20 September 2010

Quote of the Yesterday #6

"Mental illness is more mental than it is illness."

-Therapist Pete

14 September 2010

china trip - the real outdoors unlimited

So now I am getting to the good part. After our little excursion to the Tibetan Plateau, the Sam-man and I took 2 adventures of which I am extremely proud. I will detail them epically and visually in this post.

Adventure #1 Qing Shan Mountain

So in the heart of Chengdu, there is a mountain. Its like the only big mountain around. They call it "The Mountain." It also happens to double as a Daoist temple complex. That temple complex also happens to double as a hostel. That hostel also happens to double as a live monkey preserve. Wait, did you say monkey preserve that you can both sleep and worship in?! Umm yeah, we totally needed to check this place out!

However, our story begins with a snag. Turn out there was an itty bitty 8.0 earthquake that rocked Sichuan province and almost destroyed the cool monkey temple we were going to stay at. When we got to "The Mountain," they told us that the temple was being rebuilt, and that we would have to try another temple about 1/2 way up the mountain. We were kinda razzed, but decided that we had come like thousands of miles to see cool temples (and hopefully monkeys) and sleep in one. So we elected to hike up the mountain with 1,000's of Chinese folk and see what we could see. Here is our quest.

Sam having his picture taken by me at the gate to Qing Shan Shan....

One of the 6 Chinese girls who took a picture of him at the gate!

One of my favorite shots of the trip. This is Sam ascending the stairs into the temple we stayed in. Such a cool feeling to walk into a thousand year old temple.

Remnants of the earthquake damage.

Another cool pagoda shot.

My favorite pagoda shot of the day. I was standing here for like 25 minutes just taking a break, and I didn't see a single person. We were way up in the jungle of the mountain.

One of the Daoist temples that was carved out of a cave. We can't take pictures inside, but there is a few statues of the Daoist deities, and a guy who tells your fortune if you pay him.

Sam and I trying to make a good pose for the cover of our new title album "Insane Buzzsaw Bugs: Sounds of Synthetic Nature"

One of my b/w shots of a pagoda in the bowels of the Daoist mountain.

This was taken in the hostel room we stayed in overnight in one of the temples on the mountain. We had two beds, two mosquito nets, a table, a tv, a hot water jug, and a light bulb.

One of the pathways we took during our exploration of the mountain. Just stairs, everywhere..

One of the many historical markers in Qing Shan Shan. This one gloats about how old the Daoist guys lived on the mountain. I didn't bring up any reference to Gen 5:27 for proprieties sake.

More stairs, more cool shots of stairs...

Chinese-English translation: Beware of falling meteors!
Lovely lush green jungle. It was breathtaking.

Adventure #2: Leh Shan "Home of the Largest Buddha in the World"

After we finished exploring the holy Taoist mountain, we decided to explore the holy Buddha mountain....or cliff...or statues. So we took a 3 hour bus to the largest Buddha in the world. It is an awesome site, the only trouble is that half of Asia was there the day we went too. It was packed with tourists, but we were victorious in our viewing quest.

Wicked cool stone art of the Dao.

Sam splashing his face with the water from the "holy fountain." I teased him for desecrating the most sacred fountain in western China, until another group of 10 people did the same thing 30 seconds later.

Sam deciphering the ancient texts of the Leh Shan temples.

Meditating, concentrating the chi, pondering the Dao, gathering universe juice...whatever you call it.

The largest Buddha statue in the entire world (and the longest line in the entire world waiting to take a picture below it).

The reed tunnel out of the Leh Shan. Bye bye Big Bhudda!

This was the terminal at the Chengdu airport that we were stuck in for 5 hours trying to get out of the town after our excursions to Qing Shan and Le Shan(This was one of the craziest experiences of my life by the way)

Up next on the list of China posts: Amazing Guilin

05 September 2010

china trip - crazy + fun stuff

This post is dedicated to my friend who turned 20 last week. Welcome to the 2-decade club BreAnna! This post highlights the kind of crazy and funny things 20+ year olds find when they have too much time on their hands...have a salary...have no homework to do because they graduated...and go to China...to see crazy and fun things.

Here are some in no particular order:

The thing that melded "crazy" and "funny" the best on the trip was the Chinese-English translations. Sometimes I couldn't for the life of me figure out what they meant. All the times I couldn't for the life of me stop chuckling. Here is one at Leh Shan temple.

Uh, hate to break it to you China, but to the untrained eye your language actually kinda looks like....

Nope, that little puddle under that little girl is most definitely NOT a remnant of an afternoon rainstorm. Wow.

The bottled water brand of choice for sadistic villains and thirsty tourists.

This is some crazy cool art we saw in a Daoist temple in Chengdu.

Click on this photo for close up. I love its use of word choice and laughed at its lack of visual discrimination when explaining which side it which.

Here is me and a Buddhist monk I met when I was up visiting Namsto Lake. I saw him, smiled and walked over to shake his hand, and motioned if I could take a picture with him. Obviously he agreed.
The best part was when I turned around and there was my new monk friend taking a picture of me with his CELL PHONE! Everyone in China is hip with the technological times...even monks. (Which means I am probably the Facebook profile of some random dude in China)

The placement of this fan makes me question how popular some of the items in this restaurant really are...

Me and Chairman Mao!

Chairman Mao (or his large great nephew who bears a striking resemblance to him) in the flesh!

Don't like the sun? The Tibetan solution: just get your friend to hold a package of toilet paper over your head to block out the shining radiation!

Two crazy/fun things about this picture: First, check out the crazy soldiers across the street. In Tibet there are Chinese national guards all over the place. We didn't take pictures of them often (because we didn't want to get jailed, deported, or make our guide nervous) but I just happened to caught them here. They carry around black shotguns and rifles and don't smile much. This is aimed at discouraging uprisings or mass demonstrations in Lhasa.

Second, check out the fun sign above my solider subjects. This store was actually part of a chain of two stores with the same great brand.

"Beauty is generous!" Another classic Chinese-English blend that made us smile. Can you guess what this is on? Perhaps some facial cream, or cosmetics, or.....

Lets think about that mystery over a dinner of...yak curry! (succulent and delicious by the way)

Nope, not what you guessed. Its a toothpick dispenser!! Yep, just press down the chimney on the right and a pointy pick rises from the spout on the left.

Yeah, this little kid kept following us around as we walked around Tibet. No joke, this short-round was on our tail for like 3/4 of a mile. After about 10 street blocks (including 3 corner turns mind you), I was sure he was like the ringleader for a pickpocket gang. This was when we alerted our group to stash their cash and cameras. He finally took off at some random corner, probably home to his family to tell them of the strange white folk he saw coming home from his weekly community service.

If any of you watched Lost for any of seasons 2-4, you know why I look so disgruntled at the apparent revelation that JJ Abrams ripped off the ancient Daoist symbol of "a strange map in the middle of the jungle."

Yeah, this was cool. So Sam and I were walking down the street one morning and we saw a small alley way with some people going into it. Of course we all know the standard equation: Suspicious alley way + curious 20 somethings = adventure waiting to happen!
We walk through about 10 meters and the alley way opens up into a huge mess hall where all these Tibetans are just chilling and enjoying morning breakfast. Of course everyone stops and looks at us when we come in (just like when Clint Eastwood walks into a bar in the old spaghetti westerns) and so our natural reaction to to wave at the people who are checking us out. Here is a table of women that were kind enough to try and communicate with us and share their tea (they were unsuccessful at both attempts).

This little girl was adorable. She was all "Mama..foreigners! White people mama!" Sam then went up to her and took a picture with her. This is her returning the favor for the foreigners.

Tons of wares in just one vendor stand. There were easily 300 stands like this one in this market.

Buddhist pilgrims in Tibet. This woman either really hates leaving her pets alone at home while she travels, or owns very religious livestock.

Closer look at the pet on its Tibetan pilgrimage.
"Can you tell me if this is a goat, or a sheep? You're right!"

The worlds highest concentration of tibetan prayer flags!!!

This woman had clearly been influenced by Texan tourists before I got to her. Hold on to your heritage Tibetans...dont give in.

Cool stuff that we shopped for in Tibet. You know...like Chinese armor.

Yep, this was a sad irony I couldn't help but photograph.

Sam and I had a running tally of wins at our favorite card game. Unfortunately, this is the only documented record that I was ever ahead during our trip.