Hong Kong Returns to China: Part 1 of 2

Lloyd explains the Hong Kong “democracy” claims very well here…read on.

iLook China

On July 1, 1997, The British returned Hong Kong to Mainland China. How many people around the world know Hong Kong’s history?

To understand, it helps to learn that negotiations to return Hong Kong to China started in 1979, but what happened in 1839 is also important.

Imagine if Russia had invaded the United States in the 19th century and after crushing America’s military, they occupied the area where New York City is located and kept it for 156 years while using it as a trading hub to export cocaine and heroin without restrictions into the United States until every American family has one or more members that were addicted to these horrible drugs. That is what happened to China.

The video is included to learn what happened to Hong Kong and not as an indictment of China.

History dot com reports, “In 1839, Britain invaded China to crush opposition…

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Dragon Raises its head

The Lunar New Year period is officially over. Today, the second day of the second month on the Chinese lunar calendar ( really a solar-lunar calendar, but let’s not get too technical). 二月二  er yue er – is the date of the Long Tai Tou 龙抬头  Festival。

Traditionally this was the day that farming and fishing work began for the year, believed to be that the Dragon King woke from his long winter sleep, lifted up his head, and brought rain to fishers and farming folk.

Fried beans are a popular food on Dragon Raises its Head Festival.They are said to resemble dragon seeds. Photo courtesy of chinadaily.cn

As the dragon’s raising his head, it’s good to eat dragon-type food, like pig’s feet and shrimp. Special dishes even have the word “dragon” added to their names, to make them auspicious. Noodles become dragon’s beards, dumplings become dragon’s ears, spring rolls are dragon’s scales and popcorn becomes dragon seeds!

Getting a haircut to ride the dragon’s luck this year! Photo courtesy of chinadaily.cn

It’s considered lucky to get your haircut on this date, so you can ride on the dragon’s luck in the coming year. If you haven’t already had your hair cut, today, quick, there is still time! It’s one of the busiest days for hairdressers in China!

The Dragon Raises its Head festival is also sometimes called the Blue Dragon Festival, and dates from the Tang and Song dynasties. Oddly enough, a few years back a real blue dragon landed in Australia. Maybe it swam over from the South China Sea.

This Blue Dragon ( related to jellyfish) can fit in the palm of your hand!
Image courtesy of shandongdaily.com

Here, people in the Shandong city of Weifang ( famous as the home of kites) come to pay their respects to the Dragon King on Longtaitou.

China’s Ancient Capital that Served Twelve Dynasties

China is so vast, and the history so long, there’s always something to learn. Here Lloyd Lofthouse gives us some of the amazing history of Xian (famed for the entombed warriors). Read on ….

iLook China

Most people outside China only know of Beijing (once called Peking) as the capital of China. However, another city was China’s capital for more than a thousand years, and there were others. The top five are: Xi’an (called Chang’an in ancient times), Beijing, Nanjing, Luoyang, and Kaifeng.

Chang’an (Xi’an) served as the capital for twelve dynasties, including the Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui and Tang dynasties, spanning more than eleven-hundred years. It was also the cultural center of the Silk Road.

To discover Chang’an’s long history also teaches us much about China’s civilization. Discovery Channel’s Neville Gishford said, “It (Han Chang’an) was more powerful than Rome. If any Roman army had actually gone there, they would have been absolutely annihilated.”

Han Chang’an was larger than Constantinople and richer than Egypt’s Alexandria. It was a fortress so powerful that even 20th-century artillery could not knock its…

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The Thucydides Trap.

The what? Whats a Thucydides Trap?

Aussie readers will have heard of Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister, Mandarin speaker and China watcher. Mr Rudd recently alluded to the “Thucysdes  trap” when discussing China-USA relations.

Thucydides, it turns out, was an Athenian statesman and thinker who lived around the time when Confucius was born. His “trap” was refering to rising states who are gaining power and confronting the existing ‘world order’. The dominant state resists the power of the rising state, and to do so, often turns to war. Avoiding the Thucydides trap means to renegotiate world order in peaceful ways, without resorting to war.

What do we know about China’s future plans? The 2016 5-year-plan aims to develop  ” innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development in the coming years, ”

Along with eradicating internal poverty and continuing the development of renewable energy, China is taking on board global responsibilities and supporting 120 countries to implement the United Nations 2030 plan for sustainable development. Supporting countries to strengthen their infrastucture is a key part of this agenda.

The “Belt and Road” development in Euroasia is China’s recipe for peace through development.

Only the future will tell if our world walks into the “Thucydides Trap” and descends to more global wars – the outcome of which would be terrifying – or heads towards peaceful solutions.

There’s another kind of trap, however – the Kindleburger trap – when rising and falling nation states create a vaccuum where there is no real leader. Rudd refers to this also. Kevin Rudd’s assessment of international relations can be found here:




Spaceship China has been off-air and out of cyberspace for some time. Apologies to regular readers who have been asking me when the Spaceship will relaunch! The Spaceship has been undergoing extensive repairs and is out for a test-drive. More soon!


Invited into Splendid Dreams

Some books stay with you, well beyond turning the last page.

Anchee Min’s first book Red Azalea is one such book. I read it years ago, completely emersed in this brave woman’s attempts to live through the harsh realities of what has become known in China now as The Ten Years of Turmoil – known as the Great Cultural Revolution.

That book followed in a long line of books written in English, dealing with the struggles faced by Chinese people . Who hasn’t heard of Pearl S. Buck? Her novel The Good Earth first published in 1931, has achieved world-wide fame and taught in many high schools.

Anchee Min has written about Pearl Buck, and her lifelong friendship with her school friend. Anchee explains how she researched the story of Willow and Pearl here:


In this video, Anchee reminds us of Pearl S Buck’s description of writing – chasing spirits and being invited into splendid dreams. I haven’t read Pearl of China yet, but look forward to it. I’ve since read a plethora of books dealing with life during the Cultural Revolution, beginning with Jung Chiang’s best seller Wild Swans – another book whose powerful story gets under your skin and creates lasting visual memories.

Anchee Min’s Red Azalea is like that. Some books have the power to invoke strong visual representation in the reader’s mind – I can still see my own personal image of the young Anchee lying in her bunk bed bemusing her fate during the difficult times of the Cultural Revolution.

I guess I was invited into splendid dreams.

Looking for Pedestrian Badfish

Spaceship passengers and fellow-travellers, it’s been a long time between drinks and blog-posts here on the Spaceship. there’s many a good reason for that. Truly, I’ve been meaning to post and have dreamt up many exciting wonderful things to share with you about China.

But  not one of those fanciful things happen here in this post. You see, it’s kind of a blogging emergency. Way back a year or so ago when the world was young, a resilient blogging community was birthed in the back bars of one of Blogsville’s most loved addresses, the Badfish and Chips Cafe. Many regular readers, travellers and stowaways on the Spaceship will have sipped tea there or had drinks – some of you may have even got to meet the Ghost of Elvis down in the basement bar. True Story.

Thing is Dear Readers, Badfish has gone missing. It look the courageous spirit of our Amsterdam correspondent, Lucille @ Lucile’s Bridges ( disclosure: not her real blog name), to send out a search party. Lucile has issued a “Where’s Waldo/Wally” type challenge, to see if any of our intrepid blog readers can find the missing Badfish.

So the challenge goes like this: you post pictures of whereever your blog is at, and see if your readers can find Badfish amongst them.

is he hiding amongst the Bamboo at the Cang Ling Ting – Blue Wave Pavillion – in Suzhou?

Is he just over the hill and heading towards Mongolia?


Hiding in this urn in the Temple of Heaven?

Masquerading as one of Beijing’s Senior Citizens doing taijiquan  or selling crotheted dragons at the fore-mentioned Temple of Heaven?

Perhaps that’s him there, watching the Yellow Sea by that red monolith thing in Qingdao?

Hangin’ on the Wind and Rain Bridge with the Miao people?

Or maybe he is wearing pyjamas while going to the butchers in Shanghai?

Honestly folks, I tell you, it’s a thing, a real thing. The first time I saw it, I could hardly believe it. I giggled, and pointed out the pyjama-wearing auntie to my friend. Then I saw someone else, and another one. Shanghai people wear pyjamas as casual clothes. ( disclosure 2: I’m too embarrassed to snap away at someone shopping in their bed-clothes – I borrowed this photo from the internet. All the other photos, I can assure you, you can blame me for.)

Gee I miss China. So many wonderful, interesting things, people and places. Always full of life and colour.

Wait a minute! Isn’t that Baddie’s thongless foot? He posted more pics of his foot than his face back in the day.

Dear blogging community, if you want to participate in the Where is Badfish photo challenge, just post pictures of your favourite location and a picture of the Badfish himself ( you can steal it from up there at the top of this page). If you are all techy and that, you can even photoshop Baddie into said locations.

oh, and should you actually come across Pedestrian Fish, please tell him to head on over to Amsterdam. Lucille of Lucile’s Bridges ( just in case you missed the first link) is waiting for him, on the Banks of the Red Bridge, with a cup of tea and a bottle of the Green Fairy.


Follow the Whisper of your Dreams….

Focus, follow….


Summer/Winter Solstice June 20th / New Moon in Cancer June 23 2017

Ive been planning a trip home… and found these Dolphins calling to me

all the way from Stradbroke Island, an island in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia…

just as I planned to follow them home

a message beeped on my fone…

Where will the Spaceship land? I don’t know… I’ll just follow the whisper of my dreams, and see where we end up…..


Feline Friends

The rising middleclass in China has seen an increase in the number of pets – usually dogs or cats. It’s also seen a rise in the number of abandoned animals, like Miao.

Heavily pregnant, Miao started wandering around our office space. She was a scaredy-cat at first, keeping well away from humans. We bought her food, left it out for her to eat.

At first, she kept her distance, hiding in the grass and trees.

Gradually she began to trust us, and came closer.

Miao had her babies, got pregnant again, and started waiting beside our office in the morning, miaowing… that’s how she got her name.

The People’s Republic of China is third in the world for dog ownership, behind only the USA and Brazil. It’s second in the world for cat ownership ( behind the USA) with around 58 million pet cats. Thats with only 2% of the population that are cat owners!

Everyone else in need of feline companionship can just drop down to the Cat Cafe.

It’s a booming business – have you tea or beverage of choice while patting the resident cats.

Unfortunately, abandoned cats and dogs are becoming increasingly common. Many housing compounds come complete with stray animals, wandering around looking for food. It has been estimated that Beijing alone has over 20,000 stray cats.

Miao has become our friend. She no longer flinches when humans walk past, and she lets me get closer to her when I put out her morning food. Maybe one day she will let me pat her. Can humans and felines be truly friends? Can a scaredy cat who is used to human ignorance and maltreatment become close to the hand that feeds them? Can interspecies friendship exist?

I don’t know, I just think that Miao is gradually becoming my friend, and I hope that when I go, other humans will feed her and take care of her. Miao has her own friends, of her own kind. There’s a ginger cat that hangs around, another stray. I’ve seen them mate, and Ginger must be the father of Miao’s babies. She’s pregnant again.

Yesterday I saw something I’ve never seen cats do before. I saw Miao and Ginger kiss. Or at the very least, rub noses. They are constantly together, sleeping in the sun near the office, going for long strolls together.  Ginger rarely comes to eat the food we leave out for Miao, though. He knows it’s her food.

In the afternoon of the same day, I saw a grown-up kitten, a motley ginger and white cat, surely one of Miao’s first litter. He was a skinny runt, a scaredy cat, running away from humans. The stray cat population has increased in our neighbourhood, but Miao is becoming more trusting of her human friends each day.




Sources:  /www.forbes.com/sites/mariannacerini/2016/03/23/chinas-economy-is-slowing-but-their-pet-economy-is-booming/#1ea7c9554ef7



Chocolate Surprise!

No matter how many years I live in China, I always manage to find something epicurean to surprise me. Chinese food has four regional cuisines  and many subvarieties within that.

Ordering food in China is an art – one must balance “hot” and “cold” foods, meat and vegetables, a range of flavours, and dishes presented with artistic flair.

Despite travelling widely within China and having eaten at banquets, people’s homes, fancy restaurants and street stalls, I am always amazed that I always find something culinary to surprise me.

Recently whilst eating out in Jinan, capital of the province of Shandong, one of the dishes was this:

The waiter came along and lit the ball of chocolate.

I watched, almost breathless, as the candle burnt down…. wondering why there was a candle in the chocolate ball anyhow. I mean to say, it wasn’t anyone’s birthday…

“Wait!” I was told.. I waited… watching….

When the candle finally reached the bottom, the chocolate ball split open –


Can you guess what was inside?…. ( something yummy, of course….)

Security for Heaven and Earth 2

In Chinese Daoism, there are deities for almost everything.

玄武 Xuan Wu is a Daoist deity. Like many Daoist deities, he is surrounded in myth and history.His first appearance is from pre-history – 玄武 Xuan Wu  is one of China’s four mega-constellations and he rules the northern heavens.

Mural depicting Qiu Chuji’s Journey to the West at Baiyunguan, Beijing.

During the time of the Mongolian invasions of China, and prior to the establishment of the Yuan dynasty, leading Daoist Qiu Chuji made a remarkable journey from Shandong, China, to Mongolia, to visit the Mongolian emperor Chinghis Khan. Beijing’s White Cloud Temple ( Baiyunguan) has a mural depicting this r journey.

The deity 玄武 Xuan Wu  became popular around this time.By  the tenth century, he became immortalised as a deity -one in every two villages in northern China used to have  temples to Xuan Wu. (Chao, 2011). The deity is also known as

真武,zhen wu, the perfect warrior

He is resident on  Wudangshan, where a particular style of Daoist gongfu emerged. Zhen Wu became known as the military god. During the Jurchen invasion of China, which eventually led to Mongol conquest of the Song dynasty and founding of the Yuan, Daoists on Wudangshan were part of the resistance to the invasion. Worshippers of Zhen Wu came to live on the mountain.

“Only the Northern Emperor of the Dark Heaven has the most mercy for my country”  reads a fifteenth century ( Song Dynasty) plaque to Xuan Wu in a Beijing temple.(Giuffrida, 1999)

 Xuan Wu was regarded as  a protector of his country and people, as well as being a heavenly god, resident in the northern sector of the sky.

So for security of Heaven and Earth, you could turn to no better deity than

真武,zhen wu, the perfect warrior.



  1. Zhou Xuan Yun is a Wudangshan Daoist who runs the website  Daoist Gate, http://daoistgate.com/. He discusses  真武,zhen wu, the perfect warrior, here 

 2.  Chao Shin Yi’s book “Daoist Rituals, State Religion and Popular Worship Practices, Zhenwu Worship, published in  2011by Routledge, references the study of Xuan Wu temples in northern China.

3. Noelle Giuffrida wrote a 1999 thesis on Xuan Wu – its available on the world wide web.

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