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The Northwestern Bike Ride to Nowhere

Hey Hey and a HUGE G'DAY to you all

After several weeks of rather coolish to very cold nights I now sit here toasty and warm.

For the past week and a half I've been in thermals each night with freezing cold hands trying to type. This evening the God of Steam arrived in my apartment building squashing any fears of the coming winter. To keep a civil temperature I actually have to keep my two balcony doors open and have a tee shirt on.

In other words, it's bloody hot in here mate!

The government gave the go ahead for the steam last week. The schools were the first to have warmth and then over the following week different apartment buildings and work places were granted warmth. At the moment living areas have steam only after dark but the school has it during the daylight hours. For me this means, it's too bloody hot to sit in the office during free classes so I head to class extra early and hang out with the kids instead.

Another beautiful moment this week was the return of my MENU on my iPod.

For many months I had lost my menu function and had only the random function. That was cool by me as its been on constant random for nearing two years now. My Eighties Metal, MSN & Beer buddy 'Crusty' (used to work the bar at the Tote Hotel and now teaching in the south of China) tried to help by reminding me how to 'reset' the little bugger. No luck! What I ended up doing was draining the battery. Living in Guangxi's Tianyang meant constant power outages which meant I had to have on continual charge. At three o'clock Friday morning the battery finally drained. Putting it back on charge reset it and gave back my 'menu' function.

Now when a great song comes on from an album that deserves an entire listen, I once again have that choice! How cool am I!

The past week I have been feeling pretty bloody tired. I've been kinda bordering on a cold. Yukki gunky morning awakenings, AFL footy hocking for the first ten minutes but then feeling pretty damn good for most of the day. The days are still beautiful with clear blue skies. I'm still in shorts and short sleeves whilst everyone around me is in thermals and giggling their butts off when I walk past!

It's not me that's crazy, it's everyone else around me! These are my thoughts as I walk on by saying my mornings 'HELLOWS!'

Classes have been awesome this week. We've been doing 'Colours' and 'Halloween'. Kids love it and want to continue next week. I think it's a good call, maybe I'll go along with it!

Anyhow, the Great Northwestern Bike Ride to nowhere!

Woke up this morning feeling like total crap and decided to SWEAT! So out of bed I jumped and donned three tee shirts and thick socks, put the bike on my shoulder and down five flights I went. I had no idea where I was going to ride and decided on heading across the northern train tracks to see where the road and my front wheel would take me.

It was a beautiful day and with the wind behind me out into the desert I went. I was on a slight up hill most of the way until I finally came to the huge down hill. This was about an hour and a half into the ride so I stopped and thought for a minute. 'Hey if I go down there I have to ride back up!' The rush of finding my first huge down hill since arriving here got the better of me and down I went. It was awesome and something I have missed since leaving Tianyang where I got up to downhill speeds of over 60kms whilst passing motorbikes, tractors and huge blue Chinese trucks. Probably not the safest or smartest thing to do in China but I'd still say it's safer than most Smokey Disco Sleeper Bus rides

About half an hour later I came to a largish village and decided to ride in for a visit.

The entire place was made from mud bricks which to me has become the 'norm'. How strange a feeling it is when something like a village made from mud and straw can become 'normal'. I rode around the dusty tracks and wound my way around until I finally found the little village square. Each village has one. Sometimes you'll find a small area that looks nothing like a village square, but if that's where the elderly men sit in the shade and play mahjong...it's the village square.

I sat with a small group of children for half an hour or so until one of the teenagers finally got the courage to say hello. His English was pretty good for being in a small mud brick village Middle School. I was very VERY surprised with his comprehension. I was the first foreign person any of them had ever met.

It really does freak me out when I try to comprehend this each time it happens. It's really hard to compare coming from Australia. Imagine learning Chinese in school in Australia, becoming quite good at it and never having met a Chinese person. Bloody impossible mate as there'd be many right there in your class or school. We walked our bikes around some of the little dirt walkways talking about who we both were in the world.

I asked him what he thought of living out here in the desert. His answer surprised me; he'd always been here and would stay here. It was all he knew as he'd never been past Baiyin. We sat in silence for a short time. I looked around at the little village before me and thought of spending my entire life there.

I'm glad I'm an Aussie mate!

With being an Aussie comes a clear passage to live a clean and happy life, never to live on the streets unless it's your decision, to always have food and clean water etc (some take it to the extreme opposite BUT there is always some sort of government hand out to help you through). There is also one more thing an Aussie receives just for being born in Australia...an Australian Passport. This little book has friends in nearly all countries of the world and it will open door ways into all these countries. Maybe our little blue book is on some countries NO ENTRY list but I've never actually heard of it. Maybe in the future we WILL be added to these Black Lists. I guess this depends on our government's future friendship with America etc. I know their passport was added to some Black Lists several years ago.

How sad for a simple American traveler to have a countries door slammed shut in their face for something they had nothing to do with!

Anyhow, I've been watching a heap of David Adams's 'To the edges of the earth' series and right at that moment, sitting in silence with my new found friend I felt what it would be like to be like him and to travel into some of the worlds most remote corners following the footsteps of those who have been woven into the worlds myths.

Sitting in a little desert mud brick village will often do that to you mate!

The ride home was awesome. I was a tad buggered from having a slight uphill all the way to the Big Downhill. After retracing my pedals back up the Big Downhill I was so glad for the slight downhill the rest of the way home. It was a totally awesome day. I think I'm finally beginning to open my heart to Baiyin, its people and the surrounding desert. It's really like nothing I've ever experienced, so much 'nothing' just rolling bare hills and mud brick villages filled with some of the most curious and friendly people I've ever met.

Totally brilliant!

The night was spent on MSN with my little Sis and niece who added into our conversation a girl, or should I say lady I used to travel with on the train when I was living in the country and commuting to the city each day. There was a group of us that would sit together laughing and carrying on like idiots surely pissing off most of the other passengers. Man, thirteen or so years have gone by.

Not so totally brilliant! Tee hee.

When confronted by 'years gone by' it really does make you stop and hope you have spent them well. Have you filled them with experience and things to be proud of or have many years gone by wasted and forgotten. I believe my years have gone by being filled with experience, great moments and many totally unforgettable times.

Yes, many of them totally selfish but that's what has made me who I am today.

Beers N Noodles to being a better person in the future..shane

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CRUSTY LONGBEACH! 80'S METAL, MSN, VODKA & TROPICAL Island's full of birthday smiles to ya Mate! The late night was spent on a blurry MSN listening to & discussing the greatness of bands like Iron Maiden & WASP along with many other MP3 we have on our huge multi-gig iPods! How cools that, one being in the desert and the other on a tropical island and havina night that was really just like bein back home in the greatest pub on earth, The Tote Hotel!

The North Western Bike Ride

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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