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Oh my goodness. China.

8th April 2005

So... I'll be in china then...

with stretch!

i've been here 5 days now. and i've loved every second.

you'd think after living with bei for 5 years i'd know or wouldn't have forgotten the chinese meaning of my name. the correct way to introduce myself is, 'wor jyao ben', the direct translation being 'i am idiot'. ben means idiot. perfect.

picture the scene. i'm in an shop surrounded by about 7 members of staff, all female, except for the owner who is doing his best to speak english with me. upon asking my name, the reply sends the audience into giggles, desperately trying to hide thier laughter behind each others backs. note to self. your name is benjamin.

chinese isn't as complicated as i thought, the structure of the language is very logical, the problem is getting the right sounds out of your mouth. so far i've learnt about 30 words, and about 10 characters. but there are 10,000 ish characters! though apparently i only need 3000 to read a newspaper. i had never really considered that reading a menu would be impossible, we found our selves looking for busy restaurants, not because it indicates good food, but because there is more food to point to on other peoples plates. nobody seems to mind. tonight we're leaving the city, we're told the luxury of at least a few words being understood will disappear.

7th April 2005

it's 7am and stretch and i are in bed together, that said the bed is 9 ft wide and could easily fit a few more people between us! we're in the town of pingyao, it's been everything i hoped to find in china. we took a night train from beijing to taijaun, a horrible city where we stared at continuosly, then 2 more hours to pingyao. this town is built within a huge 4 mile wall, ever inch is years of layers of living, culture and dust. the children say hello as you walk past, if they can they'll ask your name or more. every open doorway leads to a maze of courtyards that you want to explore. i've had to stop my self taking too many pictures.

last night we went for a guess and see meal, which turned out to be beef fat and corriander, followed by a nightclub. odd this quiet traditional town would be playing hardcore techno to 30 pogoing sober young men in blazers. hardly anyone was sat down, and before long niether were we. 2 mins later stretch starts a breakdance competition with the locals... the techno stopped and the staff slow danced to christmas carols on the pan pipes. honestly. after making friends with the manager and his family we made our way back through the pitch black alleyways to our hotel. still sober, only 11 pm and we were locked out!

doorways of pingyao photoset...

note on photo set: The red banners basicly say happy new year. Good luck. Etc. they stay up all year round. Pingyao is famous for it's new years celebrations and has more of these banners than anywhere else. What is beautiful is, the very last picture. 17. has blue banners. Blue indicates that a member of the family died that year. Our guide seemed very sad when ever we passed one. Even though it's a bit like having a post-it note on your front door saying, grandpa died last year, I still find it beautiful.

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Travel Menu:

February 07 - Macau - Clapham

December 06 - Qingdao Vs Japan
June 06 - Germany + Old Shanghai
April 06 - Mountains in Zhejiang
Janury 06 - Vietnam Vets

June 05 - Living in Shangers
May 05 - Tibet and Nepal
May 05 - Hong Kong + Guandong
April 05 - Xi'an to Shanghai
April 05 - Beijing and onward
January 05 - UK - NY - PR

November 04 - Melbourne - Malaysia
September 04 - The Gib River Road
August 04 - Back in UK
July 04 - Thailand
June 04 - Brisbane and Sydney
May 04 - back to Broome II
April 04 - Learning to fly
March 04 - Perth
Feb 04 - Battleship Broome
Feb 04 - Holden HK 1969 Ute
Jan 04 - Broome time
Jan 04 - It's a long way
Jan 04 - West coast WA
Dec 03 - Touch down

About my travel log:
I'm making this for a number of reasons, firstly i'm writing to my family and friends without the inconvenience of mile long group emails. secondly it's my unloseable diary. err... and i guess it's here for the world to read too.

You can click on all of the pictures for a huge 800x600 version!

Thats right! Why not have a picture of something you haven't done or somewhere you haven't been as your desktop picture at work !