Thursday, December 28, 2006


In most recent news- and this is all hearsay as you will soon find out, so correct me if I'm wrong- a large earthquake hit Taiwan yesterday, severing the two sole cables that connect mainland China with internet from the rest of the world. As a result internet access yesterday has been slow, if indeed at all, and (here's the hearsay part) I am unable to see any international news sites to confirm the story.

Why would a country as big as China have only two cables in the same location, you ask? Control. Up to this point it worked quite nicely to control the news and information that came into China. However, the huge push these days to attract international business to China, and with the Chinese sights set on the WTO, severing the net access to the rest of the world is BAD for business (no matter how good it is for the propaganda machines), and it will be interesting to see if the govt will continue with just two in the future.

If anyone would like to email me with actual news about the earthquake and the implication in China, I'd appreciate it- send it on along to with the article pasted into the email (not linked or I won't be able to read it!!). Thanks!

In other news, the mothership made contact with Shanghai on Sunday- yes, Phil's mother arrived from Montreal, bearing gifts and jet-lag. A random comment made months ago about the fact that clothes here are all too small for me, and that Phil needed new sweaters, resulted in the Sweater Fairy generously waving her magic wand over both our stockings- we now have more sweaters than we can imagine, and with the current weather it is greatly appreciated. We are preparing to head off for a week of sunshine in Thailand next Tuesday, and Manny will be joining us so more photos will be coming.

I am now officially on the countdown to my exhibition opening in February. Actually I am totally freaking out, with only three weeks to finish 6 paintings, and am predicting some all-nighters reminiscent of the old university days. Better get back to it.....

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Ubiquitous Christmas Letter

Dear Friends,

This is the first time I have ever written a real Christmas letter, but after living in China for the last 17 months I'm feeling a little out of the loop. Or perhaps it's my guilty conscience nagging at me for all your emails that I have yet to reply to. Anyway, I'll try to keep this short for your sake.

The tone of 2006 was pretty much summed up in the extreme highs and lows of January alone. It was during January that I made the decision to quit teaching full-time, and to concentrate more on the artistic side of my personality with the aim of eventually earning a living from my art. High hopes, I know, but a girl's gotta try. I am still teaching a few hours of English a week, and teaching more and more at classes to both kids and adults, but the majority of my time has been scheduled for painting. Thus I sent up my art website this year (, and have been painting a lot, experimenting with new styles and, to Phil's simultaneous excitement and dismay, with larger and larger canvases. It has been great to really stretch myself into styles that I have only dabbled in in the past, and I have been loving painting many more abstract pieces that ever before.

It was also during January that my good friend Miriam died tragically here in Shanghai. You may remember that she was electrocuted in her home, due to faulty wiring, and such a tragic death shook myself, and all who knew her, to the core. No death makes sense, especially in youth, but a death due to such a ridiculous thing as poor electrical workmanship seems completely senseless. It has taken many months to absorb this event, and was not helped by the fact that this year also saw the death of several other people I know. I say I have 'absorbed' Miriam's passing, in that I know it is true, and these days I rarely "forget" about it (I used to catch myself thinking "Oh, I should call Miriam for coffee.... right, no."). However I don't know how long it will take, if ever, for me not to feel desperately sad about it. My friend Rachel gave me some great advice at the time: "Grief is like a hole- it never gets any smaller, but in time you grow bigger around it".

In February Phil and I travelled to his home in Montreal- I was utterly amazed to see a city operating under a thick blanket of snow. In other travels, Mum and Dad came to visit us in Shanghai in October/November, and for 12 days we toured a little of the vastness that is China- seeing Beijing, Xi'an, Emei Shan and Leshan, before returning to Shanghai. It was a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of China that I have yet to experience, but it was good to see a little more of the country that I have made my home for at least a few years.

Speaking of home, I am finding the longer I stay here, the more normal it becomes- and the more normal China becomes, the more I am frustrated by things that never used to bother me. One example is the little fact that when we arrived home yesterday there was a notice stuck to our door by the local police bureau. It was simply a notice telling us that as foreigners we have to register with the local police- which we had done months ago- and that we cannot engage in illegal activities or hide other foreigners in our apartment. As if we would. But the thing that bothered me most is that it is quite common for neighbours to earn a little money by telling the police that there are foreigners living in their building- we were not home when they arrived yestarday, but normally the police go around and bang on the door, demanding to see our registration papers (like we are dogs), and finding any little excuse to fine us ("your TV was too loud on the 7th of August" or "you walked past the chief of police last Wednesday without saying hello", etc). These things never used to bother me at all, and I accepted them as part of choosing to live in what is still undeniably a police state, filled with informants. However lately it is beginning to get on my nerves. I feel like waving my hand in the air and screaming "I pay taxes here too you know! I pay your salary!" however the most important thing to do as a foreigner living in China is not to bring attention to yourself- people have been deported for lesser offences than this.

I believe the only solution to my frustration is a holiday away from China, and thankfully we are going to Thailand for a week in the beginning of January. Phil's mum is arriving in Shanghai from Montreal this Sunday, and for Christmas she is taking us to Thailand. So it appears that you can buy my love after all! It will be a welcome break, and at least the heat will make me feel like it is the Christmas season after all, as the cold here is just not Christmassy to my little Aussie soul.

In the new year I will be busier than ever with my art. After trying to promote myself for the last 12 months, I got what appears to be my lucky break last week when I was offered a solo exhibition of my work- twenty pieces in total to be exhibited for two months in gallery/bar on the 50th floor revolving restaurant of the Novotel Hotel in Shanghai. This is quite a big deal, as often artists have to share the space, however I have been offered the entire place for myself. It is amazing, exciting and terrifying all at the same time- not least because I still have 8 paintings to finish before then! While it would be nice to sell a few pieces during the exhibition, my main aim is just to use this experience as an opportunity to promote myself and get my name out there more.

Well that's the tip of the iceberg, but enough for now. As usual you can continue to read here for all my adventures, and my new years resolution is to reply to emails before six months passes. I apologise to all the people who have written to me, and are STILL waiting for replies. All I can say in my defence is that 2006 was quite a year.

Merry Christmas and hope you have a wonderful 2007,


Thursday, December 21, 2006

New address

Thanks to Dan the Man, I now have a new home for this blog at

Other than that nothing has changed- it's just a fancier name, and much easier to type!


At dinner last night for the farewell of a friend leaving for home in Italy, the conversation turned (somewhat bizzarrely) to the things that Bangkok 'dancing girls' can do with inanimate objects.

A*: "Bananas?"
B: "Peeled bananas."
A: "What? They peel bananas? With their .... [glancing downwards]?!"
B: "No dear, the last time I checked our vaginas did not come with opposable thumbs."
A: "Oh right, yes."

[*names have been changed to protect the embarrassed]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shanghaied in Shanghai

As a part-time teacher at my English language school I am not compelled to attend staff meetings. However I am starting to think that it would be a bloody good idea to attend anyway.

Two weeks ago in my absence at the weekly meeting I was "volunteered" to be the emcee at the annual school Christmas concert. This is two hours of not just introducing acts, but also running games and raffle draws.

As if this wasn't bad enough, during this week's meeting it was decided that I would not have to dance in the staff act- dancing to Mariah Carey's version of 'All I Want For Christmas is You'. No, I don't have to dance, but instead, lucky me, I get to sing. Solo.

And they fully expect me to hit the high notes.

It's a damn good thing that Shanghai has no formal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, because pretty soon dogs all over town will be rubbing their ears in the dirt in an attempt to get my shrill screams out of their poor deranged minds.

PS. In order to learn the song, I have had to download it- you have no idea how much my fingers curled in embarrassed agony before typing the words "Mariah Carey"... even now I can feel the bile rising....

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ch 3, 2 dc in rg. Ch 2, *3dc in rg...

Is it just me, or should a "half double crochet" stitch be the same as a "single crochet" stitch?

I know this post makes me sound like an old lady, but I am trying to teach myself to crochet. Thanks to my mum I have actually been able to crochet since I was 7, but I can only do straight crocheting in rows, turning at the end of the row and coming back again to eventually build a scarf. At a push I can even fake it enough to crochet in a round beret style. However I never learned to read a single crochet pattern, and as I am finding out it is like learning a new language.

This afternoon I found a beautiful new wool: mohair-like and fine as gossamer. I decided the old brick style crocheting would just not do it justice. Last winter I taught myself to knit from some instructions on the internet, so when I found this wool I figured I could teach myself a prettier style.

Armed only with google, and a rapidly waning patience I looked up a relatively simple crochet pattern. I was left with this:

Ch 4, join with sl st to first ch to form ring.
RND 1: Ch3, 2 dc in rg. Ch 2, *3dc in rg, ch3. Repeat from * 2 times more. Ch2, slst in top of ch3.

RND 2: Sl st in the first 2 dc's and in the first ch 2 lp. Ch3, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch2, work 3 dc in same sp. Work the following 3 times (Ch1, work 3 dc, ch2, 3 dc in next ch 2 lp.) Ch1, join with slst to top of ch 3.

RND 3: Sl st in the first 2 dc's and in the first ch 2 sp. Ch 3, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, work 3 dc in same sp. Ch 1, work 3 dc in next ch 1 sp. Ch 1. Work the following 3 times (Work 3 dc, ch2, 3 dc in next ch 2 sp. Ch 1, work 3 dc in next ch 1 sp. Ch 1.) Join with sl st to top of ch 3.

Ok, so I was sure that would make perfect sense, if I knew what the abbreviations meant. So I googled a cheat-sheet for the abbreviations and that was when I discovered that, yes, apparently there is such a thing as a "half double crochet" which is different to a "single crochet" stitch.

I mean... what the???

Monday, December 11, 2006

Manny's China-Palooza Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of Manny's China Palooza: The Great Wall, Mutianyu

Standing on the granite wall, built during the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644).

This section of the wall is less comercial than the highly touristic section at Badaling, and is famous for the multitude of Ming Dynasty guard towers along its length.

Manny sits in the window of one of the guard towers, admiring the view.

Posing in one of the archers' defense holes

Manny gazes at the steep wall of steps at the end of this section, trying to decide if he has the energy to ascend the near vertical stairs. (You can see the steps starting from near his right ear, heading towards the horizon)

Half-way up the steps. Near enough is not close enough for this intrepid adventurer.

Resting proudly at the platform at the top of the stairs! This is the last Guard Tower before the Wall disintigrates into ruins. Not many people realise that only relatively small parts of the wall have been preserved/restored, and the majority exists as ruins.

Gazing back to where we came from... and where our tired souls (and our tired soles!) have to walk back to.

Until next time...

xxx Manny

Just Another Manny's Monday


Phil and I went to play mini-golf a couple of weekends ago at a big department store near our home. When we came out we decided we'd pop down to the basement to grab a few groceries at Carrefour. Carrefour, the French supermarket chain, is a HUGE success in China, and although there is not much "French-ness" left to it now, you can still get a few imported items, making it popular with Chinese and Foreigners alike. As a result of its immense popularity, the shop is always crowded, and on a Saturday afternoon it is packed. Our decision to enter at that time was truly suiciadal. I found myself whistling the "Suicide is Painless" song from M*A*S*H, all the while thinking that Johnny Mandel had no idea what he was talking about when he wrote it, because it was clearly quite painful indeed.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we survived the kind of mass hysteria that can only be induced by super cheap packs of 24 toilet rolls (2 ply), and escaped to the check-outs.

As soon as we cleared the check-out, we were jumped upon by 4 Chinese young women, shaking a donations box and waving pamphlets in our faces. "We are from the [something something something] China Foundation, can you give a donation?". After years of collecting donations in Australian shopping centers for World Vision, I usually donate a little if I can in these situations, but I seriously had no change.

I turned to Phil, who rummaged in his hand in his pocket and finally pulled out two Chinese jiao- the equivalent of 2 US CENTS. He sheepishly said that he was sorry but it was all the change he had, and the girls said it was fine anyway. He popped it in the box, and before we could walk away the girl insisted on attaching a huge red sticker on my shoulder, indicating that we had donated to their charity. I felt a bit silly- the sticker would have cost more to make than we had even donated, and so I covered it up with my scarf.

We continued up the escalators from the basement to the exit, and as we stepped off we were attacked by not 4 but 7 women from the same charity, again asking for dinations. I pulled back my scarf and uncovered the sticker, and they fell back imediately, bowing and saying "Thank you! Thank you!"

As we walked away in a bit of a daze Phil turned to me in awe and said:

"Maaaan! That was the best 2 jiao I've ever spent!"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Manny's China-Palooza Part 2

Ok so here is Part 2 of Manny's China Palooza: Tiananmen Square, Beijing

Manny colour-coordinates with the PRC flag

North view

South view

Posing in front of a blurry Mao (too late in the afternoon to get the light i needed for that kind of depth of field... but appropriate as most of his memory here is somewhat blurred from truth)

Getting suspicious looks from the guards on duty

Chilling at the Front Gate: Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644)

Playing nice:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Manny's China-Palooza part 1

I finally got some photos resized, got Beta-Blogger working, got Saturn aligned with Venus, and the wind blowing from the South-east, or whatever, but the end result is that I can finally post some photos of our trip around China.

So with no further ado, here is...

Part 1 of Manny's China-Palooza: The Forbidden City, Beijing!

On the edge of the moat encircling the Forbidden City

"Where's Manny?"
Manny tests his camoflaging skills on the front gate

Posing for a photo in one of the many gardens...

... and checking out the distinctive architecture.

Inspecting one of the old bronze couldrons, that were kept filled with water in case of fires in the old days.

Playing Hide and Seek

The obligatory photo in the main square of the Forbidden City

Stay tuned next for Manny in Tiannanmen Square.

xxx Manny

Just Another Manny's Monday

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Go, Go, Go-Karting!

Last week heralded the 30-something-ieth birthday of our good friend John, so we decided to celebrate it with less than 30-something maturity levels: we went go-karting.

Go-Karting at anytime is fun, but on a track in Shanghai with ten of your closest friends (+beer) it is bloody awesome!

Gerald in front, with Phil behind, trying to figure out exactly where in his armpits he is supposed to fit his knees

The birthday boy, John

The line-up (I'm 3rd from the back but my head has been mysteriously disfigured)

The "+beer" portion of the evening at the bar at the track (L-R: Me, John, Steffie)

Getting cranky at having to wait too long for our race... 8 minutes is a long time some



Bastien as the floating head in the helmet surrounded by me, Phil, Alberto and John

Me and Irene- the (sometimes) photographer and group emailer of these photos

Phil and Steffie deep in post-race analysis of the time sheets

Bastien- the over-excited French man

And of course:
The day-after injury photo-
my inner thigh the next evening with a splendid stamp of the go-kart steering column

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bloody Awesome!

Uh oh, this email was passed on to me by mum... and Phil is already quoting from it.

In the beginning God created day and night.
He created day for footy matches, going to the beach and BBQ's

He created night for going prawning, sleeping
and BBQ's,
and God saw that it was good.

On theSecond Day, God created water - for surfing,
swimming and BBQ's on the beach ,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Third Day God created the Earth to bring forth plants -
to provide malt and yeast for beer and wood for BBQs,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Fourth Day God created animals
and crustaceans for chops, sausages, steak and prawns for BBQ's,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Fifth day God created a Bloke - to go to the footy, enjoy the beach,
drink the beer and eat the meat and prawns at BBQ's,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Sixth Day God saw that the Bloke was lonely and needed someone
to go to the footy, surf, drink beer, eat and stand around the barbie with.
So God created Mates, and God saw that they were good Blokes,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Seventh Day God looked around at the twinkling barbie fires,
heard the hiss of opening beer cans and the raucous laughter of all the Blokes.
He smelled the aroma of grilled chops and sizzling prawns
and God Saw that it was good ... ... Well . Almost good.

He saw that the Blokes were too tired to clean up and needed a rest.
So God created Sheilas - to clean the house, to bear children, to wash,
To cook and to clean the BBQ, and then God saw that it was not just good.
It was better than that, it was Bloody Awesome!


Friday, November 24, 2006

Putting the 'awe' in awesome

A great story to go with an amazing image:

The me I was.

After thinking about my post from yesterday, I was reminded of this line from the end of The Motorcycle Diaries:

"I am not me anymore. At least I am not the same me I was."

There are so many experiences in life that can produce such a feeling, for example becoming a parent or the death of a loved one. However, one quick and certain way to feel like this is to live in a foriegn country for a while, and I certainly feel as though, after 6 years of travel, I am not the same me I was.

I'm interested to hear your feelings and experiences regarding this topic- what changed you from 'the you you were'?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Crazy is a state of mind

I had the following conversation with my friend Dan (hereby referred to as Nanou) on msn this morning:

Nanou says:

how u?

Lou says:


Lou says:

I slept in- aside from the gas lady ringing the doorbell twelve times at 9

Nanou says:

twelve times?

Nanou says:

dont these people have any decency!?

Nanou says:

after 2 or 3 rings she should have realised either you weren't home or weren't getting up!

Lou says:


Lou says:

in all fairness we’re supposed to write the reading ourselves on a piece of paper stuck on the wall near the lift, but I hadn’t remembered

Lou says:

but she was asking other people on our floor too

Nanou says:

u have to write your own reading!?

Nanou says:


Nanou says:

what if u lied?

Lou says:

i know

Lou says:

i dont know how they check it

Lou says:

i guess people are so used to being in a police state that they are honest..

It's true that the "You tell us how much gas you've used... no, don't worry, we trust you!" attitude is a little strange. However the fact is that until Dan pointed the absurdity of writing your own meter readings, it really hadn't seemed abnormal to me, though now I think about it I can remember a time when it did. That is very true about many things here- when I first started this blog, it was easy to see 'strange' things and write about them, but now after living in Shanghai for the last 16 months these once strange things seem normal.

I am reminded about this email I sent to family and friends after I had been living in Nepal for about 10 months:

17th May, 2003, Ittabhatta, Nepal.

Warped reality.

Hi Everyone,

It has come to my attention that my "standards" for normal have been warped far out of shape by my time immersed in Nepali culture. I realized during my visit to China recently that I had already forgotten the "normal" things like shopping complexes and home delivery ("You mean to say, that all we have to do is make a phone call and give a man some money and he will bring the pizza TO OUR DOOR???!!").

But this warped reality was strongly brought home to me this afternoon during a conversation with my sister, Liz, on MSN Chat. The conversation went like this:

Lou: Guess what I just bought?

Liz: What?
Lou: A Power Rangers inflatable wading pool


four yellow squeaking rubber-duckies!!

Liz: WHY???

Lou: Because it is hot, it was only $20, and now I can have pool parties in my living room!

Liz: lol

That's crazy!

Lou: No it is not, it is perfectly sane.

We are going to have a champagne cocktails bikini pool party!!

It is the perfect way to cool down!

Liz: But why?

Lou: Because we are crazy bideshis (foreigners), we'll be in the privacy of my own house, and because and we can.

Liz: See - you are crazy.

Lou: No we are not crazy by our standards... only by Nepali standards.

After all, what is wrong with having a pool party?

Liz: In your living room? In a power rangers inflatable pool? With rubber duckies? What ISN"T wrong with that????

Lou: oh. I actually hadn't thought of that.

Liz: That’s sad

So, yeah, I guess now I am willing to accept that a Champagne Cocktails Bikini Pool Party in a Power Rangers wading pool in my living room -with rubber duckies- probably isn't all that normal. Once I realized this, I started wondering about all the other things I have gotten used to seeing and/or doing (or being able to get away with doing) while I've been here in Nepal.

1. Walking down the road to buy one egg
2. A double bed in every living room
3. Riding a scooter/motorbike on a public highway in sandals and a cotton Kurta Surwal
4. Phrases such as "Did you meet with your phone?"
5. "guests" arriving at 6am
6. The inclusion in every movie of a song and dance scene situated on an alpine mountain top, regardless of the genre.
7. Buying alcohol from the corner shop/shack
8. Being able to buy cigarettes (if I smoked) individually (i.e. one cigarette at a time, not the whole pack)
9. Burning my rubbish in the front garden
10. Not using toilet paper
11. Moving house with a tractor instead of a removals truck
12. The power going out every day
13. Having only sunlight to light my office (even when the power is on)
14. Paying 50 cents for a bag full of veggies
15. Walking around with my money stored in my bra
16. Eating a full meal of Daal, curry and rice for breakfast
17. Not having to line up anywhere, or even x-ray my baggage at the airport, because I am white
18. Never accepting the first price
19. Knowing that everyone is looking at me.
20. Buying a Power Rangers inflatable wading pool and Rubber Duckies in preparation for a pool party in my living room!!

In retrosoect there were many more strange things about living in Nepal that I didn't even register at the time- like the fact that there was a civil war going on, and if you went for a walk after dark you were likely to be shot.

I'm interested to skip forward a few years and see what my perseptions of China will be in hindsight.

My "strange" life in Nepal:
I was asked to be this baby's mother- I politely declined

My colleagues and I standing in a tea field.

Riding a massive swing made out of bamboo and jute rope during the Tihar Festival

Planting rice during the monsoon.

And, of course...
Sitting on my roof in the rain in... The Power Rangers Inflatable Pool with Rubber Duckies!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

alright already, I get it.

I have had a minor skin breakout of the pimply nature over the past few days- though as even as a teenager I never really had any pimples, a minor breakout is a major, puss-exploding disaster for me.

Then, while commenting on a blog a few moments ago I get this as the word verification image (bear in mind the fact that most people call me Lou):

You know what Blogger? The mirror this morning was quite enough- I didn't need reminding again.

We now return you to your regular programming...

Thanks to Gabrielle and Phil (her Phil, not my Phil... it's all very confusing for us...) I am now back on the air!!


Just what the internet needed- more bloggers.

So stay tuned for the photos and run-down from the great 2006 Hubbard Family Tour of China... as soon as I resize and sort all 300-odd of them. At least now I have the incentive to really get going on it, I should be able to start posting them this week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

how very helpful

I am currently in the process of setting up a PayPal account, and while verifying my account was told:

We sent a letter with your validation code to the following address. When you receive the letter, please follow the instructions on how to enter the code on the PayPal website. Please allow days for your letter to arrive in the post.

"Please allow days for the letter to arrive..."? How many days? How very helpful.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Whinge" indeed rhymes with "Binge"

Mignon commented on my last post:

"And are you trying to spell whine? Pronounced like the drink? Or a word rhyming with binge (as suggested in your title)?"

I knew then that if she, as an American and thoroughly versed in the intricacies of the English language (as you can see from her own blog at, then "whinge" must be an Australian word.

So I grabbed the "Aussie Slang" Dictionary that my sister Liz sent Phil for Christmas last year. According to the author Sarah Dawson:

To complain constantly and irritatingly.
A whinge is the act of doing this, and
a whinger is a person who does so too often.

So there you go. So often I have no idea that a particular word I am using is not a universal English word, but rather an Australian-invented term that I have grown up with, and therefore never realised the world at large was unaware of it. Quite often Phil has simply no idea what I am talking about!

Monday, November 13, 2006

whinge, binge, cringe

I apologise for the whinging post of last week, and the lack of posting in general. I am just not feeling this email-posting thing- doesn't really feel like blogging, and as I can't access my blogger account there is no way I can edit or change any posts after they are published... talk about performance pressure. The outcome: expect A LOT of typos in the comming posts.

Also I am totally bummed that for the time being I can't post my photos of the Family Magical Mystery Tour of China (aside from the fact that I haven't even had a chance yet to sit down, sort, edit and resize the images yet anyway).  However, I am issuing a desperate plea to any of you technologically advanced examples of the human species out there in cyberworld- if you can think of a way I can by-pass the beta-blogger sign in page to get to my account, please please PLEASE let me know.

Oh and thanks to Mia for the metaphorical chunk of rescue Edam, it tasted so good in my mind!

So there you have it: a ridiculously short post in which i apologise for whinging in the last post, and continue to whinge in this one. Did I even spell 'whinge' correctly? Oh who cares... Whinge complete- over and out.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me...

So monday was my birthday. 27 years in this world, and how did I celebrate it?

1. woken (barely) by Phil at 4.30am as he left for a shoot out of the city, not to arrive back home til after 9pm that night.
2. woke again at 10am by a coughing fit eminating from deep within the phlegmy recesses of my own lungs. Reminded again that I have ANOTHER horrid cold, and suspected bronchitis.
3. burn two pots of coffee, before finally getting it right on the third go.
4. sit down at my computer to realise that the Chinese govt has blocked blogger again and my blog is f^#*ed. Scream obcenities at the computer, at blogger beta and at China in general.
5. took mum and dad to the fabric market to have cashmere winter coats tailor made, and then to the antiques market to buy last minute souvenirs, haggling the stall owners in both markets to within an inch of their lives- inducing another coughing fit, weak-kneed dizzyness and nasty snappy behaviour from myself.
6. by this time it is 5pm and so we go home.
7. discover that one of the rabbit has a cold, google it, and find that without medical intervention he could die. Stress about how to pay for vet bills that are more expensive than human dr bills.
8. decide to cook pasta-bake for dinner- though mum has to have wheat free pasta and no cheese, and Phil wants the same as me and dad, yet with tuna added. Try to figure out how to fit three pasta dishes into our little taoster oven and decide that mum has allergy, but Phil is just being selective- no tuna pasta for him.
9. Start cooking to find we are out of pasta sauce.
10. go to supermarket to buy pasta sauce. Buy some more pasta while I'm at it.
11. get home and tip an entire new packet of pasta into boiling water and watch about 50 black bugs float to the surface.
12. tip out pasta, boil new water, and start again.
13. discover I am out of butter for bechemel sauce. Use olive oil instead.
14. leave the kitchen to sit down on the couch at 9pm, at which point Phil walks in, sees me on the couch only to think I've been lazing about all day. (of course he doesn't think that but it feels like it).
15. go to the fridge to get him a beer (like the good little house-wife I am) and find that our stupid arctic fridge has frozen the beer bottle. Phil opens it before it can explode on its own, and of course it explodes everywhere, all over us and the kitchen. Clean up.
15. Finally eat dinner at 9.30pm.

Happy birthday me.

PS. Thanks Dan for setting up the email blogging for me- a stop-gap til I figure out how to properly use my blog again.
PPS. I did have a birthday dinner with Phil and the 'rents on Sunday night, which was lovely, but it never feels like your birthday when you do it before hand.
PPPS. I'll stop whinging now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"We apologise for this disruption in service..."

It seems that the Chinese Government in all its infinite wisdom has blocked the beta blogger sign-in page, so I am at present unable to post to this blog, even using anonymous proxy servers. This message is coming to you via an email sent to my sister Liz in Australia- Thanks Liz!

We are working on getting around this, and in any case the government might unblock the page again shortly. Let it be known that I did not use the words "fickle", "irrational" or "just plain stupid". In the same sentence as "Chinese Government". Not in the same sentence. So there.

In the meantime, I can still read all your blogs, and read your comments on mine, although I am holed up in an anti-blogging seige.

If you are worried about me, feel free to send cheese. It won't help the blogging situation, but... Damn! I miss good cheese!

"We hope to return to our regular programming as soon as possible"

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

soldier-ing on

I promise to sit down and write a REAL entry asap, yet once again, this is not the day. Since leaving Beijing on Friday, we have caught the overnight train to Xi'an (sharing our compartment with a truly lovely army officer... and not I'm not being sarcastic, he really was), tripping around Xi'an town, and visiting the Terracotta Warriors.

Of course they were mind boggling, but you all expected I'd say that right?

I took a gazillion photos, which I'll try to get up sometime this weekend (fingers crossed).

Today started off "well" at 8am with me threatening our hotel manager to report her to the police for giving out my private room number to a taxi driver, but only after she falsely accused me of stealing a $5 pillow slip. She shut up pretty quickly, but it wasn't the best start to the day. After that we got on the bus to the airport (1 hour) to fly to Chengdu (1 hour 15min), then a taxi to the Chengdu bus station (20 min), followed by another bus to Emei (2 hours 15 min), and finally one last taxi (20 min) to our hostel in Buoguo Village at the base of Emei Shan (Mountain). All up, waiting time included, we have been on the road for 8 and a half hours, which in China feels more like... I don't know.... about 3 weeks. I am completely whacked and apologise for the stagnating state of this blog lately, and like a tease, promise more interesting tales in the near future.

But in the meantime, and in absence of my own photos (for now), I'll leave you with this, and this, oh and this too.

Jealous yet??

Friday, October 27, 2006

Busted Bathrooms in Beijing

Posting today very quickly from an overpriced net cafe in Beijing. The 'rents and I arrived here on Monday and settled into a charming little old ancient courtyard hotel... which we promptly had to move out of the next morning due to busted pipes in our bathroom. There were no other rooms available so we ended up in a noisy, dodgy and dirty kitch chinese hotel down the street. The standards are more than just lax- they don't even change the sheets between guests unless you demand it!

Since then we have climbed the Great Wall; visited Tiananmen Square; gotten trapped in the Forbidden City when Jacques Chirac dropped in for a visit and closed off all the exits; climbed up and down more stairs in monuments that my legs can forgive me for (I'm in a world of pain), and this morning we are heading off to see Mouldy old Mao's corpse preserved for all to see in his memorial hall... mmmmm... "I see dead people..."

Then we're onto an overnight train to Xi'an, home of the Terracotta Warriors, where I hope to have more time to post.

Manny is having a blast, though I cant post photos til we get back.

Gotta dash now....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bad blogger! BAD blogger!

I know I know- this blog has been literally stalled all week. I'm a bad blogger.

Truth is I have been completely exhausted all week, showing mum and dad around and still teaching my normal classes in the meantime.

But we are off to Beijing in the morning, for the first leg of a 12 day trip: Beijing, the Great Wall, Xi'an, Emei Shan and Leshan. I know that is all Chinese to most of you (hehehe, lame joke in total exhaustion), but I'll update soon with lots of photos of Me, Mum, Dad, and of course... Manny! (poor Phil has to stay behind and work, though after a week of the de-facto-in-laws I'm not sure if that's such a bad thing!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Living with the 'rents again.

The parental unit has landed in Shanghai- finally I can watch all those PG dvds in my collection.

Yep, mum and dad touched down in Shanghai yesterday at 2pm, and have been caught up in a whirl of shopping, registering with the police, and getting foot massages ever since then.


But they've officially met Phil, and Phil has officially met them, and the good news is that none of the three of them have officially disowned me yet.

More news to come, and stay tuned for some wicked Manny adventures as we take on China next week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Living on the other side of "normal"

Have you ever gone into an Asian grocery store, and stood in line behind someone at the check-out, staring at their unfamiliar package of god-knows-what, and thought: "What the #&*@% is that?"

C'mon admit it, we all have.

Well, the other day I became that weird person with the strange inedible food while I was standing at the check-out of a supermarket near my home that sells some imported "foreigner" food. I had placed a couple of bags of penne pasta on the counter and the Chinese couple in line behind me leaned forward to look at it. The girl, looking positively horrified, turned to her husband and said (in Chinese): "What's that?"

The husband leaned in to get a closer look and had a lightbulb moment: "Ah! It's Italian Noodles!"

Manny's Missing

No he's not really missing, it's just that a plague of ebola has settled on our household this week (scientifically known as the Common Cold), and Manny is lying, drugged up on Nyquil, under a mammoth pile of used kleenex tissues.

Stay tuned for Manny next week, collecting my folks from the airport for the innaugural Hubbard Family Tour of China.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Sorry for my absence, I was struck down this week with a vicious migraine and a never-ending head cold. Instead of talking about the copious amounts of snot still vacating the sinking ship that is my body, I thought we could play a little game. Boys and girls, feel free to play along at home.

This is a variation of of another game doing the blog rounds, which I changed to suit the visual aspect of my nature.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


  • Reach for the nearest book to you, and open to page and open to page 12
  • Find the 3rd sentence
  • And then find the 4th word in the sentence.
  • Do a google images search on that word only, and choose the 5th image, and publish it to your blog, along with the word you googled, and these rules for others to play along.

Mine: "mount" (from the China Lonely Planet guidebook on my desk):

Anyone know any other time wasting games we can play?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Just Another Manny's Monday (week 3)

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's that time again....

Manny does Brunch.

Manny checks out the menu at the Vienna Cafe
on Xiaoxin Rd, near Shanxi Rd, Shanghai:

Phil and Manny read a mag while waiting to order:

Manny eyes off the dubious Shanghai water...

...and then decides on a latte instead:

Manny gazes longingly at the rainy garden courtyard:
("Hello my god... it's Manny here... there's nothing much I want to say, just hellooooo my god..." --this will be totally lost on any non-Aussies, but ten points to anyone in Oz who recognises Manny's song)

Manny has to be talked down from a ledge when the waiter forgets his sandwhich:

Finally the sandwhich arrives:

And then of course dessert:

All tuckered out, Manny needs a Napkin Nap:

Manny gets busted doing a line in the bathroom
(The poor guy doesnt realise that without nostrils or a central nervous system he can neither snort nor get high... and I have it on good authority that sugar is not an illegal substance...):

Manny decides whether to use Visa or an ATM card to pay the bill:

...and goes for cash in the end:

Finally it's time to head home on the scooter

"Born to Riiiiiide!":

Until next week!
xxx Manny

As usual check out all of Manny's adventures at Just Another Manny's Monday