Your true traveller finds boredom rather agreeable than painful.
It is the symbol of his liberty - his excessive freedom.
He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically,
but almost with pleasure.

Aldous Huxley


Friday, July 25, 2008

Let's get high



Today I went to the hospital for a bad cough probably due to sweet pollution and ice cold air conditioned in our classroom. And I got an incredible amount of drugs both traditional Chinese and western style. The red stuff is Dragon's Blood, and all the other I have no idea, but it's all good. Very Nice! Must be fun to study Chinese medicine...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beijing...

The Forbidden City Entrance...
This week end I went sight seeing (again) some Beijing places, in order to get out of BLCU for a stroll... So Tristan and I went to some Hutong and to the Tian'anmen square. Wowowewaw. We got lots of Chinese taking picture of us, of course, and a good bath in the crowds hanging around.

Some military trying to walk with the army pace, but they usually aren't so successful...

Washing the Tian'anmen square by hand...

Some nice communist train driving by Wudakou, the happening street near by our university.


Yeah. An amazing day. This morning I went for an excursion in the Hospital next to the campus, for my shoulder hurts beyond crazy cranes. Interesting. First you have to pay 2 kuai (30 cents of dollar..) to get a small piece of paper (after having fought fiercely in the queue) with which you can go see the doctor. Then the waiting line is in the doctor office, so everyone is coughing and spitting and sneezing and avian flu in the small office while the doctor was examining me... And then he gave me a prescription for some pain killer and dragon blood capsules. I'm looking forward for the dragon blood ones... I'm sure that that's exactly what I need... some good'old dragon blood. Yeah. I like China.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zee Duck...



Zee Duck... Eh oui. Yesterday night I went to the Quebecois Dinner Peking Duck and guess what? I had some Peking duck. During this interesting evening a guy nicely tried hard to make me understand that Quebecois people are in fact more French than French people. That was fascinating. And long. Luckily the subject of conversation changed after a while. Sorry to exist...

Else it was funny to see all these black sedan Audi cars parked in front of this 7 floors roast duck restaurant... Meaning that half the customers were officials being invited to eat in exchange of nice favours. That's the way it works in here... It's hard to be an official: eating and drinking all the way from noon to the end of the night! I would become sick of ducks. What a kind of a life, he? Yeah, I like.

Anything else interesting? I'm spending 3 to 4 hours every afternoon working on my 4 hours morning class, and it's going fast. Faster that a express train with burning wheels and rapid raw raptors or RRR. That the stuff. But I think this week end it's going to be party time, if the night clubs aren't closed... Indeed some rumors circulate saying that all clubs in Beijing are to close down during the Olympics, and bars close earlier....................................................
We'll see I guess.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

University life in Beijing

Beijing...

Since my recent adventure I have settled down in my University room, at BLCU (Beijing Language and Culture University). Very nice, small and air cond. equiped room. And so I started to live the university life in Beijing... It is quite pleasant I have to say. I now play tennis every second day, the weather is hot, food is cheap, beer is cheap, and there is lot of nice people in the huge campus. At night everyone is out playing basketball, running, playing badminton or tennis or doing whatever kind of sport, or having beers in one of the numerous cafe on campus. It's a very nice atmosphere. I already met some nice fellow and have a language partner to practice my Chinese with. Everything is great. And I think I will improve a lot my level in Chinese through these 6 weeks coming...
Today I went to the Great Wall for the second time, but this time the sky was pollution-clear... something quite exceptional in here!!! So I was very lucky to be actually able to see the damn Wall. It was nice. These past days I also explored the bustling neighborhood around the University. I went on a pilgrimage to Carrefour, the French giant supermarket, and I brought back some Nutella and baguette... very important for breakfast.
And that's it. I haven't really started the courses yet, so Monday I'll see what's going on here... yeah.

The damn Great Wall...
My roommate being illegal on top of one of the towers...

he he... Also being illegal on the non-restored piece of Wall...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Travelling Diary... Day Four & Five.

I am finally back to Beijing, with my bike. There was some complication, once again, but it ended all right. When I asked if it was all right to bring the bike in the bus the people at the bus station started a debate in Chinese in front of my face. After 5 min and still no answer I decided to go and put the bike in the trunk myself, without waiting for their consentment. They didn't stop me, so it was all right. The driver still tried to take some money from me, of course. But I got to Beijing without having to throw away my bike as I thought. Still nice. Tomorrow I'll go to my room at the university and start the formalities before starting classes. So now I'm just reading Harry Potter because Sabrina forced me to buy it and read it. What a life.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Travelling Diary... Day Three.

Still in Wutai shan. This morning I really had a hard time to get out of bed because I so tired it's just amazing. And my arse hurts just too much. I will never understand the guys who do the Tour de France... Mad. After breakfast I just went bad to bed to read my Paolo Coelho's Devil and Miss Prim. Later on I went on a stroll to visit some of the numerous temples around the town (which by the way is being relocated 30miles souther by the Chinese government, in order to have just the temples left, a couple of hotels, and nice trees and grass, to attract more tourists... They just decided to raze the whole town to the ground and tell the people that from now on they would live 30 miles away!!!).
And then I met a living Buddha from inner Mongolia who spoke English (he had graduated with a major in English before turning Buddhist). A very nice fellow with whom I visited more temples and had a long discussion in his room at his monastery. He explained me something very interesting about why the Chinese are so rude and disrespectful toward each others. His theory was they all learned to hate each other during the cultural revolution, with all the denunciation meetings that were taking place. They all lost the concept of respect. (Sabrina noticed it notably in queue lines where people walk on top of each other...) That could explain the rudeness. He told me that Taiwanese and Hong Kong people are very different on this domain.
He also told me that he gets his teachings directly from his master who is in India with the Dalai Lama through telepathy, and that the reason for which Tibetan and Mongolian lamas appear to be rich (he had a laptop in his room, one of the only computer in town...) is that masters give teachings in exchange of donations, because donations create a bound. So he in turn make big donations to his master and the receives his teaching back. So he'll go to India to meet his master when he'll have accumulated enough riches to offer, which apparently is a lot. I also had a cup of Mongolian tea (like the Tibetan one, without the yak yak yak). In the end he offered me a bracelet with his benediction. Very nice guy. My first encounter with a living Buddha.
Tomorrow I decided to head to Beijing by bus, and dump the bike. More that 200km in 2 days killed me. And anyway it's not that fun since it's only big roads with lots of trucks that vomit their black exhaust smoke straight into my lungs, which hurts by now. Maybe the cold air from the downhill after the pass didn't help, but still. These trucks! And when I was hooked on them going uphill I of course had to breathe through the exhaust pipe... And I'm so tired!
And I haven't seen a foreigner in 3 days, since the night in Datong where I met the Spanish guy going to Kashkar... which usually I like, but here it means that everyone constantly point their finger at me, take pictures of me, try to make me come to their restaurant 60 times a day, and when I finally accept the invitation 3 times a day (I still have to eat) I get surrounded by all the neighbors who came to observe the foreigner eating. Lots of old people just stare at me without blinking, as if looking at some alien creature, with their mouth open. (of course they don't meet so often some french guys biking around...) When I start writing in my diary it's even worse, for they don't do diaries, so they actually come on top of me to look at what I'm writing, even though they don't understand anything of course. Aah, China. What a love - hate relationship. So tomorrow night I should be in Beijing, and I'll put some movies on this blog.
Zaitian.


Wutai Shan from the mountain

Big stuppa...

Nice shop...

Workers busy at razing a whole neighborhood in Wutai Shan, so the place becomes more attractiveto tourists...

Travelling Diary... Day Two.

Wutai Shan !!! I finally got there, after so many ambitious kilometers... 130 in total, from YingXian... and 2 passes on top of it, the second one being at least 2000m hight above the sea, if not more! I don't know how I did it. Of course my truck-catching technique was extremely usefull, either I would never have been able to reach Wutai Shan. Even in 10 days. As soon as the road starts being very slightly up hill, just a couple of degrees - one would not even feel it walking - it becomes a hell with the bike. It seems to weight 3 tonns... really. When the road becomes steeper, trucks have to slow down also, and then I can catch them, but wen it's not steep enough it's just me and the bike.

video
Arriving in a small village...



video
In the village...



Leaving Yingxian I went through a couple of small villages, which was very nice. Not so much trucks, and flat roads. But soon enough it started to climb, but quite fast I managed to catch a truck so I didn't have such a hard time. Then it was flat for some km (too much), and then it went down. Paradise. Then I reached Shahe after 80km, and I had my lunch. Not too bad until then, thanks to the trucks and the downhill. When I told the truck drivers at the diner that I was going to Wutai Shan they laughed at my face! I asked if it was far, so they told me it was 50km away, but I would have to climb the damn pass. One of them was just amazed by the hairs on my legs. But I thought: I'll just have to catch trucks! So I went on. Except that for 20km the road was just a bit uphill... and it was in a valley, and the sun was stronger than I ever thought it could be. I was really dying when I saw a truck coming quite slowly... so I accelerated in order to take the lift, but I wasn't fast enough. I nearly puked after the effort. But I was another truck coming!!! And this one I didn't miss, even though it nearly tore off my shoulder. But I was on. And there was very few of these trucks on this road, of course. So I stayed hooked on the truck all the way up, even though it was very long (close to 1hour...) and my arms very hurting a lot. But I reached the pass, and then I went down once again. Fantastic, magnific, ecstasy, wowee, everything. Cool. I could have prayed if I was religious, for you never know about Chinese brakes... but they held on. (either I would not be writing this beautiful thing here). So I reached the most Buddhist sacred place in Asia (or it was for a long time, now I don't know) at 6:30pm, after 8 hours on zee bike. Then a woman ripped me off by making me pay 8 yuan for a bowl of rice. Nice. And I went to sleep exhausted, once again.





Finally, reaching the pass!!! Both my arms were giving up..

The truck drivers who pulled me, now checking the brakes before going down. You never know with Chinese trucks...

The road and the valley, with Wutai Shan in the bottom. I'm ready to go down!

Picture stop.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Travelling Diary... Day One.

The shadow of communism is still strong in the country side...


The itinerary is doomed! Yesterday, when I finally arrived at the bus station with my bicycle, it took me half an hour to understand that I couldn't bring the damn bike to Shacheng... So I went to Datong instead, which is in the north of Shanxi province. Then, a couple of meters after getting down of the bus and on the bike, I broke the damn chain (so an average of 90 minutes using the bike after taking it from the store...). So I had to walk the the hotel on the other side of the damn city. At lrast this morning I got the stuff repaired for 1 yuan... Chinese know the trick. And then I biked.
First I had to make my way between trucks and factories, and a couple of coal power plants. Slightly dusty. Then, 3 hours and 45km later, I realized my hands were shaking. Of course, I had forgotten to eat since the day before, before taking the damn bus. So I ate. Eggs and tomato tasting fish. Nice. At that point I was exhausted as a bat, dusty like a desert rat, and already sunburn like a toad. Damn. Then I thought: what the f#$k am I doing here? Bike trips are hell. But after a long break, I got back on the bike (the chain is still in one piece) and continued. But I had not seen that there was a mini pass to go throught... So I started to climb, and after 500 meters I was already on the point of giving up. Tada! Then, unespectedly as a unicorn having a shower in downtown Montreal, a truck tried to pass me, but couldn't, because it was going at maybe 10 or 15km/h... So I let it pass and grabbed the back... and I climbed the whole damn pass thanks to this truck! My arm was starting to shake long before the top but I managed, and it was so cool to not have to paddle! And then it when down, for some km, and it was fantastic.
But then I saw that there was still 50km left, at least, before reaching Yinxian, where one of the oldest wooden building on earth stands: a 68m high damn pagoda. Impressive hein? Bon.
And I got totally exhausted (second time in one day), so I managed to get a lift for some km in the back of a truck machine, with the damn bike. So I still did close to 100km in a day, and that's way beyond my capacity, as I just realised. My arse hurts more that a wooden pagoda, and my legs... So now I go to sleep. Tomorrow I'll try to reach Wutai Shan.
ciao.




Something quite funny: facebook has been closed down by the Chinese government, but I now have access to my blog! And people are blowing up fireworks in the middle of the street right in front of the internet cafe.


video
Being in the mini truck with my bike...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Into the Wild

Today is a profund mix of anthology, expectancy, sorrow, and everything. Sabrina went back to Oslo this morning (sadness), and I'm now preparing to go into the wild (wowee). I just bought a bike for 300 RMB, and I will now try to get this bike into a bus to Shacheng and hopefully the bus driver will accept this exceptional luggage... And tonight the aim is a little village called Jimingyi, where it is supposed to be very nice.



The Itinerary:

July 01st (today) : From Shacheng to Jimingyi. Easy.
02 : From Jimingyi to Xiheying (another small village) = around 100km...
03 : From Xiheying to Hunyuan (same smallness...) = another 100km...
04 : From Hunyuan to Wutai Shan mountain range, where sacred mountain and temple
overdoze is a risk... But the region is supposed to be very nice.
05 : Exploration of the surrealist surrounding. Spirituality, youth, carnaval, all of this...
06 : On the way to Datong...
07 : From Datong to Beijing, starght to Beijing Culture and Language Unuiversity.........
July 10 : School starts!!! And it will go on for 6 weeks of intense chinese... So I'll be a perfect
Chinese...

Voila. My legs are my propellers, and China is mine!