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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

One final post from China

[Before getting to Alan's final China post, here's another historic photographer of note for his activities in various parts of Asia: Felice Beato.--ed.]

Well, here it is. The last day in China. Well, the last full day. It is just after midnight and I am in Ruili, the last large town before Myanmar. I have already met quite a few Burmese here and in Jinghong, but I am sure it is not the same. One thing I will say, though: I have never been so happy to see men chewing betel nut in my life. Why? It means they aren't smoking. At times on the 27-hour ride from Jinghong, there was more smoke on the bus then I have seen in some Central European bars.

At one point I kind of snapped and went on a bit of a rant about how bad smoking was and how I didn't care if the smokers wanted to kill themselves but that it was a bit troublesome that they were out to kill me. The girls behind me laughed and I heard a couple guys across the aisle saying "Hey, his Chinese isn't bad." Then I heard the sound of a lighter and they were all soon smoking. I settleed for calling them all a lot of really bad names in English.

Ruili is a late night town, which is why I am up late (12:30 is way past my bedtime). The guidebooks talk about it being a bed of prostitution and heroin addiction, which I'm sure exist, but what I have seen is people roller skating and people walking around trying to get others to pay them to sing a song. Not exactly the wild border town I was expecting. Still, mountains around, and it's much cooler than I expected. A lot of faux European architecture, buildings maybe 10 years old with elephants on the pillars instead of gargoyles, and already showing more cracks then the 300-year old buildings they try to emulate...good old Chinese construction.

So, almost 4 months in China are coming to an end. I feel like I should write some sort of obituary for this, or some in memorium, but I don't think I have it in me at the moment. I am ready to leave though, and right now I have a lot of pissy things to say which I am not going to because I want to save them for other things.

And as for Myanmar...when I think about the fact that I will cross the border in less than 36 hours it seems to me a bit like it must before facing a prostate exam. The entry process, I fear, will be quite a bit painful, or at least uncomfortable, not least because I don't know what to expect. Afterwards, though, and once in, things I hope should be allright, not too difficult, and perhaps even a tad bit pleasant. [I don't write this stuff, folks, I just post it!--ed.]

Hmm...I don't think I pulled that metaphor off as well as I wanted to, but I will blame it on being up past my bedtime. [OK, we'll forgive it /this/ time.--ed.] I will be driven into Myanmar Thursday morning and dropped off in a town called Lashio. On Friday I plan to go to a place called Hsipaw and then maybe to one more town before getting to Mandalay...a name that has such romance, even if it proves to be nothing much of anything...just to get there, and the towns around, with silk production and pagodas and blah blah...lots to be excited about.

After a few days in the Mandalay area it will be off to the temples of Bagan, and then to Inle Lake. From there to Pyay and to southern Myanmar, at some point getting to Yangon, or Rangoon as I've always preferred for some reason, before flying to Bangkok on the 12th and to San Fran and then to Cincinnati on the 13th.

I don't expect that I will be writing much more here in the foreseeable future, so I offer this nutshell in advance. If I do have a chance, I will try to send an update of sorts, but I don't know how strong my efforts will be. At any rate, I will now say zai jian from China, or good-bye...I hope you have enjoyed my time here as much as I have (well, most of it at any rate).


Anonymous Shawn Grant said...

sounds like you want to stay longer!!! how long will you be in SF? maybe we can meet up? let me know. Later buddy!

6:58 AM  
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