Sunday, December 31, 2006

301206

Well, the end of the end 2006 is coming to a close, and what do I have to show for it? Another year in China, and many friends around the world!

Today, I met Kishor Bajracharya, a Nepali man living in China with his wife and son. What a kind, thoughtful person, who kept praising me, even gave me (and Tom nee Richard) gifts! I was embarassed! Truly it is not me that deserves such, but this nice guy who's trying to help his fellow countrymen in Nepal. This, by starting a cooperative for handicraft workers, and selling their goods around the world! Blessed be to him and his for doing such! May God help him and others like him who do such good!

Back in my hotel room later, I watched a DVD movie entitled, 'The Interpretor,' with Sean Penn and Nicole Kiddman. What a 'Hollywood,' piece of shit, with the usual violence! I wouldn't trade, and this will sound silly, one day with Kishor Bajrachraya, for the rest of my life with Nicole Kiddman. Embarassing what Sidney Pollack did, trying to act in the film, as well as, direct!

I mean movie stars (celebrities), what a 'sentence!' You have to feel sorry for them really... They get old, ugly and die, using a 'head shot,' taken when they were 25-years old, having cosmetic surgery to look still younger!

Look, no don't look, at Michael Jackson ('he's' disgusting!)! He was once a man! Now, he's some kind of caricature of a cartoon-figure (Oh, say something breathlessly, Michelle!).

It's tragic what 'Hollywood' does to people! They end up not knowing anything, but particularly that they don't know, that they don't know!

I almost killed myself trying to get into that 'Hollywood Club!' Thank God I failed! But, how was I to know? Young and dumb like the rest of them, not so lucky as me as I 'escaped!' Better said, I was captured, subdued, and enslaved! I was shown who's 'boss!' And I can tell that isn't me--something human or material! It was a blessing in disguise--the gift of life! God has been good to me! I've learned, I've grown, I've evolved!

'The purpose of life is to achieve union with your fundamental enlightened nature, and to realize and embody your true being!' I've achieved this! I'm different than what you know.

Avalokisavara, the God of God's (in Hinduism) 'started' as male in India thousands of years ago, and then evolved to female in China (over hundreds of years). This, or 'he,' is now a 'she,' and called 'Guan Yin,' the God of Mercy in China.

You too can evolve! S/he is merciful!

As I have become sane, the world has gone mad! Truly! There's so much insanity in the world, we call it 'civilization!' We live in a 'dark time,' but there is hope, always hope, or how else could me manage (to live)!

It's coming in 2012, the end of darkness, the beginning of light (consciousness), and my gift, the news of, to you!

311206

'Now, I'm old!

Now, I've been told,

What happened to my life,

Lived!

We are born helpless,

Die,

Less, with help!

But, it's not the material that's important,

A 'knot'

That matters,

Tatters---

It's what you can't see, hear, or touch that's important!

Now, I'm old,

I 'no,' the yes,

Don't guess the res(t), anymore!

I 'no!'

Now, I'm old!'

F.A. Hutchison

Frederick to some

Alexander to some

Hutch to some

Haqi to some

Ahya to few

Making magic together!

301206 to Blog or not to blog, that is the question!

For the year 2006:

Love,
By definition
Is unconditional,
Or, it's not love,
But, desire, want, or need!
To share,
To help,
To give,
Without conditions,
This is love!

'Learn your A,B,C,'s! (dedicated to all my old ABC Sports 'colleagues!')

The dying time has come!
We had our day;
Made hay,
Wired most the time,
And now,
The dying time has come!

Roone is gone!
Chuck,
Howard,
Mac,
'The Captain,'
James B.,
Mcichael,
Larry,
Brice,
Irv,
The good; the bad!
The dying time has come!

Who would have thought,
That Akron 'hearst,'
A box all closed,
We'd someday be in!
The dying time has come!

The 'Wrecking Crew,' wrecked,
The 'Led Zepellin' of sports,
And sometimes torts,
'The thrill of victory,
The agony of defeat!'
The dying time has come!

Let us replay the day,
Hearsay,
The IFB a dream,
Isolated 'shots' obscene,
The dying time has come!

'Count me! Count me, Louie!'
Count me down!, off the air,
No more to breathe,
I dare,
The dying time has come!

'One potato, two potato, three potato, more,'
Chris and Bud need a whore!
We were,
A watch for 'George!'
The dying time has come!

Given away those drunk knights;
Sound bites,
Spanning the globe,
The opened robe,
Hosed thighs above the knees,
Champagne, the game!
The dying time has come!

The Fat Lady is singing,
The bells ringing,
This round over!
The dying time has come!

Learn your A,B,C,s!'

Postscript from a Taoist poet:

No death, no life!
No night, no day!
No words, no nothing!

Copyright 2006
F.A. Hutchison
Shanghai, China

251206 Christmas day in China

The light of the world,
Life, in swimming birds
Greeted me this morning,
Love from all I know,
Around the world!

People are good (just trying to survive in a difficult world)!
We only have to bring the good out in them!
The next time someone slights you (makes you angry), bless them,
As it gives us the opportunity
To overcome our own faults!

My sisters and I disagree just about everything, yet we love each other!
Imagine that, as John Lennon wrote!

And, we're not the only ones!

From Shanghai, China
this Christmas morning, 2006
F.A. Hutchison
'Fred'
'Alexander'
'Hutch'
'Haqi'
'Red Cloud,'
and many other names!

Making magic with you!

231206 Christmas in China

'I'll be home for Christmas!' the song played by one of the U.S. astronauts from the landing Shuttle (recently).

The question is, 'Where is home?' Appropriate, the astronaut playing this, as for me, 'planet earth' is 'home,' not some village, town, or city, deined by political boundaries. I'm always 'home' wherever I am!

Christmas is upon us! This my 67th! The 'goose is fat! Please put a penny in the old man's hat!'

Recently, a Chinese friend, a young man asked me to explain Christmas. This is what I wrote:

The story of 'christ - mass.' ('mass' means church meeting)

A spiritual child was born in now what is called Israel (nothing but war there now).

He grew up to be a prophet, espousing love as the way to live.

He ran afoul of the 'government' back then (2,000 years ago), and they executed him.

He became a martyr (someone more powerful after death than alive).

They wrote a book about him called the Bible.

From this book a religion (Christ - tianity) grew up, first in Italy.

Then this religion spread all over the world (mostly in the West).

Now, there are many branches of this religion.

His birthday, December 25th, is celebrated to this day, but it's lost the original meaning, and now mostly selling (gifts)--for money.

It's not a big 'deal' to me, as I'm not a 'Christian' (people who believe that he will save them from being 'dead').

I'm a Taoist!

Religion is made up by words, whether they be English or Chinese, or Arabic. People will always argue (go to war) over words! Nee, 'My God is better than your God!'

The trick is to get beyond such (words), as in Taoism:

'The Way that can be named is not the unvarying Way!
The names that can be named are not the unvarying names!'

And 'the Way' to such? Getting beyond Ego consciousness, the 'I!'

How to do? Difficult in modernity, as the ego is constantly 'whipped' into wanting something! More, more, faster, faster, until there's so much pathology in cultures we don't even notice it (call it 'civilization'). Personally, I want out of 'modernity,' and my time is coming (by 2010), if I'm still alive! Cycling in Chinese cities lessens my chances!

What have we been doing in Shanghai (Tom and me)?

Yesterday, we cycled to 'Pudong' (east of the Huang River in Shanghai) to collect my renewed visa (from the 'Bureau of Entry and Exit Shanhai Municipal Government, Public Security Bureau,' etc. building) and for Tom to 'fix' Stephanie's computer (many viruses). In June, when I will have to 'renew' my visa again, I'll have been in China for two years (out of the U.S. for four years).

In the interim we had lunch, afterwards I feel asleep in a chair waiting for Tom.

I also read, 'Don Quixote in China,' (or in search of Peach Blossom Springs) by Dean Garrett. Very funny this writer, and with 17-year's experience in Hong Kong, knows Mandarin (the 'official' Chinese language, among many other things about China). I like his irreverant style! But, I want to tell him I know where the original Ray's Pizza was in New York City--I bought pizza there in the mid Seventies (when courting 'Mary')! Also, want to tell him you can purchase Lao Tzu's 'Tao Te Ching' at the Shanghai Bookstore (sixth floor).

The other book I just completed entitled, 'Mao's Last Dancer,' the incredible story of Li Cunxin, a Chinese peasant boy who became an international Ballet dancer (Houston Ballet Company, for one). His story should become a movie, if not one already (?). But, I'll bet difficult to depict historical truths, without offending the Chinese Government (basically getting approval).

We (me, Tom and Yue) also dealt with getting our 'Christmas package' to Rotraut in Germany. Decided it would be best to wait until someone can 'hand carry.' Tricky business getting things in and out of countries (as governments want to control).

Sunday evening (Christmas Eve) we get to partake of a western-style Christmas dinner courtesy of our Chinese-American friend Xin Chung. This at a trendy restaurant called 'Grapes Only!' No doubt what they're all about. This will be an experience for Tom and Stiphy (Chinese woman), their first western Christmas dinner: Turkey and all 'the trimmings!'

But, the Christmas holidays have become important in Shanghai (at least) as the Chinese have discovered yet another way to increase sales!

'Sell, sell, sell, everything you stand for!'

With this in mind, I ask you to think about those on the street with little or nothing! Giving is living!

Merry Christmas! from the 'Middle Kingdom!'

Hutch (Haqi)
Making magic wherever he goes!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

181206 my sister Betsy's birthday. Happy Birthday (61) Betsy!

Yesterday a cold front came through, and Shanghai was clear (sunny), but cold with 'bay feng' (north wind). I love such, and enjoyed cycling to meet Xiao Xiao for lunch at the 'Uighur Restaurant.'

Beforehand, Tom and I walked to go shopping, get ATM money, etc. I needed some cycling pants, as the laundry has managed to lose mine (angry at this, as they were still good at six-years old!). We also bought me some electric clippers, food items, (raw cashews, you can get in Shanghai). But, all of this made us late meeting Xiao Xiao, who is a Shanghai 'police woman!'

(Note, we're learning cycling routes in Shanghai. Many streets now, 'No bicycles!' It took us over one hour to find the restaurant.) What they need for Shanghai is a 'cycling map.'

'X.X.' (Xiao Xiao) a lovely young Chinese woman, we met through Indy in Kashigar. X.X. was born in Kashigar (like Indy). This is somewhat unusual (being born in Xinjiang), as most Chinese have never ventured past their village. Then again, their parents were part of the 'liberation Army' sent there in the early Sixties (to claim Xinjiang Province for Mao). X.X. speaks good English, thus we had a nice time.

She has a 'boring' job with the police, sitting at a desk/computer all day! Thus, I'm going to make a TV personality out of her (she has the personality for such)!

We also 'interviewed' (on video) the Mina bird (the U. Restaurant has), who can say, 'Ni hao!' 'A slalom alaikum!' and 'Hello!' A tri-lingual bird! Unfortunately, 'No audio!' on the tape afterwards!

Ah, it's always the 'sound' that's problematical, not the picture, when 'shooting' video. The camcorder itself working like a Timex watch. Our fancy 'shotgun' microphone and cable, intermittently not working! And damn, the bird spoke! Video gremlins (sic)!

We did manage to get our 'group photo,' in front of the restaurant before departing. X.X. taking the bus back to Huangpu, we cycling back to Yuangpu.

After Tom had his dinner, we continued to 'log,' our 34 hours of video. You have to know what you have, before you can edit. This is an English lesson for Tom, as he has to write in English.

Tomorrow, cycling over to Pudong, to continue the 'visa pursuit.' No visa renewal, no China.

'Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety!'

141206 Shanghai

What have we been doing? The 'ole shuck and jive,' and bringing you 'the constant variety!' Cycling through the rain on muddy, jam-packed streets! Screaming epithets to all 'those crazy people, where do they all come from?' If you want to live dangerously, ride a bicycle in China! It's utter chaos (but does help to keep the population down!)!

There are so many 'near misses' (inches from death) on the streets and highways everyday in China, they're not even noticed!

When I yell 'Fuck you!' at the motor scooters honking and 'brushing' past me, they only smile! I must be missing something! Wake up westerner, 'this is fun!' We go on red, and stop on green in China! The song I sing: 'Too many people, with too much to do! To many people with nothing to do! Too many people with nothing to do, but watch me too! Too many people, going so fast, they problably won't last!'

Mr. Huang, what a nice guy! We met him on the street, coming into Shanghai last week. He's taken to being our 'guide,' and lucky for us, as he's a native and knows Shanghai like the back of his hand! He's a member of the Shanghai 'Elder Cycling Club,' a group I would like to get involved with. They were going today (Friday_ to 'the Island' (in the Yangtze River), but Mr. Huang couldn't so we didn't.

A couple days ago Mr. Huang had led us to 27Bike Shop (www.27bike.com), a friend's (of the owner of the bicycle store in Xi'an we'd met when cycling through Xi'an weeks earlier). 'The man' in Xi'an recommended we go to 'this guy's'1 shop in Shanghai, and I'm glad we did. I'm also appreciative of Mr. Huang, for guiding us through the many streets of Shanghai, to and fro, as I doubt we'd been able to find this address on south Urumqi Lu. It's a 'real' bicycle shop, with the best of everything (operated by young, 'hip' Chinese people. Note, Shanghai not really China!).

I needed my rear-wheel problem 'dealt with,' as the steel rim was cracking apart, and wouldn't have lasted much longer. I asked 'the man' if possible to repair, and 'no' (as I thought). So, I bought a new aluminum wheel (wanted steel for strength). It took two hours to replace, but we enjoyed being there, meeting his friends, drinking real coffee, and seeing what bicycles, gear, parts are possible to purchase in Shanghai (outside of Shanghai only 'Giant' Bicycle shops, and a few 'Merida'/made in Taiwan). We're going to be buying Tom a new bicycle, and probably from this shop ('Fuji' brand available). Note, the most expensive is the shop was 60,000RMB / $7,700 U.S. I remember 'luxury' automobiles costing this once!

While we were there I purchased some gloves for Mr. Huang who said, 'Too expensive!' But, I wanted to do something for him, as he's been so nice to us!

The following day, Tom and I cranked across Shanghai to Shanghai Normal University, a 2.10 hour / 20KM ride, and iritating as all through the 'honking madness' of Shanghai!

About fhalfway there I got angry at Tom, as he lost me, and then wasn't at a 'fork' (decision place) where he should have been! This after trying to lead us on the Expressway, where we wouldn't be allowed ('No Bicycles!'). This after being 30-minutes late to meet me in the morning (a definite 'no, no!' with me!) So, three 'big' mistakes during one day/trip, does not make a happy Haqi!

Tom's a wonderful young man, but still is lacking the skills to be a guide. With little travelling experience, he still has trouble with finding his way (directions, maps, asking the right person the right questions, and such). But, I've been trying to teach him, maps and all.

I've told him too many times, when he's in front leading, not to lose me. So, what did he do, but lose me. Normally, not a problem (out on a highway), but in Shanghai, where there are atleast one million streets, it's not easy to find someone! He'd gone left, I went right at a 'fork.' In about a kilometer, I had figured it out, and retraced my 'cycles.' Luckily for both of us, as he was waiting! Then not so lucky for him as I 'read him a minor riot act!'2 Note: I don't have a mobile (stolen by Gong Fu Yu), so I cannot just call him to find out where he is! Young people can't live without their mobiles!

We cranked on, and amazingly found the University, but now some 30 minutes late! I don't like to be late in a business situation, being invited to a function, inconveniencing people I don't know!).

This 'function,' turned out to be the 'Opening Ceremony' to an organization I've been requested to get involved with (via Zhao Yue - 'Stephanie'). A Mr. Xu, had thus asked Stephanie to invite me to their opening. Now, here we were late, and them waiting! Surprised, it was like some kind of 'big deal,' with many media cameras, and microphones capturing everything I did! I'm some kind of 'celebrity' in China! Undeserving, of course. Here I show up in muddy cycling clothing, while all the men are in ties, the women in suits (the Chinese take these things seriously)! I don't take anything seriously (thus, one of my many problems!).

I was introduced to another 'lowei,' (foreigner) an American man, my 'counterpart,' Mike McManus. He had been hired (as a consultant) and requested to attend from the U.S. He, a Ph.D., operates the California School of Management in San Diego, California. During the program we sat together 'a round' a table, with name cards (mine 'Mr Fredrick Hutchison' Emmy-Award winner!'). I thought the Chinese characters above my name were my name, but no!

Note, I've gotten 'such mileage,' out of 'acquiring an Emmy' (I didn't deserve in the first place) in 1969, working as a producer at ABC Sports!

People place such importance on awards (I'm afraid I don't on either awards, degrees, or other forms of 'importance!'). I'm afraid I don't take myself seriously!

It was quite a deal, however, stobes flashing, cameras rolling, including ours, as I had Tom with our little Panasonic camcorder documenting the festivities (actually I didn't really know what I was getting into)

After the speeches they had me present an award to two students! One was a young woman screenplay writer, so of course, we exchanged cards! I think this is the first time I've ever done such, presenting awards! Now, I've completing having 'done just about everything!' I've received a few awards, and now given some!

Afterwards, our Chinese hosts took us to lunch! Note, asked what I like to eat earlier, not expecting them to pick the restaurant based on my eating preferences, we end up in the best vegetarian restaurant in Shanghai. This across from the Art Museum. Here we're presented with gifts! (Note: We should treat the Chinese so well as they do us! I was embarrassed at this point, having done so little to deserve this. But, one learns to 'go with the flow!' I'm an actor, so I played 'the role!'). But, the only thing I liked was the brocolli, and no rice (the Chinese just won't believe I'm a 'simple' eater)!

Of course, they were all interested in this NBC/Universal, Beijing Olympics project (supplying bi-lingual people to work for American TV). Ah, 'biness!'

The next day, we were to meet Stephanie at the Gongming Clinic in Pudong about my visa renewal (the main reason being in Shanghai). Of course, we would cycle there, so I asked Tom to plan a route (as you must cross over or under the Huangpu River to get to the Pudong District). When there appeared to be no way, I had him call Mr. Huang. He told Tom we 'must take a boat.' I wondered about this and where, as not wanting to go into 'central' Shanghai (can 'skirt' from Yangpu to Pudong). This didn't make sense taking a boat when there are bridges, so I told Tom we'd just use the 'No Bicycles' Expressway (none of the laws are enforced anyway)!3 The Expressway is right in front of the hotel and so handy! But, word came back from Mr. Huang, that it's a tunnel (you go under the river), and not a bridge. Plus, he volunteered to guide us to Pudong!

So, we followed Mr. Huang. And what a nice trip, taking the 'ferry' over to Pudong (I finally got to see Pudong (you don't from an automobile), and it reminded me of Los Angeles). And all the way, from Yangpu, to her Clinic took only 1 hour!

There we discussed how to renew my visa! Note, this is 'tricky business,' and one must be careful! We decided she didn't need to go with me (first time), that my residence certificate was still valid. Additionally, since the Government Building for visas (has an interesting name) is on the way back to Yangpu, we decided I should stop by and apply now.

At the buidling I had Tom check first to see about the 'wait!' Hundreds apply, and sometimes the wait can be hours. With Mr. Huang along, I didn't want to inconvenience, any more than he'd been already! He's such a lovely guy! He showed us his photo album on the ferry ride over, and on it he'd pasted our newspaper photograph4.

This 'scene,in ' the new, ' (looking for wonderful eight-word name) visa Shanghai Government building, efficient, organized, and something I wish the U.S. Gov. would emulate. There's a place to get your ID photograph taken (30RMB / $3.50 for six)--I, thinking I didn't have any partook of this service (she said 'smile!). There's even a trendy coffee bar in the area where you collect and pay for whatever.

It's all about making money, and getting rich in China now! Oh, one wonders what Mao Z. would think of all this...? But, if you read about 'old China,' this is better for the majority (I think)!.

Anyway, when are 'number came up,' and we presented our application, etc. we were told we needed Gongming's (I work for them) original business license. She (the woman in the uniform) gestured to the area where they have printed little forms (requirements for each request) in both Chinese and English. How stupid of us not to check these first! I have no excuse for being so dumb, as I've been through this process four times now.

So, we picked up the 'requirements,' left the building and rejoined Mr. Huang who was dutifully watching out bicycles on the sidewalk outside.

Then he lead us back to Yangpu District!

Ah, the visa business... I should open a consultation business on such!

Monday, December 11, 2006

111206 my 67th birthday

And how did I spend my birthday? Cycling around Shanghai in the rain!

Strange thing about me... The worse the conditions get, the better I like it! I was drenched, muddy, and cold, but that's what makes you stronger! Discomfort! Remember, 'Pain is just weakness leaving the body!'

I tell Tom, what do you think Tibet is going to be like (next summer)?

My birthday present? Eating at a Uyghur restaurant (by accident? I don't think so!).

After we cycled over to the 'prestigious,' up-to-their-asses-in-arrogance, Fudan University (we were doing research on 'assholery'). But, not much help at Fudan (for Tom's English-learning quest). Thus, we cycled off looking for 'lunch.'

Tom found the 'Xinjiang Restaurant, post haste' where we ate 'poluo!' Amazing! I noticed 'poluo' (my favorite rice dish, 'pilaf') left on a plate when sitting down! I couldn't believe it! What are the odds of finding another Uyghur restaurant in Shanghai? This is the third Uyghur Restaurant in Shanghai I'm aware of. I had originally wanted to go to Zentral in Puxi (near my old GongMing room).

Additionally, we ended up meeting a French man and his Chinese girlfriend there at this Uyghur restaurant. Bon apetit! It pays to 'Just get out there and do it!'1

Then Tom and I, we attempted to purchase a rice cooker for Tom, and electric clippers for me. Both unsuccessful! I hate shopping for things! There are eight million different rice cookers and there were no electric clippers.

Afterwards, we went off to Jianghai and Mr. Zhu's flat to edit 'Ling, Ling.' They have 'Adobe Premier Pro.' We discovered, however, the VCD/MP4 disc that the company in Xining had done for us, couldn't be copied! Don't ask me why? Now, we have to return to the original tapes, to edit and save as 'MP4' file to upload to www.youtube.com How much 'challenge' it's been to get 'Ling, Ling' on 'Youtuberini?' Sometimes I wish I'd become a dentist in Flagstaff, Arizona!

Then I returned (cycling through the sloush in 'going-home' traffic) to my Fan Hau hotel room (Tom wanted to stay with the boys). I immediately cleaned Ms. Fiets, everything soaked. Afterwards I had 'lu cha' (green tea) and ate peanuts.

Not exactly my favorite birthday cake of old, 'Devil's food' chocolate, with peanut-butter frosting!

So, that's how I spent my 67th birthday, just as I had wished (not making a big deal out of it!).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

081206 Shanghai in December (a look back at our cycling adventure)

We've been back in 'distopeia' now for a couple of days, summer like it is in terms of the weather at 30-degrees-north latitude, equivalent to New Orleans in the U.S. Flowers are blooming here in Shanghai!

I think of Shanghai as the Chinese equivalent of New Orleans with its own 'French Quarter,' and located at the mouth of a great river. Larger, of course, than New Orleans but similar in many ways. Cockroach City, low, green and wet (on the Pacific Ocean)! New Orleans located on the Gulf of Mexico (Atlantic Ocean). But, Shanghai inhabitated by more people than many countries (same population as Holland - 22 million1).

In fact, the Shanghai area reminds me of Holland, as 'laced' with canals, and barge traffic. China even has a 'Grand Canal,' from up north to Hangzhou connecting the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers.

We've just spent the last three months cycling from far northwest China in Xinjiang A.R., through the following Provinces: Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Zizhiqu, Gansu (for the second time), Zizhiqu, Gansu (for the third time, a strange shaped Province), Shanxi, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Shanghai. A total of nine2, from east to west.

By the end of this three months on a bicycle, and travelling some 7,000KM (we first cycled up to Kanas lake from Urumqi), I was singing the following song/poem (I wrote):

Too many people!

Too many people,

With nothing to do!

Too many people

Watching my every move;

Nothing better to do!

So many people,

With too much to do,

Going so fast,

How can they last?

Too many people

With nothing to do,

Throwing down trash!

Too many people,

Going nowhere fast,

How can they last?

Too many people

Rushing about,

With so much doubt!

Too many people

Now worshiping the 'kway,'

Oh 'such a guy,'

'Aping' the new,

Oh, what to do?

Too many people

With nothing to do!

Too many people

With nothing to do!

You 'two,'

With too much to do?

If there's one thing I remember about the Chinese people, it's there incredible generosity, kindness, and support for me (us, Tom included) -- what we were doing. With always the same questions from the crowds that formed around us, 'What are you from?' 'How old are you?' I can now answer these in Chinese, thanks to Tom (Xu Tan), my cycling partner, who taught me some Chinese. I can also write my name, 'Haqi,' in Chinese characters3!

The Chinese people are wonderful! I learned in Chinese, although they can't understand my pronunciation in Pinyin, 'Wo ai Zhonguo ren!' Or, in English, 'I love the Chinese people!'

I came to worship the men and women who sweep the streets and highways (as makes cycling in the bicycle lanes possible)! The little people doing their job every day without complaining about an incrediby low salary (I'm sure the street sweepers get only something like 2-300RMB per month or $30 - 40 U.S.)

On the otherhand, I should say I have a 'love / hate' relationship with Chinese culture, as I have many things I question about it. Of course, as I was born in the West, on the other side of mother earth. I see things from a different point of view.

I feel sorry for the truck and bus drivers who have to honk their honks so loudly as to create 'noise pollution,' without understanding!

The Chinese culture is at least 2,200 years old, when Master Chen (of Terracotta Warrior' fame) unified the 'country' (the area around Xi'an, Shanxi, Province). In comparison, the U.S., is their 'stepchild,' at 250-years old! Their culture is ten times older! Thus, I'm hesitant to criticize. Who are we, a 'child' in comparison, to criticize 'grandfather' China?

If you knew Chinese history, you'd be amazed at the suffering the people have endured to get where they are today, on the 'doorstep of fame and fortune' (also material decadence). The last 2,000 years, have been nothing but wars, killing, depredation, suffering, and ill fortune!

If you knew about Mao's 'Great Leap Forward,' (the famine of the 1950s, and the 'Cultural Revolution') you'd be amazed at the suffering the Chinese people have endured, this just in recent history (20th Century) history. Before that, one Dynasty after another fighting each other to control the peasants for fortune!

This is why I think the Chinese people are so appreciative of the current economic system which has brought abundance beyond their dreams! I remember interviewing an 80-year old Chinese man, in a park in Xining who said, 'Things are much better now!' And they are, as capitalism has brought many 'things!' And most people are better off now, at least the ones who can take advantage of the new system (educated, clever, and aggressive - basically the ones that know English and computers).

On the otherhand, with capitalism comes the other extreme, poverty! Of course, now there are billionaires, and millionaires, a burgeoning 'middle class,' but on the bottom, millions of people barely making 'ends meet!' These are the ones that the old system supported, but now doesn't beyond giving 'lip service.'

One quoted fact... there are 150 million migrant workers in China! That's half the population of the U.S. I saw them in Xinjiang picking 'King Cotton!'

I saw many beggars on the streets of the villages, towns, and cities we passed through. I saw many 'hobos,' older people, carrying their belongings in sacks, walking on the highway. Always we tried to stop and give them some money. Many are 'mentally ill,' and refused. I remember one man looking at the 10- Yuan note I'd handed him, trying to figure out what it is! Many, mumble, chant, or sing, as they walk along, going where they don't care, just moving away from their pasts!

What is sad to me, is to see old women out there, walking alone, no place to live, or to die! Note, the economic system has brought social change, and now the sons and daughters of their parents, don't want to take care of their parents in their old age. I remember reading about one Chinese mother suing her children for support!

What to do with older people, a challenge for all cultures!

I remember the incredible poverty of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, many dying on the streets of Kashigar, wondering...? Why don't the Uyghur people take care of their own? I used to make a point of giving one, a Uyghur man with no arms or legs, money everyday!

Then again, I would ask Americans (us) about our own 'Native Americans,' and why we haven't taken better care of them (the richest country in the world) - since we destroyed their culture?

These problems, caused by capitalism, are not just China's but the world's! China is just the latest 'reflection,' of such!

China is a vast country, with all the variety America has in terms of terrain and weather. To me it's divided into two 'Chinas,' the west (blue and brown), west of Langzhou and Chengdu, and the east (grey and green), the one you know: Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong (low and green, the flat river deltas of the Yellow, Yangtze, and Pearl).

Western China is much like the western U.S., but with no west coast. Xinjiang A.R. (Autonomous Region) borders five different '-stan4' countries plus Russia5 and Mongolia. It is all deserts (the great Taklimakan south of Urumqi, and the Geurbantunggut, north of Urumqi) and mountains (primarily the Tian Shan). In the south are the Pamir and Kunlun ranges (on the Pakistan and Indian border).

From Hotan (on the southern 'Silk Road'), in south Xinjiang, comes most of the jade, this dribbling out Green Dragon River, from the Pamir and Kunlun.

I now understand about jade, the reverved precious stone of China. The best is not green, but white (translucent) in color. Much 'fake' is sold as jade.

Walking or cycling (quietly) is the way to see and hear a country. This because you are going so much slower, you can partake or every sight, smell and sound!

And speaking of sound, this is something I don't like about the Chinese culture! They love loud noise (firecrackers), yell/scream at each other, bang the doors closed, and generally make noise! Or, so it seems to me, no doubt they think it's 'normal!'6 I have sensitive ears and suffered all the way, finally trying to deaden the honking (from the trucks and buses) with Rotraut's ear plugs! I've written before about the 'honking madness' of Chinese highways7!

They make unpleasant noises when eating (slurping), spitting, and brushing their teeth (clearing their throats)!

If there's anything that will 'drive' me out of China, it will be the noise! I seek a quiet and peaceful culture.

On the otherhand, I love the circling pigeons in Shanghai, seemingly this bird everywhere in China (noticed in Kashigar).

There's no wildlife left in China (save for the protected Pandas). I remember seeing a 'Watch for deer!' sign on the new highway #314 going to Kashigar, this just north of Korla. But, there's no deer to watch out for anymore. Only the birds have escaped extinction from over killing/eating. I held an eagle on my arm near Kanas Lake, and saw a Falcon in the Qilian Shan. No doubt their are still fish in the lakes, as a Uyghur man was selling on highway #314 going to Kashigar (when I cycled there from Urumqi with Mamat8). But, the 'Snow Leopard,' bear, and deer, the larger animals, are all gone9!

So, in summary, what did I learn on this cycling trip?

I learned that all people, whether Chinese or American ('lowei') are basically the same. Yes, there are cultural differences, but all people seek pretty much the same things: love, respect, wealth, good times (family and children). They will share what they can afford, but must take care of themselves first.

Speaking of children, all of them 'are mine!' I wrote a poem entitled, 'All the Children are mine!' When Chinese women lament the fact I'm single and without, I respond with this, something that stuplifies them of course: 'My family is just a little bit bigger than yours, it includes all the people of the world! My country is just a little bit bigger than yours, as it includes all the countries of the world!'

I love other people's children (thus, don't have to take care of them)! In China (Asia actually) it's wonderful for me, as there's no paranoia about pedophilia. Thus, when I pick up and talk to a child there's no fear (from mothers) that I'm going to kidnap them! The children are fascinated with me too, as so different looking (grey beard). They stare at me! 'What is this?' they're thinking. Thus, I get to play with them10, but many are so frightened they run to mother!

Tom (Xu Tan) is good with children, and he'll make a good father!11

Speaking of Tom now, my 24-year old cycling partner. I can't thank him enough for coming along, bearing my idiosyncracies12! He was such a help, making everything so much easier for me. I suppose I could have cycled alone, but wouldn't have had such an easy time, eating, finding a good hotel, or the route (difficult negotiating large cities). In China, you really do need a native speaker. In addtion, he did the near impossible! He, having never cycled this way, this distance before, made it all the way without complaining once! This amazing to me, as I, a westerner, complained to him (for sure)! He couldn't do enough for me! Thank you, Tom!

Many people want to do what we did (a three-month cycling trip), but actually few ever do (trapped in their cultural 'boxes')! Tom, not really knowing me, took a chance (risked) and came with me! So, much the better for him, as he discovered, not only his own country (up close and personal), but learned all about bicycles and tour cycling. He's a natural for, having the stamina.

I tried to teach Tom (and others) about diet and how important it is when 'exerting.' Yes, you can eat processed foods, and noodles when living 'normally,' but extreme exertion requres complex carbohydrates like rice (mi fan). I tell him, 'Feed the body, not the mind!'

Next year, 2007, we are cycling from Xining and Golmud to Mt. Kalas in Tibet (Xizang in Chinese). This will require 'feeding the body,' rather than the mind for sure! The average elevation of Tibet is 4K meters ASL (above sea level)! There's less air to breathe, thus requires the body adapting to such!

I remember cycing in Lhasa (Xizang's Provential Capitol) for the first time (in 1999), being immediately exhausted in 100 meters! So, if any of you want to come along on this arduous adventure, start preparing now! Get into physical condition, and have a durable bicycle (good tires and tubes13)!

In 2008, we (www.haaqi.com) are sponsoring, 'Bicycle China Olympics!' This a gathering in July of cyclists from all over the world in Beijing, prior to the Olympic Games (August)! In China, we are suggeting groups cycling to Beijing from every Provential Capitol. Then gathering in the same hotel in Bejing for one week! Can you imagine cyclists from all over the world gathering in one place to share their stories (and information about bicycles and cycling)? Be there, or have square tires! This is the trip of a life time, including the Olympic Games, as well!

What do I remember about this past cycling trip (September, October, November, and early December, 2006)? You, the Chinese people! Congratulations to you, for all your kindnesses to me! I shall always remember you, and hold you dear to my heart! You made it possible! You make it possible! Remember Addidas' motto, 'Impossible is nothing!' In English we would say it, 'Nothing is Impossible!'

I remember meeting Tom's parents, one afternoon in Xi'an! I remember Tom's mother's face inspiring a poem I wrote:

'A Chinese face,

With so much grace,

I fell in love with yesterday!'

Love,

'Wo ai Zhonguo ren!'

Haqi ('Hutch')

Making magic with you!

'Climb high,

Ride far,

Your goal the sky,

Your aim the stars!'

www.haaqi.com