It was meant to be our shopping day, a last chance to look around the markets, visit the Silk market, and gather up some presents for nieces and nephews — unfortunately Jo was still very sick this morning so we spent almost our entire time hunting up the English-speaking SOS clinic.
Where? Much later I found a customisable map that shows which provinces I visited, so much of the country to visit the next time I can go there:
The weather in Beijing (北京) is officially “cloudy” — there is no smog.
In preparation for the 2008 Olympic games, large numbers of new parks and trees are being planted all over the city, and a huge steelworks has been closed and moved to another city to clean up the air — Beijing’s air anyway, the unvisited industrial recipient city gets all the pollution now. Car numbers are supposedly to be capped at three million to limit congestion and pollution, but nobody is quite sure whether this will happen, or whether money and privilege will just make for a black market in unofficial cars.
A traveling day; bus from Xiahe (夏河) to Lanzhou (兰州), lunch, back in the bus for the trip to the airport then fly to Beijing (北京). Eight in the morning to ten at night.
Once again our bus driver proved his worth; there was another huge thunderstorm last night — a thunderstorm that I slept through — and the river was even more swollen and flooded and brown than the last two days, the roads were covered in rock-falls and the road-works detours turned into churned up bogs.
I think Jo and I were the only two in our room who slept well last night; Damian and Amy were both feeling sick, Dan snored a bit and claims that he never sleeps well when he stays here, Julie says she spent the night rolling back and forth between Damian and Dan — not used to sleeping between two others!
After the tremendous thunderstorm last night it was clear and sunny again this morning, I ducked out for a short walk around the place, then Jo and I took off for a longer walk before breakfast, happy to get out and see some of the place without the local children hanging off our arms.
Afternoon bus trip off into the Tibetan grasslands, up from Xiahe at 2900m altitude to around 3300m crossing the rolling green hills, then back down onto the plains to visit Tsewey Monastery and on to Karnang — also Kharnang or the Chinese Ganjia Baijiao City — to spend the night, Karnang hardly classifies as a city, a population of maybe 500, unpaved roads, no shops and a mass of single storey mud houses inside 1000 year-old city walls.
Dan claims that on every Intrepid trip he takes there will be a poetry challenge on one day. Today is the day, and the theme is the yak. A limerick is hardly befitting such a solemn beast, however, here’s my contribution to the arts:
I met a hairy black yak,
In appearance, a shaggy old sack.
I approached the wrong end,
In an attempt to befriend…
…and ended up flat on my back.
As it says on the ticket:
As the famous touristy attraction in the world and 4A level scenic spot firstly announced by State Tourism Board, Shaolin scenic spot enjoys rich humanities sight, antique natural sight, massive Shaolin Buddhist and Wushu Culture and elegant & rare geological wonder. Centralizing within 2.1Kmof coral area of coral area of scenic spot, the humanities sight mainly includes Shaolin Temple, tower forest, Damo Hole, First Ancestor Hut, Second Ancestor Hut, etc.
A day to ourselves today, just be back in time to get to the train! At 08:30 or so we’d packed our things and checked the bags into storage at the hotel, then walked off towards the old town. A long way to walk, but neither of us had much of an idea how to go about finding the right bus, or how to flag them down and pay. Breakfast again of mysterious tasty bread-things from a stall, then roughly south and east zigzagging along the streets and trying to stay in the shade — it was already hot in the direct sun.
After a day of travelling, last night I slept like a log, but surprisingly still managed to wake up around 7:30 this morning. Off to find something for breakfast out on a street stall before our first group event — subway and walk to the Shanghai museum. Temperature already up around 30 °C as Jo and I headed off at semi-random around a few corners and bought a pastry-thing and a bun-thing from a street vendor.
An hour and a half this morning in Changi airport in Singapore, time enough to walk around and look at the pools of Koi and orchid gardens, then back on the plane for the flight to Shanghai (上海).
Long queues at Chinese immigration, video cameras everywhere filming the arrivals in the hall, then quickly through a very perfunctory customs check and out of the airport. Do we change money insider or outside the immigration?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single zone one Met. train.
Oh well, it sounds good, sufficiently Confucian for the start of a fifteen day trip through China. The 9.30 pm to Spencer Street station — err, make that Southern Cross station. The station looks almost complete now, totally empty and desolate at ten o’clock on a Sunday night. Foolishly, Jo thought we’d be able to buy a coffee while we waited for the bus to the airport … not a chance!
Every year the radio station RRR and Intrepid travel get together and have a trip somewhere in the world that’s a Triple-R trip — every year until now that is. For eight years enough people have signed up for it to be held, this year the time was right for Jo and I and the place looked right for Jo and I. We signed up, we paid our deposit, then yesterday we were told that the trip’s been cancelled.
I experiment. I play. I write and I take pictures. Some of the site is organised around topics, other parts are organized by date, then there’s always the cross-references between them.
Long ago it started as a learning experiment with a few static HTML pages, then I added a bit of server-side includes and some very ugly PHP. A hand-built journal/blog on top of that PHP, then a few experiments in moving to various static publishing systems. I’ve never wanted a database-based blogging engine, so over the years I’ve tried php, nanoblogger, emacs-muse, silkpage and docbook before settling on emacs org-mode for writing and jekyll for publishing. But the itch remained… I never really liked jekyll and the ruby underneath always seemed so much black magic. So now the latest incarnation is org-mode and hugo.