here, there, everywhere

Next Stop

In Mystery Trip on September 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm

The day before yesterday we headed out to the hills for two days to do some hiking and horseback riding.  The horses, well, let’s just say I could have crawled faster.  I think the guide thought we were incompetent, which is true, but really.  He was surly looking and none too pleased to take us for the slowest ride on earth.  My horse was the two year old of the group and preferred to eat which resulted in me falling behind as he grazed on the prickly grass.  Later on you could see the other locals racing their horses against the cars and it was magnificent, big sigh.

We ended up sharing the excursion with a retired German physicist who enjoyed the sound of his voice so we listened to stories about ALL the wonderful things he’s done in his life, and believe me, there were many.  And more.  However, for a 74 year old he was quite spry and did more hikes than us.

After our disappointing equestrian event we decided to walk to a temple further up in the hills.  Lots of buddhist sayings on signs on the way up to keep your mind off the climb and then a rickety suspension bridge right at the end.  I looked at it and thought, “Blue.  No red!!”, but was not whisked off to hell.  (Monty Python ref).  At the top was the wall-eyed temple keeper whose English was limited to Elepant, look, and heh heh heh.  He was trying valiantly to cop a feel every chance he got and invited me to join him in his sleeping quarters.  Ick, really???  We eventually left and I am now officially templed out.

All our meals were cooked by the local woman in whose place we were staying, lots of meat and potatoes. You are hard-pressed to not eat meat and if you do find a salad it is most likely covered in mayonnaise.  But the food was good and she was very friendly.  Again no English but signing does get you further along.

We shared our accommodation with the professor who seemed to subscribe to the idea that all domestic work belongs to the women and left me and Doris to cleaning away the dishes and tending to the fire.  Yes, the fire.  It was hot during the day but as soon as the sun set it became quite cold so we had the wood-burning stove in the middle of the room to keep us warm until the fire went out at which point the heavy blankets they gave us were useful and cozy.

Before going to bed we took the opportunity to sit outside and star gaze.  It was clear and the Milky Way was staining the sky, so many stars you couldn’t begin to count them.  I sat outside wrapped in a blanket for about an hour enjoying the natural beauty all around.

The next day we went for a short walk and waited for our driver to take us back to the city.  The driving here is crazy.  The roads are so rutted from extreme weater conditions that you can’t go 4 feet without encountering a pothole.  And these are mighty potholes indeed.  They can be anywhere from 1-6 feet across and in some cases 2 feet deep.  Sometimes an entire section of the road is gone and no suspension can handle that so all the drivers manoeuver around them as fast as possible.  This results in weaving all over the highway, sometimes on the shoulder, sometimes down into a ditch, sometimes right off the highway wrapping around boulders and telephone poles.  At one point I thought we did a figure eight.  Thankfully Doris had vomit stop tablets with her so I was able to enjoy the ride rather than puke my brains out.  It was pretty awesome and I shook the driver’s hand when we got back cuz he drove like a superhero.

Back in the city the flies are finally gone.  It’s a rough and tumble environment that loves Korean food and karaoke.  Cultural events are sponsored by mining companies, girls navigate the broken streets in high heels, and you can still spot the cool boys from a mile away.  Traffic is heavily congested and everyone uses their horns, meat is cheaper than fruit, and there is an over-abundance of German candies.  Again, I’m not drawn in by any of it but it has still been a great time.  We’ll go to a cultural show tonight and then catch the train to our next destination.

So long from wherever we are today, more from the next stop…

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