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The Trip Starts July 3, 2005 and ends August 25, 2005 (see route & schedule)
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Talking Politics in China
Zhengye -- Tue, Aug 2, 2005
I was warned against talking politics while I was a teacher in Shijiazhuang. Never directly -- but subtly, it was made clear that politics and religion where pretty much off limits. I decided not to be a crusader and keep my lips pretty much shut for four months. As anyone that knows me, a pretty tough feat for me.

But now after biking for one month with Fang Wen Guang and Wen Ray -- the politics card hit the table. It came in the context of a discussion of vigalante justice -- supposedly still an all too common thing in China -- and spilled over into a discussion of Iraq, 9/11, and the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1997.

Let me just note that the political discussions with the "people on the street" have grown considerably since Xi'an -- highly correlated with the growing muslim influence. Bush has become less popular and Iraq isn't a very friendly topic...

So back to the dinner discussion -- the take-away is that even though most Chinese won't come out and say it, they don't think very highly of American foreign policy. Iraq is motivated by "money, oil, and military strategy"; 9/11 was greeted with cheers (unoffically) by most Chinese people; and bombing a Chinese embassy is not a good thing...

Not remembering much about the Belgrade incident -- I read up on it and it seems like a pretty bad blunder by the US. I can see how the Chinese aren't that happy and the Chinese press helped make sure of that. Who really knows what happened, but it wasn't good none-the-less, the most we can do is keep saying we are sorry and hope we can move on. I encourage you to read these two articles if interested in refreshing the memory: http://www.isop.ucla.edu/eas/NewsFile/Bombing05-99/990617-ussd3.htm; http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/may1999/bomb-m10.shtml

The only sad part of this is that I haven't been able to have these discussions until now and even then -- Fang Wen Guang and Wen Ray don't really like having them. Just like in the US -- politics has become a taboo subject that is considered off limits by many. People are very afraid to disagree with others and get truly upset when they do.

To me it is truly inane; look people don't always agree and that is ok. My view of Iraq, Bush, Belgrade or many other things that I have relatively little access or time to do a through analysis of should have little bearing on what you think of me (and has little bearing on what I think of you). We should enjoy these debates soley to get our minds thinking -- to pose questions to ourselves so that when posed with difficult decisions like choosing our politicians and getting involved in politics we have some reasoned thought behind our decisions. Or moreover -- just to learn what others are thinking.

It's happening all over -- we are shutting the doors to ourselves closed -- locking the chains and hiding in our supposedly safe little isolated worlds. It scares me, this how prejudices form, hatred forms, etc. Enough of the soapbox. Love you all ;)

 

Trip Diary
Pre-trip
Stage 1: Shanghai - Nanjing (7/3 - 7/6)
Stage 2: Nanjing - Hefei (7/8 - 7/9)
Stage 3: Hefei - Xi'an (7/11 - 7/19)
Stage 4: Xi'an - Lanzhou (7/22 - 7/27)
Stage 5: Lanzhou - Jiayuguan (7/29 - 8/5)
Stage 6: Jiayuguan - Turpan (8/7 - 8/16)
Stage 7: Turpan - Urumqi (8/18 - 8/19)
Stage 8: Urumqi - Korgaz (8/22 - 8/28)

Date Title Location
Aug 23 Sweet Pain -- We Made It Korgaz
Aug 22 Uphill to Wind Lake Salima Hu
Aug 21 Biking The Prisoneer Highway Along the Red Pepper Mountains JingHe
Aug 20 Chinese Mothers TunHe
Aug 19 The Final Volunteer Day Urumqi
Aug 18 Urumqi, What a City Urumqi
Aug 17 The Last Day for Wen Ray and Fang Wen Guang Urumqi
Aug 16 Rugged Desert and The Police
Aug 15 The Second Lowest Place in the World Turpan
Aug 14 Toilet Paper vs. Prostitutes QiKeTai
Aug 13 Sunset is Nice, Biking in the Dark Isn't YiWanQuan
Aug 12 Meeting Our Match Hami
Aug 11 Dry to the bone Hami
Aug 11 Gobi Down Hami
Aug 10 Small Town China Small town on edge of desert
Aug 9 Chinese Customer Service (Negotations) Dunhuang
Aug 8 Let's Talk About The Roads Dunhuang
Aug 7 Kao, Kao, Kao Lamb's Barn
Aug 6 Sick Returns Yumen
Aug 5 Volunteer Day in Jiayuguan Jiayuguan
Aug 4 Being a Chinese Wingman Jiayuguan
Aug 3 The Desert Has Arrived QingShui
Aug 2 Talking Politics in China Zhengye
Aug 1 Biking the Great Wall Zhengye
Jul 31 Where's the Beef... No Lamb? Small Village
Jul 30 A Toilet Seat Would Be Nice WuWei
Jul 29 Being a Celebrity TienJou
Jul 29 The Faces We Pass TienJou
Jul 28 Volunteer Day in Lanzhou Lanzhou
Jul 27 I got a visa ;) Lanzhou
Jul 26 The Six Questions Lanzhou
Jul 25 Why Bike Across China? HuiNing
Jul 24 The Mountain Climbs Begin LongDe
Jul 23 The West Has Arrived YongChuang
Jul 22 Sick or Not the Kilometers Must Go On YongShou
Jul 22 Three Stages Down -- Five to Go YongShou
Jul 21 A Full Volunteer Day in Xi'an Xi'an
Jul 20 Leaving Relics at the Terracotta Warriors Xi'an
Jul 19 And I thought I was ok... Xian
Jul 17 Longest day ever TongGuang
Jul 16 No Hot Water Until 6pm Luoyang
Jul 15 Volunteer Day in ZhengZhou ZhengZhou
Jul 14 XuChang to ZhengZhou ZhengZhou
Jul 13 Zhumadian to XuChang XuChang
Jul 12 News Clip from Nanjing Newspaper Zhumadian
Jul 12 10 Days Down Zhumadian
Jul 11 Chinese law is not always written Xin Yang
Jul 10 Biking at Night Huang An
Jul 9 Easy Day to Lu'an Lu'an
Jul 8 Sad I Don't Have the Answer Hefei
Jul 7 The Chinese Countryside Quan Jiao
Jul 6 Teaching English in Nanjing Nanjing
Jul 5 Rain is a beautiful thing Nanjing
Jul 4 Happy Independence Day in China Changzhou
Jul 3 Hot, hot, hot in Suzhou Suzhou
Jul 2 Autism in Shanghai Shanghai
Jun 23 Autism In China -- An Amazing Day Beijing
Jun 18 Training -- Beijing to Baoding Baoding

 

   
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