Euphrates Gold Cover

Two Chinese news items inspired the writing of this book, along with a much publicised account of an iron ore negotiation bribery charge brought against the CEO of an Australian company. The news items, ‘That China had a military force numbering about 3 million personnel.’  and ‘That China moved 3 million people a day by plane during Chinese Spring Festival New Year celebrations.’ For the writer, this was like all the pennies dropping at once, and I envisioned what could stop a force like this from, overnight, seizing power from some place for whatever reason.

With the innumerable advances in technical and electronic development within China going on, it was easily imagined by the writer that “nothing could be impossible.” 

It’s true that the country’s leaders have a huge responsibility to its people in maintaining growth and prosperity, while also looking to satisfy future needs such as energy, raw materials, export, plus the growing mood of the people to have a better life. 

The writer had no intention of portraying any form of right or wrong, merely a fictionalised account of… what if.  

Likewise the Aussie larrikin. While not all Aussies are, there dwells within many a sense of “doing it my way.” This spirit was born from the earliest times in the Australian settlement of a new country, by those who were thrust into a hostile environment in a new land several hundred years ago.  

Read this book with the light-hearted manner in which it was written and enjoy with the love the writer has for life.   

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ISBN:   978-1-921919-87-9
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 93
Genre: Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins

Author: Phillip Ahern
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2013
Language: English


About the Author. 


The author grew up in a middle class background in New South Wales and Queensland, having been involved in construction, dancing and the sport of cycling. Although being of Irish and British stock, he always had a fascination for things Asian. His love of Latin dance and sport, occasioned an invitation to join a Dragon boat club which as it turned out, were going to China  a couple of months hence, to compete in the annual festival in two cities there. That was enough enticement so he joined, he trained, he went.

From the beginning, the trip was an eye-opener. The people, the countryside, the lifestyle, the buildings, the weather, all captured his heart in a life-changing moment.

He openly confesses to the fact that the beautiful Chinese girls had a huge impact on him, so much so, that he refers to this time in his life as, “His third life”.

He went there with no job, selling all he had in Australia, no home, no friends, and, could not speak Chinese save for “ni hao” and “wo ai ni”.

This story seeks to convey his own thoughts and imaginations in a memoire, travel and fictionalised account of his love for China.


 Read a sample - images are not included in this sample.



I found myself standing at the point where the Jailin River meets the mighty Yangtze, perched high above this permanently yellow river junction, a swift and turbulently flowing artery, in the southern city of Chongqing.

I could not have imagined the history’s events which brought this city to become the thriving home to over five million people.

Nightly festivals are held on the massive open air stadium, high above the junction, and the open expanse of walkways, gardens, pavilions and monuments, suddenly become dwarfed, as a spectacular light show radiated into the sky surreally, across from the river’s far bank.

Buskers and merchants compete for the attention of the crowd, while children play safely in the glow of an array of lighting and coloured lanterns.

I had visited other cities in China also, as part of my English teaching college position in Beijing, and each one has been an eye opener to the exciting and enlightening culture which is so vibrant and permanently etched into the lifestyles of the Chinese.

I had originally visited China a year earlier, as part of the invited Dragon Boat Club’s team of paddlers. We were to race against other Chinese and foreign teams at Guangzhou and Changsha as part of the annual Dragon Boat Festival, which is held each year to mark the anniversary of a poet, Qu Yuan, who threw himself into a river, and drowned.  

And so, while travelling for the first time at a local level in our bus to the race site, on a large fish-breeding lake on the outskirts of Changsha, and necessarily being on narrow roads, I came into close contact with the local people.

With my arm, head and camera eagerly protruding from the bus window, I was not sure whether I was the attraction as a contestant, or a foreigner, or whether their inquisitive eyes were capturing my sense of being a novelty.

Whatever the case, after I offered my first ‘Ni Hao’, from the bus window, their faces lit with excitement, returning with their own, broad-grinned, heads nodding, ‘Ni Hao, Ni Hao.’

Their farmland through which we were travelling was mostly a mixed batch of vegetables, corn, fruit trees and rice. There were putrid ponds everywhere, with ducks leaving black trails through the green surface slime, and the elevated roads had rubbish littered, with overgrown drains, both sides.

The houses which were mostly two-storey brick or concrete, and built directly on the ground, appeared, for the most part, to have no front door, allowing all and any dogs, chickens, ducks, and maybe other people, to come and go.

One could only imagine the place in the chill of winter or the floods of summer.

My initial scepticism while still in Australia, of being accepted by the Chinese, was soon overshadowed by the warmth and interest, albeit inquisitiveness, of these people.

The place had a simple yet intriguing feeling. It was hot, humid, and green, and were it not for the hundreds of peasant farmer spectator crowds, reminded me a lot of Australia.

Between races, and resting on my haunches under one of the provided shade umbrellas, I observed the emu-bobbing high school students, with plastic garbage bins, collecting rubbish, stopping to have a good stare at the foreigner before them.

It seemed a rude, if somewhat natural thing for them to do on seeing someone new, and so with my eagerness to experience and be part of the atmosphere, I gave my practiced ‘Ni Hao’ to which they replied to my astonishment with a ‘Ni Hao, hello’.

After a bit of a pow-wow and a giggle, came a slow and purposeful, ‘Where…are…you…from?’

They speak some English!!!!!

I had learned from some previous overseas travel, that to take some small gifts to new places was very much appreciated, and so in preparing for this trip, I had packed many small souvenirs, such as koalas, kangaroos and other trinkets.

I also brought photos of Australia and my family, and to my surprise, these attracted immense interest.

It crossed my mind at that time that information about places and people, other than Chinese, was largely unavailable.

The attention afforded to us was a like a drug to my senses, and I was floundering between experiencing an overwhelming sense of importance, and a humiliating shot of reasoning as to my own impoverished nobility. Yet, everywhere I went, I found myself enjoying something never before experienced in Australia. And even though I was fully aware of my humble upbringing and wealth, I could not help lapping up this pleasurable attention. I thought to myself, ‘What must their lives be like?’, and ‘What is their imaginings of my life?’

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