Monday, October 29, 2007

Jade backs me up at twin mountain crag, one of many karst mountains absolutely riddled with caves going straight through.

Justin applies a trusted, and recommended, Chinese herbal remedy (cigarette tobacco) to an injury sustained on the bike ride back into town.

The River Li, near Yangshuo.

West Street, Yangshuo. Great food, cool bargains, lots of hostels, and rats at night.

A very special place. Really though, being a 50 minute ride still from town, we should have left the crag long before this picture was taken.

Bridge-side bike parking during a post-climb, beer-fueled, Yu Long River swim.

Finnish friends and birthday-first-day climbers, Sarah, Hannele, and Nina, ponder high-risk activities beneath Baby Frog Crag.

The incredible archway of Moon Hill, the first sport climbing crag near Yangshuo to be sussed by Todd Skinner et al in the early 90's.

Chris points the way to White Mountain, jug fests and face climbs starting mid 5.10s.

October 29 - Yangshuo, Southern China

After leaving Beijing and 27 hour train ride, I have found myself in Yangshuo. The prices are cheap, the sun feels warm, and the mountains sticking up all over the country side offer the best climbing I've ever experienced. I've been here almost a week now, and I expect that it will be at least another week, or 3, before I feel any urge to leave. Once our day's group has packed up after an afternoon of climbing on the most fantastic karst limestone walls, it might be off to the river, or a cave, for a cool down swim. Perhaps bottles of beer will clang around in the basket on my rented bicycle along the dusty dirt track. We might plan to meet at an amazing vegetarian restaurant back in town for the evening, or schedule an hour massage for less than 10 dollars. And afterwards, chinese brandy on the balcony under a mandarin orange full moon? Yes, life here has been very, very nice.

When I begin to feel guitly, I remind myself of the difference between irresponsibility, and a lack of pressing responsibilities. I tell myself that its the latter under which my current situation falls. And damn, it feels wonderful.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Last bit of Korea - October 2007

Hands-down, favorite sport climbing route in Korea, "Elieda" at Ganyeon. It seemed so much harder last december! Awesome last climbing weekend with Nic, Kris and Jessie. Thanks again.

Last weekend road trip to Seoraksan park with my extended Korean family. Trees manage to put down roots just about anywhere, don't they?

Last night - last chance to try SamNakji - live baby octopus. Tastes very much like cooked octopus, but squiggles more and tends to suck on to the inside of your cheeks. Mani Mashiseyo!

Leaving Incheon port harbour. Here goes......

Seoul to Beijing: mid-October

After a truly spectacular year, and last few months in Seoul, South Korea, I find myself in Beijing, China. About a 20 minute walk brings me to face the enormity of Tiananmen square, the largest public square in the world. And in front of that lies the series of gates leading to the Forbidden City, palace to the imperials for nearly 600 years. The city screams of history, and of change in anticipation of the 2008 Olympics. Entire neighborhoods are being levelled to make room for shopping and accomodation, a new history I suppose.

On a rented bike I entered the maze of Beijing's hutong, the alleyways off of which traditional residential courtyards lie. Even these are being cosmeticized. City contracted workers paint every outside wall dark grey, sharply contrasting the red of the chinese flags hung from rooftops. Luckily for this hapless navigator, much of the city is arranged according to fengshui tennets, making it unlikely for even me to become disoriented. This trip is afterall, all about Orientation.

An overnight tour of the Great Wall, from Simatai to Jinshanling, will hopefully be in store for tomorrow and its following, and after that its down south towards warmer weather and the climbing I have come for.

If you've been steadfast enough to be still checking this journal after about a 3 month dry-spell, I assure you that I'll be posting my experiences more regularily now. But also know that this log is just as much for me as it is for any of you, and I should warn you, and remind you, that often I just don't know whats best for me. A disclaimer, if you will. I hope the waning fall finds everyone healthy, happy, and warm. And regular, in a GI kind of way. If you know what I mean. Peace.

People's Heroes Monument, Tiananmen Square. Politburo headquarters in the background.

Entrance to the Forbidden city. Big Brother isnt still watching you, he's dead and embalmed down the road.

China's Great Wall - Jinshanling to Simitai.

Thank God for the translated menu! Luckily for Mom I went for the Black mushrooms rape, and pull out the silk banana, with a side of fry to infuse the bowel instead.