14degrees off the beaten track
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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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