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Archive for September, 2007

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Up, Up, and Away

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Ivone and I caught a taxi to the Xining train staion around 9:00 pm. I would have thought that the train station would be a little less crowded at this time of night, but I thought incorrectly. We got in the “line” for the metal detector and proceeded to be pushed, knocked, and corraled toward the metal detector. Once there, we placed our bags on the x-ray conveyor and went through the metal detector. One of my bags appeared to not make it through. Understandably concerned, I peeked into the x-ray machine. I couldn’t see my bag. I walked around the metal detector and found that the string on my bag was caught. Ignoring a policeman telling me something (he probably didn’t like me on his side of the detector), I undid my bag. We then proceeded into the waiting room. We sat down. On my side was an older Tibetan couple and next to Ivone was a Tibetan family consisting of two sisters, a child, and the grandfather. Ivone spoke with them with the help of a monk who spoke some English. I entertained the older couple on my side with my digital camera. This soon turned into a mini daycare session as someone brought over a screaming infant in the hopes that my camera photos would help calm the baby. It apparently worked. Other participants soon joined my slide show. It soon came time to board the train. Ivone and I were traveling hard seat (third class) as no other tickets were available. [read on]

Ever Closer to Tibet

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

After writing the last blog entry, I left the Internet cafe to head back to the hotel. While enroute, I was distracted by what looked like an orchestra setting up to play in a paved square by the river. I decided to hang around to see what was going to happen. The show started about a half an hour later and opened with a group of children dancing flamenco and salsa on the stage. Other acts followed involving various singers and dancers performing to Chinese music (with the exception of a couple waltzing to “May I Have This Dance”). I could tell the show was put on by local groups as they often made mistakes which led to laughter and corrections. If this wasn’t enough entertainment, another group soon set up very near them and began a saxaphone and trombone ensemble with a huge crowd of townspeople singing along with them. Next to them about 50 people began line dancing to their own music. A fourth group began doing exercises next to the dancing group. All this took place in a space of about 100 meters or so. I felt as if I were at a multi-ringed circus as I kept running back and forth between all the groups watching. The noise level was tremendous as they were all competing to be heard. [read on]

Leshan and General Observations

Monday, September 10th, 2007
After going to the police station, I decided to wait until Monday to extend my visa. Unlike last time in Guilin, I was told I would actually have to get a new visa which will cost me another $100 (instead ... [Continue reading this entry]

Leaving on a Jet Train

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
On Wednesday I was dropped off at the main Beijing train station by Chen. I found the waiting area for the train and, well, waited. When it was time for the train to board, everyone in the room decided to ... [Continue reading this entry]