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Words from Jeff  - June

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June 29th (Tuesday) Taiyuan (Shanxi)
Posted: Sun, 4 Jul 2004 06:09:59

Today was an organization day. Dropped off laundry -pick up on Thursday. Sent some more stuff back to Canada to lighten the load and tried unsuccessfully to find a pinyin phrase book.

Most of the day was ho hum but I spoke with some English students on two different occasions. Unfortunately it is easier to remember their English names. I spoke with a girl named Sophie first (who names these people), in the main city square I was off  to one side nursing a beer when she approached me and asked if she could speak English with me. Honestly no matter how bad the English is you truly miss having a conversation with someone. She was actually an English teacher and spoke pretty good English. We talked about education, the cultural revolution (this one keeps rearing its ugly head) among other things which turned out to be a good conversation. After she left some younger Chinese (maybe students) attempted to converse with me but it was very broken English. I decided to leave but as I was leaving another girl approached me about speaking some English. She was with two other students and a teacher and she spoke English very well. Her name was Rita and she asked me to give English names to her co-eds. I think I gave the girl Lisa (a fine name and not from the 20's) and the guy   -well I can't remember but it was cool.

This girl Rita was really on the ball about a lot of things, and not just China's issues but world issues. One of her teacher friends was actually Canadian. Anyway we talked about everything from homosexuality (main topic was Nathan Hedges) to the cultural revolution (sorry) to differences between our two countries. By the way she is only 18 but she had the maturity of someone in their 30's. She wants to do some humanitarian work, possibly in Africa, and would also like to start a web page for humanitarian efforts in the world. She really came across as very ambitious and I think she can pull it off. She may be physically small but the way she talked and her general body language indicated she wasn't a quitter. Anyway the funniest part about the conversation is that she was having problems understanding the dialect in Taiyuan as she was from southern Shanxi - see it's not just me!!!!!


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June 28th (Momday) Taiyuan (Shanxi) 97KM
Posted: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 08:00:23

Well no luck exchanging money in Xin Zhou although I met a banker on the ball. She simply wrote 'Go to Taiyuan'.

The ride was okay today but my butt is so sore and it just isn't healing (sorry to keep mentioning this but it really effects my riding distance and time). I have also found that my hands are constantly going numb so I will try and adjust the seat a bit to see if that helps (any advice is appreciated here). I'm going to spend a few days in Taiyuan as there is a bit to see and I really need the rest. My body is getting stronger but I need rest now as I know my body pretty good. I think so far I have been rushing from town to town a little to much and need to relax and take in some more of the sites.

Taiyuan is the capitol of Shanxi and is very large, probably the same size as Beijing. I was finally able to exchange my US travellers checks as well. $1640 yuan for $200 US - not bad....


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June 27th (Sunday) Xin Zhou (Shanxi) 113KM
Posted: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 07:51:43

The day started with a 14KM climb which was that bad as it was all switchbacks. After that the descent lasted almost all of the way to Yuanping which I had considered to be a stop before the day started. From there it looked flat but was still a slight downhill to Xin Zhou. My butt is in serious pain (saddle sores) but a great ride for the most part. After that first climb I probably averaged 25KM/hr. I will attempt to reach Taiyuan tomorrow but I will take a shot a exhanging money in Xin Zhou before I leave.


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June 26th (Saturday) Ningwu (Shanxi) 74KM
Posted: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 07:45:31

I spent 2 hours and 20 KM biking around Shuo Zhou trying to find a bank to cash my travellers checks but to no avail. Finally someone said Monday but maybe next time they kind of wrote down a date instead of pointing to outside the bank (stupid bizatch).

Today I was really tired and after the bank issue I decided to grab lunch instead of leaving town at the hottest part of the day. I rode to Ningwu with the intention of staying there as I was unsure of the distance to Taiyuan. It turned to be around 25KM andI found out Taiyuan was 200KM south of Shuo Zhou. I am hoping that since Taiyuan is the capitol of Shanxi, I can exchange money there, if not, I'm fucked.

Ningwu is basically intersected by a section of The Wall so after finding a hotel I decided this was a good chance to ride along side it. I left everything back at the hotel except water of course and started up the hillside. Man it felt strange, the ass end was all over the place,it felt like the wheel was gonna come off. The road was gravelmst of the way and then I decided to take a fork in the road that veered toward The Wall. This leadf up a very hairy dirt road which was fine for a bike or maybe 4 X 4 but it would probably destroy a car. It was also very loose dirt and 2 inches deep in sdome sections so I just grannied it up the whole way. The wall itself was basically all dirt and had no resemblance from close up. I took a picture of the bike on top of it nd then decided top head down. I was finally having some fun flying down the mountain and decided to follow the trail that ran along side The Wall. It was about a foot wide and pretty tame but unfortunately it ended up in the middle of a farmers field. There was a foot path that disected the field so I decided to take that but the sections between eah field were mostly unridable. I passed by some lady and her kis and she motioned me to continue down the path (it was okay I guess).

Finally it joined the gravel road farther down and I flew into town. When I came up to the hotel there were three foreigners on bikes oustide the hotel. They were from Norway and had purchased bikes in Beijing for apporxiamately 800 yuan. This was cheap but the parts on the were pretty domestic. They didn't care and later I found out they had one patch kit between the three of them. We went for dinner at some little family joint which turned out to be okay although when the first dish was served we all looked at each other. Like a bunch of monkeys after one of us dug in the rest figured it was okay. I am happy to report I was fine the next day!

We talked about all the same problems, annoying truck drivers, rock star syndrome and the heavy rain. Ironically they had arrived in the previous town Shuo Zhou a few hours after I left and had the same problems with exchanging money. However one of the bankers wrote down the date they could exchange - go figure.....

They were going to catch a train in the morning to head west but they are following my itinerary somewhat and we may hook up in Yan'Nan or Xi'an. They are only here for a short stay however so they move on pretty quickly. Something funny the mentioned abut riding though is they were grabbing onto the small three wheeled trucks on someof the up hills - hilarious!


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June 25th (Friday) Shuo Zhou (Shanxi) 30KM
Posted: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 07:20:31

They were totally redoing the road between the two towns but there were onlytwo real climbs and I totally coasted the rest of the way. At one point these Chinese guys waved me down and one spoke french to me which freaked me out. Apparently he was in the air force or something.

Shuo Zhou is very new and modern looking with a tonne of construction goingon. I think it is roughly the size of Datong but a 100 times nicer and very little polution. In fact there doesn't seem to be many people either, I must be on the developing side of town.

Side Note: What I thought were nuclear reactors are probably coal power plants (I can be such a dumbass sometimes).

The only problem I have with Shuo Zhou is exchanging my travellers checks and finding an ATM that workd with my cards... I still got 500 Yuan in cash though,so I should be okay.


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June 24th (Thursday) 29 KM North of ShuoZhou (Shanxi) 124km
Posted: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 06:53:34

Before I start, I have recently downloaded my pictures onto a cd and sent them to my folks. From there hopefully Matt can pick it up anmd post some picks. Today is CANADA day!!!!!! So I have a lot of typing to do!!!!

On with June 24th - long fucking day!!!!

Something Ed mentioned the other day when he looked at my route is why did I choose the most mountainous route? I had no answer at the time and was sort of dumbfounded. When I later reflected I realized that the particular route intersected 'The Wall' the most which I remember that I wanted to see a lot of. There were also a number of historic along the route as well but Ed's comment would be ringing in my ears all day. I ended up making another detour which turned out to be very beneficial.

I guess I still haven't really recovered from the big ride into Datong as I felt tired from the get go today. It also didn't help that the road was under construction either. Every highway I ride along  seems to be undergoing a major face lift or in the case of 112, being created! I think it is probablydue to the increased number of cars and the 2008 Olympics. I say this as each city center is also being rebuilt and the coal trucks seem to be routed only on certain highways, ya the ones I ride along (Fuck!).

Today was easily the hardest day yet as the first day out of Beijing I was still a little out of shape. I can honestly say 80 KM of the ride was climbing. At a few points I was at the highest point in the mountain range. The ride into Youyun (the first section) was about 30KM and I had the option to stop for the day (which woud have been pathetic). Qingshuine which was the actuall destination was 66KM away on the map so i decided to proceed, but take my time.

All along the 109 highway there were no road signs as the road was more or less being completely rebuilt (they put plastic over fresh sections of cement - werd!). Only later many, many kilometers away would I see a road sign for the 109 (they kind of look like tomb stones but they are a welcome site, believe me!) which was the intended route of course. The climbing was endless and the downhills were short and shoddy so I had to brake down most sections (damn it!!!). It seemed like I grannied it the whole way which became very disheartening when moving along at 5KM/hr with 50KM to go. I wanted to quite so many times but I just kept on going - this is when you really have to bullshit yourself in order to keep going. This became difficult as the next town, whatever it may be, would be a whole new group of obstacles. Each time I reached a peak I would rest for a minute or two. The only consolation at this point was the none exisitent traffic, I was really alone out there. Oh yeah and the views were incredible, it really didn't feel like China, it was more like the Okanagan. I actually debated camping but the insects are always a concern and it was still in the afternoon.

Anyway I know everyone has been there, you come about halfway and have nothing left, it always seems more  inviting top just lay there and die.

At this point I pulled out the map and nixed Qinshuine and decided to head South to Shou Zhou as it looked like it descenedinto a valley. It would also take me Taiyuan which is the capitol of the Shanxi province. I figured it would be a good place to rest.

I kept riding until finally I reached a flat stretch of highway - this is where I actually saw people and the highway marker. Up ahead was a sign (two in a row,must be near something) for a T in the highway, so I stopped for some water to contemplate. A man walked over and said 'Halo', so I asked which way to Shuo Zhou. He pointed to the road leadig left which was about 200 feet away. I confirmed several times as I thought he was on..... opium. The dumbass, it was the wrong way of course but it worked out to be the coolest detour yet!

I rounded the corner and noticed a kind of dirt wall snaking down the mountain side. I am not sure if it was part of the actual wall or just part of the wall that surrounded this little village but it was a cool site. I took a short video and rode around the outskirts of the town. Most of it was just dirt wall now but some sections were in great shape. There also looked like a continuation on the hillside to the south but it was to far away to confirm. I stopped to ask where Shou Zhou was and they pointed back to the highway as expected.

About 1KM up the road was a fork and a sign in Chinese. There were some stopped truckers, so I asked and they all agreed that I take the left fork. I stopped for some water- there are places in the middle of nowhere all along these highways and proceeded to head south. This was the start of a highway as marker said '1KM'. Well the next 15KM I averaged about 25KM/hr but I was barely pushing the pedals, just enough to keep the momentum. There was one more long climb after that and then the road descended big time into the bottom of a valley. The warning towers from ancient times were everywhere on the hill tops.

Okay don't try this at hme kids, but I went pretty quickly down the switch backs and hit 65KM/hr at one point. Seriously this wasn't the smartest thing to do with being tired and towing a heavy trailer but I just didn't care and it was fun!

The town at the bottom of the hill wasn't Shuo Zhou which is what I kind of hoped for, I knew this just be the size of the town, so I didn't bother asking. The road was flat so I putted along until I came to a turn off for a town. Finally a road sign in English! it said Shuo Zhou 30KM, and I said fuck that! I pulled into a very modern looking hotel as it was really hard to find one and they wanted 138 yuan a night ($25). That was fine but they didn't want to take the bike inside so after 15 minutes of pleading, the front desk lady (Linda), put it in a conference room.

As nice as this place was, it had the Chinese distinction of a three star hotel, no elevators! I didn't care cuz it had a bath in my room so I took one, the first one so far,and damn was it nice ( I quickly forgot the 124KM). I also ate at the hotel and I had Linda pick something out for me. It was basically a whole chicken with lemon grass and celantro in a kind of sauce and it was incredible tasting. Obviously I slept right through the night ans decided I would only ride to Shuo Zhou the next day as sort of a rest day.


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June 23rd (Wednesday) Zuoyun (Shanxi) 79KM
Posted: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 05:47:06

This was the dirtiest, dustiest and windiest day so far. Leaving Datong was okay in the begining because they routed all of the trucks around the Yungang caves. After that though the left lane had been dug up for most of the way to Zuoyun. The Chinese truck drivers happened to be at their annoying best that day along with some of the cars as well. At times it hurt to breath through my nose so I had to open my mouth and taste the coal ridden air, it was suffocating at best. The trip was supposed to take the 109 highway, which for the most part happened, but at some point I ended up on a different highway (I don't recall any signage or turn offs though).

Again this ended up working out fo rthe best as a person pulled up on a motorcycle who spoke English. His name was Ed and he happened to live in Zouyun and he got me going down a small road that headed into Zouyun. He asked if he could tag along and I hesitantely said yes.

As any cyclist can tell you, the last thing you need is a vehicle riding along side you as you are climbing hills. I personally like to suffer alone.

As we rode into to town he would sometimes ride ahead and when I passed him he would ask if I needed a rest. I guess maybe the fourth time I gave in. We talked a while about similarities and differences between Canada and China, just basic stuff like the trees and farming. I was planning to head to Youyun after Zouyun (who names these towns?) which was another 26KM but he convinced me to stay in Zuoyun as it was around 4PM.

We got to Zouyun pretty (how many tumes should I say that name?) quickly and he helped me book a hotel. He wanted to show me around so I told him to come back in about half an hour so I could peel the dirt off.

When he came back to the hotel I hoped on the back of his bike and became his bizatch (no comments please). We went to the county fair to meet some of his friends and then left shortly after (it was pretty pathetic). He wanted me to meet his friend who taught English at the local school, and even though I was hungry, I obliged.  

We pulled into a compound that contained maybe six buildings and his friend, Mr Hua (I may have spelt this wrong) was walking across the courtyard. He had an urgent matter to attend to but met us for tea shortly after in one of the buildings. Mr. Hua taught middle school English and so we started talking about again, the similarities and differences between Canada and China. Nothing worth mentioning here but we eventually went for dinner. We had a couple of beers with dinner and then Mr. Hua had to go teach a class (hey it's China!). This is when the conversation started getting interesting. Ed and I started talking about the Cultural revolution (Ed is 35), freedom of speach and the events that occured in 1989. Ed was one of the leaders in the student protests in Taijuan which is maybe 400KM south of here. No major violence broke out but he was jailed for 20 days with no charges. After he was released, he caught wind of maybe 5 to 10 people being killed in Tiananmen the night he was arrested. I shook my head.....

I explained for foreigners had filmed and reported on the events and hundreds of people doid. His eyes widened. Then I went on to explain how freedom to criticize the gorvernment is one of our fundamemtal rights and in fact we sometimes made a mockery of gorvernment officials. AsI had already figured, this was also a right in China, however the ones who speak out are silenced. Ed said that first you would go to jail, next you lose your job and finally no one will hire you after that. I guess that was if you were lucky. I mentioned the horse going to the glue factory in 'Animal Famr' but he had never read it. He was very adamandt about freedom of speech though and we dicussed how we thought China might change - this gets real boring, so you may want to skip to the end where I teach an English class.

Anyway I said that education is the biggest problem, there are too many lackeys in China right now who would never understand this freedom or fight for it. I said I think revolutions are much different now than in the past when armed struggle could change things. China needs an Education revolution, however it is still very difficult to get people involved with politics as most people really don't care for it until it effects them directly (this is part of the convincing - not coersion).  China would be especially difficult as very few Chinese travel further than there own village, even the intellects. No matter.

Ed also brought up the point of work ethic as well which I already had a glimpse of. He elaborated and said yes the younger Chinese do work hard but there is an age group (many grew up during the cultural revolution) who work as little as possble and sometimes use the government support. He said another big problem is the one child policy as it has created a mushroom effect (kind of like CPP in Canada) where the head of the mushroom represents people who can't work or choose not to. This could cause an economic collapse that would scare off all of the current foreign investment. Anyway to the good stuff.

Jeff teaches and English Class:
We got back to the middle school around 9:30 and the students were all still there, but I think most were leaving (pretty late though). Mr. Hua invited me to go check out his classroom and as suspected, it was full of students still. I was introduced and Mr. Hua and Ed explained that the students could ask me question they wanted (oh-oh). No one was asking anything, so I started printing stuff up on the board like my name, where I was from, what I was doing in China. This got the ball rolling but each time the asked a question, they had to come to the front which is probably why they were so shy about it.

The students in this class were probably aged between 8 and 10 and some of the questions they asked were:

Who is the leader of Canada?
   Response: Jeff Glen

Who is the most famous Canadian?
   Response: Jeff Glen

Are you crazy?
   Response: Next question......

It was seriuously a real hoot and I started playing X's and O's with them. One little whipper snapper even beat me. I always let them start and then after I made a fool of them I showed them a cool handshake - yes I know cool handshakes.

They then wanted me to sing an English song and after a little contemplation I sang 'Enter Sandman' - kidding.

They sang a Chinses song for me though which was pretty good. Finally there was a picture of Mao next to the chalkboard so I pointed to it and gave it the thumbs down. The class erupted with laughter, I was saying 'Mao BAD', 'Maooooo BAAADDD' and they were laughing shaking their heads (I guess I got the last laugh - poor buggers).

Anyway that was by far the best time I have had since I arrived here. It was so fun and the kids were really happy. Oh yeah I told them School sucks too and the laughed at that as well. Mr. Hau kind of laughed too, but I don't think it was genuine.

Awesome day!

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June 22nd (Tuesday) Datong (Shanxi)
Posted: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 04:56:57

I have been here two weeks but sometimes it feels like two months! I honestly can't remember what working was like and scarcely remember what good beer tastes like (poor me!). The good thing is I am really having fun and I am getting a taste of the Good the Bad and yes the Ugly (lots of it).

I still can't speak the language and today happened to be more confusing then normal. I think I got the stupidest taxi driver in the city, and he probably got the dumbest foreigner. The guy had to stop for directions 3 times on the way to Jiche (old steam locomotive works). I had to draw a freaking steam train for the guy and he still took me to the Electric Locomotive works!!!

I was rolling my eyes to the security when this guy who was entering the gate stopped to see what was happening. He spoke English (somewhat) and he told me to come with him. For whatever reason the taxi guy went and parked (get lost buddy!) and followed us into the main building. There were more security there and he spoke with them for a couple of minutes. By the way, as predicted, the cabbie left the meter running - I knew he would. Anyway we walked around the complex which had a road around it as there were many building new and old. There were 6 old steam engines sort behind a fence, so he motioned for me to jump over and he followed. We took a whole bunch of pictues (they're coming, I got them burnt onto a cd, so worst case scenario I mail it back to Matt) and then walked around the complex to a newer building. Wow! We walked in and there was some dude ina kind of staff room who stayed put and the shop contained trains that were still being assembled. Okay, trains are cool, and the funny thing was here was some guy, a taxi driver and some foreigner takng pictures of the new trains and how they were being assembled. Totally cool!

I was an awesome tour and the best so far. The taxi driver, well he was a tool and eventually I had to get him to just drop me off close to the hotel. I also saw Jiu Ling Bi (Nine dragon  screen) which was pretty cool and again I will get some pics sent. I just need a computer with a CD player!!!!


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June 21st (Monday) Datong
Posted: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 00:28:04

I ate pigs feet/hooves!!!! I thought it was a different part of the pig from my vantage point but when I went and sat down at the table I realized in horror what I had done. Everyone was watching so I had to try it, yuck, it tasted like crappy spam (like there is a good spam). I also ordered some crappy tasting brocoli and some other slices of pig. All and all I didn't eat very much of any of it and had to wash it down with a beer. Funny enough Patrick said I wouldn't have any problem in the markets as I could just point - he was wrong!

Today I took a taxi out to see Yungang Shiku which is the BUddist Grottoes built for the most part in the fifth century Wei dynasty. I know there are bigger Budda's in other parts of asia but I was totally blown away by the size.... of their.... Budda's. Your start by walking through a wooden anteroom and then you sort of can see into the cave. As so as you enter the cave it opens up and you can see the foot of the Budda which is the size of a small car. What's more impressive is actuall size of the cave and that all of the walls have carvings and paintings. There is even an image of Vishna which I guess relates to the origins of Buddism, I am not very good with religion so I apologize if I am way off. Anyway the place is absolutely amazing and I would come back to see them again.

The next trip on the agenda was the locomotive factory Jiche Cheliang Chang which caused me further grief the next day. Anyway the taxi driver I talked too wanted to take me to Xuankon Si (hanging monestery in the cliffs 70 KM away) for 150 yuan which was very pricey. So I tried to see what it would cost to go to Jiche instead and he said 100 yuan (15 KM away) - foreigner price.
So I said 'No'
He said '100 yuan!!!!' like it was a deal...
I said 'No', then I said
'Datong, how much',
he said '30 yuan' (15KM away same direction)...
and I said 'okay take me to my hotel.'

The cultural revolution really left a gap in the generations as far as work ethics. As mentioned before most of the Chinese bust their tale, especially people under 30. However, males between the ages of 35 to 45 seem to be very lazy, especially in the bigger cities.

When I got to the hotel he offered to take me to Jiche again for 80 yuan this time. Hmmm lets see, we are now about 5 KM away and I just gave you 30 yuan.

I preceed to leave the vehicle and then I heard
'50 Yuan'
I sat back down with the door still open, looked him in the face and said
'40 yuan'
I closed the door and we began to drive away, then I stopped him and got out anyway. He deserved it! It should have cost about 20 yuan to get there max.

This kind of disturbed me though. As much as one might think the government has a tight lid on things, the opposite is actually true. Only ones who speak loud are silenced and never heard from again, everyone else does as they please which is why it is so chaotic over here. The streets are the best example, no one follows the rules and no one ever enforces them. Even the most backward street designs in Europe still have some kind of order and the police do enforce the law when they are present.

Datong is trying to enforce it a bit by having 3 foot guard rails down the center of streets, traffic police and a timer display at major intersections. People still don't always get it as the other day I witnessed a guy pull a left turn on a red light at about 30 km/hr. The people who were cut off simply honked and kept driving while a few others did 'see monkey do'.

Probably the only thing that keeps the body count down is the fact that the cars are small and mostly pretty slow. That is changing though as I now see the odd SUV.

After getting back to town I decided to visit Huayan Si (monestery built in the 11th century) which was a very impressive building with tonnes of great art work but I became bored very quickly as I didn't know any of the significance except when and why it was built. This temple is still activly used by buddist as there are prayer cushions on the ground so it was pretty quite in there too.

Okay the best part for last, really, I hope this is not too boring....

While I was at Yangung Shiku I had a little bit more of the rock star syndrome. We'll call it RSS so when Potter finally gets it we can label it. I find most great stories always begin with some young little whipper snapper with a big huge bandage one his chin trying to get your attention. There was a group of probably about 10 students ages 8 - 10 (no idea) that were doing a tour and when they saw me the started with the 'Halo', 'Halo'.... hi little dude....

I started reading the document I bought for the tour and they keep peeking over at it so I showed it to them, the thought it was gold- China is doomed. When I took a picture where I wasn't supposed to the thought I was Budda himself (or Potter) and they dragged me outside to get pictures of me with them. I found it pretty amusing as they all wanted a picture, the teacher kindof rolled her eyes (communist bitch - just kidding, she was patient). After about 15 minutes of pictures they finally left for good, or so I thought. In fact they were gathering troops to stage another trap. Maybe 30 minutes later in front one of the bigger Budda's they all came running over again - the kid with the bandage still makes me laugh. This time was different though as this time they had pens and little pieces of paper etc. (oh oh). As soon as I signed a few (totally embarassing to the point of annoyance) about twenty more or so came running over (shit, entrapment!).

Now I know why Hockey Player autographs look like scribble, after a few signings (and honeslty as most people know I only print in capitol letters just like my dad) you start getting real lazy with the pen and try to sign/print as quickly as possible before more savages come over. I was obviously not adept at this skill and should have wrote 'JEFF' instead of 'POTTER - BASS EXTRODINAIRE - AND JEFF'S BEATCH'. In hindsight I should have got a photo with all of the little fukers in it, but I just wanted to escape so bad I hurried on to the next cave.

When exiting the Yangang caves though I saw an erie sight that made me duck down behind some lotus flowers. The little monsters were burning an ephigie of me with those little notes pinned all over the body. Has anyone heard from Potter lately, I a little worried.

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June 20th (Sunday) Datong 90KM
Posted: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 03:44:48

Breakfast was good and the day started very quickly as I pulled 20KM in about an hour. Unfortunately I wore an old pair of bike shorts and have the saddle sores to prove it (they are now retired). The ride was pretty uneventful but the last 15KM was the blackest, dirtiest patch of road on earth. The scenary - a nuclear poer plant. When entering Datong it looks very tiny as the city is hidden in a cloud of pollution. Walking around tongiht however I realize it is very large, in fact the next to Beijing the largest so far. There are endless food markets on one side of town where you can order and then sit down in kind of a beer garden. I am a little tired though so I opted for a restuarant. Hopefully I can send pictures soon, I just need a computer with XP or 2000.

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June 19th (Saturday) Yangyuan 120KM (I'm fukin tired!)
Posted: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 03:39:32

Well I'm glad I decided to quite early yesterday (I was feeling like a pansy). In the back of my mind I was considering going straight to Yanyuan from Xuahua skipping the unkown town. I figured I was already on the outskirts and knew where to go - who am I kidding! All I can say about the unknown town is the 109 highway, expressway, and railway all crossed through it. Other than that I am not sure why there is a town there. We're talking dirt road and brick houses and garbage everywhere, no hotels here, so like I said I got lucky.

Today I covered a hugs distance and rode altogether 8 hours. I had a few stops and quite a few breaks near the end. Highway 112 which is what I took to Yanyuan is in the middle of reconstruction or maybe it's being built, couldn't tell in some places. 26 km of the journey was dirt road (good prep for Tibet) and on some of the climbs I was doing between 6 - 8 km/hr. A lot of the downhill was pretty rough as well and had to crawl down sections as I am not fully convinced the connection between the trailer and the trailer arm is tough as nails. To cool off and reduce sweat (I didn't know when I would see water again) I took off my shirt and helmet which helped alot.

Before I reached the unknown town I pulled into a gas station (the only building with people in it along the whole 26KM). I mimicked eating and drinking and he waved me to come inside. After I walked through the plastic drapes (they are on every building which is probably the same throughout the hot spots in Asia) I saw a lady and to other gentlemen having lunch - rice wine included. I was pretty grungy so I fit right in.

I was hesitant to eat at first due to me experience in Yanqing but this was friends and/or family inviting me to have lunch with them (and I was freaking hungry). I honestly couldn't help but pig out which they found very amusing - I didn't care, I thought ya laugh, your not the first and definitely not the last. They wanted me to try everything which I tried to oblige and to be honest the food was really good, especially the chicken - I'm sure of it, they even said it was chicken when I mimicked flapping wings. I don't need a guid, I just need Potter, he speaks the language of the people. At the end they filled one of my water bottle with tea which I didn't end up needing. They also refused money - ofcourse.

Okay this is a bit of a long one eh!

After the unknown city (lets just call it Yakima as I think there are resemblances) there was still a lot of up and down along the road and by the time I arrived on the outskirts of Yanyuan I was dead tired. The town had two major streets and one came to a dead end/dirt road. There was a big commotion everytime some people recognized that I was a foreigner. I guess I'm lucky I got rattled in a test tube, right Russ? Anyway what that was an old story but basically I have kind of squinty eyes and my face is always dirty when I arrive in a town so they don't always catch on. After 8 hours of riding it's real hard to be accomidating to the whole town. I eventually found a hotel (first floor room) for a 100 yuan which came with breakfast. I found this out when they banged on my door at 7:30 - the Chinese sometimes have a funny way of looking out for you. Overall it was a big tough ride which I need to have, so I'm happy.Tomorrow, Datong....


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June 18th (Friday) Near Xuanhua 40KM
Posted: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 03:14:37

Well before I begin I would like to mention a few things from yesterday that I forgot about. The first one was the nuclear reactor I saw about 1 km form this town I passed through. I was hesitant to take a picture because I was paranoid. That was nothing really....

But really the bellboy who helped me yesterday (Danielle was his name) went for beers with me after his shift. Apparently he has never travelled and works 7 days a week. The vacation they get is once or twice a year and it is usually 2 days. We talked about Mao and the cultural revolution and how it hurt education but he seemed to think Mao was okay. The only positive I can think of was expelling foreign powers and reclaiming China - I didn't mention Tibet though (he's only 21). Overall it was a great conversation but I really need to learn the language.

On with the story -
I woke up today a little late and pretty tired still. I went to the supermarket where I had to buy some Lays potato chips - Colin I want that bag of ripple Lays you promised, I am dying for some!

They were in the shape of a pringles container and they tasted nothing like Lays - oh well they went down pretty quick. I also bought some noodles for mornings as the hotels always supply you with a thermos of hot water and it stay's boiling hot for 2-3 days. Finally I bought a turtle, although I think he was dead. I released him next to the running trashy black running water next to the sewer and he didn't even flinch. Maybe he died of old age, the mortality rate for turtles is pretty high in asian countries, must be the hot weather. Anyway.....

The intended destination today merely shows up in Chinese characters on the map - let that be an omen to anyone who travels in China. Everyone I talked too called it something different, and it was like say Vaaannncuver or Vancohver or what the newfies call it, it was completely different - then again...

So I needed to get on the 109 highway which was apparently by the expressway or was the expressway, people kept pointing to it. There was no on ramp but I knew that was not the right way. So I stayed on the road that lead me there and kept heading west which was the correct direction. Well it was the wrong way, which I realized when I came to a dead end at some dirty little village. This was after 15km of climbing, although very slight incline, it took a long time to get there. One of the village said 'your going the wrong way dumbass' and pointed back to the expressway. Was I a little frustrated - hahaha (that was an evil laugh).

So I started  heading back which was actually not bad as it was downhill and I was doing over 25km/hr. However I have noticed the weather changes rapidly in China and I heard thunder, then it poured. Then the wind picked up and was actaully blowing me a bit which was suprising considering the weight of the bike - I was thinking mommy help me. When I finally got back to the expressway, oh yeah I tried what looked like a short cut to it but it stopped in some other tiny village about half a kilometer away, I spoke to the cops at the tollboth heading the opposite direction. He explained to head back to Xuahua for a short bit and take a left. From there I will find the highway that follows the expressway (this coversation was in complete hand signals). I was still pouring when I got to the turn off and I was pretty tired. It was 3 o'clock so I decided instead of trying to do 40 more KM to get some rest and try it again the next day. No elevators so we carried my gear up to the third floor, since then I have been getting first floor rooms. Now that I am writing this it is clear sky with some cloud. This is the second time since being in China that I have seen blue sky.

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June 17th (Thursday) Xuanhau 61KM
Posted: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 06:43:19

Today was a great ride! I finally rode through the countryside which was beautiful and for 50% of the way, there was only famr vehicles and motorcycles. I was still on the 110 highway which turns into a back road I guess as the freeway veers north after about 26KM. I kept having the uncanny feeling that I was heading down the wrong road but since I had th compass, I figured if I went in the general desired direction, fuck it. I still kept asking the locals though - haha. At one point I stopped to ask which direction Zangjiakou was and some local boys (bizatches) started riding along side me. I quickly veered into an alley and pulled out the pistol i bought in Beijing. Boy where they surprised. I guess we all lerned something that day.....

Actually I think they were trying to help and the kid even had an english text book in his bag (the were maybe 10 or 11). I am finding and sort of expected, everytime I stop people start to gather around. Potter this is how it feels to be a rock star - touchee. It's actually pretty cool but I hate not being able to communicate. the worst part when I decide it's time to leave (because as usual the conversation is non existant) I get a guilty feeling that I wasted their time.

On with the story....
The kid was okay but kept yapping ans I was happy when he had to turn around. I think he wanted to warn me about the Red Guard that were waiting for me (just kidding ma). As I mentioned the countryside was awesome, rolling hills, a river about 20 feet wide in some places all walled in by muntaind around 3000 feet tall. The 110 runs parrell with a rail line so the biking was easy for the most part (railway = max 6% grade). About 20km away from Xuanhau there was about a 2km climb but again no big deal and the night before I was able to adjust me gears, brakes weight displacement so that shifting was pleasant again.

Every big city in China (all cities so far) have a modern city center, but dirty little suburbs and trach allover the outskirts of town. The soot from the diesel trucks is on everything and after a day of biking my arms, legs and face are black (no exaggeration). I still can't get USB going yet (damn I have some good pics) but things are going well. Today I stayed at the Xuahau hotel and a person working there named Daniel got me a deal and elped my find an internet places. Of course he walked me here.

By for now.. things are cool!!!

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June 16th (Wednesday) Huanlai 63KM
Posted: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 06:25:18

Felt better this morning. Checkout was a little confusing, but I guess they wanted to see if I stole anything fromthe room. I did (they never check in NJ). I had to pay 40 yuan for a towel but after that things went pretty well. When I left all of the hotel employees (exageration) were waiting outside to send me off (to the cops - kidding). I do wish I took more time to learn the language as there was a total umcomfortable silence there as no one could communicate with me - it was geniune though (very sweet).

The bike to Haunlai was basically rolling countryside and it rained the whole way (I had to use the Oosoyoos garbage bag trick). There was some pretty dirty gutters out there once you leae the city limits. When I arrived in Huanlai I was having trouble finding a hotel so I rode up to a place that resembled one. It wasn't a hotel but some guy who walked in at the same time as me to use the washromm told me he could show me where a hotel was. He preceeded to lead me to the precinct (doh - this happned in Prince George once). He brought me into his office, made me tea and starting calling places for a hotel(sweet!). The office actually had a bed so I think the shift work is similar to Canada. After he found a hotel, he and another officer walked me over to the hotel (this keeps happening, but I don't mind). He then bargained for me (so to speak) and got me a room for 50 yuan (normally 200). I eventually wandered around the town (pretty dirty) but stayed at the hotel most of the time, I still had the shits.


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June 15th (Tuesday) Yangqing - ugh
Posted: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 06:13:34

Well I laye din bed almost the whole day! Man I fell like a Chinese sewer. I tried to get ready for the noon checkout but better judgement prevailed. I booked another night at the hotel (yes I'm slumming it). I took some tylenol, pepsid ac (or whatever), and diarehea antibiotic pills (thank you travel clinic). I was able to eat a power bar and later that night I hobbled over to the KFC (yes I know, believe me if you felt like I did). Anyway very bad day.

Miss mommy

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June 14th
Thu, 17 Jun 2004 06:08:44

Well it started off as a rest day, went on the internet, biked around the city etc. Then I decided to go to a local place off the beaten path for some food.....

 Ofcourse no one spoke english but these guys montioned me over to sit with them and share some food. There were drinking beer which seems to be popular in China (no idea why) so I decided what the heck. As you may know already the Chinese pour their beer into a little four ounce glass and sip it from there. Well when Jeff from Canada sat down it was chug glass, no sipping. I obliged but made sure they drank the same as I figured I could out drink them (this always happens). Anyway I finished the meals and decide to head into town (a block away) but they wanted to take me somewhere - I declined. The city center was quit nice at night and a little windy, so not too hot like th rest of Beijing. I walked around for a bit and then decided to have a couple more beers at a place I visited the night before and then hit the hay (I know I have some of you worried - the other half laughing). Well I hung out for a couple of beer and had a shot of something from the cook (mistake) and then went back to the hotel. The next day was the shits, literaly!

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June 13th (Sunday)
Posted: Sun, 13 Jun 2004 22:07:59

I feel a hundred times better!!! I got up at first light before sun up and started pedaling. There were hundreds of trucks stopped along the highway, in fact almost all of the way into Nanqing. I weaved in and out of the trucks which was a bit of a pain as some parked to close to the bike lane and I had to cut into the middle for a while etc. No danger as traffic was moving, but the bike is heavy and hard to manuever quickly. At one point I stopped for a breather and a few truckers got out of their truck and to motrocyclist came around to check out the bike. They were laughing at me (bastards), or maybe were laughing at the fact that they couldn't believe the little contraption of bike trailer I had or what I was doing. Shit, I guess they were laughing at me (haha). After about 15km of climbing I finally crested the last major hill and started on a downhill. The next 10 km was mostly decending, so it was easy peasy lemon squeezy (Hedges quote). I arrived in Yanqing around 7:30 - 8:30 and started looking for a hotel. Although I wasn't physically tired I was very mentally tired.

I rode around for a bit but no place would take me, and no one spoke any English. Damn this is becoming a typical Gillooley trip and it's only the first week!

Luckily for me I stopped by a hotel off the main drag, I had no idea where I was going, but I wanted to avoid expensive looking hotels. I went in and they said I couldn't check in until 2PM, which wasn't going to work for me. At this point the manager (her name was Sherry) happened to walk out and she spoke English not to badly (nice grammer). She called another hotel that could take me right away, grabbed her keys, and said 'let's go'. I said 'um I have a bike', she said 'so do I let's go' (the keys were for a bike lock).

I preceded to follow her to the other hotel which was about a mile away. When we got there she totally handled the front desk, she told them in Mandarin to rip me off and put me in the dirtiest room (just kidding ma). Seriously though when they wanted cash instead of visa, she walked me over to the bank and back. I guess I probably had a desperate 'where's my mommy' look to me as she was so helpful. I thanked her profusely and offered to by her lunch or something but she declined.

That was probably the third or fourth time since I have been here that someone went out of their way and walked me to where I needed to go. Funny enough each time the person was working, so I guess it's a little lax that way. Anyway in the past I have helped tourist in Canada but I have never walked them to where they needed to go. This is something that I will change.

On with the story -
I cleaned up and rested for a while, drank a tonne of tea which is in the room already, went for a good meal and then decided to go to Badaling for the day. I took a taxi for 20 yaun. Badaling is probably one of the more restored sectionsof the wall and I guess is probably the closest to Beijing as well. Previous to this trip the Colleseum in Rome was the most impressive structure I had seen. The Wall destroyed it. I have no words that can describe it accurately and since it was a bit overcast, I don't think the pictures turned out as good as possible. I guess I need to see the great pyramids next to compare, I don't know but the height and length is massive.

I continued on a high by getting in a arguement with the taxi driver on the way back, he agreed to 25 yuan but then tried to get 40 yuan out of me. I gave him the Canadian, anyone who is unsure of the Canadian I can demonstrate when I get back. Anyway I gave him 30 and got out of the cab (see ya biztach).

I have booked two nights at the hotel so June 14th (today) is mostly for catch up and repacking of the bike. I have already made some great improvements to make biking a little easier and assessiblity to some items better. I am going to head ot to Huanlai tomorrow and then onto Xuanhua the following day (unless I'm feeling lucky again - haha). At this point, I will make my first major route change as I will head west to Datong instead of north and then south to Datong. Orginally I just wanted to bike to different sections of the wall, but I figure I will see plenty of it in Xian. This will actually take 5 days off the itinerary but the rest of the planned trip from Datong forward will remain the same. this should also allow me to get to Everset a little sooner or compensate for extra days spent somewhere along the journey.

Finally, I can find internet places no problem and they are cheap 1.5 yuan and hour. However they won't let me hook up the USB to the camera, so no pictures yet. I will spend the rest of today looking as I have some good ones of the wall.
Bye for now

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June 12th (Saturday)
Posted: Sun, 13 Jun 2004 21:29:17

What a day! It took forever to get packed up aand on the road. All I can say is GORON IS GOD!!!!! The bike was a little bit of a pig (understatement) and I decided within about 5 miles that I had to reduce the weight. Where I was originally staying (Li Shi Hotel) the post office was less than a block away, however it took my an hour or so to find the one closest to me location (no fucking idea). I really brought way too many items of clothing, for example 7 pairs of underwear. That didn't include 4 pairs of bike shorts and long john's. So I sent back 4 pairs. I did the same with t-shirts and turtle necks, I only needed one not 3. Anyway I probably took off between 5 and 10 pounds. It was about 2PM and very hot at this time.

So I continued on, the goal was to get to Changping which is about 45 km out fro mthe center of Beijing but I was kinda playing by ear (I would regret this later).

The highways and major routes are awesome for biking. There is two lanes of highway in each direction, then an area about a lane or two wide planted with trees shading the road. After that you have a lane of traffic and then finally a bike lane which is the equivelent of the traffic lane which is shaded on the other side. So I would say the route was in the shade for about 80% of the way to Changping. Since I was making pretty good progress I decided to continue past Changping to Nanqing which was another 35 - 40 KM. It was a few kilometers after this that I started entering the mountain range. Oh, did I mention I was hung over and this was one of the hotest parts of the day. Also the bike lane became a standard meter wide for the rest of the through the hills. The only shade was the mountain side.

After about 56 KM I was covered with salt crystals and had nothing left in the tank. I keep thinking just another 5km stop, then continue for another and we will be there in 2 hours max. Well the two lowest gears wouldn't grab (I think the panier bag was effecting it some how) and I had had enough. I made the decision to needed to find a place kind of secluded but not way in the bushes where the yeti were lurking either. Just before I hit the first tunnel I saw a clearing on the side of the road that had a fenced in elitrical transformer. It was perfect as I could lock up the bike and only slightly noticable from the highway. I threw down my gear, laid out my sleeping pad and crashed. I felt like puking big time and tried to relax and wait it out. Luckily I had a beer which I sipped on over the next half hour which cured the stomach nasea.

Funny thing about the traffic on high ways, the truckers are supposed to honk on croners and tunnels as people are constantly passing in the oncoming traffic lane. There are actuall signs posted where they are supposed to honk and of course whenever they say my dumbass they honk ass well (usually a few inches from my head). Anyway it was a pretty restless sleep as about 10 to 15 trucks passed every minute, and this was all night into the next morning (this is fact!). So I took a picture of my dumbass to get my facial _expression. Tomorrow would be next better though....

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June 11th
Posted: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 00:58:17

Hey Everyone, I found an internet cafe that has USB ports!!!!! Okay I am only sending a few select pictures as they are large, but I have some great shots, even somewhat artistic. I am leaving Beijing tomorrow morning, June 12th, and heading to the Wall. I will write a little more next time as I am rushing to get a few things done.. awe shit that's a lie... I just don't feel like it right now as I am organizing my pictures. I gotta say it's a different world over here but in a lot of ways it is very similar. These people work hard (well the young ones do) and they already know they are not paid what thery are worth when compared to North America. The more China opens up to trade etc the more of a super power they will become, look out!!!!!!
Anyway enjoy the pics.....

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June 9th
Posted: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 06:14:48

Hi Folks, Well I made it in one piece! I had a bit of melencholy when the flight finally took off but I am over that now. The first day I got in (it was Tuesday here) around 5PM. Beijing really is going free market, I didn't even get a ride in a real cab! The hotel is actually nice but no one really knew english when I tried to explain I booked over the internet (what the hell is the internet anyway?). So far though everyone I talk too, er actually everyone I say hi too is very friendly and helps me find my way. However I enjoy just winging it as I end up seeing more interesting parts of the city. If you like biking, all I canm say is watch the locals cause no one stops for bikers or pedestrians (even in bike lanes and crosswalks). hahaha - you thought Richmond was bad, okay take away all the street signs and the lines on the road and let em at it, now you have Beijing (the Italians even drive better).

Anyway it was too difficult to explain how the USB works to the nice lady at the hotel, so no pictures yet. However I took about 40 or so as I visited Tianemen Square, the Forbidden city, the buddist Stuppa and surrounding lakes. Very impressive!!! Bye for now!!!

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e-mail: jeff@jeffglen.ca