Tuesday, December 09, 2008

26 hours in Seoul

We originally were supposed to fly to Bangkok from Seattle on November 30, but about 2000 people in Bangkok decided they didn't like the democratically (and massively corrupt) government and thought it a good idea to shut down the Bangkok airports in order to get their point across. This meant we couldn't fly when intended. The protestors eventually got what they wanted in the form of a judicial coup when the Thai courts ruled that the current political party in charge was put there illegally and that there will have to be new elections. All very frustrating to someone trying to fly to Bangkok and apparently for the rest of Thailand who like having tourists fly to their country and spend money. I read a poll that said 75 percent of thais were embarrassed by what went on in Bangkok and didn't agree with it.
Anyway, we scrambled to reschedule out tickets and decided to take Bangkok out of the picture all together which meant flying to seoul, enjoying a nice 25 hour layover, and then going straight to Chiang Mai.
[Korean toilet] Normally a 25 hour layover would be torture, but not with Korean air. We arrived tired and hungry in Seoul around 8:45 at night. I was particularly tired because we weren't able to reserve seats on the flight and got plopped down right in the middle of the "kids section" of the airplane. And let me tell you... there were a lot of kids. In front of me was a cute Korean kid that smelled of poo and to my left was a 2 year old girl who is going to be one hell of a firecracker when she is older. She basically screamed and fought for the entire 12 hour flight. Amazing stamina. Fortunately, the aircraft was new, had comfortable seats, and had around 50 movies to choose from. I watched 6.
[merry christmas from Seoul] So we arrive in Seoul, go to the Korean air desk (our luggage was checked straight through to thailand so we had nice light bags) and get all our little vouchers. A nice old man throws us into his minivan and off we go to a pretty sweet little hotel. It had one of those super cool toilets with a heated seat, front and back warm water sprayer and blow dryer to dry you off after the squirting. Soooooo goooood.
The next morning, we jumped on the incredibly efficient subway and cruised into town for the day. We ran a count of how many white people we saw and I think we counted 28 for the entire day. I'm pretty sure we were the only tourists in town. And here is why... it was around 15 degrees fahrenheit. The kind of cold where my breath would instantly freeze to my mustache. [the seoul tower] This would have been ok except that we were headed to thailand and didn't really have warm clothes. So we'd go out, tourist for a while and then have to jump in somewhere to warm up. "Oh look... a free photo gallery with pictures of germany in 1935. That looks warm." "How about another cup of coffee." "That kitchen supply market looks like it is warm inside" "Maybe if we stand next to this bathroom door, warm air will come out." That kind of stuff.
[artistic...] We walked around, ate when we could, and hiked up to the Seoul tower. Seoul is a big city surrounded by rocky hills and has a big hill in the middle of town. There are trails all around this hill and a big space needle like tower on top. So we walked all around it, saw a cool 400 year old archery range where you shoot arrows across a canyon to targets really far away and enjoyed great views of the city. After getting nearly hypothermic we finally finished up our time in seoul and hopped on our plane to Chiang Mai.
[the archery range] We were picked up at the airport by my friend Josh and immediately felt like we were home. After having lived here for two years this place feels more like home than even seattle does. I'm trying to figure out why. I think that in Seattle I am trying to scheme on how to go live somewhere else. I love seattle and the community of people that we have there, but ultimately, when I am there, I want to leave. But in Chiang Mai, this is where I want to be. It is the fun experience that I looking for when trying to leave seattle. So in that sense, I feel settled here. [our friend Black... we have people friends too] Our friends in Chiang Mai are fantastic people and it so fun to be here again. And then there is the food. Mmmmmmmm. I've gone to about half of my favorite haunts here. After I finish this blog, I think I will go and get some Kao Soy from my favorite place over by the 3 kings monument.

No post forever

[our new condo] It really has been a long time. A very long time. What all has happened: We came back to the states, I freaked out about it, we went on a month long climbing trip in Utah, Megan and I threw 8 events for Gore-tex all over the country, we witnessed the crash of America and then the pride of a democratic revolution in the states, we bought a condo in Seattle, and we got stressed out about a non-democratic revolution in Thailand. And then... we went back to thailand. Never a dull moment really.
[the bathroom in our condo]

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tour de Rain

So Megan returned from Ecuador, went straight back to work, but then promptly had a 4 day weekend. Hmmmm, what to do?

Motorcycle trip. That would make sense. I had spotted a road a while back when we were up looking for the "cave where animals do not come out of." I kind of wanted to head up there, but that is only a day trip. Out comes the map and for hours I study it and try find a cool route. I managed to work out a big loop that would act as a guideline for where to go. The exciting part was that we didn't really know what we would encounter since it seems the maps in thailand are all pretty much sub par. Either they don't have all the roads or they invent roads. I spent 2 hours in various bookstores around chiang mai trying to find a good map and pretty much give up. I even emailed a map maker guy who lives in chiang mai to see if he had a prototype secret map that I could at least look at, but he told me to wait for 6 months and he will have one coming out.

Without a good map we had two options:
1) Use the map I have and follow the roads that are on it. These roads tend to be only the major roads meaning that we would have to stick to the big roads and not venture out to the little ones
2) Screw the maps and just take off on roads that look like fun. In Thailand this can lead to roads that turn into trails that turn into nothing more than a track and then end at some hilltribe 50km off the main road. Now this is fun, you never know where you could end up, but we were going to be on our little 125cc Hondas which can certainly handle any road that thailand can dish out (with two passengers, 1 dog and a weeks worth of vegetables) but we are a delicate bunch and too long on a rough road gets quite tiring.

I like option 2 but there were also places that I really wanted to see, so option 1 will get us there. O.k. so how about taking option 1, but if a good road seems to beckon, then we should take it. One thing that I have learned about traveling is that the best experiences come when you least expect them. You can plan all you want to, but its the surprises that you remember. I'd hate to miss out on surprises.

Friday morning sees the sun shining bright and it is hot. Around 100 degrees or so (which isn't that hot compared to what it was in April). We get a quick tune up on the bikes (4 dollars), fill up the tanks (1 gallon for 4 dollars which will take us about 150 miles- gotta love the 125cc engine- it is amazing to think that people drive alone in trucks with 6000 cc engines) and head off east into the mountains.

The first stop is at a village at around 1400 meters (4500 feet). The air is cool and the jungle is thick. Ban Mae Kom Pong is a town (Ban means village) that about 20 years ago decided that rather than cut down all of the trees in the surrounding hills, they'd keep the forrest intact, practice sustainable farming, and invite tourist to come and stay in their homes to live the rural life. The jungle around here is breathtaking. They just recently they added a canopy zipline tour around the area which has partnered with Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures. I work for CMRCA so this gives me a bit of a connection in this area. Especially since on was on the doomed expedition to find the grand hunting cave (see previous post). We pull into town in the afternoon, look at some trees and boulders, go play in the waterfall and then find a place to stay for the night.

We decided to settle into John's House for the night. Tourism business models in Thailand are quite different than they might be in the states. There are "resorts" everywhere in Thailand. Some are nice, some are quite nice, and others are astonishing. The nice and quite nice category seem to be more dreams than actual working resorts. Generally there is a rich person from Bangkok who has always had a dream to own a resort somewhere up in the mountains. Labor is super cheap in Thailand, so he builds a resort with 5-10 bungalows and landscapes the grounds and then is satisfied that his dream has come true. The point is, he doesn't actually need to have people come to his resort to make it work. It was just a dream anyway and for 10 dollars a day, he can have a staff of 3 maintain the grounds and be on hand just in case someone happens to stop by to stay the night.

[our bungalow] There are a few weekends of the year when resorts do get crowded (New years, thai new years, a weekend in November) but otherwise they sit empty.
To get this right, I have to say that these resorts are intended for Thai tourists. Foreigner tourists have their own circuit (generally dictated by the guidebooks) and these are busy all year. The homestays in Ban Mae Kompong have traffic all year, but John's Place is not. I think we were the first guests in 2 weeks.
We chose our favorite themed bungalow which is built high up on the hill and has giant picture windows that looks out over the valley. No sooner had we plopped our stuff down when lightning started striking and the rain started coming out of the sky in sheets. Little did we know, but this was the start of what we were to experience of Cyclone Nargis. Tragically, as we were opening our first beer and playing backgammon, Nargis was touching down in Burma (about 400 miles away).

Saturday morning started with rain and more rain. As we ate rice soup we wondered if the rain would stop. I had planned to head over the 1800 meter pass, through 50km of windy and steep jungle road, out into the plains and up a few hundred km towards Chiang Rai. We did it, but it rained a lot. Dressed head to toe in my Gore-tex Proshell, I have to say that I stayed happy and comfortable the entire way. The gear I was wearing isn't designed for going 60-80 km/hr for long stretches and a little water blew up underneath my jacket, but for the most part, I actually forgot it was raining and just enjoyed riding perfectly paved roads without any traffic at all and splashing through stream crossings when we came to them.

[megan on the road] We had a few navigational issues and had to ask for help on occasion, but mostly we just cruised all day on some great roads. Some were windy, some were straight. Sometimes it rained, sometimes it was cloudy. Sometimes we got hungry, so we stopped to eat snacks. Sometimes there was a temple dedication ceremony with marching elephants, sometimes we would just stop and look at the scenery and smile.
At some point in the afternoon, we made a quick left turn and followed signs to the Chiang Rai winery. A winery in thailand? We had to check it out. After tasting 4 different sweet fruit wines (and realizing that they don't use grapes for their wine) I asked the guy if he knew a place to stay around here. He pointed to a traditional teak house on stilts in the middle of the fruit orchard and said that we could stay there. Why not? So we moved in for the night, bought a bottle of mangosteen wine, cruised down the road for some dinner and pie at another local resort, then came back for a very quiet night all alone in the middle of a fruit orchard.

One thing about this place. We were sleeping upstairs and the bathroom is outside and downstairs. This is no big deal, except when we were brushing our teeth, we heard "doonk" sound and looked up to find a Tookay staring at us. A Tookay is a large (about a foot in length) gecko that makes a very distinctive "Toooo-kaaaaay" bark. They are famous for having strong jaws that once they find something to clasp onto, they never let go. They are green with red dots all over the body and have the coolest looking feet of any animal. And I'm scared of them... and Megan is too. Needless to say, we peed on the field that night.

[marshall on the road- we only got the camera out when it wasn't wet] Sunday morning and we were off again over a mountain pass in Seattle style constant rain. It never rained too hard, but it was foggy and always wet. We descended after a couple of hours of riding another perfect road with no traffic) into the working town of Fang. Nestled in the mountains in the far north region of Thailand, Fang seldom sees foreigners.
We saw a sign for some Hot Springs, followed the road, convinced the guy at the gate to let us in for Thai prices (I was pretty proud of myself for negotiating the entire thing in Thai) and found ourselves at a perfectly manicured field of granite boulders with geysers sprouting 100 feet into the air and hot pools for the basking. Very lovely. After our massages (where i was patted down with yellow herbs making me look jaundiced), we head out for what I hoped would be the highlight of the trip. Check out this animation from google earth of the roads. The animation starts at the hot spring, goes through Fang, south a bit, and then up into the mountains to Doi Angkan. It then follows the road that we took the next day down to the Burmese border. If you have google earth on your computer, you can go to this link (Link to the google earth file) and get the .kmz file. In google earth, you can push the play button and watch it on your computer. [a screen shot showing what to adjust and where to push play on google earth] I recommend going into the preferences panel of google earth and setting the "driving speed" to fast. You can also stop the Google earth animation anywhere and look around. I warn you, I spent about 5 hours the other day "looking around."

[The Amari Resort from above] Doi Angkan is another one of the areas that must be busy over New Years but then sits completely empty the rest of the year. We pull into "town" look at some of the rustic accommodations and decide that because there is a 5 star Amari resort in town we should at least check it out. The woman at the resort must have taken a liking to us cause the price went down from 150 dollars a night, to 60 dollars and she put us in the best room they had. I suppose it wasn't a huge stretch for her since again we were the only guests that night, but it was nice of her.

[Megan in the Rock garden with green houses below] Doi Angkan is a model agriculture project. The King has what are called "Royal Projects" all over thailand. This is an initiative to convert all the opium fields in thailand to organic farming fields. Doi Angkan is the model project. The King has a house up there that he visits on occasion and therefore unlimited money gets pumped into this area. It is gorgeously maintained. We spent hours walking through the Bonsai/ Limestone Rock garden.
[you can't see the cat, but look how happy she is] We ate at the Royal Project restaurant and had incredible organic veggies. For Megan the cherry on top was that there was a cat at the restaurant that sat on her lap for the entirety of the meal. Here is a photo of Megan being about as happy as she can possibly be.

[me overlooking limestone valleys and mountains] Monday morning and we were back on the road. This time on the dramatic ridgetop road through limestone hills and valleys. I could hardly stay on my bike as I looked around for possible caves. The potential up here is incredible. Here is a video of us riding the roads.

We get down out of the mountains and take the road back to Chaing Mai.

[me in limestone] We had travelled 800 km in 4 days of windy roads through rain and jungle. It was fantastic.

If you really are a geek like me and want to see the entire route, you can download this file and do an animation of the entire trip on google earth.
The Complete Tour de Rain

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No cave to be found

A few weeks back Martin, Josh, Taw and I went up to where the Flight of the Gibbon is (the mountains over by Crazy Horse crag) to try to find "The cave that swallows up all the animals every night." We arranged to have a local guide (we ended up with two old thai dudes who are tough as nails) meet us up in the closest village on to take us to the cave. We loaded up our packs with ropes and everything and set off through the jungle to go try to find it. It is 3000 feet higher than chiang mai so the temps are not nearly as hot and then jungle is pristine and incredible.
So off we go up a steep old logging road for a couple of kilometers and then finally turn off it and start to head out through the bush. We quickly drop into a really steep ravine and start plunging down towards the drainage. As we are hiking along we find out that our guides have never actually been to the cave and the only beta that they have is that it is at the base of a white cliff. So we are tromping around looking for what looks like a white cliff. Of course, me being the geologist am looking at my feet and trying to scope the topography looking for limestone. All I can see is granite and nothing out in the distance that looks like limestone. But what do I know, these two old dudes know the area like the back of their hand and if there is cave out here, then they will find it. We finally get down to the creek in the bottom, scratch out heads a bit then head upstream for 5 minutes through dense jungle bananas and thick bamboo. Nope, wrong way (and still no limestone anywhere). We turn around and head downstream. Josh is behind me and I hear him yelp a bit. I ask him if he is o.k. and he says he is fine but that he found a leach on his shoe. No big deal, he brushes it off. After a bit, we come to an incoming drainage that head steeply up a ravine and towards "the white cliff" Ok. up we go.

Still no cave and I was starting to become pretty damn sure that there is no limestone at all in this ravine. It would just be impossible to have any based on the landscape and what I know of how limestone is deposited. Still we press on. Finally we leave the leach infested (josh pulled two off his leg) gully and head up the slope to find a cliff. At this point now, I think we had all decided that we were not going to find a cave today but the guides still wanted to go look around the corner. I was game because it was quite pretty and there is always a chance we could find a cave. After more climbing and discussion the guides mentioned that what we were looking for is a rock cave. I don't know how that translates exactly but I'm think that we are now looking for a talus cave. Could still be cool, but certainly not going to be the grand new cave discovery of thailand.
Well after more scrambling and traversing we start to break out of the brush into orchid filled open forests with a gentle breeze and plenty a shade trees. Taw said "yen sabai" cause it felt so nice to have cool air blowing on us. A first in weeks.
So after a while we summited the peak which turn out to be the tallest peak for at least 100km in every direction (we looked at a map later). Despite the haze it was quite lovely and we had a good snack when this big full round leach falls out of Josh's pants.
Where did that come from? We all looked at each other and josh started to feel around his legs for more. As he is bending down, we notice a bloody patch on his butt. Sure enough Jetzl (as the leach became known) had found a nice spot in between Josh's cheeks to suck a little blood. Leaches use an anti-coagulate to allow them to draw blood and when they are finished they leave this stuff behind. So the blood patch on Josh grew larger and larger. It looked a bit strange.

So no cave. We descended back to the truck (there was a nice semi-direct ridge to the truck).

We get back to the village and talk to the flight of gibbons people a bit more. They offer to send us on the canopy zipline your for free so off we go to go zip around super tall trees.
As we were zipping around, we talked with our zipping guides a bit about what we had done and they told us more about this cave.
It turns out that one of the guys had talked to the guy who had found the cave and that it was a hole in the ground that when this dude came to it, a dear ran out of it. He looked around a bit more and found bear and tiger tracks (i doubt the tiger part) and he went back to the village and told people he found a great hunting spot because all the animals go to this place. People were excited about our trip today because we were going to go in the cave and find out why the animals were going into the cave and if indeed it was a great hunting spot.
What I think is that there is little hole where some rocks make a small talus cave and that for some reason animals go there to get water or to get out of the heat. So we were following a legend that is really just a hunting story. Oh well. Seems like we should have asked around a little first, but still it was a great hike through an area that is truly wild.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Josh Miller's Blog on China

Josh also wrote a little and posted a bunch of photos


Photos Click on the link on the left that says "Mar 2008 China"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Looking for answers in China

I left for china a few days after all the business in Tibet was taking place. My friend Jeff, who is doing the website for Students for a Free Tibet and who was the media guy for a direct action in Tibet last spring, asked me to find out what the people in China were thinking about the current uprising. Now, I didn't know much about China (I still don't) but my assumption was that I wouldn't be able to hear or see anything about Tibet while I was there. I had always heard that China censors the internet heavily and that the big propaganda machine keeps any outside information at bay. However, I was quite surprised when we were able to pull up Jeff's site in China.
Going to Yangshuo and saying I've been to China, is a bit like watching Transformers and saying that I know something about artsy independent films. Yangshuo is the most popular tourist spot in all of China. One upside is that it is frequented by Chinese tourists 50 to 1 over foreigners. However, there is still something about a touristy place that makes it touristy (think Sun Valley- is this a slice of America?).
Yangshuo is near Guillin which is in the South Eastern part of China. It is famous the world over for all the limestone towers that litter the area. I heard that there are 50 000 of them. I wasn't able to justify this answer personally, but after having looked out into the expanse, I can certainly believe it. It is really quite an amazing place. It sort of reminded me of Southern Utah except with limestone instead of sandstone, lushness instead of desert, and agriculture instead of wilderness. O.k. so it wasn't really like Utah at all, but something about the unlimitedness of it all and my desire to look behind that tower to see what was beyond, made me think of my trips to the desert.
Picture towers as far as you can see. The qwack of duck farms interspersed with the sounds of chinese farmers egging their water buffalos on in order to plow the rice fields terraced throughout. Rivers crisscross between and around (and through) the towers with stone houses spotting the landscape. Old woman on bicycles dodge busses with horns blazing (Chinese drivers use their horns a lot- I mean a lot). Meat dogs run wild with climbers trying to pet them. A great scene really.
One day we are walking out to a crag named The Egg. On this day, we were doing an exchange of new routes with a Hong Kong climber, Paul Collis, who has done a lot of the new routing at Yangshuo as well as having wrote the guidebook. He was in Chiang Mai a few weeks previous and had managed to get the first ascent on a route that i had drilled. He felt a bit guilty about this, so he offered up a first ascent to a route he had just finished drilling at The Egg. As we walked out there we passed a farmer and his Water Buffalo. One of the guys we were with (known as Shanghai Bob) speaks fluent Mandarin (Chinese) and muttered something to the farmer. The farmer replied with a big smile and muttered the same thing back. In Thailand, when you see someone randomly, the accepted greeting is "Gin kao ru yang" which means "Have you eaten (literally eaten rice) yet?" I figured this must be somewhat the same greeting, so I asked Bob what it was he was saying. He told me that he commented that the farmer was working hard and that the farmer replied, smiling, that he was indeed working hard. I asked Bob what this was about and he says it stems from the communist days when hard work was stressed as the most important trait a person can have. In thailand, eating is the most important aspect of life (as the shoddy workmanship can often show) and in China working hard is everything.

Climbing can be hard work. Especially when it rains a lot, and rain it did. Out of the 11 days in China, we had about 8 of rain. One might think this would stop a climbing trip in its tracks, but one would be wrong. Yangshuo has lots of overhung climbing. Unfortunately, due to my ongoing shoulder injury, I wasn't in the best of shape for this trip, but we managed to get our butts on some really fun climbs. I think my favorite area is the sweeping White Mountain cliff. This cliff is massive with routes ranging from 5.10a to 5.14. On one of the days we were there, some of the best female climbers in the world were climbing there Lisa Rands and Emily Harrington. Cedar Wright of Yosemite fame was also on hand. They were all being photographed by Tim Kemple. We also had the pleasure of climbing with a great guy buy the name of Nick Martino. Funny story here. Tim was all rigged up and ready to photograph Cedar on a 8a+ (13c) when yours truly decided it might be fun to climb a 7b (12b) climb right next to Cedar's line, meaning that he couldn't climb it without also getting a lot of photos of myself climbing my wicked project. Ooops. Not that they own the crag or anything but I realized that I had snaked in front of Cedar as I approached the 3rd or 4th bolt. All of the sudden I was very aware that everyone was waiting for me so I kindly asked for some beta to speed my ascent and got the full beta blow down from Cedar and Tim and everyone else. I fell a few times and then came down feeling a little sheepish for making everyone wait. I just didn't really think outside of my bubble very well when I jumped on it. Although, it was kind of fun to get beta from a photographer hanging a few feet above my head as I pulled through the crux.
So climbing was fun. We met some great climbers, hung out with the Hong Kong crew (see my post on Hong Kong), and ate some amazing noodles. On one rest day, Josh and I managed to work our way out into the countryside where we went into my favorite of all favorites, a cave. But this wasn't just any cave, this was a deliciously decorated cave lit up by colored lights and all. After having poked my way through some really dark caves, a colorfully lit friendly cave was pretty nice. Some of the features were absolutely incredible. I kept thinking how excited I would be if I had been caving with my friends and found something like this. Oh well, the hordes of tourists and signs saying "Don't Beat" will have to do.

As you can see, I had a good time indulging in outdoor pursuits while in China, but I still was not able to answer Jeff's question of what Chinese people think of the Tibetan uprising. Hmmmm. Maybe a trip to the local market will get me intermingling with the locals. The trip started out well enough. After purchasing some "Hong Kong House Wife Buns" we strolled through the vege and fish part of the market. No problem. It kind of reminded me of Thai markets which I am now very used to. Open stalls everywhere. Live eels and fish heads smattered across the floor. Colorful mounds of yellow flowers hawked by ancient ladies using generations old balances as scales. Nothing new.
We finished our buns just about the right time as we then strolled into the meat section. (this next part is a bit graphic) Thai meat markets are a little gory with pig heads next to gory animal parts but Chinese meat markets are a bit of a step up. Rows of freshly killed ducks, cages of live bunnies awaiting the axe, water buffalo heads half torn apart, strings of intestines hung up to dry. Then we came to a stall with jaws scattered about. But what did these jaws belong to? And why were they selling live dogs at the market? Ohhhhhhhhh. My mind connected it all together. Those cages of dogs are not for sale as pets. Then we saw the small cage. We watched as they loaded a cute fluffy dog (who seemed very mellow about what was to happen) into the cage, put the clamps around its neck and bludgeoned it with a mallet. At this point I looked away, but Josh watched as the first strike seemed to only stun the pupster. They lifted the dog out of the cage, gave it few good whacks and then slit its throat. So I guess the dogs wouldn't be able to tell me what they think of tibet, and I didn't get a sense that I could start up a conversation with the market sellers. Actually, language is a fairly large barrier in China. Not that many people (at least where we were) speak much English. We got good at pantomiming our needs.
Time went by, we had some fun adventures (including having our bike tires slashed, riding in the back a tractor truck, dancing the robot with a large crew from a chinese bank, developing a relationship with our noodle lady) but I still never got a feel for China. I guess i wasn't that worried about it.
It became time to leave so we boarded a taxi to take us to the airport. It is about a 100 minute ride to the airport and we ended up sharing it with Shanghai Bob. Bob has lived in China for 25 years. He seems quite well read and has that feel about him of a long term expat. Fluent in the language, comfortable with the customs, and pretty much jaded to anything that can happen. He also happens to read a lot of books about China. What a perfect guy to ask about Tibet.
This is what I learned from him. China's biggest public office is the Office of Propaganda. These guys are masters of controlling the thoughts of the masses. They've been doing it for a long time and in Bob's opinion it is somewhat necessary to do it. There are 1.5 billion people in China. This is a lot of people that need to get along nicely and compete for resources. It is much easier to govern a group this big if you can get them to buy into the "dream." The dream of getting along nicely and working towards a common good. The idea of economic Communism is now gone in China, but the social aspect is still very much alive. So the media is controlled by the government to keep the peace. I asked Bon what would happen if I talked to someone on the street about Tibet and the fact that the Tibetans don't want China in there. He says that the Chinese would disagree with me and that Tibetans do actually want the Chinese to occupy them because of all the benefits they good. That the Tibetans who are protesting are just a fringe group and that China is doing Tibet a favor. It really isn't an issue. If I try to argue with the Chinese person they would just laugh and say I don't know what I am talking about (they are right, I don't really know what I am talking about with Tibet). If a Tibetan were to talk with a chinese person, then there would probably be fist-a-cuffs.
So there we go. I talked to one person who has lived in China and I learned all about how China feels. I do find it interesting about mind control and China. It makes me wonder what kind of mind control I have grown up with under the guise of freedom. It is hard to say from my perspective.
Bob did say one thing that I thought was interesting. "If you visit China for 6 months, you can write a book about China. If you live in China for a year, you can write an essay. If you live in China for 5 years you can't write a single thing." I find that true for myself living in Thailand. The longer I live somewhere, the less I realize that I know about a place. Point in case, I was in China for 11 days and I wrote this incredibly long blog. Thanks for reading it.