Friday, September 28, 2007

Hotan To Southern Silk Road/Kashgar

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So I spent a day wandering around hotan. It was a typical xinjiang. had some lamb took some photos spent the night in the happy hotel which was 30 kuai an evening. Then the next day i jumped a 10am bus to Karghilik to explore the southern route of the silk road. The bus was a 5 hour trip which would put us in karghilik around 3 which was prime time for me to hit the bazaar and take some photos in good lighting.I had not sleep very well because i spent the entire night shitting in the public toilet at the happy hotel. The bus wasn't very grounded and luxurious almost up to the american greydog standards. I dozed off to catch some zzz's. I woke up and looked at the big red digital clock at the front of the bus and it said 2pm which was perfect I only had an hour left to go so i busted out my ipod and listened to some chinese lessons. Then around 3pm we never stopped i figured i missed something when i was asleep and we were just late then 4pm rolled around and we were in the middle of the dessrt with no end in sight. I got a little concerned and looked at my cellphone. It said 6pm! motherfuckers! China doesn't have different timezones and the people of xinjiang hate chinese people and disregard the rest of the country and decided to use their own arbitrary time system. So I had actually woken up at 4pm an hour after i missed my stop. Most of the towns in between where i wanted to go and where I was going had no hotels for foreigners and i didn't actual have a ticket to go to kashgar, so i decided to keep my mouth shout and ride all the way to kashgar.

On a brighter note the ticket to kashgar was like $20 and the ticket i bought was only $6!

So I am now in kashgar the heart of the silk road were all of central asia goes to every sunday to pedal their wares!

it is good here and sunday is the market and i plan on buying a big fucking knife!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Korla to Hotan

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So I left turpan on a 6 hour bus to Korla. A city that was not in my lonely planet but according to the map it was at the northern entrance to the Taklamaka Desert which i needed to cross by bus. I arrived in Korla and it was a big modern city full i skyscrapers... it didn't look fun or cheap. I decided to get my next ongoing ticket for Hotan right away and a chinese guy in line asked me where i was going and what i was doing i told him i was making my way towards kashgar. He told me i should skip Korla and go on south he asked the bus people about tickets for me and told me they leave every night at 6pm and its a 15 hour ride. It was 3 o'clock so i tried to get one for 6pm. I was then told that that bus was at another station so i got directions... ( in chinese ) and headed over to the other bus station... it was the one with no pavement and the a bunch of sheep.I got my bus ticket then got some noodles before the trip across the dessert ( in the A/C sleeper bus )

The Taklamaka desert is one of the famous legendary evil deserts were tons of people dies while crossing the silk road back i the day. I can't imagine them travelling by camel through sandstorms was any worse than the pre-communist revolution 1937 piece of shit bus i had to ride on. It made the shitty tibet bus I rode in 2002 look like the rolls royce of buses. Inside the Bus had throw rows of bunk beds I of course had one in the middle and luckily for me the bus gods had welded a television in the space where my body was supposed to go. the beds are all slanted and staggered so your head is over someones feet and your feet are under someones head. the TV was 4 inches above my chest and 4 inches in front of my face. The movie showing was an american movie in chinese starring the rock and the stiffler from american pie. I could understand it but I assume it didn't win any academy awards. During the film the people kept yelling at me to move my big head so they could see the screen. Just when i got comfortable and got to see some tiny asian kid...playing a south american, kick the rocks ass it was lights out and everything shut down.

The desert itself was way more hardcore than other desserts i have seen. wy more hard core than the gobi, las vegas, and palm springs. the only thing of interest was we were plowing through well over a 100km and hour during the night I awoke to the bus slowing down. It was around 1am and we were passing through what is apparently the las vegas of xinjiang. On either side of the street all there were was a bunch of brothels. They were glass store fronts with glowing pink lights and girls waving to the bus. Other than the special evening ladies I could only see a handful of chinese guys eating bbq and drinking beers. In the background were oil towers with giant flames burning on to of them. It was a scene like out of a post apocalyptic mad maxian-Esq film. Unfortunately we did not stop.. so i could take a photo.

Other than that the rest of the night i couldn't sleep so i listened to a american history audio book on my ipod ( i was trying to sleep ). unfortunately it was narrated by matt damon and it felt as though Jason Bourne was beating me down with historical facts and then i was too afraid to sleep.

I then arrived in Hotan and wandered aimlessly around looking for moderately priced place to crash only to realize i lost my chinese phrasebook on the bus... fuck.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


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So It's been like a week so i will try and give a round up.

I arrived off the train to the capital of urumqi. I obviously made no lodging arrangements. I expected to be hounded by touts from guest house on arrival. this unfortunately was not the case. I wandered around the city a bit a was unable to find any moderately prices accommodation ANYWHERE. one guy offered to let me slept in some make shift room in his store for 30 kuai. i thanked him and than head back to the train station to find a train to anywhere. the line for the kashgar train was huge so i looked through my trusty lonely planet looking for an alternative destination. I found the city of turpan. next thing i knew i went right from a 40 hour train ride to a 3 hour bus ride.

Right out of the bus station turpan was beautiful. across the street was a market with people selling fruits nuts and breads. xinjiang was good. i hoofed it down the street found a sweet little hotel full of old tour groups. they gave me a common room for 30 yuan ($4) In the dorm was only one other guy a Japanese kid doing a tour of the silk road his name was uda or some shit like that. It was way too hard to pronounce so i called him "Utah" ( as in johnny "I AM AN FBI AGENT" Utah or "utah get me two!"). The first day utah showed me around town I took butt loads of pictures witht he holgas. the Uighur people are very photogenic and do not mind having their photos taken at all. Utah also showed me the pleasures of the night markets. BBQ as far as the eye can see. vegetables are afraid to show themselves in a place like xinjiang.

The city of Turpin itself is amazing. there are pedestrian sidewalks of marble 15 feet overhead are lattices of grapes. there is a nice balance between old and new in xinjiang. In the middle of town is a massive fountain that has these weird choreographed music fountain shows... this is an obvious chinese influence. the hotel also had a great outside cafe covered in grapes and that had pretty much been the norm ever since no vegetables but free grapes and melon everywhere you go. are grapes and watermelon an adequate scurvy fighting vegetable substitute?

The next day utah was off so i hit the old town exploring and visiting mosques. That night I hit the night market han solo. some han chinese saw me invited me over offered me some goat intestines and a glass full of magic... bijiu. this is the 47% chinese wine made from sorghum whatever the fuck that is. anyways this stuff is nasty. I had a glass...or shot because it is unsippable. I started chatting with my new chinese friends as you do. i was feeling really good because i was able to converse. they understood me and i understood them and when they said something i didn't understand i was able to say so and they would explain until i did. my chinese was kickin.... as was the bijiu. then on my 5th shot I recreated some the magic of the fountain show down the street. Bijiu and white chunks of intestines shot out of my mouth uncontrollably. i covered my mouth with my hand and that only broke the vomit into multiple streams. the chinese guys laughed... most likely because this is what they had been waiting for all alog and is why they invited me over and gave my bijiu in the first place.

after my interpretational fountain of vomit show was finished they then gave me a pijiu and I sat back down to refill my now empty belly with more intestines and a few liver schwarr.

anyways after a few more drinks and a few more laughs. i busted out my chinese joke ( i can tell one joke in chinese.. its an old joke about an american a frenchman and a chinese guy and a genie ) then the chinese man alcohol bijiu situation followed its only logical course. every time i tried to leave magically another pijiu materialized in front of me and then they started to get competitive after the 2nd bottle of bijiu was empty. they kept challenging me who could drink more and more and more. they were getting redder and redder and were soon as red as mao zedongs heart and they started asking me if i loved ma zedong. i gave the obvious answer that everyone loves mao zedong. but unfortunately for me I was sadly mistaken and that was the wrong answer. i was told only chinese people can have have mao zedong in their heart. I was then told that I was not chinese and stupid. At least that is what i think was being said who the fuck knows. at thins point i excused myself to the bathroom and snuck home.

The next day i hooked up with a danish guy and an Israeli to split to cost of a car. they took us to some cool silk road ruins and we checked out the flaming mountains and all kinds of things. The only exciting thing to mention was we made a pit stop in the middle of the desert at some hotel construction site to see some muslim resort that is being built the guy brought us there because his friend is overseeing construction. this place was crazy looking and very opulent and the drivers friend was so drunk he could barely stand. he was all by himself and from the lookes of it had been by himself for a very very long time. I think he wanted to hump us. I marched ahead of the group in hopes that is someone was going to squel like a piggie it would be the danish student. we all got out of there with out any humpage and made it back safe and sound. the night was followed but a rather inexpensive dinner with some isreali's.

the next day i head out for the next town.

the next night

Friday, September 21, 2007

now in xinjiang

after 2 gruling days on a train I am safely here.

The train was definitely experience. I have taken long trips before but this train ride was different. When i came to china the first time I had never even knew xinjiang existed. then i started hearing stories and for some reason it kept coming up in my life and all of a sudden i desperately wanted to go there. So after 5 years i looked out the window during the slow train ride across the desert and this place started to unfold and materialize. Travelling to this new place definitely gave me the feeling of moving into the future and leaving the past behind.

The train ride itself was bearable. I had the bottom bunk of a hard sleeper. in the hard sleeper the beds are obviously harder but it also means there are no real separate compartments its an open train car full of bunks 6 to a section. anyways I took the last available ticket which was the bottom bunk. The bottom bunk is also $12 more expensive because you dont have to climb up and down to go to the bathroom. This extra $12 also lets you through a non stop party on your bead for all the old hungry chinese people who dont like there beds up above. The like to sit on the bottom bunk and eat all sorts of interesting crumb generating food. their obvious favorite would be to eat sunflower seeds and the spit the shells onto my bed. good time. The only real good thing to the story was i got to speak chinese for 2 days non stop and was actually able to converse! except with one guy but i think that was because he was retarded.

Anyways I arrived in Urumqi around 10:30am not sure what time that really is because beijing time is one thing and the xinjiang time is completely different and unofficial and makes know use of other time zones. it is apparently just the time people like it to be. Right of the gate I had tough time finding accommodation and there were no touts AT ALL upon leaving the station. i went to a few place in the lonely planet and they where all far too expensive ($20). i managed to meet one gentlemen with seven years of brown goo on his teeth, he offered me a bed in the back room of his store for 30 kuai. He said it was 50 kuai for the room and 30 kuai if I only wanted the bed. I am hoping this was my shitty chinese in action.

Urumqi was a big dirt city and in the 2 long hours i spent there i was only able to figure out where the bus station was so i headed there to get a bus for turpin a beautiful small place that lonely planet highly recommended. anyways i hit the bus station for there and discovered i am a HUGE dumbass because i went to the wrong bus station. i hoped in this weird 1 cylinder 3 wheeled taxi/farm machine and headed to the correct bus station. he offered to take me all the way for $8 only $2 more than the bus ticket but i suspected we wouldn't make it.

I finally reached the correct bus station got a ticket for$6 hoped on bored enjoyed some of a jackie chan movie and then fell asleep.

We arrived in turpan 3 hours later. I must say this place is amazing. This is like no other place i have been to before. I have been to other muslim countries and partly expected xinjiang to be a hybrid of mongolia and malaysia but its soo different. the xinjiang language is a turkic language and the locals do not speak chinese. the script is based off arabic so all the signs are in chinese characters and arabic script. every where i look are donkeys and men in muslim skull caps. There are stalls everywhere selling big flat nan breads and grapes and kebabs that are bigger than a babies arm!

I am going to go taste the local beverages for quality control purposes then I will explore the bazaars and streets and then will come back with a full report

Monday, September 17, 2007

On the road again....

Did I mention i am taking off for a while to travel to xinjiang province up in the north west of china for a while. I am leaving by a 48 hours train to tomorrow night from beijing to urumqi then on another 29 hours train to the main destination of kashgar and where ever else i go on the old silk road. I don't have a plan and i am going han solo. so the blog wont have any pics for a while but it is sure to have GPS coordinates and stories... hopefully as good as the ones from the 2002 travels.

Xinjiang (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ (Xinjang); Chinese: 新疆; Pinyin: Xīnjiāng; Wade-Giles: Hsin1-chiang1; Postal map spelling: Sinkiang) is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is a large, sparsely populated area which takes up about one sixth of the country's territory. Xinjiang borders the Tibet Autonomous Region to the south and Qinghai and Gansu provinces to the southeast, Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and the Pakistan- and India-controlled parts of Kashmir to the west. It administers most of Aksai Chin, a region claimed by India as part of Jammu and Kashmir.
"Xinjiang" or "Ice Jecen" in Manchu, literally means "New Frontier", a name given during the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China. It is home to a number of Turkic ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Uyghurs. The region is often referred to as Chinese Turkestan or East Turkestan.

chinese wedding

I went to my first chinese wedding yesterday. It was kinda crazy but not as crazy as i wished it was. I wanted drunken chinese people doing really embarrassing things... nothing too exciting happened. The biggest difference between a chinese wedding and a lao wai wedding is the lack of a church. Weddings here are basically lunches and instead of having a priest they incorporate a game show host like person who announced the wedding and does a play by play commentary to the main events. One of his duties was to introduce the white person at the wedding (me!). I was told that the groom gets a lot of "face" for having such an exciting and handsome waiguoren like myself so my presence was incorporated into the ceremony. Also there are lots of fireworks... lots of fireworks. inside and outside there were fireworks... and bubbles. After 8 months in china I have just realized chinese people really really like bubbles... almost as much as they like fireworks. I didn't stay until the very end because i had to catch my train back to Beijing but i did get to do a wedding toast of bijiu with the bride and groom apparently they do a bijiu toast with everyone one there which leads me to believe i should have stuck around a little longer.

cheng de

I went to cheng de for a wedding. it has the old summer palace there. it is way less cool than the newest summer palace in beijing. The only cool thing is there are deers in the park freely roaming around and chinese people feeding the deers ice cream. They also have a piece of the great wall right there... but I am beginning to realize wherever i go in china there is a piece of the great wall in sight.

here are some boring digital pictures

Friday, September 14, 2007

ages ago

A buddy of mine pat e-mailed me to see if i still had this photo. When I look back to my days at disney and it seems like years not months since i my retirment. I see this picture and think about how much my life has changed and how stresfull and busy i was all the time... which I am sure is obvious from the photo.

some new holgas

just playing around with the holga. on is the bell tower with the beijing skyline in the background the other is tom at the beijing pop festival holding a popcorn tub sized mojito.
I also bought some close up lenses and tried to get a really tight portrait of tom it wasn't what i wanted but its interesting. there are 3 close up lenses stacked up and the depth of field is really shallow. seeing as the holga is kind of a ranger finder without any way of focusing there is no way to compose and focus this close so i of course want to do more close portraits.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Beijing Hooters

Tonight was the grand opening of the Beijing Hooters. I won't bore you with words... it was glorious!

hou hai zou mexican buffet

There is officially a new stop on the leisure train! Huxley is now having a sunday mexican buffet at his other bar the hou hai zoo. Hou hai is a lake surrounded by hutongs. it is way touristy but still very cool an average day for me is to shoot pictures around the hutongs with my holga then cruise over to the zoo and sit on the patio read enjoy a few pijius and take in the sunset.

The food is prepared by a new mexican and is pretty solid. Those of you outside have no idea what it is like to lose all connection with mexican food. the best mexican food in town is the equivalent of the old el paso taco kits you get at piggly wiggly. This definitely takes it up a notch and it was free.

Monday, September 10, 2007

love column update

So I have been disillusioned with the love column lately. They don't quite have a grasp of my sense of humor and tend to remove the magic. On top of that it has been summer vacation an the college students have not been sending the magic my way so i have had few interesting letters to respond to. Anyways just when i thought there was no hope I was able to get this gem published a full page spread and a color photo of me wearing my mostly evil t-shirt.

i have decided just now i am going to publish my articles but i will also post the unedited version i submitted along side it.

Beijing Pop Festival

Saturday was the first day of the beijing pop festival. It was held over in chaoyang park... a park I am particularly intimate with, that is where the public pool is and i tend to go there after a particularly exhausting evening of leisure.

The festival was big but nowhere near the midi music festival. the main acts were public enemy on saturday and nine inch nails on sunday.

The tickets where 250 kuai which is $30 so day started off with us following a sketchy chinese guy in pursuit of discounted tickets. after 30 minutes of meeting more sketchy chinese people and us hanging outside a security gate we decided to persue legitimate tickets until we remembered the fact that even the bottle water in china is bootleg and that further convinced us to buy bootleg media person bracelets for 175 kuai.

We then proceeded to stock up on 4 kuai cans of beer and try and sneak them in. unfortunately i had no ninja chi power and got busted so we had to revert to buying 50 kuai popcorn tub sized mohitos. we then enjoyed the end of some chinese band and watched the new york dolls. I am more of a buster pointdexter fan but the show was good. after we took an hour break and went to the beer garden in the park to meet up with more comrades regroup and eat some beef kabobs.
D rolled on stage to report flavor flav wasn't there and that "He should be here but he is busy filming for MTV" he didn't seem too stoked. Chuck D gave it his all and convinced me he is the heart and soul of PE and flavor flav is a a sideshow.

Then toward the end Marky Ramone who was performing on sunday came on stage as well as the godfather of chinese music Cui Jian to perform blitzkrieg bop. then they finished the show with the a version of the other fight the power from the isly brothers.

we then stopped by a house party then proceeded onto nanjie fo another grand opening party.

all in all a successful day of leisure.

Patrick Party

Patrick had a rocking party last thursday. Lots of creative mixology going on and various punch recipes mixed into a big bowl that was knocked over several times after which the magical recipe was lost forever. The chinese party goers could not handle their punch as well and patrick glass table became a casualty. After wards the party then continued on to sanlitun.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

nanjie officially chai'd

So it is the end of an era. The old Nanjie had its official closing down party. of chai party as they are known in beijing. There seems to be a lot of these happening these days. they character up above it the chinese character chai loosely translated means condemed. When a building is set to be demolished this character is spray painted on the building. they are all over the place. it is scary how fast things are being torn apart. damn olympics!

anyways the evening festivities began with our favorite football team's open of the season banquet. As official athletic supporter me, tommy, nad handjob went to show our support. and partake in 150 kuai all you can eat and drink. the dinner was held on the rooftop of poachers at a little place called "the secret garden" it was pretty sweet will a view overlooking all the debauchery of sanlitun. afterwards the entire posse headed for nanjie to pay our final respects.
I also just realized the name nanjie means south street and it is an homage to the old expat hang out called "south bar street" by us lao wai.

nanjie chai'd gallery


Monday, September 3, 2007

welcome back tommy

Tommy came back wednesday night. he has been gone like 3 months. me and handjob met him at the airport welcomed him back properly by spraying him down with warm can of yanjing. after some pleasantries back at the casa and a few bottles of nighttime lubricator we introduced tommy to the new nanjie and released him back into the wild. it was just like riding a bicycle again. so much in fact around 4 am we called it quits. the evening so festive that i missed my 9am chinese lessons and barely had the energy to go to chaoyang park with tommy and nick to sleep at the pool. afterwards we hit dairy queen for some cool refreshing blizzards. it dont get more leisurly than that.

I am still digging these instant photos. they have the aesthetic quality of a 1974 pabst blue ribb0n advertisement.

are people digging the instants or the digitals. i have to admit the instants ads the extra step of scanning stuff.

welcome back tommy... di er ge