New Year Greetings

It’s Lunar New Year with the New Year’s Eve tomorrow night.

So, to my Korean friends – 새해 복 많이 받으세요.

And to my Chinese friends – 新年快樂 or for those who are Cantonese, 恭喜發財  (did I get that right Pauline?).

Prosperity, peace and happiness for all in the year of the Dragon.

Happy Tsagaan Sar … and New Year

Tonight is bituun so the home is cleaned and now the belly is full. Tomorrow is Tsagaan Sar (Цагаан сар) for Mongolians, the White Month. So, to my Mongolian friends – I hope you have a happy Tsagaan Sar.

This year it also coincides (well, is one day different really) with the Lunar New Year celebrated across the rest of Asia. So, to my Korean friends – 새해 복 많이 받으세요.

And to my Chinese friends – 新年快樂 or for those who are Cantonese, 恭喜發財  (did I get that right Pauline?).

Prosperity, peace and happiness for all in the year of the Tiger.

Religion and Aging

Well, not so much religion, more belief, or philosophy, or, well, something like that.

I must be getting soft as I age as I almost believed a charlatan today. I was in Hong Kong, standing by the harbour near the Convention Centre (I ove a city that uses English English). I had been looking out over the harbour when this Indian bloke approaches me and starts with a nice friendly greeting and talking about HPM – as in, “do you know what the three things are, ‘HPM’?”

My reply to this was “HPM make power points don’t they?” I suppose I can claim some credit for a little scepticism still.

This bloke, in one of the fastest Indian accents I have ever heard, then went on to tell me my two faults “with all respect sir”. These were that I think too much (someone else has told me that I think too hard too) and that I, well, I can’t really remember the second fault. He then told me that people “think you are rich but you are not … you have a rich heart though and they mistake this”. He noted that I “helped people as much as I could but no one helped me”.

He scribbled on a piece of paper and folded it up into a small ball and placed it in my hand. He then asked me to name a flower (I said “orchid”) and a number (I said “9”). He wrote these on a piece of paper which stayed in clear view.

He looked at my hand and noted that I had a long life-line and would live until somewhere between ages 89 and 92 (terrific thinks I). My wealth line was strong and confirmed what he had said earlier, namely that I would not be wealthy. He noted that I made money but that the money passed through my hands.

Now, this is where I must be getting soft in the head as I was starting to think that there may be something in this guy and/or what he was peddling. Anyway, about this point he wrote something on a small piee of paper (I could not see what) and screwed this piece of paper up into a ball. All the while he was talking to me about his “master” and this HPM business.

At this point he took the ball of paper from my hand, touched it to his forehead and his neck and gave it back to me. He then had me blow on the paper, touch it to my head and heart and my neck and then open it. I looked and it had the words “orchid” and “9” written on it. He then gave me a medallion type thing and was starting to talk more (and I was half impressed by now but with a nagging feeling at the back of my head) when I heard a loud whistle. At this sound the guy bounded off and started walking rapidly towards the Convention Centre.

I looked over my shoulder and three policemen were walking towards where we were standing. Hiding in the bushes was another Indian chap (I am assuming he was Indian as he had a cloth covering his hair).

It was then that what was nagging me became apparent. When this bloke took the bit of paper off me, he swapped it with the one he wrote after I had said “orchid” and “9”. Charlatan. I guess the next thing would have been the request for money. Still, the “Buddhist” monk that approached me 5 minutes later trying to bless me and give me a medallion got really short shrift.

This did get me to thinking, especially as I had sort of believed this guy up front – especially when he pointed out my faults and at the same time noted things like my lack of real wealth. As I am getting older I appear to be considering the matter of “Life, the Universe and Everything” a lot more closely than I did when I was young. I guess this is a product of approaching an age when we finally realise, really, that we are not immortal.

I guess many of us do this. Especially as we approach and age where we can see that there is not so long a life left anymore. It seems strange writing this when my dad turned 80 last year but I now I note that the time left to me is realistically less than the time passed. It was not so long ago that the opposite was the case.

I think what today has shown me is the value of better time organisation, rather than looking for a supernatural solution to the time remaining.

And if you meet a bloke that starts a conversation including the term “HPM”, he is not selling power points. Do keep an eye on his hands though and it will be easier to realise the fakeness of it all.

Train Trips – a Loooooooong Way to Beijing – China

We crawled across the border, from Zamin-uud in Mongolia to Erlian in the Chinese S.A.R. of Inner Mongolia. About 5 kilometres and it took about 30 minutes to travel it. We arrived in Erlian Station with the Chinese Immigration and Customs folks standing to attention. They entered the train and fairly efficiently went through each of the carriages, stamping us into the country and checking our customs forms.

Once the Immigration folks left the train, it was then backed up from Erlian Station and taken into a large carriage shed for a change in bogies. This is necessary because Mongolia uses the Russian Railway Guage of 5 feet between rails whilst China uses Standard Guage (4 foot 8 and a half inches between rails – only a three and a half inch difference but enough to ensure that each and every carriage is lifted, the Mongolian bogies removed and the Chinese ones added.

Irrespective of the being bounced around and the noise, I went to sleep.

We had arrived at Zamin-uud around 8 pm in the Thursday night. When I dropped off to sleep I can remember that the last time I checked my watch it was midnight.

I slept and the train rolled along through the night. And the train rolled quickly. Mongolia is all single track with lots of passing loops. China from the border is dual running – that is, one line northbound and one line southbound. It was, however, going to be another 15 hours or so before we got to Beijing.

We finally arrived in Beijing around 3:30 pm China time, so about 30 minutes or so late – not so bad given the length of the train journey.

It was an interesting rail journey and I am glad that I did it. I know that we will probably need to catch the train back to Ulaanbaatar but I am trying not to think about that at the moment. I am thinking that perhaps the next train trip may be Beijing to Kowloon (Hong Kong).

Thomo Travels Again

There are no blog updates due for a couple of days as Thomo is currently travelling. Actually, sitting in Hong Kong at the moment.

Updates to the blog will resume in a few days time. In the meantime, think of Thomo getting fatter again on the wonderful foods available in Hong Kong.