Thursday, July 31, 2008

Urumqi /Altai where the "Total Solar Eclipse" will happen 31/07/08 Day 14

Day 14 (Slide show)
I arrived at the hotel where I had left my trekking bag over a week ago. It was unmolested and in good shape. My idea for a bag lock system is working well. I use zip ties instead of locks. The locks can be opened by just about anyone and the zip ties can be cut, but I know if the ties have been cut where as the locks can be locked back up and you won't know. There is one problem though. I didn't bring enough and I can't find any here in China. Need to keep looking. This Urumqi airport has assaulted me every time I've gone through the security. Its a good thing I have packed all my things in separate stuff sacks. This other guy in front of me got his bag searched and they really threw things around. He had clothes all over the place. Well I'm off to Altai where we plan to watch the solar eclipse. It will be very exciting. I calculated that by the time I finish this part of my adventure I will have 8 in country flights and countless bus rides here in China. That's a lot of bag searches. I arrived in my room at Altai at 5pm and stayed put. I need the rest. I will see the city tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Toshgorgon to Kashgar, fly to Qrumqi 30/07/08 Day 13

Day 13 (Slide show)
Going to be another hard day. At least the bus will be nicer. Yesterday the exhaust from the bus was leaking into the back even while driving. I'll be glad to get to Nepal. I hope the eclipse is successful. Had to leave at 6am with no coffee. Everyone is irritated and tired. The ride was long. Nicer bus but it was built for midgets. No leg room. Had lunch in Kashgar at the same place we had diner at 4 days ago. Still just as bad. Were off to a Muslim Tomb. I'm at the airport now and I just asked a few folks what the name of it was and nobody could tell me. BFD. Flying for Urumqi now. Should be there by 7pm. Looking forward to seeing my bag of gear again. I had to leave it at the hotel when I was here before we went to Pakistan. Nice place the Hoitak Hotel in Urumqi. No time to stay long. Always a nice hotel for one night but then a dump when we stay for 2 nights. Somethings wrong.

Here is a link to more photo's from my fellow China traveler Nancy Ciotti
Here is a link from fellow China traveler Sigmund Csicsery
and here are some great photo's from Sigmund and Gabeielle, very nice couple and I enjoyed there company.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back up the Karakoam Hwy to Sost and Toshgogon 29/07/08 Day 12

Day 12 (slide show)

Back on this rough road again. It's going to be a long ride to China. We left at 7am and the early morning breeze feels good. I plugged in my IPod. I'm a little hung over from the Mulberry wine from last night but not to bad. I still remember everything I did, I think. In Sost the the bus was ready for our transfer but the security checks are rough. At the top of the pass the Chinese had a troop morale day, I guess you might call it a Chinese USO show. They made us wait for the show to finish before letting us though. Very frustrating. More security checks and then when we arrived in Toshgogon where we had stayed before the computer was turned off. Also I just found out that we are leaving at 6am tomorrow. Another full day to Kashgar. My knees are sore from these small seats. Somethings wrong.


Monday, July 28, 2008

My last night in Pakistain 28/07/08 Day 11

I couldn't sleep so I got up early and breakfast was ready with good coffee. I eat by myself which was nice and quite. There is too much food on this tour. I didn't eat last night. About the folks on this trip. They are all very intelligent, way over my head. Not only do they know what they are talking about but they can site the facts most of the time. Because of my bad hearing I have to be careful to not stick my foot in my mouth. This hotel is at 7700 ft. Tomorrow we return to China over the pass again. I must prepare for a long bus ride over a bad road/trail. I hope I can shake this cold by then. I'm sure having trouble with the pictures. I can't seem to get a fast enough connection around here. It's frustrating. About 11am we went to the Biltit Fort that looks over the Village. It was the actually the house of the Khan of the day until the British arrived. The so called Fort was never attacked and was the residence of the man in charge at the time. Great afternoon and evening though. We took jeep to a hotel called "Island in the Sky and went trekking way up the side of a mountain looking over Karimabad. It was about 4hr and felt good to hike a little. My hip injury is getting better and this was the first test on it. Notice that I'm waring my Keen sandals. They have been a great pair of walking shoes. While coming down off the mountain we came across a poppy field. Imagine that, a poppy field in Pakistan. Later we had a very nice farewell party with our new friends from Pakistan. There was dancing and we had a live band of Pakistani musicians which were great. I'm sure the Mulberry wine had something to do with it. It seems that Pakistan is a dry country for the most part but they make a great home brew. I had a great time here and wish all our new friends a happy and long life. Two new friends I need to mention are Abbas Ali and his cousin Talib Hussein. Two new friends that I will not forget.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Karimabad, Pakistan 27/07/08 Day 10

Day 10 (Slide show)
We started at about 9am back up to the Hunza Valley. This was to be the farthest south we were to go. I secured the shotgun seat which is the best seat to have. The problem was that several of the other folks were having a tough time and so I offered it to several others. This was misunderstood by some but it worked out and I went back to my spot at the back of the bus. The shocks on it were shot and the thing bounced all over. We stopped for Tea at a beautiful spot to view Mt. Rocoposhi. (7785m) No attempts have been made since 1985 when a group from Japan and Pakistan failed. I didn't hear the details but I guess it's one to climb if you want your name on it. Drove for several more hours on the treacherous road with a few photo stops. One of the stops I happened to notice that the van I had got out of had bald tires in the front. I mean bald. Ended up in Gulmit where there was an cybercafe at the end of the gate so I stopped in to try to download my pic's. Very nice guy there named Abbas. He runs the place as a social worker because the cafe is a charity donation given by the Canadians. They use the profits to help handicapped children and women. The day was slower which was good, I need the rest. I'm catching a cold. Still not having much luck with the pic's. Anyone watching please be patent.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gulmet and the Hunza Valley 26/07/08 Day 9

Day 9 (slide show)
(video 1)
(video 2)
About 2 to 3 am I felt like I was turning the corner on the cold, well I will have to see how it goes. I got up early and Tom and I walked to a suspension bridge that was about 1/2 mile away. It was very old and dilapidated. We were told later that it is used everyday now by women to take vegetables to the other side. I walked out about 60 ft. but Tom wouldn't go so he took the pictures. I also found some time to get in a little jog. The village of Gulmet is about 8700 ft. Gulmet is about 20 km from Gulgit. I've been getting soft and I can fell it. I need to do some serious running and hiking in order to get into shape for Base Camp. Now for another 5 hours in the damn bus. We all complained of the size so the added a van but it was designed for midgets. We meet another group from The Planetary Society who are going to the eclipse and they heard that there might be 200,000 people along a very small line in northern China. Sounds like it could be Woodstock again. There are no services and the zone is in the middle of nowhere. Stayed at the Hotel Serena in Gulgit and there were a lot of military everywhere. No women, strange. Big news. I had told the local guide that I wanted to ride a Yak or a horse so he set up a complete polo match with the local polo team just for us. Then they let me ride a polo pony during the half time. There were over 100 people there and he even had the band play as I rode up and down the field. It was great. Good horses too. The pictures will follow soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hard Trail to the Hunza Valley, Pakistan 25/07/08 Day 8

Day 8 (slide show)
''UPDATE 16/03/10"
Giant Mudslide in the Hunza Valley
I hope my friends are safe.

Another boarder check before leaving the city of Tashkurgano. This one was bad. The full rectal. Bags and passports checked twice while pictures were taken of us waiting. Then again on the bus we were asked for our passports and a guard rode in the bus with us to the boarder. They kept all the tourist buses together and we were with a group from Switzerland who were mountain biking down on the Karakorum Highway. I thought it was a cop out because it was only down hill and while we were going through all the customs stops they were pretty cocky. Then I saw all they did was put their bikes back together and go down the trail. Weak. The summit was quite spectacular. 15,800 at the top with a little snow falling. I'm trying to get the damn pic's downloaded but so far it seems to hard until I get to a high speed IT cafe. Down the very steep valley trail we came to the Pakistan boarder crossing. We had been in Pakistan for some time but Sost is the boarder crossing. Small village with lots of commandos and guards. It took 2.5 hr. to get through this customs stop but the were nice about it. The Pakistan people are pretty nice for the most part. The Chinese are a pain in the ass. Finally I got to my hotel, a little primitive but OK. The water in the room has to sit in a bucket so the dirt will settle to the bottom. Good thing I have my Steripen. I haven't gotten the Pakistan waltz yet but I have a cold. Trying to lay low and get better.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Karakoram Pass and Pakistan 24/07/08 Day 7

Its very hard to find a computer that has the speed to download my pic's. I will add more when I get a chance. As for now look at this site. I just went over this pass. Unbelievable. Drove all day with few stops. Very rough road. Beautiful high peaks. It's called the "Friendship Highway" because the Chinese built it with the Pakistan people. Leaving China was hard. Total there were 5 checkpoints. Lot's of armed guards and very busy. Have to go they are turning off the power.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kashgar, Gateway to the Silk Road 23/07/08 Day 6

Day 6 (slide show) (video)
It was a long night last night. We have a dump of a hotel too. I'm sure glad I have a Steripen to clean the water. None of the hotels have drinking water. Every time I see a bottle of water anywhere I grab it. I'm always running out. Breakfast was just as bad and I didn't expect anything better. The shower head broke while I was adjusting the head and water went everywhere. It's hard to use a computer over here. Everything is so slow. We went to a Mosque this afternoon and that was interesting. The leader from Iran in the 80's, The Ayatollah Khomeini, gave them a rug that they seem to be proud of. Looks funky to me now but I'm sure it was nice when he gave it to them. You can see it in the slide show. Then we went to a rug dealer and that was just like walking onto a Toyota dealership. The sales people were sharks. I learned a lot about rugs though. The silk rug that I have the sales lady holding is 15000 knots per inch. Price is 70,00.00 USD. Of course we stayed two night in this dump. Tomorrow we set out for an all day bus ride over the Karakorum Pass.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Urumqi to Kashgar 22/07/08 Day 5

Nice hotel in Urumqi with a good breakfast. I wish we were staying longer. Thomas Damon , my roomie is a nice guy which is working out well. The other members of the solar eclipse team are nice as well. It can ruin a trip if there are hard to get along with folks on an adventure like this. I'm probably the hard guy. Its a non-stop tour. Every night almost is a new hotel and there is a lot of country to travel.Today we went on a 4 hour bus ride on very rough rode to a lake the Chinese think is something special. It's called Heavenly Lake and it is a reservoir tourist trap. They put in a crazy gondola that doesn't even go all the way to the lake. It was pretty but a billion people. This is a strange place, many extremely poor people with all these yuppie types all over. The bus rode over 6 hours on dirt rough rode then when we got to the pavement there was a piece of re bar sticking out of the cement at an overpass and the driver hit it. Blowout. We limped in and had a late dinner. Afterward we caught a plane for Kashgar. This was about 9 PM. Arriving at midnight.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Xi'an to Dunhuang to Urmichi 21/07/08 Day 4

 Day 4 (slide show)
Checked out today and off to see a Buddhist Temple. It's the Largest in China. There is a drizzle rain out but its not to bad. I've got the Sea to Summit poncho that I want to try. I enjoyed the peace and the tranquility here. It was interesting. I was told it was a last minute decision to go. Board another plane and off to Urmichi in North China. At the airport the security search Arlan's luggage and he was holding two bottles of open scotch. We had to help him drink it for lunch. It only cost me 5 yen to get the guard to search him. Flew over part of the Gobi Desert landing in Junjing for a stop then off to Urmichi. Had a late dinner and I was whining a little because I thought the day was too busy. I need to find a computer. I'm having "BIT WITHDRAWALS."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Xi'an, the center of China 20/07/08 Day 3

My first full day with the group. Everyone is very pleasant and enjoyable. Well see how long that last because most people get a little feed up with me after a while. Yesterday we went to the Wall of the City. I was surprised how many folks went along because I had a good nights sleep but most of them had been traveling for 24 hours. They were tired. This morning we traveled to the Terracotta Solders which was quite interesting. I enjoyed this part. The bus ride was hard though. Later we visited a peasant family which I will talk about later. Here a few pictures. I have to go now and will get back soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Going ahead to Xi'an 19/07/08 Day 2

Day 2, Xi'an, China (slide show)
Decided to go ahead because there was a small Typhoon approaching and I don't want to get stuck in Hong Kong. It turned out that the storm missed Hong Kong but at the time it was a good idea. If I get a hotel in Xi'an it should be a little cheaper. At least I will be in the right place and about 18 hr. ahead of the others. Total cost in the end was about the same when you consider the taxi and tip. The bed was a lot better then the floor of the Hong Kong airport. They probably would have arrested me anyway. The next morning I was able to explore the area and get some walking in after the long flight. It's a beautiful area in the morning before the people start to come out. The roads are crazy though. there doesn't seem to be any order, pedestrians just walk out in front of cars and buses. The cars fight the buses and there wasn't a single accident that I saw. Well I'm just going to wait until everyone arrives. They will be very tired.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Pipelinepirate is out of the Cage 17/07/08 Day 1

Day 1 (slide show)
Finally the day is here. Left LAX 1:40 am 7/17/008
I under estimated the brutality of the 15 hr flight. I forgot to pack the Ibuprofen for my bruised leg. It was hard to sit for more then two hours so sleep was hard to get. My hip seemed to do fine but my right knee down to my ankle got all swollen. It also crept into my left leg. I knew then that it was because of the sitting on those hard seats. I'm in Hong Kong and my bags made it fine. I didn't get a hotel reservation so I'm going to wing it. The place looks very sanitized and I don't see any others sleeping on seats. my flight doesn't leave until tomorrow morning. I just ordered a cup of coffee and it was $18.00 HKD @ .799. I think that is about
$2.50 USD. The place was a Crispy Kreame and the gal didn't understand that I just wanted the coffee, she motion to go sit down. I was about 80 ft.away. I paid and walked away without the coffee. As I sat down mumbling to myself I looked up and here she comes, coffee in hand. She wanted to deliver it. I offered a handful of coins. "No" she said. I smiled and sat down still mumbling. It seems like most folks are that way around here even the guards and there are a lot of them. In fact there are a lot of workers.
I need to go back and mention that I meet two nice guys at the gate back at LAX. This was real crazy, because I was sitting there missing with my phone and a fellow with a long beard says "I guess you work at REI" I looked up and told him I did but I just quit. He laughed and sat down. "I did too" he said. To make this short it turns out he worked at the Greensboro, NC store and was off on an adventure to Southeast Asia and then on to India. I told him of my adventure and we both got a big laugh over it. Then I told him of my idea to do some Couchsurfing and it turns out he is a traveling Ambassador. He gave me some great tips that will help me. I couldn't believe my luck. His name is Travis Welch and I will remember him. Good luck Travis and be safe.
The next guy was getting on my plane and he was from Kathmandu but living and working in Utah. We talked about Utah since I'm from there and about Kathmandu. We will meet when I get there in early Aug. His name is Shovan Joshi. I'm going to hang in the airport I guess.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Taking a licking and still ticking

3 Days to go
I just read the post from yesterday and things sure changed. Within an hour my hip started to swell and I had a real hard time walking. I stayed on the job for about 3 hours but it was to much to take. I was very nauseated. It was sickening, and I wasn't much good helping customers so the manager asked if I wanted to go home. I called a cab. What can I say, I gave it all I had but I was ground down. Only had two days to go to keep my record int acted. But, it gave me time to recover and today I fell better. Just a special note, my friend Carolyn was kind enough to help me out yesterday and I want to thank her. This is a picture of her and the family, great folks. She works at the store with me. After work she brought me a sandwich. I needed it. Today I'm doing a little packing and trying to take it easy. The only thing on my mind now is to not let anything stop me from making the flight on Thursday. Nothing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting real close now

4 Days to Go
Living on the floor now. Everything gone and I mean everything. My hip is still very sore. I need to rest. Damn, I don't see an an opportunity to take a break. They scheduled me everyday at the store. I asked for a light schedule but it feels like they want to stick it to me. Jealous bastards. In 16 months I didn't call in sick or miss a day or be late. I guess its not worth much around here. To me its another test. The commitment is to myself not to these folks, and to think I thought about coming back here. Not long now. It will be over soon.
I ride for the brand that pays me until the job is done.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ingrid - She's Gone

8 Days to Go
Well I sold my sweet Ingrid. I had her a long time. (1995) What a great car she was. Whenever I was in a jam she was there. She never asked for much. As long as I did the regular maintenance and took care of her she stood by me. No questions. But things change and you can't keep inanimate objects around forever. But she was good to me and I won't forget her.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I still have a limp but getting better

9 Days to Go
Well I'm starting to heal up. I had a lot of swelling but now my right hip is just black and blue. It reminds me of the time I was thrown from horse years ago. And by the way I blame the crashed on the last batch of shots I recieved that morning. Of course it wasn't me. So let's see, things are moving along I seem to catch a break just when I need it. Just when I think I'm going to have a problem something breaks and then I'm back on track. I just have a few things left to sell or give away. Everything is going to be fine.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Some old shots of my early climbs on Mt. Rainer

I finally was able to get my old photos copied and put into the computer. Just thought you might like to see them.

(slide show)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Crash - NOT NOW

14 Days to Go
I went to the Doc for my finial group of shots today. I know that when I get stuck like a pin cushion the chemicals make me fell tired and week but I still had to go do a little training on the bike. I thought it would be nice to take a ride around Newport Beach and Irvine. I was with a friend at work, Drew and we went about 25 to 30 miles. Not that much but about 4 miles from the car I got caught trying to turn left in the intersection and crashed. I fell on my elbow and my right hip. At the time my elbow was my concern because it was bleeding all over. After riding to the car my hip started to hurt. When I got home I couldn't walk. I had parked my car in the street and needed to get it in the garage later and I couldn't walk out there. I did though and it felt broken. It was nauseating to get in the car because I couldn't sit behind the wheel. All I could think of was how stupid I was to let this happen with 14 days to go. I was determined not to let it stop me. I'm writing this two days later and I am still limping a little and it is very stiff but I know that it is just a bad bruise. Good Karma I guess.