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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Friday:
Hell has a new Guise:

Today I discovered a new form of hell disguised as the
sleeper bus from Lijiang to Kunming. Taking the bus
seemed to be like a good idea as it would allow Mr.
Who and I to get back to Kunming and go to Shilin and
enjoy the beautiful natural park. Although the journey
was a smart idea, I would recommend going to Dali and
taking the train if possible. The sleeper bus was
about twenty metal bunk beds that screwed into the
sides of the bus and a row of beds down the middle of
the isle, thus there were three rows of beds. This
actually is an interesting although dangerous plan. My
original bed was the first one in the middle of the
isle, but I did not like it since I was paranoid about
someone slashing or stealing my bags, so I asked if I
could move to the first upper bunk since it was empty.
The man said yes. This to me seemed to be the easiest
one to guard. I wraped by bag up in my jacket then put
the other one underneath it. Unfortunately, this took
up all of my leg room not that there was any in the
first place as it was designed for the Chinese man and
not the westerner. On top of this, the bunk was simply
not wide enough. If there was anyone who was biger
than me, they simply would not fit. I really did not
fit, so I had to try and sleep on my side. On top of
this, the cover was not long enough, so I was cold
most of the night. I was a miserable trip. My head
kept hitting the metal head board all night long. My
feet and legs were turned in every direction, and I
simply could not get comfortable enough to sleep
because every time I started to pass out, the bus
would turn a sharp corner, and I would almost fly out
of the bunk. It was a little scary to say the least.
When we finally got to Kunming, I was so groggy that I
did not want to do anything. Mr. Who found us a Taxi
which took us to another bus station to go to Shilin
but nothing left until 8:00, so we walked around and
found something to drink. We then went back and many
people tried to get us to join their buses, but they
were not in the bus station, so we opted against them.
We eventually got on a bus as we were told that it was
about to leave but truly it was a lie. The buses do
not leave until they are full. We were then told by
another lady that the bus was full and about to leave,
so we followed her, but it turned out to be a lie. For
some reason, we stayed with her though, and an hour
later, they had found other people to join us. We were
on our way. At some point, the lady who was leading us
insisted that we should stop by a few stores and look
around. I did not mind, but they were primarily
selling jade and gold which I was not interested in.
This was fine the first time and even the second time,
but when she wanted to do it a third time, it almost
caused a riot, so we went onwards to Shilin. The lady
was a little pissed, but I did not care as she was a
real bitch. I mean that in the truest sense of the
word. I will explain why later. We got to Shilin, and
she insisted that Mr. Who and I pay all of the money
then, but we would only pay her half and walked off.
We then went and looked for lunch. Mr Who insisted on
noodles again which we ate. They were good. We then
went and paid out way into Shilin. It was expensive,
the most expensive place that I have been in China. A
whopping 80 Yuan. We went in, and it was really
pretty. It was a huge stone forest of these granite
monoliths that stuck up everywhere. We wandered all
over and got lost in the maze of stones which was
simply not hard to do. The paths were very tight
though and at times, I had to take everything off and
turn sideways to squeeze through. It was absolutely
stunning though. We stayed there for several hours
then looked around at the local craft shops. We then
went back to the bus and decided to go back with the
people that we came with. Mr Who left me alone as he
had to go use the rest room. At that point, the little
bitch who was leading us came up to me and said money
money money. I just shook my head and pointed towards
the direction where Mr. Who had went. She kept saying
it over and over, but I was not going to pay her until
we got to Kunming. She would not leave me alone until
she saw Mr. Who coming. What a bitch. Finally everyone
came back except for two people. The lady then
recruited three other people and we left without them.
The was a real money ho. I really despised this bug
eyed whore. I really just did not like this girl. On
our way back, we stopped at the most beautiful
Buddhist temple. There was a huge golden statue of the
goddess of mercy that you could see for miles away. In
the front, there was a huge golden fat laughing Budda
that you could see. The place was landscaped very
beautifully with wonderful flowers and canals with
running water, and water falls as well. It was great.
May of the people we came with went through a ceremony
with one of the monks to be blessed. The got these red
and yellow shaws with swastikas all over them and tied
them around their necks. They wore them the whole time
we were there then the priest gave them a long
blessing as we were leaving. It was interesting to
behold. Mr. Who then went and bought us Chocolate Ice
Cream. We ate on our way back. We got into the city
which was really not very pretty. We went and got rice
noodles for super then went grocery shopping. Mr. Who
stocked up on some rice whiskey with herbs and snakes
for his family. I bought lots of water and snacks for
the long train ride ahead. We then went back to the
train station and waited. He decided that he wanted to
go buy a newspaper. He ended up being gone for almost
forty minutes which literally freaked me out. I
thought that he was dead our hurt, but I could not
leave as we had too much stuff, and the two men behind
us kept trying to steal out water. I really thought
that I was about to whip their asses. They would go
for it, and I would turn and give them the evil eye.
He finally got back, and we moved then boarded the
train. I was so tired, I got to my sleeper. Put my
things beside me and collapsed. I was so tired from
the night before. It was definitely an interesting
travel experience.

Saturday:
The Day of the Train

Really not much happened today as we were on a forty
hour train ride from Kunming to Beijing. It was simply
the longest form of public transportation that I have
ever been on. I must say that I have taken every form
of transportation that one could imagine or dream up
since I have been on this trip. It has been a roller
coaster ride. The day has actually not been that bad.
I am so happy that Laura let me barrow one of her
books to bring with me. I spent most of the day
reading, looking out the window and thinking about my
life and future. In terms of the scenery, I did not
see much new other than these peculiar hay stacks
which sort of looked like the others in that they were
conical shaped, but once they got to a certain height
a log was sticking out the top, and they would build
up the hay around the log, so it simply looked strange
like maybe it had a fuzzy horn. I can not describe it
beyond that, but they were pretty to look at along
with all of the rivers and mountains. I did spend a
lot of time in thought and tried to figure out what to
do with the rest of my life, but that simply depressed
me, so I quieted my thought with the book. The story
was Thomas Hardy‚s Tess of the D‚Uberville. It was
actually a really good book, and if you have not read
it, you should try and get your hands on a copy of it.
Mr. Who and I ate lunch on the train. It was two types
of Tofu that were simply fantastic. One sort of had an
Asian BBQ flavor. The other was mixed with vegetables.
Mr Who spent most of the afternoon sleeping as he did
not feel very well from the bug bites all over him. He
says that they were bed bugs. I did not get any as I
normally tried to choose the cleaner bed. This worked
sometimes but not all of the time. I felt really sorry
for him. He was really bored out of his mind as he did
not bring anything to read. We talked every now and
then. He would eventually drift off into sleep or into
day dream. I would also day dream a lot as well, and I
have had some very lucid day dreams and memories of
the past. They are simply amazing in their clarity. I
do not know if it is self conscious, but it is
seriously amazing. I eventually wandered off to sleep
myself and waited for the morning.

Sunday:
Home at Last:

Today marked the final leg of my journey. The last few
hours on the train and then the bus ride to Chengde.
Mr. Who and I were very ready to be home. We both
looked so dirty and nasty. I wish that you could see
my hair and jeans. I looked like a nasty bum. My hair
was so greasy and oily as it had not been washed in
over four days. My jeans looked as if I was a cowboy
on a cattle drive. They were covered in clay dust and
mad dirt all over them. My flannel jacket did not look
much better. The only good thing was that I had
shaved, brushed my teeth, and combed my hair. The air
outside was so hazy and fogy. It was like that the
whole ride home back to Chengde. It made it a little
cold and chilly. I spent the majority of my morning
wrapped up in the adventures of Tess as she wandered
from one miserable circumstance to another. I would
take breaks every now and then to give my mind some
time to comprehend the underlying meaning of the
tales. At some point in time, I got up and used the
bathroom. As I walked in their was some strange but
familiar smell, but I could not figure out what it
was. As I was walking out, I realized that it was moth
balls, and from that moment onwards, I was thrown into
some of the most lucid day dreams about my Grandmother
Lucile and my Grandmother Parrott. I could picture
them perfectly. My great Grandmother Lucile always
used moth balls. The images fancied my head for over
an hour. It was amazing. At around one o‚clock, the
train pulled into Beijing terminal, so Mr. Who and I
grabbed out things and caught a taxi to the long
distance bus terminal. We got their just in time to
hopped on the bus as it was pulling off. We were so
lucky. I spent the first two hours of the trip
finishing my book as it ended quite gloomy. The next
two hours I spent in thought and in prayer as the bus
driver was going so fast. I did not mind as I was
ready to be home, but it was slightly unnerving as it
seemed we were sometimes playing chicken with oncoming
traffic which was moving just as fast. I would close
my eyes most of the time, but somehow it always seemed
to work out. Eventually we arrive home. Caught a taxi
then Mr. Who and I unloaded and traded each others
things that we were carrying for each other. Then, I
spent most of the evening catching up on the news and
preparing for a long hot shower. The last several days
have not been eventful, but they were the final leg of
my great adventure. I hope that everyone enjoyed
reading about it as much as I enjoyed experiencing it.
Till next time.
Christopher

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