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On the 13th February Mr. Andrew Negus came to give us a talk and slideshow. The title of his talk was “Around the World, the Weird, Wild and Wonderful.”

He has been very lucky in as much as having been backpacking around the world twice. First in 1968 when he was a so called a “Hippy”, and then later in 1991 when he was in his 40’s.

In 1968 he went to Australia with only 180 in his pocket. He was able to spend just 2 shillings a day. He then travelled on to Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan, India and Kathmandu. He met a nice lady at the Grand Canyon, and fell in love with her. This was the year that the Twin Towers in New York were being built. He got married and they lived in Hambledon. They had 19 years together. She then died aged only 44.

Andrew then decided to go backpacking again. He travelled this time by train. He went to Russia. He saw Lake Bakul which is in far East Russia, it takes one day to go round the whole of this lake. He also had one day in Warsaw. He did feel very sorry for some beggars in Moscow. He found some coins in his pocket to give them. There were some Gypsies who came along and ended up taking the money for themselves. He did some sightseeing. He thought the Kremlin was fascinating. It is an historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow. It includes 5 Palaces and 4 Cathedrals.

He made lots of friends travelling together on a “Skoda” Diesel train. He was called “Uncle” by his friends as he was much older than many of them. Some of his friends were Russians who liked to have a drink and sing lots of songs. They asked Andrew one evening to sing a song. After a lot of thought, he could only think of the song Yellow Submarine. Then after singing one verse, he realised he didn’t know any more verses of it.

He travelled onwards to Outer Mongolia. The Capital is Ulan Bator. He then went on to Inner Mongolia. This is a largely Steppe Country that becomes increasingly arid toward the Gobi Desert in the West. The Climate is Continental with cold dry winters and hot summers. Andrew soon became aware that the people ate almost everything. There is a saying that goes like “They eat everything that flies apart from Aeroplanes, and everything with legs apart from Tables”.

He went to Beijing, everyone seemed to travel by bikes, there was no cars. He went by Mini Bus to see the Great Wall. He found it interesting watching the Chinese people on the bus gambling. They did get quite upset when they were losing. Everywhere he went there seemed to be only Chinese writing and no English signs. He ate his meals with Chopsticks, which wasn't easy to do.

Andrew went to the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. He also went to Tiananmen Square. He didn’t like the Chinese people keep spitting all the time.

He went on to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors. He wasn’t very impressed with them. I think he might be now if he went back! He then went to Chengdu which is the Capital of Sichuan Province. Andrew thought it was a bit like Paris. He hired a bike, and went to a Meat Market and was offered a Snake.

Andrew then went to Leshan where he saw a Giant Buddha in a sitting posture. It took people more than 90 years to carve. It is the biggest Carved Stone Buddha in the World.

Next he travelled to Choncquing. This is located in Southwest China. It is a Port City in the Upper reaches of the Yangtze River. He travelled by boat along the Yangtze river through some expansive scenery, taking in the Three Gorges.

Mao Tse Tung was a Military Leader. He was born in 1893 in a Farming Community of Shaoshan in the Province of Hunan. Tung was able to set his sights on controlling all of China. In 1958 Mao Tse Tung attempted to increase agricultural and industrial production. In 1966 he launched the Cultural Revolution. He appeared at a gathering at the Yangtze River in May, the 73 year old Mao swam for several minutes in the river, looking fit and energetic.

Mao Tse Tung died from Complications of Parkinsons’ disease in 1976 aged 82 in Beijing, China.

Andrew went back on the train and next arrived at Guilin, Yangshuo. The Scenery here was wonderful. He saw “Moon Mountain” which is located 8.5 kilometres south of Yangshuo. There are 800 steps leading to the top of the Mountain. Moon Mountain is the oldest and the most attractive natural rock climbing site.

Next he visited Kunming. He stayed here in a hotel. He especially enjoyed watching the people in the streets dancing and playing their musical instruments.

The Burma Road is a road linking Burma with the Southwest of China. Its terminals are Kunming, Yunnan and Lashio. When it was built, Burma was a British Colony occupied by the Japanese. The road is 717 miles long and runs through rough mountain country. The sections from Kunming to the Burmese border were built by 200,000 Burmese and Chinese labourers during the Second Sino - Japanese War in 1937 and completed in 1938.

Next stop was Dali, in one of his slides he showed us 3 Pagodas. Before the Pagoda was introduced to China, it had already had a considerable period of development in India. Beside serving as tombs, Pagodas were built in grottoes or temples for offering sacrifices to people’s ancestors.

Andrew went to a medieval market and also an animal market and fish market. He was surprised to see a Doctor and Dentist also available at the Market if you should ever need one.

The next place was Lijiang. He felt this was real “old China”. It had cobblestone streets, cars were not allowed in the Old City. He saw a tribal band playing some terrible music! He met “Dr. Ho”. He wears a white coat and has a goatee beard. He lives in a place called Baisha. He is an expert in Chinese Herbal Medicine. He made a Herbal Tea for Andrew’s cough.

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River. It is located 60 kilometres north of Lijiang City. The path is narrow and horses used to travel along the mountain ridge carrying goods. An ancient legend says that a tiger used this rock as its stepping stone so it could leap across from one side of the gorge to the other, which is how the place got its name.

Andrew says his next trip was to Thailand. That’s another story.

Priscilla Barlow

Easter Edition 2014

St George’s Ladies Group