14degrees off the beaten track
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June 27th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: 51.3 miles / 82.6km
Average speed / ????: 9mph / 14.5km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 41m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 5233mi plus 377mi (?) / 8422km plus 606km (?)
Ascent / ??: 225m
Descent / ??: 520m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N39° 44′ 19.50″, E098° 30′ 37.60″

My appetite is well and truely back on track. Beef noodles for breaky again today. But, my diary tells me:

NO ENERGY this morning.

True indeed. My legs felt like floury globs. Muscles of tissue paper. No oompf. I attribute this to a Rob-hangover. I consumed the equivalent of about 400ml of beer last night with some friendly gentlemen at the restaurant I had dinner at last night. I am a lightweight. Big time.

Even the 500ml bottle of sports drink that I consumed didn’t seem to help. I did have reservations about the drink’s ‘sports’ aspect. Check out the amazing accuracy of the nutritional information. So what does it have? 65kj or 130kj of energy? 5mg or 20mg of potassium. Surely the discrepancies can’t be due to differences in batches. Nutritional facts? More like rough guesses!

Hmmmm...gotta love the accuracy of that information on this sports drink (near Qinquan, Gansu Province, China)

Anyway, the lack of energy only lasted for as long as the desolate landscape did. Like, until mid afternoon. An interesting pagoda was a welcome diversion.

Temple east of Qingquan, Gansu Province, China

The pagoda reminded me of the stark difference between Gansu and Xinjiang Provinces. In Xinjiang, for one, I could understand people, and they could understand me. I guess Xinjiang is kind of like Hokkaido in Japan. In all other parts of Japan, especially the further you go from Tokyo, people speak a local dialect. Since Hokkaido was only relatively recently populated by the Japanese, a local dialect has not developed. Similarly in Xinjiang, I presume that a local dialect has not developed, as it has not had all that many Chinese people living there in recent history, compared with the rest of China. In Xinjiang, the Chinese speak fairly standard Mandarin. In Gansu, which is much more ‘Chinese’ culturally, they speak another language! Also, there seems to be less ethinic diversity, although I have noticed some, such as this temple, but they are a different type to that of Xinjiang. Read all abou it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gansu#Demographics

Furthermore, although I have not seen any mention about it in Wikipedia, it seems that people in Gansu have only recently aquired the ability to see. In fact, perhaps they only got eyes yesterday. They stare. Oh how they stare. When I am on my skateboard, I can understand it. When I am walking the streets, it is like Have you never seen a foreigner before?! The answer to that is most likely no. Not in the flesh, perhaps. Or at least not many. But I do seem to be much more of an anomoly here in Gansu than in Xinjiang. Perhaps it is because of the more diverse ethinicities in Xinjiang; the Chinese are more accustomed to seeing non-Asian faces. Indeed I have been asked a couple of times here in Gansu whether I am from Xinjiang.

So…I passed under the great wall of China today. Or not-so-great wall of China as was the case. A crumbling mass of dirt.

The not-so-great Great Wall of China west of Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China

To avoid cutting a path straight through the relic, the expressway dipped under the wall, and the wall was preserved on a bridge. How they pulled that off, I would like to know.

In keeping with the towers theme, passing a new looking industrial city west of Jiuquan, I spotted this interesting looking structure.

Yes, that is a collossal tower shaped like a dolphin - go figure - in city west of Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China

The thing is collossal. In a place where the nearest ocean coastline is more than 3,000km away I guess it would be natural to have a massive structre resembling a dolphin. Go figure. I presume the point of it is the great big white pimple there on its forehead.

Arrival in Jiuquan (meaning ‘alcohol fountain’) was a relief. The city was typical Chinese city; tree lined streets, big wide cycle lanes separated from the main street. I checked into a cheap inn and set out on a mission to find food. I had not counted on their being nothing for 60km today, so had only had some small white bread buns for lunch.

I found a place with my current favourite, stir-fried pork and cabbage. It is served as a small dish, and you eat rice with it. Tastes great, despite me feeling a little sorry for the oinker. I have seen pigs in cages on the back of trucks here in China on the scorching hot roadside. The poor pigs are sunburnt a bright pink and look none too healthy. I assume that the attitude is that so long as they are breathing by the time they get to the butcher then who cares. A tad rough if you ask me.

I had my meal and was on my way home when I saw a massive croud of people looking intently at something. Naturally I was curious (which makes it difficult for me to condone my getting annoyed at Chinese people who stare at me), and I wandered over to have a look. It turns out it is a man who is walking around China, carting a min-caravan with him. Legend.

Human powered caravan of Chinese man walking around China (Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China)

Human powered caravan of Chinese man walking around China (Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China)

Human powered caravan of Chinese man walking around China (Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China)

On the side of his caravan he had photos of him at the top of 5,000m plus high passes in Tibet. Nice.

It was Friday night tonight, and many people were out and about playing. Pool, inline skating…

Pool arcade in Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China

Children skating in a square in Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China

Pool (Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China)

Children skating in a square in Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China

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    Permanent Link     Comments (5)

Comment by John & Karen Poo — July 1, 2008 @ 9:59 pm | post a comment

Rob-Your postings are the first order of business at the Poole home – great job!  Wish you could join me for a sail at our Lake of the Woods home – keep Oregon in mind.

Comment by Aunty Les — July 2, 2008 @ 12:12 am | post a comment

Do the Gansu people have TV? Maybe, even if they do, they don't see anything on it except Chinese stuff.

Comment by Pete (Mooseh from sk — July 2, 2008 @ 6:46 pm | post a comment

I do believe that (in england at least) the amounts of substances on drinks and such can be off buy up to 20% (depending on the amount – 10+mg or less thean 10mg, or what have you, I don't know the exact amount).

So it may just be the Chinese way of doing this.

Comment by Rob Thomson — July 2, 2008 @ 7:35 pm | post a comment

Pete, that's interesting. Didn't know that. So perhaps the Chinese are more onto it that I gave them credit for…

Comment by rob — July 2, 2008 @ 10:03 pm | post a comment

I think the dolphin may turn out to be a highly trained seal balancing a ball on its nose.

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