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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I am a little nervous about where I am living. It is almost like the end of the earth. I have been experiencing some major culture shock. My ride over here is almost indescribable. I would compare it to the taxi or bus ride in Costa Rica, but those examples would not do it justice. There is a reason why foreigners are not allowed to drive in China, and it is simply because they would kill themselves. China is represenative of everything that has gone wrong with urban development. It is really crazy. There is slum houses next to sky rise apartments everywhere. The sprawl never stops, and the streets are chaotic. I never really understood why America outlawed jaywalking until I drove through the streets of Beijing and down the interstate to Chengde. Pronouned Chungdou. There are turnabouts everywhere, and the people walk through or ride there bicycles in oand out of traffic everywhere. All the drives go about 120 miles per hour on two way streets, and they pass everywhere. I am not sure if you know how there is often the protective outside land in the U.S. just in case you break down. Well there is one of those here, but it is actively used to pass people. You pass on either side. Some times there are double passed where you pass someone passing someone which means that you are sharing the oncoming traffic lane with oncoming traffic. Ocassionally, you triple pass cars which means that you pass in the safe lane of oncoming traffic with oncoming traffic, and traffic comming toward you in the safe lane becausde they are also driving 120 mph and passing each other. Mix in with this are pedestrians and bikeriders who actively ise the interstate and walk or ride up and down the interstate in an effort to get where they are going. Which means that you come close to running them over. Not to meantion that they actively Jaywalk and weave in and out of oncomming traffic while it is comming towards them. People honk or flash when they pass which means that there is lots of honking and flashing. Add to all of this weaving roads and mountains, and I though that I was going to be ill. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that occasionally you pass sheep and goat herders on the side of the roadsa trying to keep there flocks away from the interstate. There are also lots of toll booths with armed guards every twenty or so miles. The school must have paid a fortune in tolls comming to pick me up. There is a bus that runs from Chengde to Beijing. I believe that I will take the train. I got to the city, and I was really ready to go to bead, but they insisted that I eat. I wasd lready sick and did not want food, but I was meeting the president. We go to a restaurant, and have an intresting dinner. Beff, Fried sweet potatos, mutton, fruit covered in something, a horrible rice soup, and this awful bean paste that was so salty I liked to have died. Dinner was not bad, but there were lots of people there, and they kept toasting me. When you toast in China, you take the whole drike. I ended up swiging 12 large glasses of wine, and five rice whiskey shots. I could barely see strait when I left there, and the only thing that I could think was please do not let me vomit in front of these people or pass out. Luckily I made it down three flights of stairs just find. They took me to my apartment and tried to explain a lot of things to me, but I was tired and drunk. They left, and I finally figured out how to lock the door and turn on the heater and went to bead. My apartment is fine other than it is in the middle of a street that looks like the one that we stayed in the hotel in San Jose. Most of the streets look like this though. The only other problem is that the shower has no seperate space. It just hangs down right next to the toilet, and there is a large drain in the floor. Also, I have a washer, but no dryer. I have to figure out how to jerry rig a clothes line, or I will be taking everything to the drycleaners. I am hungry, and she is supposed to call around 10:00. I guess that she will help me find the grocrey and bank. I am also very thirsty and dehidrated. I really want some bottled water right now. Other than this, it will be intresting. I got to see part of the great wall yesterday. That was very neat. I am going to try and get out and explore some today, but I am a little jet laged and aprehensive. I am thinking about going to Bejing tomorrow, but that also sounds complicated. Lonley planet needs to rethink some of their descriptions. I guess that it is an adventure, and I am looking at it as that. I do hope that there are other white people as I might go insane. Please e-mail me when you get this, so I will know that my e-mails are going through. I will talk to you larer. You can blog this for me if you would like. I have to go shower.

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