October 1st "National Week" holiday.

Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Saturday, October 1, 2011

Xiasha:  in the same province of Shanghai known as "Zhejiang" whose provincial capital is in an ancient city known as "Hangzhou".   Xiasha is down river from Hangzhou.   Xiasha is down river from everything if you listen to the locals.    Xiasha is closer to the sea,  closer to the weather, closer to the land,  closer to my heart..    After two days of rain her granite walkways are clean again as the lights glisten upon them and her many statues and sculptures shine like the sun.   Xiasha is a magic city,  and 300,000 of us are lucky to be here.    Tonight I spent hours on my front porch on the 5th floor of a decaying apartment complex (this is a wet environment)  just listening to the sounds of downtown Xiasha in the rain.   Quietly picking away at my classical guitar,  watching and listening,  while families do the family thing,  cars do the car thing,  and the constant drone of quiet raindrops continue to wash this city clean and allow some of us to go into a transcendental state just taking it all in.  (just trying to sound writer-istic you know)...


  Played quietly the gamut of songs I still remember,  while experimenting with the unique virtues inherent to classical guitars (haven't had one in years).   The classical guitar is much more about rhythm than a steel string,  each click of your fingernails on the wood adds a certain drumbeat to the music.  Classical guitars have more room on the fingerboard for fat fingers (a plus for me) therefore makes a cleaner sound than the finicky steel stings I've played for 20 plus years. They are easier on the fingers as well. They are quieter.  Most good classical players I know;  like Willy Nelson, never use a pick and neither do I.  The classical guitar is what I started with,  and it's probably what I will continue to play for the rest of my life.    Finger picking my new Chinese classical, in the rain has brought new dimensions to my previously stagnant guitar playing ability,  it's nice to enjoy playing the instrument again.    Still love the sax,  but it's just too loud to play in an all cement building.  My neighbors do mention that they hear my sax playing,  but they don't mind since I stop by 9:00 PM, and I know how to reasonably play the instrument (one neighbor told me this)..  But it  still bothers me because I hate to impose my music on anyone, nor do I feel particularly talented since I haven't practiced much since the end of June.  I will have next week to jam the Sax since most neighbors are leaving for national week,  but after that I will need to rent a practice room at the local music store,  or play in some of the outlying parks where no one goes.  I only need a couple weeks of an hours practice per day to get back to where I was.


How do I get the time to practice the Sax, Guitar, Writing, Cooking,  and Reading?   By not working like a dog 24/7.  I think only very dim witted souls should subject themselves to grabbin' dollars every free waking second of their lives.   I knew fellow teachers in the past who had side jobs, worked weekends, worked summers,  just so they could gather more money.   Maybe this sounds judgmental,  but to me this sounds like a terrible way to squander one's life.
But of course me thinking these judgmental thoughts is unfair.  Some people enjoy constant work for some reason.  I must respect this,  though I will never understand it.   Nor do I understand how a person can live without ever working at all?  This doesn't include retirees, students, and housewives/husbands of course.   Maybe I will marry a brilliant Chinese woman and stay home and be a house husband!!!  


Spent the next three hours reading Grisham's "The Broker",  which is one of his most exciting works since "The Firm".   I am not a big fan of his subject matter,  but Grisham can write as well as the greatest writers in the world past or present in my opinion.  He's the only modern fiction writer that I ever read,  I do like to read older stuff like Steinbeck and Conrad.   I do enjoy reading non-fiction,  but that has slowed down due to the availability of information on the internet.  I learn a lot from watching non-fiction videos as well.  I find that watching 10 hours of "Jazz" by Ken Burns is much more informative than reading a book for 100 hours about the subject, plus you can see the people move and hear them play.  They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words,  which makes a movie worth 10,000 words.  



Sunday morning, having a cup of "Lipton" brand tea as usual (fancy Chinese teas cost too much and taste like seaweed to me), while contemplating a semi-wet trip to the Metro Market.  It's no longer raining but there are many puddles of water mixed with mud and/or shit that I will have to avoid.  Plus,  the cars might be skidding around too much for my liking.    I plan to go a few kilometers, assess the situation,  then decide whether I should continue or not.   I probably should take the bus,  but I'm too stupid to think of it.


Had an exciting trip to the Metro, not too much shit in the road except for one part.   The cars were obnoxious but no skidding.   Once in Metro I focused on stocking up on curry making stuff like a decent bean-cooking pot (the meat here makes one consider being a vegetarian),  a square butcher knife,  which is great for chopping onions, garlic, ginger, ect.,  and a wood cutting board.   I also bought a kilo of red beans,  a pound of Madras (Southern Indian hot) curry powder,  some Mongolian fire oil,  two pounds of tomato paste.   I also bought a bottle of Cuervo gold a two pound jar of the best french mustard, more tabasco sauce,  black pepper, baking soda, Ham sandwich stuff, giant jar of plum jelly,  all for a mere 750 RMB ($110 US), now I'm set to eat cheap dinners for a long long time.   I can buy most of the curry ingredients local and now that I have the proper bean pot,  I will hardly touch meat once the ham runs out.  Meat should be a condiment anyway,  not 3/4ths of the main course.    I did find a shop close by that sells veggies and tofu which I like.   Maybe try the spinach curry (Sagg Aloo),  the Cauliflower curry (don't remember the Indian name),  but I have lots of Indian food which I love to eat everyday.   I also bought some big shell pasta for my Indian-Al-ian dishes.  


Came home and had a big salami sandwich on french bread with goulda,  then fell asleep for 2 hours while my feet were numb from lack of circulation.  There is a major circulation issue with me, which is why I fail the  EKG tests.   We have two foot massage places nearby that I have been wanting to try.   I have never had a massage of any kind in my life.   I heard from another teacher that these are legitimate message places (no happy endings),  so I went to the one around the corner.  They put in in a comfortable room with a TV and remote,  brought me a hot glass of tea,  then the masseuse came in and stuck my feet into a container of 110 degree F water with herbs in it.  She then preceded to punch my legs from the waterline up to my upper thighs,   after 15 minutes of this she puts my feet on an ottoman and cuts my toenails (can't see an American women with the guts to do that one!),  then painfully worked my left foot for about 15 minutes,  the feeling came back to the foot and it hasn't felt better in years.  The right foot had knots in the soles which she beat the heck out of until they went away,  this was not just a touchy feely type thing. She was doing major surgery on my aching feet and it hurt like hell!   But I could feel that she knew what she was doing and that the constant pain in my left foot for the past couple years is now gone.    Meanwhile she hit the right one even more viciously as I kept my fist clenched to avoid crying out in pain.   This went on for nearly an entire hour.   Then she put my socks back on my feet (hadn't had that happen in a long long time),   and had me sit on the ottoman where she preceded to beat the tar out of my back and shoulders,  though pummeling the back  wasn't on the menu.    I told her with my mime skills that she was very strong for a girl.   She understood what I meant.    I paid 70 RBM ($10.75),  for 70 minutes of intensive therapy.     My feet feel almost normal again,  this was truly a miracle. I plan to do this once a week until all the toxins and knots are out of my feet. This was a life changing experience.   Now that I have to stand up and teach for three hours at a time,  I really really needed something like this.   China really is a sweet life.  [This is a comment from 18 hours later.  My feet have complete circulation..I consider this a miracle. Plus having someone put your socks on is worth the price all by its self!]]

I have two more pictures here,  one of the Chinese version of "Arm & Hammer",   this one had me laffin' in the middle of the store,  so I bought it of course.   I also needed a better vegetable chopping system,  so rather than a newer style blade I opted for the traditional veg-o-matic  that China has used for hundreds of years.  Yes,  I'm sure it rusts and needs sharpened a lot,  but I just couldn't resist since it can protect my home as well as cut up onions....   I like dual purpose ancient stuff.   This is one sharp heavy nasty weapon.   

Now that I am home,  I plan to have another sandwich for dinner so the french bread doesn't have to get tossed.  Tomorrow will be a spicy red bean curry with fire oil to ensure it isn't as wimpy as the Dum Aloo's were.  

Spent much of the late afternoon/evening making the "Rajma" or red bean curry.  Out of all the beans I've tried,  I tend to like the red beans the best.  The recipe for this is nearly the same as the Dum Aloo or potato curry,  except that you boil the beans separately until they are nearly tender before adding them to the curry sauce.  Serve over rice or with Naan bread.   This dish is completely vegetarian,  could be vegan if you leave out the butter.   I just kinda do what the Indians do.
(Enjoy the Curry Making Video)

The next day I was exploring parts of Xiasha,  when I ran into the most incredible park I have ever seen.     This park is located behind my University, across a major street.   The park itself must be about 40 acres and has classical chinese curved bridges,  piers,  pathways,  lakes,  and many sculptures (all but one seem to fit the park)...    Plenty of places to sit and read or make out with your lover,  and both seems to be popular here.,    I wanted to sit and read,  but I forgot my TP  so I had to return home and take a nap for a while.    When I came back,  I missed my opportunity and it was too late to enjoy reading so I just drove around and took pictures of the place.   This is the best park in town.   The one near my house is a close second,  but it's not nearly as large,  and with fewer Tea Houses.

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JoAnne on

Nice description of the city. Your "writer-istic" prose works for me.

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