Sunday, December 28th, 2003 – Day 313 to Monday, December 29th, 2003 – Day 314

Sunday, December 28th, 2003 – Day 313

I was woken at 6.10am by other people in the hostel. Its been quite full for the past two nights. Most people are forced to stay in town for a night for transport just like me. I was at the bus sation (3 minutes away) by 6.35am. It was pitch dark but the strs were cool. I had some dried fruit for the trip which I purchased yesterday. The bus was full to the brim when we left at 7.05am. It was dark and cold but the journey was fine. I had no idea of exactly where we going or how long it would take. Five hours int the trip we stopped at Daoceng. The scenery was moon like rock scape. We passed no houses or viallages but no snow thank God

At this point I thought we were heading for Litang. At 4.00pm we got to a town and everyne got off. I asked at driver where we were and he said KAngding pointing at the bus. I did not believe it but he made the sleeping gesture so off I went. I ws an idiot and loooked for a Kangding hote. I was directed to a hotel by two young boys. The room rate was 118 and but said I could ahve it for 80 Yuan. I looked for another hotel and a gentleman in a suit asked did I need help. HE looked at my mapa nd laughted. He said I was 150 km away from Kangding and I was in Yajiang.

I went back to the bus statin and a woman translated. This is where we would overnight and we would leave n the same bus at 7.00am again.

A woman there with a mobile phone guided me back to the hotel. I said it was too expensive. She insisted. I though she was a tout and I hesitant. She spoke to the manager for a few minutes asn secued a 30 Yuan reduction. Then she smiled and left after I thanked her. Weird but nice. The hotel room was OK but basic. No ensuite and the TV was broke. I decided to repack my bags. In the process I spilt a few bottle o beer on the ground. I put a heater near to it.

I had a nice meal (again no English speakers or menus but when you are hungry you get your point aross). They are very honest in China, very honourbale and have not come across vercharging even though t would be easy. It cost 9 Yuan (.90 cent). I was like a Marian on earth here and lots of staring especially from the farmers. People would walk parnell to me while looking diretly at me. I would slow down but they simly would stae back at me saying nothing but walking slowly ahead. Every second person would try hello.

VEry quite town and surprisingly all the shops, restaurants started closing at 7.30pm. By 8/40pm, all premises were closed and the strrets empthy. Anther early night and another early start tomorrow.

Monday, December 29th, 2003 – Day 314

I hd OK sleep and I got a call from a girl at 6.30am even though I did not request it. Was it a wake up call. I dont know as it was in Chinese. Very unusual. It was pitch dark, I was walking the corridors in a big empthy hotel. There was a hurracaine utside. There did it come from. THe wind was rattling every window and door and it was leakig it cuasung whar sounded like scraming. I felt I was in the film, the Shining. Dust bowls were blowing up otside and sleet was falling.

I could not find anyone for a while to open the main door Finally I woke up a chap asleep in a closet! Where was the phone girl. It was ver windy and I hear my bus gearing up as I walked down to the station. All the other passengers slept in the statin hostel for 7 Yuan. I jumped in. It was only 6.45am and I was the last passenger in. We ledt 10 inutes early. It was strange seeing all the same faces again. There was a nice Tibetean family in the front cnsisting of a husband, wife, daughter (maybe 12) and son (1.5). She was the happiest guy I never saw. He stood most of the 7 hour trip as he wanted to by by his family who were sitting. She smiled all the time and beamed as he looked at his son. They dotted on him. Everything he cried they were all over him. The baby had a belt whch was abut 4 religious emblems and statues. The dad also helped the driver during the trip. I like he drivers as they really know there bus. As well as driving that also fix the bloddy thing when it breaks down and that happens alot.

Imagine a society in which there are no aunts, uncles or cousins. This is what China’s one-child policy is creating. For instance, some estimates put the ratio of Chinese males to Chinese females at 117 males for every 100 females, others put this ratio as high as 131 to 100. The average ratio is about 105 males for every 100 females. Critics worry what will happen when these “extra” males can’t find females to marry. In addition, the one-child policy has led to the rise of the so-called “little emperors” – only children who are spoiled, since their parents and grandparents have fewer people on whom to spread their largesse. Studies have shown that these children are less interested in tradition than their elders and feel compelled to quickly carve out a niche for themselves in society. The Chinese government has been forced to start parenting classes and family clinics to deal with this issue

Within mnutes of leaving town we ran into heavy snow which was still falling. At 8.00am, during a simple climb we started sliding backwrds Alarm bells. We stopped and the sriver and Tibtean attempt to get the wheel chains from the booth. It was jambed cold co they broke it wit a hammer. We had the chains on for 3 hours as we drove throuh heavy snow. Not nice. I like snow and its winter but when you are in a bus driving ver serous ranges, on narrow road with a 1000 foot drop, it not nice. As you travel on switch backs, sometims you travel very close to the edge as travel passs and other times the ncoming driver has to fce it.

It was worse when there was oncoming traffic. Most were trucks and any were over laden and without wheen chains. They would slide rather than drive past us. Once a driver was too scared to pass us on the outside. We had to reverse. On a bus this s bad as the chains are only the back wheels. As we reversed, the front wheels slid all over the place and brought us close to the edge. The passengers got nereeeervous and half of us got off and many starteding shoveling and kicking dirt and gravel underneath our front wheels.

The bus passengers laughted at any over laden truck that passed so as they would not make it. At about 3.15pm we got to Kangding. The journey was OK. I do not mind long journeys but the amount of passengers spitting in the aisle and smoking was beyound belief. As mentioned 65% of Chinese men smoke and they were puffing hard on the bus. The aisle was a sea of ash, fag buts and plemgn.

It was bitter cold (-6 oc) and there was snow on the ground and it was still falling. I was slipping all over the place. I passed a place after 2 inutes and a girl persuading me to go in. It was a clean room with electric balnket for 40 Yuan per night. There was 24 hour hot water and as it was close to the bus station, I took it.

I walked down town and marelled at the town. It is surrounded by massive snow covered mountains. It reminded me of Queenstown, New Zealand. it was cold an it witnessed a taxi and truck smack into each other. The roads were like a ice ring. It was a busy place and lots of Tibeteans with fur hats and traditioanl knves in their belts.

I see there is a suspected SARS case here in China. In other news, Thousands of evacuees were returning Monday to villages in China’s southwest following the sealing of a burst gas well that spewed toxic fumes and left the 233 dead, the government said.

BTW, I am getting better in using CHOPSTICKS I have no choiuce. Its all they have.

The Chinese have used chopsticks for at least 3,000 years, according to the evidence from tombs and paintings.

Mastering their use involves understanding the best point of control. Crasping the sticks closer to the end which points away from the food will give you more leverage. Further, they must be able to move independently. The thumb and forefinger hold one that is mobile; and the base of the thumb pressing the other against the three remaining finger tips keep the second stationary.

When you can pick up small or slippery objects like peanuts with the chopsticks and gain the dexterity to cut meat or some other morsel, you will have mastered the technique. Anyone at your table who is a habitual user will be happy to show you the way to hold them. Prractice and the willingness to look foolish occasionally are obviously the answer. If you tire in your practice, the soup spoon which is also placed at your setting will come in handy.

I found a good site about Kangdings students views on the world.

After coming back from the bus station (I was checking te times and pices of tickets to Chengdu), a noodle restaurant worker shouting out. They had an english menu. I had some great noodles with meat and vegetables for 6 Yuan. I will visit there again. Its a Chinese Musli place and they look very different from the Han Chinese.

I had an early night. I had a beer whle I watched TV. Thank God for the electric blanket It was freezing.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – The Snow (29-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – The Snow (29-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – The Cold town (29-12-2003)