Wednesday, October 20, 2004
If you haven't guessed yet, it ruptured due to the efforts of a jouncing bus. This ride had most of the 'joys' of the last one I wrote about (minus the length), as well as some added bonuses.
But let me backtrack a sec. The day started way too early. 6:30am fromthe bus station next door. The lan was to grab a ride across town to another station and then grab one from there at 7:30am to a pretty place up north (a "6"-hour ride). The first part went well, bt the 7:30 bus was full and the next was at noon. So we sat. And slept. ThenI slept some more (face first on my arms, then face first on my travel pillow, then against my pack propped against the wall). When I finally awoke (Rachelle was throwig ice cubes at my head as an incentive to get up), we started a long double solitaire tournament, disrupted only by a pause for food (a noodle soup thingy for something like $0.30).Eventually our game drew a crowd (cards is huge here. People sit around everywhere playing [no, not in the loo or shower. At least not that I've seen], and crowds always form) and after the initial self-conscious stutter playing we settled in and went to work entertaining some kid for abuot 45 minutes. He pulled up a chair and sat down, singing with his music, helping us out at times (Hooter-maybe you should get you a Chinese kid to help you speed up your DS play?) and really getting into it. When I ran to get a very healthy drink from the store the kid sat in for me and really whupped up on Rachelle! Hr face was hysterical whn she realized how badly she got beat! You should all ask her about it.
I prattle like a 14-year old girl at times, don't I? Our bus was easy to find-after we were pointed in 3 different directions, told that the 'bad bus' was coming but maybe the good bus would arrive. A nice guy (Li, future best friend) informed us that 'bad bus' meant a bus that would break down on the way. Hm. Fortunately, the 'good bus' arrived and our buddy led us to it.
No real issues yet. Until we left the highway. But first-at a rest stop (FYI-most toilets here are not so much toilets as holes in the ground. Squatters, my pet name for them. Strange at first, but I've grown to like them. Maybe too much. I wonder if they are easy to intall [asuming I ever have a home again]?) I made a new best friend walking back to the bus. His name was Oliver.
Back to the bus. Do yu remember grade school, when the back of the bus was where every one wanted to sit? You could jump with the bumps and get some killer air? The only part of that that has changed is wanting to sit there. The rear seat was a 5'er across, the middle person sitting at the end of the aisle. That was me. The seats are narrow so both of my legs got real friendly with the guys on either side. Instead of having a back to my seat, it was a long foam pad to be used as a backrest. The guy next to me had it the entre time-jacked up to give him a pillow and me a cushion up to my mid-back. At first the bumping wasn't too bad. Then we hit the real construction. I think we may have wandered onto a motocross track because we were all over the place. And of course our driver was always honking and passing. Guardrailess mud roads that may have been 24 feet wide, chaos all over. My head seriously almost hit the ceiling a few times (no, Iwasn't jumping) and I felt like a handful of jumping beans tossed into a can of sardines (I feel like I used this description with the last bus ride. But I love it so!)! It was insane. I have never been popped around so continuously and with such ferocity. Too bad it wasn't enough to distract me from the tires on the edge of the sheer drop to the raging river passing around blind curves but look at those guys hauling rock up the scaffolding supported by a rod with a sling not a sign of traffic control to be found madness outside. This went on for forever. When we weren't jostling, we were stopped. For long periods of time. Construction, accidents, narrow "2-lane" road, yaks, carts, people, so many obstacles!
By the time we stopped for dinner (around the time we were supposed to be arriving) I was raving. The bumping, men sleeping on my shoulders (no cuddling thank zeus), constant honking (I swear the horn served more than the typical uses. My guesses: 1. It was somehow attached to the pleasure center of the driver's brain and he weas trying to pleasure himself to death. OR, 2. If his honks dropped below 2 honks a second, the bomb on the bus would explode) and again, the isane amount of body shaking were enouhg to drive me mad. I sloughed off the bus and we ate (pointing at stuff in the kitchen and shrugging our shouders at the constant jabbering directed at us). Very good! Getting on, the guy sitting next to Rachelle (she got a seat closeish to thefront) gave up his seat to me-the poor bastard, but I owe him. So much smoother (only now that we were thru construction, the guy was jet-setting around the constant switchbacks and curves tossing us side to side. However, I managed to fall asleep. And wake up to the fog game. Dark out, raining, and fogged in. Yet we continued on. And the strangest thing happened-the honking was minimal! We still can't make sense of the logic (sunny clear-honk. Dark and foggy-be very very quiet. We's hunting wabbit!). Whatever. There was a short stretch of clear, saw snow on the road sides and drop offs into the black and when the fog returned we breathed again.
Down the mountain, into town. Ish. Our friends and their respective women got off the bus and let us know it was also our stop (without them we may have ended up in Russia. Their language has GOT to be easier than Chinese!). Falling off into the cold the stars out overhead one building in view dark no idea where we were...it was fun? We were pretty lucky to have made friends. They took us into the hotel and then to the next (the 1st had no hot water, the 2nd was buried on the fringes of town). This began a ritual that lasted the next 3 days-our 4 Chinese friends talking and talking and us having no clue what was going on. Hagglers, huge hagglers we latched on to. I highly recommend choosing similarly. We got our rooms for 50Yuen a night(~8.2Yuen=$1US) and free breakfast. Sweet! Into our room we walked-small but clean, a squatter....and no heat.
I need to check with my sis, but I know where she is in China she can't turn on her heat until a certain time of year (November?). That may have been the case here. Regardless, it's late October, we figured out the hotel was at ~10,000 feet and that makes things cold. But oh!The beds! A heated blanket (SO nice!) and heavy heavy covers! When you dropped the covers onto you, it felt (to me) like being back in the womb. As a fetus. Warm embracing pressing in on all sides in the most reassuring manner ("don't worry little one! I'll protect and keep you!"). Well, I guess since my head was not under the covers it was more like being a fetus mid-birth, just the head protruding. Does this make sense? Trust me, it was nice!
Getting out of bed was another matter altogether....shivv..er!
That's enough for this post. I'd better run off to start another.
If words are misspelled, it's this stupid keyboard. The letters are hard to press and my dainty hands which have been away from computers so much of the time lately are having trouble with them
Sleep on my wayward son