Emei Mountain & Shanghai 7.27.14

Emei Mountain is allegedly where Buddhism began in China. We climbed up that shit. It was, like, totally zen. Apart from the horrible dangerous Tibetan Macques. The monkeys nearby the "Joking Mokey Zone," a.k.a. "Ecological Zone For Observation of Monkeys," a.k.a. "fucking GRIFTER MONKEYS THAT ARE VERY SNEAKY," are more or less friendly, whereas the monkey outside of that zone are assholes. Had to chuck rocks to keep one away from our bags and he seriously wanted to fight me and I did not want to fight him. We stayed at a monestery halfway and CB taught a kid how to play 2048. Li Pan. He was rad. Massive Buddha statue at the top of the mountain, but weird weather all over China sparked by the horrible typhoon in the southeast made it all socked in, could barely make out the statue and missed the "cloud sea" effect as well as the sunrise. S'ok. Still cool.

Don't feel much like writing. Sorry the image quality from the iPad transfer is doodoo. Blah blah. Having a crazy trip but bummed about air/water/food quality. Feeling weak and ill every afternoon when the UV makes the air quality especially bad. Seeking greener pastures soon, though Shanghai was a very great city. 

Just arrived in Beijing and took a break by seeing the new Transformers movie (half set in Chicago, half in China) and it was in 4D which was one more dimension than I am used to. The seats rock around, they flash lights and blast smoke into the theatre, shoot jets of air across your face when missles whizz by and shit no I am not kidding it is totally insane. We will do the predictable Beijing shit tomorrow and leave China for a while, I think. 

Favorite moment of the trip so far was rounding the corner and seeing CB fighting over her bamboo walking stick with a mid-size macaqe backed up by his two brothers and everybody screaming.

Hope you enjoy new shots.

 

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Chengdu 7.20.14

In the era of Three Kingdoms China, beginning around 220CE, the combined provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan comprised the vast kingdom of Shu and the saying goes, "When young, avoid Shu." The natural abundance of the region was thought to spoil and pacify the young with its alluringly mellow culture of tea-drinking and story-telling. The saying still has sway in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan's provincial capital, where tea-drinking is still a civic pastime and it's true the agricultural hyper-production in the surrounding countryside supports one of the most culinarily diverse cities certainly in China possibly in the world. 

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In reality it's not so mellow and the city is, on its surface, a bit unremarkable - sprawling and flat with bad traffic and a valley effect that seems to magnetize and trap all of Asia's smog. Though mitigated somewhat in the summer months, it occasionally gets so bad that respiratory risk and low visibility make going outside unadvisable. It is also somewhat near the fault line that spawned the horrifically fatal Sichuan earthquake that killed around 70,000 people in 2008.

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So we're in Communist San Francisco minus the view, plus the traffic, sprawl and air quality of Los Angeles, with the approximate population of Illinois. This is more awesome than it sounds. It bustles in a way that drags you with it.

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"When young, avoid Shu," is modernized beautifully, I think, with the words of JRA, who considered joining us but having visited last summer decided against it, saying "I want to go back to Chengdu with something to do."

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Touché, Hong Kong 7.11.14

Touché, Hong Kong. An auspicious start to an inauspicious journey - 12-hour time change, 90F heat ("real feel" 106F) with intense humidity sporadic thunderstorms and scattered existential crises. Today, rough food poisoning from bad dim sum...don't eat the noodle wrapped beef-substance...shoulda known better, shoulda known better...

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Do you really have to ask?

Do you really have to ask?

It is odd to come so far and have so little change. English is essentially the first language and both city centers on either side of the harbor are a jumble of covered-walkway connected, air-conditioned shopping malls hawking gaudy wares. Decadent high rises juxtaposed against a decaying sprawl of residential towers a stones throw off the beaten path. It is overwhelming and we haven't scratched the surface and I don't think we could even if we wanted to stay long enough to try.

My friend, MH, who has been living in Chengdu for the past two years (we fly out to meet him there on Sunday) says, among other things, "Hong Kong is fucking awesome (...) Go to Chung King mansions on Nathan Rd for dope Indian food and an object lesson in globalization." So it is (in its way) and so we did and the baingan bhartha was indeed dope and the lessons have been nothing if not object. 

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We visited a "quaint fishing village" on the south end of Hong Kong Island named for a Brit of rather high esteem to find a freshly-minted shopping mall and I started to say he must be rolling over in his grave but quickly realized he'd probably have wanted it this way.

 

 

We took a tram to "THE PEAK," which boasts insane views of the city, a few extravagant hilltop estates and a nice walking trail and, upon exiting the trolley, found another shopping mall.

I puked into the toilet this afternoon and when I got in real close, through eyes both bleary and bloodshot, I could just barely make out a man with a shovel breaking ground on a new, bigger and better, gilded and spotless, a dozen food courts and enough linen to reroute a river - truly the shopping mall to end all shopping malls - and to think, it all started with some soy sauce, spicy mustard, rice-noodle and an amalgam of beef-parts that all the king's horses and all the king's men, even with a thousand years and the blessings of their gods, could not have reconstituted into a cow. Some things are permanent and others just last a long time. 

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CB, my lovely companion, has just asked for some salt (she's eating bread and cucumber in bed, recovering from the dim sum) and I will bring her the pepper too because my mother taught me to always keep them together and it's the little things, goddamnit.

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Pre-China Photo Drop 6.30.14

Leaving in a week for Hong Kong then mainland China then we don't know. Posting a few preliminary shots with my new camera as a trial run for editing and posting using a tablet. It is an imperfect system, but I WON'T GO LAPTOP.

 

Packing for China is bizarre. It feels like I'm bringing a lot of things home.

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The Bishop Of Saint Marks 

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Devious

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You Probably Want The Pig

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Rucker Park with Ladies Love Cool J

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I disconnect and spin // while you strip the mannequin