Friday, November 19, 2010

Brought My Blog

Sitting at Gate 12 looking out at the blue Melbourne skies. Feeling a bit fuzzy. Boarding in one hour, new friend by my side. It's a year since I was on the long flights to-from Kuala Lumpur and many years since I flew to Korea, not knowing what would greet me. Already I'm doing a stocktake of the things I forgot to bring.

Pub last night with pear cider and my dear friend Snaxalot who encouraged me to snap photos of quirky stuff to help her with the love-hate feelings she has for China.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Birthday Diversion

Been quite caught up in myself and the birthday business. Splendid party Sunday and China departure Friday. Three sleeps. Must turn my brain back to Chinese matters. Like hutongs and hotels, urban fictions and art, a shopping list and wifi.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Virtuous or Vicious

Investigating the virtuous cycles of growth and innovation and thinking about the higher education systems in China (and comparing with India and Australia). Hoping one day (soon) I can draw a diagram as enlightening and informative as this.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The United States of China

“China is a threat, China is a customer, and China is an opportunity.” – Kenichi Ohmae.

Upon the recommendation of the academic tour leader, I'm reading 'The World is Flat' in preparation for my trip. I started it three weeks ago and have only made my way to page 140. The quote above is followed by advice to not compete with China, but consider which part of your business you want to do in China, which part to sell to China and which part to buy from China.

Of course I consider this in terms of education, more so following a chat with my old boss who advised me to write on what Chinese universities seek from their internationalisation strategies. I guess this is where I should start.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What about Korea?

There are a number of wicked problems from last century that are unsolved this century that appear to be placed in the basket case: Korea and reunification is one. Another is the Roma of Europe.
Whenever I read something about North Korea treating it citizens poorly, I get angry at the Republic for not being generous enough to help the North. Whenever I read about North Korean refugees having a hard time, I get angry at China, where they usually go in the first instance, for not being generous enough to work on a solution.
Stil thinking of topics for investigation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Got My Visa

Picked up my visa today, shiny visa in shiny passport. All ready to go. $78.50 and two visits to the very efficient visa processing office.
Started thinking about topics for my research projects, hoping I can write on cultural capital, soft diplomacy, international education, maybe something about standards. Started poking around for topics.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tanjil Bren

Mini-adventure this weekend. Left after a sleep-in on Saturday and headed to Warburton where we bought sausages in bread with sauce and onion for $2.50. Bought up big on country produce like soap, jam and wine.

A long day driving was ahead, not knowing exactly where camp would be. Drove through lots of snow and winding roads. Lots of glorious wattle in flower. Checked out the Thomson Reservoir to see how much water was in it.

Our journey took us along and through many creeks and rivers and as the evening wore on we started to wonder if there were any nice campsites or huts that hadn't been trashed by bogans or inhabited by groups of guys playing music.

We found a spot at the base of Morning Star track and ate a ham, rice, chili and green bean concoction with lots of local wine, then snuggled into the tent and forgot about everything.

The following morning we drove around in circles for a bit, lots in a muddy maze of tracks before crossing the ford near our campsite and heading up the particularly steep Morning Star track. So steep I decided to get out of the car...

Headed north and checked our Mt Useful. Felt a bit frustrated as this was my first trip with the new Leica and I couldn't get the colour I wanted for some pics. Useful was a white-out, freezing and no view. A huge comms tower is up there, and a shelter that I assume is for fire watch comms, but could be an emergency option should we ever need it.

Along McEvoy's Track, which was signed as 'Spring', we stopped at two interesting places, Edwards Reef Cemetery and Crooks Historic Site. Both were mysterious and a little spooky. Crooks had nothing but a dot on the map and a pole with the word Crooks... Why?

We headed towards Walhalla along Binn's Road and were surprised at how damn cute that town is - even more than I remembered. We followed the train line south out of town, noting that the Australian Alpine Walking Track starts in the town and winds all the way to Canberra. One day.

Through Rawson, not so pretty, we headed west along South Face Road which sports some very fancy new bridges. We swung past Mt Baw Baw and then lunched in the charmingly named Tanjil Bren, population 9.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Blue Dragon

The Melbourne Festival is in town and my token selection was 'The Blue Dragon', which was amazing. Money and time well spent as it was a luscious performance. Set in Shanghai with three actors, the dialogue was in French Canadian and Chinese. The set and lighting design threatened to steal the show, but I was soaking the 'Shanghai' story, sights and characters. It definitely made me want to see some galleries and ride a bike while I'm in China.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This morning I'm running in the Melbourne Marathon, doing a 5.7km run, not the whole enchilada. It means I'll be late to the next session of the Business Globalization course, which I'm hoping won't get me in trouble. The schedule starts with each participant giving a 3 minute presentation on what they hope to see and experience on the tour.
What I hope to get out of it is a greater understanding of 'China', a more nuanced appreciation of the culture and the way of doing business. I hope to eat great food, learn history I had no idea about, and try to uncover some diversity of opinions.
If I'm able to follow my line of interest then I might write about soft diplomacy and China's recent foray into this way of gathering and expending cultural capital.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Charter 08

Dinner in Northcote last night at a Japanese place. We ate and ate and it was wonderful. Home to bed and MSG fever set in. Charlie heard a loud tinkle in the night that sounded like breaking glass and in the street this morning was a smashed porcelain toilet.
Back at Building 108 in Bourke Street for more of the Business Globalisation 'academic content'. I read this morning that a Chinese man called Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He's considered an enemy of the state in China and a reformist outside. Reading up now on his Charter 08. Meanwhile ordered this book on ebay.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New Passport

My first passport got me to Bali when I was thirteen. The photo was taken at a studio in Eltham and in my memory of it I have a long bob and am smiling.
My next passport I got when working at La Trobe University and shows a stern looking young woman with spiky black hair and a tight mouth. This was the passport that took me to the USA in June 2002 to experience all sort of adventures, shopping and trauma. It also took me to London on a work visa, Lithuania on a student visa, Russia on a dodgy visa, Korea on an alien visa and Vietnam on a Socialist visa.
My latest passport is in the mail and will take me first to Shanghai. I'm dreaming of a trip to New Zealand and Samoa next year.

Monday, October 04, 2010


One of the obstacles I'm facing with this class... Need to see it as a challenge instead... Is that the subject is about 'business globalisation'. So yesterday we spent the afternoon watching a video (!!) about Wal-Mart, their innovative business practices and also their move to Chinese suppliers.
The whole time my brain is working to find the humanities perspective, rather than the business. The other students are mostly second year undergrads doing logistics, marketing, international business, economics and accounting. They don't know my stuff but I don't know their stuff neither.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Chinese Family Altar

After years selling the idea of a study tour, I'm heading on one myself. I wonder if it will be as illuminating as my exchange to Vilnius? In 48 days I'll fly non-stop to Shanghai for two weeks of study on 'Business Globalisation'. The decision to go was easy, but I've had doubts ever since. Today was the first session of academic content and included some pre-departure cross cultural stuff. Some of the assessment is a reflective piece, and the guiding question needs to be 'what am I hoping to get out of this?'.
I tend to not be very reflective, more brutal. So the process of actually giving consideration to the whys and wherefores might be more challenging than it seems. The main motivation that occurs to me to to increase my professional competence when it comes to things Chinese. I think it might be too much to expect resolution of the contradictions and tensions that exist for me around China The Idea.
Maybe, like when I went to Estonia after being in Vilnius for months, being in China will give fresh insights into Korea, which I know better.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Korean Malaysian Lunch

Today at work I'm wearing my Korean brooch that Luke gave me wayyyy back when I was farewelling Korea. It's beautiful and today is being worn to impress an academic coming to lunch. Part of my job is to support the teaching of Korean language in Victoria. There are only a couple of schools that teach the language and Korean culture has a really low profile in Victoria. I'm not sure we'll identify a silver bullet as we dine at 'Little Malaysia' today, but it would be nice to chat with someone who knows about and cares about Korean.

I feel bad that I have had no contact with my Korean friends, especially Luke, since I left Korea. It's a strange feeling. I have emailed him but never got a response. I think a call would be better, but it's three years and counting since I left.

Friday, March 05, 2010


Heading north tomorrow to see the Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane. Particularly looking forward to the Korean work. Interested, curious, inspired about Korea after having read 'Nothing to Envy' about North Korea. It was a truly harrowing tale. I knew nothing about North Korea when I lived in Cheolsan. Nothing. A DMZ trip made no difference. I think Korean of my age do not think about the North as their brother or anything worth considering. Reading through wikipedia and news report, there is little urgency or gravitas about the famine and human rights abuses. It is bemusing. I wonder if some of this arting will be illuminating.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mount Victoria Trail

On Sunday we walked up to the summit of Mount Donna Buang along the Mount Victoria Trail. The walk starts in Warburton township, right at the start, off Martyrs Road. Anyone can drive up to the summit of Donna Buang and experience the awesome views from the top of the lookout. There's picnic tables, toilets, BBQs, etc., so on a fine summer's day, it's popular.

The road to the top is called the Donna Buang Road (called Acheron Way at Warburton end) and there are as many cyclists as cars in the warmer months. It's a steep climb in a car, challenging on the bitumen road and an absolute slog along the narrow walking trail that we took on Sunday.

The forecast was for 32 and a cool change in the afternoon. The walk was signed as being 12kms return, a 7-hour walk. We had packed lunch and lots of water and started off at 10:10am, disappearing into the ferns and bush. After skirting around some private paddocks and blackberries, we started the hike proper. Uphill.

Lots of birds and bugs and huge tree ferns... The canopy blocked the sun and heat and it was difficult to know how high we were. A sharp noise rang out and puzzled us; it was like a shot but hoarse. We saw the first of two other walkers and asked his thoughts on the noise. He had thought of foghorn but realised that was absurd. We three concluded it was a deer, having seen lots of tracks and also 'no shooting' signs.

After nearly two hours of constant uphill trekking, feeling slow, we heard an occasional car overhead. We were nearing Donna Buang Road, well past our halfway point. A sudden increase in blackberries confirmed we must be near civilisation. Hot and elated, my feet and legs felt strange hitting the road. The next section was much less steep, and starts with a vehicle track that leads up to a whirring communications tower. This section I would recommend for someone wanting a good challenging walk (driving up and parking on the summit road), maybe a picnic, but not training for Kokoda...

At the summit, in the bright sunshine, we ate our lunch and bandaged my heels which had developed blisters. Ouch. In no time we were descending quickly, keeping our eyes on the sky for a forecast storm. It had taken us 2 hours and 20 minutes to walk up to the summit - it ended up taking us 1 hour and 55 minutes to get back down, including stopping for photos and me taking a massive fall near the very end. Not an easy walk but a very accessible and beautiful trip for Melbournians.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sunday Walk

This Sunday we've got a walk planned. It may be a killer, since all the links I've found for it are about training for Kilimanjaro or Kokoda. It's from Warburton, up to the Mount Donna Buang summit, apparently quite a climb, and quite lush and beautiful.
After attempting a big 3 day trek last month and completely exhausting ourselves, we decided some small, less risky but quite intense walks were needed. The failed Mount Speculation attempt was a high-stakes game. If we had have pushed on we would have been not only physically ruined but without water or enough food, and of course in the middle of nowhere.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bonnie Valley

Saturday morning it was hard to get up. We both had 8.30 appointments - Charlie had a driving lesson and I had a 'smash' session, aka personal training. It was a tough start.
Getting back later in the morning, the best thing to do seemed to to be to go camping - just for the night. Consulting the myriad maps we decided to head to Warburton, about 75kms away, then on to Big River area where some campsites lined the river. Charlie called his parents and invited them and then we got busy packing the car with the tent, camp chairs, warm clothes, etc. At 10.45am we were on the road.

The drive to Warburton was uneventful, though I noticed my favourite roadside stall was open. Last time we went past I bought onions, plums and an apple cucumber. They have a selection of the largest zucchini ever. Anyways. At Warburton we had lunch at the same place we always do. I was hoping for the best Caesar salad ever, but it was just ok. We splashed out on fresh squeezed juices with lots of ginger which were delicious. As we sat, we were entertained/distracted by a tarot reading happening at the table next to us.

After buying up some local produce (carrot cake, handmade soaps) and op-shop goodies ($1 scarf), and hailing down Charlie's parents, at 2.30pm we headed north-east in convoy. Along Warburton Woods Point Road, through McMahon's Creek and pretty Reefton for about 40kms to the Cumberland junction. Another 11kms east and then our left turn was signposted as Morris Road which soon branched off into Little Creek Track. Very slow going for 4kms, heading down down down into the valley of Big River. Little trees were springing up in the middle of the road, everything was lush and smelt great. A lot of moisture in the air and it wasn't cold at all.

There were a few campsites to choose from, and it was a bit unclear when we got to the river which was which. We saw another car and tent setup so continued on a bit, along Snowy Road, after crossing the river. Large bogholes greeted us at the entry to another little camp area, and after some cautious investigation, we both headed through without incident.
The campsite was right on the river, with a few tracks leading straight down to the banks. To our dismay there was rubbish strewn all around and as soon as we got out of the cars we each picked our way around the site, collecting the beer bottles, cans, forks and junk and then could enjoy a much prettier site. It was only 4.30pm, so we had hours of daylight and set about establishing our camp in an unusually unhurried manner.

We had hoped to have dinner at Woods Point Hotel, about 50kms further east, but the roads were such slow going on arriving, we decided it would be too hard/tiring/risky to do it all again, twice, at night. Instead we scratched out a dinner with the few things we'd all thrown in the cars as contingencies. Luckily this included a nice bottle of white wine which was cooled in the river and accompanied our packet soup and tinned spaghetti beautifully.

The usual wildlife such as wallabies and other marsupials were nowhere to be seen. Instead there were loud swarms of march flies, a tree full of bees, a dead car in the river and maybe a bat. Dusk came late and with a deepening pink and a barely perceptible drop in temperature.

We slept late - 7.30 - and had strong coffee and Warburton carrot cake for breakfast. Mercifully there were no flies and the temperature was perfect. We needed to hit the road early to be back in Melbourne for a working bee/arvo tea. The day seemed unremarkable but when we got in the cars, waded through the bog and headed up out of the valley, it was clearly a glorious morning. The light played with the mist, tall trees silhouetted against a bright white sky, and all around the rich spell of eucalypt. It was very peaceful and the moisture in the air seemed to have deadened all sound.

Instead of heading back the way we came (along Little Creek Track), we headed along Snowy Road due south for about 14kms to Warburton Woods Point Road. Our map has no contours, and we soon realised we were trekking along a ridge with wide breaks and glimpses of the valleys to our left and right. It was slow going and there was plenty of time to breathe deep, observe damp spider webs and take photos.
We reached Warburton Woods Point Road and farewelled Charlie's parents who headed towards Woods Point. There were a few oncoming cars, which we waved to, and a lyrebird scrambling gracelessly out of sight. We reached the Cumberland Junction at 9.50am, and increased tyre pressure before heading down to Warburton. We passed many cyclists headed up the gruelling hill, baring various game face grimaces.

Eggs Benedict with curly bacon at the first cafe in Warburton, and then we headed back to Melbourne, stopping at the roadside stall where a handful of sugar plums we thrown in free of charge. The Gladysdale bakery received some of our custom too, when we stopped to select a royal sampler of neenish tarts and velvet cakes. We were sticky and happy when we arrived in Brunswick to wash windows and dismantle furniture for friends moving interstate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Time to revive

Dinner at Christmas Street, with mango salad and a tour of the caravan and the garden. Perfect cooling night for a ride home. Perhaps the lament can be anew with the various trip tales. That's handy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Peak bagger

This weekend I'm off to the hills again. It is my luck to be an adventurer. Big mountains, valleys, wilderness and far away from the urban heat sinks. My lil pen camera will come along so I'll bring back some souvenirs.