I was just telling Pat about Naxi music. This morning I was relaxing and listening to some Naxi music from Lijiang , Yunnan in southwest China. I have travelled to Yunnan four times so far and visited Lijiang twice. I love the Naxi culture. Lijiang Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage Centre and probably the most picturesque village I’ve ever seen. Here is the Youtube link to my favourite Naxi song which I first heard many years ago in a pavilion in Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang.
I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Lijiang. It is just a few hours bus ride from the state capital, Kunming, and there are daily flights too. There are lots of inexpensive hotels, guesthouses and homestays there. There are also hundreds of restaurants dotted along the banks of the incredibly picturesque canals. Here is a picture of Black Dragon Pool Park. It is really scenic.
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Well I don’t know about you but winter has hit us here in Portugal and yesterday we never even made it to 20c. But the sun is shining as usual and the sky is blue so with a jacket we can enjoy ourselves outside. We now have three or four months of winter to get through.
The picture above shows Lisbon City in the foreground with Cacilhas (Almada) directly across the river. The black arrow shows where I live on the little hill. The big square is called Praca de Comercio in the heart of the tourist area. Many visitors love to walk around this square and have a meal or a beer at one of the many restaurants around this square.
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Since I returned from Germany a few days ago, I really have no substantial news at all. I have been ridiculously busy here as usual and the coming week already has a full schedule for me.
I have many urgent things to do and I’ve no idea how I’m going to get everything done this week. I wish that Rasmi, Luma, Rekha and Goma were here to give a helping hand. I am missing home in Kathmandu very, very much.
Yesterday our friend Vincent arrived from Belgium and he’ll be staying here in Lisbon for two days. In the afternoon Vincent, Kumar and I chatted and drank a bit too much white wine. My proposed abstinence didn’t work for long.
Today is Mailys’s birthday and she wants to eat some pasteis de nata (a sample pictured above) so I have to get busy with the breakfast now.
Well, have a pleasant weekend. I have, so far.
No, I haven’t relocated again but I’m having a very rare break after many months of very hard work. It’s been many years since I’ve seen my old friends Keiji, Diana and Astrid so now I’m staying with them and their four kids for a rest and a holiday. It’s been great to meet my old friends again and we’ve had a lot of talking and a lot of drinking to do. I think that when I get back to Lisbon I’m going to be totally abstinent for a while.
Please ignore the picture of the mountains near Kathmandu. I can’t explain why facebook is selecting that picture because the picture in my blog is actually of three beer steins. This peculiar facebook/Wordpress glitch of publishing the wrong picture has been around for several years and I can’t overcome it.
I’ve always thought that shopping in Portugal was as cheap as it could get but after yesterday I now know that most things are actually much cheaper here in the Bundesrepublik. Wine is far cheaper in Portugal though. So as you can guess I’ve been out doing a lot of shopping and price comparing. I hope my baggage won’t be overweight for the return flight.
What’s the best cure for a hangover ?
Playing the lottery is exciting for me but more about that later when I know the exact amount I have won. Now who would guess that the above picture was taken right here in Portugal ? When people think of Portugal they think of the sunniest part of Europe with great beaches, great food, great wine and great people. But not so far northeast of here lies an area called Serra da Estrela, an area of mountains, forests and lakes. It seems like Portugal has everything for everybody. But what we do have right now is a severe drought and the government is asking its citizens to use as little water as possible. We’ve had some showers in the past couple of days but that’s just a drop in the ocean and we need a lot of rainfall this winter to get those reservoirs topped up again.
I’ve just checked online and seen that my three winning numbers will pay me €4.08 so it’s hardly going to change my life but it does make playing a bit exciting. Maybe one day I will get a big prize.
Yesterday afternoon a friend, Rocha, came to pick me up to view a two bedroomed apartment close to the ferry port of Cacilhas. Well I already live in Cacilhas and I wasn’t thinking of buying a new apartment but a friend of mine from Ghent in Belgium does want to buy an apartment here so I thought I’d take a look around to see what was on offer. It turned out that the apartment was €120,000 and more than Vincent is willing to pay but it was interesting to see this apartment for sale. After viewing the place we dropped into a place next door, an old Portuguese grocery store complete with tables, chairs and locals drinking coffee and chatting. It was very much how I imagined a general store in the wild west, 150 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience because I’ve never seen anything like it before.
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I love this picture. This huge statue and view are very near my home. That’s Lisbon City across the river. This morning Portugal put back the clocks one hour which meant an extra hour sleep. Well I tried to sleep for an extra hour but it didn’t work and here I am battering my poor keyboard at 3:48 am (aka 4:48 am). I went to the kitchen fifteen minutes ago to make a mug of tea and I could hear Kumar snoring in his room. Glad to know that I’m not the only one who snores.
Summer is still lingering on in this part of the world and the past few days have seen temperatures above 30c. I think (and hope) we will start to cool down from today. I still haven’t bought an airconditioner but possibly today I will. I love all the sunshine but that’s all we get here from April to the end of October. Winter is coming soon and we should get far more cloud and wonderful rain.
I’m working as hard as usual. Sometimes I think I can’t stand the pace for much longer but I always do. I actually enjoy work but there’s just too much of it. Today is Sunday so Kumar will be at home and will give me lots of help. This morning I have already replied to several messages and done some printing.
Yesterday on the way to the supermarket I dropped in to see Pedro who owns a very successful local restaurant. Pedro works incredibly hard and I realised that I am not the only one who has to work hard. Also yesterday I encountered the most amazing rudeness from a member of Pingo Doce’s staff. Pingo Doce is a local supermarket and sometimes the people there are very kind and friendly but sometimes shockingly rude and unreasonable. I wish I knew how to complain to a director because I would do it.
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Just look at that spread. It was the Bhai Tikka day, part of the huge Tihar festival in Nepal. More popularly known by the Indian name ‘Diwali’ Russ sent me lots of Tihar pictures today so I will go through them all in full size, later. Usually I post pictures of Russ so today here is a picture of Rekha and Raju. Raju is home from Doha, Qatar, for the Tihar festival.
I don’t know who else does this but I always love to browse through my old blogs and see how my life changes. What has happened to blogging anyway? I guess it was just another passing phase. Now everything seems to be Tweets and whatsapp but I don’t have apps and don’t even use a smartphone. I’ve resisted the temptation to carry one so far although a few years ago I went to Castlepoint and spent a lot of money on a new smartphone. I hadn’t realised how often we need to recharge the things and once home in Kathmandu, I quickly lost all interest in spite of all the efforts from the family. My smartphone spent most of the time with a flat battery in a drawer somewhere. Kumar resurrected it and still uses it to this day. He needs two for his daily life. I am using a cheap but good Alcatel mobile with a large clear monitor which is great for checking the time when I wake up during the night. I have to sleep and wake up at all weird times these days because of business. This morning is exceptional for me because I have no urgent work to do and I just love the feeling of having so much free time. Well that’s why I’m here in WordPress instead of rushing around from laptop to laptop. Well I was busier earlier when I first woke up and found myself replying to messages from Brazil, Italy and Morocco but that didn’t take me long and now I have an hour or so to do as I want.
Throughout my life I’ve always been terrified of death but these days I am coming to terms with the fact that everybody must die. Death is just a part of life. When we get to my age we never know how many days we have left on this earth. The most difficult thing is trying to discuss death with our close ones. There are so many things to do in preparation and people don’t seem able to discuss the matter but just say things like ‘you have many years left in you yet’ or maybe ‘shut up and don’t be so depressing’. But there are many things to do, knowledge to pass on, wills to update, legalities to take care of. For sure I am far from ready to pass into the unknown but I do believe that people should straighten out their affairs so their heirs should not be left in chaos when the time comes. I find this a terribly difficult subject to discuss with people but it needs to be discussed.
This morning I was remembering an old friend of mine called Paddy. Paddy was quite a character. I was actually his boss but you would never know it. We were great friends. Paddy was quite gone over a French au pair called Marie-Therese but she already had somebody back in France and Paddy had to give up his aspirations about her. I drove over to Ascot several times with Paddy where we met Marie-Therese and Stephanie and had good times. I also remembered a time when I rented a boat for the day on the River Thames. It was a hot sunny day and we played Cilla Black’s ‘You’re My World’ on my transistor radio. We were joined by one of my friends from San Sebastian or Bilbao or somewhere like that. I met her in Tenerife many years later but she had changed into a bitter old lady with a sharp tongue. I’d upset her somehow so she wasn’t talking to me by the time I left Tenerife. I was trying to remember her name this morning. Something like Anita or Annie. It’s a long time and my memory isn’t what it was. I remembered going to France with my old friend Martin, my girlfriend at the time (Georgina) and a frigid girl called Terry. Martin liked her but she was not interested. I think there were just four of us. That day we all had hangovers after an all night party. I was the driver. We had a great day but it was marred by too much alcohol the night before. I sure couldn’t keep that pace these days. I remembered my cousin Frank and when we waited on Gambir Station in Jakarta, for the train to Bandung. I grew up with Frank around and he is superb company and a perfect easygoing travelling companion. We backpacked to the UAE, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Bali, Malaysia and Thailand together. I was young and fit then. I hate growing old. He retired to Thailand and married Darunee, a property developer in Chiang Rai. We are in frequent contact. I must look up Paddy to see how he’s doing these days. I have no idea how we managed to lose contact but it shouldn’t have happened. Sometimes it’s great fun to sit with free time and reminisce.
I think I’ll take a siesta for a couple of hours. It’s now mid afternoon and I dug my blog out of drafts before it got forgotten. I have two friends from Cheltenham Spa in the UK arriving by car after midnight tonight. I need a siesta so I won’t fall asleep late tonight. I’ll probably have a glass of wine with Kumar about midnight, when he gets back from work
Yes, time goes by. And by. Endless wonderful memories