English Version 10
First an impression of city life in the evening.
Lights on bikes are unknown. Bicycles go dark like most mopeds and motorbikes. Besides the electrical bikes, I havnít mentioned before. There are plenty of them, though. Some motorbikes carry lights though, and not to make it too tedious they carry sparkling blue and green lights too. And then they race around as in the daytime.
I consider a tactic for supper. The hotel rules are written in English in my room Ė and so is the menu? I go downstairs to look.
If theyíre closing down the serving in this part of the hotel or I am too important a guest, I donít know, but Iím shown to another part across the courtyard, thatís much more distinguished. In a fraction of a second 4-5 girls surround me. The menu is in Chinese, but there are pictures! What more can you ask? I choose a different dish but the entire turtle thatís staring at me and some more. When Iíve ordered, the head waiter (I think) arrives to manifest himself. What do I want? Is there nothing else? No, I turn him down. The dish is brought in a minute and they want to take away my chopsticks Ė do they really have knife and fork? Or is it just a spoon theyíll offer Ė but Iíll never know, cause I stick to my chopsticks. Iím doing allright, I think, even my technic canít be found in any textbook. And there are no rules says my Chinese teacher and she should know if any?
Then arrives a glass of something I didnít order, as far as I know. Maybe itís on the house? It looks like milk, and Iím surprised when itís hot. It even tastes a little like milk. The dish was 18 RMB. Iíve ordered rice and a Qingdao beer, so whatís the bill gonna be in this distinguished restaurant?
29 RMB. Rice was 5 on the mountain earlier (tourist prize!) a Qingdao was 10 at Far East, so thatís not bad and theyíre so sweet and want to know everything. But I donít get new information on the road to the monastery.
The trip to Xuan Kong Si is shorter than expected. I DONíT have to go through the tunnel. I ought to have seen it yesterday but you have to keep your eyes on the road when youíre going down!
Itís tourists prizes here. Even toilet Ė and itís not water flushing Ė costs. Parking costs, on the other hand someoneís keeping an eye on my bike, and thatís surely worth 5 RMB. The monastery is up there clinging to the cliffs which is almost like a roof up above. Long poles are supporting. From the first yard with souvenir shops the tour starts.
Through a narrow door and up even narrower iron forced stairs. Photos are not allowed. Past the first room, where Buddha is sitting surrounded by some disciples and a lamb? Thereís a ďkangĒ (traditional Chinese heated bed) with a coal stove, which isnít in use. The monks have long left for tourism. Twisted dragons in squares in the ceiling, exept that very humble. The continuation is stone stairs in the cliff and a low wall against the abyss. I feel it in my stomach. In this floor a room with 4 Buddhas behind glass and a rather scratched picture of some monks on the wall holding a prayer carpet.
New iron forced stairs with a fence too low for me.
An extraordinary room filled with sculptures and ornaments. You can see the rock through holes in the ornaments. Two more stairs up nearly hanging in the air. Itís beyond my limits. The stair is hanging in the air. I put my writing materials away and secure the bag over my head so I can cling to something with both hands.
In the upper floor three sitting figures: Buddha, Lao Tse and a third one, two servants and ornaments, which partly covers the cliff. At last more Buddhas: Bao Shen and Ying Shen. Some coins and notes are put in a bowl and spread around. People donít give that much!
The last room looks like some of the previous only some guards have been added at the sides.
Down a stair and through a hole in the cliff. A room with a multicoloured pillow, to kneel on. Powerful red and yellow colours. Three Chinese with hanging beards, two demons with a lot of arms and golden snakes twist on the wall above.
Finally a room with a 100-armed? Buddha. In the last room with
Buddhas behind glass I thank for my survival by placing a note in the
bowl and walk back to the entrance and all the tea and coffee shops.
There I see a group of westeners with a Chinese guide. I find myself
staring wondering at them. They are the first Iíve seen since Beijing.
Now I know how the Chinese feel about me.
Then it goes back down the road, this time I donít have to turn at Hunyuan, but continue straight. The road is like a straight line, declining and with a heavy tailwind. My speed is 32-45 km/h for more than 5 km without doing anything. Then the landscape becomes flat like a pancake. Exept 2 rows of poplars divided by a draining channel at each side of the road thereís nothing but brown fields. The road is fine with shoulders and Iím doing a fair speed. The rest of the day to Yingxian nothing is happening. Itís just transportation. A small fat bird on a wire is the only break. It looks like an owl. I get my binoculars and there it is, the owl, sitting neatly watching me with itís big eyes. Once Iím passed by two motorbikes each loaded with 3 sheep with tied legs and fastned one in front of the driver and two behind. A Chinese addresses me speaking the best English Iíve heard since Beijing. After some chat about this and that I ask him where heís learned to speak so well? Just picked it up here and there. And watched CCTV9? Yes, he admits.
Reach Yingxian and find a place for 40 RMB. Then itís without private bath and toilet. One wall is aluminium profiles and glass with a rolling door. And with windows at the ďinner courtyardĒ where you can dry your laundry, as Iíve done. A washtub is right outside but toilet and shower is in the ground floor. Here are 6-8 rooms in all. Itís a bit labyrinthic.
Go to have a look at the city. The usual mixture of paved main streets with shops of all kinds and dirt roads and slum. They probably donít see it that way. Itís just like itís been for 100 years, exept electricity and waterpipes.
A new quarter is build in traditional Chinese style around the Pagoda, the city brand. Itís Chinas oldest wooden pagoda, how high is it? 60 m? Itís great. I donít pay to enter. Have used enough on tourist attractions lately. Go for some food. Have found the other phrasebook. It tells the phrases for fried rice and fried noodles and the Chinese characters. Itís raining Ė a well known pattern Ė I hope, because then itís stopped tomorrow.
I find a place, which shows to be very humble. The staff is a family, or part of a family: 3 boys and 2 girls. I wonder if the oldest is their mother? No, sheís too young.
Itís in China Ė they eat something different Ė they speak a for me not understandable language, but their attitudes and their clothing are universal. The youngest boy with his cap turned around partly.
What I show them in the phrasebook, I canít have, meiyou! So I get the same as everybody else: steamed buns with meat and a bowl of noodle soup with VERY little meat and coriander leaves and a beer. The last is not common. It costs 10 RMB = 7 d.kr. When only itís fried, baked or steamed enough all has gone well until now.
On my way back I go and find the ďwang baĒ which should be close, so this letter should be sent today.