A matter of taste

I just took my final flight in China. I was seated next to a sweet young girl who just finished her masters and took her first flight to ShenZhen to begin her first job. 

When the meal was served she proceeded to mix everything together. There is no separation between the main meal and sweets in China. The first time I watched someone eating a marmalade filled croissant with a piece of bacon on top I was rather perplexed, now it seems normal. My companion today paused in the middle of eating her chicken rice to open the small satchel of butter. She then began to eat it with a spoon, only stopping to turn to me and comment ‘很好吃’ (tastes good).


Red and Blue

Last night, I was in a world where my girlfriend and I had been fighting because I found out she was married to someone else. I had started spending a lot of time with another girl. We went out for dinner together and then went to a bar to see R.E.M. play. My girlfriend was there with some friends, she looked to me with very sad eyes as we walked in the door. I moved to the front of the bar to watch the band. The back of the bar was a raised section behind tall panes of glass. Below us stood a crowd of people swaying with the music. The stage held all of the band minus Michael Stipe. I looked around a saw him directly below me in the crowd. His fans were touching his ironing board stomach and lifting his T-shirt as he moved back toward the stage.

I turned to see my date for the evening giving my girlfriend a verbal assault. They stood facing each other in identical dresses, my girlfriend in red and my date in blue. My date was listing a bunch of mean things about my girlfriend. I walked over and took my girlfriend by the hand and I walked out the door with her.

Show us ya Rock Face

The Demons in Buddha's Support Band Pull Great Rock Faces

Find Your Limits

One of the things I love about traveling is being pushed up against personal limits that I did not know that I had. Of course there can be emotional reactions when this happens and the personal challenge is to get through this unscathed.

My friend Ulrike has found some of her limits recently. She was determined to walk up mount HuaShan with us in spite of her asthma and troubled knee. She pushed through more than five thousand steps with us to the peak. However, we were running short on time coming back down, and her panic levels began to rise. As we got close to station for the chair lift that would take us back down we encountered a group of Chinese tourists that were clumped together blocking the path to take a photo. I began asking them to make some room for us, but Ulrike exploded. She threw her hands in the air and began running through them yelling “Excuse Me, Excuse Me, Excuse Me”.

This was the first of a series of explosions that have punctuated the journey. While in Xi’an we were walking around in the rain trying to find a bank and a way onto the wall. The traffic in Xi’an is chaotic like many cities in China. We were pushing our way between some cars to cross a road. A gap opened up while Ulrike passed in front of a taxi and the cab driver lent on the horn. Ulrike jumped, and then began yelling at him in German. “JA TOLL, ICH KANN NICHT VORNER GEHEN”. A short while later a bus drove close behind her, splashing water onto her legs. She jumped forward and turned to face it. “YA DANKE, DAS IST WIRKLICH SUPER!”. She then proceeded to storm down the street with her arms in front of her to ward off the edges of encroaching umbrellas, stomping her feet like an angered antelope warning any predators that it is not in the mood for any crap.

No Trumpets

No Trumpets Sign Beijing China

Fallen Stranger

As I was walking yesterday with my friend Ulrike, I saw an African women a way in front of us lying on the footpath. She was missing one shoe and rocking back and forth in distress. I ran to her and caught her as she tried to stand. She was crying and kept repeating “I can’t walk”. She asked me to answer her phone, ‘who is this?’ a male voice asked. ‘I found your friend, she is hurt’ I replied and then explained where we were.

My friend Ulrike from Germany was beside me holding her bags and missing shoe. She suggested we take her to a nearby bench, so I picked her up and carried her there. I sat beside her on the bench, holding her up as she wept and reached for her ankle. She answered her phone at some point and in between wails of pain she let loose a stream of abuse in an African language. Afterwards she sat bent over crying. A stream of Chinese people now came and went, asking what happened in Chinese. I explained what little I knew. Eventually an English speaking Chinese man and his wife came and helped us call and ambulance.

After a while she seemed on the verge of passing out and collapsed into my lap. I had been wearing the same pants for three days running, so I suspect the ripe smell of them helped keep her conscious.

Her friend had called several more times at this stage, and assured me that he would be there. He came casually strolling up the footpath five minutes later. He was a tall handsome African guy, seemingly more curious than concerned. Hr bent down to look her in the face. He asked her what happened, but she remained silent with her eyes closed.

I gave him her phone and he called her family. “I don’t know what’s wrong” he said. “I am with her now, she is not talking”. He stared at her as he was questioned by her mother. “I will put you on speaker-phone” he said. “Esmeralda”, a soothing African woman’s
voice tried to coax her into dialogue. After a while he held the phone back to her ear. “She ain’t talking” he said, “I am taking her home”.

We convinced him to wait for the ambulance. But after a while he reaffirmed his desire to take her home. At that point the ambulance called me, as he was flagging down a cab. With all of my Chinese friends gone, I could not understand what they were asking or
explain where we were.

We helped him put her into a cab and said goodbye.

XiHu Dragon Boat