Since the rioting/troubles started in the XinJiang province a couple of weeks ago, the Internet in China has become frustrating. Twitter was Blocked. Then Facebook. Now Typepad, which means if you're in China, this blog is off limits. So is Paul's blog. And I can' t keep in touch as easily. I did however pay tribute to Chairman Mao this afternoon;
Away from Tiananmen Square, I had the freedom to pay tribute to Chairman Mao !
Thankfully Sarah got hold of a Proxy server which means I can get things updated, albeit very, very slowly.
For the past few days I have been on a hike along the amazing Tiger Leaping Gorge. In the process we met a group of other hikers, including a very lovely Chinese Lady. We got chatting about many things, including Tibet. When I mentioned the Dalai Lama, including my visit to his home in Dharamsala (India), she innocently commented 'He's a terrorist right ?' At least thats what she understands from the press and the Chinese government. Well, he's the only Terrorist I know with a Nobel Peace Prize.
I also met this guy along the way. His name was Solomon. You've got to wonder about people who have the misfortune to be called Solomon, without abbreviating their names. He's a head in the clouds, 20 year old thats been in China teaching and who's faffing has surpassed even the worst example I have come across to date, Reading University Caving Club who were the pinnacle of faffing! As we were in the mountains, he asked if he could use my iPhone to send a email to 'mummy and daddy', because there was no internet. They were concerned about him. Apparently he went on a bit of a bender in Shanghai. Like seven nights of partying without much sleep. Sounds like the average 20 year old to me. But no, after seven days, his parents told him to present himself to a hospital for a blood test. Then send the results to a UK Doctor! It came up clean, but I could not help laughing when Solomon went to great lengths to explain that the test was not for STD's !
The walk along Tiger Leaping Gorge was rather good with sheer precipices, towering peaks and the Yangsi river thundering down the gorge, which is only 25 meters wide at some points. Seeing the sheer power of the river was awesome and guaranteed to put you through a cheese grater if you fell in. We walked a high path along the Gorge sides, which was great to get away from the bus loads of Chinese Tourist who stuck to the lower parts of the Gorge.
Tiger Leaping Gorge
While I've been away, a number of my friends have started along the path to Parenthood. So to help them along, I have a parental tip from China; Here Children wander 'round with pajama's / trousers / pants that have a large hole in them, from crotch to bum. So, in case of a toilet stop or accident, no worries, they just 'stop' where ever they are. Which could be the street. Or the living room. Or the backseat of a rickshaw I guess. Well, I suppose it saves on nappy charges. Which reminds me, when I was hiking down to the Yangsi river in Tiger Leaping Gorge, someone (an adult) took a dump in the middle of the path. Why, why, why ? when there is better privacy plus hygiene in the bushes surrounding the path ? I think the brilliant book How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art should be translated into Mandarin.
Proir to Tiger Leaping Gorge, we spent some time in Dali. Dali is nice. A backpacker chill-out town where you'll find plenty of western food joints, bars, decent lodges and foreigners smoking large joints. It was a rather nice place to spend a few days and as a result we decided to go for a Pizza in Dali. I opted for the 'Indian Pizza', which was rather good. But I did crack up when the Pizza was delivered to me ... with beef on it ! Try getting an Indian (80% of which are Hindu's by-the-way) to eat that !
Walking around the Old town of Dali opened my eyes a little more than it did in Pakistan ... to walk past a red light district. Apparently this is quite common in most Chinese towns, but in a state which controls so much of how the Chinese should conduct their lives, I was surprised. I also found it mildly hypocritical that China is trying to mandate anti-porn and violence software on all computers in China, when they tolerate red light districts, similar to they type you'll find in Amsterdam. Incredible.
On our final couple of days in Dali, we climbed Yu Ju Peak, near Dali. Rather good, even if the weather was a tad cloudy. We stayed at the Higherland Inn, which being in China, I wondered if its called Higherland after they misspelled Highland ? It was rather nice though and came with an energetic dog, who, apart from terrorising the Cat, followed tourists up the mountain. Apparently when there were allot of tourists about, he did seven days on the trot. Pretty impressive considering its a 1500m climb over some tough ground.
95 Year old Naxi man taking a stroll in the park.
In this blog, I've mentioned the Dalai Lama, Tibet, Tiananmen square, troubles in XinJiang and Chinese Red Light districts. I think its safe to assume that there is not too much hope of this blog, or Typepad, being unblocked in the near future ! I do like china though, its people, the scenery and the backpacker scene. Oh and Chinglish has me constantly tickled;
Anyone got a clue what this sign is advising ?
Everyone I've met has a desire to follow the west and develop China into a progressive modern country, which given how much the country has changed in the past ten years, I am sure will happen. I do wonder If things will change enough to allow the Chinese the freedom of speech which I am exercising in this blog. And finally close to my heart, it's also a caving mecca with large regions of limestone. The Caving potential is limitless and I must return to go caving at some point. I hope to be able to do some in Sichuan Province during the coming days
We are off to Chengdu to see the Solar Eclipse on the 22nd of July. Apparently its the longest eclipse in our lifetimes, with six minutes of totality at its highest point. I hope that the weather is kind to us ! After that Tibet...