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Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

 Page 1 of 3. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 59
Author
China (last one! now mostly Malaysia)
Wendy
20/10/2009
12:51:17 AM
Iím not sure how much about climbing thereís is going to be in this trip report. Not that weíre not doing lots of it, but how exciting is a lot of details about sport climbing anyway? Iím sure you donít need to here us spurting about tickage. We did end up here because I was in need of a non-western fix and itís the whole experience that makes the trip.

For those who arenít aware, Yangshuo is surrounded by karst towers; semi vegetated mini peaks of limestone are everywhere. Minus a few that have been blasted out of existence to provide the world with lime and concrete. Surrounded isnít exactly the right word either, as the town has engulfed a few, which they light up at night in good olí clichť fashion. The town seems to be expanding rapidly, but lots of the new building and extra stories seem to be still empty. Whole flash looking hotels are sitting around the outskirts of town and outlying tourist hotspots like skeletons. Maybe climbers didnít turn out to be the dream market? Or maybe Yangshuo still hasnít kicked off as a climbing destination? Out of 6 days climbing so far, weíve been all on our lonesome for 3. Itís certainly much less busy than I expected. Or maybe this is a sign of the effects of the financial hoo-hah on China? Whatever it is, Iím glad we are here before itís taken off too much. The tourist centre of town is a bit much Ė expensive junk, touts and crowds. The tourists are still predominantly Chinese, but general Western tourists are noticeable as well, and a large cafe/bar scene has developed to cater for it. I always did wonder about people who travel the world only to seek out things that they can get at home. But you donít have to wander far to escape that.

Weíre volunteering at an English college here in return for food and accommodation. Itís a pretty sweet deal.. We spend 2 hours 4 nights a week in casual conversational classes. Free beer is even provided for the occasion! Itís actually a great way to meet people and get to know a little more about China and the Chinese view of the world. The students are all super excited that we are here and keen to learn about us as well as talk about China and teach us Chinese! When we started, we were given a handbook that suggested that the Chinese were sensitive about some topics and to avoid talking about things like sex, politics, Tibet and Taiwan and that the Chinese like to talk about work. The men might like to talk about sport and the women about shopping. Cringe ... what is the really to talk about shopping? Instead, I have had fascinating conversations about the education of women, opportunities for women in rural China, how Michael Jackson died, the road toll in China (about Ĺ a million a year), the health system here (remarkable similar to the States ... if a farmer cuts his hand off in an accident and canít pay for treatment, he canít get any ... there is an insurance system of some sort), punishment, poverty, work opportunities, population policy, Chinese music, immigration to Australia, traveling and of course, climbing. The one bit of shopping we did discuss was the best ways of bargaining and I learnt some key Chinese phrases for the occasion. We also had a rollicking game of celebrity head. There are 7 other volunteers working with the school, 3 of whom are climbers. Which in the great scheme of climbing numbers here, seems like a high representation.

Courtesy of some wheeling and dealing by a new Chinese friend from the school, we scored bikes for 3 weeks for the princely sum of about $12 each. Lifeís pretty cheap here once you get away from tourist central. My Chinese for bargaining and numbers is developing rapidly (numbers are actually easy in Chinese Ė once you have master 1-10 you can get all the way to 99 as it then goes 10+1, 10+2 then 2 10s + 1, 3 10s+1 etc Ė I havenít learnt the word for 100 yet as nothing really costs that much!) but my social skills are still limited to hell and how are you (which are almost the same phrase!). Back on topic, cycling has been a really pleasant way of getting around. Iím not normally much of a cyclist, but the roads are basically flat, the countryside is pretty and you can convince your bodgy old single gear bike to do amazing things of narrow rough tracks through farmland.

Fortunately, Iíve always been a bit of a renegade on a bike. I dash between road, bike path, foot path verge and pedestrian crossing depending on whatever seems like the best path at the time, which is exactly what every vehicle around here does. This of course, is entirely normal in lots of non western countries, but it seemed mildly incongruous when we first arrived at Guilin Airport Ė modern clean and organised, then jump on the bus to town Ė a new and comfortable bus, then hit the normal roads only to have the driver behaving like everyone else. Either side of the road is fair game, overtaking happens on either side of the offending vehicle and if there happens to be someone coming the other way, well, 3 cars can fit across a 2 lane road. Plus a bike or 2. At least we were in one of the biggest things on the road, unlike now on our bikes. One consistent road ďruleĒ here is honking. Any vehicle approaching you from behind or around a blind corner beeps. No slowing down. Just beeps. Hence cycling here is also a hazard on the hearing. A truck (which is so loud you couldnít possible not know it was behind you) beeping in your ear is quite painful.

Wendy
20/10/2009
12:52:05 AM
For all that, I think the roads here are less chaotic than say Nepal, India or Vietnam. Possibly because of the absence of cows. There are also slightly less motor bikes and a lot fewer tuktuks. Also, I think the Chinese are in fact quite an orderly people. They have their ways of doing things and theyíre very fond of their ways of doing things (well, arenít we all?) and can get quite perturbed by things that are different. I guess they are used to rules, regulations and restrictions on loads of aspects of their lives (although road rules seem conspicuously absent) and a system of work and education that discouraged (or at least didnít develop) questioning, analysis and differing opinions. Even prior to the revolution, there was a rigid, hierarchical social structure that kept people in their places. Thus sometimes explaining things like ďcontroversyĒ and ďundergroundĒ (as in underground movement, not as in subterranean!) is just desperate. The concept that people can have differing ideas of what is the truth was quite foreign and underground was related to black market activities (which are quite familiar to people here) rather than political or social ideas.

Back on the bikes, Anthony and I are only fitting 1 person at a time on our bikes. Again, the Chinese arenít quite up to the standard set by the Vietnamese, who can transport a family of 5 on a motorbike or a crate of 20 live chickens on a push bike, but they do have their own unique talent of being able to sleep on the back of a bike. Imagine riding side saddle on the back rack of a bike, then just lean your head against the rider and have a little snooze. They also have really cute ways of carrying their kids on bikes too. Well, cute if you forget all your preconceived notions of safety. The best was the little seat built into the foot platform of the scooter. Others just stand their toddler between their legs or on the seat, between driver and passenger. Then thereís the more conventional strapped onto the back of the rider, or in the absence of strapping, 1 arm around the back to support them and the tot clinging on around the neck. All the parents out there can stop cringing now. It is doubtlessly a different world out there. Despite all these things weíd consider outrageously dangerous, they adore kids here and I imagine their kids, or rather, kid singular, are made all the more precious by the population restrictions.

Iíve always thought it was rather indulgent of people in rich western nations to point the finger at China and India and proclaim thereís no point reducing their own emissions whilst China and co go on unimpeded. Well, being in Asia again has only reconfirmed for me that these people are being self centered, unthinking twats. Sure, thereís a big brown cloud over Asia and itís been unimaginably smoggy here some days, but there are a billion people in China alone, and from what I can see, the average personís carbon footprint here is diddly squat. We are talking about people who do vast amounts of getting around of foot or bike. Scooter, motor bikes and public buses then make up a lot of the remaining traffic. Thatís a hell of a change from your average Western city. Almost no one I have talked to has left the country or been on a plane Ė and I work with those affluent enough to be able to afford English classes and thus the population most likely to be able to afford such luxuries. Houses are small and they do have a population control policy.

Everyday I ride amongst the food I eat here Ė fields of rice, taro and sweet potato. More bokchoy than you could imagine ever eating. Orchards of mandarins, pomelo, bananas and persimon. Chickens and pigs. Oh yeah, and dog. Whole families can be seen working their fields by hand from the crags and it does make me feel like somewhat spoilt, selfish and affluent. Best not to think too much sometimes and get back to climbing. The water buffalo still pulls the plough. Someone cycles their produce into town each morning on a 3 wheeled bike-trailer thingy, or walks it in baskets balanced on the ends of a stick across their shoulders. If you eat like the locals, your food will rarely have traveled further than you could cycle.
Wendy
20/10/2009
12:54:09 AM
Sure, everythingís not all fairytale perfect. Itís hard work 7 days a week to produce the food, and some who can afford it have an electric pump or a tuk tuk to help out. And itís kind of odd to wander through tiny villages only accessible on foot and catch a glimpse of a widescreen tv. But in the greater scheme of things, these people are only a tiny drop in the carbon production ocean and we in higher consuming countries should be setting examples of how we can have improved standards of living without increasing our impact rather than bemoaning the poor who are just trying to get a little bit of what we have. And we could certainly take a few leaves out of their books.

We get fed lunch and dinner at the college, not that weíre usually here for lunch, 5 days a week. Itís a communal affair where 5-6 dishes get put out on the table and you serve yourself, with chopsticks of course. Our chopstick usage has been the source of much amusement. One of the road side stalls that we often eat at on weekends has taken to presenting us with a spoon as well as chopsticks Ė we must have made it look just too painful. So this has just left us breakfast and climbing food to fend for ourselves. I tend to have a phobia about breakfast. Not that I donít like eating in the morning. On the contrary, I donít function without food, but the options for breakfast can be so dull. Cereal. Toast. I can do eggs or crepes for a while until my digestive add kicks in and I have to find something else. Anyway, foreign countries are thus an exciting source e of new breakfast options for me. So Iíve been on a bit of a mission to suss out the breakfast of choice in China. The dumpling stand kept me going for a while Ė steamed packages of doughy stuff with surprise filling. Or at least a surprise filling when you canít speak Chinese. The garlic and chive on is a winner. As is the chilli. Then there was the one Anthony bit into and exclaimed ďwormsĒ! Vermicelli and stringy brown fungus thingy. They call it moo-ears fungus in Chinese. Itís very yummy. Then thereís crushed peanuts and sugar. Unidentified coffee fudge thing. But weíve run out of surprises now and restlessness has set in. So we tried the bakery. A far more conventional looking establishment than the dumpling steamery on the back of a bike, with an assortment of almost familiar looking items in plastic cabinets. They turned out to be sort of like bad French pastries with an Asian twist. Brioche with cinnamon, cardamom and other unidentified spices. The green herb on top has me particularly perplexed. Does anyone else remember a fake banana flavored medicine from their childhood? Well, one of the pastries was filled with just that. The savory ones all seemed to be filled or decorated with hotdogs. Not even normal hotdogs, but the skinny, skinless tinned sort. AAARGH! The horrors of my childhood keep reappearing.

Guilin noodles also seem a popular choice, although Iím not sure what makes Guilinís noodles different to other noodles. Itís basically a noodle soup, with a dash of chicken and bok choy. They offer you 2 sorts of spicy toppings with it, but I couldnít quite deal with straight chilli at 7am and went for the spring onions.

We did have a Western style breakfast one day. Normally I avoid Western food in Asia as itís inevitably expensive and not very good. But it was a good excuse to sit in the Karst Cafe and transcribe their new routes book into my guidebook. The only notable points of our breakfast there were that the coffee failed abysmally to meet Anthonyís exacting standards and my toast tasted suspiciously like chocolate cake. Iím wondering if they threw cocoa in it to colour it and call it wholemeal? But really, cocoa and eggs are just wrong together. And all at a whopping 8-10 times the prices of a local style breakfast.
Wendy
20/10/2009
12:55:02 AM
I suppose people might actually want to hear a bit about the climbing in all this. Ok then ... Firstly, itís pretty spread out. Thereís some pretty poxy stuff on the city outskirts and riverside 4 km along the river, but thatís about all youíd want to walk to. Weíve chosen to cycle around (itís turned into a crosstraining holiday!) which gets you pretty much to the base off all the crags and you can operate on your own schedule, itís cheap and itís actually rather nice. Other options are moto taxis (theyíll take 2 people and 2 packs on 1 bike if youíre game), normal taxis or mini buses, all of which will take you most of the way, til the paths become walking only. Or there are the local buses, which can just flag down anywhere, wave the map in the guidebook at them to check theyíre going to right direction and get them to drop you off where you want. Sometimes this will still be several kms of smaller paths to the crag. Often the bus drivers will know where you want to get off and stop and point you in the right direction with out you having to work it out. And whilst you are wandering confused in the maze of path through farms and villages, the odd local with take sympathy on you and point you at the crag.

The guidebook can leave a little to be desired and the whopping great big new road that isnít in it doesnít help. We headed out to the Egg on day 2, got the right road out of town (in itself no small achievement until you get your head around the main roads), pedaled on out til we crossed the river, 2 km after which you are supposed to find all this stuff drawn on the access map. So after our guess at 2km, we start imagining, ok, thatís that tower, thatís the big tree, thatís the small shop Ė you can tell how helpfully specific the guidebook is Ė but nothing really matches, so we start playing, ďjust around the next cornerĒ, ďare you sure weíve really come 2km?Ē, ďletís try a little furtherĒ and just as weíre about to give up, convinced weíve gone miles further than 2km, Moon Hill comes into view. Itís impossible to mistake, a huge arch of rock up high. The only problem was that Moon Hill was on a different road and at least twice as far out as the Egg. Consultation with the local map, instead of the guidebook map, reveal the bloody great big new road crossing between our intended road the Moon Hill road. We decided to go to Moon Hill instead. Armed with our new knowledge, we found the Egg a few days later Ė the old road is now a small rubbly left turn off the new one.

I still havenít got to the actual climbing, have I? This is called building the suspense ... In actuality, itís very varied. Weíve been to super steep crags like Moon Hill, the Chicken Cave, White Mountain and Riverside, stark walls close to vertical like Wine Bottle, good beginner areas like Baby Frog and others that do a little bit of lots of stuff, like the Egg or Space Buttress. As you might have noticed, people have gotten a little excited about imagery in their crag names. I guess Moon Hill does have a remarkably perfect curve to it, like the Moon. One could sort of see an egg in the Egg, if you imagined said egg sliced off just below the widest point on the dumpy side. The wine Bottle doesnít look like a wine bottle at all, but some drunk bastard thought a nearby tower did. Iím not sure what a Screaming Mountain Turtle does look like, but Iím pretty sure said peak bears no resemblance.
Wendy
20/10/2009
12:55:46 AM
There are areas that are quiet and others almost on top of major tourist attractions, like the giant concrete butterfly bunged on one cliff. Some crags are conveniently located near the river for a quick dip (although this also means the noise of bamboo rafters all day. Itís quite amazing how raucous people can be over an activity thatís about as physical as a gondola ride in Venice). There might be a little shop or restaurant nearby for lunch, or at Moon Hill, little old ladies traipse up the hill with their eskis to offer you cold beer! We promised to buy some later off one who was rather sweet, and sure enough, she came running for us yelling ďpromeese!Ē when we came down. After more enthusiastic non-conversation in English and Chinese, the American guy with us decided to give her his last moon cake (they are a holiday season treat). Suddenly, all the old women were gathered around pointing, giggling and gossiping about what sheíd done to deserve that. After the sign language got as far as indicating he should put her on the back of the bike and take her home to sleep with her, David decided that heíd had enough fun and legged it.

Generally, the rock isnít too polished. Some crags are not at all, others on some routes Ė the one and only 5.9 at Moon Hill was pretty gruesome. Some of the rock is quite sharp, having that needly-holey things that come from limestone being exposed to the rain, which, whilst sometimes painful, never the less produces an abundance of miniature holds for little fingers and toes. There are some tufa formations, but not so many of the classic phallic sort one associates with Thailand or Kalymnos. Some of the rock seems more Verdonesque. Still, I have done the odd outrageously steep route sufficiently endowed with tufa lumps and bumps to provide multiple kneebar, hip wedge and leg hook rests.

The bolting is usually reasonable although I have (far more often than I would like) found that reliable 2-3m spacing suddenly cuts out at the top of a route. Itís almost worse because youíre not expecting it after the comfortable spacing below and I jibber up 5 m to an anchor. Or not as has also happened and I bailed across to a better protected route or down climbed. Most anchors are also good, except for the odd one built of tat instead of chain, or the fantastic effort I found today, being 1 bolt equalized to the top of a narrow tufa tower by the glorious angle of 160 degrees using an archaic bit of tat. Anyone who actually used the mallion on that set up wasnít thinking properly. I donít know what the constructor of that set up was thinking either.

The rock often doesnít look that inspiring from a distance, but when you actually get on it, itís all been really good. And there is so much of it. Not only are there new cliffs to find, but existing crags are far from climbed out. We were at the Treasure Cave today, a striking arch high on a tower that turns out to be a bit like a gorge with a roof over it, and there were only 15 routes in 50+m of cliff. There are moderate grades as well as desperate going begging for any enthusiastic new routers.

On the down side, I have swine flu. Well, I have a sore throat and dripping nose and one of the other English school in town apparently has 30 cases of H1N1. I missed class last week because I was throwing my guts up and the 1st thought at school was I had H1N1. No, I just ate something wrong. Iím pretty casual about food in developing countries, figuring that I got a tough system after bodgy Nati water and bodgy rainwater and the assorted grot that you accumulate on extending hiking or climbing trips. Thus I eat pretty much anything that seems hallways reasonable and Iíll treat tapwater in preference to buying water as the ridiculous amount of plastic gone through from buying water shits me. Still, I got something gruesome the other day, and woke up at 1am about to chuck and spent the next 6 hours modulating between bedroom and bathroom. Closely followed by this bloody flu. Howís a girl supposed to crank in these conditions?

My final observations in this epic are that China at least is superior to France in its toilet design. Whilst they both utilize squat toilets abhorred by British travelers, at least in the Chinese one, theyíve worked out one that you donít have to leap out of the cubicle to avoid the flood as you flush. The other is their beds. They look just like beds. But when you throw yourself down on one, youíre in for a rude shock. They are actually wooden boxes in disguise. Really. Iím sure they just put a mattress covering over a plywood box.
WM
20/10/2009
10:04:10 AM
great TR Wendy, brings back memories.

On 20/10/2009 Wendy wrote:
>they adore kids here and I imagine their kids, or rather, kid
>singular, are made all the more precious by the population restrictions.

too right, we've been a few places with our kid/s and the Chinese were easily the most adoring ... and would then invariably lapse into wistfulness about the one child thing. I can't imagine what it'd be like when nobody has siblings and, now that its into the second generation, nobody even has cousins. four grandparents get one grandkid between them - if they're lucky. No wonder they fawn over our kids too.

the climbing is pretty good too, eh?

ajfclark
20/10/2009
4:07:02 PM
Any pics Wendy?

Eduardo Slabofvic
20/10/2009
4:53:57 PM
Here's my 2 cents on climbing in Yunan, China.

Fuming Gorge is great, but Fumin town is a hole. We have decided to commute from Kunming to the gorge, about an hoour 15 mins each way by public transport.

Wester Hills is great, but needs to develop more, watchout for falling tourist crap (lots of food bowls for some reason).

Climbing around Dali and Lijang is currently very under developed, only really enough for 4 days. However, if permission is granted for another area (sandstone), then it will become the center for China climbing - I kid you not! There is also a bunch of smaller limestone crags scattered around north of Lijang, and some mountains if your into that sort of thing.

Trad climbing is alive and well in Henan province, take a good set of wires and cams - it's sand stone.


nmonteith
20/10/2009
5:00:18 PM
On 20/10/2009 Eduardo Slabofvic wrote:
>Fuming Gorge is great, but Fumin town is a hole. We have decided to commute
>from Kunming to the gorge, about an hoour 15 mins each way by public transport.
>Wester Hills is great, but needs to develop more, watchout for falling
>tourist crap (lots of food bowls for some reason).
>Climbing around Dali and Lijang is currently very under developed, only
>really enough for 4 days. However, if permission is granted for another
>area (sandstone), then it will become the center for China climbing - I
>kid you not! There is also a bunch of smaller limestone crags scattered
>around north of Lijang, and some mountains if your into that sort of thing.
>
>Trad climbing is alive and well in Henan province, take a good set of
>wires and cams - it's sand stone.

Any links, guides, photos??

vwills
20/10/2009
5:22:53 PM
Toilets great?
You obviously havent been forced to use the Yangshou bus station one yet....
Wendy
21/10/2009
6:19:54 PM
On 20/10/2009 vwills wrote:
>Toilets great?
>You obviously havent been forced to use the Yangshou bus station one yet....
>

Well, I never said great ... I just said that they had at least designed one that doesn't flush all over your feet unless you you climb the walls. The one at Guilin was quite experiential. Actually, I'll have to elaborate on these things in epic no 2, current work in progress.
Wendy
21/10/2009
6:26:18 PM
On 20/10/2009 ajfclark wrote:
>Any pics Wendy?

They're still on the camera ... I might try and get some off next rest day.
kieranl
21/10/2009
10:41:33 PM
And please, no pictures of the toilets.

IdratherbeclimbingM9
22/10/2009
11:30:18 AM
Excellent trip report Wendy. Interesting and educational (for me), all at the same time.
I dare say that you may be raising the standards-bar for Chockstone trip reports from far flung places...

>But really, cocoa and eggs are just wrong together.

?
After your other comments about gastronomic habits, you actually have a line in the sand?

Heh, heh, heh.

Thanks for posting the TR, and I look forward to any upcoming installments.

nmonteith
22/10/2009
11:46:42 AM
My experience of Chinese toilets (and many other things in that country) was that they looked the part,
but didn't function like i expected them to. Mt attempts at buying milk (dairy or soy!) to put on breakfast
cereal was hilarious. The milk carton would be all white with a picture of a cow - until I poured it out and it
would be fluro purple and some sort of 'berry' flavored beverage. What the? You had about a 1 in 3
chance of actually getting the packaging and the actual movie to match from the DVD man as well...

This photo was my favorite chinese moment - these guys are making tar to surface the roads. They fill a
wheelbarrow with wood, light it on fire and park it under the back of the tar truck. Fire heats truck and
thus tar and hey presto liquid tar! I hoped the fuel tank of the truck was no-where near this contraption...




Eduardo Slabofvic
22/10/2009
10:33:40 PM
On 20/10/2009 nmonteith wrote:
>>Any links, guides, photos??

Fumin is on the net, so are some of the Western Hills. The other places you'll just have to find for yourself.

I don't know how to put photos in, besides I don't take photos when I climb, as I usually have my hands full doing something else.
simey
22/10/2009
10:40:58 PM
On 22/10/2009 Eduardo Slabofvic wrote:
>besides I don't take photos when I climb, as I usually have my hands full doing something else.

How do you climb with your hands down your pants?

IdratherbeclimbingM9
23/10/2009
3:08:23 PM
On 22/10/2009 simey wrote:
>How do you climb with your hands down your pants?

& Wendy wrote;
>My final observations in this epic are that China at least is superior to France in its toilet design. Whilst they both utilize squat toilets abhorred by British travelers, at least in the Chinese one, theyíve worked out one that you donít have to leap out of the cubicle to avoid the flood as you flush.

Both could be considered better than Africa? aka How does one climb with their pants down?

Eduardo Slabofvic
24/10/2009
1:02:50 AM
On 22/10/2009 simey wrote:
>How do you climb with your hands down your pants?

How do you climb with your mouth full?
Wendy
26/10/2009
2:21:14 PM
Here we go again ...

Does anyone know an instant cure for mashed fingertips? Iím having a fingertip enforced rest day, which is frustrating as the rest of me feels fine. Swine flu is finally on the back foot and I had a great day yesterday, sending my 1st 5.11a for the trip onsight and 5.11d 3rd go. So my shoulder is going great and Iím excited about getting back into form.

White Mountain was a great crag. Itís a spiffing bit of rock, varying from quite steep to really bloody steep and a substantial cliff for round here, being 200m long and 60 high. Sadly, itís been at the centre of access conflict. Someoneís been really pissed off about it. So pissed off that theyíve gone and chopped not only 1st bolts, but 2nd and 3rd of almost every route. Considering these arenít actually climbers, they must have dragged a ladder with them, and given the chances of there being a battery powered angle grinder around are slim, hacked them off with a saw. All that effort suggests no small amount of displeasure to me. I hear on the grapevine that itís all been sorted out now and the bolts are to be replaced by the climbing festival here in November. But then I also heard someone discouraging replacement as he expected theyíd only get chopped again, so who knows?

Apparently the issues are highlighted at White Mountain because itís between 2 villages and conflict between the villages is amplifying the problems. Most of the land around here is leased out (I think basically for free) on the proviso that it is farmed. All the karst is in the farmland, but as itís useless for farming, generally ignored. The paths are public paths, but they do wander through peoples land, sometimes quite intimately, and it would be easy to see how people could start offender the villagers. I havenít personally seen people being offensive, but itís easy to imagine people being loud or intrusive, wandering into places they werenít welcome, leaving rubbish etc. Just because China doesnít work on the same standards as our culture doesnít mean they donít have standards and people need to respect them. Certainly there is some rubbish at the crags and the amount of shit and toilet paper at some is horrendous. It does highlight for me that we are indulging in a luxury activity whilst beneath us, people are work hard at subsistence farming. Iím sure the difference is quite obvious from their end too. On the good news access front, there are some locals active in sorting things out and amongst the things they have underway is paying locals to build toilets at popular crags and the locals will then shovel our crap out onto their gardens.

I had a bit of drama getting my last epic out of the country Ė I was beginning to think that that Chinaís extensive Net Nanny didnít like me. You can fill in quite a few moments whilst bored checking her out. Reporters without Borders. Human Rights Watch. Amnesty International. Social networking is down and out around here too. No facebook or twitter. Youtube got the thumbs down too. Lucky for us, Chockstone hasnít offended her yet. My writing may yet be the last straw! Apparently, there are many Chinese programs developed to counter the net nanny but the school doesnít have one. And in general, they are very accepting of it. Itís done to protect them and all. This is just the sticky territory that our govt is heading towards as well Ö And the Chinese generally do believe what they have been told, about history, about politics, about events, countries, people. Just as people in the west believe information that has been fed to them. Take creationists. Holocaust deniers. GM fanatics. New agers. Except people in the west have slightly better access to a broad range of information.

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