My News: TOP -


 I grew up in Atlanta Georgia.  In Atlanta in the eighties our zoo was a little bit on the sorry side.  The zoo’s main attraction was a silver back gorilla named Willie-B.  Although later in life Willie-B was blessed with a huge grassy habitat with pretty lady gorillas to have Willie-B jr with, in those days they had Willie-B in a tiny concrete cell, maybe fifteen feet by ten feet.  The concrete cell was inside, no sunshine.  In the concrete cell were four things: a log, a tire, a TV, and, of coarse, Willie.  Every time you went to visit Willie-B he would sit on the log with his hand (paw?) resting under his chin and he would watch the strange pictures on the box in the corner of the room.  What the hell else did he have to do?  Whenever my sister and I went to visit he was always too wrapped up in his TV program to take any notice of us, although he simply loved my grandmother who as a zoo volunteer was there everyday.  My grandmother and Willie-B were great pals.  People were outraged at the horrible conditions of the poor gorilla, they complained loudly.  So the zoo did what they saw was best for Willie-B, they took away the television, leaving the proud majestic creature doing time in a concrete cell with nothing but a tire swing and a log. 

Recently the Chinese government has blocked myspace and I now feel like a big animal who can’t talk trapped in a small concrete cell with a log and a tire swing for every-one’s befuddled starring amusement.  I don’t actually have a log or a tire swing, its just how I feel, you understand.

I am at willyevil@gmail, I had to stop with the hotmail account because for some reason I don’t always get my emails and the ones I send don’t always go.  I get so jazzed when people email me, I check everyday and on the days I do see something new in my inbox it really makes happy.  I’m just saying.

I have heard that the Chinese myspace comes with one friend, a Chinese guy instead of Tom.  I went as far as the log in when I was informed something to the effect of anything and anyone on my myspace was subject to Chinese law which I take to mean that if I went with Chinese Myspace the PRC could read your profiles.  Not that the Chinese government is particularly interested in your response to myspace surveys your favorite TV shows, I just don’t like the idea of any more big brother than I can help, you dig? so no more myspace.


Ok here is Beijing:

In America people get off school for spring break around April or May, maybe early as late March for some, could be late as early June for others.  This creates a tourist season where people in places like Florida (for example) can expect to sell more air brushed tee shirts and tourists can expect to wait in longer lines for things like the bathroom or Disneyland.  The influx of travel is manageable in the states as it spans maybe three months is my point here.  In China the big break is the first week in May.  Not the second week in May.  Not the last week in March, oh no no.  It is the first week in May for everyone across the board from Tibet to Shanghai.  There are a lot of people in China, by the way.  These would have been fine reasons for me to use this time to discover some place off the byway of time in a sleepy pagoda somewhere, someplace nobody would flock to, away from the tour groups with their colored hats that look like opposing armies, away from the transit nightmare, away from hell-on -earth train stations and the hordes of mobs of humanity pushing and shoving, hacking my way through a culture oblivious to waiting in a que of any kind.  But instead I went to Beijing.  Go figure.

I made plans with my friend Gina to travel there with her.  She is Canadian and so far my only western friend in town.  I have met two others.  I met one guy in my town who was a 20 year self described philosopher who inside of the first fifteen minutes of our first and only conversation was screaming at me that what I had to say was meaningless because all words are subjective.  He told me that he would teach me to speak and I told him to get fucked.  I got on my bike and rode off.

This is what makes me angry about the show lost.  Everyone on that island is a bathing suite model, the girls are all amazing hot and the guys all have six packs and Don Johnson stubbles that never quite go beard.  The reality is I am stuck on an island with a guy who won’t talk to me because all words are subjective and the only true argument is love.  I am not making this up folks, I met this guy.  I have some super great Chinese friends though, and I have Gina as far as westerners go, she is pretty cool.

Gina was going to Beijing to met her father.  Her father had traveled to Beijing to met a girl he had been talking to online.  The plan was to travel by hard sleeper train, spend the first day running around Beijing, then split ways.  She would go with her father and I would bounce around aimlessly and do my thing.

The train left at 10 and we found ourselves at diner with our friends Michelle and Wei that night around 7.  It was here that we realized we had the next three hours to kill.  The only solution we could come up with was to just sit there.  There is nothing to do in Shangqiu, nothing.  Really, nothing.

Around 9:30 we went to the train station and waited in a special area (we paid and extra 5 RMB for the special area) where we reclined luxuriously on hard wooden couches instead of hard plastic benches.  After maybe 15 minutes our train was called. 

A good ten minutes before a train number is called everyone starts milling around anxiously to the door.  You can feel anticipation in the air.  See, many of the cheap seats are first come first serve and people have to stand up for hours if they are at the back of the line, we had sleepers though, so no worries there.  Another thing is that the train is only staying at the station a good ten minutes, after that you are shit out of luck.  Even now as I recall the situation the whole thing gives me case of the horrors.  Everyone running, everyone has huge luggage. Many times the people can’t afford suit cases or any such so they have enormous sacks with all their gear which they drag along precariously behind them.  Men and woman loaded down like camels in the gobi preform the 100 meter dash while tugging helpless children by the arm behind them.  Recently I have taken to running amid the frenzy taking pictures for my buddy Monty, he likes pictures of trains. 

We got on the train, no problem outside of a few jostles and bumps.  I got the top bunk, Gina was the one who ordered the tickets with the help of her school.  I got the top bunk, I think Gina thought I would be pissed about it but as I have said before that is what I prefer, it is hard to get up sure, but it makes me feel like a mountain climber.  

No sooner had I made my way up top when the train lights went out.  I took off my Pabst blue ribbon hat and put my wallet and camera and passport under my pillow and was almost out like a light.  At the very moment in which I stood between the world of Chinese trains and the world of dreams I saw a whole poem dancing in front of me like a dream.  Still mostly asleep I grabbed a notebook from the day sack by my head to scribble my little ‘xanadu’.  I didn’t think about it until days later, when I opened my notebook and it was starring at me.  Oh yeah, I said.  I would write my little poem in the blog, but you know what?  I am looking at it now and it really kind of stinks so you are out of luck.  Sorry blog believers.  When we left the train the next morning I must have left my good pabst blue ribbon hat behind.  Damn it!

Gina used to teach in Beijing and had somehow landed in Shangqiu, she hates it here.  She is a metro girl and was so excited to come to Beijing to go shopping.  She took me on a tour of the city by Taxi.  We drove by Tiananmen Square and the forbidden city.  We had Mexican food, which was sooooo good.  It filled me up so fast, I had forgotten.  I can sit around eating Chinese food with folks drinking and chatting the day away, but man, one burrito and part of a quesadilla and I am done. 

* This is important later, next to the Mexican joint was a bar that advertised rum and cokes for 5 RMB.

Gina and I wandered around without aim much of the day.  We went to her hotel (a swanky affair) to meet her Dad who had brought Gina twizzlers.  We hoovered those twizzlers, boy.  No such thing in Asia.  Not even a knock off equivalent as far as I can see.  Rare, exotic food from far away is always a treasured experience.

We found the western book store.  All the books were crazy expensive except the section of classics, pretty much stuff that you were supposed to read in highschool but were too busy getting stoned.  Well, maybe that was just me.  At any rate, I picked up Portrait of a young artist by James Joyce which I haven’t really picked up yet and the Iliad which is I am liking. 

We walked along the main walking street in Beijing, she showed me where the night market was.  The night market in Beijing is where all the weird food is sold to tourists, basically.  It is a row of stands along the sidewalk that at this time were empty, but at night this is where to go to eat the weird shit, like scorpion among other things.

We walked through Tiananmen Square, which was emmense geographically and emotionally.  I think I recognized the street where the one guy stood in the way of the row of tanks.  There isn’t a memorial to the fallen students or a even a sign of any kind.  I think there should be.  It was heavy to stand there though.

The tomb of Mao Zedong is right there.  It was closed to visitors, they were slapping a fresh coat on the chairman for the Olympics I think.  The Olympics in 2008 is a really big deal here.  It is the only news story that you are sure to hear about everyday on the government channel, which is the only channel for news.  So I couldn’t go holla at the Chairman, no big loss.  I’m really not a fan.  

Tiananmen Square is by far the most famous attraction in China (as far as I know, which is to say as far as I’ve seen) to be open to the public for free.  This means that pro beggars are out in force outnumbering hapless camera packing tourists a good five to one.  I haven’t done the math on that but I stand by my figures. So every five to ten seconds a begger hits you up for money or tries to sell you some crap like post cards or something.  Its like dawn of the dead.  They see you and wait until the last one is done and then the next one pounces.  It is so distracting to have to say ‘no’ endlessly.

They did have a really funny Mao Zedong watch with the his arms for the hands, but I am sure it wouldn’t work for an entire week before it fell apart somehow and like I said, I’m not a fan.

Finally it became apparent that I wasn’t really into shopping and Gina wasn’t into going to Temples or parks so around evening we split ways, we took a taxi to the drum tower where I got off.  This was just around the corner from the youth hostel I had booked a few days before.  I waved goodbye to her and at once I realized that I was completely alone in China.  I wandered around for a little while, then I found the place.  The Harbor room I saw advertised online looked like a four star gilded palace with a courtyard, plush beds and wonderful full breakfast.  I really was interested in the price, which was low.  It turned out to be a 6 person dorm instead of a 4, the breakfast was continental (said it before, not real breakfast) and by court yard they really meant not a courtyard.  But who cares, I was staying in Beijing for cheap.

I walked into the room, and put my shit on the top of one of the flimsy summer camp looking bunk beds, wood slats on iron frames.  I introduced myself around, this would become my Beijing week family.  Conversation came effortlessly and easy, we all were instantly old friends, within minutes we were trading our best stories and laughing and smiling. 

Here is the roster, ready? 

Dave is from Toronto, teaching in Japan and on vacation, very nice guy, very friendly.  And in the bunk below me was Mao, a 19 year kid old Brazilian off to see the world.  Across from him was Malin, our wonderful warm and sweet smiling Swedish girl.  Then there was Adam from Boston.  He was an asshole, trust me I have good reason which I will get to, his name is Adam the asshole.  For some shitty cosmic reason mankind will never fully understand, no matter how amazing everyone else is, you always seem to find one in every crowd.  I am becoming sadder and sadder lately that the one I find in every crowd tends to be from America. 

Dave said told us he in the morning he was heading off to a section of the Great Wall known as Jinshanling.  I had also read about this section, he had the same lonely planet guide book I did.  The lonely planet has several pages which talk about the various sections of the great wall that you can go see.  The first section they talk about is Badaling, the most restored and most visited.  This is where everyone and their mother goes.  The book says it is heavily restored and is the place to go for “guard rails, souvenir stalls, a fairground feel,…squads of tourists.”  Many folks are this kind of traveler.  They want safe guard rails and expect the whole thing to look like it was built last Tuesday and will be very put out if they can’t find a good (or at least decent) cup of coffee and a fairly modern bathroom while their at it.  To me finding myself in a place like this sounds like being trapped in a horror movie.

If you read on through the list of Great Wall possibilities the choices become less and less restored, less and less beaten path.  One of the last entries in this section is Jinshanling.  

The book explains that this section is unique in that it has built in obstacles, walls built on the wall for early canons to fire, see this section was built in case the wall had already been breached, the whole thing is set up as a final deterrence from the Mongol armies.  It also had a toboggan ride at the top, which sounded totally cool.  Dave told us that was what he was doing the next morning, he had already set up the bus through the Hostel and everything.  I heard myself telling Dave that I wanted to go too.  I figured that sounded like a crazy adventure and I wanted in.  Then Mao wanted in and then Adam the asshole.  Jinshanling didn’t stop the Mongols from climbing the wall and it won’t stop the brave kids in room 110 at the Harbour inn.   We all went to the front desk and arranged to get spots on the same bus as Dave.    

The rest of the evening we relaxed, Mao and I went to a spicy Yunnan restaurant that was good, I had spicy dried beef, which was sort of a spicy hot Chinese take on beef jerky.  He is 19, and on a tour of the world.  Asking him the list of places he is going is sort of like telling someone to name as many countries as they can in one minute, ready?  go

Start in Brazil (his home town)



China (here he was)







I actually don’t remember the rest but I know those for sure.  After that he was off to several more countries in Africa, then at least 7 or 8 countries across Europe, something like 25 countries total, then after a year back home.

Jealous is not a strong enough word for how I feel about what this 19 year old kid is doing.  Amazing!

  We went back to the place and we all drank beer.  The first bed I climbed into was the top bunk over Malin the Swedish girl.  She freaked out and jumped out of the way because the slats under me were bending with my weight.  The whole bed was shaking and wiggling with my every move.  My knee cracked a hole right in the bed.  My next attempt at getting in bed was the bunk over Mao.  I put my foot on his bed and started up, as I did so, the wood slats in his bed came out of the metal frame and his bed fell apart.  At least the slats under my bed kept their integrity as I made the top, everyone commented.  It made me afraid to move in my sleep, Mao was terrified of being squished in the night, I didn’t want that either.

Something was wrong with the TV set, it was all fuzzy, and Dave said he was going to go to the front desk and ask if the guy (front desk Jack) would look at it.  Dave was a little bummed out that the room had been so misrepresented on the Internet sight and the TV was just a small part of it, the beds that fall apart was another.  Adam the asshole said it didn’t matter about the TV and Dave said, in a polite, non aggressive, conversational way

“yeah, I would like to have a room with a TV that works.”

Adam the asshole said “Only if you are a wussie.”

I assure you if I had made that up I would never have used the word wussie, I haven’t utilized or made utterance of that phrase since 7th grade, but that is in no way why I call Adam the asshole asshole.  Trust me, we will get there.  

The next morning I was the first up, I always wake up around 6 or 7 these days, believe it or not. I wandered over to the breakfast, it was the chinese equivalent of continental breakfast.  Back home, I once spray painted at the Cabbage town side of the Krog street tunnel the message:


It was cookies and fruit and stuff, I ain’t complaining.  I went outside to dig on the first light morning air when the sun feels the nicest.  I went back in and chit chatted with front desk Jack for a while.  Then I noticed that it was 7:15!  Front desk Jack was supposed to wake everyone up at 7!  The bus left with or without us at 7:30!  Front desk Jack said he was sorry, I still don’t know if he forgot or saw me and just figured I had taken care of it, but I don’t have no watch.  Why don’t I have a watch?  I don’t know!  Either way he dropped the ball.  He is a hell of a nice guy though.  Holy fuck!  Everybody get up!  We gotta boogie!

Hey!  wake up, psst, get up we’re late. 


“Front desk jack didn’t get us up, we got 15 minutes we gotta go!”

Lucky for us we were all dudes (Malin was not into the wall that day) so it didn’t take long for us to shave, shit, and shampoo and we all managed to grab a piece of fruit and a cookie along the way.  Front desk Jack came and said the bus was running late anyway which gave us and extra 10 minutes, which was nice. finally we were more or less set when Front desk Jack came running in and told us the bus was here, the bus was here, now or never!

The bus was a minivan packed to the absolute hilt.  On the bus we met two more cats who would become regulars in our little week long adventure: Adam, (Lets call him the cool Adam to distinguish between him and the asshole) and George.  Adam is from Wisconson and is teaching down in south China and George is from Cali, a buisness guy and lifetime traveller on one of a lifetime of travells.  Also along in the van were two very quiet Germans.  They did speak english, just not very often.  I didn’t even catch their names.  In the interest of writting I will name our pair of silent Germans after two of my favorite silent Germans, Murnau and Fritz Lang. 

Silent Germans aside, the 3 hour drive to the wall was conversational, we all chatted away happily.  The drive stopped on the side of the highway next to the hard rock cafe Beijing for a long time, we never learned why.  Adam the asshole told us all about how his girlfriend has a hard rock cafe tee shirt collection from around the world, he was very excited about visiting this one, although it was still early in the morning and we didn’t have time anyway.

Along the road to the wall we talked about teaching Chinese kids, Chinese driving, we traded stories, George had just gotten back from the Yunnan so we talked about that.  He also said that he had been to Tibet and gotten sick off some bad Yack meat, which I thought was the funniest thing I had ever heard.  Not that the man had gotten sick, but I imagined calling in to work saying

“yeah, I think I had some bad yack, you know?”

We talked about Beijing, about all kinds of stuff.   It was nice to have a good conversation with good people in english.  By and by, the scenery started looking like steep hills in the pictures of the great wall that you see on the sides of Chinese resturants stateside.  Everyone began cranning their necks around to be the first to spot it.  The cool Adam gave us a false alarm, the top of a hill had a formation of trees that were a real fake out for a tower in the great wall.

We made a pit stop, and met the other bus that was going.  That bus was full of beautiful woman and all the sudden I was less jazzed about our van.

At the pit stop, the guy who was taking us let us know that on top of the money we paid at the hostel, getting into the park would cost quite a bit more.  The money we paid at the hostel was high, and we all figured it to be all inclusive.  Now he was telling us that we had just paid for the bus ride there.  The money I paid alone would have filled at least two, maybe three trips in that van and there were 8 of us in the van, nevermind the greyhound sized bus that was also coming who had paid the same amount.  Now we had to pay more just to get in the place.  Ever get the feeling your being flim flamed?

After a short but brief bathroom and snack break at the gas station we were off like a shot.  I guess we were in the car for maybe another hour.  We finally got there and the guide told all of us that the bus would be leaving at 3 in the afternoon.  This was pretty late in the morning, I don’t recall when. The next good news from the guy who brought us was that at 3 we would have lunch, which was great news for those of us who had had a piece of fruit and a cookie several hours ago. 

The trail to the Wall itself was very short but very straight up a cliff.  I was gasping for air and I didn’t hear the others doing so.  Half way up at a point where the trees cleared someone gasped and said, wait wait wait, I gotta, I gotta, I gotta, take a picture.  We all laughed and agreed that this was a fine way to say break and we all stoped and some photographed and some sipped water.  We weren’t even at the Wall yet.  Somebody sneezed and I said gesuntight and Murnau and Fritz Lang (the silent Germans) started whispering to each other.

And so we got to the wall and it was so cool.  As far as I could see was hills and the wall, going up and down into hazzy horizion. The day was hot but tolerable, but the breaze cooled things nicely.  Our van and the bus were the only people around, with the exception of the upquitous touts, tracking our every move with bottled water, fans, and tee shirts.

It was wonderful.

The further we went the more the wall fell to ruins.  A lot of places didn’t even resemble wall, just emense piles of rock.  This is how I would want to see the wall, the honest way.  What the hell do you expect?  The great wall’s been there for a long damn time.  You wouldn’t expect an old man to not have wrinkles. 

It also seemed to get steeper and steeper.  Often we found ourselves tryinig to make it up sections of the wall that were just lose broken rock, you make it half way up a cliff that used to be the great wall on sliding rock with nothing but China a great distance below and it gets scary.  The worst hill was almost straight up.  I leaned forward and spider climbed up and made it a couple of minutes before everyone else who were all doing it like stairs.  They laughed at me and I called down that I didn’t give a fuck how it looked it was working.

Each section was punctuated by a watch tower in which we would rest in the cool shade from the sun and drink water.  The Chinese folks following us used this opurtunity to try and sell us more bottled water and fans.  One guy had frozen Ice water, I have no idea how he got it up there, of coarse it was twice as much as the other water and the other water was twice as much as it would be anywhere else and of coarse I got me one.  It hit the spot. 

We were approaching one tower and a path led down the hill and along the mountain and around the tower and back up.  We saw a Chinese guy telling some folks in front of us to take it like it was a short cut.  We laughed at their foolishness and gleefully marched on.  Ha ha ha ha, we all were so supperior, their short cut is dumb.  Here is the thing about that, the tower that their path side steps has no wall (I mean to say great Wall to walk on top of) at the exit.  A very narrow ledge is a good four feet below the door and maybe two feet to the right and if you mess up you mess up good all the way down the mountain, which would be curtains.  A guy ahead had made the jump and we all organized a team of people to catch each other and pull folks to the ledge, it was a hell of a scary leap.  It started getting like that the further we went.  Imagine a place for tourists in America that involves jump for your life obsticles.  Like I said in my last post, I love China.

Then about half way the trail started going down which sucked worse.  My fear of heights kicked in and I was trailing a bit behind in places unsure of my footing going down almost sheer cliffs of broken smooth rock.  But it was fun and we were all developing comradery.  Dave and Adam the Asshole and I all got into a conversation for a while about GI Joe and the Transformers.  I think GI Joe is way cooler, and I told them so.  I also pointed out that in the transformers cartoon, all humans are always subserviant to the Transformers, they do what Optimus prime tells them to, I always felt like they are giant robots from space trying to take over the world.  Well then they told me that this was the premise of the new movie, I think that movie looks like shit and they agree.  It doesn’t look good.  Then cool Adam heard us and said we were nerds, which is true I guess.

And Damn I started getting hungry.  I hadn’t eaten and we had been hard core scrambling up and down cliffs of debris for four hours now.  It was the aching hole in the pit of your stomach and all the energy is sapped.  

At the end we got to a river which we crossed a rope and wood slat bridge just like Temple of Doom.  At the end of the bridge was a troll with sunglasses who told us that the bridge fee was 10 RMB. 

A) we had paid a bunch just to get in.

B) there was absolutly no other way across the river outside of swimming.

C) there was no sign or anything left by the park indicating that he was supposed to be there doing this, and there were signs everywhere else.

D) He was trying to flim flam us.

This really pissed off me and it really pissed off cool Adam.  He told me that me (we were the first two) that we would wait for the others and just rush past the guy like a water fall and he couldn’t do anything about it.  We all gathered and cool Adam and I went in the front and just went past the troll.  The troll was nimble and jumped in front of us in the trail, with one arm on a tree and his leg spread across the trail he had his other arm extended the other way like he was gaurding us in a game of half court.  The whole mob the guy didn’t work because I realized that it was just cool Adam and me with few others behind us.  I gave the guy the money, not much money, just the priniciple.  Cool Adam shoulder checked the troll after paying him, everyone paid the con artist and we left.  Lunch was at 4 in the afternoon and was mediocre.  Tarra and Catrina (both from Canada) were staying there that night, which sounded cool.

That night we wandered the streets looking to drink.  We walked past the place where they sell crazy wierd food and I told them that Gina had told me you can eat scorpians.  Everyone bragged that they would try scorpian, very I’d do it if you did it Jones town cool aid kind of thing.  At this point it was closed so we didn’t get a chance.  We found an empty bar and sat around drinking.  The drinks were too much but that is Beijing.  I told them about the place next to the Mexican resturant that sold rum and cokes for 5 RMB but I couldn’t remember how to get there.   I think somebody asked what we were doing tomarrow and I want to say it was once again Dave who had the plan.  We would go to get a dish called Peking duck in the west, Beijing Duck in China, Duck in Beijing.  Then we would go check out the Summer palace.  Somebody recomended that we also eat scorpian after the duck.

We tried to get an early start but it wasn’t happening.  We finally got it together and moved and made it to the resturant around noon I guess.  This was a place that the Lonely Planet guide book recommends this place as a good place to get duck for around 38 RMB, it wound up being 100 per person.  Cool Adam, (Adam the asshole was not travelling with us that day) was a little pissed because he was on a tight budget.  He was thinking of saving money for the 2 month break in July and August and I now wish to christ I had been as well, but when I was in Beijing I was all “fuck it” and I went through some money.  The place was really fancy shmancey and everyone was dressed nice except us, we looked like a bunch of useless tee shirt wearing tourists, which of coarse we were.  The duck was really good, it was juicy and moist and the chef carved it in front of us.  Half way throught the meal George showed up, which was cool.  Mao can do a trick where he takes a toothpick and makes it spin on his nose.  This was a good trick I thought, and I made sure to tell him so. 

After leaving we walked around for a minute to try to find the scorpian but we wern’t sure where it was and it was not open until night anyway. 

Next we were off to find the summer palace.  It was already late in the day because of the late start and Beijing is really really really big and confusing.  The subway is easy enough, it just goes in a big circle around the center core of the city, with an additional line heading east-west.  Unfortunatly the Summer Palace is nowhere near the inner ring and proved to be a major multi hour hastle to find.  Worse, I realized that because Dave seemed to be the one who had actually looked at a map that day we had started asking “which way now, Dave?  Which way now?”  It was getting later and later and the place closed at 5 and it got to be 4 and we couldn’t figure out which bus to take.  After hiking and walking and circling back and waiting at the bus station and looking around and being lost we made it, Dave got us there.  It was 20 minutes before they locked the doors on all the buildings which housed the meuseums but the park was open until 8.  We ran to the first building while we could, which was sort of neat. 

See, at the Summer Palace you pay to get in and then you pay more to go into each little meusum, all we were missing out on was the stuff that costed extra anyway.  We walked into a large courtyard with a narrow tower imposing over us from the yards center.  We saw displays of artifacts and in the building they had Chinas first car, we all made jokes about how nobody knew how to drive that one back then either. 

Outside the birds were going nuts.  It was strange, flocks of black birds were going shit house rat crazy in a midair slam dance.  It reminded me of the Hitchcock movie.  I actually felt as though I would be dive bombed they were wizzing by so low.

The light started to fade and the crowds started to exit.  The Summer Palace park is breath taking by the way.  An endless garden of trees and flowers and ancient buildings.  I understand that if one were to go in the middle of the day the crowds are impossible, but it was getting late so we were ok. 

The crowds really died when it started pouring down rain on us.  The warnings had been clear, birds acting shit crazy, the sky had been getting darker and darker.  We should have seen it coming but we didn’t.  We all ducked into the nearest building which wasn’t ancient and ornate but new and empty except for a beat up old pool table and about four or five chinese guys.  Cool Adam and I had noticed a sign one building down that said fast food, we made a run for it.  The rain was coming down in thick rivers. It was the kind of rain that comes from out of nowhere and is immediatly flooding any floodable plane.  Cool Adam and I ran like hell and just made it.  It turned out that they didn’t have food, but they did have umbrellas.  The sound of the rain a few feet past the door pounding the ground raised such a smacking roar that we had to speak loudly.  It was a sellers market for umbrellas and the little lady in the plastic pancho knew it, she said the umbrella would cost us 45 each.  This is crazy talk and we got her all the way down to 25 each, but couldn’t get it any further.  We strolled back in the pouring rain with our umbrellas triumpant, and we took the other guys money and went back and got some for them too.

Now we were set.  We hiked around and although everyone was a little miserable, (I was wearing hiking boots) it was a hell of a day.  We each took turns holding the umbrella for the other guy while they took pictures trying not to get the camera wet.  The whole thing is built around a hill on top of which are amazing structures.  It was so big and we were so small, walking in the wind and the rain.

I was thrilled, I don’t know if anyone else shared my enthusiasm but I thought it was so cool.  We had the whole thing to ourselves and the rain made the vegetation more green.  It was as though we were explorers who had stumbled upon ancient ruins by mistake.  Like I said, I was the only one in hiking boots and I think maybe the others didn’t share my cheery outlook. 

The next problem came when we couldn’t figure how to get out.  The Summer Palace is just that large.  Everywhere we went we found more amazing places and great things to look at.  I am sure we didn’t see everything, but never an exit.  We finally found the way out and in the front was a mini van cab.  We all greatfully pilled in. 

The mini van had two rows behind driver and shotgun.  I was behind the driver.  Gina had showed me the taxi trick on the first day.  What you do is you check to see where they got the meter.  If the meter is in plain sight than cool.  If the meter is down by the drivers leg or on the seat next to him then he is libel to get cute.  This guy had it down by his leg so I was on the watch.  It started out at 11 RMB, standard for a night cab in Beijing.  We were all talking, I can’t remember about what and I turned to the row behind me and said something, I can’t remember what.  Whatever the comment may have been took maybe 10 to 30 seconds to say and I turned around and looked at the meter which was now at 22 RMB, we hadn’t been in the cab for two minutes at this point.  Once again we were being flim flamed.

I told the guys this and we asked the driver to pull the car over.  We asked him how much would it cost to go to the train station and he said 100 RMB.  The driver could see the rain pounding the dark lonely city and he knew we needed him.  I suggested to everyone

“We are either going to get cheated or soaking wet, and I’m already soaking wet.”

Without a further word the whole mini van unloaded into the sidewalk.  The guy had the unmidigated audacity to holler at us talking about wheres my money.  We laughed at his misfortune as we walked into the dark rain, hopelessly lost in the night somewhere in Beijing.

We walked for ages, hungry and wet and lost and it was dark.  We didn’t know how we would get back, our feet hurt and nothing was going our way and we were all in a bad mood.  Taxis zipped by honking for us but we didn’t feel like we would be treated fair so we kept walking.  We walked past a small resturant that looked like it served some kind of hot noddles and somebody said we should stop there and somebody else said no they didn’t want to stop so we kept walking. 

We walked and walked for ever and ever.  Eventually we saw a bus stop, the bus had just pulled up.  We ran and made it.  We were on our way home, soaking wet, nothing had turned out the way we wanted it all day which made the whole thing an amazing adventure.

So we went back to the hostel and got dry and showered and dry again.  We found Adam the asshole stationed in the lobby.  The hostel had only one computer to use and Adam the asshole always seemed to be on it or sitting around waiting for his chance.  I asked him what he did that day and I told him what we did.  He is the sort of person who likes to cut you off and talk about everything like he is an authority.  This is still not why I go so far as to call the man asshole, I would not say this without cause, just be patient, I promise we will get there and I think you will agree.

George and cool Adam went to their hostel and got all changed and ready and we met up and were off for a night on Beijing, we met up with Terra and Catrina, the two Candians from the great wall.  I said we should go to Salitun, one of Beijings 2 major bar streets in search of my holy grail next to the Mexican place, the bar that poured rum and cokes for oly 5 RMB.  We found the main street without much trouble from the subway.  I knew the place was at the end of an alley, I had been there two days ago at day time and I was pretty sure we had come from a different direction and in daylight, but still I knew that we were close to cheap rum and coke, I could smell it.

Everyone else was yeah yeah, Will, sure.  Rum and coke for 5 RMB, yeah.  But I would not be detered. We walked into the first place that looked lively and sat down.  On stage were 2 girls taking turns singing karioke and a Chinese dude with a ZZ top beard rocking the keys.  We were hungry as we hadn’t eaten since the duck place, that was lunch and it was now around 10.  The beers flowed and the food was slow.  Each plate in China comes one at a time.  So if you order a dish and your friend does too then it may be they get their food and you wait.  I think this is because all food on a table is shared in China.  It is not like the states where I order a cheeseburger and you get a ceaser salad, food is for everyone, so the idea of lets all get our food at the same time doesn’t really take here.  At fast food they give you your fries and then you wait 10 minutes for your burger, then comes the soda.  Its like eating the peanut butter and hanging around waiting of the jelly, then the bread.

It took an hour for everyones food to get to the table and mine came last.  I think they forgot about me, I had to go ask, I was so hungry.  I sat there nursing my 35 RMB beer like a fool.

The girls onstage at one point sang the Titanic song by Celine Dion and the Canadians all cringed, which made me laugh.  Aparantly Celine Dian is a sore spot in Canada, they are so ashamed that something so lame as Celine Dion could come from their country.  They’ll always have the kids in the hall.

Finally my food got there and I was happy.  It got late and we started talking about bouncing.  We were all passing the bill around and realizing how much the 30 RMB beers had hurt when I noticed something out the window.  Across the street was a dark alley, unimpressive in everyway, yet as I saw it I heard angels sing melodies from Brahms in my head.  My jaw dropped, could it be?  I dropped my money on the table and started across the room.  Everyone paid and follewed me.  Like the Millenium Falcon in a tractor beam I was forced to walk across the street, the mob of people waited.  Someone told me they were going the other way and i said I would catch up.  I had to investigate.  At the end of the alley was a side street.  At the side street guess what I saw?  The Mexican place.  Next to the Mexican place was a DVD store, next to the DVD store was the bar with the cheap drinks, STILL OPEN!!!!  I went inside and the place was a grave yard, not a living soul.  I strutted up to the bar tender and told him I had 8 people, how long was he open and was it true that he was pouring rum and cokes for 5 RMB like the sign said? 



I ran out of the bar as fast as I could go.  I wind sprinted around the corner and was at my top landspeed by mid alley.  I busted out onto the bar street and saw my posse in the distance down the street.  Cool Adam was lagging behind and saw me first.

“I FOUND IT! I FOUND IT!  I FOUND IT!  I FOUND IT!” I screamed, now gasping for breath, I am so out of shape.

Cool Adam hollered to the others and they came.  I explained about the bar and that I had found it and that the bar tender said they were open and would stay open as long as we were drinking.  I think I was hopping up and down at this point like a child.

They followed me down the dark alley and to the bar.  They set us up in a large room in the back, like the ballers we are.  We sat there all night draining glass after glass.  It turned out to be any mixed drink was cheap, so I switched to Jack and cokes, sweet Jesus I got my whiskey on.  They were watered down, sure.  But keep in mind that 5 RMB= .65 cents US, and in Beijing a mixed drink could go up as far as 50 to 60 RMB easy.  No jive!

We sat all night into the morning and shit, it was like drinking with my friends back in Atlanta.  People in Shangqiu don’t stay up until 4 or 5 or 6 am laughing and drinking the way people tend to in Atlanta.  This was a fine reason to get the hell away from Atlanta for a while, but it was so nice to just relax with good people and get properly hammered.  Somewhere in the night we lost our Brazilian.  He was 19 after all and just couldn’t hang.  I wouldn’t have been able to either at 19, I wouldn’t have been able to handle travelling the whole world at his age either so my hats off.  He started tettering and tottering and his eyes went all flutterey.  He got up and ran to the head a few times.  He finally got up and walked out of the bar and into the street without saying a word.  I said I got this and ran after him.  He as almost passed out in the back of a cab when I found him outside. I showed the driver the map and pointed to where he was going, the driver took one look at my drunk ass and kicked us both out of his cab and drove off.  I found another cab, this guy was friendly and I told them where to go and they took Mao home.

We stayed for a few hours after that, I think we called it quits around 4:30.  I had no facilities to fathom the exact fuzzy ballpark figure on how many whiskey and cokes I had had, yet my tab was less than the last joint we had been in where I had a chicken sandwich and 2 beers.  Outside the bar was a young kid begging.  I told him he should be home sleeping, this seemed to make him angry.  I didn’t want to encourage him to stand outside bars and beg in the middle of the night.  Still it was very sad.  We went back to the hostel and snuck in the room and took a flash picture of Mao to try to wake him up, but he didn’t move.  Me and Dave and George drank for a while on the front stoop, not long though, then I passed out hard.

Next morning we tried to get up early but no such luck.  We dawdled around and did this and that.  Dave and Mao were both trying to get front desk Jack to help them go onto Xian next and in both cases their were no trains left, May week Front desk Jack said and shrugged.  Front desk Jack had been able to hook me up with a bed going back Shangqiu way, the only one left.  Dave had managed to book a seat on a bus a day after he had wanted to go, which he was OK with, maybe a litte bummed but ok.  Back in the room that morning Adam the asshole had hit upon an important scientific discovery.  The cable wire ran on the floor wedged between the metel bunk frame and the wall.  So when one sat down on the bed the TV was fuzzy, when one stood from the bed the reception was clear.  I walked and he was telling Mao

“Ok, sit.  Fuzzy!  Ok stand.  Clear!”

I watched this for maybe a minute when Dave came in all pissed off because the day late bus seat had actually not happened the way front desk Jack had said it would.  It was clear that he could not breath properly and steam was flowing from his ears, his face was red.  He felt trapped hopelessly in Beijing and his whole trip was screwed.  Now he only had one day to do Xian before leaving for Shanghai.  He explained this slowly with stone in his eyes like he had just seen the last 5 minutes of Iron Giant, which my friend Ryan Burk swears will make any human being cry.  Adam the asshole waited for him to stop talking and then, as if he hadn’t even heard anything that Dave had said, asshole Adam says

“Ok yeah, but watch this.”  He sat on the bed grinning “The TV is fuzzy.”  He stood up, grinning  ”Not fuzzy!”  He sat down, still grinning. “fuzzy.”  He stood up, bigger grin still. “Not fuzzy.”

Dave starred at him for a good second before pushing Adam the asshole with both hands to the floor and storming out the door.  Adam the Asshole looked confused, ‘why isn’t Dave excited about my major breakthrough discovery?’ he may have wondered.  Still not nearly enough to call him an asshole, you will just have to be patient.

In the Lobby we sat across from front desk Jack who was behind the front desk.  I bought a couple of beers off front desk Jack and I gave one to Dave.  In the end Dave figured he would shorten his time in Shanghai for more time in Xian, cool Adam says that Shanghai sucks as does my buddy in Atlanta, Caroline.  Just another big city I hear, nothing special, although I haven’t been there you understand.  Just what I hear.

So after a big lunch at cool Adam and George’s hostel we were off to the MIDI music festival.  Midi is a three day festival full of cool music and stuff, like Lalapaloza for Beijing bands along with a fair smattering of bands from all over the west.  After much trouble finding the park we got there to find a line that wrapped around the block.  When we got in it was amazing how big it was.  It took a good ten to fifteen minutes to walk from one end to the other and it had four stages going at the same time.  A big main act stage, a smaller funky indie punkier stage, a hip hop stage, and a stage with DJs, something for everybody.

The crowd was a mix of folks from all over the world and Chinese rock n roll kids, maybe 50/50.  I saw a herd of spikey purple mohawk sporting Chinese kids donning the punk rock 1977 oi studded leather jacket in the summer look, dopple gangers for every hard core exploited and CRASS punk in the west strutting and sneering like they meant buisness, all covered in chains and spikes.  I saw Chinese kids wearing tee shirts of every concevable band from KISS to Slayer.  People played soccar, ravers and B boys danced, beautiful girls where everywhere of every nationality, it was a hell of a great place to people watch.  I saw a Chinese kid who was so drunk he kept running full steam into people and knocking them over, then apolygizing profussly.  I kept waiting for someone to punch the guy but it didn’t happen. 

A huge area of the park was dedicated to kids selling bootleg merch, homemade shirts and 7 inches and cds and stuff.  I saw one that made me laugh, it was a white shirt with a picture of Lenin (the commie, not the Beetle) flipping a bird and the caption read in huge letters: FUCKING REVOLUTION! 

They didn’t have my size, I really oughta do some sit ups.  I did pick up a cool Ramones pin that I wear next to the pin the school gave me to wear.  When ever the kids ask me about it I say “great music from the USA.  You must download.”

There was only one beer booth but Chinese rules so no line, just chaos and anarchy.  The beer was cheap too, they had Guiness for 4 RMB, the only problem was that it took at least a half hour to fourty minutes to get to the front.  It soon became aparent that only the ones who really wanted beer where getting out of there with beverage.  I had to holler and wave money in the air just to be noticed amid the rable of others who were doing the same.  Hot wet skin slid against bodies in the heat stroke mob, the whole thing stank the sweat stink of mud and beer and grass and sweet.

I saw a great punk band on the side stage.  The interesting thing about them for me was that sitting in a chair was a woman in traditional chinese dress playing a traditional chinese string instrament with a bow amid the guitars and drums.  Perfect.

The main stage had a really cool metal band that sounded like the Chinese Pantera, they were awesome.  I also saw a great metal band with no singer, it was all melodic.  The lead guitarist was from another planet, amazing player.  I saw a pair of Chinese rappers that were cool.  I saw a white guy just spinning entire top twenty rap songs and saying “Come on yall, one two one two.  Give it up.  Wasup.”  he sucked.

For a large part of the day I was totally separated from my group, I wandered alone listening to bands, looking at stuff.  I sat for a while with my beers watching an amazing sunset, and I watched the kids walking by from different parts of the planet earth, each with different record collections, everyone smilling.  Nobody was an outsider and nobody was more or less cool than anybody else.  Delegates from every corner of the world had converged at that special time in that special place in the spirit of beer, and loud music, and slam dancing.  I am glad to report that the import of the scene was in no way lost on the delegate representative of Atlanta GA.  I thought the whole thing was cool as shit.

Late in the evening I found my group, they had hooked up with some Brittish kids.  We sat and drank for a while.  Later I was again by myself watching a thundering set by some nordic death metal band.  I smelled weed.  Right behind me someone was passing around a joint, it was the first time I had smelled that wonderful aroma since I came to China.  I was almost drunk enough to hit it for nostalgic old time sake, then I remembered how much I detest being high.  In the circle of smokers I noticed a young girl smilling at me.  She was Judith from Holland and I smilled back.

Judith took me to an afterhour show, cool Adam and Mao tagged along.  The show was at a club way across town.   On the cab ride over Judith tried Her best to bait Adam and I into a debate about our country and seemed disapointed we would not defend our president, I think she was looking for a sound board to vent her frustrations.  We pretty much agreed with what she said. 

The cover for the club wound up being the same price as the entire entrance fee for the MIDI festival, and Adam was super pissed.  He blaimed me even.  I didn’t know how much the place would cost.  He got over it after a few beers maybe, I don’t know. 

It was easily too small a club to have such a big stage.  For my ATL guys, imagine the Star Bar with the stage of the Tabernacle.  Not that many folks there either.  The first band was a three piece that blew me away.  The thing I remeber about them was the sound went from metal to jazz to punk rock to metal again so seemlessly.  Usually a metal band will try to pull off jazz and it will be like a sucky send up, but these guys were right on.  Almost all instramental, really tight musicians.  I wish I could remember the name but I can’t.  I liked them alot though.

The real big deal for me that night was a band called SUBS. The Subs is a four piece, guitar bass drums and a singer following regular punk setup.  What stuck out for me about them was the heart rendering power and pain.  The singer is a small girl with the sides of her head shaved.  She was impossible to stop watching.  She was like a preformance artist, she hit herself with the mic, she jumped, she pleaded and begged, she sobbed and wailed.  The music was fast punk rock that built and built to painful crescendos, giving the singer just the right moment for a gut wrenchnig howl.  I am not sure if she was singing all english, I know some of it was because i could catch the odd word or phrase here or there.  One of the chorus’ she screamed “I’m not bad girl, I’m not bad girl.” She was almost in tears.  The emotion in her voice seemed real and the band was crazy, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I watched the whole thing with my jaw hanging.

What was cool to me about my brief glimpse into the Beijing music scene that day was the urgency surrounding the music.  In the States going to clubs you so often hear the same music from the same kids who have been listening to the same Clash albums for the last fifteen years.  That day in Beijing it seemed like a lot of these kids had found those albums last year and it was still new and fresh and important and exciting and expirimental.  And no matter how many websights are blocked over here, and no matter how many worker, farmer, and student riots and uprising are quietly swept under the carpet, there will always be pissed off kids bringing the voice of desention.  It is such a powerful thing to stand witness to it makes you want to cry, halalujah.

 So far this week, since I had hooked up with the folks at the hostell I had been running around with a posse.  My whole plan in the first place had been to run around solo, but shit if I hadn’t had a great time with the people I had met, real mckoy adventures.  But it was time for this little bird to fly on its own wings for a spell.  The morning after MIDI I set off on my own for the Fordbidden city.  Built in 1420 by what is said to be over a million workers and artisans, the Forbidden city was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties.  It stands just north of Tienemen Square.  Caroline said when she went it had a starbucks inside, I guess enough people got angry about that so they took it away, I didn’t see one.

When I finally got to the front gate of the forbidden city there was a luggage xray belt, fairly common everywhere in China.  I put my small day bag in and waited at the other side.  A grown man walked up behind me and body shoved me to knock me out of the way.  I pivoted and with my legs in semi crouched lotus stance I pushed him with both hands utilizing all the strength I could muster.  I understand that I am a guest in a strange culture, ok.  And I try my damnest to make it work and not embarass or insult the wonderful people here, absolutly.  But I don’t give a rats ass about any of it if it means getting shoved out of the way by a stranger, that is just lousy upbringing as far as I’m concerned, east or west.  The guy actually looked surprised when I pushed him too.  He was a good deal bigger than me so he didn’t go to the floor, but he knew he shoved the wrong lau wai (foriegn devil).

The next thing that struck me about the forbidden city was that the main building, the one you see in the pictures, the one you see when you first walk in the door at the end of an endless expanse of courtyard, the courtyard which was once lined with thousands of soldiers in block formation along the center walkway the Emperor took, the big famous building, was covered with a damn tarp and scafolding.  Like the slowly rotting corpse of Mao Tse Dong they are sprucing it up for the big show when the olympics come to town.  Many of the big buildings were in this state. 

The forbidden city is giganticly huge.  It is indescribable how large it is.  It really goes and goes and goes.  It is a series of large palace buildings with a maze of small quarters and gardens on either side.  The small quarters and houses were all converted into way cool museums with great Chinese and English signs explaining imperial history.

Here is the big problem.

Everyone always says the forbidden city is often crowded, it is one of the big attractions in China.  So imagine it on the one worst week for travel.  I know how it must sound, me going some place as amazing as the forbidden city in China and complaining, I can hear it in my own head.  And let me tell you that it is a spectacular place to be, endlessly impressive and spectacular.  The emprorers of China spent their whole lives in this place, I think if I had it to myself I could almost do the same happily, amazing gardens everywhere and wonderful buildings.  But in May week people are so wall to wall that it is impossable to enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed.

Gina used to live in Beijing, I think I said that earlier, this blog has no end, sorry about that by the way.  She told me that in anticipation of the Olympics Beijing had a ‘wait in line’ day.  It was all over the news for weeks leading up.  Beijing ‘wait in line’ day was the day that, just for kicks, everyone would try their best to wait in a line in places.  That one day you could go to the bank, or Mcdonalds, or the movie, and everyone would laugh and say crazy things like:

“after you.  You first.”  What a lark it must have been.  They laughed and laughed.

The one day it happened, according to Gina had mixed results.  How could a country with one of the worst over population problems in the world exist without any knowledge of waiting in line?  I can tell you that in the forbidden city in the heat of May week it is not pretty.  These wonderful little museums of clothes and artifacts are small rooms.  There is no fire martial or max occupancy here, no way fella, here they cram.  And good luck if you want to get close enough to see emporer of China’s empirial jade hair brush or whatever.  Darwinism dictated that only them with the nerve to shove the others out of the way like the guy did me at the bag x ray could get anywhere near.  Soon I started skipping the little funky side museums, even though I was so fascinated with the history of the place.

It was huge and beautiful, the arcitecture was fabulous, but in the end I could only spend 5 hours there.  If it was empty I could have spent 8 to 12 hours easy.  But I got to where I just didn’t want anyone shoving me anymore.  I don’t like it when strangers shove me.  I really want to go back, maybe someday I will figure out the most off tourist season time and go.  I would see more punk shows while I was at it.

So after 5 hours I left.

It was getting to be around evening and I was getting hungry.  I wandered the streets for a long long time. I walked and walked.  I walked to the main walking street, I happened by the night market with all the wierdo food on the sidewalk.  Starfish, snake, huge grass hopper, eel, beetle, giant larve of some kind, whole craw fish, whole fish, all deep fried on a stick.  And of coarse, scorpian.

I saw the scorpian, I had no intention of eating any, it looked gross.  I just wanted to take a picture and split.  The man selling the scorpian had different ideas.

“Scorpian, very delicious, very delicious.”  He called to me, holding a stick of scorpian for me to inspect.

Remember that all week long I had been shooting off my mouth about how if I had the chance I would do it, I would eat scorpian.  This was said in a very male moment, a bunch of dudes running their mouths off about what they could do, it was text book.  Now I found myself starring in the dead eyes of a scorpian totem pole.  I had no audience to call me out and many reservations.  The largest of which I voiced to the proprieter of this fine scorpian eatery.

“Is it poison?”

“No poison, delicious, delicious.  No poison, delicious, delicious.”

Clearly I was in the presence of a surpream sales man at his peak pitch, I was sold.  I do have to admit that the choice between the jet black huge ones (large craw dad sized) and smaller greenish ones (ghetto cock roach sized) I went with the smaller version.  I felt I was intittled to at least this one smallest of allowances.  I told him the deal was that I would buy one stick on the condition that he took my picture with the scorpian.  He laughed his ass off and said he would.  The picture is funny becuase you can see both foriegners and Chinese guys with shocked expressions watching me intently.

  Here is the super secret recipe for Beijing style scorpian stick. 

STEP ONE:  you need to get you a whole mess of scorpians from somewhere.

STEP TWO:  you need shish kabob them puppies, three to a stick.

STEP THREE: Drop the stick in the deep fry for, I don’t know, a good minute, make sure the scorpian is good and crispy.

STEP FOUR:  enjoy!

And he handed me the stick and took my picture.  I plan on having the picture up just as soon as I get around to it, I am so back logged in that department, I have close to 1000 pictures I could put up.  Lazy lazy Will.

As it turns out, scorpian is pretty similar to any other fried bug you may find youself eating, not that different from grass hopper.  It is crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, sort of like a potato chip with bug gut stuffing.  I made sure to take the stinger off the tail, just to be safe.  I ate the whole thing and it didn’t get sick.  Now I can say that while in China I have eaten dog and scorpian.  I can also say that I have much less fear of strange food from other countries and cultures, even though to be honest I think the scorpian is just for shock value, I didn’t see Chinese people eating it.  I think they just get off on watching foriegners think they are fitting in by trying the wierd food.  For the record I know that eating scorpian is a wierd thing to do.  I just happen to be a super wierd guy.

I then went to the mall looking for a music store to find an album by SUBS.  I did find one that had a bunch of cool stuff, but no SUBS.  I picked up an album by Brain Damage, a Beijing punk group which I hadn’t heard, I was pleasently impressed with it. 

Then I found a TGI Fridays and ordered a badass bacon cheese burger and fries, sweet sweet sweet cheese burger.  Holy god, that is good.  The burger was too expensive and suffered the problem of being too tall with a bun too small so I found myself with a plate covered in beef bits and soggy bread and mayo covered lettuce, the random rings of red onion.  By western standards it was a mediocre cheese burger at best, by China Month 5 standards it was a FUCKING CHEESE BURGER!!!!!  Hell yeah and a hell yes.  I enhailed it.

So I wandered around the mall for a piece, usuall fare, clothes, shoes, mall stuff.  One a wall I saw a big poster for Spiderman 3.  I realized it was a movie theater.  The last movie I had seen in a movie theater was called dream girls and me and Hoyt saw it and it sucked way bad.  It was an r&b musical and the exposition was delivered in endless chorusless pointless ass dragging song that reminded me of the R kelly stuck in a closet zebockle.  And that was back in the states 5 months ago. 

They had a little computer that indicated the seats with little blocks so you get assigned a seat number.  This seems like a much better way of doing it than in America, not having to sit alone like a fool saving seats waiting for everyone to show up.  I pointed to the block in on the inside isle two rows from the front, my favorite spot.

Spiderman 3 sucked I thought. I did like the Sandman, that was very cool, the rest did nothing for me.  I thought all the stuff with spiderman running around without the mask was lame and I thought the soap opraness detracted.  And the guy suffers amnesia, what kind of a hack plot device is that?  It was nice to sit in and watch a movie in a theater again though, especially still on a cheeseburger high.

After the movie I walked around Beijing for a long time.  I wandered for a couple of hours looking at stuff.  I found a shop that had a DVD compilation of the bands from MIDI in 2004, it did include a song by SUBS so I grabbed it.  I drank a few beers at a sidewalk bar, I checked out some clubs on the bar street.  Nothing was really going on anywhere so eventually I called it an early night.

So the next day was Thursday, my last day in Beijing.  I had a train set to go to Shangqiu overnight hard sleeper that night at 10, giving me all day to check out everything I had missed.  The first thing on my list was the Temple of Heaven, which wound up being a hike from the subway.  I got there and first went straight to the Main Temples.  These were amazing but very overcrowded like the Forbidden City.  I saw the temples pretty fast, one of the little side meuseums had a great picture of Richard and Pat Nixon checking the Temple out.  While I’m thinking about it and totally off subject, my good buddy Carson Kennedy made a really good short documentary about Dick Nixon’s trip to Alabama where he met George Wallace, it does a great job of juxtaposing the two together and is crammed packed with info, especially for such a short thing.  My favorite part is a real recorded phone conversation that Carson dug up somehow in which Richard Nixon calls George Wallace’s wife after Mr. Wallace had been shot by Arthur Bremer.  Nixon offers inhumanly cold smug consolations to the lady as her husband was still lying in his hospital bed suffering the wounds that would leave him paralized for life.  She told the president that her husband had been shot in the spine and Nixon has the nerve to ask ‘yeah?  Hows his spirit?’  Seriously I would never steer you wrong about short historical documentaries my friends made, it is really worth a look.  It was edited by Marcus, the brain mastermind behind this websight.   Just go to: 

But I tend to lose track.

Q:  How many kids with ADHD does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A:  Do you want to go ride bikes?

The cool thing about the Temple of Heaven for me was the garden park surrounding.  It was endless amazing fields of purple lylacs that meandered through pine forests, wierd ancient pagodas smattered throughout, unbelievable that something so beuatiful and vegetation heavy and so large could be smack dab in the middle of downtown Beijing, it was almost Narnia like that way.  It was so big I kept getting hopelessly lost, and it took so long to walk from one place to another.  I found a trail that took me to an empty field where I layed down under a pine tree and read a book for a while, surounded by Lylacs.  And later I found a nice bench in the shade and I sat and thought about highschool.  That week I was trading long emails on myspace with Ana Santiago, (not Santiago anymore) she and I sat next to each other alphabetically all the way throught highschool homeroom.  So she had me thinking about highschool again, I was looking at the willow trees sway in the wind and remembering things, wondering how the hell I pulled off going from Lakeside highschool to sitting on a bench in Beijing in ten short years.  And I thought about other stuff too.  It was a really great place for sitting and remembering and thinking. 

It took a couple of hours of wandering to find the music museum, it was tucked away all the way in one of the far remote corners of the park.  It was so off the beaten track that nobody was crowding in here.  It was all hands on exhibits of ancient musical instraments.  There was a room with different sized iron bells hanging in rows arranged by pitch. It had mallets and I played mary had a little lamb.  The next room was the drum room and I waited until the other people left.  Alone in the drum room I closed my eyes and started hitting every drum I could reach at the same time, hovering around the drums like a humming bird around flowers.  Soon one of the people who worked there was tugging me by the arm to show me something special someplace else, someplace more quiet maybe.  They had a main house in the center and they had a free preformance.  It was so cool, everyone was in ceremonial dress and sat crosslegged on the floor.  Each player soloed first to demonstrate the sound of their instrament, then they all came together like Voltron forming a whole band of traditional instraments of every description.  It was amazing. 

Then I was ready to go and it took me forever to find the exit.  I then walked back, my feet were killing me, nothing but blisters.  Along the way I started getting hungery.  I was holding out for a pizza place I had seen on the way in that morning.  I found it again and man, I had thin crust pepparoni with chedder.  They had no martzerella but (as Ellenore at Everybodies pizza in Emory will tell you) I like the chedder anyway.  It was so so so good.  That was the best pizza anyone has ever eaten, the China month 5 pizza.  It is a taste that dreams are made of.  I said hell yeah and a hell yes.

Later that night I went back to the hostell.  I sat on my bunk and got talking with Malin (from Sweeden) about her travels.  She lived in Africa for a while doing volunter work.  At the end of her stay there she got to go into the jungle and find wild Gorillas, just like Willie-B except not in a cell with a log and tire swing.  I am so impressed with this, this girl sat in the jungle, feet away from a gorilla, just like a Swedish Dian Fossy.  I was really enjoying the conversation when Adam the asshole came strolling in.  He announced that the computer was free, and that we better hurry up because there was a long line.  He had no doubt been monopylizing the only computer in the place for the past god knows how long, I had been going across the street and paying to use the computers in the net bar. 

Malin and I kept talking but now Adam the asshole had to interupt us in mid sentance and ramble on endlessly like he knew what he was talking about.  Malin started telling me about how in her country many people said that they shouldn’t have the national flag hanging places for fear of offending foriegners, we both agreed that that was a bit on the silly side.  I started telling her about the trouble my state had been having with our past flag.  See, our old flag included the stars and bars of the confederacy which offended many people, at this point Adam the asshole coughed and said “hick”, I was flustered but, I let it go.  I think I asked him not to call me that and kept talking.  I wasn’t allowed to talk for very long when Adam the asshole interupted me and explained that people from my part of the country are “still mad we lost the civil war”, which is luney by the way, and he went on to say that “people from the south are thought of as ignorant stupid racists.”  Very matter of fact, just something that everyone in the United States knows for fact.

And that, dear friends, is why I call Adam an asshole.

Lord knows he’s never ventured far enough below the masson dixon to know what he was running his mouth about.  He’ll never taste real barbeque. I tried to argue with him about it but when you get to that deep a level of stupid you just can’t talk sense.  I let it go and got up and left, I’ve been trying hard to keep my anger in check lately, the longer I thought about it the more it hurt my feelings and pissed me off.  I wish I had a time machine just so I could go back and explain more fully why he is such a jerk  I did give him this websight address and my sinister plan is vengence by blog.

Adam if you are reading this, you are an asshole.

Its sort of on the unfortunate side that this was the last thing that happened to me in Beijing worth talking about.  I did see a fight break out at the train station between some guy and a taxi driver, but I see fights involving taxi drivers often here.  In hopes of not ending such a long story on such a bummer note, here is the poem I wrote that night on the train while I was still asleep, I still think it stinks a little though.

While I’m on the planet earth

rekon I want my moneys worth

I don’t believe in life after death

I’m starting to live life after birth

so if today is my last day

ni hou and xia xia.

here we are hot shit todays the day

ni hou and xia xia


Beijing is a really cool town and I don’t think a week is enough to do it.  The people don’t stare because I’m not Chinese because there is a huge western population.  There are tons of bars and clubs and the rocknroll is amazing.  It is a must visit if you come to China, just as a means of checking off the things everyone must do, great wall, forbidden city, etc.  It is such a major metropolis and seems very happening, very busy and modern, but not the real China I have come to know.  For me living in China means being alone trying to cope on another planet where people stare and nothing ever makes sense.  I think that even though I am sick that I can’t dig on the Beijing rock scene all the time, and even though there are tons and tons of great fun things to do in Beijing all the time whereas there is never a single activity going on in my city, still I think I am happy to  absorb what China really is, hanging with the farmers out here in the sticks.  Life is slow and stress is minimal and nothing makes western sense, but it always makes its own sense, and here I am alone but I am special, if I lived in Beijing I would just get lost in the rable.

I didn’t mean for this to be so long, I am sorry and I thank you all for taking the time.  If you actually made it this far, email me and let me know what you think.  No myspace like I said. 


6 Responses to “MY BEIJING WEEK”

  1. amybugg Says:

    Will–this took me forever to read (which I love, by the way)…but I can’t even imagine how long it took you to write! Now you are my own personal Andrew Zimmern (the guy I TIVO who eats weird stuff all over the world)! Your visit sounds amazing…I think it is rad that you got to walk around on the Great Wall. Just call me uber-jealous.

  2. Will Says:

    I am glad you love how long it is, it did take me a while, I didn’t want to leave any of the cool stuff out. I have very few things to do these days. I saw the episode where Andrew Zimmern went to Japan and made mention of but did not consume a glass of wine with a deer penis. I have seen wine with whole snakes here though. Haven’t tried it yet.

  3. Jane Says:

    Yes,I want to ask either,”How long did you write this article?”You really did a very good and hard job,and I am so pride of you!
    Will,you are so great and wonderful…


  4. marcus Says:

    I like the part about you sitting on the bench. thinking about high school.

  5. elenore Says:

    last time i talked to you was right around this edition or the blog it was neat getting to read all about what you were telling me on the phone
    missing you

    Did you and hyot really see dreamgirls?? that is too funny

  6. MichaelWilliams Says:

    Your sharing your adventures is really appreciated by us, the homebound. There are four of us now so HI from Heather, Sarah, Reid and Me.

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