Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Recently a good friend informed me via email that his hard drive had crashed. Could I please send him the link to my blog again?

I am always pleasantly surprised… nay: shocked! When I find out people are reading my blog, even now, in its second year. To tell you the truth I have no idea how many people are actually following my adventures nowadays. Some of my friends and my daughter have posted a link to it on their Facebook page, and I have heard that some look forward to each and every installment. Let me take a moment to thank each of you.

Thank you.

For my part, I can’t not write. If I abstain, even for a few days it feels like I’m missing something and soon enough I’m back at the keyboard, pecking away even if I have nothing interesting to write about.

These past few months, with nothing much going on, I’ve had nothing much to write about. Truth to tell, I’ve not done much that is especially remarkable lately, especially in the vagabond milieu. With no internet connection and not enough Chinese under my belt to hold a decent conversation with anyone, let alone a travel agent or other official, I had a hard time researching destinations and making reservations anywhere. So, I’m doubly surprised that you would follow this blog, even though to me, looking back on the last 4 months’ entries, it seems mostly dull as dishwater.

But now, I’m connected! By all the winds of fate it happened on one Sunday afternoon, after I sent all my contacts an email telling them I would soon be connected. I literally stayed home, day after day on the promise that the ‘Internet Men’ would be here. And, each day Sam had to rescind his promise. There was a part missing. There were no techs available to do the install. There were problems.

There was apparently no problem with them coming on a Sunday, when I figured no one in the school’s IT department was working. I had made plans with a friend and had left the house by 10AM. That’s when Sam texted me to ask if I was home: the techs are here to do the install.

What should have been the most exciting moment of the week ended up being frustrating and aggravating. No, not home! On a bus, going to meet my friend! “Never mind” says Sam. The techs did not need me to be home as long as I had everything ready and laid out for them. That, I did do.

Now I wonder what an ‘Internet Man’ looks like. Because I wasn’t home when they got here, I guess I’ll never know. I should have hidden a video camera to capture that elusive image.

When I came home from my outing, full of anticipation at connectivity I saw a dining room chair, dragged to within 3 feet of the front door. That is where all of the cabling runs into the apartment. On that chair was a wireless router, all plugged in a blinking. Along the living room wall electrical wires and CAT-5 cabling was strung up in a particularly inordinate fashion.

After changing out of my muddy shoes (rainy here; mud everywhere!) and into my house shoes I ran all over the apartment: to the office to turn on the computer. To the living room to turn on the TV. Back to the office to verify connectivity. Back to the living room to verify internet television reception was working fine.

With but a few tweaks and tucks of wire, everything works like a top. Now I just need to settle down from being so giddy and actually sit at one appliance or another to enjoy my newly installed window into the outside world.

My first act of internet access was to read and respond to emails. Some got short-shrifted and others got a lengthy reply. Others, like with my daughter and my conspirators, I sent the promise of a nice videochat the next day. And then I read the news. Or, at least, the headlines. I now know that a cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Italy and the captain is in big trouble because he abandoned ship before all the passengers were safely off the craft. And I know it is Awards Season in Hollywood, and I know Jon Huntsman has dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination. Sprinkle in a few suicide bombings in the Middle East, a major economic summit in Asia and the usual who is dating/breaking up with/wearing whom (that last for the Awards Season in Hollywood), and I now feel au courant!

So, beyond those first frenzied forays into the digital outside world, what do you think my next act was?

I’ll tell you. Within 24 hours of being connected to the outside world again, I researched and bought a train ticket. This vagabond is traveling again!!!

I have to admit: now that I’m connected and because I’m so comfortable in my cozy little apartment, it was very tempting to just stay at home. Think about it: temperature hovers in the mid 40’s by day and into the 30’s at night. Everyone – students, administrators and construction crews are gone to enjoy the holidays. The housing area is preternaturally quiet. I could enjoy peace, shelter from the elements and have full access to the outside world with just a few keystrokes or the push of a few buttons on the remote control. Why leave?

Because I feel dull as dishwater, that’s why! NOTHING is going on! And I’ve been plagued with wanderlust for the longest time. I’ve wanted to go somewhere, see something, do something that does not center on anything related to teaching, going to the vegetable market or the internet bar! In short, it is time to travel again.

So now, during China’s peak travel season I hit the rails. I lucked out and got a train ticket for a southerly destination, leaving today. I’m packed, I have my little bag of food all ready to go, the house is clean… and it is only 4PM!!! My train doesn’t leave until nearly 8PM. It will be an overnight trip and, even more fortunate: I was able to get a sleeper car ticket. I won’t have to sit up all night, witnessing the madness that I’ve reported on already several times throughout this blog.

Where am I going?

Well, you’ll just have to wait till I get back to find out. I already gave you a hint: it is a southerly destination. I chose it because of the weather: it is warmer than here in Wuhan.

So, loyal fans, readers and friends: thank you for your continued interest. I promise things are going to get interesting again. Starting in about 5 days, when I get back from… OOPS!!! ALMOST spilled the beans!

When I get back, we’ll meet again. Till then, best wishes and hearty greetings, and again many thanks to you.

One final note:

Happy Chinese New Year (January 23rd)! Ring in the Year of the Dragon in style, would you?

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