Learning Chinese

Hey guys, you overlanders and other globetrotters pick up a lot of languages on the way, right?

Well, last night, I sat on my bed and found myself looking into Mandarin (blame that virus) and realized how natural it is in a way.

Many years ago, when China was only just starting to open its doors a little bit to the outside world, I attended a Chinese fair which was still very pure Chinese back then. Fascinating. I loved the music. May have been in 1982.

I picked up “hello” from a Chinese course I saw on TV one day and from an Italian course lesson that I watched, I picked up “I want a package of x, please”. When one day, I had to call someone in Italy and said “Buon giorno. Vorrei parlare con signore X, per favore.” I got a cascade of Italian in return, so it worked. (No internet in those days.)

Anyway, this evening, I remembered that I had wanted to look into Mandarin. I have picked a Chinese name for myself, namely “pebble in water” and have meanwhile more or less learned to say in Chinese

“Hello, I am (should be) called pebble in water. I am Dutch.”

你好. 我叫水中的卵石. 我是荷蘭人.     (<- Eh, I hope.)

By tomorrow morning, I am sure I will have forgotten.

What still confuses me is that different Chinese people – as do people in other countries – have slightly different pronunciations, for instance, of the “j” in “jiào” (“should be called”).

It’s a wonderful language because it seems delightfully logical and intuitive, much more effortless than all the hard sounds of Germanic languages. (It has some of the juiciness of Portuguese.)

And the fact that you need to derive many meanings from the context probably says a lot in itself and may make things much easier in practice. (What practice? Ha ha. I will have to start watching Chinese YouTube videos etc eventually.)

But the tendency for high notes is not that easy for me. I usually speak in a much lower voice and end many sentences on a low note. I will need to learn this the way you learn a song, obviously.

The various sh, zh and ch sounds are a bit tricky too.

How many languages have you tackled along the way?


Chinese = in-country person
American = nice-country person
English, British = English-country person
Dutch = Dutch blue person? Presumably “blue” refers to water? Dutch-wetland or lowland person?
German = German-country person


Speaking of cops

Wow, in this episode, Hannah got hassled by the cops not once but twice.

It’s funny, when I watch Hannah’s videos, there is this part of me that seems to think “that could have been what you might have been like if you’d grown up in a normal family”. It’s like I see a version of my younger potential self or something.

Her Teddy bear looks a lot like a bear I used to have as a child, I think.

Apart from that, she is so awesomely simply herself – a lot of people don’t manage that – and has a tremendous sense of style in so many areas.

I am secretly a little bit jealous of her clothing sense, LOL.

Clothes and me, well, I largely let go of clothes when I was 24, no still 23, though not for long, quit my job and went to university, for real this time. (Did do a brief stint at university after secondary school, but it didn’t amount to much.) My monthly income was going to go down so much. I bought a stack of cheap jeans, cheap blouses and cheap pullovers, the kind that I had seen in magazines, the kind that apparently all students wore.

LOL! I probably looked like an idiot for years. It never occurred to me back then that even in academia, people still judge you by what you look like, to some degree.

I had this idealistic expectation of academia.

Well, it used to be like that and in many places, it is like that. Just not necessarily where I was at the time.

I also like most of the music she picks.

Does the UK have a problem with van life?

Yes, says George.

In this post, I wrote that I had not heard yet of it happening in the UK. Now I have.

I know of one woman in California who had police knock on her van and warn her that local regulations were changing. In practice, they haven’t been enforcing those new regulations there. (I hope I won’t have to add the word “yet” to that sentence.)



Happy New Year, (from the) UK!

Lots and lots of rain in this KombiLife video, which first made me think it was recorded roughly in early November when I had planned to drive to the north and back and then decided that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. Lots of flooding going on. (Now again, by the way. Or last week or so in any case.)

Continue reading “Happy New Year, (from the) UK!”

Schoolbus with German accent

Lots of lovely accents, in fact. Such as that “ja, private space” solution”! Wunderbar! Toll!

Genius, that door trick.

And what about that handmade curtain at the front?

The bus cost 6,900 Canadian and they spent the same amount on the build. All in all, it cost about 15,000 Canadian.

That CUBIC mini woodstove also comes from Canada:

We don’t seem to have them in the UK. Correction: CUBIC does sell it on Amazon UK too! (Click on the stove pic.)

If they’ve sold out on our side of the pond, you can of course also get them from Amazon in the US, but you’d pay a lot for shipping plus it might get held up at customs where you’d have to pay to import it into the UK.

Shipping from the US and Canada to the UK does not take long, but I’ve ordered things from the US before, in the past, and also from Ukraine, and they often get stuck in UK customs for weeks.