Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Technology sucks some times!!!!

I sat for 3 hours the other day and wrote one of my most epic blogs about my time in Laos and as I pressed publish I lost everything...I was so disheartened that I could not bring myself to spend any time, other than a quick facebook update, in front of the machine. So now I hope to build the stamina to share some of my adventures. I will not do it now as I have a day of exploring to do here in Hue, Vietnam but I wanted to write and say I am soooooo well and happy and that everything is going as it should. Love from me to you!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sleeper bus and Farewell to China for now...

Last night I took my first sleeper bus! What a fabulous fabulous way to travel long distance. I took a 15 hour bus ride from Riga to Moscow and ended up with swollen feet and a sore back. On the sleeper bus from Dali to Jing Hong life couldn't have been better for my back or feet. Perhaps if I were a bit taller I would be complaining dramatically cause my height is the limit for a comortable journey I think. There were moments where I had to move my head back up to the top of the bed so my legs could regain the private was luxury and I had most splendid dreams. The only issues might have been the gas release of some of the passengers and the smell of the pillow and blanket but those are minor details in the grand scheme of things.

So, I am now in Jing Hong the capital of Xichuanbanna and I have entered a new world in my China horizons. Here it is a tropical paradise. Palm trees line the roads an oppressive and humid heat fills the atmosphere, the people are soooooooooo chilled out and relaxed and in the 10 hours I've been here i've seen 4 foreigners so I feel like I've left the tourist hoards up north in the cool of the mountains. The minority people here are dominant and I've also seen many Indian looking salesmen, perhaps they are burmese I don't know, but they are dark skinned and all speak English very well. They also wear a sarong and a white singlet, a uniform that sets them apart from the local inhabitants in their bright hats (or their modern get-up). The streets are lined with tropical fruit, mangoes, dragonfruit, mangostines, pawpaws etc...and earlier there was thunder threatening us with rain. I don't think it came though cause it seems fairly dry outside.

I won't be here long unfortunately and fortunately as I've bought my ticket for a Bus to Loas tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn. Dario is in Luang Prabang for another day or two and I don't want to miss him before he heads back to India his land of choice. So I will be leaving China...beautiful and wonderful China! It has really grown on me, of course I have only really seen but a fraction of what she has to offer but that has been enough to develop some serious feelings for her. I met a woman this morning who has travelled from Moscow to here as well and we shared our travel stories. She, I think is more of an adventurer than I as she walks and walks and walks when ever she gets the chance. In mongolia, where she spent a month, she found a stream and simply walked along it for 2 weeks then had to find a way to get back to carry on the train journey. Here she has reconnected with another traveller and tomorrow they're heading out to walk the hills here for 3 days or so...I'm envious of their commitement to walking yet I'm also satisfied with my commitement to relaxing and taking things pretty easy! We discussed different characters we'd met along the road and came to conclusion that part of the joy of travelling alone (as she was before she met the other traveller) was meeting other people and sharing time and space...I wrote of this last time and hold true to it. One of the reasons certain places are remembered with such fondness and stimulate joy in my heart are the people I've met. Having limited Chinese means that most of these people were other travellers (English speaking Chinese included) because there is only so far one can get with thank you and hello when it comes down to the nitty gritty of human communication. Meeting folk along the way has made the way more memorable and special! I'm sure there are travellers with different thoughts on this topic who would completely apose my theory and that's ok! I can only speak for myself.

I met a man yesterday who had travelled through South East Asia quite extensively and he was giving me tad bits of advice on certain places, Laos in particular because I was heading there. It was funny, he claimed to LOVE Laos and all that she had to offer yet by the end of our conversation I was sitting there frightened to move from safe and super developed China. ALL the roads are TERRIBLE, the people will TRY to take ALL my money like VUlTURES eating a carcass, the weather is AWFULLY hot and mosquitos will EAT me alive, the Food is EXPENSIVE and not as good as China, The accommodation is RIDICULOUS and not as cheap and reliable as China, the Trekking is MUCH better in CHinA etc....From all I'd heard about Laos before I felt terribly ignorant and foolish for having any positive now Laos will be a surprise! I'll expect nothing and just hope I survive the hoards of blood sucking mosquitos, the gulping, guzzling, grabbing locals reaching at my limited funds...ha ha! A new chapter awaits!

So from China I say farewell and next contact will be from Laos, mysterious Laos...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Images from here and there.

The Monastary in Shangri-la was under construction. The soil was rich and the plants plentiful and where ever you looked one saw HUGE marijuana plants growing wild! It was at first a novelty to see the plants and I giggled like a kid at the sight and then I realised they were everywhere in the Monastary.

Lhasa Restaurant in Shangri-la was run by a super friendly Tibetan man who had a little girl about one and a half and when there was music playing she boogied hard! So we, a group of 8 gathered around her and danced and clapped as she attempted to immitate any dance she deemed worthy enough to be replicated. When she got tired of trying she would clap and we would clap in response and we danced for a good couple of hours with the point where she was yawning as part of her routine. She experimented with her head movement, walking like and egyptian, grinding down to the ground, shaking her behind was so beautiful! A friend has the video and if i recieved it I will post it.

Lijiang!!! The old town was a maze of endless shops and eateries and more shops shops shops then the bars and night spots. After having had very little sleep and a been on a bus for four hours we found our lodgings had a cat nap and set out to find food in the pouring tropical rain. We found a set of stalls selling strange little treats and took turns in choosing different options, some tasty some questionable and then by chance we stumbled upon the street with all the bars and entered the rhelm of MADNESS! Ay yay yay!!!! First of all there was a herd of umbrellas competing for space on the walking path and then the sounds started creeping up, LOUD pumping base from each bar, blasting, blaring beats from brightly lit bars with bundles of brawling shouting, singing people releasing their darksides into the anonymity of Lijiang. Each bar with different music and vibes ranging from traditional folk dance to sleazy and sauntry pretty chinese women bumping and grinding to techno beats with chinese lyric a top. It was never ending, one bar after another and then 20 more and on either side of the stream that divided the road. Each bar also had some hired man power attempting to lure the umbrella party into the bar to join the chaos inside! I walked with my jaw on my chest holding on to my friend as he signified a smidgeon of reality. I felt like i was having an outer body experience in a moulin rouge type movie, the colours the vibrance and noise the weight and the uncontrolled release of each was WILD!!!!!!

Shangri-la la la la la la Lijianggggg Dali

Shangri-la: a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.

Shangri-la is often used in a similar context to which "Garden of Eden" might be used, to represent a paradise hidden from modern man. It can sometimes be used as an analogy for a life-long quest or something elusive that is much sought. For a man who spends his life obsessively looking for a cure to a disease, such a cure could be said to be that man's "Shangri-La". It also might be used to represent perfection that is sought by man in the form of love, happiness, or Utopian ideals. It may be used in this context alongside other mythical and famous examples of somewhat similar metaphors such as The Holy Grail, El Dorado and The Fountain of Youth. (Thanks wikipedia)

Having just read what wiki had to say about Shangri-la I had to smile and sigh a sigh of joy because I had a most amazing time in Zhongdian, Yunnans claim to the 'Garden of Eden'. Perhaps I am a sucker cause part of my amazing time was due to the fact that I met an amazing man and a group of other amazing humans and together we indulgded in the excitement of sharing time and space in paradise.

Filling our bellies with good wholesome food,
gracing our ears with glorious and diverse musical sounds,
moving our bodies in extatic flow,
telling tales and inspiring laughter that took me to tears of joy at times, appreciating the surroundings and knowing that the fun together was impermanant and should therefore be enjoyed in each and every second of experiencing it!
I felt as though on fire for 6 days, intoxicated by life,
elated by the simplest of activities...

Shangri-la was spent playing backgammon,
sipping on tibetan butter tea (good for the altitude i was told),
visiting local markets filled with some of the most exotic produce I have ever seen!
Cabbages the size of my torso,
aubergines the length of my shin,
frogs the size of toads-ranging in shades of green-
bunched up in buckets waiting to be sold
and consumed in some local speciality,
Eels swimming happily,
darting back and forth in their oxygynated tanks
daring the brave to take them home,
Yak heads delicately placed besides their intestines
beneath their hanging and dangling carcasses,
some with smiles on their faces others with scorns of remorse!
Tofu in all shapes and sizes, noodles galore,
black chickens and pink, live ducks and dead,
Green leaves from all walks of life,
Mint in abundance - so fresh and delicious
especially in morrocan tea which we made for 3.5 yuan
and supplied to over 15 folk.
Honey dripping from the honeycombs
and poured directly into ones container,
so sweet and sticky and golden and delicious!
grasshopper and snails,
trotters and pig tails...
I ate lots of dumpling and steamed buns,
I drank Yak milk with yak butter tea,
I ate yak pie which was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!
and drank chinese rice wine till my head span.

And I mentioned I met a man...

The woman in me was awoken once again. I'm a sucker for a romance and realise more and more that this little heart of mine loves to love and to be loved in return! Yet short and sweet serves me fine right now, nothing long term and complicated I seek. This time of my life is for me to do what's best for the betterment of me and if I continue to be as lucky as I have been in meeting special men just for a short time then I adhere to the saying, better to have love and lost(lust) than never loved at all! Each fleeting relationship with each traveller I have encountered has been so intense and wonderful not because they'll be friends for life but in the moment it is real and the bullshit isn't apparent! I've had some of the most incredible conversations which have opened my eyes to different worlds. Discussing the army with some Israeli travellers and hearing their stories first hand of losing friends and loved ones, or gaining insight into what it's like for a Tibetan from Lhasa to be living in China...the act of sharing so simple and clear.

The slight downside of experiencing such blissful moments is that when the next step of the journey is taken the emptiness sits. I sat with emptiness when I arrived here in Dali two days ago. Not sadness or depression just a sense of loss and the natural feeling of missing the people you spent time with. I missed Noa my Koala friend. I missed the lovely man I shared 6 days with, I missed the lady who sold me butter tea and the friendly faces of the staff at my hostel. So I spent some hours in front of the machine facebooking and emailing, youtubing and skyping, I slept for 16 hours straight and woke up yesterday feeling like a new human ready for new adventures! So now I am in Dali for real and last night I met a new group of troupers. I did some fire twirling last night for the first time in 6 years and despite being a bit nervous with the fire I had so much fun and will go back to the Bad Monkey and join in the fire show tonight. My heart was racing so fast i thought it would pop out of my chest from the rush that came after having first played again. the whirling whooshing sound of the fire surrounding me was just fantabulous!!!

I also spoilt myself and indulged in a traditional chinese whole body massage which was heavenly, at times a bit painful but the release after the pain was worth it...I am tempted to go back today for another foot massage because I can! I spent the rest of my day yesterday browsing through the endless stream of shops shops shops selling everything and anythings one could ask for! I bought some pants and now have to throw out some pants cause my back pack cannot fit much more innit! I considered being a good tourist today and visiting some of the local attractions but I must admit I do not have the heart for it. My desire sits in being able to sit at a nice cafe with a book and inbetween reading about Ghengis observing the local and tourist masses cruise control around the old city drinking either some fruit juice or a beer and being open to human interaction if it should come my way. I'll be leaving for The south of Yunnan province tomorrow evening and hope to be in Laos by wednesday to see my beautiful friend Dario!!!! Very exciting!

And on that note, here's a poem my man friend shared with me:

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

LORD BYRON, Childe Harold