Netball, first time.

Sports

There are two strange sports in Australia. First, boys love footy – it’s more like rugby, but they call it footy. Nobody in other countries like this sport, but Australians are crazy about. At certain time in the year the first question people ask you is about footy. Once I asked a friend about the pleasure to watch footy, he said it had more goals that real football so he could yell more. What a nonsense reason. Well I was forced to pick a team by my coworkers, and I haven’t decided. There are many Geelong supporters in the office but I think I may choose Hawthorn..

Another strange sport is called netball. I never heard of it before I came here but all Aussie girls know it and can play it well. When I lived on campus in university, there were many competitions between different halls and girls absolutely love it. I never went to watch any games but my impression was it was a girl’s game.

There is no other place more Australian than the country. If you don’t play netball or footy, you really can’t survive in Swan Hill. Nearly all the people in the office or their partners play for one local footy club, and netball season in town never stops. Interestingly here all netball teams are mixed, so boys got a chance to find their feminine side. I misses the first season early this year and my colleague invited me for this new season. Today was the first match.

My position was Wing Defence tonight, and my goal was to annoy the Wing Attack – that was just my understanding. The WA girl was fast but quite small compared to me so it was not so difficult to defend her. I was penalised quite a lot for the defence distance – 3 feet – that was too short for me but I think it keeps a reasonable distance and makes net ball quite safe to play. Lots of running after one hour play, but I think I may like it.

I look forward to next Monday.

A New Financial Year.

Business

It’s been five months since I moved to Swan Hill, and I like my country life so far.

One change from me is that I tried to understand why the country is different from the city. For example, country music, if one lives in the city, country music does not make sense to them. But in the country, when you walk in the forest alone or run along the trail by yourself, some sheep or cows walking beside you, country music at that moment is the best way to express yourself, and it is better to sing it out. Once I saw a girl playing guitar in the park and singing, it was beautiful. Another activity called fishing – it was the most boring thing to do for me, and it still is – I once spent two hours near the river to see others fishing, trying to understand it – it is not too bad. When everything else is not moving, holding the pole still is the best way to synchronise yourself with the world – I think this is the pleasure of fishing. Just maybe, and I must say I am still on the way to understand fishing!
Sometimes I miss Melbourne, or even Beijing, especially my friends there. What I usually do is I just imagine the something here is something there, and this worked well when I was in Melbourne. I remember when I was driving on Princess Highway from Caulfield to Clayton,  I always imagined it was Baiyi Road in Beijing. Sometimes it was raining when I passed Chadstone, seeing many cars there, not sure it was illusion or what, I really thought I was driving in Beijing. In Swan Hill, there is no wide road, the high street only has two lanes, but the only McDonald can still remind me the the one at the corner of Wellington Road and Dandenong Road in Melbourne, again especially on a rainy day. The franchisees of those chain will never expect their shops can be viewed in such a way I guess.
Anyway, goods sides and bad sides, this is life as always. This financial year has just passed and a new year will start soon. You know as an accountant, I celebrate financial year as it is a big relief for us, I also celebrate calendar year as it is my longest holiday over Christmas. Additionally I have to celebrate Chinese New year, so how busy I am!

Pluto and me.

Travel

Just by accident, I found two pictures between Pluto and me.

The left one was taken is HK Disneyland in 2008. In those days I was busy with my work in Beijing and enjoyed my holidays in China. The right one was taken in LA Disneyland in 2013, and at that moment I did not even know what my next step would be.

I changed a lot in the past 5 years – older, maybe wiser but maybe not, whearas Pluto is the same – cute and lovely as in my childhood. I am kind of jealous of Pluto as it is forever, and I guess that is the charm that Disney brings to us. I hope in the near future, I could take another picture with you, my dearest Pluto.

Dar es Salaam

Travel

Dar es Salaam is a small town, but according to the people from my hotel it is full of cheaters. I asked them where is the post office, they told me it was near to the monument. So I looked for the monument for a long time and finally found a small statue holding a gun, so disappointing. It was even short than me, how can it be a monument. But I found the post office finally and I was glad I could buy some postcards to my friends, though not many choices.

The biggest challenge was to go to the fish market by myself, and it was also introduced by my the hotel as one of the attractions. I walked along the ocean road from the city to the corner and it took me a long time to find it. This market was full of black people, and they were yelling in their own language. When i walked in, all the people started staring at me very rudely, looked like I came to a place that I should not come. From one end to another, I didn’t buy anything and survived the strange atmosphere, though I really wanted to buy some food there.

The next places I went was the national museum, not so bad, but there was no air conditioning inside. I was very interested to their history but the went to hotel soon because of the heat, though my hotel room was another place without air conditioning.

Kilimanjaro day 6

Travel

Last night was so windy, my tent was like a boat in the steam, shaking all the time. I forced myself to sleep as my climb to the summit would be from midnight. However I failed, the sound of the wind was too loud and I didn’t sleep at all the whole night.

I got up in a very bad condition and started to prepare my day pack. I put on four layers of clothes for this very windy day, and I went to the peak like sleep walk. It was a 6 hours walk, from our camp to the peak. Very hard time especially in the last hour, I could see the lights from Stella point, but I couldn’t reach it. I was so sleepy, and took a nap on the way, maybe two, though my tour guide persuaded me not to do so as its very dangerous to sleep in the high altitude.

Stella point at sunrise time, though many people came back, we made it. After 6 days of hard time, nothing is better than this. I had a hug with my tour guide and Debbie, a tearful and happy hug.

There’s nothing special for this dinner, cucumber soup and rice. I talked a lot with Debbie about everything, she was quite happy too especially she made it after several days of a miserable stomach problem. We both asked a same question, what shall we do next? For me I don’t know, maybe a trip to Amazon or Egypt, but they won’t be as cool as Kilimanjaro. When I am in my small tent again, this is the last night I am staying in this home, outside those African people were talking as usual, but sounds quite happy, like us. Everyone felt relieved on this special day. If I can make Kilimanjaro true, then what else can’t I do?

Kilimanjaro day 5

Travel

It was very windy last night and I felt so cold in the sleeping bag, so I put on my thermal under-ware. It’s the first night I slept with clothes on and it wasn’t comfortable at all.
Debbie’s stomach problem became better after she met a doctor from England, and she started to eat some potatoes. It was a pretty short day, after about 3 hours walk, we reached our camp. We had dinner here and we could also see some people coming down from the summit. I saw two Denish guys who gave medicine to Debbie, also saw the American couple we met at the gate has finished the peak, and the Indian friend just came back from the summit. Some people gave up and it’s a pity that I don’t even have chances to say goodby to them. Those who made it shared us some tips, with an exhausted but happy tone. I can’t imagine what we will be like tonight.
From the base camp, there is a shortcut till the gate, and it only takes 5 hours, but this is a going down only route. I asked my guide why not have a climb of 2 days, that is just two nights at base camp. Surprisingly, he told me for income consideration, it’s not even an option for tourists. I think they must have asked suggestions from Americans before opening the routes, tricky business man.
It’s very sunny and windy in the camp in this area, and I feel like a burning pig inside. Tonight’s hike starts at 11:30pm, 7 hours walk to the peak, I hope we can make it, and I really miss a proper shower now.

Kilimanjaro day 4

Travel

I was wondering what would happen this morning as Debbie was so sick yesterday. Surprisingly she called me up this morning and asked me if I was okay.

It was a wonderful day, not so sunny, not so cold as well, as I wore enough clothes. First one hour was quite steep, but we managed it well. I saw some people come here with their family, like son and father, or daughter and mother. I would like to go somewhere with my dad someday when he is visiting me for my graduation ceremony in September.

Today I said goodbye to my two friends, one is a tour guide for two Japanese, the other is a guide for two Indians. Some African people are very nice to me, like these two people, but some obviously don’t like to talk to me. Today I also knew that many Tanzanians like China, for it brought cheap products to them, and also helped them to build roads or other infrastructures. It better to hear this from African people than hearing all negative comments from western media about China’s invasion to Africa.

Someone reminds me yesterday was Valentines day, and I am so happy that i can escape the commercial world for a while. Who cares what happens in the past few days, I can live very well without hearing any news or gossips. Tomorrow we will go to the base camp, then tomorrow evening we will climb to the summit, all amazing things will happen then,I can’t imagine how excited I will be at that time.

Kilimanjaro day 3

Travel

Debbie had some strange stomach problems this morning, since then it became a long day.

We need to go up and then down to our camp, almost 7 hours hike. We started pretty early but all the people behind us just came and passed us, I really don’t like the feeling but I really couldn’t do anything.

Lunch break was nice, Debbie had a nap and I ate lots of soup. But maybe because of too much food, I felt a bit headache in the afternoon. I asked the tour guide about the reaction, he said it was normal for this altitude. Strangely when I was in Tibet, I didn’t feel any headache but couldn’t breath well, but here all the reactions were new.

We spent about 4 hours in the afternoon till the camp and I was pretty exhausted. Some people are singing and having party outside of the camps and I am jealous of their attitude. Tomorrow is said to be another tough day, and I really need a good rest now.

Kilimanjaro day 2

Travel

It rained a lot last night, and I didn’t sleep well as our crew kept talking all the time out of the tent and I didn’t want to put my ear plugs in.

I woke up because of the heavy rain and I couldn’t go to sleep any more after that. When it stopped I thought it won’t rain today, but I was wrong. When we nearly reached the peak, it rained heavily again. On the one hand I like raining because it won’t be too hot, on the other hand everything is so dirty because of it. I wish all the rains will be sent to us in the first 4 days , not the days to the summit.

Today I learned my second sentences of Swahili: “manbo?”, ” poa.” It means the same as how are you? And fine. My first sentence was “jungo”, and that’s like hello. I wish I could learn more but I don’t think I am good at language any more, especially when I am travelling and I am trying to express myself clearly.

I met another tour guide from another group, and he really shocked me. He told me he was married with two twin boys, and he had two girlfriends, whom he met during the hike. If he told me he is Dutch, I will probably believe it, but in my opinion Africans are quite laid-back, they should not be as open-minded as this. I should see Africans in a new way, obviously not in a old school way, although I can’t do the things he described.

Tomorrow will be a 7 hours’ hiking, and it’s still raining now. I think my health is still okay for the rest of the days.

Kilimanjaro day 1

Travel

It’s half past eight, and I’ve finished day one, now I’m in the tent, listening to others talking in their language.

I met Debbie last night and she will my team mate in the last 7 days, she is from New York, a very cool Jewish girl. It’s actually the first time I talked to a Jewish so closely, well except for a strange English teacher when I was in university.

Today is the easiest day, just 4 hours of hiking. We did it in a pretty simple way, lots of talk, then we arrived our destination. I thought I did a five star trip with the company I booked, as they carried so much food with us. They brought us chairs, water, stove, and what i need is just carry my day pack and walk. Actually I thought i can feel clearly the difference between the tourists and those local people, though I have paid them, I didn’t take the ease for granted. I remembered the guy I met in Kampala, remembered those children who need help, I think I really should do more in Africa rather than just having fun.

Maybe it’s not a good time to think too much about the future, I should think more about what I should on the second day. A girl I met last night said she started to have some reactions from the second day, currently i just feel bad as I can’t have a shower but I hope I won’t have any other bad feelings tomorrow.