Today’s ride was 50 km out of Chongwu along the coast. It was quiet, sunny, beautiful.. well, better than no coast, and a wonderful ride to ‘end’ with. Into Quanzhou we hopped a bus and went straight to Xiamen. In Xiamen we shipped our bikess, via rail to Shenzhen and called up our couch surfing host, a nice young lady. She gave us just what we needed a shower and a place to put our bags down. Fed, cleaned, and now interneted, we’ll stay here for a few days and then catch a bus into Shenzhen where we’ll pick up our bikes and ride across the border into Hong Kong, arriving earlier than expected, but still generally on time. Three days later we hope to meet two friends who will catch us up to speed on how to act American, as well as how to live well and drink hard. I expect good things. I’m especially looking forward to the reunion with my laptop, as I’m sure Dan’s excited about the 6 G’s of equipment he entrusted to a box and a generic non-insured shipping company. (fingers crossed)

2009-08-16 Chongwuzhen-Quanzhou

On MapMyRide.com

August Update.

We’re closer to knowing our specific plan for the end of our stay here in China and as you may know it involves two bicycles (or one tandem bicycle), close to 2000 km of Chinese road, and my mustache with the possibility of a penguin suit or many multiples of dozens of California Flags.

I'm ready to GO!

Here’s the scoop:

After a short sit down and a long (more than necessary waiting period) with our school they finally understand our time line.  Essentially, we are quitting one month prior to classes ending and this upset them more than a little.  However, ‘surprise’ shouldn’t be a word they use when telling the story.  As eager and enthusiastic employees, I consider ourselves as open and honest individuals who strive to speak our minds when someone is listening.  And a yearning for adventure coupled with a semi-long list of grievances turned out to be a perfect mixture for my rational psyche, so we quit.  :)  And I feel great!  However, in an attempt to not land the company in ruin, we’ve negotiated a plan which will condense our final two months of teaching into one, July.  This in many respects will be hard, frustrating, and generally a nuisance, yet, in many respects too, it will be refreshing to find the time I’m using here productive.  Instead of a steady on/off schedule, with breaks for little more than a rest and a bit of travel, we’ll now have a heavy load, followed by a delightful vacation and journey.  And so it goes, as my lame duck attitude slowly filters through my teaching becomes better and my energy level increased, followed closely by my happiness.

So, let’s talk August.

Our last day in Hohhot will be the 29th.  That night we’ll take a plane into Shanghai where we will hopefully have a package awaiting us, full of two bicycles.  We’ll assemble the bicycles and collect any necessities that day as well as rest a bit.  The 31 we’ll pack our things and start riding.  We’ve assembled a comprehensive list of supplies and put together a reasonable itinerary (of which we’ll post so as to be prepared for another Mongollon situation-see previous entry under Arizona).  We anticipated doing a mixture of couch surfing and road side camping along the way.  We’ve got a road atlas, a compass, and the requisite Chinese language skills to a) read the majority of signs, b) ask for directions, c) call a friend who will remotely act as an interpreter.  I think as well put all the pieces together we’re going to be quite prepared and quite energetic to get going on the road.

Hopefully, after we depart Shanghai, some 25 days later we’ll arrive in the wonderful city of Hong Kong for a bit of touring, relaxation, and sight seeing.  We’ve scheduled our flight back to the US from Hong Kong for August 27 (hopefully that wasn’t suppose to be a secret, because now it’s not).  I arrive in Los Angeles 3 hours later.

It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long of a trip.  Hopefully I’m not forgetting to do anything while I’m out here…. I’ve already brushed my teeth.

Bicycles! (from the past)

A long while back Dan and I bought some bicycles. Two ‘very nice’ in-town single-speed cruisers. They had baskets and racks and petals, that stayed on for the first week. We used and abused those bikes. I think myself more so than Dan.

My bike was borrowed a number of weeks ago and still has not been returned. Dan’s bike is available to any visitors as we both now sport fancy Giant mountain bikes.

Here is a short film in dedication to those bikes and their first journey out. Original Music by 蛋糕.


Bicycles, Fiddles, & the Life

Let’s see, since creating the wondrous Ji’nan video things have fallen silent. I contracted a cold after that thorough week and have yet to fully recover. Dan and I have settled deeper into our routine and lifestyle.

We’re working diligently on producing another short film for those of you following the podcast. We deeply apologize for the lag time, however, as our quality increases, so does the planning, shooting, and production work. Thank you for your patience & enthusiasm.

Every day I enjoy the new valencies of the great firewall of China and most recently used this in order to enjoy The President on Leno. Enjoyable. Yes. However, other opportunities include eagerly introducing my students to wikipedia as well as news articles from the BBC, LA & NY times, Science News, & the Economist as well as a host of individuals to the various scenes I carry on this site.

About a week ago Dan and I found a proper massage parlor which helped to work the kinks out of life, just enough to get by until the next time we show up. I think the woman who worked me over used only her elbow, thumb, and the heel of her hand. Tears flowed freely as I faced downward, teeth clinched and invisible to all but the dust upon the floor (in order to save face of course). After I felt great!

Yesterday we hit up the FREE Inner Mongolia Museum where we took a couple photos and videos. The highlight was a massive dinosaur in the middle of the hall standing more than two stories tall. I’m positive it was a brachi-a-sarus-rex – the meanest of all herbivores. Other highlights are shown in photo form to the right.

Earlier this week we took a journey down the street with one of our new good friends, Arena (a Chinese teacher who does her best to show us the ropes and catch us up, usually she catches my class room falls too.) We successfully avoided buying from the self-admitted bike thief and purchased two brand new, bona-fied 200 yuan bicycles (your basic $40 Target bike) of which have been invaluable to our sanity and daily satisfaction levels. We even took a short trip North and essentially out of the city to eat lunch and see the city.

In conjunction to our big bicycle purchase, I woke up two days ago with a nack. Yeah, “the Nack.” Except I’ve got very little to take apart out here. In fact I can’t even find a piece of wood to saw in half, let alone a spare blender to take apart – although every day this computer gets a bit closer as the exclusive piece of ‘machinery’ around. Hmmmm.. maybe the refrigerator first… yes. Fortunately during a solo city bicycle recon trip I managed to work in on Sunday I have identified the local ‘junk yard’/‘used furniture & things shop where I anticipate spending more time. – I digress, I woke up with a nack. This nack was for chunes (Tunes). My Uke currently under duress with a broken string (soon to be fixed by changed out guitar strings from Dan (fingers crossed)), I searched my mind long and hard for my next project feasible without a compound miter saw and set my sites straight. I spent time online doing pre-purchase-requisites and with my note book full of useless information pertaining to acquisition, I turned to Dan and asked permission. “Dan,” I said, “I feel I must include you in my latest intention, so that you may reasonable protest as my cohabitation partner.” Dan, paused what he was doing, tilted his head slightly to his left, my right, squinted his eyes, and paused as if to intimidate the next sentence out of my soul. Fortunately I’ve dealt with the dark powers of Dan’s force and successfully deflected. I patiently waited for his head to right it’s self and the continued. “I’m going to.. I would like to, with your permission, purchase and learn to play the fiddle… yes, I’d like to do that,” I concluded. Dan replaced his jaw to reflect acknowledgement of the situation and situated himself to process the multitude of predictable possible outcomes regarding this new information. I feared my own failed calculations and then confirmed that there were none. Dan cautiously replied “okay, my only caveat is that you do it Today.”

I packed my wallet and we walked directly to the music store where I purchased the only violin they had on the shelf, a full sized, 4/4, Chinese made, introductory violin which even the store curator was fearful of, for 600 yuan. about $90, less than my Trombone cost 7 years ago. I felt good about my purchase. If this sucker left me in the dumps I would have no problem leaving it with a local kid to torture his parents with as my contribution to the PRC.

Less than 24 hours later, after about a 4 hour tuning session, Dan walked into my room, stopped me, shook my hand and said “Sir, you’ve just made the first pleasant noise on that thing since buying it less than 24 hours ago. Congratulations.” Where upon he promptly turned around and walked out the door, closing it behind him.

I’m learning good and every time I look at it I simile thinking about the racket I make for the neighbors. I say – good on ya.