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First Rides Out N About In The Hanzhong Fields

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

The Long March began in October 1933.

Many of the communist troupes had begun disregarding Mao's authority and instead took the advice of those who advocated meeting Chiang’s troops in pitched battles. This strategy proved disastrous. By October 1934 the communists had suffered heavy losses and were hemmed into a small area in Jiangxi Province. On the brink of defeat, the communists decided to retreat from Jiangxi Province and March north to Shaanxi Province to join up with other communist armies from Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia Provinces.

For those wondering what in the world this has to do with my current blog think of my poor summer wardrobe which has been hemmed into the back corner of my wardrobe which of course includes my riding gear. Besides the coming onslaught of summer tiny denim shorts and high heels what else makes a man happy?

Yellow fields full of rape seed, village dramas, small ancestral temples and a set of peddles!

To all my friends in opposite parts of the world, clean your pipes stock your wood piles and prepare yourselves for winter because as of now we will begin to steal your sunshine. As you experience less and add extra layers I will be turning up my fridge to keep my beer at a more humane drinking level to that of the summer room temperature that the Chinese grossly drink theirs. Yes my friends, the bees are buzzing, the birds are singing and the last several nights have brought forth the first few unmistakable, yet still un-annoying ZZZZZzzzz of the mosquito.

The weather here in northern China is almost perfect and reminds me of a typical spring day back home.

The early morning greets us with a big blue sunny sky yet they are still crisp and cool. Mid morning introduces warmth and by mid afternoon we are all dancing around the school yard in summer bliss. These then folds into a crispy yet warm evening that holds us in its trance leaving us unwilling to lay our heads upon our waiting pillows.

For those who didn’t read my last blog…last week after being told our bikes had been delivered Brad raced up to my apartment, threw my lock keys at me and gave me the news I had been waiting for, the delivery of my peddles. After jumping for joy we both raced down to the bike shed and began searching for two mountain bikes. After finding none we began thinking that both bikes had been stolen, this was until the Headmistress came over to show us our new bikes and being a huge bike rider my heart sank at what we were shown.

Two tiny Chinese 'Plod Along’ bikes, both with no gears and a little wire basket on the front.

As I’ve killed almost every bike I’ve had over the past five years I felt like saying 'hey big bee hive haired Dudette where are our real bikes’, but instead we both agreed that a Plod Along one geared bike is better than no bike at all so we smiled and buggered off for the first of many rides over the past several weeks. Since then both of us have been out each night after classes exploring as much of the city as possible. Last weekend Brad headed back to Ankang city to visit his girlfriend so English Sarah and I decided to put foot to peddle and spend Saturday out in the fields.

Sarah being only new in China, got to witness her first rural village Drama/Musical of yesteryear.

As we were riding I heard the usual sounds of what sounds like a cat being strangled so with a smile I steered us both in the direction of the high pitched skin peeling sounds of several erhu’s, several tiny tightly skinned drums and other strange Chinese instruments and asked if Sarah if she wanted to check it out. We were welcomed with huge friendly village smiles, given front row seats in the one row audience and an offering of green tea.

I’m unsure what happened to the green tea but Sarah was a little bemused at what she saw and heard.

After waving our good byes we cleared both our heads and our ears and continued to make our way back towards the city. We spent the evening with Matt and Megan, a delightful American couple who have been here teaching for Auston English for the past (I think) six months and of course happy Aussie/NZ Nicko Mc Dude. Sorry Nicko, but whenever I hear the name Nicko I can’t help but think of Nicko McBrain and whenever I’m introduced to a Nicko I can’t stop myself from adding a Mc Sumthing to the end of their name. For those who don’t know Michael Henry ‘Nicko’ McBrain was the old drummer for Iron Maiden back in the good old days that included the Powerslave tour which was not only one of my first ‘real’ concerts but still remains one of the best gigs I’ve seen to this day!

So Hanzhong, it’s no Shaowu city just as Shaanxi Province is no Fujian or Guangxi Province but for now it will do.

I feel happy here and am totally enjoying being around another Aussie as it’s great to feel free to be sarcastic, take the piss and be totally understood on any given topic of choice no matter how random or stupid it is. As for riding, thankfully the city is built on a huge flat so for the moment having a one geared bike really isn’t so bad. It has been awesome to be back in the saddle again but I can see that I will get a little bored riding here as I love riding mountains and here the mountains are like, way over there. Also the villages are all very similar and within sight of each other so it feels like there is really nothing to explore. This feeling though I am sure will change once I do begin riding way over there to the mountains and do my best with my one geared bike to explore. In a week or so it will be April and believe it or not there will then be only three months left until the 2010 Summer Beers N Noodles Adventure…bring it on!

So for now the winter woolly’s lay piled in the corner of my room waiting to be washed yet remain so in case of a one off here and there cold snap we may experience.

The summer microfiber wardrobe has begun to call and has started a long March of its own which of course started in Guangdong/Jiangxi Provinces (during the Winter Beers N Noodles Adventure) and will also end in Shaanxi Province just as it did back in 1934. But instead of bringing together people such as Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao), Lin Biao and Deng Xiaoping it will simply bring together my feet and my sandals. There will be no inhospitable terrain, no loss of seventy thousand lives, no guerrilla groups to harass the enemy, no fatigue, sickness, exposure, enema y attacks and desertion.

Instead there will be huge summer smiles and cold beers. Instead of several Long March’s there will be uncountable Long Bike Rides!

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by The Gorillaz The album was ‘Demon Days’. ____________________________________________________________

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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