Jody's Adventures

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Always a foreigner

One of my friends from home asked me today what has been the hardest thing to get used to over here... Well there are definately some differences. I still have to stop myself after I brush my teeth to remember not to swallow any of the water (ok for brushing, not so much for drinking). Always having toilet paper and soap with me for the bathrooms where it is rarely provided. I will not get into what the bathrooms are like just yet. They do drive on the right hand side of the road... mostly, unless they are passing then they could be on any part of the road they like. Really the hardest thing to get used to is the fact that I could live here 40 years and I would still be a foreigner. I would still be asked everyday if I want to buy postcards- at least in this town which is a tourist area, and I would still be charged at least three times the price for everything unless I already know how much it will cost and am willing to do the customary haggling over prices.

Staff Bike Ride

A crew of about 10 chinaclimb staff set out on a big bike ride the other day. We wanted to test out the logistics for some groups we will have coming in next week. So we took a somewhat leisurely ride along the roads, and between the rice paddys to a place called Liu Gong which is along the Li River. It was only about 4 hours of biking punctuated by a lunch stop in the building in this picture overlooking the river. There are some china climb staff in the foreground. The chinese lady with the blue basket is an all to familiar site everywhere. These ladies carry around baskets of postcards and trinkets and pester you to death if you look the least bit like a tourist. One of our china climb staff who lives here was bothered every day for a week by the same woman outside chinaclimb. Finally he went of and issued a tirade at her in chinese telling her he lived here and to leave him alone. Next day... you guessed it, she was back.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shiny new bike

This is my shiny new bike outside of chinaclimb. I took my roomate Chris with me so she could deal with the vendor. If you don't look local the price is at least double. I looked at some used bikes for 95 Yuan but they were pretty scary. This new one was only slightly less scary, but it looks cool! and it cost 165 Yuan (about $20US). Chris made sure I had a super heavy duty lock to protect my big investment. I'm holding the flowers Chris and I bought so I could become Chinaclimb's floral designer. We usually order flower arrangements each week we have a school group, now I can save us some money by doing them myself!

Even the cook

Even the cook at chinaclimb is a climber. Not all of the staff climb, but with a name like chinaclimb we attract a few climbers. This is QQ he is actually the assistant cook. Great guy, constantly asking me to help him with his english. He and Shu Shu, our head cook, keep us all fat and happy, if not searching for water to put out the fire of the chilis that seem to be in almost every dish. I'm not quite used to that, but I am getting good at picking them out of the food with my chopsticks. Anyway today I belayed (held the rope) For QQ as he led an 11d (really hard climb) which he cruised up without a problem.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Learning Chinese

OK learning chinese is really really hard, especially when most people know english so you are not forced to use it. When I was in Australia I bought some CD's to learn Chinese, I listened to the first ten minutes 8 or 10 times. My progress was discouraging. So far I know hello: Nee how, water: shway, and thank you: shay shay. I think grasshopper is mung gee, tried to learn that one yesterday from our cook: QQ, we were walking thru a rice paddy to take lunch out to the students and he caught a huge grasshopper 4 inches long. He was going to cook it up at dinner so I could try it but one of the american employees took it from him and made him let it go (there are several vegetarians working here, he said it was too beautiful to eat) So I will have to wait to try grasshopper. The picture is the rice paddy and twin gates, the climbing area we were headed out to. My first climbing in Yangshuo was here.

China Climb

So I have a job here of sorts. It doesn't pay much, nothing really, but they give me room and board and a buch of cool climbers and other folk to hang out with. This is basically an outdoor school which hosts schools of international students i.e. kids from mostly english speaking countries who are in china for one reason or another. We take them climbing, kayaking, hiking, caving, biking etc. We also have a bar in our "office building" complete with a climbing wall which anyone is free to use. I'm trying to get some mileage on it. Last night i enjoyed watching one of the Chinese guys who works here his name is Adon which means monkey in Chinese. He is great fun because you can just point to a series of holds on the wall and he will climb it. He is an amazingly strong climber as are many people here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Pronounced young-shoe, this place was described in the guidebooks as a backpackers town, ad its true. I spent 3 days in Hong Kong and didn't see a sigle true blonde. Saw 3 here in the first half hour. But beyond the tourists and those of us over here working the town is very much china. Bicycles, motorbikes, and your 2 feet and the most popular means of transport. People can make a living on the money they make returninng recyclable plastic bottles. there is trash in the strets- only that which is not recyclable, dogs everywhere, rice paddies, and of yeah Chinese people.

Welcome to China

Si provided one of my first chinese culture lessons. If you ask someone where something is and they don't know, they will not say they don't know. They will go with you to help you find the place, or point you in a direction even thought they have no clue. There were many more lessons to come. Si's favorite phrase the 3 days we spent together was wait until you get to china.

Lion Rock

A Kiwi named Si who works for chinaclimb happened to be coming to HK met me at my hostle we wandered around HK a few days picking up supplies for the company, getting visas and doing a bit of climbing. There is a mountain outside of Kowloon called Lion Rock. We decided to give it a go armed with a hand drawn map from one of the china climb employees and a guidebook. We took a train and a taxi to the base of the mountain- my first public transportation supported climb. Then wandered around on the mountain for a few hours cursing the guys who wrote the map and said it would take a half hour. apparently they spent much more time wandering around up there so we didn't feel too bad after all. Lion rock is a big block of overbolted overchained granite that offers nice exposure and spectacular views of Hong Kong- or at least of it's smog. We did 4 short pitches 5.10a or b the hardest ones. It was a nice outing.

I'm Here!

A sleepless night before departing as I was worried by several airline employees about whether I would be allowed to leave the US without a return ticket booked. At the time the only itinerary and paperwork I had was a one way ticket to Hong Kong and a visa for India. I had no onward flight scheduled because I'm not sure where and when I am going from here and according to the Hong Kong embassy I don't need one. It is possible that the policies of United Airlines are different in any case I ended up booking a fully refundable flight from Bankok to San Francisco at 5:30am, and left for the airport at 6:30. Made my flights, they let me in, no worries. Flew to Chicago, then straight into Hong Kong via the north pole! It's a 14.5 hour flight, not so bad. Hong Kong is quite easy to navigate as it was a British territory until recently so most signs are in engllish and chinese, and many people speak english. It is a very westernized town with tons of shopping, skyscrapers with the requisite neon signs on top, and lots and lots of Coca cola. Other than that it's a city and I was ready to get out.