Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Litang to Doacheng and Yading!

Right now I feel like a million dollars in fact a billion dollars! I'm in Shangri-la and have been having the most wonderful couple of days. My last blog I spoke of the loneliness and like a I predicted, in no time i would meet some super humans, I did. I met a lovely lady traveller coincidently heading in the same direction as me. We decided we would journey to a national park called Yading together and explore all that is to be discovered so we set off in a mini van with a very energetic Tibetan driver and a windy road ahead (every road in the mountains seems to be windy and slightly bumpy). We arrived in Daocheng to a very cosy little hostel with a gorgeous garden...the garden was filled with flowers, some vegetables and at least 15 huge canabis plants towering way above my head. The lady working there spoke immaculate english and we were able to acquire all the necessary information about our journey to the national park....Rubber boots, poncho,warm clothes, good lungs, lots of enthusiasm and a great sense of adventure! So i spent some money (too much i'm told) on a fancy rain jacket, strange but pretty rain boots(pretty cause they had upsidedown hearts on them...made for a lady like I) and some thick socks. We set off at 8 and the ride there was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Misty blankets covering the hills, smoking steam rising from the mountains, small showers inbetween blue skies which kept us slight optimistic about the weather and also anxious about the inevitable rain and what that would mean for seeing the snowy mountains we so eagerly awaited.

After 2 hours our 3 hour journey came to an abrubt stop outside a slightly official looking building...our driver went out and chatted with his fellow Tibetan driver comrades, returned and told us to get out with our bags...(his english was limited) so without choice we got out with our bags wondering if this was Yading??? Yading??? Yes? No? Finally an English speaker explained that the driver could go no further and that as of today tourists entering Yading have to take an "official" bus which cost 120 yuan (which is madness cause there was only an hour left) So having no choice and slight frustration at having to pay for the bus and the entrance fee we set off once again, now with an English speaking super energetic Tibetan man who took us under his wing. He decided we would sleep at the same hostel (which he luckily organised) and that we would walk together too...which was great! So the 7 of us (3 chinese, 1 south korean, 1 israeli, 1 tibetan and myself) set of up the mountain to see one of the sacred snowy mountains and pearl lake. We were about 3900 meters above sea level and heading up to 4200. It was a bit of a struggle with the altitude working against us and it was worth it. the air was fresh, the scenery spectacular and we were moving, i was moving. On the road i've felt a little lazy at times and the need for physical activity has been sought when possible...stairs or escalator? stairs! The array of scents was also so refreshing and I felt so content with life and her presents. My new friend Noa from Litang is a Koala and koala as you may know take there time but she was so good and despite not feeling up for the walk completed it succesfully and when we sat at pearl lake (which was green, emerald green and very very tranquilo with the cloud covered mountain in front of us) we all felt utterly content and blissful. Many many photos were taken and many many poses were done, created and done again...the most popular being the jump in the air and hope the photographer captures the moment. We hung up there because we were happy and also with the hope that the mountain would clear and we could see her majesty in all her glory! And with all our hopes and some prayers she cleared and she blessed us with her naked presence. She was pretty amazing!!! the contrast with the green lake and the pine trees surrounding it with the rock snow covered mountain towering in the back and reflecting in the water was a sight indeed! once the cloud covered again we decended and food became the next mission (as it often is).

We stayed at a Tibetan run hostel and ate a most delicious dinner cooked and eaten in their kitchen. Lots of delicious spice, veges and Yak! My introduction to yak had started and continues to sneak into my list of consumptions.

The next day we arose before dawn ate a hearty local breakfast of butter tea, rice porridge, runny fried eggs, freshly baked round barley bread and a porridge that took me back to my child hood (it tasted like pro-nutro). Then we set off for the big climb. we were to walk 4km, take an electric car for 8km. walk for 8km (uphill the whole time) see two more beautiful lakes, take photos, walk back 8km, take the electric car for 8km, walk back 4km and then take the bus back to Daocheng....Yes! Ok! No problem! How many hours? 5 hours...No problem! Ok! Lets go! And off we went. My Koala friend was not up for it so she took her time and decided she would not go the whole way...the sky was filled with grey weeping clouds and after the efforts of the previous day our bodies were a bit more tried and tested. My enthusiasm was tenfold and i was ready to run up the mountain if possible. We walked up the 4km in 45 mins no problem. we took the electric car which was slightly chilly and wet but we got where we needed to be to start walking. We walked on the wooden platform and all was copasetic. we started walking on the grass towards the mountain and discovered that it was grass yes, but it was marshland and it was getting wetter and wetter. I felt happy to get out my pretty rain boots...I was the only one the rest were wearing shoes similar to converse!!! material and non weather resistant! As we started towards the trees away from the marshes the mud became apparent. A group of tibetan cowboys then came over and offered us to take some horses for the small fee of 300 yuan. Of course we refused and they insisted that it would be a long and tedious walk because the paths were filled with mud and horse dropping, there were streams and small rivers, there were steep passes and mere mortals would not be capable of doing it....we still refused and laughed at their dramatic speech and their good salesmanship...we were not going to fall for it...we were set to trek up the mountain come what may!

And up I went ahead cause i could with my superrain boots. Then i'd wait for the others to catch up and so the journey went. the mud was at times so intense and gluggy. the horse droppings were everywhere both a hindrance and a good indicator of which way for me to go and the others to avoid and seek alternative routes through the trees to limit the disaster to their shoes. After 3 hours we reached a mountain. it was raining fairly consistantly and the lakes were still not apparent. My patience was being tested as i now had to wait much longer periods of time for the rest of the troupe to catch up and was groing anxious about the journey down and back to doacheng in the light hours of the day. I walked for a further half an hour steadily up and then my instinct said turn round go back...the lakes would just be a cherry on top, the journey was the most important. And so I did...i simply started walking back. I came accross the troup who were struggling but determined to go the 9 yards. So i continued back and they continued up. I walked in the mud, the poo, the water much more carelessly than the way up. I almost feel many times and hunger started creeping up on me. I made it back to the bus stop, wet, muddy, hungry but still happy for the journey i'd had so far. still optimistic and filled with the joy of being in nature and moving. So i waited for the bus...and waited...and waited...and waited...(it rained and the chilled wind blew)...and i waited. And my patience once again was tested. My thoughts wandered along the paths of, 'what kind of service is this...i paid money and expect that a bus should come....and how dare they demand so much money and not deliver the goods...this wouldn't happen in europe or Oz...thee people know nothing of service...and started to deteriorate to, fucking hurry up and get here!!! after 50 minutes finally an electric car came filled with chinese tourists and cameras! I was so relieved and my former slanders were forgotten. So i enthusiastically sat in the car and indicated that we should go...and the driver indicated that we had to wait for the tourists to return from taking photos. so I waited more...half an hour later i was in tears and swearing to no one. I kicked the benches and swore the families of the drivers. I cursed and spluttered and shouted to the deaf heavens...the drivers sat stared at me with blank expressions and I continued to insist that we should go NOW!!! NOW!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! eventually another bus came and he took me back face teary, heart and soul so consumed with Anger and frustration and disdain for all who crossed my path. One of the men in the car tried to practise his english with me and i told him not to talk to me or i'd cry! he stopped! once i got to the bus stop I started running, running down the hill as fast as i could, running like a crazy woman...i don't run usually, and yet running seemed like the most natural thing to do. i stomped in the mud, the shit, the puddles and just ran ran ran...when i reached the entrance i round Noa the koala, ate 8 big steamed buns and we set off for Daocheng.

My head was throbbing and the adrenalin pumping through my body was immense. I had not in recent times felt so ANGRY!!! And it was magnificent...FEELING!Feeling is amazing!

And now i must go and eat breakfast....Shangri la will be the next installment!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Loneliness creeps in unexpectedly

I left Kangding yesterday to journey further west towards Tibet on a bus that was due to leave at 6.30am. Bags packed shower had I set off at 5.45 feeling a bit sad to say good bye to Zhilam and two wonderful people I met there. I was honoured to spend the last 3 days in Kangding with Marcella and Bernardo, a couple who have cycled from Italy to here...we had a super relaxing time together, watching 5 Adam Sandler movies, eating flat yummy pasta from a muslim restaurant, dumpling soup which was so delicious and they introduced me to some of sichuans sweet treats. It was such a joy hanging out, so easy and super!

The bus journey was wild...as you'd expect heading into the wild west should be wild! I met 4 young gentlemen travelling on my bus and attached myself to them. They were 4 friends travelling together after not having been together for 4 years or so and this boys trip was their special thing. we had some complications on the bus for we sat and then were told to move to another bus so we moved and we sat and then were told to move back to the other bus but when we returned the only seats available were at the back and i had been warned specifically not to sit at the back on the road to Litang...well having no choice we sat at the back and boy was it a bumpy ride. i hit my head on the bus roof 3 times and was constantly on guard to protect myself from oncoming bumps in the road, of which there were many!!! well well...8 hours later we arrived at litang which is really cool. Tibetan architecture for homes is complete different to chinese and it's so charming. there are MANY tanned, long haired, leather jacket wearing, tall, handsome tibetan men on motorbikes cruising around as if on horses. the women wear long elegant dresses with their thick, long beautiful braids either wrapped around their heads or dangling behind. the old folk walk around with their individual spinning prayer wheels or the beads, chanting under their breaths and allow themselves to be interrupted when addressed, tashideli (which means something along the lines of may you be blessed...though i'm not 100% sure of that).

So yesterday upon arriving i cruised up and down the one street, identified my surroundings then headed back to my hostel. on my way i bumped into the four boys (they stayed in peace hostel) who were heading out to eat together. I said farewell and continued on my mission...in the hostel i sat alone and the pangs of loneliness all of a sudden crept in and sat with me. I guess i've been spoilt so far with meeting lovely folk where-ever i've stayed and spend quality time and space sharing food and good vibes and all of a sudden i felt alone. It was momentary as a german couple and I began chatting and we ate dinner together and shared stories and laughter. then slumber came and i met a new lady, a new yorker jewish journalist who had worked in Zimbabwe for a few years and knew some of mom and dad's friends from Harare...small world! We chatted before falling asleep and I arose a new woman, energized and ready for the world. the restaurant was empty so i wandered the streets for food to eat and the loneliness walked beside me silently as not to frighten me too much. I ate, i watched handsome tibetan men walk past, i wandered to the monastary walked up a hill then another all the time alone with my thoughts...and i felt that the solitude was something i had to acknowledge. So i walked further up and further away from the town, heart pumping, breath short, mind determined...and after some time i reached a peak only to see more peaks and worry started creeping in because i'd heard of a man walking on his own and breaking his leg and the rescue mission only being possible cause he'd had a phone on him and i left my phone cause no one is due to call me and then what would happen if i slipped cause the rocks were slippery and a slight drizzle was falling and the hill was steep and.....many many many more thoughts started overwhelming my little head then i heard a GONG from the monastary and it reminded me to breath. so i took a deep breath and began to laugh. I could walk down the hill and be safe and if i got wet it would be ok and there was such an amazing view and it didn't matter that i was witnessing it alone and plus if i fell and broke something...i'd have to deal with that then...no point anticipating it. I stood for a while let the drizzle dampen my physical state and calm my mental freak out and breath access my inner core. I made it down the hill with many words of encouragement from me to me to keep me motivated and safe (it was steep and slippery and raining). I made it down safely and smiled all the way back to the hostel. The loneliness now sits on my lap warm and cosy and the reality is I am alone! But now i'm ok with it and shall enjoy it while it lasts cause i'm sure soon i'll meet more super humans and share time and space once again.

I've lost FB access again...it's cold up here in the mountains (i'm over 4000 above sea level up here...no altitude problems for me :) My room is warm and cosy and clean. the food is good. the men are pretty...though i don't think i'm pretty to them...i was warned that the men were predators with their eyes when it came to foreign women but i've only received curious gazes rather than lusty leers. I've stimulated laughter too amongst some kids and ladies who find my hair style something alien and laugh worthy...kind laughs though.

I'll continue to shangrila tomorrow and will draw closer to Laos.

love and respect!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Back in Business Baby!

It seems like a thousand years since I wrote on the blog and I have missed sitting in front of the square screen writing and releasing thoughts and ideas. I wrote a few times along the way and posted them earlier when I discovered a secret agent way to access my blog (and facebook) here in Ching chong Super China. I am currently in Kangding which is about 10 hours east of Chengdu (which has a population of about 13 million people!) Kangding in comparison has about 30 000 which is super! It is also located in the mountains and is the beginning of my exposure to Tibetan people which is exciting...on my arrival I was unable to stay in the hostel i wanted to due to a landslide complicating exits and entrances to Kangding from Chengdu so i stayed in a Motel (offically registered for foreigners to stay in) There were no people there so I had a 3 bed dorm all to my self for 30 yuan a night...happy was I. And i could wander up the hill to the hostel for social interaction. I was lucky cause on the day I arrived there were many very nice people. John, a melbourner, took me under his wing and took me to a nice restaurant for dinner, then the next morning took me to a local Tibetan Monastary to observe the beginning of a seven day celebration to commemorate the coming of Buddhism to Tibet. We spent over an hour listening to the prayers which was so hypnotic and without intending to get into a meditative state one is drawn to a higher consciousness purely because the chanting and singing and random instrumental bursts evoke a state of delirium and bliss that had me feeling like a little kid filled with love love love. One of my observations that made me even happier was that the monks were only human. I say this because during the prayers there were some young guys yawning and pulling faces, i saw one guy stick his tongue at another one who then laughed and pulled a face back at him. I saw some of the guys wriggling and trying to make themselves more comfortable, some looked as if sleep was drawing nearer and nearer and then they would spring back into life because the clang of the cymbals invoked a waking state once more. And after the prayers there was a general consensus of being glad to be done with the prayers. I mean i'm sure they were happily doing it as anyone would happily do their job, and that's what being a monk is, a job! their job is to pray and hold religious ceremonies and know about the scriptures whereas my job at school was to look after munchkins or teach English....anyway the session was wicked. Afterwards they prepared for the dancing and then they danced in pretty dresses to the music made by monks blowing into super long horns, drums and bells. I felt honoured to be there amongst the people who were there for more traditional reasons. The Tibetans in my oppinion are very beautiful, like the Mongolians but different. They are generally taller and once again, some of the men are HOT HOT HOT! The women too are beautiful. And i have observed that the men are more forward than the chinese men with their stairs...my female radars have been on alert more often with stares from tall handsome dark tibetan cowboys....i'm told this only gets more and more the further west I go so...more on that. I don't have any intentions of finding a husband here though but window shopping is always accessible(with caution).

After the Monastery i went and extended my Chinese visa because i want to be able to take my time on the way to Laos. the police man was so nice and kind and friendly and now i have an extra month in China....yippee! The rain then came and I went to the hostel to befriend anyone willing to chat with me. Kangding i must tell you is in the mountains and is so beautiful. There are constantly clouds hovering above the trees and cluttering around the pinnacle of the surrounding hills. there is the sound of flowing water constantly gracing my ears as the river rushes below us like a wild stream that would be filled with white water rafters.

I met some really lovely lovely love people that evening, there were 5 Israeli traveller's and a couple of Beautiful Spanish men with whom I spent the evening with laughing and sharing stories with. We as a group had a good rapport and I was grateful for the simple fun of sitting and chatting and sharing. I found the two Spaniards very attractive (not sexually but humanly) and yesterday I spent the morning with one of them visiting another temple, meditating, laughing and chatting, we had a really great chemistry and I felt like he was an old old friend, their departure was sad and beautiful...a big long bear hug and a mutual understanding of having shared a beautiful 15 hours in each others worlds at this crossroad in our journeys. I hope our paths will cross again one day. Travelling exposes one to many people and some just hit the spot immediately, others there is nothing and some can also infuriate you within seconds...ha ha!

Now I am at the hostel and there are many new people but my desire is to zone with my book and drink my tea. I went for a nice walk up a hill this morning with one of the lovely ladies working here and the views were stunning. I'll stay here a day more and enjoy the clean showers and toilets before i start my journey into the Tibetan "wild west" and then south towards Shangri-la.

I am well and happy and my heart is bursting with so much love and lust for life. I have had time to reflect on my last few months and years and I my heart has such a great spot for Norway and all the friends and loved ones I have left. I miss Aleksander very much and his company I often would like to have on the journey to share certain moments. I also remember the people whom I spent my time with both at work and socially and smile deeply inside because I feel so lucky and blessed to have been accepted and loved by so many beautiful people...I still know that I am moving in the right direction and that my departure was necessary without a doubt. I need this period of time to grow and further develop and expand. Birralee gave me a farewell present which I wear everyday, a chain with an open heart, Trude said that all the loved ones that i was leaving behind are around the heart travelling with me where ever i go and that as i move I will meet people of whom i can place in the heart and they too will be with me henceforth and I really feel the love of all with me when i fondle my heart around my neck.

And now back to Genghis and his world take over.

love love love and more love!

Some Old Information I wrote along the way.


Thomas and I visited one of the remnants of the Great Wall of China yesterday which was pretty spectacular. The Chinese are indeed a superior people in terms of their architecture and development! Some of their achievements are beyond belief. The wall is so magnificent and grander than life. Thomas says that it was for him a similar experience to observing the achievements of the Egyptians when building the Pyramids. China has so far exceeded my expectations in every way, perhaps because I had no idea what to expect, so everything is very impressive. Beijing is really amazing, for a city with such a big population everything seems to be in perfect order and working accordingly. The streets are clean, the people are not on top of each other, the public transport is impeccable, the taxis have AC and are always available, the food is incredible (and very nicely priced). We have not done much exploring yet but the little we've seen has been super.

On our arrival we were exhausted after 36 hours on the train (which was a story in itself as we met an extraordinary couple who have been travelling the world and writing books for the past 45 years...they were an incredible source of information on different topics of interest) so we went to our hotel and slept for a few hours letting our minds process the huge amount of information we were exposed to in such a short time, not to mention Beijing itself with it's grandness! We then decided we needed food, so the guide book recommended to go to a lake where lovers stroll in the evenings. When we got there....wah wah wee wah! It was nothing like my mind had conjured up. There were at least 15 restaurants in a row, 20 bars with live musicians in each one, 6 discos, markets stalls, people swimming, senior citizens playing cards, pretty ladies selling roses, thousands of people- Chinese and foreign, people playing a foot game with a badminton-like ball, middle age couple dancing rock and roll to techno music, boats in the lake and of course, the lake itself in the centre of all this. There was another lake with a similar set up further north but we decided one lake was enough. So we first found a bar and once again allowed our minds to process the new batch of information, whilst listening to Chinese love ballads sung by a duo with a guitar. We then kept wandering until we found a suitable restaurant with such an abundant array of food that it took us a thousand years to decide on what to eat. We finally chose: special healthy vegetable from the North(which were leaves with vinegar on them, fresh and crunchy), Chrysanthemum and Bean Curd Salad with peanut decorations, Aubergine fried with Green chillies and a variety of meats and fish in a soup. We were sooooo full afterwards!!! Last night we tried 4 different dishes at a different restaurant more local and have set ourselves the task of trying a different dish every time we eat out.

Thomas is set to depart on Wednesday which will be a sad parting, it has been so wonderful spending time with him and getting to know him better. I feel very lucky to have him as a mentor figure in my life! We have had many a good laugh, great conversations and have also managed to sit in complete silence doing our own zoning!

We decided to go and see the Beijing Opera the other evening and it ended up being an acrobatics show. It was really entertaining and there were many amazing things to see like dudes juggling hats whilst climbing on top of each other, really flexible humans building pyramids on each other and the best was dudes on bikes riding in a big metal ball. Initially it was one dude and i was really amazed, then a second dude joined him in there and my jaw was on my chest, then a third dude joined him in there, my jaw fell to my lap, and then....yup...a fourth dude joined him my jaw fell to the floor, i'm tempted to say there was a fifth dude but my memory fails me...it was mind boggling!

I lost my camera (again) so no longer have access to my photos that I took from Moscow to Beijing. I think I left it on the train. I was quite upset about it yesterday until I decided it's just as easy to take mental snapshots and savour the moments. So I'm not going to buy another camera for the time being and just become really good at taking in the moment and really being present no matter what!


I left Beijing at 6.50 on Wednesday morning and was happy to be on the move again after having stayed at Joe's for a week of resting, sleeping and reading I was well in the mood for new adventures. The journey to Xi'an was divided into two, and the first 5 hours of the journey to Zhengzou were for me without at seat. I was lucky to be able to sit for the first two hours but the last three saw me standing in the restaurant carriage(even though I tried to sneak into the first class seating and got shooed away like a dog with rabies by the carriage attendant) with numerous other seat-less Chinese. They were really friendly folk and I ended up befriending young man (Timmy) on his way to seal a busines deal and a lovely lady who communicated with me through her mobile phone translator. Upon arriving in Zhengzou the lady escorted me to the sitting hall for the next train, gave me a Zhengzou specialty sweet made of sugar and Tamarind and we shared smiles and the joy of sharing time and space despite language barriers.

The train to Xi'an was really really fancy, it looked like a rocket, white and sparkling and it was really lush inside. I spent the journey roughly planning out the rest of my trip and realising that the 19 days remaining on my journey are going to be jam packed with movement....well well! I think to travel in China one needs time and whilst waiting for my Vietnamese visa in Beijing time tick ticked away. It was HOT walking out of the the train station a humid and oppresive heat that immediately got the sweat glands working over time. I was with a lovely British couple and we attempted with all our luggage and sweat to flag down a Taxi rather than stand in the Taxi line...unfortunately and quite comically we failed on that mission and ended up splitting ways. They took a more expensive alternative of transport and after more taxi failure I eventually opted for the public bus which was well wonderful! It cost 1 yuan!!!!! And took me where I needed to be so I was very proud of my efforts! A system of instant rewards was in play so once I had checked in to the hostel and breathed I went and had a Chinese foot massage!

WOW! It was so glorious...I ready somewhere that in order to balance out the energies, when having a foot massage, women massage men and men massage women so when my man came into to take me to a higher level I was not surprised what did however surprise me is how my body reacted simply because it was a man touching me! He was strong and he was firm with his touch and I simply resolved to let him manipulate my body as he pleased. It was 90 minutes of bliss and I'm going to go back today!!! After the massage i realised that I was famished...so I found a restaurant sat and ordered a soup and a plate of beans cooked with chilly! What came was shocking, it was GIGANTIC! The soup bowl was the size of a bath (OK just a HUGE salad bowl) and the beans were enough to feed 5. Then they brought some rice and some pickles and a few cups of tea! I ate myself silly and resolved to eat with folk from now on, eating solo isn't easy in China!

Back at the dorm I sat and pondered pondering items lost in a world of being well fed and watered, not to mention manipulated and relaxed...then three young very friendly Chinese women surrounded me and started inquiring into my journey, they later revealed that they were lesbians and wondered what I thought of Lesbians. The more masculine woman then went on to tell me that one of the other girls was her wife and asked me if I thought she was beautiful, I responded accordingly as she was cute and they were very chuffed with that, soon they left and I retired to my dorm where I met my roomies organised to go and see the terracotta warriors and slept like a BABY!!!!

The adventure to see the terracotta warriors started at 9:30, Talita (a very cool Dutch lady) and I set off to take the bus to the station, then the local bus to the warriors. Check! Got to the station found the 306 and joined the enourmous queue. Then Mikki and David joined us as they recognised Talita from the dorm and the four of us became a Terracotta Team. We arrived, and headed for the entrance taking our time stopping along the way to shelter from the rain and simply enjoying the journey ahead. We tried some terrible deep fried tofu, I had some coconut water, we considered the possibility of needing to have bought tickets earlier on decided there had to tickets at the entrance and kept going! Of course when we got to the entrance we were informed by a kind young man that we had to buy them from the ticket office which was where we came from with the bus but that he just happened to have some tickets on him and that he could sell them too us for 100 rather than 90 because he would save us from having to walk all the way back! Ha ha!

So we walked back and then the rain really started bucketing down, cats, dogs and a few baby elephants. The stairs turned into waterfalls, the streets into flowing streams and we were saturated. We eventually made it to the ticket office bought our tickets and started back again, but baby elephants turned to full grown African kings, the cats to tigers and the Dogs to wolves so we sought shelter and proceeded to crack the coconut and indulge in the tasty white nut of life! We sheltered for about half an hour and then decided to take the journey come what may, all the way to the warriors and we succeeded successfully! The warriors were definitely worth the visit! Amazing what man is capable of! Each soldier wore a different face with so many different intricate details and so many soldiers for ones man desire to be successful in the afterlife! After having seen all three chambers and worn out the desire to explore any more we sat and waited for David who we thought was still in there...he never came out and my imagination created a number of scenarios that included him being placed in a warrior and kept prisoner...etc...so we left our quatro down to three, our energy down to a minimal and our bellies craving more MSG (food). Food became the next mission so the journey to a restaurant was glorious!


I am currently in Chengdu, Sichuan State, staying at Nova Traveler's Lodge which is a super clean and cheap backpacker joint. I've been here for two nights and am going to stay for 1 more night. I left Xi'an on Friday the 13th and took a (spooky) sleeper train. The people in my 6 sleeper compartment were really lovely, there was a family and two students. The family comprised of 5 people, grandma, grandpa, mother, father and little daughter of six who was so cute and adorable and also a little bit spoilt. She received oodles amounts of affection from her 5 guardians and was the centre of their world. She was very cute none the less and I enjoyed their company very much. The two ladies were student of economics and when I asked whether they enjoyed their studies they clearly communicated that they did not enjoy it at all but felt they had no choice in the matter of what they studied.

The train journey was extremely comfortable and the 16 hours went by so quickly. Upon arrival in Chengdu I was met by a lovely tall Chinese man with blue contact lenses and a generous smile. He quickly informed me that he was gay and was working as a volunteer at my hostel during his university break. He is studying marketing and when I asked if he was enjoying his course, he clearly communicated that he did not enjoy it at all but felt he had no choice in the matter of what he studied...hmmm...could there be a trend of kids studying something they don't want to?

I must mention here that I had not been to the toilet for a number two in 4 days and was beginning to get anxious because as those of you who know me know, I can be a little anal retentive when it comes to my great joy in cleansing out my system on a daily basis! 4 days is the longest I've gone without any bowel movements in a VERY long time and my body offered no indication of wanting to change that situation. SO I decided to consume some glorious fruit and fibre because the toilets at the hostel are impeccably clean and there are sitting toilets rather than squatters...HURRAY! I went for a walk towards the centre of town, where I saw a number of sights that were astonishing. Firstly there was the mobile phone district, where there were literally over 200 shops selling mobile phones or various shapes and sizes, colours and brands. I've never seen so many phones in my life and they were all next door to each other and so many of the shops had so many people and each one checking out one or more phones! CRAZY! I then found the central square which had dancing fountains. There was very loud Chinese classical music playing and the fountain which was about 100 metres long had a dazzling show which seemed to be synchronized to the music. There were thousands of Chinese tourists taking their photo in front of the water display. I started needing to pee there and was not game to try the public toilet so opted to keep on walking towards the park i was heading for. The need to pee got more and more desperate and eventually I was dancing along controlling myself from grabbing my bits in public and literally keeping the pee in. I saw a nice looking hairdressers so stopped in for a pee and a haircut. The haircut was amazing (as was the pee) I have designs in the side of my head the the Mohawk has never looked better!

The peoples park was splendid, there really are some beautiful parks here in china. The lake had goldfish and rowing boats, the trees were well kept and looked very exotic to my eyes. there were many people old and young enjoying the facilities available, people singing, some dancing, some sleeping, some stretching. After teh park on my leisurely stroll back to the hostel my belly started gurgling and the desire to use the toilet once again surfaced only this time I needed one I could it on....the journey to the hostel was HILARIOUS!!!! I made it and finally was able to cleanse out my insides! I then replenished my nutrients with a typical sichuan style hot pot which the hostel provided to it's residents gratis! Sichuan food is REALLY spicy and there is a type of peppercorn that numbs ones tongue...it's so exotic, its a sensual experience for the tongue like no other I've ever had!

Yesterday I went to a Panda Breeding Research Base and spent a few hours watching pandas do their thing. They are such big lazy creatures and so incredibly delightful to watch as they did their thing. The first panda we saw was asleep and i think we could have stood and watched it sleep for a good half an hour had our guide not promised us there would be more pandas coming up. We saw five two-year-olds playing and wrestling with each other. They were so playful and they had us the observers wrapped around the false thumb! We saw a 5 year old eating his bamboo, a couple of new, new borns squirming in the incubation tank, one a couple of months old that was the size of my hand yet already had the black and white colouring (SOOOOO adorable) and the red panda which resembled a raccoon. I'd never heard of a red panda before and was happy to learn about the existence of a new pretty creature.

I've spent the rest of my time trying to organise the next leg of my journey which was not looking as I had hoped it would until just a few hours ago. I want to go on the road towards Tibet from here but yesterday the buses were not going because there were some land-slides due to the heavy rainfall. I booked a train ticket down south instead after having accepted that I would not get the chance to see west Sichuan. But this morning was informed that the roads had been fixed and the buses were accessible again so I had to go to the train station cancel my train ticket (receive a partial refund) come back to the hostel and book the bus...which is leaving tomorrow morning at 8am! SO i have one more evening here at Nova with the clean toilets and comfortable beds before I head into the wilderness and the mountains! Very excited! On that note I will return to my book, I'm reading about Ghengis Khan and his world take over!