Thursday, July 20, 2017

At least you had the decency to blush...

The Hummingbirds. A band that has given me music that has spanned my lifetime.

Coming to China and picking out which albums to bring was a little like playing the game what ten records you'd bring to a desert island...except thats a stupid game because how would a desert island have a record player? 

Anyway, loveBUZZ by the Hummingbirds was on top of that pile of ten 74. It is such a wonderful album and has seen me through so many stages of life. An album I'd play getting ready to go out (to probably go see the Hummingbirds, or Ratcat, or Smudge, or You Am I, or the Welcome Mat). An album I'd play while painting and drawing in my uni years, with some cringe worthy results:

An album I'd play through breakups, new loves and new countries.

And here we are now a million miles away from Sydney town and the Hopetoun, the Lansdowne and everything else that was great about my city then. Hanging out in Glebe on market day selling stuff and then browsing Half A Cow for a new compilation or fanzine or both.  Scanning for Phantom and Waterfront Records specials in On The Street and then  (depending on what was on offer) driving into the city and parking my old Toyota Corolla right outside at opening time, to pick up that limited edition something something. Waterfront was always my first choice given there was always a place to park down that end of the city in the concrete and wind tunnels of George street. Sifting through the records while side glancing at who was about and working the counter that day but also watching the clock to make the first class at uni (and escape a parking ticket).

And through those years, there I was on the periphery, looking in at a group of people who were producing amazing music as we all travelled in similar circles... our small little world in a big city.  

That group is still there, much older and connected in a different way, which is how I came to hear about the passing of Simon Holmes. I'll leave all the words about Simon for those who knew him well, but the sadness spans far and wide. 

And today I'm thinking about that group of people and Simon's children and loved ones, including bandmates and friends - listening to his beautiful voice and those magical Hummingbird harmonies. Much love to those who are doing the same.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Chengdu - what we did and how we did it

So this is a kind of 36 hours in Chengdu (but not the New York Times version) because it would have been 40 hours in Chengdu if not for plane first piece of advice for China domestic travel? Always carry a book.

We stayed at Ascott Raffles - not really that central but also not too far away and for the price and the quality of the rooms, a comfortable stay. Not to mention the handy mall next door and the even handier coffee place about a 5 minute walk away (complete with resident dog).

Go to Wide and Narrow Alley - even though it's touristy it has great food and a fun atmosphere.  

We then found Charu Space which is a great Tibetan coffee place which also feature yak milk and yoghurt. It is in a kind of office block on the 16th floor in the middle of nowhere but is worth the visit. Calm vibes, eclectic objects, interesting view - Address: 四川成都市一环路南四段21号,A栋1单元1607, Building A Unit 1, Rm 1607, No .21 First Ring Southern Section 4, Wuhou District

And no trip to Chengdu is complete without hotpot! We went to one in Fushou Alley (Da Miao Hotpot) behind Marquis Palace. 

Day two: pandas. Get up early and head out to Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas. It opens at 7:30 and it's worth getting there at bang on opening time to beat the crowds.

Watching pandas make you hungry so why stop at one lunch? Just down the road from Red Beard Burger Bar is a great group of shops, including amazing dumplings....but save room for the best burger in China - 28 Zijing Dog Lu.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pimping for the pooches

On June the 19th a whole bunch of dogs (over 1000) were rescued off a truck just outside of Guangzhou. And without getting into the ethics of all of this, avid readers of this blog would see that dogs are much loved pets in big cities in China - you've met nearly 300 here! But (and cultural practices aside), there are still issues with how dogs are treated in China and this truck full of dogs is one big mess of a problem. 

And lots of people in Guangzhou are doing wonderful things to look out for these pooches, and even I have taken a few of them under my dog loving wing.  My lot are prime candidates for adoption - totally social, happy, friendly dogs. But in the meantime (while they wait to be health cleared) it costs money to board them and feed them and give them the medical care they need - and there are some hardworking people here organising all of that. But it's a pretty overwhelming task.

I'm trying to help out a little bit where I can. Checking in on my doggos, heading out to fundraisers and baking biscuits. Lots of biscuits. 

So here's the thing. I have lots of biscuits to sell. Wouldn't you just love some? Be honest, you'd love some based on the packaging alone! If you and I were in the same city right now, would you buy some of these dog treats from me, for your pooch or your best pooch pal? 

If the answer is yes, how about doing it virtually? Buy a bag of treats and I'll make sure the money goes to helping to G to the Z doggos. I'll also make sure your bag of treats gets to a dog in need. 

Small bags are 20 RMB (one coffee in Australia), medium 25 RMB (which are vegetarian and around $4AUD for ten) and large 30 RMB ($6AUD). Anyone in China can wechat me if you'd like to buy a bag. Anyone anywhere else - send me a message. Every little bit helps.

Here are the dogs you'll be helping:

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

China - the year that was #2

Time flies when you are something something! And all of a sudden it has been two years. TWO YEARS! Doesn't seem that long ago that I wrote this, does it?

So what have I been doing this past year? Some of you came for a visit (around 13 of you), and a pocketful of you returned more than once! Parts of my Guangzhou and China family left (and there are more imminent departures) and while it's part of the gig it doesn't make that easy. What it does make though is full cupboards of food and booze. So there is that....

I've explored more coffee shops around town, a nice Saturday ritual with recently departed friends and baby child (see above reference). I've stalked a bunch of people on Instagram for virtual friendships and new places to explore. I've watched this city change and grow...much more cosmopolitan with still its Guangzhou vibe. Not bright and shiny like Shanghai, not as cultured as Beijing, but more like an easy going big Brisbane is to Melbourne and Sydney I guess but just a hell of a lot bigger!

And while I've enjoyed another year in this crazy town, there is a lot to be said for being in the middle of the world and in a country so diverse and worthy of exploration:

Hong Kong*
Lamma Island

*some of them more than once

And like the year before, I met lots of dogs, I didn't paint enough paintings...I only went to one movie (the secret life of pets!?!?!) and ridiculously like last year watched a season of Girls. I also went to one wedding. It's like I've accidentally mirrored my first year here but with an additional addiction to the Amazing Race and that stupid tv show team ninja warrior. That's actually quite embarrassing...

So again, I'll raise a glass to the year gone (I'll then most likely take a photo and post it on Instagram) and look forward to the year ahead. May it be filled with more visits, more visitors, more love, more laughs, more dogs and more dumplings.