Monday, August 15, 2016

Aug 14

Well. Very interesting day. 
At some point I wanted to include a picture of a butcher. This one has a whole spread out before him and you can tell him which part and how much you want. 
We passed another resort being built. On the scenic highway above it a scenic overlook had been built. Marian said it was the first time she had seen that. 
The railings were concrete, made to look wooden. 
There were actually Chinese people at the lookout, as opposed to the abandoned looking tourist stuff we've seen. 

Such a clear day again. Blue, blue skies. And the scenic highway was fabulous. 
Long tunnel with automatic lights that cars turn on. Not so much bikes, but hey, it is ok. 
The Great Wall. You can see a part running horizontally almost right in the center of the picture and then another part running crazy sloped, straight up the hillside. 

Our scenic highway. There were some cars, but mostly it was ours. When I stopped for lunch, I discovered that China does indeed have some topically poisonous plants, similar in disposition to stinging nettle. It is far less obvious than the type found in the US; tiny leaves and vine like. 15 min of annoying sting, fading to almost unnoticeable. 
The old and the new. In the alcove/cave in the rock wall, there is a Buddha. 
I would like to know what this is. We were thinking olives, but that seems highly unlikely. 
This was one of many mine entrances. Above it, Marian noted the tiny shrine with offerings. 
Old Great Wall mixes with newer repairs. Many of the repairs were concrete, scored and painted to look like old blocks. Quite convincing. 
Cars were actually using this narrow gate. 

A second gate. This one had been harvested of most of its outside stone blocks. 
Holes at top, bottom and sides would have secured the doors. 
Cobbles on the floor. 
This tourist walk was probably either here before and has been coopted for this new purpose. 
More beautiful than could be captured. 
Again this canyon was so amazing. And pretty unspoiled. 

I tried to hike up a set of steps, because I really wanted to know what was up there. On this part of the path, the stair treads had been removed. 
Fish farms
Okay. So this is where the bizarreness begins. Yesterday we tried to get to Hedong via another town and a police checkpoint cop told us, "no way Jose" and sent us packing to go back many miles to a different route. Today we took his commanded route and got to another checkpoint, where they told us we couldn't go through. When it became obvious we couldn't go back, for there no motels within striking distance, the cops offered us a ride through/past the offending area via the expressway in their vehicle. Thus, even though I have STILL managed to have been arrested, I can now say I have been in the back of a police vehicle. 
A view out the back window, showing a car carrier with 2 rows of cars on the top rack. 
The bikes in the bed. 
It was bizarre to me that the police had their sirens on, but people did not get out of the way. At one point the cop who was driving had to drive on the shoulder to avoid a huge truck. At this point Marian and I buckled our seat belts.  The driver said, "you can trust me, I am actually a very good driver". 
This is the motel Marian spotted after we were beyond what they said was the restricted area. It was 20 yuan each. There is no shower or AC, but it was one of the nicest places we have stayed. An entire family lives at the compound, and they collectively help to run the place. Reed mats keep bugs out of the rooms. They had retrofitted their squat toilet, so that it had a flap over the drain. The flap would release under a certain amount of pressure from above and then re-close automatically. The rooms were super clean. The entire compound is walled with glass shards atop the walls. Marian explained that with the grocery store in the front and a tv in each room, the compound would be a target for thieves. 
An excellent example of juxtaposition, cable tv, with a thermos of boiled water for drinking. 

I was a little slow in capturing this farmer, who had his donkey and hoe and was returning home at around 6:30. 
This is the grocery store and restaurant at the front of the building. The people here eat mostly local, so the products are specialty items. There is little or no dairy in China. Marian notes that most Chinese are lactose intolerant. 
We ate dinner with the adults of the family. Again, the food was some of the best I have eaten. There were sautéed mushrooms from down the road, wild mountain flowers and wild greens with tomatoes, both sautéed with garlic or onions, slivered potatoes, scrambled eggs with greens, apricot pips (which Marian told me would give me a stomach ache, if I ate too much), and pickled cucumber. 
The red metal doors of the compound are slid closed at night and locked. 
Marian identifies this a wattle and daub style building, one of the oldest styles around. We regularly see bundles of sticks people have gathered by the side of the road and this is one of the uses of those, to make fences. 
There is the whole family, three generations. There is an extra child there, the cousin of the younger couple. 

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