China

Someone hand me a backpack…
Altec is a crazy company. As it turned out in the end, only 3 out of 15 people who started teaching remained at the end of the summer. After a dreadful, evil week of teaching in the middle of July, Kevin walks into my room and… Now you have to realize that Kevin has extreme amounts of patience and self control. Anyway, he walks into my room and calmly tells me he has had it. I was like “what!, you of all people can make it till the end of august!”. Nope, he had lost it. He told me that he was leaving the next weekend. Just leaving.
The next morning (after a lot of tossing and turning all night) I walked into his room and asked him what he was planning to do. He told me he wanted to do a little travelling. I asked him if he wanted a travelling partner. Then together we said “time to conquer Asia baby!!!”. So the next day we applied for Vietnam visas and then went bungee jumping. I tell you, the rest of that teaching week was a breeze. After it was all over I found out that we weren’t missed a whole lot. No one really is with this company. As the wise manager always told us “Change to a company brings new ideas”. Well fine then – you have your little changing company and I am going to do what I came here for…. Someone hand me my backpack.
-steve

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Bus to Songpan, Sichuan
Good bye Chengdu and the best looking girls in China!… Ok so after focusing back on travelling – we are headed to Songpan from Chengdu. Now this bus ride is no short trip. 8 hours long and this guy is not stopping for nothing. Here’s the bad part. We are 1 hour into the trip and I am starting to feel birthpains. That’s right, a number two. I have got to go now. But I can’t – I will hold it. So I am sitting in pain and Kevin is wondering if I am going to live. I just kept pressing into the seat hoping that it would pass. And it would for about 5 minutes but then I would get the insane birthpains. Seriously they just kept getting worse. I had to go… now. After some quick observation, I noticed that the back 2 rows were completely empty. I headed to the very back row and sat down. After a few minutes I stopped getting the weird looks and just pretended I was enjoying the back seat. That’s when it happened. I quickly contorted my body to hover over the front of the seat while making it look like I was enjoying the view outside. And after whipping the plastic bag out of my pocket, the deed was done. After laying the massive dragon I quickly whipped it out of the window. The funniest part was that no one even noticed!!! I just sat there and laughed. Oh except Kevin. While it was going on, he was giggling like a schoolgirl. Probably good timing too because he was drawing attention away from me. I guess there is some lesson to be learned here… -steve

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Leaving Zoige, Sichuan
Well, Kevin and I pull in to Zoige and we see nothing special… It was time to move on to Langmusi. As usual when we get this itch, the bus tickets are all sold out for the day. This of course was the case on this particular day. So we decided to do what we always do. Walk and pray. Just get on that main route and pray that someone will pick us up. This time we didn’t have to wait for 20 mins before a tourist bus stops and asks if we are lost. We begged them to take us to blabla.. Of course this was a private bus (you know, everyone with the same little asian tourist hats). I don’t know if it was our charm or are choppy facial hair but they let us on (FOR FREE!!!) and took us all the way to Langmusi. Of course the bus broke down for three hours along the way. It wasn’t too much of a surprise. We had been travelling and living in China long enough to know that rarely anything goes according to plan. -steve

Big Mac Yak Attack, Langmusi
Langmusi has one more thing to offer other than sky burials. Although the sky burials are a rare event that not many witness, anyone can go to Lesha’s cafe and have a Big Mac Yak Attack Burger. This thing is gargantuan. If you can eat it in 5 minutes you get 100 bucks. If you eat it in 10 minutes you get the meal for free plus a desert. Of course we had to take on the challenge. We started the timers and started off.

This was no ordinary burger. First of all, the bun was tibetan style which means it was more like two huge slabs of condensed bagel. Inside the plate sized burger, they stuffed potatoes and onions which were very filling. Not to mention the tough yak meet which is like eating chewy poorly-cooked stake strips. 5 minues rolled by, then 10 minutes, then 30 minutes. Around 45 minutes of straight eating, we finally finished the burgers. I think that finishing it was an accomplishment in itself. You couldn’t have paid me to eat a desert after that. We did get to sign the burger-finisher guestbook. Kevin threw up his burger on the street outside after but he won’t tell you that. I kept mine down but I wished I would have left it on the street. Anyway after that it was off to investigate skyburials!

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Leaving Xiahe
Kevin and I had enough of Xiahe. Been there done that.. Way too many tourists. The first thing to ruin our day was that there was a stupid Gansu foreigner insurance fee that we were supposed to pay. Of course that was too silly. I mean, like the drivers in China are going to drive anymore safely when there is a stupid insurance fee. And besides it was 40 RMB and we were trying to get out of Gansu. So we did what we always did in transportation conflicts – start walkin’. And 5 minutes later along the main path one of the drivers picked us up. He asked for our Gansu travel insurance and we played dumb and got around it. We paid him money to take us all the way to Lanzhou and off we went. Now the real fun all started in a town called LinXia. The bus pulls into a bus station and everyone gets off.

We just sit there and finally the bus driver realizes we need help. He takes us over to another bus and tells us (or so I decifered) that we were transfering to another bus. We jumped on the bus and everything is cool. We are on our way again. 5 minutes later the new bus money collector comes back and asks us for money. NOOOOO!! we tried to explain in our broken chinese that we gave money to the last bus driver and he told us to transfer. The new guy obviously didn’t care and told us we were on his bus and we had to pay again or get off. We argued for about 20 minutes and he went right next to my face and yelled at me. Then he backed off for 10 minutes before coming at us with another round of shouting and pointing to his wallet. More arguing. Then he asks us for our Gansu travel insurance. More playing dumb. Then he left us alone. Then he came back demanding money. As this went on Kevin and I winked at eachother (“Hey, lets drag this on for as long as possible”). The best part was that the bus was driving the whole time!! Anyway, it wasn’t too long before the bus broke down. It was probably good timing too because the bus money collector guy was about to start a fist fight. I guess we could have given him the piddly money but looking back, I regret nothing!

Anyway, while the bus driver was repairing his bus, we felt it was an oportune time to leave. We grabbed our stuff and started walking. The money collector shouted at us a bit more but finally gave up and left in a huff. We laughed and waved down another bus. Luckily we were more than half the way to Lanzhou – we slipped the driver some cash and we were on our way. Then the newest bus driver asked us for our Gansu travel insurance… AAHAHHHH! Give us a break man. More playing dumb.. And finally we arrive in the dirtiest city immaginable (wow even worse than Guangzhou!)

-steve

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