Being so far from home and living (even if it’s only for a short time) in such a different country poses personal challenges I’ve not met before, well perhaps that’s not altogether  true; together with new challenges it prompts me to look at old ones in a new light. (more…)

Many months ago, indeed it seems a lifetime ago now, I was in Zhuhai getting my TEFL certificate. It was much harder work than I expected. Theory all day and then teaching lessons in the evenings with our rather bad tempered tutor who delighted in pointing out every error in our teaching, usually real but sometimes imagined I think. Our tutor was one of those irritating people who revelled in power, no matter how small. Anyway, towards the end of these 12 hour days me and my teaching colleagues used to have a little joke. One of us would cup our ear and say “I think I hear *The Ice Bar* calling”. We drank there most nights, amongst assorted slightly eccentric ex-pats and it was great although it had  a really ghastly Squat Toilet. (Think Train-Spotting !) I never did find out why it was called The Ice Bar, they didn’t even sell ice.

So a couple of months later I came to Fuzhou. There are two Bars on Student Street. One is noisy, expensive and boring and the other one is excellent and run by the estimable Yan Hong. I drink in the latter one. It has splendid staff and even ice too. But still I craved the eccentricity of The Ice Bar. I took the bus to town many times in that first couple of months. There’s a scruffy corner that I go past  there near the bridge over the  river with nothing but mosquitoes there , until one day there WAS something ! It was below the bridge. All you could see from the bus was a Chinese Flag and, if you looked carefully a cornucopia of other flags. I asked the students what it was and they said it’s the new INTERNATIONAL bar. I made a mental note to go there. Then I went for a night out into central Fuzhou to a Concert, yes, blah de bla and the bus driver dropped us off at the wrong stop and next to it. Well God works in mysterious ways. We went in to be greeted by the proprietor. An interesting man. He’s Chinese , known as Wolf-Man and has been to Japan, Honduras and Argentina. He also speaks some Spanish. I was pleased to see him but not nearly as pleased as he was to see me. He KISSED me. That’s a very un – Chinese thing to do and I think he’d had a couple of beers but hey, he’s running an International bar and finally, finally the Foreigners turn up. Then he brought some beer, some peanuts and a salad that I thought tasted distinctly Spanish…….

7th July 2015

20150706_141928My family, if any are reading my blogs! Know that I’m one for stretching my boundaries. So today I’m setting off on the 123 into Fuzhou city on my own.

6th July 2015

I can’t resist people watching. Wherever I am I have to work hard not to stare at people. It’s all that wondering what they are doing, where they are going, what, why, when etc. Before I left I wondered what my first impressions would be, finding myself in the middle of such a far away country, a country of peoples of many ethnic origins but none from the ethnic groups I live in. Would l at first, for example, think everyone looked alike?

  • At 1.87 metres 108 kg (well before I left, let’s hope all this delicious Chinese food hasn’t added to my paunch!) I stand out in China. So suddenly I find myself a minor celebrity,


20150702_230317Yesterday was another day of firsts. It was my first experience of Fuzhou rain, thunder and lightning. I was assured that all 3 were fairly modest affairs for the area but they quite amazed me. I also made the acquaintance of Báijiǔ. Another first was me playing Yanghong’s guitar and performing John Barleycorn (do you reckon I’m safe laying claim to it being the first ever performance of the song in Fujian?). And then marvel upon marvel I realised a boyhood dream! (more…)

3rd July 2015

I’m not sure I understand the reason for the rift between the Chinese state and the government. And I have no interest or intention of examining this now. However I really wonder if the hundreds of thousand of developers outside China really know that unwittingly they are joining in with Google and short-changing the Chinese people. (more…)

1st July 2015

I thought I knew what Karaoke was but I didn’t. You have too much to drink in a bar then sing, right ? The words come up on the screen and you warble along…… badly. ? 

Well this was CHINESE karaoke. We went to reception and gave them some ¥. No sign of beer. Then we were directed to one of many rooms there.  Well I say room. Cubicle would be a better word. And we had our own toilet which struck me as funny. Then we put the songs on. I chose that great song “The House of the Rising Sun” and murdered it but everyone else was pretty good. I’d do it again……..Whether I’ll be invited again is less certain.