149 Hours

How long could you go for without social media? Hands up I confess I’m an addict. On my recent trip to mainland China I decided to try and find out how long I could last without my daily fixes……..


How long could you go for without social media?

Hands up I confess I’m an addict. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Line or Twitter I love a bit of social nosiness. But it’s not just nosiness (although that has a great deal to do with it if I’m being honest), since becoming an expat I have become increasingly reliant on it for most of my interactions with friends and family. Gone are the days of letters and phone calls, it’s all instant messaging and photo sharing.

On my recent trip to mainland China I decided to try and find out how long I could last without my daily fixes. If you are confused as to why traveling to mainland China and connectivity issues are related then a quick google search for ‘The great Firewall’ will enlighten you sufficiently.

I could have bought a VPN subscription to bypass the great firewall but the more I considered it the more I became determined to try. I almost lost my resolve when I found out that WordPress was also on the list of dishonour, but as hubby has a VPN ( he’s there working for 3 months not just a measly 6 days so going without reliable connection to ‘the outside’ for him is out of the question ), I figured if I REALLY couldn’t manage I could always hijack his connection for an hour or so.
The fact that just the thought of going google-less ( as well as all the other things) for such a short time was worrying me was actually an incentive to try and do it. We are so connected these days, but the need for instant gratification and information is almost all consuming at times so it was time to try and take a vacation the old fashioned way and tell people about my trip when I came back.

So how did I get on ?
Well it wasn’t easy and there were times when I was cursing my decision ( like when I couldn’t find a decent map of the city, and when my total lack of mandarin speaking left me floundering and googling would have been so much easier ), but I didn’t crack. Not even a sneaky look at Facebook when hubby got in from work.

But the day to day business of my trip made me realise how much we ‘momentise’ our lives. Walking around seeing unfamiliar and amusing things and framing them in terms of a tweet or a status update, taking a picture and instantly thinking how we can hashtag it on Instagram.

During the week I made a series of notes to remind myself of key thoughts or events I may want to draw on for blogging and as I was doing this I realised that what I was actually doing was updating my status and tweeting without sending.

I’m not really sure if I learned anything about myself from this other than what I already kind of knew;

My name is Hillywilly and I’m a social network addict.

I lasted 149 hours without a social media fix.

But by heavens, it’s good to be back.

My week in unsent social media;

15. 45
Just sent my last Facebook update before flying behind the great firewall. Wuhan here I come.

Not really what you want to see at the airport just before you board…. What the…..???

At the boarding gate ... eek
At the boarding gate … eek

Despite widespread mutterings in the terminal no panic on the ground and smoke now clearing. Time to board then…

Properly I will never* complain about it being too warm in Thailand again. I’m B*****d freezing. We’ve come from a fairly consistent 30degrees to a horribly rainy 6.
(*until its mid burning season and 41 anyway )


Small one can barely move due to the number of layers she’s wearing. Her slipper boots are a triumph of warmth over style but she has just declared she never taking them off.

Small one is loving her 'sloots' ( slipper boots!)
Small one is loving her ‘sloots’ ( slipper boots!)

Taking in the spectacle and wonder of a truly foreign city would be much more spectacular and wonderful if I didn’t have a running commentry of sighs and ‘so what’s’ accompanying me.

Wuhan. Taking onesiewearing to the next level #carrefour #shoppinginpyjamas

Are those pyjamas? Yes, yes they are
Are those pyjamas? Yes, yes they are


Shopping in PJ's is a thing here...
Shopping in PJ’s is a thing here…

WHY are cucumber flavour crisps not a thing everywhere? #gamechanger

My Husband and child do not share my enthusiasm. More for me !

When the biggest quandary of the day is deciding if you like the steam room more than the sauna while sitting in the hotel hot tub you know it’s been a good day.

Getting used to the cold ……. Kind of

High end shopping with hubby. Just passed a Junior Versace store.

Luxury Malls  ( no pyjama wearing here)
Luxury Malls
( no pyjama wearing here)

Small person scored big time shopping with daddy. ( not in junior Versace ) Big persons feet are still too big for Asia it seems 😦

To add insult to injury I’m getting emails from Facebook and Twitter telling me I have pending notifications.

Family spa night abandoned as ‘spa is closed for males’
Oh well.

Starting the day with a bubble bath is both a wonderful and terrible thing.

I made the horrifying discovery that I have nasal hair.
Scary big man type nasal hair. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? I look like the BFG!!

Is there anything more painful than tweezing nose hair. Painful but necessary.
I still look like the BFG, just slightly less hairy.

Dragging an extremely reluctant small person out sightseeing this afternoon.

A small white person looking through binoculars at the view across the Yangtze River is getting more photographed than the view across the Yangtze River.

Who watches the watchers?


The yellow crane tower is beautiful and some incredible views of the city sprawling in all directions around it. And birdsong. It’s funny what you miss.

Found a random flower festival in front of a magnificent building ( as yet unknown)

Had to have an emergency stop in mcD’s to get some wifi and try ( in vain) get a proper map of the city. Guess NONE of the cabbies know ANY PLACE ‘over the bridge’.

Finally back at the apartment. 3 hours standing in the cold to find a cabbie who had a clue where we were going. It was around a 10 minute drive. Small one refuses to go exploring with me again.

Completely shattered. My feet officially hate me.

Sounds like the man on the digger outside the hotel has finished his digging. At last. Only another 3 and a bit hours till he gets to start again.

Ah. Rain then. Cold cold rain.

The extremely impressive Han Theatre Building

Very excited. Off to the Han Theatre to see what hubby’s been up to for the last couple of months.

The Architecture becomes the entertainment at night.

Unfortunately I’m not allowed to give anything away about what’s going on inside the building, but WOW!!
It may have its issues but it’s stunning. Very proud of my boy.

Fresh handmade dumplings and gyoza. Unbelievably good.

Finally got some real proper Chinese food. Glorious handmade dumplings and chow mien to die for. That little back street noodle joint must have had a good few months since the production crew found it, and deservedly so.
The little man was both delighted and  slightly hysterical watching moo using a hastily rustled up spoon to eat her noodles after a valiant effort with chopsticks.

I can feel a blister on my little toe. Probably shouldn’t have worn my brand new boots ( shoes in my size-in Asia-squee!) for a shopping excursion  on Han Street but apparently my trainers have a leak. #wetsocks

Oh the profound joy at finding a western toilet at just the right moment. #notsquat

A serendipitous coffee stop. Walked into Starbucks just as hubby was ordering his dinner break cuppa. #makeminealatte

No transport drama tonight. Time for tea then hot tub methinks.

My feet have gone from simple hatred of me to outright loathing. Oh how they long to be back in flip flops.

Ah China. Where even the simplest of internet related tasks are made hugely difficult. #onlinecheckinfail

Lunch with hubby again 🙂 #makingthemostofit

Small person going lego crazy in the mall #makingthemostofit

Back at the apartment to pack. While I shall miss hubby for the next 3 weeks I’m looking forward to seeing the sun again. And the sky for that matter.

On further inspection the sign proclaiming them to be ‘ALIVE FISH’ was not entirely accurate…..

Someone out to catch some dinner. Literally. ( not for us!)

Finally finished packing. Only had to buy one extra case. #oops

Rather spectacular thunderstorm going on right now. Hope its over by take off time.

Arrived at airport for check-in. Have to wait another hour before we are allowed in.

Free airport wifi, great.
Oh you have to have a Chinese mobile number to register, not so great.

Checked in, through security to quite possibly the worst provisioned departure lounge. Oh well, coffee on the plane then.

It’s not a bus people. You don’t just get to pick where you sit. See that number on your boarding pass that says ‘seat number’. It’s a bit of a clue.

SIT DOWN! You can’t just get up and wander about when we are on the way to the runway. You just can’t. Ok? Ok.

I can see sky. Hello sky, I’ve missed you.

Bugger bugger bugger bugger.
Swapped seats with small one halfway through the flight. Failed to remember to check my original seat pocket as I left the plane. 1 lost purse. #seat20B #iamanidiot

Thank you , Thank you , Thank you. And did I mention, Thank you?

Air Asia staff are my new heroes. Hurried to my connecting gate in DMK and reported my stupidity. Check in staff called the landing gate and had the plane checked (twice!) until my purse was found. Thank you thank you thank you.
With apologies to the passengers en route to Wuhan who were delayed ( only slightly) because some idiot had to have the plane searched.

The most glorious sunset for our arrival home. Thank you Mother Nature #welcomehome

Pink Wings
Pink Wings
Landing at CNX Chiang Mai. Good to be home.


I’m almost reluctant to get back online. Almost. Unpacking and a g&t first I think. And flip flops. Definitely flip flops.

There will be more of my Wuhan wanderings in due course (and in more detail!), but for now its time to go and check my Facebook page.

Jer Gan Mài

Lessons are not just for kids

As regular readers will know, Moo and I are off to Macau in a couple of weeks, I may have mentioned it in passing, once or twice…., and in my infinite wisdom I offered to prepare a little project for her school so her friends could learn a little about where she was going. I allowed the guilt of her missing a couple of weeks of school to consume me one day and quite clearly took leave of my senses without fully understanding the implications of my suggestion. Maitress Marion welcomed this with open arms and I set about my task. Well actually I ignored my task almost entirely until I suddenly realised I have till the end of this week to hand the project in to Maitress, fully written up and translated into French with some Chinese characters and a guide to Cantonese pronunciation thrown in, for her suggestions and, hopefully, approval. I am thinking that perhaps I should have made a start a little sooner.
It was the same when I was at school, and there was many a homework page handed in ever so slightly damp with the milk from my morning cornflakes.

Whilst doing a little research for the ‘animals’ section, I stumbled across many interesting facts.

The first of which being that there are no indigenous species from the island of Macau.

I very quickly widened the scope of the project to include the animals of China and was richly rewarded.
I am happy to report that due to conservation efforts there are now somewhere close to 3000 giant panda’s in the wild and there is talk of their ‘Endangered’ status being downgraded to ‘Vulnerable’ in the near future. Whatever will the World Wildlife Fund use for a logo now? Perhaps they could consider the South China Tiger as there are as few as 20 left in the wild today. Sobering statistics for the majestic beast. It is profoundly sad that it is already too late for them to consider the Yangtze River dolphin. I stumbled across this distressing tale when looking for a ‘wet’ animal to use in the project. It hadn’t occurred to me to look for dolphins, and certainly not to look for them inhabiting a river.

The Yangtze is however no ordinary river.
At 6,300 km (3,900 miles) is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world. It flows from its source in Qinghai Province, eastwards into the East China Sea at Shanghai and acts as a dividing line between North and South China. The river is one of the world’s busiest waterways and by 2005 Cargo transportation reached 795 million tons a year. It boasts 3 dams, one of which, The Three Gorges Dam, is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world. The ever increasing shipping and construction have rendered vast stretches of the Yangtze heavily polluted and have changed the ecology of the river forever.
It is home to many creatures including the finless porpoise, the Chinese paddlefish, and the Chinese alligator, which is the only species of alligator that is not native to the United States. The first animal is on the ‘vulnerable’ list and the following are on the ‘endangered’ list. Which should tell you a lot about the erosion of natural habitat and overzealous fishing methods on the river.
However I will admit to being a big softie and getting a real lump in my throat when I read about the Baiji.
It is sometimes known as the “goddess of the Yangtze” or the “white princess”. The first recorded sightings of these beautiful creatures were documented as far back as the 3rd century BC, and as recently as the late1950’s the population was said to be stable around the 6000 mark. The dolphins could live up to 24 years in the wild and grew to an average length of 2.4 meters. At their top speed they have been clocked at an impressive 65 km per hour, but due to their poor hearing and eyesight they would normally swim at a more sedate 15-20 kmph. As the industrialization of the river began to grow so the population declined, but this decline was far more rapid than anyone could have predicted, and during a conservation survey in 1986 there was estimated to be only 300 surviving dolphins in the whole river. Whilst efforts were made to halt this decline it proved to be too little too late. A subsequent survey in 2006 made no sightings at the beautiful Baiji was declared by the International Conservation Union, (ICU), to be ‘functionally extinct’ (which means fewer are likely to be alive than are needed to propagate the species).
In 2007 video footage was shot that appears to show a single Baiji, but dolphin experts have concluded that it was extremely old and frail and this does not alter the animals conservation status.

So in just 60 years an entire species has been erased from the planet and the blame lies squarely at the feet of the human race. The ICU have stated that the causes of extinction are due to the increased traffic, and therefore pollution, on the river, the barbaric and outlawed, although still widely practiced, method of ‘electric fishing’, and the erosion of the natural habitat caused by construction on and around the river. Whilst steps are being taken to reverse some of the damage that has been caused to try and safeguard the habitat for the remaining endangers species in the river, it is far, far too late for the Baiji.

I have no answers to the global problems of conservation and pollution, but I will continue in my small ways to be as environmentally friendly as I can, and hopefully when the children hear a, highly edited, version of this tale it will have some impact on the way they view the world around them and how they treat their fellow creatures.

A Bientot.