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Rojo's Tour of China 2008
by: Robert Johnson
August 7, 2008


Smog


The 'Orange Moon' otherwise known as the sun.

Ok, as an American, let me just say I find it embarrassing that some cyclists are getting off the plane wearing masks. Very disrespectful.

That being said, I now know why the people were saying Day 1 was very sunny and yet the sky was only a very light blue and I could barely see clouds. Day 2 was full of haze. It was technically a sunny day but the sky was totally white with haze. It looked cloudy to me. The haze was so thick that late in the day, you could stare straight at the sun and it wouldn't hurt your eyes. The only way you could tell it was sunny was that you could see the sun late in the day (although truth be told it looked like an orange moon). Then the 'orange moon' became partially obstructed, so you could tell it was partially behind a cloud.

Anyway, enough with the pollution crap. It's hard to breathe because it's hot and humid not because of smog.

So I spent yesterday doing the traditional tourist thing of going to the Great Wall and to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is the part of Beijing surrounded by a moat where the emperor used to live with his big court. The guy had like thousands of concubines in his harem and up to 70,000 eunuchs at one point serving him. Crazy.

I guess the one thing I'd say about the Great Wall is that it's freaking steep as hell in the mountains. No way in hell could I make it to the top of seven towers that were open to the public. I think it would be close to an hour hike straight up in 90 degree heat with huge humidity. No thanks. 45 minutes was enough. But the Chinese are very business savvy. Just walk for a minutes up the Wall, and you can purchase a sweet "Hero Card" that makes it look like you climbed to the top. Best $8 dollars I ever spent.

Rojo Gets Some Digits, Eavesdropped, and Gets His Cash Stolen
If you want more specifics of my day including an audio transcript of six hours of the day, please contact the Chinese police. I read in the paper today that all taxis are equipped with microphones for eavesdropping by the police and I took took a taxi to the Great Wall and back. I didn't know about the recording until I got back but this is a great bonus feature for LetsRun.com. The visitors will be able to hear Rojo unedited much like they could during our Eugene broadcast when we left the microphone on.


Great Wall

Lebron

Last night, I went out with some young Americans that I've met here. They've got nice bars/clubs like any other big city - even a great pizza place ("The Tree" is its name).  If I'd been somehow transported to the club with my eyes closed, I would have sworn I was in a trendy DC or NY bar. 

I guess there was one difference as compared to the states. The thieves are friendlier here. I'm not sure if I left my wallet on the bar table when I went to the bathroom or if I was pick-pocketed on the way there but when I got back, my wallet was on the other side of the bar perfectly intact - except my cash was gone. All of my cash was taken but everything else in my wallet - receipts, license, credit card, etc. was perfectly intact. Thank goodness. I can't afford to lose those digits!!! To get a girls number, even if it was on her business card, is a big deal.

I came back to my hotel and there was one minor annoyance. A bunch of security guards make me walk like totally the wrong way as half the floor is off limits. Some big wig is staying on my floor. I just found out he's the head of Mongolia. This must be the place to be as the US tennis team is here as well.

Leo's Manzano's Dad's Empoyers
Last night, I also met the employers of Leonel Manzano's father. They are big time construction people and they were in charge of building the new US Embassy that is opening up here at 8:08 am on 8/08/08. They apparently found out about Leonel and have paid for the family's trip over here. A great gesture.
*Full Day 2 Photo Gallery Here

  

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