Grandfather Poetry

A circle is a funny thing,
Unlike a square it is it a ring.
And being so it will be found,
A circle is completely round.

– Hugh Joseph Patrick de la Motte


palette party

It’s about this time on the plane ride home that I start fantasising about all the incredible western concoctions I could create around red wine and cheese once I return.

I’ll sit at my little tray-table here in the sky and present to you my favourite sip-bite combination. I won’t neglect  the plethora of crackers available, or the variety of dips, but they are merely a footnote in my cookbook and soon to be tv-series.

“Sip, sip, bite!” I would say.

“Savour… yes, that’s it”

The brittle cracker moistens and gives way to the pungent fragrance of the camembert or the crumbly flakes of the blue-vein. The lingering fruits of your Cabernet Merlot hold the foundations for a palette party.

By this stage, your stained red lips are ready for the next combination. So you’ll repeat, twice and once more, until the sensations are a blur, and in your head it’s like the cheese itself is tasting or even making the wine that you thirst for, and they will become one, like lovers in unholy matrimony, with a cracker temptress.

The hangover, your own brains divorce from liquid is messy, expected.

It’s better to have loved and have lost, right?



27/07/2013 21:02

So here I am on my final night in Shanghai. It felt close to a full revolution around the sun ago that we arrived here. It seemed a very different place then.

And what have I learnt?

  • How to cross the road, or rather,  how not to.
  • That you can practice more Chinese on a single 14 hour train journey than in one year in Australia.
  • China has many people. A lot. Like, the most, and they all have lives just like me.
  • Coco is important. You can order a drink with more stuff than liquid, but that’s irrelevant.
  • The blessing that is a southerly breeze in the evenings. Whether for coolness or smog removal.
  • Smoking is bad for your health.
  • You can sleep on a seat 3 times in week.
  • Sexy ladies cost about as much as a drink in a nice bar by the Wangpoo, but last only half as long.
  • I am relatively repulsive to mosquitos.
  • I can write a diary and you might be reading it.
  • Delirious euphoria is as entertaining as drunkenness and mush easier to sleep off.
  • Several delicious pork parts are overlooked in western cuisine.
  • The number of accents in this country is close to the number in the English-speaking world, and I understand none of them.
  • Drinking with some Xian lads in the hostel is good fun. We are about 5 6-packs deep, let’s see how I feel tomorrow.
  • China is alright.


dream liquid

27/07/2013 23:03

I like to write on the spur of the moment. I’m a failure at catching these fleeting thoughts and storing them somewhere in my head or heart, to reproduce at a later date.

My attention flows like the Wang Poo River. Not like a child’s but slowly and surely. I’ve had no less than one million thoughts in the last few days in North Korea and now I’m leaving, solo, undistracted.


The locals on this particular train trip, unlike the last, have given me nothing but inquisitive looks. And so, I have 10 hours to myself and the thoughts I thought would come are gone, somewhere in the pacific ocean, caught in the Kuroshio current near Japan. If I’m lucky I might catch a glance when I fly home next Tuesday, perhaps near the Philippines.


If not, it might be years before we meet again, It might be at the beach or from my tap, in the sink of my bathroom, having been evaporated near Madagascar and carried as a warm front across the Indian Ocean and my home continent before falling in my backyard.


Or maybe it won’t fall at all. It might remain a cloud I spy in the distance, but the outline remains indistinct by way of whatever obstruction or pollution that city presents to me. It might be in the snow caps next time a catch a glance of the winter olympic highlights.


Or perhaps it will go full circle, only to meet in the place we said goodbye. Naturally, it will slip through my fingers, as liquid dream water does. So, We’ll make do with describing the pictures I don’t remember taking in the country that isn’t in my passport.

I could chuckle at the absurdity.



27/07/2013 22:20

“It’s amazing, they just went out and went to a shop!”

Yes, my own quote. But the reality is two white guys such as Alex and myself can’t very well walk down the street in Pyongyang without something happening, can we?

So being restricted to this building, caused us to improvise.

Maybe the top floor has a view?

So our adventure begins. We left our eleventh floor living box and aimed for the stairs to avoid detection. We had 19 floors to the top but we also had the time. Before ascending far, the stair case suddenly ceases at the 14th floor. Strange. We step into the hallway to see some young fellows, of some sports team we’d spied earlier in the lobby, politely staring, almost certainly as curious as us about the whole situation.


But before we reached the end of the hall, we stumbled upon another stairwell where a room should be. Damp and unlit, we climbed in a square fashion sticking close to the walls and breathing softly. Only to find ourselves in level 16, skipping 15. Where’s their fire escape?

The previous night Alex and I discovered level 2 hidden away out of sight. Only half a corridor long with a sign for a ‘sauna’ at one end and one for ‘massage’ at the other. No elevator to this level, but no stairs to 15 seemed more odd.

We headed back to the lift, greeted once again by our sporty friends with “Hello” and “No English.” We would take the elevator from this level. The up button was pressed, and the carriage arrived with the operator waiting inside for us. “Uh, um, 30th floor?” And then we were there.

2013-07-25 21.36.46

A long hall, like one from the shining, intimidated and tempted us beyond. We chose to go left, and only a few steps led us to another unlit out-of-place staircase..

We ventured up, avoiding the pipes built almost purposefully across the stairs at neck height, to find the supposed door to the roof locked and a room full of uninstalled bathtubs, aligned like soldiers, upright and unmoving.

What kind of sick place is this?2013-07-25 22.43.03

Gary Coleman

I’ve seen one or two….

Hold that thought.

My Chinese travel companions just knocked on my door, dressed like ‘North Koreans,’ to inform me that they were going wondering. Nowhere in particular, but my lack of Asian features on this occasion make me especially jealous.

Anyway… I’ve seen one or two children’s performances in my time and let’s be honest, that’s about all they were.


This, today, at the Children’s Palace, was remarkable, well choreographed, expertly executed and creepy. Haunting faces with huge smiles, not like the eyes. An amazing facade that only makes you ponder what is missing. The agony of preparation, those that didn’t make the cut whether by misfortune or substandard ability, they are nothing but a shame to those that even considered supporting them.

But all that aside, perhaps the saddest part is that they know no different. What a life is or could or should be.china2013-1-53


24/07/2013 12:26/13:26?

Somehow, the last train ride ended.

We had about an hour and 40 minutes with which we caught a taxi in a circle and get in line for the next.

I’m now reclined on a daytime sleeper. Just before, the train was invaded with uniforms. Those with stern demeanours passed us by; we were thoroughly checked with a smile. He laughed as we pulled random items from our bag, his level of Chinese was about the same as ours.

We had lunch, not inspiring but quite welcome after eating only a banana and 2 Oreos in the last 21 hours.

I’d like to sit and watch those lives speeding past from my window, but I have a bed now. The fan, half a metre from my head, rotates past like a security camera with a cool breath. Each revolution touching me like a hand of sleep, stroking me towards slumber.