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Beijing and Xi'an


We went to China again in 2009; this time with friends.  Our itinerary took us from Beijing to Xi’an and then to the ‘terracotta warriors’ then back to Beijing. 


image006Terracotta Warriors


From Beijing we visited the Great Wall and the Summer Palace.


image012The Great Wall 


Everything in Beijing is on a huge scale.  We soon learned that what looks like a short distance on a map can take several hours to walk; as when we tried to circumnavigate the Forbidden City.  We quickly found out how to use the Metro.  Here we discovered that many Chinese people are strangers to Beijing and within a day we were helping people negotiate the turnstiles and the other vagaries of the system. 

As in most of China old Beijing is rapidly disappearing.  For example most of the old city wall has been demolished to be replaced by a multi-lane ring road. 


image008Typical Beijing Roads 

One historical street has been reconstructed, complete with a tram; now powered by batteries and recharged at a charging station to avoid the overhead conductors.  When we visited many of the shops were not yet occupied and it had a Disneyland aspect to it.

Because the massacre there, on June 4th 1989, Tiananmen Square  is of particular interest to tourists, an unofficial ambiguity is tolerated.  Officially nothing happened; but with a nod and wink tourists are allowed to know the gory details.  At one end of the square is the Forbidden City and at the other the mausoleum of Chairman Mao.  Each side is flanked by government buildings.  Along the west side is the Great Hall of the People and along the east is the National Museum of China.


image010Forbidden City (small part) 


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Darwin after Europe



On our return from Europe we spent a few days in Darwin and its surrounds.  We had a strong sense of re-engagement with Australia and found ourselves saying things like: 'isn't this nice'.

We were also able to catch up with some of our extended family. 

Julia's sister Anneke was there, working on the forthcoming Darwin Festival.  Wendy's cousin Gary and his partner Son live on an off-grid property, collecting their own water and solar electricity, about 120 km out of town. 

We went to the Mindl markets with Anneke and her friend Chris; and drove out to see Gary, in our hire-car, who showed us around Dundee Beach in his more robust vehicle. Son demonstrated her excellent cooking skills.


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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Secret




Lansing Michigan was a fine place to grow up, she guessed.  It was nice; and safe.

Her dad worked in the Michigan State Government and her mum stayed home. They weren’t rich but they were comfortable. Their new house was big, the nicest they had lived in and it was in a really good area. 

She had never been overseas, unless you count nearby Canada, and that was mainly on trips to Niagara Falls, usually when one of Mum’s sisters came to stay. When they passed through Sarnia, into Canada, Dad would always say "Yea! Overseas again!". It was about his only joke.

Sometimes they went through Detroit. But after what had happened there the last time, she shut that out of her consciousness. No wonder she is timid and takes fright easily. Now if a friend even seemed to be driving in that direction she would go into the foetal position and shut-down.

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Opinions and Philosophy

A Carbon Tax for Australia

 12 July 2011



It's finally announced, Australia will have a carbon tax of $23 per tonne of CO2 emitted.  This is said to be the highest such tax in the world but it will be limited to 'about 500' of the biggest emitters.  The Government says that it can't reveal which  these are to the public because commercial privacy laws prevent it from naming them. 

Some companies have already 'gone public' and it is clear that prominent among them are the major thermal power generators and perhaps airlines.  Some like BlueScope Steel (previously BHP Steel) will be granted a grace period before the tax comes into effect. In this case it is publicly announced that the company has been granted a two year grace period with possible extensions, limited to its core (iron and steelmaking) emissions.

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