Framed in a Keyhole

Spaceship China recently went on a jaunt, to see Micius.

That’s the thing with quantum physics, you can get to far away places, and arrive in a completely different time-frame. All in the twinkling of an eye.

Fiddling around with the spacetime contiuum can lead to some headaches though. ( Just ask The Doctor.) Upon our dive back into the blue-green ball which is Earth, we  ended up – well, in a completely different country!

Unfortunately, got the timecodes wrong and didnt end up meeting with Virginia Woolf after all, sadly….

I did spend an inordinate amount of time in Ravello trying to get a good shot of

light framed by this keyhole….

Why? Whose to say, really. I guess I thought it was something mystically symbolic about looking through small places to see somewhere far, far away….

or maybe I just got bored taking too many scenic shots….

Thankfully, we fixed the control buttons, and made it home safe and sound, where  my evenings are happily framed by looking at my favourite building

Suzhou Arts and Craft Centre, framed by fireworks!


As rare as a Mongolian Moon

Pciture perfect, shining moon in the river, ripples of goldsplashed water in the quiet evening, peace, Mongolia.

As rare as a morning  uncluttered by thoughts, where herding the cows is the only concern, were moonset and sunrise rule the grasslands…


as rare as a monastry in the middle of  nowhere, somewhere, nothing around for miles and miles, no direction home. rare as a silent night.

as rare as a national highway with noone on it, mud-dirt track in the rain. Mongolian national highway, on the way to the Lake.

as rare as a Lake you havent been to for lifetimes, yet you remember it across  wild space-winds and the cycles of time, as rare as getting to that Lake after an Aeon has passed, against all odds, in a hush of galactic memory… and it’s still there, the same as unfaded memories, as clear as Cygnus in the Mongolian night

Hush, ,the stars are sleeping…

as rare as a sailor in the Mongolian navy. There’s only about three of them – they were all on this boat.

as rare as a Mongolian moon


Morning in the Tang

Morning, wherever it finds you, is a time for renewal, a time for hope.

for Li Bai, somewhence back in the Tang dynasty, morning saw him leaving White Emperor City ( Bai Di Cheng)


朝辞白帝彩云间          Cháo cí Báidì cǎiyún jiān,

千里江陵一日还            qiān lǐ Jiānglíng yī rì huan

两岸猿声啼不住           Liǎng’àn yuán shēng tí bù zhù

轻舟已过万重山             qīngzhōu yǐguò wàn chóngshān



seeing rosy clouds as i leave White Emperor City

it’s a thousand li to Jiangling, there and back in one day

on two sides of the riverbank the gibbons ceaseless call

my little boat has already passed ten thousand mountains


Baidicheng, White Emperor City, is a town in Sichuan, not far from the mountainous city of Chongqing. In ancient times it was surrounded by a white mist, which was believed to be a White Dragon. The Jiangling region is further down the Yangzi river near Wuhan – quite a way to sail there and back in a day. Li Bai had lived as a hermit near Jiangling in earlier days.

The photos are not of the Yangzi River, rather, one splendid morning saw me in Moffat Beach, Australia, and looking out of my window I saw a Chinese junk anchored.



the future and the past intertwine

The future lies in the seeds of the past.

The Yellow Emperor, China’s legendary Ancestor, has been honoured by celebreties, politicians and ordindary folk for some years now, in an annual pilgrimage to his homeland in Shaanxi.

Worshipping the Yellow Emperor

China’s semi-legendary emperor was said to have united the warring tribes around the Yellow River homelands, and adopted the dragon as a totem to represent unity amonst warring tribes.


Worshipping the Yellow Emperor courtesy of

This year, over 10,000 people came from across China and the world to pay respects to the cultural Ancestor at Qing Ming Jie, on April 4th.

I wasn’t there, but here’s the words of a friend who sent me these photos, posted on Chinese chatsite Wechat. She said

as a Chinese person, I had the opportunity to attend the Ancestor Worship ceremony, and amongst loud music of cymbals and drums, I deeply felt as national pride as a descendant of the dragon.

The future is breed from the jewels of the past, shining through like light from a far away star, inspiring, guiding, supporting us.

The future is what we make of it, what we intend with our hearts.

The Yellow Emperor has been worshipped in China for so long, for his committment to unity amonst disparate peoples, for ‘creating that which is China’ , and his many contributions include the legendary “Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine”, a classic acupuncture/Chinese Medicine text still used today. It’s based on conversations said to have been recorded and handed down for millennium. Here’s a sample:

“Their first discussion began with Huang Di inquiring, “I’ve heard that in the days of old everyone lived one hundred years without showing the usual signs of aging. In our time, however, people age prematurely, living only fifty years. Is this due to a change in the environment, or is it because people have lost the correct way of life?”
― Maoshing NiThe Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine: A New Translation of the Neijing Suwen with Commentary

Looks like some things never change.

What future do you want to create? It’s contained in your thoughts, actions, and words, so be careful with them, tread gently amongst the morass of your mind, pay no heed to negative thoughts and emotions lest they coalese into the future. Be careful with your heart, as the heart is the barometer of the future.


Water Dancing



Water dancing on the South China Sea,

Aberdeen Harbour, view from the 45th floor!

flowing into Aberdeen Harbour to caress the boats.

The once-mighty Yellow River near Zhengzhou, Central China

The yellow-brown waters of Huang He, China’s Mother River

abalone farms in the Yellow Sea, near Qingdao

flowing erractically into the Yellow Sea

the once mighty Yellow River dimished to trickle

dimished, degraded, poisoned

First Bend in the Yangtze River

a chemical swill, like the great Yangtze

Pacific Ocean at Moffat Beach, Australia.

The waters of our planet, sustaining us

dolphins in Moreton Bay, Queenlsand, Australia

It’s World Water Day. Let’s give thanks to the water which sustains us and the planet.

Water crsystal exposed to words love and gratitude

Dr Masuro Emoto‘s work with water crystals shows us how our emotions effect all that is.

Will you join me and bless and give thanks to the water we drink and see, today, and every day?











I’m always snapping pictures of this building, with whatever means I can.

No matter what my State of Mind, looking at this building makes me happy.

Driving my daughter mad in the process – “Mum, you’re not taking pictures of that building again are you?”


Whoops! At it again 🙂


I especially love it up close when you can see the magical process of the building changing colour.




These pictures where taken with my OPPO.

To find out what an OPPO is, and why it would take photos….. stay tuned!







流 光 溢 彩

liu guang yi cai


流  liu  flowing

guang  light

溢 yi  overflow/brimming over

彩 cai  bright colour/variegated colours

flowing light brimming over with variegated colour 


IMG_2216the vibrant lights of Hong Kong Disneyland


Everyone who sees this Smiles.

In the morning I paid my respects with a sacrificial pig and a flagon of wine at the shrine of the Heroic and Numinous Prince who Aids Favourable Outcomes. This is the so-called Downstream Water Palace of the River God. The shrine belongs to Golden Mount Monastry and is usually tended by two monks without any other officiant.

Yet the noticeboard states “Offerings of Pig’s Heads Belong to this Temple”.

Everyone who sees this smiles.

Previously, at the end of the Shaoxing Period (1161), when Wanyan Liang invaded and ravaged the area, Mr Ye Yiwen of the Bureau of Military Affaris was defending the River. He offered prayers at the shrine of the Water Palace Monastry pleading that if peace were restored he would petition that the god be promoted to the rank of emperor. But nothing came of this.

In the Longxing period, when the enemy invaded again, a close imperial advisor raised the matter once more, but the experts argued that the Four Watercourses were only enfeoffed as princes and that the Water Palace should not be superior to the Four Watercourses, so it was merely given a fancy appellation.

In the temple I met a military man, Wang Xiu. He told me he comes from Bo prefecture and is aged fifty-one. At the time the border was being ravaged he joined the irregular forces north of the Yellow River, attacked and took Daming, and awaited the arrival of our imperial armies. But following his return he had recieved no citation, and says he’s without influence and has no way of making his case known. He sobbed and sighed without cease.

This evening I’d wanted to go out onto the River but the boatman declined to do so on the grounds that the tides were wrong: so we are spending the night on the entrance to the River.

Da6 6/25 ( 9th August)

At the fifth watch (3-5am) our boat set forth. Today is the first time the boatmen have sounded the drums. We then visited Golden Mount and I climbed to the Jade Looking Glass Hall and Wondrous High Terrace, both of which are utterly magnificent, and far better than they once were. “Jade Looking Glass” is taken from a poem by Su Shen ( 996-1043)

Monks are seated in the jade looking glass’ rays

A traveller is trudging up the golden turtles’ backs.

Su Shen did indeed end up a member of the Hanlin Academy, and at the time this poem was considered prophetic.

Day 6/26 ( 10th August).

from Lu You’s 12th Century Travel Diaries.

Out-of-focus back blurb – you see it’s true! Lu You really did offer a sacrifical pig! That’s the Song dynasty for you!


Dear Reader,  I hope you have enjoyed reading the Travel Diaries of 12th Century poet, writer and government official Lu You. Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year from Spaceship China. We leave you now from the Song dynasty and see you back in the 21st Century!

Travel safely over the holiday period






“I am the Patricarch of Hades”

Yesterday we left Lu You passing Copper Factory Mountain and  arriving at Phoenix Hill. Today he reaches Attracting Blessings, which used to be Blue Flower, where King Nine once lived…. confused?  Read on……

Day 7/21


Finally I reached the Attracting Blessings Abbey at Phoenix Hill. The abbey was ravaged by fire and sword more than forty years ago, and has only been recently restored. It has five or six devotees of Daoism , and the abbot, Chen Tingrui, comes from Yiwu county in Wu prefecture. He says that this foundation is the ancient Blue Flower abbey. There once was a Mr Zhao from Reed Port Town whose father was a tea merchant. Mr Hao had had the given name King Nine when he was a child. At the age of 13 he became seriously ill and his father had carried him off to the Blue Flower Abbey. That night Mr Zhao dreamed that an old man had been leading him up a high mountain, and had told him,


“I am the Patriarch of Hades”.


The old man took out some cedar twigs for him to eat. Later he dreamed again of the old man who taught him several hundred characters of a celestial Seal Script. Empeor Taizong summonses him to an audience and ordained him as a Daoist priest.


When he died his disciples were going to bury him but his coffin became too heavy to carry. His mother said “I am sure there is something extraordinary going on with my son” and ordered them to open the coffin. It turned out there was no corpse at all, just his sword and sandals; so they buried the coffin on the spot.


The tomb is still there today, it is referred to as the Tomb of the Sword.

Day 7/22

 We crossed the Great River and entered the channel of the Ding Family Island before continuing once more on the Great River. Since leaving Dangtu the weather has been delightfully fresh, the ripples smooth as a mat. In the distance, white clouds and ranges of green hills serve as a foil one to the other, and all day we seem to be journeying though a painting quite forgetting the hardships of travel.

 We passed Copper Mountain country without going in, and in the evening moored at the mouth of Water Narrows. People who live by rivers and lakes call the place where the currents divide into separate channels a “narrow” as in Wang Anshi’s line

In East River trees shed their leaves and the waters divide into narrows.

from Grand Canal Great River, Lu You’s 12tch Century Travel Diary.

The photo at the top is from above mentioned book, and shows Mr Lu’s journey up the Yangzi River.


Meeting with the Recorder of the Grand Tranquility County

I have determined there are few better ways to deal with the cold, the incessant fog ( we wont mention the big P word here) ( okay, pollution, but we are not mentioning it, right?) and …. more cold, than reverting back to the Song dynasty.To do so, we are ably supported by Mr Lu You, historian, scholar, poet, official and renowned writer.

As Mr Lu lived sometime in the 12th Century, translator Phillip Watson has come along to help us.


Join Spaceship China over the coming days as we travel with Mr Lu through Jiangnan ( areas just south the Yangtze river). Everything that follows is a true account, from Mr Lu’s travel diaries.

Happy Reading! 


Day 7/20 ( Sept 2nd)


Chen Bing, Recorder of Grand Tranquility County in Secured-nation and a senior Gentleman for Meritorious Achievement, came to call on me. I took a small boat to go and say goodbye to him, for he is lodging in the sub-cloister of the Calm Depths Abbey having come on instructions from the Judicial Commission to oversee the collection of cash and bolts of silk as a Commissioner for Grand Ceremonials. The Calm Depths Abbey is on the Baleful Owl Promintory across the Great River, so the sub-cloister has been set up in the vicinity of the town. There are a dozen Doists in it and fine altars, buildings, images and appurtenances. The abbot, He Shoucheng, has now been chosen to reside at the Supreme Unity Priory.


Chen Bing’s aunt on his father’s side took no cooked food throughout her life but simply drank wine and consumed raw fruit. She would predict people’s fortunes and how long they lived without the slightest discrepancy. No-one could fathom her. On New Year’s Day of the year in which she became ninety she said she had a long journey to make on the eighth day of the fourth month, and sure enough on that day she took up meditative position and passed away.


Day 7/21

We passed Fanchang County. This was established in the Southern Tang dynasty and at first came under Xuan City, but with the establishment of Grand Tranquility prefecture was split off again and made subordinate to it.

In the evening we moored at Reed Port and I went for a stroll on top of the embankment, visiting the River Dragon Temple.

I also went to a retreat where a Buddhist monk told me that across the port lies the boundary of Copper Mounds, and where the distant hills rise sheer beside the Great River in Mount Copper Factory. It was this to which Li Bo ( Li Bai) was referring to in his lines:

I love the pleasures of Copper Factory

I don’t’ plan to leave it for a thousand years.

Finally I reached the Attracting Blessings Abbey at Phoenix Hill. The abbey was ravaged by fire and sword more than forty years ago, and has only been recently restored.


From Grand Canal Great River, The Twelfth Century Chinese Poet, translated by Phillip Watson, Francis Lincoln, London, 2007, pp 89-94.

( If you are thinking thats a lot of pages for a little text, you are right. The rest are taken up with gorgeous contemporary photos of the places Lu You travelled, like the one below)

Along the Yangzi River, from the book of Lu You’s travels


Stay tuned to the next installment whereby Lu Yu happens upon “king nine”, discusses the viscitudes of travel, and of course, meets a tea merchant!









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