Wednesday, March 28, 2007

250307

Today was the best day in Qinghai Province so far, and I'll describe why in a moment! But, I wanted to explain something before, a first, something pretty crazy happened to me...

While I was composing this I was listening to (not watching) a movie entitled, 'Eragon,' in German (out of lip sync)! How can that be? Well, the amazing technology of Apple computer, and the complete idiocy of the people who pirated the movie. First, when it said 'English' for 'audio,' I got German. Secondly, the subtitles were in English, but obviously from another movie (the word 'fuck' in practically every sentence), and positioned so low on the screen as hardly able to read! To compensate, however, it has a female-speaking dragon, and an actor of merit (I wish I could remember his name?). But, instead of torturing myself watching 'Eragon,' I decided to do something productive, like write this! Yet, I continued to listen to the soundtrack of the movie as I wrote. I could hear, and sometimes see (as I;d 'flip' to) fighting, flying, riding horses through beautiful scenery and generally, the heroes just a plot point away from disaster! But, trust me in this movie, good, wins out over the evil, and the pretty girl is saved by the end (I don't even have to watch to know)! All of this in China, no less!

Now, my wonderful day in Qinghai:

This morning we arose early to cycle with Mr. Du (our landlord) to a town (Huzhu) some 40KM northeast of Xi Ning. He had invited us a week ago, as there's some kind of special market in this town. I thought a good opportunity to get to know him better, cycle 80KM, and see more of Qinghai Province! All turned out to be true!

He was right on time, and we departed 26 Da Tong Jie at 0800 as planned. The sun was barely up in a cloudy sky and it was chilly. I learned my lighter gloves are little help in the cold. Of course, I should have worn the heavier ones early, brought the lighter ones for the afternoon. Even with all my experience I still make mistakes. What else did I forget...? An extra Mini DV cassette (as we were 'shooting' video). I did remember to bring an extra fully-charged battery.

I'd been out this highway before, but not very far. This a two-lane hard surface highway, overloaded with traffic (as most Chinese highways are)... The honking madness of Chinese highways! Mr. Du, on an old one-speed Chinese bicycle, was slow. But, I didn't mind it as I'm still weak from the Flu episode--in fact, it was perfect staying back with him. Richa, had breezed ahead with little effort! Ah, if only I had a 24-year old body, I couldn't probably conquer the world (at least a few peaks, maybe the 'Tour de France')!

Going slowly gave me the chance to stop often to capture images of various bucolic scenes (check them out at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery). The best, a mama lamb with her new kids! In addition, I 'rolled,' on something you won't see in the U.S.: a farmer plowing his field (Spring planting time) pulled by two oxen, with another man sowing seed by hand from a tub!

I also, 'rolled,' POV ('point of view') footage while riding. You should try this sometime, something I can do having the experience: one hand guiding, one hand on the camcorder, one eye in the viewfinder, one eye watching the road. But, it's not always great 'stuff,' as you don't really see what you're doing. I did it primarily for Mr. Du's benefit, as I'm sure he's never seen himself riding a bicycle before.

By the time we got to Huzhu it was 12 noon, but not bad considering it was 40 KM and slightly uphill, and we stopped often to let Mr. Du catch up. Huzhu, on market day, turned out to be teeming with people (nothing new here)!

We first wanted to eat and rest first, so off we went to find a restaurant. This takes some doing as Haqi will only eat rice, and not all restaurants cook rice. It must have taken us thirty minutes to find one that did. It turned out to be pretty good and Mr. Du and Richa got what the wanted too (meat and noodles)!

I believe China has consistently the best restaurants in the world. You can go into any little restaurant, anywhere, and, generally speaking, eat well for little money. It's always hot, and always tasty. Sometimes it takes a while as they make as everything is fresh (little pre-prepared). But, this is what makes it so good! Every day they go to market and buy fresh ingredients (nothing stored for too long).

After lunch we cycled around the town taking photographs. Then we visited the market, which stretched out on one street several kilometers long. Here I almost 'went mad,' from dealing with the crowds, the masses. People think getting travelling a bicycle longer distances, challenging. For me, that's the best and easiest! It's dealing with the congested communities that's challenging for me, the traffic, the noise! And I want away from 'it' all as soon as possible--must be my age!

In the meantime, this market was teeming with people, children, loudspeakers hawking 'buy! Buy! BUY!' some playing music, and everything under the sun for sale! I'm sure I could have bought a child, or a young woman for a night. It's easy to fall in love in China! It had the atmosphere of a circus sideshow: selling/buying, buying and selling, hawkers entertaining anyway to get your attention! (Mao would be amazed!)

We 'shot' video to try to capture what I've tried to describe on paper before, but really can't possibly convey. I was happy to get away alive! But, in the course of 'running this gauntlet,' we made friends with many as I was the only 'loawai' (foreigner) within 40KM! Richa captured many images (www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery). Mr. Du was obviously interested in cycling the distance to bought several things (as great deals--you'd be amazed!)

Afterwards, having survived the market, we began our return trip to Xi Ning (about 230P.M. / 1430 hours). On the way out of town, we stopped at a 'Tu' facility (reminded me of a Buddhist Monastery). This was the kind of structure I'd love to have for www.haaqi.com: much wood intricately carved, courtyards, gardens, and the most amazingly of all, only one story high!

The 'Tu' people are one of the 56 'minorities' in China. We had come across the 'Tuwa' (not to be confused with) at Kanas Lake, but this group entirely different! They obviously are practitioners of Buddhism, which was a little confusing (my normal state in China). But, only depictions of Mao! Again, see images at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery

Strangely enough outside the Tu 'Monastery' in the courtyard a group of young women were being rehearsed for a dance number. I was fascinated with this, as my career was the entertainment business (of course dance a part of). Again, and I've said this so many times in the past... What are the odds of running into something like this, 40KM from Xi Ning, Xi Ning 2,500KM from Shanghai? Yes, in Shanghai if you ran into a dance troupe in rehearsal (which we did at the Shanghai Ballet), you wouldn't think anything unusual... But, in Huzhu?

We ended up befriending the director, a 'professional' dance instructor. He explained, these girls were 'non-professional' dancers, the daughters of farmers. He went on to express dismay about the cultural scene in Xi Ning (no place to rehearse). Thus, he was happy to learn about www.haaqi.com, and our plans for Xi Ning.

Before we departed on our bicycles he organized a group photo (image), which you can check out, along with the others, at www.haaqi.com/gallery.

Heading south toward Xi Ning, it was all 'downhill' back to where we'd started that morning. I hadn't realized cranking to Huzhu (sometimes it's difficult to tell--I just thought I was out of shape) was, in fact, up hill. Now, that we were going downhill Mr. Du could keep up with us. Richa and me, could probably made it back in two hours without Mr. Du. Certainly Richa could on his new bicycle. I think with him it took three hours (4:15 on the way up).

The entire day, spent just how I would like to spend the remainder of my life: cycling through the countryside, meeting people, taking 'photos,' writing about it afterwards. The temperature just right for me (a little cool in the morning), the afternoon sun warming things up, a nice lunch, being outside, smelling fresh earth being plowed, meeting all the friendly people, the children, even the market was interesting (although trying), meeting the dance instructor... I was thinking... Gosh, what a perfect day! Then something that made it sublime! Mr. Du asked if we'd like some yoghurt.

Now, you probably will think this silly! Yogurt can be purchased in every food market in America, maybe the West--no big deal! Why so special? I wish I could include a sample here for you to taste! This was the best yoghurt I've ever eaten (trust me I've made it, and somewhat of a connoisseur)! Not only did it taste unusually good, it was the situation: served in a ceramic bowl (no plastic containers), we sat on stools in the warm afternoon sunlight, feet on mother earth next to some rushing water. The yoghurt was 'homemade' fresh, of course. The cost, probably for 12OZ. (guessing here), 1 RMB / .10 Cents U.S. Afterwards Richa tried to pose with the woman, but she, being an unmarried Moslem woman, would hardly cosy up to him. But, we did manage to capture her image. Later, I told Richa, 'If I could get this stuff to the U.S., we'd get rich!' Think of it! The best yoghurt I've ever eaten for .10 cents U.S.!

One wonders what I'm doing in China? This day an example of why!

Then after our 'quiet' sojourn in the country came the city honking madness of Xi Ning! Ah, back to reality!

By the time, I had carried Ms. Fiets up the three flights of stairs to our apartment, I'd knew I'd had a good work out! In fact, on the way back in to Xi Ning I was feeling stronger!

Maybe it was the yoghurt!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

150307 'Beware, the Ides of March!' (Who said that?)

I awoke to snow on the ground this morning! Then it really started! By noon we had a nice accumulation!

I sent a message to Richa, just departing on the train from Shanghai. I 'said,' 'It's snowing in XiNing for you!' (He likes snow.) He called me back later, to give me his arrival day/time in XiNing. This is a slow train he's on, not arriving in XiNing until 1830 hours +1 (Friday). My fast train to XiNing (in January), the one that goes to Lhasa, only took 25 hours. His 34 hours! But, atleast he has a berth, a place to sleep! Riding to and fro Xi'an this past 'Spring Festival,' he had to stand for 30 hours (both ways)! Yes, they sell 'SRO' tickets—you can stand if you like (many do to get home for S.F.)!

Winter appears in March in Qinghai Province (May in Colorado, according to Marty)! January-February, were cold, but clear and sunny (no snow). But me and Richa, we like snow! I will go walking in it later!

And I did... Walk in the snow... To one of my restaurants where I had lunch (tofu and rice). But, I haven't been feeling great the last couple of days (no energy), so I walked back to my flat afterwards, on the way purchasing some contact lens solution. Noticing it was 'Alcon' product, I examined the box and sure enough, their headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas (laughed out loud)! I can see it now, F.W., as I spent much time there.

Once, a million years ago I spent one night in the 'drunk tank,' as having gotten into a fight! But, ancient history. Yes, I was a wild and crazy guy once, infamous in several places! Mostly on the 28th floor at 1330 Sixth Avenue!

This is yet another example of globalization... Buying a Fort Worth product in XiNing, Qinghai Province, China. China now... Just an Asian version of the U.S.

I saw a fly the other night! In my bedroom! I was curious, as it's the first flying insect I've noticed in XiNing (one of the reasons I'm living here). I'm not a huge fan of insects! One of the many reasons I'm not fond of Shanghai are cockroaches! I'm not a cockroach and mosquito kind of guy! I kill them without thinking (then I reproach myself)! I didn't kill the fly, who hid in amongst my clothing! Who knows might have been a deceased relative?

Just today I just discovered something interesting having to do with Buddhism. Note: Qinghai Province a very 'Buddhist' Chinese Province (maroon-robed monks walking around XiNing). The current (14th) Dalai Lama was born nearby:

“His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was born only 40 miles / 60KM from Xining, and one of the largest of Tibet’s monastic universities, Kumbum Jampeling, is nearby.” Of course, this is why I see so many maroon-robed monks walking around XiNing (begging too).

And guess how I found out about this...? On the Internet! I'm living in XiNing but I find this out on the Intenet! I think this is the definition of 'irony!'

I shall cycle out there (Kumbum Jampeling) with Richa one day. Join us, you Buddhism followers.

But, wow, I haven't felt much like exerting these days! The January flu bout took away all my 'qi' (energy)! Now, trying to recover it! Today, after lunch, I fell asleep on the couch (took an hour's nap). What's wrong?

Just received this from my American friend Toby Wheeler, who splits his time between Homer, Alaska, and Biskek, Kyrgyzstan:

“Hi Hutch,

Just wanted to thank you for sending my way your

lovely thoughts and ruminations. I enjoy them a lot.

I think about you often and picture your travels in my

mind, aided of course by the photos, but as always

fueled by my own projections and beliefs.

I have a copy of 'Peace Pilgrim's' little booklet and occasionally

I read a passage and breathe in some fresh inspiration. It is easy to be jaded in this world these days (Kyrgyzstan massively included), but each moment does count. And, of course all will come to pass.

I am spending a lot of time with Indira these days;

seem to be wandering into the householder thing again.

We are going to Uzbekistan tomorrow for a 2-week visit. I

will be around here (Central Asia) till October and then

back to the States. I am not so excited about the

latter; but who knows. God is everywhere.

So may the wind be at your back and as they say,

Keep Up, the Maha mantra for the Aquarian Age.

Blessings and may there be a wide road.

Love,

Toby

'Alimjan'”

And may the road be wide for you too!

Toby and I met in the Post Office in Urumqi, one day, two summers ago. We've been friends ever since. He was there on a mountain-climbing expedition, and had been ripped off by a Dutch guide (Johan). I spent time trying to help him recover several thousand U.S. Dollars from this jerk. Since, we met in Kashigar and developed a friendship.

Toby went on to Biskek (capitol) Krygyzstan where he met a woman named Indira! We know how that goes. I met her in Kashigar, a lovely woman who speaks, besides her native tongue Krygyz, Russian, and English!

It is only dummies like me who can speak anything much beyond English. I will blame the American public education system!

All Chinese children have to learn English is school. Do any American children have to learn Chinese? Of course not! Big mistake! But, how to explain...?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

140307 'Life 101' (this one for my friend, Trueman Turnipseed)

I learned something interesting today... I've lived roughly 582,900 hours! Can you imagine that? It's easy to figure out, in my case: 67 X 8700+/-= Wow!

For starters, let's 'write off,' 90% of those for sleeping, eating, messing around, etc. But, even 10% is 58,290 hours! If I would have saved one dollar per hour over the course of my life, I'd have $58,290 U.S. Dollars, plus interest! What do I have to show for 58,290 hours?

Like most Americans I'm not much to put in the bank for a rainy day! Until recently I lived month to month! Thank God, for Social Security, or I'd still be working in some meaningless job! Thank you, F.D.R.!

Can I claim wisdom? Hardly! Can I claim happiness? Well, kinda! Can I claim many friends? Yes!

What if we divide 58,290 hours into days? We get 2,429 days! If we divide those days by 365 (1 year), we get almost 7 years! 7 years out of 67 years of age I can claim (maybe) productive! Thus, I must have wasted a lot of time (60 years)!

These are the kinds of things you think about when you get older! It never occurs to you when younger! You're too busy trying to figure it all out, getting a job, raising a family, taking a vacation (to forget)! The future stretches out endlessly in front of you!

Now, my chant:

Only this moment!

Only this moment!

Only this moment!

Moments are all that we have!

And I can tell you if the 'Body is the Hero1,' the mind is the villian!

The great challenge in life is getting control of your mind (ego consciousness). But, so this is so difficult in this modern life, where our attention is captured daily by insidious distractions! We rush about doing this and that, never devoting time and effort to what's most important. Sad, really! We're like ants, and bees, mice on a treadmill! 'I'm late, I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!' People watch TV so they don't have to think! People 'sleep walk' through life!

With ego consciousness came Duality, the fact we know we exist! Symbolized in the 'Garden of Eden,' God lamented as 'He' knew what suffering this would cause us! And just look, 'He' was right!

So, what was the reason for this 'discovery?' Why weren't we happy in 'Paradise?' Why didn't we remain animal like? Therein lies the great question, the great mystery, and why we invented religion (to explain). Note, better to just go with a 'program,' that to have to figure it out yourself!

Certainly there is something beyond human existence! Certainly there is a 'Creator!' Certainly, there is something 'behind all of this!'

A colleague once informed me, 'There are no universal truths!' I rebelled at this in the beginning, but then now understand what he meant! There is no such thing as 'objectivity,' it's an illusion. We create our worlds by what we think and the words we use (Language is a vision of the world!' Fellini)!

Dr. C.G. Jung, in a BBC interview said, 'I don't have to believe, I know!' when asked about God!

It is all for you to know—that's your task! 'Believing' is penultimate! It's up to you to find out! To know, for you!

Sadly, modernity distracts us, and we live in a dark and unproductive time! Yes, we become 'Bill Gateses' and accumulate billions, but to what end? We feed our Egos, while our consciousness starves to death!

I myself, coming to the end of bodily life, am planning to 'drop out!' What does than mean? It means 'weaning' myself from my own distractions, and facing 'the end,' in a meaningful way! It means living closer to nature, the thing the body (at least) will become! It means understanding some primordial things! Most of all, it means experiencing the 'unknown' while still conscious of such! I practice such, remind myself of thus, everyday.

I want to participate in my 'transition,' not be drugged out in some hi-tech hospital, where they could give a damn whether I live or die! I want to choose the day; the way, saying, as Chief Dan George did in the movie, 'Little Big Man,' 'Today is a good day to die!'

Everyday is, is a good day to die! That is, if you're awake and aware of the gift you've been given! Life!

'Born to be wild! Live to outgrow it!' Lao Tzu

F.A. Hutchison

in China

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

080307

I don't know if you've experienced a 'charlie horse,' a cramp in your leg, but excruciatingly painful! I had one the other night, causing me to scream! I was asleep, and woke up with it, like a knife blade thrust into your calf muscle. They come after exertion, and are worsening with a lack of calcium in your system (although not my problem this time). I've had them all my life, going back to high school sports!

I remember a joke my friends played on me by appearing to help with advice. They said when a cramp comes, tighten the muscle and it will go away!

Well, I was sleeping in the upper bunk having moved in with my friend Kirk. When it came I did such, tightening the muscle as recommended. I remember flying out of the top bunk and landing on the concrete floor below almost breaking a leg! My friend Kirk giggling, as I cursed him writhing on the floor! How cruel young people can be!

Of course, the way to deal with them is to stand up and put weight on the leg. The pain subsides! But, in the meantime, there's much scrambling out of bed to stand up!

They are a muscle convulsing from over use (stress), but also weakness leaving the body! On our recent 3-month cycling trip (7,000KM) I never had one! It's when you haven't exerted, then overdue it, watch out that night!

But, I wonder... Where does the name 'charlie horse,' come from?

From www.dictionary.com :

A 'charley horse' is a North American term for a painful contusion of the quadriceps muscle of the anterior thigh that commonly results in a muscular hematoma and sometimes several weeks of pain and disability.

It often occurs in sports when an athlete is struck by an opponent's knee, in a manner not unlike the kick of a horse, perhaps the reason for its name. In the UK, such an injury is known as a Dead Leg, corky, or corkie.

In recent decades the term has also been used to describe painful leg cramps, which may occur in the thigh, arch of the foot, toes, calf muscle, or quadriceps. Unlike leg cramps, however, a charley horse can occur when the muscle in question is not being used, such as while lying in bed.

The term may date back to American baseball slang of the 1880s, possibly from the pitcher Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourne who is said to have suffered from cramps.

Another story mentions a horse named Charley that used to work at Comiskey Park, the Chicago White Sox' ballpark in Chicago. In those days, an old, perhaps lame, retired horse was often called "Charley."

I didn't know, but you can find out any thing via the Internet! An amazing tool, yet most Chinese children use for games and communication with friends. Then later they wonder why they can't get a job (except with a video game company)?

I want to talk about the traffic, the insanity of the traffic in Asia, particularly China! I'm reminded of it everyday, as I'm 'out there' risking my life! And I've gotten fairly aggressive, since that's what's called for, lest you never get anywhere!

It's a combination of the games 'chicken,' dodge ball, and TV show, 'demo derby!' And bicycles are at the bottom of the 'pecking order!' Even pedestrians are higher for one reason. The don't look, they just cross, or walk in the middle of the street. If they looked they'd have to defer to the truck or bus, or motor vehicle. Woman with babies make sure you see the bundle, as you wouldn't dare! Pedestrians, in a way, dare you to hit them! It's a part of the 'fatalistic' mindset in Asia. If I'm going to get killed on the street, there's nothing I can do to prevent it!

This is how I had one of my worst accidents, in Kathmandu. A woman walked across the street without looking, and collided with me riding my bicycle (sending me to the hospital). I never knew what happened to her? I'm sure she did extra puja (religious offering) for the next so many days, as I'm sure she got hurt. Her way of explaining would be that she hadn't offered enough to the God of protection, Vishnu!

This is a primary difference between Western and Eastern thinking. We're more into believing we participate in our personal destiny somehow. I wonder, actually. I no longer believe in 'free will.'

Additionally, having to do with the traffic in China, there's just too much of everything: pedestrians, bicycles, automobiles, trucks, buses, carts, animals, etc. All going somewhere and in a hurry (Chinese have no patience.). Thus, there's competition for space/time.

I never understood people walking in the streets where there is a sidewalk? But, in someways I understand and applaud, as the 'two-leggeds,' at least in Asia, refuse to give way to the monsters (trucks and buses). That attitude I like!

Asian people claim the streets and highways as their own, and treat them, by in large, as they would their living room. I've experienced Tibetan drivers stopping on a highway, getting out and sitting on the pavement to have a cigarette. They don't give a shit they're blocking traffic!

The trucks, buses, and taxis (professional drivers) have retaliated with loud horns! They use them all the time too, even when they don't have to (Chinese love noise). I call it the 'honking madness' of Asian street traffic.

I remember my U.K. Friend in Kathmandu, Steve! He used to go bonkers driving in the traffic there, where, in addition to the 'regular madness,' you have to dodge cows and elephants!

In Shanghai, I got so I was yelling and screaming epithets! I 'lost it,' several times cycling in Shanghai, and unlike me! I took to singing my song, 'Too Many People!' To stay sane!

Too many people,
_____
With nothing to do!
_____
Too many people,
____,
With nothing to do,
Wanting to work,
___________
But no job to shirk!
____________________

Too many people,
_____
Rushing about,
_____
They all jump and shout!
________
Too many people
_____
Going so fast,
________
They probably won't last!
__________

Too many people
_____
Talking so loud,
________
Noisy this crowd!
_______

Too many people
____
Staring at me,
____
What do they see?
________
Too many people
____
Like you and like me!
_____

Too many children
_____
No hope at all,
__________
They hit a stone wall!
________
What can be done,
_________
We're now on the run?
__________

Too many people,
_____
With nothing to do,
_____
But look at me too!
______

Too many people
____
Rushing about,
_____
They all jump and shout!

________
Too many people!
_____
Too many people!
_____
Couldn't we share?
__________
Let's make it a dare!
_______________
Let's make it a dare!
_______________

The little squares... Chinese characters that OpenOffice.org, my word processing program can't deal with yet! They don't support the Chinese language!

120307

Ah, Spring has sprung at this latitude (same as Colorado Springs)! And everyone was outside including me!

The light... The sunlight, you can tell, or atleast I can, looks/eels like Spring! It's not summer light, it's not autumn light, it's not winter light! It reminds me of Spring, when young men's thoughts turn to you know what. I was conceived in the Spring (a December baby), by the way!

After the usual morning routine, I rode up highway #227 toward Da Tong, a town 32KM north of XiNing. As I've mentioned before Richa and I stayed there overnight on the way into XiNing, this back last November.

Yesterday I'd gone to the Wangguozhang Bicycle Club to have Ms. Fiet's rear derailleur fixed. I met Wang Qing He there again. He seems to like hanging out there. I also met the Chinese winner of last year's Qinghai Lake Race, a 30-year old on a Carbondale bicycle (sorry don't remember his name). They were very busy as Sunday, the weather warm, and many in looking and buying bicycles. I told Wang I was in no hurry and I would return tomorrow (Monday) when less customers.

You Guo Hui was there, a tall, thin, young Chinese man, who'd offered his flat for me to stay in while he was in Beijing (for Spring Festival). Another nice guy!

Anyway, I cranked off to get/turn in my laundry, get cash from the ATM, and purchase a plastic bottle (like the one the cleaning ladies had taken thinking trash).

Afterwards I remembered I wanted to buy another... Gosh, everything has a name, but I rarely remember... I'll describe... These are very useful when riding a bicycle... It's a piece of elastic cloth, tube-like, that you pull over your head and around your neck... A scarf? These can be pulled up over mouth and nose, to block dust, dirt, and keep the face warm (when cold). Note, the women in XiNing wear what we would call a 'hospital mask,' whose straps fit around the ears. But, the same function.

I returned to my outdoor store, where I'd purchased one of these... and my back pack (that I like, a Chinese made 'Neeko'). At the same time I needed to find a toliet or 'W.C.,' as called here. But, none there.

So, Wangguozhang, only a couple a doors away came to mind, as I've used theirs.

Back at Wangguozhang, most of the customers had dispersed and You Guo Hui offered to work on the derailleur. 'Cool!' or something like that I responded with, as they'd not understand 'cool!'

It seems to me everything happens when it's suppose to (thinking about this today)! However, ego consciousness wants it when it wants it, thus we suffer when we don't get what we want!

For some reason I've been having trouble with the rear derailleur (the system that changes gears on the rear tire). I finally figured out, after fiddling with it myself, and having another mechanic at Wangguozhang work on it, that the cable housing wasn't long to enough allow a proper loop from the bottom most 'stay' (again, I'm at a loss for names) to the derailleur itself. I'm sure this means nothing to most.

Anyway, Mr. You, I shall call him, knew what to do. What we found out is the cable is too short. Ah, Yang Qi/27 Bike in Shanghai did something wrong when changing cables, that I didn't catch. Or, more likely, when the guy (another young Chinese member of Wangguozhang) put my bicycle together back in January, he didn't get the rear derailleur right. I know complicated.

When Mr. You said, 'Hao de!' or 'O.K.!' I went for some cash! But, as always they wouldn't accept any! Can you imagine this in the U.S.? I can never pay with cash here! So, I bought a... Again to describe... Clever this little device... designed to hold your bicycle wheels off the ground so you can work on... It looks like a camping stool, without the seat. But, I've been wanting something like this for a long time.

Normally, 'out there,' if you're alone, you have to turn the bicycle upside down to take off the wheel to repair a flat or whatever. This simple 'cradle' has the rear wheel off the ground which allows you to adjust the rear derailleur without turning the bicyle upside down. Anyway, it cost 50RMB / $6 U.S. When they don't accept any cash for repair work, I buy something. I also buy them beer!

So, off I went again, deciding I'd check it out by riding up Nan Shan, or 'South Mountain' (actually a hill overlooking XiNing). I hadn't been there since riding up was how I came in contact with the flu virus (that felled me). Wasn't wearing that 'thing' around my neck (over my nose) at the time.

I had a load too, laundry and three liters of water (usual backpack). So, I wasn't sure about making it all the way to the parking lot without stopping. But, I did! I think pride, can be a positive thing sometimes, because a crowd of walkers was looking on (didn't want to give up). Additionally, another 'professional' (serious cyclers always wear helmets) rider gave me a 'boost,' by accompanying me part way!

At the top I rested on a bench, drinking my bottled tea, and gazing out at south XiNing, the sun setting. Next to me a bench away, a young Chinese couple talking (he obviously pursuing her). I can tell without even understanding the language!

I coasted down the hill through the traffic and back to my clean flat!

I'd had been too quick to praise the 3 women who had done the 'good' cleaning job that morning. First, they'd taken two plastic bottles from the bathroom that I wanted. Secondly, they'd opened the glass door to the sun room so far, I couldn't get it closed! Oh, well, at least I can see out of the windows now!

Today, the following day, 'back to the future,' I discovered the derailleur working perfectly (heading north on highway #227). This, with the warm Spring day, made cycling on Ms. Fiets what it's supposed to be, fun!

At 20KM I turned off onto a hard surface road headed for a village. I knew the creek was on this side of the highway (west), and I always like to 'picnic' next to a rushing stream! Amazingly, that's exactly what happened. Even better, although the road was full of walkers, no one came and bothered me!

I sat there enjoying nature as I do, sitting on the earth, listening to the water rushing to the sea. This comes from the Qi Lian Shan, the big mountain range to the northwest. It's pure up there, but as it makes it way down to the south, to empty into the Huangshui River (running through XiNing) it becomes more and more polluted. I watch a woman wash her mop in the stream 50 meters up from me!

There is no hope for mankind, we just don't 'get it,' or can't! I look at the polluted water rushing past. I capture images of plastic bags in the trees across the stream (available at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery) now everywhere on earth. We'll be drowning in them soon!

I return to 'distopeia,' but a little bit more refreshed, having inhaled some better air, having seen some of nature, felt the negative ions of the rushing water.

Recently there was a question on one WEB site, 'What is the deadliest animal on earth. I was surprised to learn the mosquito, although this more an insect than an 'animal.' But, of the animals the answer was hippopotamus! I would have said, man, if a part of the animal family. We're so 'deadly' we're destroying ourselves (without a second thought).

On the way back a three-wheel motor cart passes. Of course, the man is interested in the 'laowai' (foreigner) looking so unusual. I wave. In the back a piglet under some netting, looking forlorn. We treat animals so badly! Oh, woe be unto us!

I have to go to the toilet, but so many people out, what to do. Ah, there's one at a petrol station. But, these are so bad, I hate to use them! This one three holes in the floor, the smell permeating the world! It's has never been cleaned most likely! But, what to do?

Just outside I capture an imagine (www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery) of some laundry drying. I always have a caption in mind when 'taking a picture.'

I came this way today (up-down highway #227), as I needed to to to Homey's Supermarket, the best (for me) in XiNing. I stopped to give a beggar 20 RMB, while others rushed past ignoring him. Oh, but for the grace of God go you!

While I'm locking Ms. Fiets, Richa calls. He wants to know the password of the Mac Book.

Inside Homey's I shop for the usual, but forget the item I went for, a small mirror. Time to trim my beard, but can't without a mirror. I look for 'contact lens solution,' but none there. I buy wash clothes, a plastic bottle, water, and dry milk power. It comes to 51RMB, or about $6 U.S.

I dodge 'going home traffic,' to get back to my flat! At one point a taxi honks which angers me (shouldn't get, but I hate the honking), and I yell at him and make the appropriate gestures! I'm waiting for the day when one of them we'll stop and we'll have a 'discussion!' This is what motivates me to learn Chinese! I'd love to give them a 'piece of my mind' so they would understand!

Back at my three floor flat I sit on my sun porch, the sun setting behind the next building. The windows are clean, but no one came from the cleaning crew to close the door. Luckily the temperature has risen in the past few days, and early in the morning, right here at the computer, not too cold!

Spring is upon us!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

070307

Yesterday I cranked (rode my bicycle) out north ('bai') on Highway #221 toward a town called Da Tong (30KM).

I live on the same named street in Xining, at 26 Da Tong Jie ('Jie' meaning street, 'Lu' meaning road).

It's been cold as the residual effects of the big cold front that brought the snow still here (paralyzing NE. China). But, it was sunny with little wind.

I'd had the rear derailleur worked on the day prior, at the 'Club,' the bicycle club that supports the Merida Store, where all my good cycling friends hang out. I ran into Wang Qing He there.

Previously when they'd adjusted the rear derailleur it was still a problem with the barrel nut at the 'thumb shifter,' frozen. It's supposed to rotate either direction, tightening or losening the cable to adjust shifting. I hadn't been able to explain this until this day, when their regular mechanic was there, and he understood. He fixed it having to take the cable out of their 'stays,' (the metal holders welded to the frame: everything has a name that I do not know), and give it some slack.

Riding yesterday I wanted to see how well it worked. I'm always taking Ms. Fiets out to test something, me mostly! I've been weak since the flu, and having to build my endurance back up! Yesterday, I manged 35KM, on a unloaded (no baggage) bicycle. Thus, I'm not near where I was after 7K kilometers and 3 months on the road! And when you older... Oh, so much harder to regain what you've lost. Basically, you're fighting a losing battle as the 'material' heads for the 'spiritual!'

Unfortunately, the rear derailleur 'jumped' which means the cable too tight. I know what to do now, however, and adjusted it so it didn't. I'm not much of a mechanic, but I've ridden Ms. Fiets long enough to know some things, and how to fix them. The derailleurs very tricky to get right1!

I discovered that there's a flowing river (name?) east of the highway coming down from the Qi Lian Shan (from the north)! This empties into the Huangshui River that flows east (through Xining) and ultimately into the Yellow River. How nice for me to see rushing water!

At 16KM I managed to get off the highway, riding out into a field on a farm road and into some dirt and mud, which I love! I want to 'feel,' I want to 'touch,' mother earth, what I'll be eventually: 'the mud someone sticks in the hole in the wall to keep the rain out!' Ah, finally some useful purpose!

The farmers are out now, tilling the soil, preparing it for spring planting. The soil around here (Xining Valley), however, doesn't appear to be all that rich! I wonder what they grow at 7K ft ASL? Potatoes, other commercial crops?

On this little dirt road I was passed by a truck carrying farm workers. I remember the woman's smile! The lowliest worker in China, always with a smile (for you). Makes you wonder about people, how much better you are off with little, than with much!

I discovered and went to investigate a business of some sort, a complex of buildings off the highway. Only the watchman was there, asking me for a cigarette! I couldn't figure out what it was, as it had a life-size mandala made of a series of concentric concrete walk ways! I thought maybe some kind of resort? But, of course, I couldn't ask the guy! I was really looking for a toilet (W.C.)--which means a place to deficate (the public toilets are horrible!).

I'm always looking for potential places to buy, where to start our cultural center (www.haaqi.com, with school, etc.). This too near the highway, but has a nice rushing creek through the property.

There's a building I have in mind on the top of 'North Mountain!' A huge building I discovered when here with X.T.R. Last November. Wang Qing He took us up there, at least to the Roman Garden Park (which cost me 3RMB). About 200 meters to the north I discovered this building which must be a summer resort (no one evident in November). But, I want to check out this place, and above the coal dust level (can't live in Xining proper in the winter because of it)!

Heading back into Xining (south, or 'nan') I found what I was looking for... on the right a little road leading to a shack next to some 'green houses.' It appeared no one was there. But, you have to be oh so careful in China, as there are people everywhere! Don't assume you're alone in the remotist places2! But, I got lucky here, as this 'shack,' was unoccupied and probably won't be anyone around until the summer growing season.

But, the trip in and out muddy, the sticky kind that will hardly come off your boots. Back on highway #211, I did 'the dance,' trying to rid myself of this 'glue' that clung to me and the tires. Then thinking the solution... I'll hose it off when I find a 'car wash!'

A 'car wash,' and there are many of them in China, is sometimes not what you think of, certainly not the American kind. In this case it turned out to be some bricks put down on the ground and a compressor with hose. But, I stopped as no one there and I like to help them out with RMB. I managed to explain that I would do the 'hosing!' I don't let them do it, as I know what I want (just alittle in the right places). It doesn't take me two minutes and I'm finished. Then when I gave them 3 extra RMB / .30 cents, they grabbed towels to help dry! Chinese people so appreciate of a little more! I made them happy for all of .30 cents!

Now, cleaner, I headed back into Xining, waving goodbye! I always want to make friends, and demostrate that 'laowai,' are not bad people!

Back in Xining I stopped to shop at 'Homey's' the best large market in Xining.

I needed rice, a bath towel, a small pillow, and some other things like 'da swan3' (garlic). But, of course, I managed to buy muffins, which I shouldn't eat, and forgot garlic, which I should eat! What is it about human nature that feeds our desires, but forgets the body?

I am the only American in Xining, possibly the only foreigner ('laowai'). Thus, in the store, dressed as I am, people stare! It's as if I'm a celebrity! Since being in China, I certainly know how it is to be a celebrity, your every move watched! Now, however, I take it in stride, as I don't care! Yes, I'm different on the outside, but we're pretty much the same on the inside!

Back in my flat, I eat a muffin, rewarding myself for the exertion. I'm feeling stronger. But, with another muffin and my 'trail mix' too much! Raisons always make me 'fart,' and so it was! One moment feeling stronger, the next not feeling so good from eating too much! What to do?

Ah life, filled with ups and downs! Feeling good one moment, only to balance it out by feeling not so good!

Sometimes, I wonder... Why do we live? What is it all about? Why are we here? Just to indulge ourselves? I think not! At least for me!

'Darkness within darkness! The gateway to all understanding!' Lao Tzu

Monday, March 05, 2007

050307

Yesterday, the full moon, was 'Lantern Festival' Day in China, the end of the Spring Festival (Lunar New Year celebration). Very noisy (firecrackers exploding everywhere – everyone frightens 'Nian' (the monster) away!)

I took two walks around town. One early around noon, the other later near dark.

The early one to have lunch, and do some shopping.

I stopped at one of my favorite restaurants where I had my egg-tomato, mi fan dish. They remembered me with 'da zuan' or garlic. I eat raw garlic everyday, this to keep the ladies away!

Earlier I'd frightened off some Buddhists monks hustling money with 'Tashi Delek,' their greeting! I said 'No!' first thing, shocking this monk, who'd probably never heard that response before! He did not pursue when I kept on walking.

Let me tell you something about Tibetan Buddhist, in vogue in the U.S. The Dalai Lama doing a very good P.R. Job around the world. I have had much experience with T.B. Monks in Nepal. In fact, I'm good friends with one, Karma Sherpa. I discovered that Tibetan Buddhism, at least in Nepal, is a 'shady business .' Not so much into gaining enlightenment, as to getting $ rich! Nothing new here! But, when Tibetan Buddhist monks hustle me for money here in Xining, they're going to get 'enlightened!' I don't give to T.B. monks! Why? Their monastery already rich, from you Americans having donated millions of $ (without really knowing what you're doing)! I give to the poor and needy on the street! Which I did! I shocked one man walking down the street wearing only one sock (obviously in need). I handed him a 10RMB / $1.25U.S.note, and he found this incredulous! Of course, people rarely give that much to one person.

After lunch I ventured into one of the shopping streets (no motor traffic) and it was jammed with holiday shoppers (Too Many People!)! Again, as I've written about before, the abundance overwhelming! Shop after shop (actually you'd call these stalls as they have no walls), stacked with every kind of known good. I bought some 'little dried red berries,' (I brew with green tea – they're called something like, 'Gao Zhi'?), some raisons, and some Almond-like nut (from the Apricot).

I then walked on to the shops in front of the T.B. Monastery that sell votive items. This is where I buy the candles Mr. Du doesn't want me to burn!

I can't wait to get out of my flat, as so dirty from the coal dust! Amazing! I was so eager to get in, and now wanting to depart!

But, good news! Richa is coming to live with me in two weeks, and he'll stay here! I'll move west to some town where it doesnt' 'rain' coal dust!
We discovered the problem with a malfunctioning DVD drive is from being 'dirty!' I wasn't sure, but had solicited a solution from www.apple.com/discussons. Amazing, but in one day someone, 'Andy O.,' responded with a lengthy discussion of such and why, and what to do! His message began with, 'Congratulations for being on the cutting edge of technology in Qinghai Province!' Note, I'm the only one in the entire Province with an Apple Mini computer. Chinese people don't know from 'Windows.'

So, now I'm waiting for Marty's package from Colorado, U.S.A. With a cleaning disk. The one I had purchased here was 'radioactive!' Yes, believe it or not, the English description said, 'radium radioactive!' When I returned this to the computer mart and asked my new friend at www.foundertech.com (make Chinese computers) he said a problem with the translation... But, I sent it to the trash anyway, not trusting Chinese people to know. There were forceps or tweezers included in the package, suggesting not a good idea to touch! Keep in mind, there is NO CONSUMER PROTECTION in China. It's 'caveat emptor' X100!

Note, they wouldn't understand suing MacDonalds if your hand burned from a hot container! In China, it's 'tough shit!'

In the meantime because of the 'dirty' DVD drive, no movies!

In the afternoon, I took a nap! I've been very tired recently, probably the residual effects of the flu, and eliminating sugar from my diet (or trying to). But, the afternoon nap 'delicious,' with the sun coming in my bedroom window. I love taking naps, as so easy to fall asleep. At night, difficult to fall asleep at all!

Later, I went out for another walk hoping to get some images of lanterns lit up! With a 'dong feng,' (east wind) now cold! March at this latitude in China did come in like a 'lion!' Everyone out walking was 'bundled up!' the women with their 'hospital masks' covering their mouth and nose. I pulled up my cycling scarf, and with my Meera (Subodh's wife in Kathmandu)-knitted scarf got many looks (I'm the only 'foreigner' in Xining).

Increduous, what we discover when 'getting out there!' Three things on this walk: The first, near my flat... I'm walking along and look in an open window (building being razed) to discover a wonderful poster of U.S. Actress Hedy Lamaar! Can you imagine? Two things recently about her... Is this just a 'coincidence?' No, an example of Jung's 'meaningful coincidence,' or a 'synchronistic event.' This morning there was a quote of hers listed on my mail.google.com inbox: 'Men are interested in only two things: breasts and money!' I sent the URL to Marty, as I know 'the Colonel' has a 'connection' with Hedy! Note, she help to 'invent' the Internet! There she was looking out at me from this wall, in an old building, in Xining, China, a long way from where she was born, Austria. This is 'globalization!'

I walked around the central park, and down the main 'boulevard,' dodging people, and looking for lanterns 'to capture.' Now about 1900 hours, light still in the sky (no lighted lanterns). The big 'TV' screen on the sports complex building playing the usual tripe, mostly commercials.

But, getting darker now I finally get to partake of some red lanterns all lit up, along the boulevard (see image in 'Gallery' at www.cyclingpeace.org).

At the big intersection where I turn (north – 'bay' in Chinese) to return to my flat, a woman beggar is sitting with cup extended! I stopped and pulled out a 5RMB note. But, in the process of trying to give it to her, the wind tried to take it, it 'flying' like a bird above our heads. Luckily, a girl grabbed it for us! The beggar woman was right there too, to receive! Money has become God!

Then, finally, having returning to my building #2 at #26 Da Tong Jie, I was walking to the stairs, when a flock of black birds flew overhead! You'll think this just a coincidence! But, I have been wanting to see the birds, not so in evidence in Xining. How can you tell about the air quality...? If no birds, if no wild life, guess what? The birds are not stupid! Us human beings are!

I'm in bed at 2000 hours!

But, I dream that the Chinese actress, Gong Li, got involved with saving the Chinese enviroment! Was I dreaming?

Meet Gong Li the environmentalist
By Liu Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-05 06:44

She's known the world over for her stunning looks and acting prowess. But she revealed another, and a much more serious, side of her character yesterday. No, she was not talking about her latest flick, Hannibal Rising, but the plight of our planet.

"Things will become really terrible if we don't take environmental protection more seriously," said Gong Li, who made news for all the wrong reasons for her dresses in The Curse of the Golden Flower.

Talking to China Daily during a break in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) group discussion, Gong said she had submitted a proposal on environmental protection to the country's top political advisory body.

This is not the first proposal that Gong has submitted, for she has been doing so every year since being elected a member in 1998.

In this year's proposal, she has reminded people of the importance and urgency to process garbage, sewage and excess gas. Though detailed measures are still being considered, she believed it was important to first make people aware of the issue.

Garbage processing drew Gong's attention several years ago when she learned from the media that the country was facing a large number of garbage pile-ups. She said the "garbage hills" are "terrible and dangerous".

"If I had the time, I would like to take pictures of those garbage heaps to make people aware of the dangers they pose," she said.

Gong talked about a recent trip to her hometown in East China's Shandong Province, where she found sewage and excess gas were not been properly treated in many small cities, posing a great threat to the environment.

As an international star, Gong travels abroad a lot. Some countries, France in particular, she said in a lighter vein, are "more favored by God" because they seem to have a relatively better natural environment.

Even though nature seems to have bestowed China with several adverse elements, she believes the country can do a good job if its people realize the importance of the environment and start doing something from today.

The interview was interrupted by other journalists and CPPCC members requesting her autograph. Gong conceded that celebrities could influence people, but she didn't think fame alone could drive a person to a good deed.

But the actress emphasized that if any institution wanted to promote environmental protection, she would love to join in.

"Maybe we don't call it the face messenger," she said with a smile. "I just feel very happy contributing to public welfare service."

See her images at cyclingpeace.org/gallery, 'Chinese-Entertainment Industry people.'

Saturday, March 03, 2007

030307

Ah, March came in like a 'Lion!' It snowed yesterday, last night! Not much, but something like a 6cm accumulation on the ground. Note, remember your metric system? 2.54cm per inch. So, something like two inches!

Looking out my sun room window, it's pristine on the roof of the shed below, covering all the 'ka-ka,' the junk put there by human beings: old tires, glass, coils of wire, broken bricks, paper, etc. Now, dressed like a new bride (as can't see! What you can't see doesn't exist!

I'll say one negative thing about people in Asia... They have absolutely no esthetic sense! If I said, 'Look at that, like that?' They'd say, 'What are you talking about!' I remember the line from 'Butch Cassiday...' 'I have vision when the rest of the world wears bi-focals!'

Humanity... How disappointing! And after millions of years of evolution! We've not gotten very far!

Yesterday, after lunch, after the PSB 'ordeal' (registering where I live) I rode Ms. Fiets into 'dong feng' (an east wind).

But, the morning having to deal with Mr. Du, who wants to carry everything for me, and make me sit down! Of course, this is the tradition Chinese Confucian manners in operation. Let us treat older people with respect. I just wish they'd think ahead and save me time! That would be the biggest 'courtesy' you could do me. But, here I am complaining being treated like 'royalty!' Human beings, we're never satisfied!

The process of going to register (at the PSB – 'Public Little-Service Bureau') started at the beginning of the week, after Mr. Du had returned from his 'Spring Festival' trip. He said that he'd be checking with the government people on Tuesday, and we'd be going there on Wednesday morning. I made the mistake of assuming it was to the 'Department of Entrance and Exit...' nearby. He showed up with his bicycle, indicating it was further. But, we walked, as I was confused. It turned out not to be the 'Department of Entrance and Exit (Immigration),' but a small PSB Office, maybe a kilometer away. Mr. Du pushed his street bike on the street, and I walked on the sidewalk. He's always telling me what to do and where to do it! But, again, he's just thinking of my safety!

At the PSB we find out that the man needed (Note, I thought some 'big official') wasn't there and to return on Friday. Mr. Du wrote me a note which I thought meant return at 2P.M., that afternoon but it actually said 3 March. Subsequently, I've learned the Chinese character for 'month' (and I would show you, if Open Office supported Chinese). But, I never understood the '2' on the note unless that was the address?

I returned at 2P.M., because the address plaque says '3!' Confusing? I thought the note meant, return here to #3 at 2P.M. I wanted to call Richa, and get clarification, but Mr. Du 'waved me off!' For some reason he doesn't always want to talk with Richa!

Anyway at 1415, standing there, I did call Richa, and of course, he found out I was to return on Friday, 3 March.

There's so many misunderstandings in China, at least for me, it's a wonder I've been able to survive here the past two years! Oh well! I'm learned not to believe what is said, and to check what has been written!

On Friday, I took my bike, only to discover I'd left the locking chain back at my flat. So back I go, it not being that distant!

I got back to the 'Police Station' about 1015, but Mr. Du wasn't there. Turns out he was waiting for me at my flat! Talk about not communicating! I thought it was obvious, because I knew where the place was (after being there twice), that we would meet there at 1000 on Friday. Again, another misunderstanding.

Anyway, we go up, but then the indication is that we have to go somewhere outside (I'm to 'bundle up' again). I thought somewhere nearby, to meet the 'big guy!' We walk and walk, almost eight blocks, or some such, maybe another kilometer.

We end up in a large Government building, and go to an office where there are a half-dozen workers (some women). Here we pick up forms. That's the only reason we go there, to get blank 'Foreigner Registration' forms. Why did I go along? They like to 'show off' loawai! I hear the word for 'America' (pronounced 'Maygua') all the time associated with me.

O.K., then in the lobby I think I'm supposed to fill out the forms, as they're in English, as well as, Chinese. No, I find out after calling Richa and having him interpret. I'm to, 'follow the man back.'

We walk back to the Police Station.

Here we meet the man who's to fill out the forms! Mr. Du wants me to sit down! I try to explain that I don't like to sit!

The Chinese official in uniform (all the police wear uniforms) fills out the form having to ask me only once, What?' indicating a 'box.' Turns out this 'box,' requires my passport #. Another question... I write down my date of birth in another box,' while they're all eyes! Note, Chinese people are fascinated with my writing English.

More consultation with Richa in Shanghai—they want to know my reason for being in Xining? Richa explains, 'for business.' Finally all three forms (no carbon paper; no photocopy machine) are filled out and two distributed to Mr. Du. I never get one. Turns out Mr. Du keeps one, one goes to another the 'Department of Entrance and Exit...' (Immigration').

Incredibly inefficient, the Chinese Government. This when dealing with 'loawai!' I'm sure when it comes to President Hu's trips abroad they're very efficient!

But, at least I've made friends, as they're all smiles now! Note, I have a way with people I inherited from my 'charming' father! I bowed to them for one thing, thanking them several times!

Mr. Du indicates to follow him on his bicycle. I'm thinking he's taking me back to his flat for lunch. No, we have to go to the' Department of Entrance and Exit...' now. Where I thought we would be going in the first place.

He we meet a pleasant man who speaks some English. I'm happy to discover he says that I'll be able to renew my 'F' visa there (in Xining), rather than having to return to Shanghai. This is good news, although I think they're wrong and will discover it at the last minute. So, I will plan to apply to renew around the 1st of June (visa expiration date 19 June). Thus, I'll have some time, if I turn out to be correct (that I have to return to Shanghai). I leave this man both my 'post' and 'business' cards!

After two hours I'm finally 'free!' Mr Du indicates he has to go off to work!

I ride to my favorite restaurant to have lunch! This is next to my old hotel, and where I park Ms. Fiets in the lobby (when in that area of the city). They're very accommodating at the hotel, the same woman and man behind the counter, and always seemingly happy to see me!

Next door I'm early for lunch, the only one so far! The only 'foreigner' (loawai) for sure! Here I show them what Richa has written in Chinese as to order. None of these kind of people (workers) ever speak English (they hardly know Chinese). So, for less than one U.S. Dollar I get my 'tomato and egg with rice,' dish, soup, and tea. By the time I'm finished, 1215, the place is full of hungry people!

I hide a 2RMB 'tip,' under one of the dishes and depart.

Afterwards, in the hotel lobby I change from my downvest to a sweater. I have to drop off my laundry.

At my favorite laundry I act out' (flapping my arms like a bird's wings) the fact that the down vest is full of bird feathers! I don't know how they should deal with this, but she gets the idea! Note, you end up becoming an 'actor,' in a foreign country where you can't speak the language! And I'm a good actor!

Then off east (dong) into a stiff 'da feng!' Now, most people wouldn't do this, head out into a stiff wind riding a bicycle, a cold front in their face! But, I'm not 'most people!' I believe you have to get 'out there,' (and 'do it') in whatever weather, particularly the 'not so good!' If you don't, you grow 'soft!' Plus, I'm always testing gear, particularly clothing to see how it performs! I had purchased new 'winter,' gloves and I wanted to see if they kept my hands warm! They did pretty much!

Heading east, I also wanted to check out the 'Economic Development' area, to see what it's like, we may have an office here... We're trying to register (make legal) www.haaqi.com in China, and a challenge! Why...? Dealing with the Chinese Government, always a challenge! Maybe here in Xining they'll be more accommodating, as they need business (tax revenue)! Or, I'm hoping so!

Across the big street (name?) I stop into a hotel to go to the toilet.

Then 'dongie fenga!' -- the east wind blowing into my face! I continue another 5 KM, then turn north, then back west toward town. Now, I'm on the old, old road which runs by the river, the RR track and the Expressway.

Speaking of RR (railroad), most travel to where they're going to visit parents (during 'S.F.') on the train. Read the following article from 'China Daily:'

Railways transport 100m passengers during rush

(Xinhua)

Updated: 2007-03-01 14:21

China's railways transported around 100 million passengers during the 25-day Spring Festival travel rush, Wang Yongping, spokesman of the Ministry of Railways announced here at a press conference Wednesday.

Related readings:

Holidaymakers back to Beijing following festival

Transport feels strain as festival return begins

China braces for 155m rail users over holiday

By 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, the travel flow by railway has reached 93.4 million, 2.56 million more than the same period of last year. With an estimated 4.81 million added Wednesday, the figure will press 100 million, according to Wang.

The ministry estimates that China's railways will transport an unprecedented 156 million passengers during the 40-day Spring Festival travel peak from February 3 to March 14, up 4.3 percent year-on-year.

The travel rush hit a feverish point as passenger flow reached 4.9 million on February 24, a record high.

The travel season made a hotbed for ticket scalpers, who hoarded tickets and sold them at price much higher than the face value.

According to Wang, the going-on campaign starting from January 10 and targeting at ticket scalping, has sacked 5,983 ticket scalpers and confiscated more than 70,000 tickets worth 9.1 million yuan (1.2 million U.S. dollars).

The week-long Spring Festival, one of the most important occasions for family reunions in China, lasted from February 18 to 24 this year. People rushed home and then back to work, posing great pressure on railways, an affordable and efficient means of transportation.

Note! If you're every in China during January or February don't travel! Stay put! That's my advice! It's 'hell on wheels' during this period! It's bad enough during non-vacation periods!