Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eclipse hunting, part II

Well, I've finally arrived in Gansu province, in a small town called Pingliang after around 21 hours on trains. I'll be doing the same in reverse shortly. Sadly, weather forecasts for the region tomorrow are not looking good so I think my chances of seeing anything are remote, perhaps even more so than I am. Tomorrow at around 6 am I'll make my way to Kong Tong mountain, make the four hour walk to the summit, and see what I can see from there. Fingers are firmly crossed, but I'll just have to take what I get.

In the mean time it's been a fairly strange, interesting experience all around. I spent a day in Baoji, a city of around 4 million, walking around for a while, firstly panicking that nobody would sell me a ticket back to Beijing (you can never buy a ticket more than 5 days in advance here and pre-Olympics that has been scaled back to 3 days!) and than being amused by the stares of the many many locals who would follow me around, wondering what on Earth I could be up to in their little neck of the woods. I have a few photos of the People's park, including the most depressing fair ground I've ever come across.

This morning's ride to Pingliang has also been pretty strange, with non-stop stares from many people. Not, apparently amused, or moved, simply puzzled, with a look letting on little of what they were thinking.

Pingliang is in the East of Gansu province, and it's my first time in this region of China. My first impression is that the people are quieter than any Chinese I've ever met, not that they don't say much, but that they are soft-spoken, and after the hurricane of voices from Beijing to Baoji, this is no bad thing! Needless to say that these few days have been a great chance to speak Chinese.

So, after tomorrow morning, I head back down the mountain, photos captured, or not, get a train back to Baoji, spend a night back in the hotel, then in the afternoon I take another 16 hours on the train to Beijing. In Beijing I will have around 24 hours before I head to Korea where I'll be working for a couple of weeks. I'm really very much looking forward to this and am interested in seeing the contrasts to the Chinese departments I've been spending time in recently.

Anyway, with e-mails to check and various things to sort out, I'll have to leave it at that for now. I expect to next write from Korea...

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