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Planet Tao

Ready for more?....I'm back. Life, work and of course Crystal.....God, I'm just an excitement machine!

Diary Entries

Monday, 25 August 2008

Location: Melbourne

So, we're in Melbourne. What a great two years! A wonderful experience and a beautiful wife.

Monday, 07 July 2008

Location: Urumqi, China

Hi everyone. Well, it's confirmed: Crystal and I will arrive in Melbourne on August 7 (a day before the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony). Crystal has finished working and is spending some time with her parents (currently staying with us in Urumqi). I've got three weeks of work to go. Then, we'll spend some time in Korla (Crystal's hometown) before heading to Oz. See ya'll soon.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Location: Urumqi, China

Crystal got her visa. We're planning to arrive in Melbourne on August 7 - a day before the Olympics.
Yesterday's earthquake was nowhere near Xinjiang. Sad news but don't worry about us.

Monday, 07 April 2008

Location: Urumqi, China

Hi everyone. I just added 2 new pages of photos if you wanna check them out. It's beginning to warm up here (average maximum about 13), even getting a bit of hayfever. Crystal and I are fine. Just doing our thing and waiting for her visa to be processed. It looks like we'll be here for most of 'our' summer. At this stage, my best guess is to be returning just before the Olympics (early August). Hope everyone is well.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Location: Urumqi, China

I haven't written here for some time but I just added a new page of photos.
Winter is starting to wind up and today is the last day of Spring Festival.
We've applied for a visa so that Crystal can come to Oz but it'll take some time to be processed. Hoping to be back in Melbourne about mid-year.
Regards to all!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

Married life is great. Crystal and I have the same days off now (Mondays/Tuesdays) too. I've also got into a slightly healthier routine. Going to bed and getting up earlier, eating more and better (occasionally even cooking) and walking Pang Pang. Currently my workload at school is as slack as it's ever been (9 classes a week) - very manageable.
We have a nine day holiday starting next week. Crystal and I are travelling to Yunnan (province in South China). It has a reputation as a beautiful place. I'll aim to take plenty of photos.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

So, I'm a married man now.....and a very happy one at that.
Mum was here for the wedding which was great and everything went well - I did miss you all however..
I've really settled into married life and am loving it. Crystal and I spend little time apart these days..
Anyway I've added a few more photo pages from the wedding (courtesy of Mum) if you want to check them out.
Regards to all.
ps. Congratulations to all the cats fans.
and good luck to the Beavers for the 07/08 season. Work one up!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

Sorry I haven't been writing guys. My life these days seems so much fuller and I spend most of my free time with Crystal. We got (legally) married a couple of weeks ago - a simple matter of filling in some documents. We're having a wedding reception in Korla (Crystal's hometown) on Grand Final Day. It's going to be a pretty big affair (150 people) - Mums coming over so that'll be great. I know many of you guys would love to be able to come but I don't feel too sad about that (I'm such a happy lad these days).
School continues to be busy but I still love it. There are only two members of the foreign staff here that were here when I first arrived in June 2006 (Jackie and Michael - both at the other school). I'm the veteran at Youhao. Rob has gone back to England and Dom is in Beijing (he plans to study Chinese there).
To be honest I've never been happier. I don't really feel married just yet but I know that will change after the reception. I've moved to Crystals place and that's great - it's a beautiful apartment. I've got very close to her parents (they visit Urumqi often) despite the language barrier and have every reason to think that our future will be wonderful.
Regards to all. I miss all of you.
PS: I wont be writing often but I've added two photo pages and will continue to post pictures.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

I came into work today. I was on OPI (Oral Placement Interview)duty. To remind you, this basically means determining a students English level by way of talking to them. My first couple of interviews were crap (I'm just out of practice). A few weak students really couldn't follow my questions. I did eight in total for the afternoon - a cruisy day.
In the evening we went to the Xinjiang Beer Festival. I went last year too. It was at a much better venue this time though. The major stadium in Urumqi could hold about 10,000 people. It was about a quarter full. We had a table in the middle of the soccer pitch (quality turf and all). Rob, Krystal, Dave, Sylvia, Crystal and I braved the musical performances (God it's awful) and visited the 'toilet bus' (a bus gutted out and set up as a public dunny) - urine on the floor ruling out the possility of using two of the urinals (on the downslope) - sorry! Summer nights in Urumqi are fun!!!!! I had a great time.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

Thankfully, I had no work requirements today. I stayed at Crystal's place last night and enjoyed a big sleep in today. It rained virtually all day.
We ate Hot pot for dinner (I really do love it). I keep thinking whether this idea could take off in Australia.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Location: Beijing-Urumqi

After a 6.30am wake up call I showered and walked the five minutes to the Australian Embassy. I had a plane to catch so wanted to get there very early. I got there at 8 - the place opened at 9. I was third in line so I just spent an hour watching the people of Beijing on there way to work. Heaps of bicycles (of all descriptions) were in operation (they have a service road for bikes - cars occassionally join in) and I counted plenty of foreigners (some of them on bikes) making their way to work.
The rules for foreigners getting married in China vary from province to province but I think I've got what I need. Interestingly, the Chinese officer was far more helpful and friendly than the Aussie consular official that had to come down from his high tower to sign a couple of papers. I made it back to the airport with plenty of time to spare although i was pretty tired.
It was great to see Crystal upon arrival in Urumqi. As always she looked great. We both felt a certain strangeness that I'm guessing must be natural after a seperation.
Later that evening we went to Kingt's (pronounced Kint) for dinner and plenty of grog. He's the policeman that wants to immigrate to Australia (a student and friend of Crystals). I enjoyed the food and bai jiu and remembered what it was like to have no idea what people are talking about. I'm back in China - and feeling good about that.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Location: Melbourne-Beijing, Australia

I flew back to China today. I left Melbourne at about 8am and after stopovers in Sydney and Shanghai arrived in Beijing at midnight (China time is 2 hours behind Melbourne). So 18 hours total including the stops. I managed to get a bit of sleep during the trip which is unusual for me. In fact, the chair next to me was vacant all the way to Shanghai - a bonus!
My 40 days back in Australia worked out fine. I think the main highlight was seeing my nephews and niece (I hadn't even met Noah). Their personalities develop and skills improve so much in one year - the rest of us don't change much at all. It was great to go and watch the hawks a couple of times - whatever the rest of the season holds it's obvious they've improved. Going out to dinner and visiting a couple of pubs were also highlights. Of course Mum was fantastic! She spoilt me rotten. I ate all the things I'd missed (lasagne, salad rolls, pasties) and wasn't really required to lift a finger during my stay. Thanks Mum!
Speaking of food, I managed to hit Maccas a few too many times and scoffed down heaps of hotdogs. The takeaway adventures combined with a reunification with Jim Beam and Cokes took its toll - I reckon at least three kilos. Oh well, it'll come off quickly with a few months of Chinese summer to endure.
It was pretty wet and cool for the majority of my time back in Melbourne. Mind you, it's nothing for a fella used to temperatures in the minus teens (haha). I managed to spend a year a China without catching a cold but scored two in six weeks back at home.
The most difficult thing about being back in Australia was missing Crystal. We spoke almost daily (phone or MSN) but it was tough for both of us.
Anyway, it was great to see everyone!
It'd been arranged that I meet some friends of Crystal's dad in Beijing. They took me to a hotel nearby the Australian Embassy. Tomorrow morning I've got to get some documents witnessed in order to get married here (it could be happening quite soon) then I'm heading back to Urumqi.

Wednesday, 04 July 2007

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Notice from Justin.

As you are All probably aware TAO is back in town,
Rumours of an engagement, TAO being sighted with Alan DIDAK, TAO being signed for three oriental adult movies and TAO being the father of Ben McGLYN are all circling. I cannot confirm anything. Howvere I can say with complete confidence that TAO has not been to a PUB since his return. John HOWARD has described this as a National Disgrace.
BRACKS is considering reversing the recent smoking bans in Hotels to get TAO back to any beer swilling venue.
QUIRKY (THE RECENT MEDIA MEGASTAR) has stepped up. He has decided to get TAO back to grass roots.
This Saturday the 7th of July 2007 marks TAO's return to the local.
TAO and QUIRKY are meeting up at around 4 PM for a few froffies, at the Royal FTG. The plan is for these boys to remain at the Pub throughout the afternoon and evening. You are all invited to get down to the Chochy Royale with Cheese anytime from 4PM onwards.... You can then confront TAO with you questions and allegations.
Some have indicated they will get down after putting the kids to bed, or after they finish at footy, after a quickie or after Rock finishes is pamphlet drop.
Pass this email on to all and sundry. All welcome, Bring $3.30 to buy TAO a pot and your autograph book.
Guest speakers are Ben COUSINS, Dr Carl from Neighbours, Les Plunkett, Rowan SELBY, Laurie Bingham and Garry Coleman.

Thats all.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

I head home tomorrow so this will be my last entry for a while - I wont write at home. It's amazing to me to think that I've been here for a year. The time has flown by. It's certainly been an exciting and wonderful experience. I've learnt a lot of positive things about myself and realised that I can achieve anything I want. Of course, the greatest times have been spent with Crystal. I didn't come here looking for a girlfriend but I finish the year with a girl that I love (and she loves me). We'll miss each other a lot over the coming weeks but we'll be keeping in regular contact for sure.
As of today, this webpage has received 5000 hits. It's been a useful way for me to think about and record my experiences. Thanks to everyone for reading and staying in touch. Your support has been overwhelming. I'll see you all soon.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

Today's Temperatures: Minimum 13, Maximum 20.
It rained during the night. I actually heard thunder (for only the second time in a year) this morning - it wasn't very loud but it sounded good.
Dad has insisted that I bring home plenty of cigarettes due to their high cost at home. I bought a carton of smokes (yi tiao yan) -10 packs x 20 cigarettes for 49 kuai ($8). I think Dad was right - that's less than the cost of one packet at home. I think the prices of everyday things will come as a bit of a surprise next week.
I spent a bit of time today organising myself for the trip home. Roger managed to get my visa extended but I had to go to Nanmen to pick up my passport. I'm bringing home a lighter bag than I arrived with. I've forgotten what clothes I have in the cupboard at home but I want to carry as little as possible - I'll probably be walking around looking like a dero.
We ate fried dumplings (huo tie - my favourite dumplings) as a late lunch and then I followed the Hawks v. Blues game on the internet. A big win - I feel great (sorry Jill).

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Location: Urumqi, China

Today's Temperature's: Minimum 12, Maximum 23.
Happy Birthday Shannon! I hope you have a bit of a celebration.
I spent most of the afternoon completing my contribution towards school's summer program materials (book). It took some time but I managed to 'knock it off'. Now, I'm really finished work.
A door-to-door salesman interrupted my work at one stage. He was selling some type of refridgerator accessory - I couldn't quite get it. He kept telling me how great my Chinese was (bullshit) - then again he was trying to flog me something. He was a friendly fellow but sorry mate, no sale.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Location: Urumqi

Whilst I'm supposed to be working tomorrow, today is really my last day at work - I have no classes tomorrow. We had our regular Wednesday staff meeting and Rob said some nice words about me. I received some presents including a Uighur knife and a rather strange decoration displaying a 'goats hoof'. It felt great to be recognized for my hard work and dedication.
I thought today would be pretty cruisy but I had three classes of reports to complete and ten teacher transfer forms to fill in. I'm sure they'll be helpful for for the staff taking over my classes. So it wasn't such an easy day however I walked out of my evening class with a noticeable smile on my face. I couldn't help it - it only lasted thirty seconds but I really felt that it was all over - 'I did it!'

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Location: Urumqi

The girls (Crystal, Angela and Helen) asked me if I was interested in having lunch with them today. I'd only just returned from a KFC feast but didn't have a busy day so I thought I'd join them for the hell of it. I wasn't hungry at all so I just ordered a chocolate milkshake. The shake was great but I'm still chuckling about the piece of parsley sitting on top - reminded me of the mayonnaise on fruit salad episode. I reckon I could write a book about hellish food combinations.
I read an interesting article online today. Apparently there are more than 20 muslim chinese (mostly Uighurs) being held at Guantanamo Bay. Of course, it's been decided that most of them are harmless and they can go home. However, the Uighurs don't want to come back to China. They claim they'll be executed upon return (frankly I wouldn't be surprised). They've asked the Australian government for help - poor bastards. I'm sure this story will go away just as quickly as it presented itself - who cares hey?
The pubic here have no understanding of the situation in Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong. It's simply not reported - or is misreported. Here in Xinjiang the minority peoples are considered less educated (perhaps correctly). However does that mean they have less right to live their rights as they choose do? It seems to me (from my very basic understanding) that the these groups approach the future in totally different ways. The Chinese are all about education and economic progress, whereas the traditional occupiers are about religion, beliefs and their way of life. I still can't get my head around it after a year - but it's certainly fascinating.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Location: Urumqi

Today's Temperatures: Minimum 17, Maximum 25.
Crystal's parents headed back to Korla today. Her dad's had a few stomach related problems for years and has had some tests done here on this visit. Apparently he's coming back soon to have some minor surgery.
My Business class went really well again this evening. We played a few games and then I had them negotiating 'imaginery company deals'. Chinese have a lot of trouble with 'ang' sounds (hang, sang, bang- they will say han, san, ban). These students are so keen though. They'll practice their pronounciation without prompting and ask loads of questions. Quite frankly, they're very easy to teach and their improvement is obvious. Classes like this really give me a satisfying feeling as a teacher. As far as classes go, I only have Life Club tomorrow night and Business class again on Wednesday evening so it's smooth sailing from here workwise.
Ramilla, Dom and I went to Fubar for a couple of hours after work. We ate pizza and toasted sandwiches. It felt really good to catch up with my old mates - had three of four shots of tequila with Dom as well (always adds to the occassion).

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Location: Urumqi

Today's Temperatures: Minimum 14, Maximum 26.
We have a part-time teacher from Uzbekhistan with us at the moment (Yvette) - she's covering most of my classes while I'm away. Her English isn't fantastic but it's not really my problem - I just worry that my local co-teachers (Crystal and Helen will find her a little difficult to work and plan with). She observed two of my classes today to get a bit of a feel for the students. It was the last class for the Early Young Learners today. Many of the parents came into see how their kids were progressing. It went well but I really worked up a sweat. I had them doing six activities over the half-hour duration. Overall, I had a bloody busy working day. Anyway that's the end of my crazy weekends for sometime. Once I get over ErShiEr Xiao (No.22 Primary School) tomorrow I'll be able to finish some remaining work requirements and prepare for my trip home - a week today.
I received an email from Andy and Katrina today. They got married! Way cool. They're returning to China in September. They've both got teaching jobs in Guangdong. Andy says his leg is healing well.

Saturday, 09 June 2007

Location: Urumqi

Today's Temperature's: Minimum 13, Maximum 21.
Dom arrived back at work today. He's lost a bit of weight and felt a bit spaced out but seems to be OK. A journalist came into one my classes today and took a few photos (Crystal said she came into her class too). As usual, we don't know what that's about and had no warning but I guess who cares.
I went to Crystal's place and ate 'Da Pan Ji' (Big Plate Chicken) for dinner. We had a relaxing time. Her family is really keen on an Indian soap opera (dubbed into Chinese) on telly at the moment - it's weird they play three episodes back-to-back everynight. The show is bloody awful (some of my students are better actors) but it's kind of fun and helps me a bit with my Chinese.
PS. I'm having computer/internet hassles at the moment. I hope it can hang on in there for another week. Particularly because I want to get my Summer materials contribution completed at home over the next five days.

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Recent Messages

From Shannon Nixon
Hi Matt

I had a look at your photos. It really brought home how long you have been gone for and how far away you have been.

You have obviously had the time of your life and been lucky enough to meet the love of your life.

We have all missed you heaps but it has been great to know you have been happy.....even if it is on the other side of the world.

Well done Matt. You did good!

I hope Crystal likes Australia. I know it will be a big adjustment, not just for her but for you too.

Can't wait to see you.

Love Shan and the boys
Response: I'm really looking forward to getting home. Less than four weeks now.
From Mum
Just great to know you will be home in August .... will be fun watching the Olympics together. Love ya. I hope the earthquakes stay clear of Xinjiang. xxxx
Response: I'm really looking forward to getting home too.
From Dale
Hi Tao,

Thought I would check out your page for the first time in 6 months, good pictures not sure about that black coal though! Shan told me the Visa had come through,hope to see you guys later in the year.

Everyone cool here


Response: Hey mate. Don't use this site much anymore. Expect Crystal and I to be arriving on August 7.
From cameron
Hi Tao
congratulations on your wedding Crystal seems like a very lovely girl. sorry i havent been in touch, just lazy i guess I hope we can catch up when you get back at some stage. Spencer is growing up to fast and we are finally giving him a baby brother or sister. All the best
Cam Lou and Spence
Response: Hey guys, congratulations on your news. look forward to seeing you when we get back.
Response: Following the beavers progress. Great start to the year!
From Warwick
awesome photos Tay. The one with you and the python is rather appropriate considering all things, especially your Manhattan Stage antics!!!!
Response: No idea what you're talking about Wokka! Have a great Christmas!
From Shannon
Hi Matt and Crystal

Sorry have not been in touch so much but now that you don't update your site much and with me working etc just have not had the time. Hope all is well with you and my sister-in-law. Have a great honeymoon.

Love Shan and the boys xxxx
Response: Thanks guys, we'll have a great time. I've got a facebook page now. There's not much there though. Checkout and Search: Matthew Polwarth
From Mum
Dear Matthew
Thought I should say hi . Just letting your readers know that your Wedding Day was tops. Crystal is a wonderful girl as are her parents. You have made me a very happy Mum. You deserve every happiness. Love & miss you ,
Mum xxxxxx
Response: Thanks Mum.
From Juzzy C
Hey Tao, Congrats on the wedding, i havent been able to keep up much, so to hear about the wedding was an awesome surprise!! good on ya mate.
Response: Thanks Juzzy.
Congrats about your Cats!!
From Warwick
Hi Tay, well done to you both. Wonderful photos.
ps. Im bonkas :-)
Response: Thanks Wokka. Keep your head up old buddy.
From The Rileys
Hey Tao,
Looks like you & Crystal had a fantastic day you both look so happy. Rabbi say you happy we happy!! See you soon Love Rabs,Carol Jack & Xavier
Response: Thanks guys - it was a great day and we're very happy. Hope you're all well.
From Pen
Hi Matt, Your wedding looks absolutely beautiful and Crystal and yourself such a gorgeous couple - CONGRATULATIONS! All the best for a happy life together, love to you both XX
Response: Thanks Pen.
From Jean and Sandy
Hi Mat and Crystal - WOW what a day for your wedding - Geelong by so many points I can't count em ! The drought is over!!!!!
Now if your married life is half as sucessful as Geelong's demolition of Port Adelaide it will be a beauty - and knowing you Mat we reckon that is a shoo in. Congratulations to Crystal and Matthew - a wonderful couple that will show us all how it's done (no videos thanks) We know how well Maree speaks of Crystal so there is no doubt you're a lucky man Mat - Good luck to you both. We look forward to chatting with Maree for all the details when she gets back.

Much love Jean Sandy and the Girls

Response: Congrats to the cats. Certainly a day to remember for me. All went very well.
From Nat & Tony
Hi Matthew and Crystal
Congratulations on getting married.
We wish you a happy life together and hope it is full of many wonderful surprises. We hope you enjoy the celebrations at the end of the month - remember to stop and take it all in. We are thinking of you at this happy time in your lives. All our love.
Nat, Tony and family.
Response: Thanks guys! We'll have a great time.
From Shanno
Hi Matt

I thought I would look at your page again and was happy to see even more photies! Looks like you lost those couple of kgs you might have gained in Oz.

The apartment looks very nice and modern and clean, also very comfy.

Well, have fun and until next time Ciao!

Love Shan xxx
Response: Yeh, lost that weight but the beer belly wont budge.
From Mum
I am so happy for you . Words cANnot do justice to my feelings. Lots of love & best wishes . have fun planning Oct 1st ... only 5 weks away. Cant wait to see you ... mother of the groom eh!
Crystal sounded great last night. Give my love to May & 'James'. I am missing you heaps at the moment .... ;looking forward ti a long chat. Love Mama x x x
Response: thanks mum.
From Warwick
Whats been happening mate? Everyone is biting their nails waiting for the latest instalments of Tao and Crystal do China.
Hawks gone for 07. Beavers looking good. Boys still know how to enjoy themselves on a Bucks Night (Clarkies).
take care
Response: Well I got married yesterday (22/8). Legally married that is - at the registry. We're having a 'wedding' on October 1st in Korla (Crystals hometown). Haven't got time to fart let alone write diary entries unfortunately. My apologies to you and all. Email is the best method or correspondence at the moment.
fif. Hawks are going ok.
From Mum
Good to see you back on track on Planet Tao son. The house seems empty without you.....but it looks like I'll be over for Wedding eh!
All well here in dull & chilly melbourne. Cats continue to blitz em..... go Geelong!!! Take care of yourself . Love to you & Crystal. x x x
Response: Mostly empty apartment here too. I am enjoying the Chinese summer.
From Warwick
We all miss ya mate. was great to catch up for a few chats and frothies. Keep safe.


Warwick, Rowan Selby, Mark Hooke, Mladin Vrsusic and Calvin Anns
Response: Yeh mate, I really enjoyed seeing everyone (and drinking some beers too).
From Shannon Nixon
Hi Matt

It was great having you home for over a month. The boys loved you being around and will miss you heaps.

Enjoy the warm weather.

Speak to you soon.

Love Shannon xxx
Response: It was fantastic to spend time with the boys (you and Dale too). It has been warm the last few days - about 32 degrees.
From Mum
Dearest Matthew
By the time you read this you will be back in Urumqi with your beloved Crystal. It was wonderful having you home .... I do love your company & will miss you very very much. However I am so happy you are returning to a very special time in your life & how could a mother not be joyful at that prospect. I will be waiting in anticipation for news of your return trip, Beijing stop over and wedding plans. Lots of love to you & Crystal. Best of luck for your EF work ... hope you enjoy it after having a nice long break from the rigours of teaching. Love you & am so proud of you. Your Mum x x x x x x x 00000000
Response: Thanks Mum.
I'm very happy to be getting back to Crystal. Thanks for spoiling me so much.
Love ya!
From Warwick
Hi Tao,

Glad to have you home. I drank so much on that Thursday night that I saw 3 of you and you all spoke funny. Looking forward to the bbq and catching up with Crystal. Hi Crystal.
Response: What do you mean Wokka. There was three of me and we were speaking funny.
From Hot chick
When the hot chick lost her hot dog, she just couldn't be hot.
She realized that it was the hot dog who always kept her hot.
The hot chick is looking forward to being hot again.
I miss you honey.
Response: I miss you too baby. I'll call ya soon!
From Shannon Nixon
Hi Matt

Sorry to hear you had an 'off' few days but it happens to the best of us.

Noah walking when it suits him, Ned manipulating me in to buying latest DVD and Dale becoming the Incredible Hulk (OK getting a bit fitter by going to gym).

I have decided to look for a part time job one or two days a week but an not in a panic to get one. I still have my old job but I really don't want to go there if possible.

See you very soon.

Love Shannon and the boys xxx

ps. Warmest regards to Crystal (S.I.L.2B)
Response: Noah will be running by the time I get back - eleven days.
From Mum
Hi Son. Sorry you have been feeling a bit below par. I think it is a natural reaction to all that is happening in your life ... re -establishing your apartment, becoming engaged, re negotiating your new contract & upcoming holiday & simply being a teacher ... all stressful events in themsekves... so dont be too hard on yourself. If it was someone else you would see why a bit of anxiety & tiredness is the result. Enjoy your last 12 days before your holiday & leave feeling happy & positive despite knowing you will miss Crystal
Bye love Mama x x x
Response: Crappy feelings have dissappeared. Think I just had a few bad days.