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Pencil's Page

This is the beginning of my online journal, the place where I will tell my travel tales. I have been in China for 3 months now and I am having the journey of a life time. It is so hard to describe some of the things that I have seen and experienced, but I will do my best. China is another planet, well at least that is how it seems. Today I walked to the school I teach at and saw half of the streets laundry hanging out the front of their shops. There was underwear hanging from trees and in shop door ways. Everyday I see 3 or more people on a motorbike cruising down the street. I also love seeing kitchen staff of many restaurants preparing food out in the street. There is so much to see. Whilst the locals are staring at me, I'm staring at a new sight that has me gob smacked. I love the people in China, and they seem to love me.

Diary Entries

Saturday, 25 February 2006

Location: Still in Beijing !!!!!!!!, China

I really shouldn't be in Beijing at all. I should be on a train heading for the south but I bloody missed the train last night by a couple of minutes, I can't believe it. !!!! I have to go now so I can get to the train station really early !!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Location: Beijing, China


Having to haggle for a decent deal let alone a bargain is bloody tiring work. The two markets I went to today were extreme to say the least. You are quoted the most ridiculous prices and it can take a while to get what you want. Even though we pay more for things in Australia, shopping is a much quicker task due to set prices. I usually have fun haggling but today, at times, it really was a nightmare. The sellers approach you, no, they actually attack you and I have their catch phrases in my head still. "Lady you Look", "Lady you like", "I give you very good price" and on and on it goes. The verbal stuff I can handle, but these two places the girls trying to sell actually touch you, well that's putting it mildly, they grab you and push and pull and it get's a bit much.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Location: Beijing, China


Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Location: BEIJING, China


Monday, 20 February 2006

Location: Beijing, China


The great wall was awesome. I walked 10km of the wall. At the end of the section of the wall that I trekked there was a flying fox which was so cool. It was a great way to get down to the car park after a 3 and a half hour hard walk.

Happy Birthday MIA

Sunday, 19 February 2006

Location: Beijing, China


The Yangzi river was awesome, I'm apart of history, I went through the soon to be damned, Three gorges.

Tomorrow I'm off to the great wall.

CONT.... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Location: Chongqing city, Chongqing, China


I'm up to my eyeballs in spitting and it really is the spits...oops I mean pits !!! The Chinese believe that it's better out than in and the spit where ever they fill like it, including restaurants and this net cafe I'm in.

I'm tired but happy, I've spent the last couple of days traveling by train (where a lot of spitting also takes place) and in major cities and I can't wait to get on the boat in a couple of hours and head down the Yangzi river.

On the 11th and 12th, I was in a beautiful pklace called Yangshou, in Guangxi province. The place is surrounded by limestone pinnacles and it's a great place to see, even if every Tom, Dick and in the town tries to rob you blind. I went on a scenic river cruise and met two lovely ladies from Hong Kong who I later had dinner with. The night before I had dinner on my own whilst watching a performance from the balcony where I ate and had a few beers.

Well my times up in the net bar, but I will return with more news of my travels...........I just hope the boat is safe and I can have the shower I really need !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 11 February 2006

Location: Guilin, Gaungxi Province


I have been oh so slack with this diary entry business but I've had some difficulty with the auto save feature that saves the diary entry and to be honset it ended up being a right royal pain in the arse, I lost about 3 entries and gave up. Now for some reason everything seems fine so here I am again to give a brief entry.

The Tiger leaping gorge was phenomenal to say the least. What an amzing place of natural beauty. We trekked two hours up the mountain on Feb 1st and decided that that was enough for one day. We retired at this little villiage and stayed with a really kind and accommodating family, the wife or "Ma ma" was the greatest host and she had the most beautiful nature about her and she was also a great cook. When we arrived there was American guy (Michaal) already there and we ended up bumping into him many times over the next week.

"Ma Ma Lu Ye" appeared later on in the night with a huge piece of slate tied to her back and she wanted us to help her make a sign that would encourage others to stop over at her guest house. Michael wrote the sign and Ma Ma was so chuffed.

to be cont.................. (gotta go orgainse train tickets and get on a bus, I've been so slack as it's too bloody cold, I'm not sure that I am going to be able to handle Beijing !)

Monday, 30 January 2006

Location: Li Jiang, Yunnan Province, China

I am in an amazing place at the moment. It's Old town, Li Jiang city, Yunnan province and the only way I can describe it is, it's like ancient China meets the modern world with a bit of St kilda, Brunswick St and the Vic market thrown into the mix. I must say though that due to Chinese new year holiday there are way too many tourists which spoils the charm a little. The buildings are all ancient Chinese style (exterior) but the interiors have all been re furbished. They've been made into shops (clothes & hand made local souveniers), cafe's/bars/restaurants/hotels & hostels and unfortunately there is a a couple of fast food Chains (KFC is here but McDonalds is yet to raise it's fat ugly head). The place is a tourist spot but it has a lot of quirky charm.

In a couple of days we're heading of to do a 2-3 day trek at a place called the Tiger leaping gorge. It is supposed to beautiful, but I'm dreading how stuffed I'm going to be trying to carry my back pack !!!

Monday, 23 January 2006

Location: Huizhou, Guangdong, China


I had my second last class on Saturday morning and the kids were great for the first half of the lesson we had fun doing role plays the second half was not so great as they were intent on doing anything but learning. I guess I can't blame them, two hours is a long class and it is the holiday period also. I should've just had a party and enjoyed their company for the last class.
Anyway after class one of the kids, 10 year old Ivan broke into tears because I was leaving, God love him, but he'll get over it.
After that, I went straight to bed, it was if 5 months of teaching had taken it's toll and later that night I didn't go clubbing like I'd planned, I was just too buggard.

25th January...................after a big night last night (I finally did the "finished teaching clubbing night), I had the biggest hangover ever. All self inflicted of course, I knew I shouldn't hae set yes to the double Tequila slammer, but gee we had some fun. But I still had to pull myself together in order to pack and leave for Yunnan............Robbo and I got to the train station 2 hours early (3.00am) and then the train was 3 hours bloody late !!!! We didn't leave until 8.00am on the 26th January.
Note....this has been a entry that I have saved and added to, I have been a little slack in the writing department.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Location: Huizhou, Guangdong, China


I am finding it hard to believe that I have been living in another country for nearly five months, how time flies. I only have five classes left to teach, the last class finishing at 9.00pm on Saturday night (21st), and then I will head off to my favourite club and party hard.
I sit here listening to Guns & Roses (Sweet Child O'mine), oh hang on, I am now listening to INXS and I am wondering how I am going to cope with the second part of my China experience ........ traveling the country. I leave next Wednesday, the 25th and I will travel for just over a month. I'm a little stressed due to the language barrier and also I'll be traveling solo for the most part. It is a very busy time of year to travel in China - Chinese New Year and from all reports, every man and his dog will be traveling. I have become quite comfortable here in Huizhou and it will be sad to leave but I can't wait to see Dave at the end of my travels. We have never been apart for more than 6 weeks, and I have come to realise that nothing will ever seperate us, not even an ocean !!

Well in true form, it is well past any normal persons bed time, I have to go ........... Oh I saw a Grandma helping her 2 year old Grandson set of a fire craker today !!!!!!!!!!! Oh yeah. I am back to catching motorbike taxis again, God, I love it even though I'm throwing caution to the wind. Oh X 3 ........ I've seen the "Lion the Witch & the Wardroble (Narnia) and I loved it, but I am still a loyalist and have to say that the book is better, but the film portrayed a few scences just as I had imagined..............okay okay I'm going...........goodnight (morning!)

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Location: China


My oh my, I am turning into the local neighbourhood old bag. I have decided I want to throttle the kids that are detonating* .....a mouse just ran under my feet !!! I kid you not the pesky little bugger had no fear and did the bolt of his life, and I can tell you, I jumped quicker than he ran. My oh my, I must say I wont miss that !!! My heart is pumping, I scared myself outta my seat & I'm convinced that that deserves a cigarette...okay, I know it's an excuse, but it's a damned good one......I'll be back in a tick.

Okay the nerves are settled and I just turned an episode of Sex & the city on to inspire my writing. I'm set to write now at the the late night hour of 2.11am, anyway I feel good even though I only slept 3 hours the previous sleep and I nearlly shopped til I dropped after my first Winter class today which was a bit of a failure I might add. I had 3 kids in the class and all that I had so poorly planned was hard to work with when I only had 3 students. What a classic, I'm usually complaining about large classes but 3 students is nearly as bad. Actually, it wasn't so bad, it's just that I was expecting 8-10 kids.

Anyway, I had another great dining experience tonight in regards to chatting with the staff. I love eating late at restaurants here coz' that's when the staff also have their meals. And when I say late, I only mean 10.00pm. In China town in Melbourne the good restaurants are open to 1.00-2.00am. Anyway, as I ate, the staff also ate and we conversed across tables. The male staff at one table and the girls at another. Gee it made me laugh, the boys had finished their alotted amount of food and most of them moved onto their final duties, except for 2 who quickly b-lined it for the girls table as there was still food left on theirs!!. Men and food............I couldn't help but laugh out loud.

Anyway. I really should be in bed, but I have left out so much in the past fortnight. I'm sure I wrote about the fact that I was interviewed for the local T.V. news whilst at a school function with the other teachers. Well, I actually got to view myself on Chinese T.V. and I'm still laughing/blushing/proud/ashamed, all in the one hit. So many emotions, all over a 2 minute clip on T.V., how can that be ?

I still have so much to write about but I must drag myself to bed because I need more than 3 hours sleep. I am happy about the fact that I have managed to write 3 consecutive nights in a row, so that's a bonus in the grand scheme of my good habits and bad habits.
Ciao......oooops, I mean Zhi jian xoxoxo

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Location: Huizhou,Guangdong, China

Sex & the City & My local Muslim Eatery

Well today (the 10th, it's now 1.41am) was my day off and I spent it sleeping, shopping (I didn't buy anything) & pondering. I've got so much that I want to do before I leave this city and I was wondering why I hadn't seen some of the sights long ago. I took comfort in the fact that when I'm living back home in Melbourne I don't do the tourist thing because I'm working and that no one does the tourist thing where they live and I have been living in China. I'll soon be able to do the tourist thing, I can't wait.

Anyway we had a Sex & the City night tonight. Jodi, Rayner & her Chinese boyfriend and myself, sat through about 6 episodes back to back. We laughed our selves silly whilst trying to explaining some of the finer points to Johnny, Rayners boyfriend. God love/help him, sitting in a room with three western women watching sex in the city was an education for him to say the least. All he could say by the end of it was, "our countries and cultures are so different" to which Rayner replied, "I'm not a New York girl, baby". She makes me laugh. Come to think of it, I don't know what was funnier, Sex and the City itself or the look on Johnny's face during some of 'Samantha's' scenes and then Jodi trying to explain it all to him. It's a night I wont forget.

Watching Sex in the city got me thinking about writing (not sex!), some of the show is so well written and I realised I still have such a burning desire to write creatively in many different mediums. So I will try and get some writing done when I am traveling on long train and bus trips around China and see what I can come with.

After watching Sex & the City I was hungry and I headed off to the local noodle bar which is a muslim eatery. I love this place. For one, the noodles are yummy and two, it's so cheap, but what I really love is the people and the cozy atmosphere. A big family run it and they are always happy to see me. 'Ali' the teenage son and I always have a bit of a language exchange. I point to things and say the English word and then he tells me the Chinese word or vice a versa. Sometimes I bring in my Lonely Planet Mandarin guide and we go through it together, like we did tonight. However tonight Ali was mainly busy with his duties of noodle making (which is so cool to watch), so I had a table full of people (Ali's family and a customer) surrounding me and the book whilst I scoffed down my noodles and we all tried to converse the best we could.
Anyway, I walked out of the noodle shop thinking to myself that it is moments like those, that I will miss when I return home to Australia.
Time to call it a night

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Location: I haven't gone anywhere, China


Well the owl is at it again, I officially suffer from insommnia ! It's 3.04am and I am just about to hit the hay.....or so I say !

Today was test day for two of my beginner classes and I have just finished marking their papers as well as adding up their oral examination scores. I really found it difficult. I now know how hard it must be for teachers of any capacity to grade students. Seriously there is so much to take into consideration. The majority of my students, scored as I expected, however some of my better students did not do as well as I expected and vice a versa. I found it very difficult to give them a lower score than others, when deep down I know that on any given day they would normally perform much better. I also found it hard to find a bench mark when grading the main part of the oral examination. I seriously can understand how some teachers, especially in high school, find grading essays and exams, such a difficult task.
Being a teacher is so much more than it is cracked up to be. I have always known this but now I really respect the fact. So many people think it is a bludgey job and that it is all just fun and games with a little bit of work on the side. All I can say is that I can now feel okay in saying that it can be tough being a teacher. Of course there is a great side to teaching, there is a lot of satisfaction, but it takes a lot of hard work to get that satisfaction. Earlier on in the term I had to do some reports and I thought to myself that it wasn't so hard, the big differecne was that those reports were progress reports and weren't based on test results, they also acted as an encouragenment guide rahter than a deterrant so to speak, what I mean is that they were commentary rather than just grade based.
Anyway, I have to get to bed so I can drop of the results first thing in the morning, shit it already is usual !
I bought some hiking boots today....(speaking of bought, if there is one thing I hope I have taught my intermediate students is the differnce in tenses between buy and bought, I will find out when I test them in 2 weeks!).....and I will go shopping when I wake up for more traveling gear.

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Recent Messages

From Ash and Sonja
Just found your page. Sounds like your having a ball! Are you just travelling around China or are you staying for another contract? We have 6 months to go and then hope to be off to Spain. Lots of gossip. Like we got engaged...
hope to hear from you soon
love Sonja & Ash
Response: Hi Sonja & Ash, Great to hear from you, Congratulations on your engagment. I'm actually heading back home to Oz on the 1st March. I was hoping to see you guys before I left but I'm in Beijing and then I'm going back to Hong Kong, so time has got the better of me. I wish you both well, I'll be in touch. Love Penny
From mum
hiya birthday girl,
love you and miss you. we cannot get through on the mobile as it says expired. please fix as it is a concern for me and dave.
hope ur having the bestest time
ring tomorrow if u can
love mum and rob xxxx
Response: Hi Mum, as you now know, I am fine. Don't stress, I'm being very careful and just exploring a wonderful country. I'll send you and Dave some dates of my travels. Love Penny xoxox
From Griggs
hey pen how u doing???? I've been away for awhile so haven't read ur web page in ages .... U sound like ur having a ball .... enjoy it & can't wait to hear all about it when u get back
take care take it all in ..... luv ya xoxoxo
Response: Hey Griggs, Everything is Aokay. I'm loving the traveling thing but I'll be home soon. I'm very excited about the fact that you guys have set the date for your wedding, see you soon, Love Pen

You website is great.
I just wanted to let you know that I have been trying to write the same e-mail to you for the last 4 weeks. All will be explained.
Have a great time.
Response: Hey Kerry, great to hear from you, I was beginning to think that something was up, I look forward to the explanation. Take it easy and I hope you & Costa are still doing well with the rennos despite the heat in Melborne and the school holidays. Love Penny xo
From Little Rabbit Foo Fo
Hey Pen,
Whats doing? Great to hear about some new adventures althought this syupid bloody website keeps cutting off half the stories. Great to hear about your travels to West China. Wish I was there. Cant wait to see you. Foo Foo Jnr reckons her Manners have gone to visit you in China and then they are going to Africa so she cant say please or thank you for a while. Cheeky eh? Cant wait to see you.


Love Foo Foo, Mel And Foo Foo Jnr
Response: G'day Foo foo senior, Tell that cheeky little niece of mine that I have sent her manners home to OZ because they couldn't get a plane ticket to Africa. I hope you're toeing the line, and yes I am being careful.
Love Pencil ( not that I'm so skinny any more !) xox
From mum
your train journey sounds nightmare ish. hope when you get there its worth it

love mum & rob xxxxxxxxx
Response: HI Mum & Robbo, The train trip actually wan't so bad, once we got outta cattle class, it was pretty good and when I woke up on the morning of the 27th the scenery was amazing.
It was worth every minute because Yunnan is a great province, I love it. Love ya and I'll see you soon......Penelope xoxo
From SpaZaV
Omigod... i havent read ur diary in SOoOOo long & it was SooOoO interesting to hear wat u hav been up 2. miss u babes! still laugh'n that u didnt realise the msg was from Kansis! not much hap'n... got rejected 4 the house, long story... tell u l8r... cant wait til ur back, count'n down the days... Love the piccies... but wat in GODs name (no not micks name) r u wear'n in the fotos with the snowman? Av's Fashion Police says wat the? wats on the top?? its driv'n me nuts! Anyway... love u long time... *secret signal*
Love... av & mickey g xoxo
Response: Hey spaz Av, don't mess with my hoody with the Chinese girl on it (she has a knife in her hand!!). I have two, one in brown and the one that you saw in the snowWOMAN picture. Don't stress I have bought clothes that will meet the Spaz Av fashion standards. Sorry to hear about the house, I'll be home soon to love you long time !!! Love Penstar xoxo
From Evelyn & Bill
Glad to hear you got your train tickets. Enjoy your travels and have a great Australia Day tomorrow! Many Happy Returns for next week too! We'll have a drink or two for you.

Love EB & BB xxoo
Response: Hey EB & BB, I love the abbreviation !!! I have finally got on to a computer that isn't slow as a snail so I'm writing an entry now. Take care, Penny
From Amba
hey pen, love the web site.
penny the TV star...woohoo! wish we could see it. photos are great. SEE you soon (cant wait) and have a ball.

luv you als Amba & Marky T xoxo
Response: Hey there Amber & Marky T, good 2 hear from you. I'm having a ball and getting ready to travel the country but I will see you all early in march...I think !!!! c ya
From Veronica
Hi Penny,

Thanks for sharing your experiences! I loved the Sex and the City anecdote!

Response: G'day Vital V,
I hope all is well for you. My experience has been phenomenal and I have learnt so much. I only have 10 days left of my contract and then I will finally get to see some of this great country. I can see myself teaching in China again, but I am also considering South America. Thanks for leaving a message, great to hear from you.....Party girl Penny
Response: Hello "MAZZA" ???????
I'm really confused, I'm trying to think which one of my friends is toothless !!! I don't call anyone MAZZA !! My toothless student is very cheeky and she is full of beans and funnily enough she could be called Mazza as her english name in Mary. Please send me another message and sign off with your 'real name' !!!!!!! Penny
Oh my god I'm thick, sorry Mare's, I can't believe I didn't realise it was you.
From SpaZaV
Heya PenstaR...

miss you so much but it sounds like ur hav'n a gr8 time! House is starting to move ahead.. i hope! Xmas was good... have a good NYE in HK... i'm thinking bout u always *mwah*

Luv u LOOooOonG Time
av & mickey g
xoxo *secret signa;*
Response: Hi Av,
Miss u 2. I'll be staying in China for NYE as Xmas in HK was a bit of a let down. Good 2 hear that the house business is moving along. C ya Love Penstar
From Griggs
hey chick
ur web page is fantastic - luv reading it.
hope ur well - Merry christmas and happy new year - all the best. Can't wait to see u - miss u heaps - luv u longest time xxxxxx
Response: Hey there Griggs & DIMO, Thanks for your messages, I hope u 2 have a great festive season, I'll be back in feb/march...I think !! Love Penny xoxo
From rita
hi pen loved your christmas card thanks heaps i'll start reading your diary looks like it could be an adventure just reading yours ..merry christmas dude
Response: Hi Rita, Thanks for leaving a message, have a great New Year. Take care "DUDE" ......Penny
From Tono
God love ya Pencil. Awesome blog. It's great to read your tales and see what you've been up to. Hurry home, Dave's turning into an alco. Tono.
Response: Hey Tono, I should've replied to this message weeks ago, but I have been a little slack on the writing front. I'll try to hurry home but I'm also mindful of the fact that I may as well travel as much as I can whilst I am here, even though I miss everyone. Teaching and living in a foreign country is one experience, but I need to travel and enjoy the country that I am yet to see. I'll be a housemate of yours again real soon if you're still happy to have me!! Love Pencil xoxox
From SpazAv
Omigod I just realised everyone else gets to read ur msg's... 2 funny! *tink* that was my lightbulb going off :) Miss u heaps... the house is going sh!t... but thats houses 4 u... mick & i are still not a couple?? *duh* i love the web page... i laugh so hard... gr8 idea presh! SNAKE!! women r not supposed 2 eat them, coz afta u giv birth 2 ur kids, they run away (like snakes!) chinese superstition - men can but chicks cant! dont worry about yelling at the kids... u know me & kids... i would have thrown the duster at most of them by now!!! or a chair?? *mwah* luv ya & miss ya HEAPS... *secret signal*
Response: Hi PRESH,
Thanks for the tip re: snakes. You only warned me about turtles before I left !!!! I only had a wee bite so I hope all of my kids don't run away !!!!
I miss ya ya long time..Penstar xoxo
P.S. Foot Mick up the ARSE !
From Little Rabbit FOO FO
Hello young pencil, whats doing in the land of the big fried wanton? I only just figured after re-reading all your emails that you actually have your own website. Sweeeeeeeet.... Ive sent an image of 1 little chubba that looks remakably like her dad. UNREAL. Pity i cant read half the stuff in your journal. I laughed very hard at the bit where you lost your temper. Geez i thought, where have i seen that b4????

Anyway, take care big sis. hope you lookin after yourself and ill see you real soon.

Response: Ni Hao Little rabbit, Good to hear from you foo foo. I loved the picture of foo foo junior.....Priceless. However the father daughter resemblance is a little scary !!! Take it easy & be good !!! Love Pencil xo
From Evelyn
Hi Miss Penny
Your web page is fantastic. Loved chatting to you last weekend too. Don't listen to Tania, drink as much as you like on NYE, just don't ring us all up when you're full!
Love Evvy babe & Billy boy
Response: Hey there EB and BB, I think I'll try and behave on NYE as I only have one day to recover !!! Take care, Love Miss Penny
From Bron
Great work , Penny! Can't believe how cold it must be. And don't chastise yourself too much about losing it at the bilingual.
Response: Hi Bron, Thanks for your support, we really do miss you. I hope your classes are going well. Zai jian.....Penny
From Griggs
Hey pen
engagement went well - lots of fun food dancing drinking & not necessarily in that order - will have to send u some pic's. Love the journal gr8 idea keep it up
Dimova Skatova says hi

Response: G'day Griggs, Don't get married without me !!! Tell Miss Dimovina to send me an e-mail or leave a message on this site. Toodles xo
From Griggs
hey Pen
ur looking well - doing great & loving the experience I'm sure
Pic's are cool & ur web page is gr8 - take care pumpkin
miss u - wuv u long time
Response: Hey Griggs, so good to hear from you. How was the engagement ? say Hi to Dimo...see ya, Pen
From Av
you are too funny... love the piccies pen... and miss you HEAPS!
Response: Thanks Av, you're pretty funny yourself, miss you back.....Secret signal !!!
From chelsie
LOVE your site!
What a ripper of an idea..
Thinking of you
Hugs and Kisses
Response: Good to hear from you Chels, Love ya, Pencil xo
From mum
i checked it out
From Zena
Hi Penny,
Just had to read your interesting journal tonight. Take care and have a really fun time. Can you send me your mailing address please. Shall email you soon, Love, Zena
Response: Zena, long time no speak, hope all is well for you and your family. I will e-mail you my address details