PAPERBACK BOOKS
RANDOM EVENTS AND OTHER SHORT STORIES

‘Random Events and Other Short Stories’ is the third book in the trilogy of the amazing life of Rob Warring.
As a collection of short stories the author recalls the various events that have not been included in his previous books, as well as a few from his family and friends.

From back-packing through China in 1998, close calls with black snakes, bees and other animals, to a variety of undersea adventures while scuba diving, this work is an exciting, thought-provoking read from start to finish. Rob’s father’s recall of surviving a hurricane in Fiji, and his own sea-going adventures, show that the love and respect for the sea runs deep in the veins of this New Zealand family.

As with his first two books, the intent of these stories is to inspire the reader to embrace life with a sense of fun, courage, compassion and adventure.

In Store Price: $AU22.95 
Online Price:   $AU21.95

ISBN: 978-1-921406-74-4 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 149
Genre: Non Fiction

By the same author:
The Boat Ride Home
Not Mainstream

For more information visit Rob’s website
www.boatridehome.com

New Zealand Customers:
if you wish to order this book locally, click on this link.

Cover: Clive Dalkins

 

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Introduction 

As I was writing the first two books, often there was memory overload. I carried a notebook and pen wherever I went to record the incoming recollections. There were, and are still, so many of them, and many of them weren’t able to be included in the books for one reason or another, usually to do with keeping the flow of the narrative, or they interfered with chronological order.

I was in Papua New Guinea in July-August of 2007 operating a live-aboard dive boat in the Kimbe Bay area on the island of New Britain. We were broken down and were availing ourselves of the use of the facilities and goodwill of Max and Cecilie Benjamin at the Walindi Resort. We were having parts and personnel flown in to make the repairs and so we often had to use the resort bus to make the run into town or out to the airport. One morning I booked the bus for yet another futile trip to town hoping parts had arrived at the depot. Our driver for the day was Shannon Seeto, a guy of Chinese descent, brought up in PNG and educated in Australia. He was doing environmental consultancy work for the nearby Mahonia Na Dari conservation centre and moonlighted occasionally as the Walindi Resort bus driver.

It was a hell of a road in and out of town, having fallen into neglected disrepair over a number of years, and after a return trip we would all be thoroughly shaken and stirred by the time we got back to the resort. This particular day, on the return trip, to pass the time in conversation I asked Shannon about his Chinese heritage. It was strange to hear him speak in his broad Australian ‘G’day mate’ accent. I told him I had been in his mother country and I related to him a funny experience I had had as I travelled across the continent. We both had a good laugh about it and it was our way of breaking the tedium of the drive.

When we got back to the resort, and I was back on board the boat, a hint of an idea began to form in my head. I sat down at the ship’s computer and typed out the story I had just shared with Shannon. I re-read it and it occurred to me that this could be the first of a series of short stories that I could put together from my leftover notes that were waiting for me on my desk back in Australia. I printed it off and put it in my briefcase.

It was another month of drama and disaster before I managed to escape back to the safety of my home in north Queensland, and it was not too long after I got settled that I began to put together this book from that stack of notes, beginning with the story I told to Shannon as we made another bloody awful roundtrip to Kimbe for stores and parts. So, my thanks to Shannon Seeto for the idea and inspiration for this little effort.

The book, by its title, is the random collection of many of those yarns, in no particular order, just as they come off the stack. Also included are contributions by friends and family members. Not too many though, they’ll come in another book which hopefully will show just how extraordinary and diverse we human beings really are. I’ve caught a few of the mad buggers in this book, I hope you enjoy the stories, recognise your own potential and then go do it! .................Rob.
 


Read a sample:

One: Touch and Go in China 

Let me … tell you a tale.

In 1998 I backpacked through China. I made the mistake of first travelling with an American guy, and then a Japanese guy, both of whom were definitely not flavour of the century with the Chinese. In general the Chinese people are very friendly and we were always being stopped in the street and asked where we were from. As I was travelling on a New Zealand passport I usually told them I was from there although I had lived the last twenty-four years in Australia. So I had no problems. Most of the people had never heard of New Zealand or even knew where it was.

But when it came to Howard, my American friend, it was a different story.

‘Hoh! Where you from?’

‘America.’

‘Hoh! Down with America! Bad guys! Vietnam! Your sisters and mothers are all prostitutes!’

‘Oh Christ …’

A few more of those kinds of responses and he soon changed his nationality to Canadian.

Howard and I travelled a thousand miles west together and had a great time. We parted company in a place called Dali close to the Tibetan Plateau, he heading north to Chengdu and me deciding to stay in the area for a while longer. He actually remained in China for another six months and kept his bogus ‘Canadian’ tag thus avoiding the grief of his more patriotic but harried countrymen.

Some days later I found myself in the company of a Japanese guy and together we headed up to Lijiang and the Tiger Leaping Gorge area. For some reason I had decided to tell people I was from Australia, I think probably because I was tired of trying to explain where on the globe New Zealand in fact was. The first time Keiji and I were confronted with the inevitable questions from the locals about our origins, it went like this:

To Keiji first: ‘Hoh! Where you from?’

‘Japan.’

‘Hoh! Rape of Nanking! Rape of Nanking!’

In reference to the invasion of China in 1937-8 by the Japanese and the atrocities committed by them in the city of Nanking.

Cringe. ‘Sorry about that but it’s now 1998 and I didn’t personally participate …’

Or words to that effect.

Turning to me: ‘Hoh! Where you from?’

‘Australia.’

‘Hoh!’ Pauline Hanson! Pauline Hanson!’

‘Who? What …?’

Pauline Hanson was a politician in Australia in the late nineties who headed up a very nationalistic party called One Nation, which had an anti-Asian immigration policy. ‘Australia for white Australians’ was part of her platform. Reports of her anti-Asian stance spread like wildfire through Asia, particularly China. And of course I nearly fell over when I was confronted with this. I could understand hearing of her in the big cities like Shanghai or Guangzhou, even Kunming in the west. But in a place this rural and remote?

Keiji had fielded the Nanking thing with patience and tact as he crossed the country. I was still in shock about the Pauline Hanson thing when he looked at me, shrugged and smiled ruefully as if to say, ‘Haha, now you know how I feel.’

We decided to stick to our respective true nationalities for the next few exchanges to see what would happen. By the third confrontation we were thinking, Holy shit, we’re not gonna get out of this country alive! It was a double whammy for the locals asking the questions and they seemed to get more agitated as the interrogations progressed. We reluctantly came to the conclusion that we would have to change our nationalities for our very survival if we were to stay travelling together, so I reverted back to my New Zealand status and Keiji became a Korean.

We had an exhilarating three-day hike through the Tiger Leaping Gorge, some of which took us to three thousand metres and fantastic views. We then made our way back to ‘base camp’, which was Dali. It was a pretty, traditional Chinese village with a surrounding stone wall and imposing main gate entrance. The guesthouse was on the high side of the village and it overlooked the tiled roofs of the rustic wooden houses and out to the lake and hills beyond. The sound system, such as it was, played Bob Marley and Tracy Chapman endlessly as so many backpacker guesthouses and losmen do, right across the world …

We stowed our bags, escaped the reggae and Tracy’s wrist-slitting lyrics and headed down to a small beer house, filled with other travellers, by the lake. At some point during the session someone reminded us that the elections were on in Australia and that they’d found a working computer in a shop somewhere. As the night wore on, at certain intervals the lady would report back to us the progress of the vote. Finally, late in the evening there was a great roar from the crowd. Pauline Hanson had lost by a landslide! Thank heaven, saved! We’re gonna live! The non-Australian contingent were a bit bemused by the whole thing. They were amazed that a politician in this day and age could get away with such racist attitudes and policies. But they came to understand our concern. Apparently many of the other Aussie travellers had been confronted in the same manner as I had been as they crossed the country, and were forced to change their nationality, usually to Kiwis when needed.

Keiji and I headed south together towards Jinghong and the Laotian border. Again the inevitable interrogation as to our origins. Keiji stuck to his Korean line, but I decided to try out the Australian thing again. When the accusatory ‘Pauline Hanson!’ thing started again, I put up my hands, palms outward and said, ‘No no, she’s all finished, she lost the election, she is no more, lost by miles, the Australian people have rejected her …’

‘Hoh, very good very good. Pauline Hanson very bad woman. You very lucky man …’

Keiji and I walked across the bridge into the soothing, serene Buddhist calm of Laos after the Great Storm of China. We turned, looked back and shook our heads. It had been a hell of a two months. We had just gone through such an amazing mix of sights, smells, sounds, experiences and emotions. But in spite of the bludgeoning it felt like we had just endured in that chaotic country of over 1.3 billion people, we also decided we would definitely do it all again one day.

We got our passports stamped by a couple of smiling and welcoming customs officers at a little wooden house on the Laotian side. Then we went outside, lay down on the thick green grass to wait for the bus to Luang Nam Tha, and went to sleep …

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