Thursday, October 28, 2004


We are in Shanghai right now. Since the other night (Monday maybe?) we've travelled for 35 hours on trains. How's that for long? Left Monday night from Chengdu on an 18 hour ride to Xi'an. Saw the terracotta warriors (very cool) and were back on a train 8 hours later for the 17 hour ride to Shanghai. And we are still here until tomorrow night when we catch a 10-hour train to Tai'an, a small place between here and Beijing. We are going to climb the holy mountain there (TaiShan) and rest up a bit.

Train travelling is less stressful than busing, but it has its own issues. Lights (all) go out at 10pm (and if you decide to write in your journal until 1am, sitting on a vent by the bathroom, everyone [workers, old chinese men in long underwear, women, children, dockworkers....] looks at you very strangley. Especially since journaling is unknown to them [is that correct, sis?]). So be it. I had a good time. Oh yeah, I was discussing the issues. Hacking up phlegm is huge here (horrible air. Our boogers have been black for weeks now, as an example. And so is Rachelle's fingertip but that has nothing to do with the air) and when your beds are last in line right next to the bathroom you get to hear it all night.

Noise. Our last train had tv in every bed stall (there are 6 beds, 3 to a side) and the noise was cranked to full volume. When they weren't playing karaoke videos or commercials or movie previews, a broad came over the speaker to say...something for 10 minutes at each go. The english translation came out as: "we are stopping here for 4 minutes. Be warned". Hm.

What else....smelly feet (usually our own) stink things up. Speaking of stinking, remember the other post when I bragged about being clean and washing my clothes regularly? That is a thing of the past. Sort of. After all the bus rides and train rides, with no time to hang clothes up to dry, we got a bit...ripe. I've been wearing my rain pants (very comfortable) for a couple days now because my stained and stinky pants needed a break. I wore the same socks and skivvies for about 3 days and my t-shirt demanded a rest or it was going on strike. It was bad. We finally got to wash last night so we are backin business.

Shanghai. Interesting city. We walked around in circles last nightbecause we were told our hotel was in a place it wasn't. They pointedat one place on the map and after an hour of wandering (and me beingsure I was losing my mind and was actually a little worried that sinceit was dark we wouldn't be finding the hotel) we figured out thelittle discrepancy (1/2 mile error). It's cleaner than the otherbiggies we've been to and there is sun here which is nice. We've beento 6 opium dens and 4 brothels so far, and after catching theacrobatics tonight we will hit a combined brothel/opium den/beerhall/library. Should be interesting.

Speaking of books, so much for winnowing down the crap in my pack. We found a western book having bookstore today. Did I buy any books? Of course! I've been trying to read Kerouac's "Life of Cody" slowly (which is succeeding due to the book. It's cornfuysing at times.). I need a break from the solid reader, something light and fluffy likecotton candy (only in a literary sense). I got Dostoevsky's "TheIdiot", and Dante's "Inferno" (it's a comedy, you know?). Think I'm smart? I don't. At least I have something to read during all this traveling. (By the way, Brenda? You live way the shite out in the middle of freakin' nowhere. I am in Bangkok for new years and have to make my way out to you after that. Looooooooong train ride!)

What else has been going on? Not too much. Our hotel right now is in a pretty cool area. Very run down, very not-touristy, which means great food and atmosphere. It's quite the contrast with the fancy new condos they are building right behind, but I like it. Tourist areas are boring and sterile, and you can taste the westernization of the food.

My face is squelched and belching volcanic ash. Don't ask, I don't know what it means. I am still in recovery mode from the trains.

We went up to Jiuzhaiuo the other week. A fancy touristed out nature area. Cost us $30 (a day) with bus to get in, and we stayed inside the park despite their signs saying it's not legal (they lie. All the workers there do what they can to help the people living in the park). Not a bad place, though I felt like I was in monk training. It was very spartan. Two beds, a small wooden table and 2 chairs. And barely enough room for it all. And not heated of course (~9,000ft). Cool though. Had a nice common room and we were living in some guy's house so it was homey. Even though he ripped us off pretty bad. But we showed him! We took his picture!!!

The winner of my contest is Paul (I know it's you! I couldn't access your new blog site though because blogspot is not legal here, which is why my poor mom has been posting all this crap I send out). All the advice was good (Jeremy-while I like your efforts to get me to burn my underwear [kinda like the braless revolution, eh?][why do you want me out of my skivvies anyway? You're married with a kid on the way!], you didn't quite cut it. Mom-too practical! I can't get rid of my books, are you crazy! It's like having cigarettes in prison...I've been told), but Paul not only mentioned the lemur, he incorporated a poop joke in his response (and you all know how much I love poop talk. Though not as much as some...DHM). So Paul, here is your authentic Chinese email.....

Hi are you doing, Paul? I am Fang Ang Gong. I born in Shanghai and send you email for Corey. He come in my..how you say....message palace yestertoday? I rub his back and he ask me for favor.

Today I write you email for big tip Corey present me. You are winner!

Congratulations!! Here in China, we are all winner. But don't have children number 2, or you big big loser! Birth control means preserving more land for us. I know this, the big sign say so.

Um, well, yay, Paul! Me love you long time!! I go back to work now.You make Corey much happy!

Hugs and kissers, Fang

So, Paul, do you feel lucky? I'll bet more of you wish you had tried to win so that YOU could have gotten that personalized message, don'tyou?

Incidentally, we saw the billboard Fang mentioned. Pretty crazy stuff.mnAnd yes, the one kid rule is in effect. More than one? HUGE monthly fines. But since 80% of the populace lives in the country where enforcement is tough.... A guy we talked to on the train said: "Yes, the govt said that and we just accept it." Rachelle of course threw in: "Well, in the US the people would never let the govt do that!"


That is enough from me now. I am tired again and need some pick-me up (food).

Peace out, I'll chat at ya later

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com