English Version 1
Now is the time to try the new electronics. I’m sitting in the plane writing on my newly bought Ipaq 3850. A small handheld computer, which has caused me a lot of trouble until now. I bought a used one via the internet. At first it was doing all right, but unfortunately the battery died 2 days before I was to leave. But with the help of my optician I succeded replacing the battery. So on this journey I won’t have to sit at internet cafes for hours writing letters. But there are still a couple of things that has to succeed if I shall only have short café-visits.
It has been a terrific first day. Didn’t have much sleep on the plane, which actually was quite still – until! A couple of hours I think. Well, when we were about to land the captain advised us that there could be some turbulence when we went down behind the mountains – and there were! An endless approach where the vomit bags were out to both sides. But down we came and the wind showed to keep blowing.
Great suspense. How difficult would it be to enter China? Surprisingly easy. Very easy indeed. When we were to collect the luggage we just followed the sign till we came to the station. It showed we had to go by some kind of metro to get to the luggage belts. That tells about the size of the airport. It’s H U G E. Or is on it’s way being so. – the new area is far from finished. You go on endless walking belts and there is quite literally high to the ceiling.
I went directly for the counter for odd sizes, but was sent back to the luggage belt, where my cardboard box soon appeared as predicted – but the bike wouldn’t get through there? No – I stood there till all the others had got their luggage, but immediately came a young girl to help me and she wouldn’t even allow me to follow her to the odd sizes counter, no she would bring the bike soon – and she did – very efficient.
In a few seconds I had torn the box apart and was ready to go for adventures. In the last moment I remembered I had to withdraw money – and at once there was an ATM-machine – and at once I had 2800 RMB in my hand. But I managed to get nervous first. In advance I had figured out that the maximum withdrawal must be around 3000 RMB, and when the man in front of me confirmed that I tried, so when the machine told me there wasn’t enough money on the account, I didn’t like it. But 2800 RMB was all right.
So I went out in the Chinese world outside – without any maps so to speak. It became a long afternoon….. I just followed my feelings, but unfortunately they soon brought me in an enormous net of narrow alleys. I tried to ask my way, but it’s not easy I have to tell. Much harder than I’d expected. But I forget one thing. As soon as I’d left the airport, I sensed a smell I knew, but from where…? Uyuni, Bolivia. The smell of the dust from the dry earth, I think. It made it all seem a bit strange. I kept on riding my bike in the narrow alleys and enjoyed it all. The traffic is really organized chaos. People just push on. Those that are turning left do it just in front of those going straight in the other direction and cars turn right even if the light is red.
At last I succeed finding the “da lu” (big road) that somebody had talked about. And then it all seemed rosy red. At last a sign with European letters: 8 km to 5. ring road and 13 km to 4. And I could see them both on my coarse map.
I just went straight for a long, long time. But even I at last entered the centre of the city and the names of the streets was with letters too and just had to follow the map – I couldn’t. Far East Youth Hostel seemed to have disappeared and I really needed a place to stay. After having found some Europeans, who showed up to be French, and made them point at the map where we were with no result I was more or less desperate. A rickshaw driver asked me what I was looking for and wanted to take me there, he had seen my bike. Then I got the idea of him going in front of me to the hostel. How much would that be? 20 kuai! I thought it was too much, it had to be quite close – I thought, but on the other hand – I also needed to go to the toilet – so OK. It turned up to be a memorable journey through the hutong. If I had rode narrow streets beforehand alleys were too big a word for this network of footpaths he pushed through, with me behind him – a pity he drove so fast I didn’t see all the street life we passed on our way!
I’ve got a bed in a four bed dormitory – the one I had
reserved. Luckily I’d written down the reservation number in my calendar,
because it seemed like they couldn’t find out anything. It’s a bit
primitive – not the room but the toilets. The toilets are the same as
the restaurants and they are out in the courtyard – there IS a roof, but
Free internet. I asked for a USB-port. The computer looked like and old 386 with diskette drive, but at last she found a USB-port on the side. I’ve never seen that before. Now I’ve written this and have to go and try it. Thank you for today. If this is just a normal windy day I can imagine how it is, when the red dust blows all the way from the Gobi dessert.
I like that smell of Bolivia.