China continues to be amazing. Last Saturday, at Helen’s instigation, we hired a van to take us to nearby Foshan, which is described as a “pottery village”. Helen obviously hasn’t been in Guangzhou long enough, because she had some mental image of an actual village. I, however, was not surprised that the only thing to differentiate the urban sprawl of GZ from that of Foshan was the “Welcome to Foshan” sign over the 4-lane road and the appearance of motorcycles.

The intention was to visit a 1000-year-old kiln and its surroundings. We struck trouble when the paperwork that Helen had garnered did not mention the word “kiln” in English, let alone Mandarin, and the Chinese friend we rang had never heard of it. However, a couple of brown tourist signs appeared, which led us to a delightful little area housing the kiln and rows of shops, made to look like ancient China.

We had a lovely walk around the area and found that there were two kilns side-by-side that had been churning out ceramics for millenia.


The specialty of the area seemed to be tacky little figures, particularly of old men fishing. Helen bought a few pots, and I bought a figurine, as an engagement present, of a man searching his wife’s hair for nits.

There was supposed to be a nearby area that had antiques and handcrafts for sale, buts its location eluded us. We seemed to be in the same sort of area as central GZ (shopping mall and designer shops), except that the locals were not quite as well dressed, and there were motorcycles parked on the footpath. (And, driving the wrong way down them, as well.)

After lunch at the Golden Arches (which must have doubled overnight, in the number of stores, by entering China), we wandered around. Helen ended up paying too much for a slab of halva from an elderly chap in a Muslim hat.

On Thursday afternoon it was less cold enough to wander down into the village. By means of drawings, mimes and careful scrutiny of goods in a hardware store I manged to procure my shopping list of 5 items. I cheated a bit with the purchase of super glue by going to a shop where I knew one of the women spoke a little bit of English. “Glue” is more difficult to mime than I thought.

Last night, we celebrated a colleague’s birthday at Hooley’s Irish pub, doing a number of theatre sports-style games. It was a lot of fun. The band practised, because we are actually playing there tonight. The first time was very rough, but, after a couple of beers, the second set was much better.

Today is a big one, but, hopefully, not too gruelling. The sun is out, and we are off to an early Australia Day function, in town, complete with Aussie Rules match. After that, there is a “knees up” at the Westin Hotel, and back at Hooley’s for a 10pm start. I think I’m too old to be a rock star.


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