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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Bikes in China

Itinerant bard and cyclist, David Farnsworth, is back in China, a country he loves, sampling the food, sights and riding the bikes. Some jottings from his diary follow, plus a couple of recent poems.

Yesterday attended a private school for the mentally impaired. The treatment of mental illness in China is, I think, fairly recent - and went to a primary school where the children mobbed me. I'd forgotten how much fun Chinese children could be. I showed them a hairy arm. The Chinese do not have hair on their arms!

Rode the bike 5 k. into CBD to access a flexiteller. The local ones will not accept my card. (They require 6 digits. Mine has four.)  The joys of travel. The keypads have a metal screen over them (for privacy) but in my case, I can't see the digits.  I managed. So much traffic... motor scooters and bicycles.  Very hairy. Still I'm a tough old bird.

People are so kind to me with banquets and restaurant meals. Large clamp down on corruption here. Maybe even bigger than in NSW! 

Prawns seem to be off the menu. There is a glut of abalone (twice the size of a 50 c coin, which are selling for 50 c. Of course, in Ballarat, you can't buy abalone.

Strangely, I noticed that in the cornucopia, which is supermarkets here, they don't have avocados.

 Of course I can do anything. Catch 68 bus. Someone gives me a seat.  90  minute journey for less than a dollar. oh yes. 

The public bicycles. Racks of 50 or so about every 400  meters. (Blue, pink, red green pastel blue) $40.00 deposit and show a local identity card to get a key card. 

Free access. Ride free. Return bike before 60 minutes expires. Friend estimates there are 50,000 bicycles in this city

For each hour over, 20 cents charge. .  so popular now. They had just been introduced on my last trip here  and seemed to not take off. Now they are everywhere. Number of bicycles on the streets has doubled.

Men in a truck pick and drop bikes where needed, and take broken bikes away for repair. People who  probably haven't ridden bicycles for 20 years are taking up the challenge, albeit hesitantly.

The business  executive with satchel, riding 'no hands'.

At Wedding Reception

I’m overwhelmed by the pipe
smoke. Watson has ordered
me a Vegetarian Salad.
Is he mad? The patrons
are out of control. They are
looking at a small screen
watching a ball pass from
one end of a field to another.
Some of the patrons are in
their cups – half their
luck! I can’t wait to
get home and indulge in
a drug of real seriousness.

At Xia Shan ReservoirXia

(Shan means Big Hill? ‘Xia’ is pronounced ‘shea’?)

At Xia Shan Reservoir the birds
are having a lovely time. Cherry
blossoms are fading and falling
covering the trimmed bushes.
How like flowering azaleas they look!

A light wind whipping the chill
from the waters. small children call.
All is order. Nothing is out of place.
Most people wear red for luck.
Volunteers pluck imaginary rubbish
with elongated tongs. Everybody
is happy, especially the happiness bird.

Peter Verkhovensky is Busy

It’s recess time at the Primary School.
The children improvise their games in the wide corridor. Most involve physical contact with a favoured other.

Here in the fish restaurant, the three
youngsters in the foursome indulge
in a cigarette. There’s so much smoke
I may as well be smoking myself.

At the autistic school severely disabled students roar like wild animals from neighbouring rooms. When viewed up close, they’re quite docile.

In the pursuit of happiness, money
changes hands everywhere, In an
earlier restaurant, a waitress chases
a fly with a fly-swat.

Chenlong Hotel  Weifang  24/ 04/ 14

A couple of 'fun' poems inspired by things seen on the bike ride to Anqiou:.

Three truck-loads of pigs, all heading
in the same direction. Obviously a
conference in some convention centre.
From the first big truck, I heard a
honk, not sure whether from the truck or the pigs.
No smell. Obviously, all have been shampooed for the occasion and no – there’s no way they can avoid putting their snouts in the trough over the coming week.

30th April, 2014-05-04

Chenlong Hotel, Weifang.

Two men and a goat on a motorized tricycle all wearing sun-hats.
The goat was not driving.
Obviously off on a picnic, the
goat grinning from horn to horn.
A picnic umbrella, an esky
and some old clothes ...
as a special treat
got the goat to eat.

30th April, 2014

Chenlong International Hotel, Weifang

Farnsworth's travel poem anthology Middle Kingdom is on Buzzword - $3.95.

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