I am still trying to jump through the hoops to get a Russian Visa.
I have all but decided to get a transit visa and go straight to Estonia.
I may end up in Laos and down to Thailand...
This is a lot of miscellaneous typing that had not made it to the internet yet on Lhasa, Beijing, and the Trip to Mongolia.
There was a French guy that says he lives in New York City arrived yesterday. He is a photographers, I suppose he is a Free-Lance photographer as he states, but probably has a couple of magazines or whatnot that he concentrates on, I have not been able to discern which ones for sure, but he did say “National Geographic.” This would be a major accomplishment for a photographer.
I saw a large bag sitting around in his room that looked like a short pair of skis. I thought that this bag looked very curious for a backpacker, and he told us this was a bag of backgrounds for photos. It is quite huge, and in reality the bag he has does not look like a photographers so far, because there is nothing that announces that he is a photographers. None of the normal bevy of large camera bags, and none around his neck, announcing that,
“I am a photographer.”
So he may really be a photographer. His name is Frederick something and he is a good guy, not presumptuous or arrogant like a wanna be or maybe are people.
I will quiz him some more to learn some tricks of the trade from him, as he seems like a very capable person.
This country is layered. It is not just remote and barren full of Mongolians living around in tents. I am in a very modern city full of people competing for jobs, and a living. There are department stores that look similar to the USA, and a superb grocery store that I am especially happy to find after about four countries of convenience store size stores of food shops. Most countries have some fresh food market, but a grocery store has more variety in foods than any fresh food market would every have. It takes a real importing effort and organization to create variety in food. Fresh food markets are for just that fresh fruit or maybe vegetables. All local grown and nothing that exciting, the food in a Wal-mart of large Krogers in the USA will make any of the markets in the world look sick in comparison for variety, quality, and just over all selections. So I am happy to find a large grocery store here.
I am plotting in my mind how to photograph myself Mongolia. I need a map or guide of some form to show me all the cities of the country. The layers of tourism is the problem here, because they sell 4-wheel drive tours everywhere and sort of staged authenticity at a drop of a hat I believe. The whole country looks for sale so far, and negotiable.
It is also very cold still and a short walk will bite my face, and cut at the power in my legs so this is an impediment to me wanting to move. I am probably going to read a couple of books for a week and think about this prospect, catch up on my computer work and think. Maybe in reality I will avoid the issue until it is warmer.
I have seen just hints of some rural or Mongolian culture that is unique. People think they want unique, and something they would call the “Real” country or the “Real Mongolian” but in reality they want to go in a 4-wheel drive and pay to see it. I am not sure this is possible. Anything paid for in this manners is almost always a paid for the viewer version of this, and not real. Everything is real, but to capture the essence or whatever they think they want to see is not so real. In the end we are all tourist.
Woke up and got out of bed to make a cup of coffee. I am sharing the room with Jeff so I came to the common kitchen to type on the computer for my work.
Jeff has a better than normal conception of what I do for a living and how I do it, but he is still sort of missing the point on what is involved. This was illustrated yesterday when I woke up around 7:00 am after the train ride, being worn from the trip, and just disorientated to sit in the bed and type on my computer. When he started to stir or move around it was about 9:00 am and he said something to the effect,
“You have already worked on the computer for a couple of hours?”
I agreed, and said,
“Yes, but I work on the computer daily for a few hours, if not more.”
There is a comparison that goes on for people on writing. Writing is an activity that takes about 20 minutes for people, although most people that sit down to the internet sit down for one hour to two hours minimum, they still consider it a 20 minute exercise. So to write or work on anything that involves typing should be around 20 minutes. This is the world and they would want to work on any job for around 20 minutes and not three-four hours at a stint.
I have learned in my prior business that four hours is the minimum time needed to make a move on anything. That in reality I can type for a couple of hours, but to make any real gains or accomplishments I need to put in about four hours of work.
I believed Jeff is really surprised at how much I work on the the Hobo, as he seems surprised that I am working on the computer so much. Of course he is like any normal person that sort of focuses on the newsletter and the newsletter overwelms the existence of the webpages. .
FRIDAY - SECOND DAY IN MONGOLIA - MARCH 5, 2004
Jeff and me arrived from Beijing yesterday in the early afternoon by train, it was an easy transition from the train to the Hostel as some lady hooked onto Jeff that he liked and we found a double room for 12 dollars a night or 6 dollars per person, which is very good for the city for a double. It is a proper Hostel and even has a kitchen and fridge, so the life is good. Oh yes, it is also very warm and cozy, with a few other travelers for conversation.
I am not sure how cold it is outside, but I would say around the 20 in Fahrenheit and about minus 5 or 10 in Celsius or close. It is frozen and a biting cold that nips at the face and cuts you down a little. Not terrible for short runs, but does take the energy out of you.
When we arrived yesterday we instantly went to the Russian Embassy to check out the situation or to prepare. Plus it is only open one hour per day between 2 and 3:00 pm and this is crazy, but that is the situation so we had to get bugging and get there.
The person or man behind the desk was an absolute jerk and started on a list of completely non-understandable questions in English. I tried to go slower and slower to have him not jumble together the questions. As best I can tell he wants from me:
1. Original letter of invitation and not a fax or email copy.
2. List of locations I am visiting.
3. An onward or ticket leaving.
I ask why, and he said so I would not stay in Russia.
I almost broke into a laugh at this, and I can tell you that so far Russia appears to be the place to escape from, and under situation to stay.
In the end he said,
“You need to go to LEGENDS TOUR COMPANY an buy a tour and get your Visa arranged.”
I translated this to mean,
“There is only one way I will do this Visa and that is if you pay that country to do the Visa.”
ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CORRUPT
I hate people like this and it is obvious that he is just a reason countries like Russia stay in the dark ages. They are so ignorant that they believe that the more rules the better. Mongolia is a very advance country and there are no restrictions on entering the country.
We went the tour operator called “Legends” and the lady was the same, and I asked her to explain the options or choice. She basically said that I needed to pay.
I asked her,
“How much do I have to pay you to get this Visa?”
“I don’t like how you are asking that question.”
She looked at it as I was saying she was corrupt, but all I was asking is how much money is the minimal necessary for her to take from me for her to arrange the Visa and get this done. I do not really care how she does it or what she does, or who she is, I just want the Visa and to enter Russian with the least amount of pain or understanding of their obviously corrupt system.
She did not like the question, but in the end put down a price of 193 for a 3-day express visa and I must buy 2 days room in some city.
This means about 300 Dollar for the Visa.
THAT IS ONE MONTHS ROOM AND BOARD FOR ME
200 Dollars of this is extra, and I am not sure it is worth paying this just to hurry up and go into frozen tundra or Russia. It is one to two months too early to enjoy Russia in a relaxed manner, and not in the Penguin wrapped manner of now. Tibet was really quite horrible for the time of the year, and we just seen brown crap or gravel. I am going to have to think about this a lot.
I am in a six dollar a night Hostel that is fun and happy in a country of Mongolia that is fun and happy and I am trying to push to go to a frozen and inhospitable country of Russia that does not seem to care if I enter or not, and only wants my money?
I travel for enjoyment, and the last six months have been full of crazies people and crazy places, and Monasteries full of monks that are about as holy as cows, and people that do anything to avoid meeting the people of the country. I have not met anyone of substance in China or Tibet because of the speed. I missed my chance for a person of substance in the small city outside of the Tibet side of the Everest Base camp because of the speed of the tour. I am not on a tour, but get the distinct feeling of being on a tour.
Jeff has a regime that makes life easy, but also robs me of my cultural experience, because he has a litany of things he must accomplish to say he has been in the country. I am in the country when my body enters the country and could care less about things like the Great Wall and all the Monasteries of the world. Seen one and you seen them all, and I did not see God in any of them. He seems to be on vacation.
I would love to just jump on the Train tomorrow and go across Russia with no hassle, but I see that I am taking a bite into cold hassle.
It is too cold here for Mongolia. The place is tied down for the winter and we are about one to two months away from spring. My goal is to end up in Europe in the spring or maybe Sweden in the spring where I can camp in Sweden.
10 DOLLAR A DAY LIFE
I have a 10-dollar a day life that says as long as I am paying less than 10 dollars a day I am happy. If the amount goes above this then life is not possible. I do not earn enough money to live on more than 10 dollars a day and people have just stopped giving money for my travels.
Checking batteries on laptop, that is all I do sometimes, is check the battery and see the status. I have taken up unplugging the computer when not in use and if it has a full charge, so that the little transformer that converts 220 or 110 to 19 Volts for the computer does not overheat and possible burn up, so what happens is that I forget the computer is unplugged.
I am very careful with my computer and I believe that most people do would not ever do, or believe the super redundant systems I have to make sure that slip-ups do not happen. For example the cord management is always assuming that someone will slip and tear the cord out of the computer, and this is also including myself, so what happens is I tie the loose cords in also sorts of configuration that makes the cord not cross the path of any walker, and I mean any, including myself. Doors can be such a pain to go around, but in the end there is nobody going to trip over the cord. If there cord is across the runway then it is tied on both ends so that the two bed would pull together and not the computer. But in the end I spend a lot of time checking and rechecking connections.
BATTERY IS DEAD OR ALMOST - Train to Mongolia
Ramblings to the end of my battery.
This train so far has no way to recharge my battery, so there is a limit to the ramblings of a Hobo on a train in Siberia.
WHAT DO MONGOLIAN PEOPLE LOOK LIKE?
Hmm? So far it looks like a very talk and large womanly, forceful looking custom woman with black hair and packed into here high boots, and giving orders. She had like a policeman walking the beat and I think a little club on her side. She spoke good English and was sort of quick to smile. Had round eyes as most Chinese Asians have with high cheeks. Seemed a little more woman than most of the small Chinese I have met. So I have only met one person from Mongolia and really have no idea, but this is the point. There starts one person and after awhile you learn to understand.
So when a person comes to New York City they walk around and leave and that is the USA. Or better yet they walk around in San Francisco for a few hours and that is what the USA looks like. To understand what a country looks like you better live and move around the country and see some places or you really are not tolerant, open minded or anything, you are just a person that opened a book to look at pictures for an hour.
There looks like we are passing some Oil refinery tanks on the outside of the train. Everyone is trying to sleep again. I think they work to hard at this sleep thing, and I not understand how they can sleep so much, or more likely how they can lay in bed and try to sleep.
FLAT AND MORE FLAT
I am not sure the end of Winter is the best time to look at a country for me, I am not looking at the best sides of the last two countries or so, and just see a lot of brown frozen looking ground. The world is a better in the spring or the summer, and now is just cold.
Mongolia so far this morning is looking flat, and with a few rolls. Brown and cold with mounds of dirt that do not end. The sun is coming up, and could melt, but I believe will just leave the place frozen for the day.
I am supposed to be going on this trip to probably see the area, or I would think that anyone reading this would think I am on this for the big adventure. I am on this trip because it cost about the same to take the trip by rail as by plane, plus it would delay the trip to Europe by two months so I could be in Europe in the spring.
I had no real desire to see China and especially by myself, so this was also a great way to put a check next to the country of China on my list of places to visit. China is thought a lot better place to visit than I expected, and would not have a problem in returning especially with a date or travel companion. The place is easy, modern, and for the most part cheaper. Not cheap, but cheap enough that you really do not get hurt.
I am hoping that Russia is some form of heaven for men that are full of beautiful Russian women that like to talk to modern men, and food that is good to eat. I like a more neutral religious world that is accepting of other cultures and ready to explore equally. Most of Asian are like trying to mate a turtle with a fox, while I think Russia will be more like trying to mate a Fox with a Coyote. Not an easy mix, but possible and the culture clash will be minimized. It is incredible how a culture can make themselves impossible to discuss or reach.
Most of this is religion, and there is almost no religion of the world that makes people job to actually and really meet the people of the world as their friends. The reality is they make enemies of each other, and spend the time trying to make sure their people have nothing to do with the other religions or they will be shunned or ostracized out of their society.
THURSDAY MARCH 4TH MONGOLIA TRAIN
Jeff and me have made it across the Chinese - Mongolian border and are heading west in the more or less Trans-Siberian Train to Ulaam Baatar, Mongolia.
Beijing is on the best-planned cities I have ever seen in my life. There is just no part that appears laid out, or created in a hodgepodge fashion that is normal for most old cities. But than again I do not think it is an old city, it is a planned city and built on the top of anything not wanted.
COMMUNIST ARE GOOD CITY PLANNERS
There is nothing about China or Beijing that could represent the Marx methodology of Communism. But the maybe good or who knows whether this is good or not, but what in the end you can say works is the ability of the government of China to get things done.
They seem to be a powerful business partner with their people creating, removing, building, or funding probably any necessary infrastructure so their business people can have what they need.
CHINA IS A CAPITALISTIC COUNTRY
I am on a train that I believe the Chinese are running, and running very well. Everything is like clockwork and this Trans-Siberian Railway could be one of the easiest trips in my life. Heat, bed, quiet, people to talk with, and a food car. A more modern version of the Amtrak cars of the USA, and just better ran. India is like cattle and this is more like the design the master designer in the sky had for humans.
I woke up at 7:30 after doing a cross border customs and shuffle for 4 hours last night. Every one is asleep and I will allow them the sleep up till 8:00 AM and then I go in the room to type.
There is this small round shaped pull down bench from the wall that is comfortable that I am sitting on right now. It is not bad, but everyone that passes has to squeeze by, and the numbers are increasing rapidly. I will go back into the compartment.
I guess I need not worry, the one China guy is shaving with a rechargeable electric razor and making a racket to wake his buddy below so now all are awake. I do not know if Jeff is trying or not, but he is on a toilet run so he is now.
The train has a slight side-to-side wiggle, and then a constant clank as the steel wheels hit what I presume is the next joint in the track. There is a steady rhythm to the sound and vibration that plays in harmony. The train is by far the most comfortable form or transportation over land, and the boat on water. Airplanes are really the worst for comfort, but the most desired for people. You do not see anything from an airplane, you only see two cities and the inside of the plane, you do get to every excellent food, and probably in my opinion some of the best in the world, but you are squeezed into a plane with a bunch of people that paid a lot of money to pretend they are maybe a little higher classed, and sit in seats that are the smallest in the world. The airline stewardess is so intent on serving drinks, or making your life comfortable, they forget the biggest problem.
“I am bored silly, looking at the seat in front of me. Put on a movie and give us something to do.”
So the solution is they put in Magazines selling very expensive and not needed items, and tell you about trips to places that only the silly would probably buy that do not want to see a country, but want to say they was there.
I am baffled why people go to other countries to hide in their cabins, rooms, or enclave of resort people to avoid the county they went to visit. Why not go to hotel down the street, and you would save the headaches of the travel.
Mark Twain made that quote about Tolerance and from now to eternity people will believe that people become more tolerant of other people because they travel. Although I think for me I am more tolerant, it is not the same as people want to use the term, they want me to be more respectful of other people ways, and people that are different than me, but I am definitely not more respectful or do I allow them to be themselves more around me, I find that I am progressively becoming more assertive in my protection of my space on the planet know that if I allowed the other to proceed, they would take my space without even the least thought.
Why I do not care to do now is pass a judgment or really think about why they are doing this silly. There is a lady that taught English in Korea on the train she keeps saying of the Korean people, there is the two F’s,
1. No Forethought
2. No Follow-through
Things do get accomplished, but not in the way you would think. There is no master plan, and that is why you do not want or, I do not want to pass judgments. There is no reason to pass a travel judgment when there is no rules to compare that are universal. In the end the world is probably just a rat in a cage spinning the wheel going nowhere. I am sure most people sitting in desk are more or less the trained rats. I am the rat in the gutter scurrying from place to place looking for the next morsel.
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
Extensive bulwark erected in ancient China. It is one of the largest building-construction projects ever carried out, running (with all its branches) about 4,500 miles (7,300 km) east to west from Shan-hai Pass near Po Hai (Gulf of Chihli) to Chia-yü Pass (in modern Kansu province). Without its branches and other secondary sections, the wall extends for some 4,160 miles (6,700 km), often tracing the crestlines of hills and mountains as it snakes across the Chinese countryside. Large parts of the fortification date from the 7th through the 4th century BC. In the 3rd century BC Shih huang-ti, the first emperor of a united China, connected a number of existing defensive walls into a single system. Although lengthy sections of the wall are now in ruins or have disappeared completely, it is still one of the more remarkable structures on earth. The Great Wall was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.
MONDAY MARCH 1, 2004 BEIJING
Jeff had just hit his snooze alarm for the fifth time and we are safe, sound, and warm in Beijing, China.
We arrived late last night on the plane from Lhasa to Beijing, which stopped in some city called Chang Du or something like that for a short layover than left again.
About 30 degrees above the equator.
“Elevation of 11,975 feet (3,650 m) in the Tibetan Himalayas near the Lhasa River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra.”1
Beijing or Peking China
About 40 degrees above the equator
So we went about 10 degrees further north, but are close to sea level now. I think the temperature here in Beijing or Peking, there appears to be two names is probably a little warmer. The wind, elevation, and latitude influence the temperature, so I am always paying attention to these three elements.
Fort Wayne, Indiana USA
Beijing or Peking, China
These cities are more or less at the same degrees above the equator. Fort Wayne and Beijing may have similar weather, and Barcelona and Istanbul are similar and are also probably warmer. I try to understand why this is so all the time. Barcelona has palm trees like Florida.
23.25 KILOS IN MY BAG - CARRY ON NOT WEIGHED
The big backpack weighed in at 23.25 kilos or 51 pounds.
The small backpack is maybe 13 kilos or 29 pounds.
This is after I dumped a lot of junk, plus my new leather boots and all my books.
So I must have about 80 pounds on my back presently as normal.
THE PLANE TRIP
The first plane to Chang Du was hilarious and silly. We actually have a boarding pass, but they just lined us up and we pushed for the door. The stewardess just kept sitting the next row as they boarded. So we pushed and were in very good position. Jeff says that Beijing has a lot of pushing and shoving to get on the buses and trains. This is a good system for me, and a bad system for the rest of the world. I can almost always push everyone out of the way. This is a stupid and unjust system that is normal in most of the world. A queue is better.
THE MOVIE ON THE PLANE
For some reason as we boarded and de-boarded the plane we heard the American band the Eagle playing music, and on both short flights we saw the same American movie in English with Chinese Sub-titles. It was about three men and a little lady.
BUT - BUT - BUT - We never saw the ending. There was not enough time to finish, and everyone just seem to think this was normal. I have watched movies on buses all over the world and you almost 100 percent of the time see the ending. I do not know what is up with planes, but they have a lot of trouble with movies.
In comparison planes to buses of the world. The buses are much better than the planes at having planes. Planes are much more boring than buses and mainly because they just do not put on movie.
FLAT FOOTED FLOPPERS
I notice how people walk in the world and can often tell the country of a person by the way they walk. Countries walk in a certain fashion and some area of countries walk differently also for the bigger countries like the USA.
But as I become more aware of the Asian cultures I have noticed that the upper northwest part of Asia, I suppose Japan, Korea, China area are real floppers. There are cartoon characters of people walking like this and I never realized so clearly where they took this. But it is definitely a specific idiosyncrasy of the region.
But it also hard to believe they do not disturb themselves or that the noise would be annoying. There was a girl walk along the hall this morning in flip flops and making a hell of a racket as she clatter along on the concrete covered by 1x1 square tiles like any large store would have floors. I do not know why I pay attention to how I walk, but it seems necessary.
I think there must be three types of empathy.
1. Express empathy where the other person is maybe aware of your empathy, and could broach on sympathy.
2. Un-express empathy
3. Requested empathy, which is just attention seeking, low esteem, or maybe more for sympathy crap.
I spend a lot of time working on the un-expressed empathy section or that idea that my girl friend in college constantly was trying to make me sensitive. She said I was,
But to be sensitive or to have empathy for other people is important. I see a lot of self justifying save the world types that when I look at how they have empathy with other people on a non-verbal level are downright violent, but then can see very dominating and assertive people often considered the jerks be very empathetic and sensitive on a silent of non-verbal level. I study carefully the actions of people and their intentions and weigh them on what they do and hold the course on them. I do not weigh them by their words. Words can sound eloquent or stupid and the person could mean the opposite.
Instinct or intuitiveness is just so valuable to travel. I do not speak the same language as the world and I can only feel if they understand or do not understand me, and communication and my success in travel depends on how well this happens.
Navigating around situations or towards destinations become easier when I can feel or have empathy with the world around me, like them old Indian movies where they know the
WORRIED ABOUT PLANE WEIGHT
Lhasa, Tibet more or less from February 27-29
The airplane ticket says 20 Kilos on it and I am a little worried about my bag. I had to really add some weight with all these winter clothes and other prepare to freeze preparations I have made, so now today before the plane leaves I am going to jettison most of the extra collected things in my bag. I do not really care about weight in the poor countries because I do not walk much, or normally I just take a taxi, but I should think more about planes. I always worry about the plane putting me in between a rock and a hard place when they could suddenly say my bags are too heavy. I have a lot of things I do not need. I will for sure throw out the kilo of cup of soup crap I do not really like, plus I have collected so many connectors for plugs that the weight is getting extreme. I have somewhat gone to the putting two wires in the plug system for my universal adapters. I am so tired of buying these plugs and installing them, that I thought it would be just easier to push in two 12-gauge wires into the plug. It has worked pretty well so far. I plug in my extension cord and everything I have will plug into that.
But I am arranging my bags so there is a lot less extra stuff in the bags. My new bag will hold a lot more stuff and this makes it easy to have more also.
MY FEVER HAS BROKEN
I have been sick for the last few days. I got an inflammation on my leg that swelled up and got rather nasty. I call it a boil and had one a couple of time when my system was too down or not eating right. I got the first one when I was doing the two a day football practices in High School.
I think this is because I am not eating right. I am having a difficult time eating any normal type of diet. The food from India, Nepal, and China is so greasy that I am not sure what to eat. The Chipati in India was about the last food I had that was more of a bland nature and not so greasy.
The chicken flu or whatever you call this problem of chickens is not helping because chickens are about the only food that I find acceptable in most countries of the world. India did not eat meat, but just had a steady diet of greasy food.
They have Yak steak or more normally some form of noodles with pieces of Yak inside.
I try to eat bread in the morning but so far have not had any luck finding any. I think I just realized the bigger problem; I have spent the last 10-12 days with a group of people that want to eat breakfast at the restaurant everyday. I do not normally do this, as it is impossible to order food or to find food that is healthy. I instead go walking around towards a market or such and buy food that I can see and choose myself. There is an “I got to eat breakfast” mentality, which is good, but I am becoming very concerned about spicy foods, as I am positive that is the reason why people spit all the time in these countries. Although Tibet is a lot less than India.
I went to the Pharmacist when we finally got back from the Mountains. It was just across the street from the hotel so that was convenient. They had a female doctor that insisted that I sit and she bandaged up the sore. She wanted to give me an intravenous injection of Penicillin for some reason, I told her some to the effect as of tomorrow. A good tomorrow statement will get you out of most stupid situations.
Jeff was saying that in China a person does not feel that they have gone to the doctor unless they have had a? I am not saying this correctly. I do not think you call it a intravenous injection. She wanted to puts a needle in my arm attached to a bottle of fluid laced with Penicillin that would flow directly into my vein. This is what a Jeff says the people of China feel must happen or they have not been to the doctor. There were three people sitting in the office with needle stuck in their arms, so I believe Jeff is probably correct. I guess they like a bottle of liquid better than a shot.
Well, after I got the anti-biotic my problem slowly started to disappear, and I started to feel better. There was a lot of nasty secretion from my leg.
LOTS OF COMMENTS ON LAST NEWSLETTER
I got back from the mountains and lots of people have written about the newsletter. Most were good comments, and one was bad. I also have a heckler that is writing me crazy letters, but they are not mean, just on the crazy side.
To be part of the “in” crowd of travelers I am suppose to say or go along with the rhetoric about goofy ideas of the rich are bad and poor are great people that if only they had a chance would work.
So the one negative comment is one of the politically correct people that think I should think like the rest of the world.
I laugh or think on how controlling people are when they are astounded that I can have an opinion different than other people. I like to give my opinion just the way it come out and not edited to the degree that it sounds like some mealy mouthed politician that kisses baby. I think the more honest I am the better people can share the experience.
I have realized though that 50 percent of travel can be quite annoying, and that is why I stay longer in the nice places, and try travel quickly through the annoying places.
Tibet is a very mountainous and difficult country. When the Dalai Lama was the King or Dictator of the country he ruled by religious persecution or dogma.
But he lived in the Portala or his Palace and his people lived in gutter. All advancement in this country towards a prosperity where you do not work all your life and die young happened after the Chinese took over.
It is still obvious that the Buddhist religion has people feeling guilty and donating money on a daily basis.
When we went to the mountains this last time we stayed in a very nice Monastery on top of a mountain. Actually one of the Monks was the owner or something and we staying in the guesthouse.
But inside the common area four to five men sat around and snorted something up there nose, and talked. They had beer for sale and outside next to the wall were a pile of empties. I did not realize that the one man was the Monk, and kept thinking to myself,
“This guy is wicked.”
I realized the fat little guy had a sweatshirt on over his maroon colored robes.
I just know that every time I get next to Monks they want money, or they will cut the line and want special treatment.
TIBET IS MODERN
Except for the cowboys that live up in the mountain most of Tibet seems very modern. All of the roads are laid out with good planning. They have landscaping along the roads, and there are sidewalks. The country appears new and crisp and very little to show of the age before the Chinese where they lived in probably abject poverty.
What I am not sure of, and keep thinking about, is do these people take showers? India was a bunch of non-showering people in most of the country, and so far in China there is a real problem with them wanting to include showers as parts of room. I think we have given up on the idea of them having heat in the room, but we went to a lot of Hotels the other day searching for a Hotel that had hot water, or a way to clean.
If you take China and India together this is half the population of the planet. That means that half the planet does not shower.
It has been very hard for me the last few months of constantly fighting to keep clean. It does appear that like children avoiding a shower the other traveler like the vacation from showering.
What happen to me when I do no shower is my hair stand up straight or sticks out in all directions, so people look at me. I suppose this is why everywhere in the world they where hats, or scarves, so they can cover up the fact that they do not shower.
I have been laughing because I said in this blog that Jeff did not shower a couple of times and Jeff’s mother read my comments and wrote him about the comment. Jeff where some form of leather Indiana Jones hat that covers up his very short hair. Don’t worry Jeff showers better than most of the other travelers, but if he wasn’t I would tell him bluntly, but he is a lot cleaner than the girls.
I could tell a lot of other things about Jeff that I will leave out of the Blog to protect the guilty.
Note that I have been making lots of fun of him for having an electric toothbrush that he carries and uses, telling him that this breaks one of them unwritten macho creeds on what you will do or not do on the road. It like women that carry a hair dryer, they are considered basically tourist that should have stayed home.
We are and I am a tourist though. I want to live as high a quality as possible for least amount of money. I have to pay more here in China for showers or search a lot harder.
Fortunately for me, Jeff reads the guidebook from cover to cover and looks ups all the hotels and is not a winger. I am normally a winger or a person that just finds a Hotel in many ways. I look sometimes for the Lonely Planets “Popular with the backpackers” phrase so I can meet people and have better conversations in those hotels.
I was talking with Jeff and we were trying to think if Russia is a shower or no shower country? I suppose we will learn.
COMMON TOILET VERSUS PRIVATE TOILET
Jeff and me staying a really nice room in many ways in some city up in the mountains. It had TV, Hot Water, carpet, and large double beds with large fluffy comforters. After we heated the room with our two electric Hot Plates life was really good inside the room.
Now, what hit me, or I am realizing more each day travel is that the shared or common showers are just as clean as the private showers inside a room.
With a share toilet or shower you have to walk to the facility and use it before or after other people. With the squat toilet I suppose it is cleaner, but with the shower you do have to walk in areas where maybe other people have foot diseases or fungus, or other problems.
But if the management is not disinfecting and cleaning the shared shower area, why would I assume they cleaned my private bath before we entered.
What brought this to my attention was a lot of black Chinese hair inside the tub of the nice Hotel.
I think a person that really wishes to be clean to carry along with them powdered laundry soap and clean their private toilet.
SECOND TRIP TO THE MOUNTAINS
Four of us went on a three-day trip to the mountains. It was more or less a repeat of the same scenery we encountered on the trip from Katmandu to Lhasa, so for me it was just another freezing, bumpy, monotonous trip in another Toyota Land Cruiser, but older and to me a little nerve racking.
We travel up to about 5000 meters again, and my understanding of weather is that you could have blinding snowstorms and extreme weather conditions. The vehicle did not have heat, but with the sun shining in the vehicle was warm.
The two girls in the car ended up making fun of me like I was stupid for not wanting to travel up to 5000 meters in a vehicle with no heat. We was lucky and they feel pompous and I think they are about as stupid as two girls can be, or typical in mentality of a person that will eventually end up hurt or robbed.
I took the chance, because I knew that I would just get out of the vehicle if they started to go into dangerous situations, or the weather became really bad. Plus and for reasons I do no understand there is no snow in Tibet really. If it had snowed this winter there should be drifts or accumulations of snow in areas. There are no accumulations of snow to be seen, only on the mountaintops.
I will be glad to separate completely from these two girls that were on the tour with us, and go to Beijing. Traveling with people that are going the same direction is not a good reason to travel with them. You need to have the same philosophy on travel and opinions of the world. That still does not mean you will agree, but it is a better chance. I am conservative and wish to enjoy the trip.
There is an idea that we are all best friends, and this is not true. We are people that met on a tour and traveled together, there is no real friendship that has any understanding
I do not like to share many trips with companions because my quality of life goes down dramatically as I also have to share in their bad decisions. The hotels on the tours sucked, and since we started choosing our own hotels quality of life is 100 percent better. In the end a tours will stay in a 5 Star hotel under the hope or even delusion that they will have better quality of life and conditions. I almost always have a pretty good quality of life inside my hotel rooms.
I THINK I AM SUPPOSED TO BE IN A COMMUNIST COUNTRY
The Encyclopedia says,
“system of political and economic organization in which property is owned by the state or community and all citizens share in the common wealth, more or less according to their need.”
Tibet is part of China and not part of China, it is what they call an autonomous region. I have slowly learned that there exist these autonomous regions everywhere and that the USA mentality of Unity keeps me from noticing this word and understanding that it really possible to have two countries under one flag more or less, but really quite separated.
For example Barcelona Spain is an autonomous region of Spain, and in essence means they do not have to share the wealth with the poor regions… as much, but a little, and lots of times as they wish.
It is just confusing because the constitutions of autonomous regions like Tibet and how they mix with China is not simple. I think it works because both China and Tibet want it to work for business reasons.
But this is not a Communist Country. Free Enterprise is booming and there appears to or look like most other countries. The government here feels like it has little tolerance for Mickey Mouse games, and just would may shut up a problem before it became bigger.
Arrived a couple of hours ago into the Capital of Mongolia, a city of about 800,000 people and cold. I have already tried to go the Russian Embassy and the guy more or less said I had to get the Visa with a company he recommended called Legend tours. We went there and it very obvious this is a nutcracker operation and they like to put people in the vice.
I just do not know. Russian is looking less fun, when they want to force me to travel the they wish. It is obviously corrupt. I do not like to contribute, help, or be in the middle of this pay through the nose strategy or don't go.