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May 3rd, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories

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Today’s distance / ???????: 28 miles / 43km
Average speed / ????: 10mph / 16km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 2h 54m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4321mi plus 280mi (?) / 6954km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 240m
Descent / ??: 145m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N44° 33′ 12.30″, E083° 22′ 56.60″

Decided to get rid of my tent today. Too much weight. Sod it. Don’t need such trivial things like a tent. I did keep the rain fly, just in case…

I arrive at the post office, and a voice of a girl calls out. “Hello! How are you?”

Ugh, another Chinese school kid who just wants to see if the trained monkey foriegn tourist will react in an interesting way….or so I thought.

Joy Galleno is her name, and she is the daughter in a family of Pillipinos currently working as English teachers here in Jinghe. He timing could not have been better, and with her help I had my tent sent ahead of me to Funboxx in no time. Thanks guys!

Helpful Philipino family in Jinghe, XInjiang, China

Skating out of Jinghe, I was treated to some classic Chinese peculiarities. In this case, a recreation of some classic Chinese sights.

The Great Wall:

The great wall already? (near Jinghe, Xinjiang, China)

And what I assume is something from the south west (no mentioning names at this stage – don’t want the site blocked).

Arrived in Tibet? (near Jinghe, Xinjiang, China)

Stopping for a quick refill of water, I asked if there were any stores up the road.

“None for 40km,” the truck-stop owner said. “No people for 40km. Only Gobi Desert.”

Whoa…so I decided to have an early lunch. It was only 10am. I couldn’t finish all the noodles I was served, so I pakced them up in my Gatorade container for the road.

While eating, the kids took great pleasure in playing with Rig.

Kazakh kids play with Rig near Jinghe, Xinjiang, China

Leaving the truck stop laden with water and food, the road stretched out in front of me. Beautiful smooth, even-gradient wonder that is a Chinese expressway…

Even gradient on Expressway 312 somewhere near Jinghe, Xinjiang, China

It didn’t take long to hit a wall. My legs were complaining. My gut was complaining. Time to take a rest. At 1pm I found a nice comfy culvert and laid down for an hour. In three hours, I woke up. I wrote the rest of the day off.

Sleeping spot 45km from Jinghe, Xinjiang, China

By the way, that ‘broom’ in the right side of the picture is covering a human poop. Very common in culverts on the highway. What better place for a quiet response to nature’s call.

They could at least do it in the gravel and bury it…but hey, that’s my silly foreigner’s silly opinion.

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May 2nd, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Spent the day in an internet cafe getting up to date.

Some reading for you for the next few days as I head out tomorrow into the unknown:

Distance longboarding psyche: Adam Colton explains it much better than I ever could

The adventurer psyche: Forwarded to me by Marija Kozin:

The Explorer-Adventurers

We have an insatiable thirst to experience the world firsthand.

We derive intense satisfaction in challenging difficult, insecure and uncomfortable environments.

We take the time to observe and absorb, because we are not racing. We are not competing with anyone but ourselves.

Our encounters with vastly different environments, lifestyles, and beliefs profoundly expand our interest and awareness of the world.

Witnessing meager standards of living forever changes our perception of the western preoccupation with striving for material wealth.

When we return home, we feel delighted at regaining the little pleasures that have been denied to us in faraway lands.

We have frequent flashbacks of our expeditions and take pleasure in telling others our experiences.

We become tolerant of petty annoyances or discomforts and becom patient in our projects.

But the ceasing of discovery and strong sensations precipitate in us a long emotional slump.

Sensations we once held to be exciting become less so.

Is it worth it? Like they say, “It’s better to have loved (traveled) and lost (come home) than never to have loved at all.”

Once we have eaten from the tree of knowledge, we cannot go back to ignorance.

While on expeditions, our attention is intensely focused and nothing else matters, but back home it is difficult to concentrate on what we are doing.

Our successes strongly reinforce our self-esteem. We can do anything, but we find we don’t really want to do anything but explore.

We dream of more adventures, and when preoccupation turns to obsession, we are bound to realize them.

We are fascinated with the stories of other explorers and we plan our expeditions to avoid their misfortunes.

Are we escaping from something or have we been unfortunate with normal life? The true weight of these factors lies hidden from us.

What do we search for? We don’t really know, until we find it.

Ultimately, we explore to find ourselves.

Our passion for adventure continues…

from Chris Goulet on


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May 1st, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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So, I wake up this morning, feeling 100% better after the rough day yesterday of the high fever and feeling generally grotty.

I am hungry however. Very hungry. Time for breakfast. Not enough money in my daily wallet for breakfast. Must suppliment with cash from my document case.

I reach into my luggage. Pull out my document case. Look into the magic money-dispensing envelope…nothing. Nada. Gone. Lock stock, the whole lot.

Mr. DGWSMM. The sneaky blighter. Nicked my cash. I am in a hotel, so I pretend to scream. Open my mouth, suppress a frustrated cry. Then I smile. Very nicely done. Very nicely done indeed, Mr. DGWSMM.

Read yesterday’s post for the whole proceedings that took place yesterday.

I’m not going down without a fight, I decide.

I go to the police. I have a solid case and leads that should lead them to the man. The three people at the reception of the first hotel I went to yesterday must either know the man or have his details. The woman of the hotel I am staying at saw him.

I arrive at the Police Station at 8am in the morning. It is early. The night watch officer is just getting up. He wipes the sleep out of his eyes. In my halting Chinese I explain my money is gone and I need a translator to explain the story. I explain I know who did it.

A wait of 30 minutes and more officers arrive, along with three local college students to help communicate. I get the main details of the case out and and clear with the police. A couple of officers leave to check out the hotels.

Another translator arrives, this time it is the college students’ teacher. Very proficient in English. I am relieved. This time we get a thorough report typed up. I sign it and fingerprint it.

By this time it is lunch time. I am starving. I never got to have breakfast. I am free to go. Instructed to change hotels. The one I am staying in is not for foreigners; just as I had thought.

When I return to the original hotel, the owner is angry. She has been fined 1,000RMB for allowing me to stay. I tell her it’s not my problem. If she wasn’t allowed to let me stay, why did she let me stay?

Anyway, I change hotels. 80RMB (8 Euro) a night at the nice hotel for foreigners for a twin room with ensuite and real matresses. Woohoo.

I return to the police at 4pm. As I enter, one of the officers rubs his fingers together indicating money. They have it. And the guy. Nabbed.

Amazing, these police folk here in small-town China. They’ll drop everything to help the afflicted foreign tourist. Mr. DGWSMM is in handcuffs at the police station. In his wallet is the cash. 2,450RMB (240 Euro / NZ$500), a US$50 note, and the souvineer Uzbek money and Albanian money I have carried with me since a year and a half ago.

There was another US$100 in $50 notes in my document case that was not recovered. So be it. To just have the majority of it back is more than I ever expected at such short notice. Well done, Jinghe Police.

So, what did I learn from this? Nothing that I didn’t know already. The fact of the matter was that I was not in a right state of mind yesterday. I made mistakes. Dumb mistakes. Too trusting. At least it had a happy ending.

So I’ll be staying in Jinghe tomorrow also, since today was a write-off. Need to get the website updated.

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April 30th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: about 45km
Average speed / ????: Dunno…don’t care
Time on skateboard / ????: Dunno…don’t care
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: Dunno…don’t care
Ascent / ??: Dunno…don’t care
Descent / ??: Dunno…don’t care
End-of-day GPS coordinates: Dunno…don’t care

Just let me sink into a pit or dispair right now. Oh, hang on, I have.

I have a 39 degree fever. I haven’t eaten since breakfast. At least I am in a hotel.

So I awake this morning with a sore throat. Think nothing of it, I tell myself.

I skate into a town and have a tofu soup kind of thing for breakfast. I am irritable. Dumb Chinese. Get away from me…get away from my skateboard…stop staring!

Typical express-way-side stall in Xinjiang Province, China

I take this photo, and a person approaches me all smiles and friendly. I couldn’t care less and tell him to sod off, and I go my way…

I get to Jinghe, and I am aching. My whole body. I can hardly push the board. I curse the trailer and longboard idea. Too heavy. Too hard. Dumb idea.

First stop, an internet cafe. I spend about 10 minutes there, and decide that I need to get rest. Rest is more important than communication, I decide.

I go to nearby hotel. The cleaning lady shows me a couple of rooms. 50RMB (US$8) for my own room with ensuite. I accept. I need rest. She goes and gets the manager. Manager says “You cannot stay here.”

Another manager, and a random stranger, let’s call him DumbGuyWhoStoleMyMoney (or DGWSMM for short) arrive at the reception and start talking to me. I am confused, tired, dirty, and just want to sleep.

I ask if there is another hotel nearby. Mr. DGWSMM volunteers to take me to another hotel down the street. I accept. Nice guy, or so I thought.

Mr. DGWSMM took me a few meters down the road to another hotel. He tells me not to speak. He will do the talking, he tells me. I sort of understand. I’m not 100% sure why I should not talk. I figure that I might not actually be allowed to stay at this hotel either, but I also figure that I need sleep. I stay quiet.

Mr. DGWSMM talks with the lady of the hotel. She looks suspiciously at me out of the corner of her eye. She begrudgingly shows Mr. DGWSMM and I a room. 30RMB a night is the rate. Done, I indicated.

The woman leaves the room and Mr. DGWSMM and I sit on the edge of the bed. He explains to me that he needs my passport and 150RMB to take to the woman at the reception. I am tired. I give him my passport and the money…oops, I don’t have enough money in my daily wallet for the payment. I reach into my luggage and pull out my main document case and dip into my envelope with my main stash of cash. I pull out a 100RMB note and hand it to Mr. DGWSMM. Mr. DGWSMM leaves with the money and my passport. I let him take care of it. He is a nice guy. He is helping me.

Mr. DGWSMM arrives back to the room 5 minutes later. I tell him I need a shower. There are no showers in this hotel. Kind and helpful Mr. DGWSMM tells me to stand up. He will take me to a public shower place. As we leave my room, I ask for a key to my room. Mr. DGWSMM says later we will get the key. I am confused, but I have been traveling long enough that sometimes you have to be OK with being confused. Go with the flow. I go with the flow. I get into a taxi with Mr. DGWSMM and we drive 3 minutes to the public shower place.

Arriving at the public shower/bathing place, Mr. DGWSMM arranges with the owner all I need to take a shower. I head for the shower. Mr. DGWSMM says he will be back at 12 noon to pick me up.

Half way though my shower, at 11:50am, Mr. DGWSMM arrives back at the shower place with my room key. He bangs on the door of the shower, I open it, he hands me the key. I think nothing of it.

When I finish my shower, Mr. DGWSMM is gone. I don’t care. I only care about sleep right now. Sleeeeeep. I wander back to my hotel. Crash on my bed. Sleep. Check temperature. 37.5 degrees. Sleep. Check temperature again 38.8 degrees. Oh crap. Literally. Diahorrea. Crap. Still 38.8 degrees. I sleep. Wake up at 6am the next morning….

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April 29th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: 64 miles / 102km
Average speed / ????: 11mph / 17.6km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 48m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4280mi plus 280mi (?) / 6889km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 1875m
Descent / ??: 215m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N44° 31′ 29.00″, E082° 29′ 36.60″

There are times when the stars align, and everything is so perfect, you wonder what could possibly be better.

I woke up this morning and noticed the wind was still blowing west to east. Tailwind. I gobbled down the breakfast that was made for me, made polite conversation with the family…but my mind was on the road.

A lake near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

Packed up, I headed out. Already, along the short flat plateau my mind was awake and energized, snowcapped mountains towering above the frozen lake.

Smooth roads near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

The same as yesterday – smooth road, tailwind, next to no traffic…awesome.

And then it began. 35km of downhill. Tailwind. The Longboard Larry board was in its element. Sooooo incredibly stable. I mean…rediculous. I was wishing I didn’t have the trailer attached; without the trailer I could have made the most of the wide expressway to carve out wide tracks in the fresh virgin blacktop. Like a fresh layer of black powder. A slowmoving truck every 15 minutes passed by. The wide stable board made foot braking an ease. Wow.

35km downhill from Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

About half way down the massive downhill, the wind turned on me. The headwind was not entirely unwelcome however. Trying to stop the 20kg plus rig from 30km/h on the downhill is tough work. It is painful in the sense that it takes at least a couple of mm of shoe rubber to pull the thing to a halt.

The headwind is handy because I can tuck myself into an aerodynamic arrow, and then either stand up or spread my arms to create drag to slow me down. No foot dragging required.

Endless road and sky approaching Wutai, Xinjiang Province, China

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Just like there is no instantly regenerating pavlova. Mmmmm. Pavlova. The downhill ground to a halt, and I had to face the reality of distance longboarding again. That is, you have to push to go anywhere.

I pushed on after lunch and a two hour nap, and was just about to leave the expressway onto a side road that had appeared, when I was stopped by the police.

“Where are you going?” the officer asked officiously in Chinese while eyeing up my mode of transport with suspicion.

All officiouness (is that a word?) faded when I told him I was headed for Shanghai.

“Shanghai?! On that?!” he asked incredulously. The boy in him took over. He promtly stepped on the board and grabbed my shoulder for support. He roared with laughter and slapped me on the back. He almost fell over. Caught himself with great style. His face saved, he congratulated me on my efforts, and urged me to take caution, before driving off, waving. There are times when I love being in China.

Towards the end of the afternoon, I noticed that some of the bearings on my skateboard and the trailer were all but seized up. The last few days of wet conditions and mud had taken their toll.

Bearings roughed-up from road construction from Korgos to Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

I took shelter from the sun in an abandoned mud hut and changed out the bearings for ones that I had reconditioned in advance in Los Angeles. Whenever I change bearings, I usually clean the old ones out with hot soapy water and re-lube them to re-use later. One set of bearings will last me a good 2,000km to 2,500km. Especially the Bones Swiss 6 bearings I am using. Very durable.

Changing bearings on the road near Wutai, Xinjiang Province, China

As I was working, I heard what I thought was someone calling to me. It turned out to be goats bleating as they were driven along by their master outside.

Near Wutai, Xinjiang Province, China

I continued on for another few hours. I must say, at this stage, I do much prefer the trailer to the pack. In the US, I was carrying all my gear on my back. This was such a huge physical pressure on me. Sore ankles, sore feet, having to balance with all that weight, crazy.

With the trailer, I feel free. Today I even played with jumping on the board from once stance to the other; from goofy to regular. With a trailer, so much more of your energy is directed to forward motion. With a heavy pack on your back, half your energy is going to simply moving the weight up and down as you push.

One thing that will need to improve is trailer stability. I have had no issues with this perse. If I pack the trailer right (with heavy stuff low down), then normal skating does not cause tipping. Hard, sharp carving however, especially downhill, is a bit suspect. Cruising at 30km/h, I was not keen to push the trailer to its limits, as a tipped trailer sliding to a halt on a downhill would do not great things to the drybags holding my gear.

At the end of the day, literally, less energy is required to pull a trailer. At the end of the day, I still feel like walking about. I still have energy. At the end of a 5 hour plus day on the board with a pack on my back, I had energy only for one thing; to collapse and rest. Not so with the trailer.

It is still early stages yet. So far the trailer has proved to be durable (great hitch design by Longboard Larry and Cory Poole), and had proved to be perfectly userfriendly even when I need to pull it by hand.

I am camped tonight beside the expressway behind a mound of dirt.

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April 28th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: 28 miles / 46km
Average speed / ????: 7mph / 11km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 4h 04m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4217mi plus 280mi (?) / 6786km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 900m
Descent / ??: 400m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N44° 34′ 23.00″, E081° 21′ 29.60″

Dawuli’s alarm clock went off at 7am.

Dawuli’s alarm clock went off at 7:30am.

Dawuli’s alarm clock went off at 8am.

At 8:10am, we all finally started to rouse ourselves. The house was a mud-brick house with three separate living quaters, all separated from each other.

The furtherest one from the road was where we all slept. 50mm thick cotton filled futon-like matresses were laid out for each of us by Dawuli, and we slept under thick, warm, multi-coloured duvets.

The sleeping/dining/communal area was a raised platform – no shoes allowed on this platform. The entrance and cooking area was dirt floored.

Breakfast was a typical nomad Kazakh breakfast of nan-bread and salty, milky tea. After breakfast I was sent on my way, the two boys following me for the 1km of gravel road before the concrete finally began, indicating more reliable pavement.

The pavement remained inconsistent however. Where new culverts were being installed, the road was torn up, and a gravel detour was in its place.

National Highway 312 construction near Gotsugu, Xinjiang Province, China

To make things just that extra bit exciting, it had rained during the night. The moisture suppressed the dust, but left my gear and clothes in a mess.

The rig meets a yurt near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

Like yesterday, on the gravel sections, I had to walk.

National Highway 312 under construction near Korgos, Xinjiang Province, China

The longboard and trailer rig continued to draw interest from road construction workers as I climbed the pass.

Interested highway construction workers on National Highway 312 near Liangtai, Xinjiang Province, China

I gobbled down a mix of powdered soy milk and oatmeal and water for lunch half way up the pass. Further up the pass, the road became more reliable. I was in my element. I love the uphills. They are slow and tedious, but every push is a push closer to the top. As Marija Kozin once mentioned to me…”The reason we do this is to feel the lungs full of breath…”

It is true. To be pushing myself near to the limit, and sometimes past it, is to feel alive. I arrived at the 2200m top of the pass at 3pm. Elated.

Grunty climb to the top of the 2200m pass near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

At last, I was rolling down. The most perfect situation ever. I cannot begin to describe the amazing perfection of the last hour of skating today. Gentle downhill, roaring tailwind, silky smooth asphalt pavement, and the road all to myself apart from the ocassional slow-moving truck every 10 minutes or so, surrounded by snowcapped mountains and a beautiful azure blue lake on my left.

Smooth downhill with awesome tailwind near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

Frozen lake near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

The lake was half frozen. Icy slush had been blown to the eastern-most end of the lake. As I took the above panorama photo, I looked back at the longboard trailer rig. I had to shake my head. What a rediculous proposition. But so far so good.

The rig on a plateau near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

Once again the rig got attention. And once again, the inquisitive Chinese had to have a go.

IMG_0224 Enthusiastic local on the board near Santai, Xinjiang Province, China

One of these days, someone is going to jump on the board, fall, and crack their head open…

The tailwind was still blowing hard at 7pm when I decided to stop for the day. In the small settlement of Santai (pop. 30) I found a guest house. For the paltry sum of US$5 I got a warm futon to sleep on, dinner and breakfast, and some interesting times with four locals who, after hearing about the crazy foreigner, had to come and meet him.

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April 27th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: 43km
Average speed / ????: 13.3km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 3h 17m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 6740km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 435m
Descent / ??: 150m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N44.19.47.0, E080.57.08.8

So…the beginning of the skate across China on a longboard. See yesterday’s entry to see how the heck I got myself to the China/Kazakhstan border at Khorgos (N44.12.40.9, E080.24.14.0).

At the China leg beginning at the China/Kazakhstan border at Korgos, Xinjiang Province, China

It all started perfectly OK. For the first 10 minutes that is…the pavement lasted about 1km before I hit a veritable warzone.

National Highway 312 under construction near Korgos, Xinjiang Province, China

I slept most of the bus ride from Urumqi to Khorgos. I did however notice some bumping about towards the end of the trip. “Not to worry, Rob. These sections of road construction won’t last long,” I told myself.

Intermittent, unskateable sections of road works lasted for the whole day. I managed to skate 43km of it, which is a miracle in itself. About 20km was walked, pulling the trailer and board behind me.

National Highway 312 under construction near Korgos, Xinjiang Province, China National Highway 312 under construction near Korgos, Xinjiang Province, China

I was very, very close to thumbing a ride. So close. But the gravel sections were just short enough for me to not get totally fed up with them. Towards the end of the day my forearms were burning from pulling the trailer. Imagine a rolling suitcase with the pull-up handle. Except that the handle is about the size of a toothbrush handle. And the suitcase keeps tipping over with any sort of surface imperfection…of which, on a gravel under-construction road…well…are many.

I did have a howling tailwind for the day. That made things just bearable. And the first-day-on-the-road-in-a-new-country thrill kept me going too.

The rig near Houcheng, Xinjiang Province, China

There are two kind of road surface in China. Either super-smooth, or gravel/mud. This fact held true today. Where I could skate, the roads were smoother than any I skated on in the US. Where I couldn’t skate, you could drop 100 tonnes of TNT on the road and still not get them any worse.

Towards the end of the road, I saw that hope was in sight. The road leading up into the hills looked better. Not as ripped up. It was about this time, also, that the wind started to pick up even more. Dark clouds rolled in. Locals I met along the road would say “Shayue! Shayue,” and then rattle off some other thing that I didn’t understand. It didn’t take long to figure out that shayue means rain.

I pulled in under the cover of a petrol station. The kid appears out of nowhere. And his friend. Both knee-high to a grasshopper but oozing energy. Dirty trousers and hands and faces. They must have seen me coming. This longboard and trailer rig attracts kids like flies. I don’t blame them. It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time too….

“You need sleep?” the kid says in Chinese, wide eyed, tilting his head and placing his palms together against the side of his head indicating sleep.

“Come, come!” he yells. “Come sleep at my place!”

Perhaps he is the kid of a guest-house owner, I think. OK then, I’ll follow.

I unhook the longboard and trailer. Pick them both up. Kid grabs the longboard and makes a runner. Little blighter’s making off with my board! I think for an instant. The kid stops at the 100m long oasis of smooth pavement and propmtly almost kills himself trying to ride the longboard. He bounces back off the pavement however and keeps at it. He picks it up in about 10 seconds.

Remembering the issue at hand, the kid tears his attention back from the board to the tall lauai (foreigner) who has rolled into the village. He picks my board up and with his friend gestures for me to follow him.

We cross the gravel road and I am led through a gate in a packed mud wall separating the section of a humble dwelling from the road. The kid runs to the door of the mud-brick house, yelling something I do not understand.

Out comes a girl of about 16 years old. She looks surprised to see me. I know I would. Be surprise to see me. Under these circumstances.

I ask in Chinese “How much is it?” and indicate sleep with my head tilted and hands palm-together against the side of my head. Thankfully, the girl does not understand my poorly pronounced Chinese. Either that, or she is confused. Confused for good reason. This is no guest house. I realise that the kid, 14 years old, has just invited me to stay at his home. I cringe for even mentioning money, but quickly cover my blunder by laughing and introducing myself.

The rest of the evening was a blur. The kid’s name is Teliehaozi. His sister’s name is Dawuli, and his friend’s name is Haisuer. Without much adue, they all hijack the Longboard Larry board and take turns at riding it like a Longboard Larry board has never been rode before. Who’dve thought that a plank of wood on wheels could bring such simple joy…

Enthusiastic Kazakh family in Gotsugu, Xinjiang Province, China

Enthusiastic Kazakh family in Gotsugu, Xinjiang Province, China Enthusiastic Kazakh family in Gotsugu, Xinjiang Province, China

This is a Kazakh family. There are two major minorities in Xinjiang Province. The Uighur people, and those people of Kazakh descent. When communicating with me, the family used the only common language we had between us – joy, pictures, gestures, and the little Chinese I know. Between themselves, they spoke Kazakh; a melodic language that shares a lot of words in common with Turkish, or so it appeared, from my distant memory of the little Turkish I picked up in Turkey a year ago.

Dawuli, the sister, appeared to be in charge of the household. I asked where their parents were, and they pointed up to the mountains just a few kilometers away, made sheep noises, and generally made it clear that they were tending to their flock of sheep. Asking whether they would be coming back tonight, the reply was no.

“How many sheep do they have?” I asked in Chinese.

“400 sheep and 4 cows,” Teliehaozi, the younger brother replied proudly.

“Are there any wolves up there?” I asked.

“Oh yes, many wolves,” Teliehaozi replied. “You better not camp up there, mister.”

“Ha! Wolves are my friends,” I joked.

“Your friends?! They’ll eat you!” Teliehaozi laughed.

“Wolves eat me? I eat wolves!” I replied.

Laughter all round ensued.

I did notice however that big sister Dawuli was a little tense. She was clearly in charge of her younger brother and the house while her parents are away. She cooked a wonderful meal of noodles and soup, the noodles hand made. So much reponsibility for a 16 year old, as seen from my western values.

After dinner, I gave Dawuli, Teliehaozi and his friend some stickers. Such a repulsive gesture, I thought, after all that they are doing for me. But they loved them. Teliehaozi, in keeping with the desires of all boys the world over, just had to stick them to something. My skateboard was the obvious choice.

Enthusiastic Kazakh family in Gotsugu, Xinjiang Province, China

Enthusiastic Kazakh family in Gotsugu, Xinjiang Province, China Enthusiastic Kazakh family in Gotsugu, Xinjiang Province, China

Thanks Funboxx.

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April 27th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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What a mission. Two days on a train, one night on a bus. I guess it could have been worse, but I have finally made it to the China/Kazakhstan border at Khorgos, Xinjiang Province, the northwest corner of China.

I left Shanghai at 8:40pm April the 24th on the Shanghai-Urumqi express train. I bought the ticket for a hard-sleeper berth four days in advance from the English-speaking counter at the Shanghai Central Station. It was about 650RMB for the ticket.

On the train from Shanghai to Urumqi, China

I arrived in Urumqi at 3:30pm on the 26th of April. Much sooner than I had expected.

In Urumqi I asked at the information counter at the Urumqi train station about trains or buses to Khorgos (the information people speak English). They directed me to a bus station further in town. Asking locals along the way, I managed to get to the bus station in one piece, and booked a seat on the overnight sleeper bus leaving Urumqi at 9pm that night.

I boarded the bus at 9pm, and 12 hours later, at 9am on the 27th of April, I arrived in Khorgos. Tired from traveling, but stoked to be outside and on my way…

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April 23rd, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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On a whim, I decided to do a quick internet search for skateboard related organisations and/or companies in Shanghai. I stumbled upon these legendary folk:


They are the real deal here in Shanghai. Distributors of high-end skate and outdoor goods, promotors of all manner of extreme sports, and all round great human beans.

I visited them on Tuesday to talk with them about my journey. If I had been more organised right now as I am typing this, I would have the photos of us all with me here at the internet cafe….

Long story short, I am stoked that I am going to be able to contribute some content from my journey on their www.funboxx.cn website. They hooked me up with some great gear from MSR (a great Miox Water Purifier), Smartwool (super comfy socks), a helmet from Protec, and a pair of Smith sunglasses.

I never expected to be able to find any support here in China for my journey, so to come across the Funboxx team was a real blessing. They will be keeping up with my progress, and helping out along the way if I need it. Thanks guys!

In other news, on Wednesday, I got to tag along with Marija to www.chinesepod.com. Marija met Amber, the podcast host, at the GECKO Reuse.bag launch in Shanghai. Amber was enthralled with Marija’s story of cycling 20,00km back and forth across the Eurasian Continent, and organised for her to come on the show.

Here is the podcast in all its glory

So, this past week in Shanghai has been rather hectic. I am ready to get out of the big city and get rolling. I am booked on a train to Urumqi for tomorrow. The plan is to take a train and then a bus to the other side of China. To the China/Kazakhstan border at Khorgos, Xinjiang Province. From there, I will turn around and skate back to Shanghai.

Yes. It is madness.

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April 21st, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China,USA (California)

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