to the bank. I had received that text message yesterday from the traffic police which said I had been speeding into a tunnel on the highway and I had to present myself at the police station. I was worried about how much I would have to pay for this offence and any others I had committed since last August.

Just before our house, I saw the ‘hairdresser’ and as you haven’t seen her before I thought you should see her in her salon. Initially, in the other photo I took, I thought she had a cut-throat razor in her hand but closer inspection showed it to be a comb.

After our afternoon nap, a nice shower, and a good spray of deodorant for me it was off to the police station. Surprise, surprise, they only wanted to warn me not to be a bad boy in the future. Maybe it’s because the highway is new and not all the tunnels have the same speed limit. An even bigger and better surprise was that I had no other traffic offences on the computer. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’re not lurking in a queue somewhere! The money from the bank will still come in useful tomorrow though, another trip to Haikou for some more of those female hormones and a surprise birthday party for Patrick Quinn.

Dancing again in the evening for Huan, and as the teacher has returned ‘oop north’, Huan is now in charge of the mp3 player and the relevant tracks. They don’t call her ‘boss lady’ for nothing you know! I just stayed in coming down with a cold…

May 9thOn the road again, I just can't wait to get on the road again” (Willie Nelson) And of course that’s where we were this morning, on the road again to Haikou for another instalment of female hormones, episode 3! The weather was dismal so no screenshots of today’s drive.

The injection was met with my normal trepidation and I swear the nurse really makes sure that it is subcutaneous! Still, it’s over for another month. We left the hospital and went to Mova looking for a gift for today’s birthday boy, Patrick Quinn. He doesn’t know it but there is a surprise party for him at Guomao Chimac tonight. I found a ‘Chinese’ Swiss Army knife and a squeaky pig key ring. Well he was born in the year of the pig!

From there it was a trip to ‘Tropical Hainan’ office where I was to be interviewed by Josh and filmed by Patrick and Jake. A good job was done by all although I don’t really have any decent photos to show you. You’ll have to make do with this one of me with a sticky up eyebrow answering one of Josh’s questions while chewing on Hainan salted chicken. If you haven’t tried that, then you should, it’s really tasty and despite the name, not too salty at all.

We then rushed back to find a hotel, get checked in and change clothes before walking up to Chimac Pub. The hotel we found, definitely within walking distance of Chimac, and as an added bonus within walking distance of both Corner’s Deli and RT Supermarket, is called “Ye Hai” hotel. It is reasonably priced, ¥300.00 for a room with twin beds, (¥400.00 if you want a ‘big bed’). We can recommend it.

Patrick’s party went very well and we were all very well fed and of course watered, some more than others. For some reason all my photos of the evening were foggy and out of focus, and before you mention it, no, I didn’t have too much to drink! Instead, I will share with you the business card of Chimac and highly recommend that you visit. The food was great, the service excellent, a lovely ambience and all in all a wonderful evening.

May 10th Awake at a reasonably early hour, out for breakfast before half past seven. We didn’t try for breakfast in the hotel but we did see people eating when we got back so it’s worth checking out if you do stay there. After breakfast it was shopping time, RT first for some of their wonderful bread followed by Corner’s Deli for some more jars of pickled red cabbage. Huan also found All-Bran cheaper than Taobao! Here’s the scene while we were walking around RT waiting for it to open.

An uneventful journey back to Wuzhishan, I think I avoided any of those pesky cameras although I am becoming more paranoid by the minute. “They’re out to get me!” No walkies today, we ate out for a change at a buffet style place and then dancing for Huan in the evening and dashcam work for me.

May 11th Huan’s choice today so it was up the mountain to the bridge and back again. Before we went, I had to take a snap of the river. Because of the work they are dong the water has only one way to go around the island now. As a result, the small bridge is under water!

Once over the bridge and coming down the other side we stopped at something that has always puzzled us. It’s a Chinese pergola with something that always looked like an upturned table in the middle but set in concrete with odd shaped legs. Well, eleven years since Huan first saw it like that, it has now been completed. It’s a fake well!

There is a bucket at the end of that rope and the wooden base has been removed so the bucket rests in water. As is normal, not only in China, there is now rubbish in that water. It isn’t a functional well of course but I still had to go through the motions! Note how the effort has made me sweat.

We had a 'full English' when we got home and then I had a lazy day. Huan practiced her singing in the living room, she’s coming on well, and I did my photos and blog. In the evening, she danced and I, after all the effort trying to get water from the well, rested!

May 12th Another lazy day, well, lazy for the photographer but not for the walkers. Huan said she only wanted a short walk so it was up to the bridge and down again but she still managed nine kilometres. I carried on and did twelve. The only photo I took was one to show that the Chinese, perhaps contrary to expectations, do take the environment quite seriously. They are doing a lot of work here at the moment, installing underground electricity cables, revamping the drainage systems, laying gas pipes for the whole town and replacing a lot of the water mains. For conservation in action see how the water main has been re-routed around this tree, and this is not the only example.

May 13th “Tossing and turning, I'm tossing and turning, all night” (The Ivy League - 1965) Seems to happen a lot these days, perhaps it’s just part of getting older. Anyway, I was up not long after half past five. When Huan woke up, she yelled at me to come and take photos on the balcony. Well, you know me, always listen to the director. It was (only) another dragonfly, although, to be fair, the wings did look different to any we’ve seen before. I took five photos, the other four were rubbish and I’m not too impressed with this one either!

Today being Monday, the rest of the day was shopping and relaxing.

May 14th A not so early start, I slept well and a little late! We headed off today to see if we could remember where the fish farm reservoir is, it’s been so long since we’ve been there. Our route took us through our local garden centre first.

This was followed soon after by a couple of creatures, neither of which I was going to put my hands anywhere near. The first looks like some kind of centipede (or millipede) and the second a hairy caterpillar that looked as if it was carrying a passenger.

We were on the right road and found the fish farm reservoir with no problems. Last time we were here, they said they were doing it up ready to receive visitors. As you can see from this photo, not much has changed. We met a different person who told us, “We have the money and are going to do it up ready to receive visitors.”

The reason we knew we were on the right road is that we passed the construction of the Wuzhishan to Haitang Wan highway on the way. I couldn’t get a decent shot on the way, but on the way back I got a fairly good shot of one of the many tunnels they will be boring through the mountains. They wouldn’t let us near enough to look inside!

As we wended our way home we passed the usual pigs, ducks and chickens, which I took many photos of, but I thought you might prefer a couple of geese. It was quite funny getting the shots because they were cackling away and almost being a little threatening at times. Here they are giving me the ‘evil eye’!

We walked fifteen kilometres in three and a half hours which we thought was not bad at all. The rain beat us home by five hundred metres though so we were soaked even more when we got home, outside and inside!

Evening time was dancing for Huan, but no walking for me. I think we did enough, don’t you? Instead, I got started with Yoyo Chinese again. I had begun learning with Yoyo some time ago, but when I reached the end of the free part, there was no way for me to pay to continue. Late last year they added ‘Alipay’ to their payment methods which meant I could then pay, but I wanted to know how much the hospital was going to take from us first! Yesterday, Yoyo’s Facebook page mentioned a 30% discount so I decided the time was right. Having left it so long, I went right back to the start!

May 15th We left the house together but then parted ways by the gate. Huan was going singing and I was going walking. I also wanted to make another Keymission video to prove to my old army buddies that I am not just adding the ‘shopping kilometres’ every day.

I had completed thirteen kilometres by the time I met Huan at the ‘classroom’, fifteen by the time we got home. Today it only took me three hours, with stops! Even better is that we beat the rain home. In fact the rain decided to sulk and not turn up at all today!

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with a visitor, this time not from ‘oop norf’ but from ‘dahn sarf’. It was Jerome from Sanya who we had met during my hospital stay in Haikou. He stayed for a nice ‘Bob made sandwich’ for lunch and then an even better ‘Huan made burger and chips’ for dinner. Here we are ‘posing’ before eating dinner.

May 16th Somebody, by that of course I mean me, slept in again today so it was after eight thirty before we got out. Our plan was to satisfy our befuddled brains that we could still remember where “Binglang Village” is. It’s not really betel nut village, we call it that because they tried to get me to sit and chew last time we were there. We found it easily enough.

This time we walked back on the other side of the fields so you can almost see the whole village in this next photo. When we first visited, we fancied a couple of those balconies to sit and have ‘sundowners’ in the evening. It wouldn’t be so pleasant now though, the fields have been taken over for highway construction, temporary inconvenience!

I fancied a black and white panorama today but I decided that instead of using the camera program I would take a few pics and then use Microsoft’s ‘Image Composite Editor’ when I got home. The result is not too bad at all.

Took some more black and white pictures of old buildings on the way home, and some of Huan fighting through the undergrowth. Yes, we strayed off the beaten track again, lots of dirt and scratches on my legs. Anyway, here she is trying to untangle her skirt.

Late singing lesson for Huan today so no afternoon naps. Luckily no cooking required as yesterday’s dinner had already been prepared before our surprise visitor and menu change. A quick reheat from yours truly and Huan was fed and watered ready to go out again, dancing. Before she went though, I had to take her ‘hostage picture’ with today’s newspaper again, as proof of life for the pensions department up in Dalian. PS I’m not allowed to post that! Once I was left to my own devices I did another Yoyo Chinese lesson, now almost up to where I stopped the last time.

May 17th SWMBO, otherwise known as HM, PM, Minister of Foreign Affairs (absolutely not allowed), Minister of Home Affairs (position redundant at this time), Minister of Finance, Hyacinth, ‘er indoors and all kinds of other things decided we should walk around the river today and that I should try ‘no lady pads’! Of course, like all good minions, I always do what I’m told so off we went, me with some trepidation. It felt strange after a while because, although you may not know it, after an operation such as I had, after about an hour of walking, you have a continuous feeling of ‘wanting to go’. However, eleven and a half kilometres and two hours and forty minutes later my undies were still dry, apart from the sweat that is! Temperatures were above 30ºC when we got home, although there was a little breeze now and then. Having been ordered to follow today’s plan I didn’t take the big camera with me so no photos I’m afraid.

Evening time and the now usual routine, out for Huan and Chinese for me. I have now reached the point at where I finished last time. New stuff starts tomorrow! If you’re interested, this is the website - https://www.yoyochinese.com

May 18th Today we decided to go the reverse way round our local mountain walk. We don’t do it so often because there are more steps to walk up this way. What a day we chose for it as well, when we got home and checked the weather, the PC said we had 37 ºC. No wonder we were both soaked, but I was still dry where it counted! Anyway, I decided you could do with a couple of black and white photos again so here’s the first, our very own Disney castle. It would be even better if it was utilised in some way!

The second is a bridge into ‘Jade Mountain’ apartments and villas which we can’t cross because we haven’t got an electronic key. However, I liked this picture and, unusually for Huan, as it’s B&W, she did too. I hope you will like it as well.

Lots more photos of the scenery taken but nothing special to put here for you. I did like this next one though. Watching some cows at the side of the road, and chatting to them as I usually do, I suddenly realised how the shadows were playing on this one. I wonder if he realised he was becoming a ‘Zebow’ or is it a ‘Cowra’?

After our walkies, as it’s the weekend again, it was time for another 'full English'. Perhaps I should have taken a picture of that but I was too hungry!

Another unit of Yoyo Chinese in the evening for me, it’s stuff that I already know so I’m not having to try too hard yet.

May 19th Two lazy people this morning, we really didn’t feel like walking at all. Huan was just feeling lazy and I had slept badly. According to her it’s because of my ‘female hormones’, I’m more of the opinion that the bedroom was too warm last night. Anyway, we did go out, I need to walk as much as possible otherwise my feet swell up. That’s not female hormones, just old age! Now Huan’s dancing partner has gone off to Thailand for a week with her husband and daughter which means Huan will drag me out walking again this evening. We arrived home, dripping wet again after, just over nine kilometres.

So, what have we got to show you today? How about a ‘test car’, make unknown, and this is the best picture I could get in a hurry. There is a logo on the front but it’s not one I recognise.

Next is something that you can see quite a lot of in China, a swimming pool. You will note though that it is not only empty but in a state of disrepair. Once all the apartments have been sold no one takes care of the maintenance.

There were some other photos of people drinking tea, people building bridges, etc, but nothing much worthwhile.

Because I knew I had to walk out with Huan in the evening I did my Chinese lesson this afternoon. However, it was interrupted by a power failure. That gave us a chance to be good Samaritans, someone was stuck in the lift, almost at our floor, so Huan went off and found the security guards who had a key to open the outer doors. A few minutes later the lift man arrived and moved a lever opening the inner doors, I hope I can remember that for the next time. We then helped the gentleman out of the lift. He turned out to be our neighbour, on his way down!

I managed to finish my lesson and after dinner we set off out again at a much slower pace. The humidity meant we were still soaked when we got home. Two photos for you this evening, one some lovely Chinglish.

And the other, a car that I’ve seen a few times. I have no idea what the English is supposed to mean. Were they trying to spell ‘fortnight’ and got it wrong?

I bet they don’t know how close to a quarter of a penny it is. In fact, dear readers, if you are young you may not know either. The ‘farthing’ used to be the smallest coin in circulation in the UK before it was ‘demonetised’ in 1960. (If you’re interested, you can find more info and pictures here - https://www.historytoday.com/archive/farthings-last-day

May 20th NTR well apart from shopping, dashcam and who knows what was going on in the evening. Anybody listening would have been very amused. Huan was practicing her singing in the living room and I was learning all about ‘ü’ in the office. Lesson seven finished.

May 21st Afternoon on the 22nd and I’m writing this in a hurry! It’s thundering and lightning again outside. So, today, (May 22nd) we went off on our long anticipated river walk which had been meticulously planned some weeks ago. Unfortunately, the village idiot, and I’m sure you can guess who he is, forgot the most important part of the plan which was to take with us two pre-frozen bottles of water. Anyway, off we went. Our walk started off very well, spotted lots of ducks in the river.

Next was a little friend who followed us for a while and seemed to have the right idea on what was a very hot day.

Not much further on, underneath one of the highway bridges, we came across a few baby ducks. There was no sign of any parents though.

Before too long we decided that we needed to cross the river rather than walk back the way we came. By now of course we were both overheating, me more so than Huan, and remember I told you, the village idiot had forgotten to bring any water! Here’s Huan getting out the other side.

I had a lot more difficulty than Huan, trying to keep cameras, phones and wallets dry, here I am, almost at the limit of my strength.

That was the end of any Fuji photos for the day, I was absolutely exhausted. For a while Huan was very worried about me. I wonder if it was the result of being very overheated before plunging into the river and struggling across. I can tell you that I have never felt my age as much at any time in my life. Slowly I recovered though and carried on with the video of our day. You can find that here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9iugdUisuQ.

Arriving home, I took a selfie of my head which I had hurt trying to destroy the farmer’s hut, he had graciously saved our lives with bottles of water. I should have had a photo taken with him but ‘brain’ was out of order!

Home was never so welcoming I can tell you. Anyway, once lunch was out of the way I loaded the photos and videos on the PC but before I could do anything with them, the electricity went off. An hour or so later, sat on the balcony looking out of Wuzhishan I heard a loud ‘whumpf’ behind me and turned round just in time to see a large white ball of flame on the gantry carrying the power to our area. Look closely, you will see the damage.

After dinner we went ‘downstairs’, (no electricity = no lift), to see what we could find out. Three power lines had been damaged in the city due to the thunderstorms, repairs were underway. A walk around town showed that to be true. As we neared home though lights were coming back on so our hopes were raised, until we got closer. Our area was still off and the repairs would be completed by half past eight.

Sometime after nine we decided to have another little walk downstairs, the engineers had almost finished repairing the burnt cable underground in front of our place, but would still have to go across and repair the overhead damage seen above. It would be at least midnight before they finished. Ah well, back upstairs and off to bed we went.

May 22nd Huan had a singing class this morning and ‘ordered’ me not to walk too fast or too far. I didn’t need telling twice today, only walked four kilometres or so.

Afternoon was sorting out photos, combining the Nikon videos, uploading to YouTube etc. And once again the evening was Yoyo Chinese, I had missed yesterday and my plan was to do at least one lesson a day.

May 23rd The boss said not too far and not too fast so we did just over ten kilometres in two hours and twenty minutes, only around the town river so no hills. A little disappointment for us though, the man who was making sausages, before the pork scare, has now disappeared completely, along with the whole of that outside market. What are we going to do?

Huan was at singing classes again this afternoon so I got stuck into Chinese again, another three lessons done, unit nine complete. No evening walks, the heaven’s opened again!

May 24th The two dummies didn’t check the weather forecast today before we went walking! Huan fancied the countryside but my boots were wet after being left out on the security bars to air during the rain so we had to stick to the tarmac. Not long after we were out I took some cloud pictures. I like this one.

A little further on we came across a duck standing on one leg. Unusually this one let me get quite close. Do you think this is their way or forecasting rain?

A little further along, about three and a half kilometres into our walk, we came across two motorcycle riders, parked at the side of the road. “It’s going to rain” they told us. I replied by saying “Yes, by eleven or twelve o’clock”. Five hundred metres later it bucketed down! Needless to say, there were no more photos taken with the Fuji! Huan took a picture of me with my phone which didn’t turn out so well, even the insides of my pocket were wet. You can see how wet I was though and how I was trying to hide my Fuji under my shirt.

The rain carried on so we stayed in for the rest of the day. I cooked us a version of noodle (spaghetti) Bolognese, more spice than the Italian version and with a few other differences too. Evening time, well, more Yoyo Chinese of course, another two lessons finished.

May 25th Boots still wet so sandals and tarmac it was again today. We did wander a little off the road and had a look at the work they are doing further upriver. I’m not sure what the idea is except to perhaps stop the river eating the banks when it’s in full flow.

Got home and the first job for Huan, before our weekend fry-up, was to take a few pictures of me with a towel. Today being “Towel Day” I had decided to upload a few pictures of me with said item to Facebook. Here’s one for you, spot the frog photo bombing!

What is “Towel Day” I hear you ask, well as always, here I am with the answer, (from Wikipedia):- The importance of the towel was introduced in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy original radio series in 1978. The follow-up book explained the importance of towels in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe in Chapter 3, using much of the same wording as the original radio series:

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)”

 Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

PS It’s well worth watching, listening to or reading. If you can find the BBC TV series, it’s far better than the 2005 film. Even better find the BBC Radio series where it first appeared or read the books which came after the radio but before the movie.

Usual stuff for the rest of the day, Facebook and Chinese, followed by ‘The Bill’ before bed.

May 26th Would you believe it, boots still wet so a walk around the town and river was all we got today although we still managed twelve kilometres. Almost home when I decided to do what Huan has been egging me to and pose in an old banger. We see a lot of these around our way, still working too. This one is for sale. You may not be able to see very well but I have my foot on the accelerator. I guess it would be pretty difficult to drive. How many of you are old enough to remember how to ‘double de-clutch’?

Sunday fry-up as usual followed by a little nap for the old fogey. Huan had a visitor, a lady we call the ‘shop lady’ because that’s what she did when we met her. She is now selling health insurance on a commission only basis and was here to give Huan her answer. “No, your husband is too old!” I didn’t expect anything else.

Evening time and Huan was happy, her dancing friend has returned from Thailand. Mind you, they weren’t dancing today, just walking barefoot on the cobbles! For me, unit 11 of Yoyo Chinese finished. I’ll probably have to slow down when I get to stuff I don’t know so well!

May 27th Monday, our day of rest, well, rest from walking anyway. We did the usual shopping this morning after making sure we had filled the car with fuel. We have one of these computerised thingummyjigs which tells us how long until the next refill is needed but sometime after we get below 100km it will suddenly show nothing except digital dashes. The warning light also comes on at that time which can be a little worrying. We were OK today.

Peaceful rest of the day with all the usual stuff. I did make a video recording for ADDS, Abu Dhabi Dramatic Society, of which I used to be a member. It is their 50th anniversary this year and I was asked, along with many others, if I would contribute a small greeting for them. It only took me five attempts to get two versions that I hope they can use at least one of! Otherwise it will be back to the ‘studio’, otherwise known as the sofa in the living room.

May 28th Boots dry so I let Huan take me up the hill walk, it’s one of her favourites and I can always add a little on the way home if I want to make it longer. Today we found that they are doing a lot of work on the road up, could be a problem when #1 son comes to visit. I’ll have to see if they have arranged a detour for the hotel at the top.

We walked up to the rest place with the ‘limpid’ pool today, very hot, so we took a selfie for you, hope you like it. I had to stop Huan going swimming in her undies, well, there were other people there!

Around to the bottom of the hill, the beginning of the actual ‘scenic walk’, and then, via the bank, around the river, back to the ‘top’ road via the court and home. I managed to go a*** over t** on the way. I was looking at something in an apartment complex garden and going to ask Huan about it when, whoops, over I went. Sometimes, when it has rained, under the trees in town can become quite treacherous, this was one of those places. Lucky for me though, Huan didn’t have her phone with her so no photos!

Another afternoon of rain, lots of those these days. Mind you, the mountains can look quite good after the rains. Here’s a panorama of those clouds again.

The rain eased off in the evening, as it often does, so Huan went off with her little USB music player for he dancing hour and I decided to try and clean up my Fujifilm camera display. I had asked for recommendations on the camera Facebook page and the first was children’s toothpaste, the second ordinary toothpaste. I tried both, neither worked. It makes me wonder how the screen ever got scratched in the first place! There were other recommendations but they don’t work in a “small” city in China. I guess I’ll have to put up with it for now. To be honest, when the camera is on, the display still works well enough and I compose most of my shots through the viewfinder now anyway.

May 29th Music lessons for Huan again this morning so I did the scenic hill walk the ‘other’ way, the scenic part first and the roadway second. I wanted to see if it would be possible to get to the hotel by car just in case the work isn’t finished by August. It looks like there is a way so that’s good. I walked exactly twelve kilometres before collecting Huan from her class and adding just over one more. Quite fast today, I was pleased with myself.

Lazy afternoon for Huan, Chinese lessons for me, I’ve now come to the end of the Pinyin introduction. The difficult stuff will soon be coming. Huan went off dancing again in the evening and came back having taken 40 pictures of a frog eating moths, and a video of it too, sometimes with a dog. Unfortunately, being night time, the video didn’t come out well at all but we did manage to get a couple of photos. Here he is in all his glory.

May 30th Quite a few photos today but we are nearing the end of the month. No long walks today, just two short(ish) ones. In the morning we thought the rain might be coming in so we kept to the town and the river, just over five kilometres . Huan had me taking pictures of mushrooms! This one looks rather odd and I wouldn’t like to say whether or not it is edible.

Next off to the ‘cheapo’ supermarket to buy a new hat, for me, and some new hair ties, also for me! Look what Huan found. It does say ‘Hecho en China’ on the label which I presume means “Made in China” in Spanish. Whoever buys one here, and there were a pile of them, will have no idea what they are buying.

And what about that hat then? Who decided on this particular one? I could say it was a joint decision but I’m not sure that you would believe me. Still, at ¥15.00, (less than two quid), who’s complaining.

“Another one bites the dust”, or in this case another two. My sandals grew jaws and really did bite the dust. Not to worry, there’s a brand new identical pair in the wardrobe. Whenever we use the last pair, we order another two. So far, that particular online store has not closed down so fingers crossed for later.

We beat the rain back by about thirty minutes and I treated us to a home made iced coffee. Take a bottle of Nescafé Smoovlatté, add some ice cream, some whipped cream and enough milk to fill our two glasses, whiz it around a bit, et voila! It was lovely. In fact it was so good Huan started talking about opening a coffee shop again! She enjoys her dreams.

Thursday afternoon means singing for Huan again so I set off, with my new sandals on, and my umbrella in my hand. This time I didn’t beat the rain back but at least I was prepared. Luckily for Huan, by the time she came home it had stopped again. I saw something on my way home though that I haven’t seen in Hainan before. Is this a bad omen?

And our last photo of the day ends sadly. This little creature was caught between our windows so we managed to get it to where you see it in the photo and then Huan gently picked it up and put it out of the window. It was half way across the road when out of nowhere a few birds appeared. You can guess what happened next. I guess we are murderers now…

P.S. The sandal store hasn’t closed yet so another two pairs ordered!

May 31st A fine day today, no rain all morning or afternoon, but we didn’t go too far. Huan needed to visit the bank(s) to top up her Taobao account. As always, she was trying to get me to photograph all kinds of flowers which we already have hundreds of on the PC. I’m not so sure we have this one though so I agreed.

Unfortunately for Huan, the rain came back before the evening so no dancing. I should say no dancing, outside. While I was doing my Chinese lesson, I did hear the dance music and the shuffling of feet from the living room! We’re both learning, that’s what counts.

So there we are, the end of yet another month. If you are wondering about the progress of the waterworks since the operation, it’s getting better all the time. I don’t think there’s much danger of embarrassing myself outside any more although there is still the occasional leak.

Don’t forget to tune in again next month, until then, it’s goodbye from me, and it’s goodbye from her.

Unclebob 31.05.2019 2 85
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  •  Unclebob: 
     

    I can guarantee it's not a plastic bug, but I still didn't touch it. We've seen a crab crossing the mountain roads before as well. Glad you like the geese, hopefully some other photos too? It was our pleasure to help you celebrate, glad it was a happy surprise. We're both doing well, Huan dancing and singing, me a little more lazy but still walking.

     
     01.06.2019 
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  •  Patrick: 
     

    That first insect looks plastic :) I have mentioned those crabs living in trees to many people and i usually receive an incredulous look, the question i usually get is "how did they get there?" I like the photo of the geese BTW, and thank you for coming to the birthday party, It was a complete surprise and I had a great night. Hope you and Huan are well ...

     
     01.06.2019 
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