Easter dragon

Some of our students used to think Australia Day is April Fool’s Day! Finishing work on Friday afternoon, we tasted a sizzlin’ lunch, tested the Blue Mountain coffee in the newly discovered campus cafe, and toasted to our survival of another week, (ignore that the bus driver nearly killed us, starting to drive away as we alighted!)

Easter was next on the calendar, and our crew were doubtful the bunny would find us here in the big smoke. More likely a dragon would. In true Aussie style, a little holiday was planned, and we headed for the seaside town of QingDao. Our train had obviously been updated with a wonderful TV and no volume control. The “find a hotel” project got derailed as our stomachs began to rumble.

Last Thursday night I enjoyed dinner with 1 of China’s top 5 people, a meal of the top 3 dishes ordered from the restaurant’s top 10 list. Time for a little variety, there’s only so much great Chinese food one can handle. The posh hotel buffet lunch certainly filled our bellies. Just one more choc-coated marshmallow stick for the road…

A QingDao sunsetSt Michael's church (by vfowler)An evening stroll along the pier to walk off the lunch kilos. There are hints of St Kilda pier and for the first time in ages, I think of home…

With 3 Chinese kids, I played some hacky sack out front of the St Michael’s church on Easter Sunday morning. Mornings in China start from 6AM for me! Somehow it’s easy for others to get up and practise their tai-chi, a sword version, fan dancing, and similar physical activities at the crack of dawn. I spotted an elderly man practising his thrusting – use it or lose it, that’s his motto!

Fruitless shopping is a popular past-time for many locals. I have to admit, I’ve joined in, but like most males, my shopping is exclusively results oriented. The latest success was an incense burner and a few sticks. At long last, my days of showering with drains stinking of sewer stench are over!

It was on the return train to Jinan when I encountered a re-occurrence of my worst nightmare. Along with the No spitting and the Don’t throw dirty things on the floor signs, it appears the No smoking sign is the only ignorable one. The volume of cigarette consumption in the small, enclosed public space, was more than enough to make me sick. It sent my head reeling, filled my lungs with crap and tore my throat and nasal passages to shreds.

China - Culture SmartSmokers’ Paradise
Cigarette smoking is widespread among men in China… Most Chinese people do not seem to be at all worried about the links between smoking and health problems. It is very hard to escape from other people’s cigarettes in restaurants.

smoke free venues - a flickr groupI am more sensitive to filthy air than I wish. Particularly when I am eating, it is so uncomfortable, I am on the lookout for smoke free venues. More so, my option of children in the future is being hijacked. I used to be worried about radiation half-lives from living in Hiroshima for a year. Then I read this from The Age website.

Infertility increasing in China: report
April 9, 2007 – 6:19PM
Pollution, stress, smoking and multiple abortions are all leading to a rise in infertility in China, which may affect up to one-tenth of Chinese couples, Xinhua news agency says.

I spent Monday as sick as a dog, just laying about. Back at work on Tuesday with a horrible case of the flu and the students are filling up the toilets with cigarette butts and burning up all the oxygen in the already tainted air. Can you fault them when they are merely following the model of their school dean?