Sunday, September 13, 2015

...Oh, And One More Thing.

It wasn't a direct flight from Xi'an to home as a stop over in Shanghai had been planned from early on.  We (Jim and I), probably would have been well advised to check the normal weather for that time of year as it was coming into rainy season and with the heat and humidity not really all that pleasant; but we managed for the 4-days.  For being such a huge city think I was most struck with how uncrowded it all seemed - but than again maybe everyone else was paying attention to the normal weather for this time of year and were all somewhere else.  We did get in a few activities including a tour of some off the beaten path places via vintage Chinese sidecars.

The tour guides were a couple of expats from France who really enjoyed what they did - and who wouldn't.  A brief walk through old Shanghai then across town to a Buddhist Temple that was dedicated to travelers.

 And Koi fish, always lots of Koi fish.

After the burning some incense and waving it in the 4-cardinal directions we headed off to the most beautiful abattoir in the world.  An Art Deco cement wonder built in the mid-1930's it has now been converted to shops, restaurants and exhibit spaces.

I had read about the Chinese Propaganda Poster Museum which the guides had never been to so considering the rain and that a poster museum was probably indoors it was back across the city.

The museum itself was in the basement of an apartment building at the back of a multi-building complex found by following a map on the back of a small business card retrieved from the security guard at the front gate.  I was really hoping to find some old poster of Mao and a motorcycle but without any luck.  The exhibit itself was fascinating, offering a comprehensive history of Chinese graphic arts from the the early 1900's up to the recent past.

There was one very pleasant morning spent wandering through the Yu Gardens, just around the corner from our hotel.

And a walk over to the Bird, Fish and Insect market.

I've now been back from the trip almost as long as I was away.  The container arrived in Seattle a few weeks ago and I washed the last of the Chinese mud off my bike yesterday.   In some ways I am still on that ride as not a day passes where I am not thinking back to some person met or experience had.  From the the first day on the road when East Indian scooter rider in London giving me the thumbs up when after seeing my license plate asking me if I was riding around the world to the last day riding into Xi'an and that little brown dog.  Being the only tourist in that small town on Pag Island in the Adriatic.  Tearing up on the hill over looking Sarajevo as the guide relived his time during the siege.  Fighting for my space on the roads of Albania.  All the border crossings.   The wild street party outside the hotel in Istanbul the night before we were to leave.  Everything about Turkey.  Finding something so comfortable about being in Tbilisi.  The people of Iran.  The weirdness Ashgabat's empty modern streets and the wonder of standing on the walls of ancient Merv.   Riding into Bukhara down back alleys into the central market and middle of the Silk and Spices festival.  The Tunnel Of Death and the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan.  Finding out I was worth 12-cows in Afghanistan.  Crossing into China from Kyrgyzstan.   Chinese bureaucracy.  Giving away Brian's medallions and watching other people give away Brian's medallions.

A lot of people have asked me what this trip of a lifetime was like and I must apologize for looking confused when answering as there is no way this was a once in a lifetime trip.  Plans are already under way for the next adventure - stay tuned...    

PS; those little dots up off to my right are yaks.  Yes, yaks... how cool is that?

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Last Medallions

A few days before arriving in Xi'an we all gathered on our way out of whatever town we had stayed in the night before for the obligatory group picture.  The original plan was to have an ancient fortress in the background but the taxi cab we had hired to guide didn't have a clue where he was going which was quickly obvious to all of us who had GPS mounted on our motorcycles - and we all had GPS's mounted on our motorcycles.  When we finally found the entrance it was locked as apparently the camel herders who had promised to let us in found something else to do that morning.  In the end we got our group shot in with a panoramic sweep of mountains in the background.

There was only one item on our agenda that first morning in Xi'an; get the bikes washed and packed for shipping.  All of which was accomplished in the typical and orderly fashion we had grown accustomed to finding in China.

That night we bid farewell to Kurt who was running away back to Thailand early with his wife who had come to Xi'an undoubtedly to make sure he made it home.  It was during Kurt's emotional final testimonial that night that it started to sink in that this trip was coming to and end.  And that sucked.

The next day was not surprisingly all about the infamous terra cotta warriors.  Our first stop was a plant where replicas of the warriors are fabricated.

Although most of the facility seemed to be nothing much more than one big exit through a gift shop - I bought a couple of the middle sized warriors and for some reason some collector stamp packages.  The next stop were the pits themselves and for the most part as impressive as all the hype would have you believe.

And that was it.  After riding just over 11000 miles (or 18000 km or those of you not living in the USA, Burma or Liberia) the trip came to end as the next day we all started heading home.

When Brian first tasked me with fulfilling his wish of distributing the medallions across Asia the only thing I was sure of was where the last medallion would be given away - at the terra cotta warriors.

There were a few other medallions left in China along the way..

For some reason it was decided that Helge, our fearless leader should have bestowed upon him the last medallion to be given away on the trip.  Although with all his bitching and moaning throughout about being unable to keep a medallion of his own to take home and having to give away the one he did have on his pocket I'm still amazed I was able to carry through with Brian's wish.

A few days after getting home I made a quick dash over to Victoria and delivered the new and improved Brian Rev 2.0 medallion, completing its and my around the world in 80-days journey.