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"art is never finished, only abandoned"
Leonardo da Vinci

I so adore roaming these cities at night and immerse myself in the xenon sea, especially right after it stopped raining.

18919   |   photo 中国 陝西 city street night light

The weather was suprisingly good this morning so I skipped my initial plans and took the train to Mount Hua, one of the five mountains in China and infamous for its planked walk section. Got out, jumped into the next cab, got going and the driver tells me the mountain is closed because of the bad weather up there. Ummm …

So I asked him for other beautiful spots in the area and he recommended Xiyue Temple. It was the largest temple area I've been to so far and there were only about six other people visiting. So I made the best of it and enjoyed the intriguing surroundings. On my way back to the train station the sun came out a bit and it got breeding hot in an instant. Phew, that got me a small impression of what it must've been like in Xian last week when they had clear skies all day. 

18919   |   photo 中国 陝西 architecture temple painting pattern

Anyone remember the hell of the upside-down sinners from Big Trouble in Little China? Yeah, today was like that.

17919   |   photo 中国 陝西 weather water rain

Spent the rest of the day in Xian's Muslim Quarter. In the olden days Xian was one end of the Silk Road and there's been a sizeable population of Muslims in the city ever since. It seems a bit touristy, because a lot of people are winding through all the small streets and there's just sooo much stuff on sale. Very much worth some visits, nonetheless. As you can imagine lots of food different from what you'd usually find in Chinese cities and again a unique vibe amongst the people that are going about their businesses.

15919   |   photo 中国 陝西 travel text street human light

After the table tennis incident I got real hyped, listened to some good Earthgang and floated through the city. Earlier while rainy-time-scouting I've read about a cool clothing store with a skate shop on the second floor, so I had me a nice lunch and went to the secluded alley to check out what they had going on. Couldn't find it, but saw signs indicating the Cat Cafe, so I thought I could enjoy a cup and ask around where I could find the intended store. Once I squeezed through the walls leading to the cafe and climbed the super tiny stairs I got greeted by, well, a bunch of cats. There was one girl half asleep with a cat purring right on her lap and as soon as I sat down at a table a fluffy hairball came out from under it and casually made at home on my legs. :3
The coffee was surprisingly alright and incidently a real Americano. Sadly I then found out that the shop I was looking for had closed down for good. Darn, again :O

15919   |   photo 中国 陝西 travel text animal cat

This morning I stepped out the door and immediately got a bit frustrated with the weather. The rain poured down since I've arrived in Xi'an (the apostrophe demarks that it's two syllables, I'll drop it from now on) and I just didn't want to waste time in my hotel. It wasn't much fun, everything turned into a puddle, I got soaked despite my precautions and returned to the hotel after an hour and a half to blow dry my shoes. Ooof.

Took a nappy nap, lo and behold: the rain had diminshed to a managable drizzle. So I went right out once again. Finally I got to really check out the city. Xian's center is a 4 by 3 or something km rectangle enclosed by a big ass chity wall. It's over 600 years old and the best preserved in all of China. If it had been dry I'd opted for a bike trip right on the wall, maybe I can squeeze that into one of the remaining days. Inside the walls there's an unnumerable amount of narrow alleyways waiting to be explored and get lost in. It feels way more intimate than the other cities I've been to so far. Everything is a store and since I've only got one train ride ahead of me I'm more than ready to bust out my last kuai and have the vendors grind down their teeth when hearing/reading my offers. At some point the rain completely stopped and that's when the day really began to take a turn for the better.

Shortly after a dream within a dream came true for me. I was just strolling about carelessly, taking some snaps when suddenly my whole body hair got teased by that old familiar sound I've already heard twice on this journey so far. It went like this:"Ping" – "Pong" – "Ping" – "Pong".
First time was when I witnessed two grannys playing in a Chengdu monastery, getting more exercise from picking up the ball than actually hitting it. Second time in the wetlands park south of Guiyang – two teenage boys who could've beaten the old ladies on a good day.
This time was different, though, the enormous frequency of the sound already gave it away. When I came past the corner I saw two senior men engaged in a fierce duel. Holy crap, they were fast! Intrigued by their playing style I planned on watching a bit, hoping to gain some insight as to what school it might've originated from and maybe find out about their secret techniques. Before I could even complete that thought one of them smiled and waved at me inviting me over. "Haa? Ja, ja ja, bin sofort dabei!". I just can't tell how excited I was, the masters really offered to teach me about their ways!! :O
So Master Badger Hermit handed me his Dragon Taming Racket to play with – outstandingly balanced, layered unusually thick, exellent grip – and I was to compete against Master Heron Hermit. After his first couple of serves I thought this was going to get very embarassing for I still am but an aspiring adept and overshot my returns by a great deal. But be that as it may, as the last remaining disciple of the School of the Raging Boar I had to stand my ground and strive with as much honor and skill as I possibly could. It took me awhile to get the hang of how the coated metal table and the racket worked together. Mind you, this was no amateur city park equipment, that stuff caused more friction than the American import tariffs and it was simply amazing how much curvature you could apply to the Snake Egg's path. A real joy! I got the knack of it and finally got to unleash my infamous Feinting Phantom Backspin. Everyone falls for that, as did my opponent. Master Heron Hermit snickered. Meanwhile the Young Master Hare Hermit appeared and went on to spar with Master Badger Hermit on the table next to us. What a turmoil, they seemed equally skilled and I swear I could sense the Nen-flares lashing out even over to our side! No one I've ever played against ever could seriously take on any of these three, straight up and down!

We continued to exchange some good shots for a good fifteen-twenty minutes and I was honestly quite satisfied that I landed some good hits even if I was clearly outmatched. All of us had real good fun there, I proceded to thank everyone at the tables for the great time and continued on my way.

This humbling sparring session alone just so much more than made up for all that stupid rain. I'll always remember this valuable lesson and hope that one day I've honed my skills enough to return and lose against one of the Masters in a real match.

15919   |   photo 中国 陝西 travel text sports human man ball

Look whom I've met today!

13919   |   photo 中国 贵州 animal monkey plant tree branch

Today was my only full day to spend in the province of Guizhou and I was kinda torn between visiting a vast cave system only accessible by boat and exploring the city's house-mountain plus visiting wetlands outside the city. Found out that the tickets for the morning trains to the cave were all sold so I hopped on the buses down to the Huan Xi Wetlands.
That was an extraordinary trip, people were already packt like sardines as I had to stand next to the driver when even more folks and a woman with a large basket full of peppers cramped in, because why not? It took some 90 minutes, mostly because we drove along a neverending construction site of a highway, which in harsh reality meant that we were trucking over impromptu, makeshift lanes sometimes climbing the sidewalks and whatever most-horizontal planes. I can't image forgetting about that when I get the urge to complain about road conditions anywhere.

The river and lakes of the park were such a welcome relief, also because the weather was incredibly good. No stairs to climb meant I had a full afternoon just strolling from islet to islet, taking in the sweet sunhine, enjoying the flora and my rockstardom. Well, that's really how it kinda feels like being asked for fotographs every now and then anyways (8 Especially when I let my hair down people just can't help but have their attention diverted. No 15 minutes go by without someone going:"Harro!" and they flip just when I respond and wave:"Hallo!" :D And today it's even been people of all ages and even from passing motorcycles or the other side of the street.
Enough allures, the area was amazing and astonishingly featured spots where one could sit in near silence and just relax and that's the very first time I experienced that over here.

13919   |   photo 中国 贵州 water river mountain forest human umbrella

Guiyang is such a lovable city, more civilized than Kunming but equally as green, located on a large river and fashionably up-to-date like Chengdu and modernity-wise exactly in the middle between those too. The first subway line went into operation only about two years ago and there's tons of construction sites around. Every major Chinese city kinda has/is looking for its field of expertise and Guiyang claims itself Big Data capital. Someone told me that Xi'an is the China of the past, Shanghai is the China of the present and Chengdu is the China of the future. My bets are Guiyang is on track to become the next Chengdu, 100元 on that!

13919   |   photo 中国 贵州 city mountain forest fog

Can't sleep.

13919   |   photo 中国 贵州 city building night light

Enough with the superlatives already. Jiaxiu Temple is the only beautiful place in a metropolis on this planet.

12919   |   photo 中国

So this is how you upper middle class. I'm only here for two nights and this is kinda halfway through my trip so I thought in advance I might as well prepare to be in need of some comfortable well being. Peep the toilet! %) And it's also got a small pseudo-balcony behind sliding doors to it!
Catch me at the pool after dinner.

12919   |   photo 中国 贵州 room

Kay: 你什麼時候回來的?

Kay: 想你 :-O

长胡子的老虎,茉莉花龙的继承人: 9月21日 – 也许一点也不 :P

小耳熊猫: : 然后到那时 !!

Can you believe it? They were actually flying my flag when my lift descended down to Earth again! (':

11919   |   中国 云南 photo sign flag

Until that point the day has been full of unexpected surprises but there still were two more to come. Yesterday I read on a local city guide that a Norwegian Band called Sturle Dagsland were about to play and they were giving away two free tickets. So yeah, I won them! Awesome, would've gone anyway, cause they described the guys as a pretty excentric and unique mixture of all kinds of the-good-kind-of-weird shit and I'm always up for that.

So the other surprise was that it was impossible to locate the venue D:< After coming down from the Western Hills Park I actually took a taxi ride through the district where it was supposed to go down. They built smaller versions of the Eiffel Tower and other stuff around there and the venue was supposed to be in the Contemporary Gallery of Kunming. Was trying to spot that the other day for an exhibition already, but no map of mine had it. So I went into the vicinity an hour early, hired a moto rider to drive me there. Four lanes, only vehicle, tach maxed to 50km/h and of course: no helmet. (I don't think there are any, haven't seen a single solitary person wearing one now that I think of it). Cool ride anyhow. And of course Yours Truly, aka the Western Haggler Baron got a sweet "discount" again.

But no sign of the Arc de Triomphe or the gallery anywhere in sight. Asked a lot of people, policemen, security guards around to no avail. ): Really hope their music sucks, cause I feel that I've just missed out on a really great gig.

And now half of my journey is already behind me. It. Is. So. Unfathomable. Awesome. Over. Here. I'm having such a blast and I can't even believe I could do all of this one time over again, or what other experiences this country could have in store for me. My time in Yunnan got a bit slanted by the unusual, untimely rain, but nevertheless it's been tremendously great and beautiful around these parts. And I even got to accomplish Project Peacock way ahead of scheduled time. ;)

Tomorrow morning then I'll be boarding the bullet train up to Guiyang, capital of Guizhou. Watch me!

11919   |   中国 云南 photo city water lake sky cloud

The rain didn't even come and I was relieved to finally get some more hours of sweet shunshine. Western Hills Park then turned out to be another huge scenic area, some even dare call it the greatest in Central Yunnan. As I've learned to respect my knees I opted for a bus/cable car combi-ticket. Best choice, even more so when it got really, really warm and the path was several kilometres long and at times very steep. I love me a good cable car ride and this one was the best of my journey so far. It was a old trusty, open, metal bench carriage and took a good 15 minutes through and over densely forested mountains while the whole city was in view half of the time. 2400m a.s.l. I jumped out and took the walk all the way down again. The whole ordeal was nothing short of spectacular. I came by many small pavillions, shrines enclosed in the rock face, an insane abundance of subtropical flora on a winding, narrow path – at times carved directly out of the cliff – leading to awe inspiring vistas connected by tiny grottoes. I don't even …

11919   |   中国 云南 photo religion temple sculpture demon god

Initially I wanted to spend my last day in Yunnan by taking the train West to Dali, but because of the announced torrential rain I decided to ride the subway to its Western terminal called Western Hills Park, just to enjoy some nature as long as the weather would allow. Coincidentally there was also an exhibition hall that I read about earlier so without any second guessing I went in to experience Wheel of Life by Chinese artist Zhang Youkui and Kim Sunjin from South Korea. There were a lot of items shown through a very nice gallery and everything was completely made out of synthetic material.
This one's an excerpt of Nowhere to Go made by Zhang.

11919   |   中国 云南 photo sculpture human woman man plastic

Today was a bit weird. Shortly after the morning rain ceded I hit the city and shortly after got stopped by a group of students. They asked me if they could do a short video for their "very good and popular" QQ-or-whatever-channel with me. It was somehow connected to the apparently ongoing Mid-Autumn Festival. Sure thing!
Finally, my moment to go viral! ✌

11919   |   photo 中国 云南 human woman man hand