Tag-Archive for » Wuyishan «

Monday, March 17th, 2014 | Author:


We’ve booked flights for a family holiday/research trip to the former Yugoslavia and to China.

After flying out of Sydney on the 24th of May, we’ll have one week visiting our second (or third, in Lazar’s case) ‘hometown’ of Wuyishan in China. Then it’s on to Serbia. From there, we plan to spend about four weeks driving through Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Kosovo before heading back to Serbia for our flight home on June 30th. Along the way, we’ll visit all the major settings featured in my novel — among others, Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Priština and Belgrade.

As well as providing an opportunity to undertake further research for my novel, this will also be the first time our children have seen their father’s birthplace. There are so many cousins, aunts and uncles for them to meet. And of course, they’ll get to visit all the special places Lazar remembers from his childhood.

 All in all, we’re looking forward to an exciting and educational trip!

Friday, November 30th, 2012 | Author:


Last weekend we went to the wedding reception of one of our favourite former students, Butterfly.

As we neared the groom’s house, we passed an excited crowd on the road and spotted the beautiful bride in their centre: a man in flip-flops and with his slacks rolled up to his knees was dragging a small wooden cart in which Butterfly knelt, clad in her scarlet wedding dress and veil. 

Three motorcycles were weaving across the road in front of the bridal cart. While one man rode each bike, another straddled it backwards, using a cigarette to light firecrackers he’d then toss in front of the wedding procession.

The wedding lunch was served in the courtyard of the groom’s family’s house. Another hundred or more guests sat under temporary awnings erected in the laneway beside the house. A small army of caterers prepared all the food on the spot, using massive steamers and portable gas bottles to cook everything right there in the courtyard.

As is usual on special occasions in China, no rice or vegetables were served — just masses of meat and seafood. We ate pig’s ears, crocodile, lobster, crab, lamb, whole steamed duck, some dish involving huge slabs of fatty, steamed pig skin, and several different soups. There was one featuring dried mushrooms and some type of offal; another with bamboo shoots and pork; also a sort of egg custard with dried prawns and dried mushrooms sprinkled on top and finally, very sweet peanut soup. We scarcely had time to taste each dish, much less finish it, before it was whisked away to be replaced by the next.

Once we were all well and truly full, the kids spent a while playing in the marital bedchamber with Butterfly and Ifan’s nieces and nephews. No one seemed to mind a bunch of kids jumping about on the bride and groom’s new bed! Everything in the bedroom was new and either pink or red: new red sheets and pink pillows, floral arrangements of pink and red roses on a red plastic stool beside the bed, a swathe of pink fabric decorating the mirror. Looking down on all this from the wall was an enormous, airbrushed wedding picture of the gorgeous bride and groom. 

It was wonderful to see Butterfly looking so happy, and so beautiful in her traditional scarlet and gold qipao.

Friday, August 17th, 2012 | Author:

We are now officially Foreign Residents in the beautiful coastal city of Xiamen. After two wonderful years in Wuyishan, we decided it was time to move on. Next term we start teaching at Xiamen University of Technology.

Moving house in China was kind of interesting… It cost us just over $100 AUD to get 23 boxes and 3 bicycles transported by truck from Wuyishan to Xiamen (12 hours drive). The boxes arrived looking like they’d all done 3 rounds with Rocky Balboa. Gashes and splits everywhere, hastily patched up with blue tape, our belongings spilling out all over the place. All my glasses bar one were reduced to glass powder. The wire basket on Aria’s bike was totally crushed. But hey, at least nothing went missing in the move!

Category: Travel News  | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
Monday, June 04th, 2012 | Author:


To all my lovely students at Wuyi University,

First I want to say thank you to all of you for giving me a wonderful two years in Wuyishan. I’ve really enjoyed teaching you. It’s been a very fulfilling experience for me to see many of you become more confident and relaxed about speaking English with a foreigner, and I hope you’ll continue speaking whenever you bump into any backpackers or visitors in China. I will miss you all very much, but at least I am leaving here with some great memories and, I hope, some lifelong friends.

I’ve had so many good times here at Wuyi University. Some of the things that will always stick in my memory include coming home on Friday nights from English Corner and hearing, from down on the ground, my daughters laughing on the 5th floor of our apartment building because they’re having so much fun with their babysitters (so thanks Jean, Ruby, Irene, Alier, Stella, Vera, Niki, Dawn, Vicky, Shakira, Tyler, Avril and all the other students who have looked after our daughters at various times over the years, and sorry to those who I haven’t named here!).

I will also remember the class parties and crazy games you made up for us to play…  the birthday visit to KTV with Ben, Ruby and Irene and our horse riding trip in Sichuan…  trips to Xiamei village with Alier and Sally…  hiking up Tian You Feng with Mavis and Sunny…  sitting outside Building 1 on a beautiful sunny day and singing Pengyou with Class 2…  sharing tissues with Stella and Kathy while crying over Titanic 3-D at the local cinema…  being guests in Jean and Butterfly’s family’s homes during the Spring Festival celebrations…  celebrating Christmas 2011 with tens of students in our home…  talking with my research/writing classes about foot binding in the old China and superhero movies in modern America…  watching Crystal endure almost 10 hours online and on the phone trying to book our flights back to Australia…  eating snacks Fanny and others brought back for us from your hometowns after various holidays…  and many, many other things.

So all in all, the best thing about my time in Wuyishan was not the fresh air, gorgeous mountains and beautiful scenery, but you — my students. I wish all of you the best of luck in the future and hope all your dreams come true. And if any of you ever come to Xiamen or in later years Australia, please look me up. I’d love to welcome you and guide you around and catch up with you. In the meantime, it’s goodbye for now, but hopefully not forever!

With love from your English teacher,


Friday, May 11th, 2012 | Author:


Last week I enjoyed my second-ever trip to the local Wuyishan cinema. The cinema was closed for renovations during our first 18 months in China and I have to say, I’m loving it being reopened. I visited it for the first time last month, to see Titanic in 3-D with two of my students. It wasn’t bad — the cinema’s kind of small, the popcorn has that weird sugary-salty flavour that’s so popular here, and the projector broke down three times during the course of the movie. But hey, it was great to watch a movie on the big screen instead on the laptop in our apartment, and I confess I sobbed along with my students when Jack finally sank under the water.

But last week’s trip to the cinema was much, much more exciting, because I avoided the popcorn, left the tissues at home, and went to see ‘The Avengers’. It was great. Josh Whedon’s script was excellent, full of laughs and action and interpersonal conflict, and it was fantastic to see so many superheroes in the one story. But I have to confess to liking the villain better than all the heroes put together. Loki, a.k.a Tom Hiddleston, is awesome. I loved him in ‘Thor’ — his thoroughly justified angst, his intelligence, his sleek black hair — and I loved him all over again in this. In fact, I am entirely in agreement with Meghan O’Keefe, a NY-based writer, who on her blog makes a great case for Tom Hiddleston being the hottest actor in ‘The Avengers’.

And did I mention that he can write, too? Check out Tom’s article in the Guardian where he talks about superhero movies being part of our modern mythology.

So all in all, in my humble opinion, ‘The Avengers’ is great, the superheroes handsome, brave, witty, tough, and frequently very well-muscled… but Loki is still the real star.

Loki in 'The Avengers'


Category: Books / Movies  | Tags: ,  | One Comment
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Author:


How cool is my Nana! 86 years old and still globetrotting!

We recently had a visit from Nana, my aunt Alison and her husband Robin. In fact, my intrepid Nana celebrated her 86th birthday here in Wuyishan. After a month of rain, the weather cleared a little during their stay. So we were lucky enough to get to see the ancent village of Xiamei and some of Wuyishan’s gorgeous scenic spots, such as Tian You Feng (Heavenly Tour Peak), Yu Nu Feng, and the Da Hong Pao tea plants. I also took Nana, Alison and Robin to a local teahouse with a beautiful, traditional interior decorated with wood carvings, calligraphy and calligraphy tools. And they were kind enough to come to some of my classes, where they enjoyed superstar status for a day and posed for countless pictures with my wonderful students.

Category: Travel News  | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
Wednesday, February 08th, 2012 | Author:


The Chinese really know how to celebrate. On the 7th February we went into town to join in the Lantern Festival festivities. Wuyishan town centre was packed despite the rain and cold. The endless racket of the fireworks made it sound like WW3 had broken out. But the atmosphere was magical: strings of lanterns glowing in the darkness, periodic rose and green flashes from the fireworks, happy smiling faces everywhere…

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 | Author:


Last week the university hosted a visit from 60 or so foreign teachers from all around Fujian province. Together we all went bamboo rafting down the Nine Twists Stream and visited the girls’ preschool to view a tea ceremony performed by kids. It was a little nerve-wracking watching 4 and 5 year olds handle kettles and boiling water by themselves, but they managed to make the tea without injuring themselves. And they looked so cute while doing so!