D57 . Oct 27 . Fulong Beach

Sunday started very badly, but ended well, don’t worry.
First, I woke up at 8 because of one of my room mates who was creasing plastic bags – A total happiness when you consider I had gone to sleep at 3 in the morning after quite some drinks with an Hong-Kong room mate. So, in a nutshell, hanged over.
Then, I go to the train station, as I’m planning to spend the afternoon in Fulong, on the East Coast, on a nice beach.
OK, ticket booked, I have one hour ahead of me. So i seize that opportunity to buy my bus ticket to the airport in advance. I follow the signs to find the bus station. I cross one hall, i take two elevators, I cross a shopping mall, I take an other elevator, I cross the street as one guy tells me, I cross an other all… And I’m back to the starting point !!!
OK, let’s forget about the bus ticket. I need to withdraw some money for my way back from the beach, for my last night in Taipei, for the airport, for a couple of meals. I need 1000 Taiwan Dollars, meaning 25 euros. The first ATM keeps my card five minutes before giving it back to me. And I can tell you that five minutes looking at a screen which tells you your operation is being cancelled is pretty long. Long enough for my stomach to squeeze, as i’m imagining the next days without a penny in my pocket. OK, let’s try another one. The other one cancels the operation as well, without giving me any explanation.
My train is in five minutes. Should I get on it or should I secure money first ? I still have 86 dollars in my pocket, the trip back costs 83, I don’t need to eat or drink, let’s get on the train. Though, access to the beach is 200 dollars, so I’d rather find some cash anyway, otherwise the trip is not gonna be worth it.
90 minutes later, I reach my destination. There is a 7/11 grocery store next by, with an ATM. I try. Only in Chinese language, for local cards. My stomach squeezes again.
I find another 7/11 ATM… And it works… Uffff. I have my 25 euros !

I can even rent a bicycle !

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Recently, Fulong city has dung a tunnel inside the mountain, so that people car see the sea from the other side. A five or six kilometers path dedicated to bicycles, a paradise.

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At the end of the path, a fishermen village.

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On the place, a guy plays the saxophone, an other one sells ice cream, a woman is preparing grilled sausages. The atmosphere is so peaceful. I hope its shows on the video below.

Then I finally go to the beach. Beautiful. Its is five PM and the light there is amazing.

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I’m happy and very relaxed. I can take my train back to my creepy hostel. Tomorrow, on Monday, I’ll commute to Delhi. I’ll reach the city at two in the morning. I’ve asked to hotel to organize a pick up. I don’t want to take a random taxi in that megalopolis…

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On Tuesday, your hero will have new adventures to tell !

Answer to poll: ”What are those Korean oldies doing in this field?”

80% of you thought they were taking good care of the plants… But no!
They were, like the 20 other per cent replied, catching bugs.

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Locusts actually.

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Probably not only for their own consumption but also to sell them grilled on the market.

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This woman was ashamed. So when I pointed my camera on her plastic bag full of vivid insects, she tried to hide it in her hands…

D41 . Oct 41 . Let’s get lost in the fields

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Today was a day to visit temples – Yes, don’t tell me: again (profane I was, profane I’ll remain). Well, note that it’s not that I don’t like temples; it’s just that you might think, after a while, that they all look the same… isn’t it? Never-ending golden leaves in Thailand. Shiva standing, Shiva sleeping, Shiva dancing in India. Buddha awake, Buddha sleeping, Buddha stuffing in China…
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Therefore, when Alex told me we would ride ten kilometers out of the city to see just 1 temple, and then 1 Buddha in a cave, I was moderately enthusiastic. It got even worse when we found out that our bicycle lane was sticking to the 6-lane highway… And that the temple was on the top of a hill… twenty kilometers from the city center. We arrived there exhausted, visited the temple quickly (nice one), gave up with the visit to the Buddha cave.

And then, we tried to find a way to escape the 6-lane highway and just let our compass guide us through the countryside small roads. And then the ride became amazing.
Yellow fields, ochre lights, silence of the road, jumping bugs… Beautiful and appeasing.

Capture d’écran 2013-10-11 à 12.20.00  Capture d’écran 2013-10-11 à 12.21.20In the background, the bridge already photographed yesterday

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Some farmers as well, not so many.
I don’t now if this was paddy rice, or barley, or millet… If one of you knows, I’m interested…
It should be paddy rice (rice grown with a little bit of water only), but it doesn’t really like the pictures I’ve seen in encyclopedias…

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As we were approaching the city center, pagoda-like roofs where emerging from the fields…

Capture d’écran 2013-10-11 à 12.21.51… And we saw again, under the sun this time, those amazing tumuli (graves under those hills).

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Satisfied we were. Happy we are.


D17 – Sept 17 – The Olkhon island

The island, as well as the rest of the Baikal region, is populated with « Buriates ». They are Mongols, direct descendants from Genghis Khan. Pierre the Great obliged them to conversion (from Buddhism to Orthodox religion), and many left to Mongolia at the time. A second wave of « russification » took place with Stalin, when he obliged Buriates to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet. Things went smoother after Stalin’ death. In the 1960’, monks even opened temples – We found out recently that those monks were KGB agents, in charge of understanding the local culture, probably to better shut it down…
Russified, then sovietized, they are only now 25% of them in the Buriate Republic.
The republic opened its doors to foreigners in 1991 and not before!

And here we are, on that Olkhon island, 72 km long.
We are in the Khoujir village, the only village of the island anyway.
According to Buriates, it is a shamanic energy center (one out of five in the world).
For us, profanes, it looks like an amazing Far Far East.


Our hotel is supposed to be the “Greenest hotel in Russia”, says the business card we grabbed in Irkutsk.
Indeed, our environmental footprint is gonna be very limited…


More to come tomorrow morning with a short film introducing what’s going to be our reality for the next three day.

NB : Of course, we didn’t have any wifi for three days, that’s why I didn’t publish any post. Thanks for your e-mails wondering if we were still alive. I hope you didn’t worry too much !!!

D11 – Sept 11 – Abalak, deep Siberia

ImageYesterday, we left Tobolsk as quickly as possible to reach Abalak, a small town 25 km away, to visit a monastery. Recently refurbished, the monastery hosts two churches and welcomes crippled Russians for rehab.

Actually, we met many alcoholic in the village’ streets, and actually this was much more interesting than the monastery itself. We walked around, passed by three mini-markets where amazing scenes were taking place: a guy asked us to buy a beer from him, as he was banned form the shop. A young teenager ran after her dad in another shop to prevent him from buying alcohol. And finally, as we were waiting for the bus to come back, we observed two kids playing with their mum and grandma.

On the back scene : isbas, isbas, isbas.

Abalak-Pele mele 1Abalak - Pele mele 2

In Abalask, like in many other Siberian villages I guess, every transportation’ mean is worth being used: tractors, horses, former military trucks, side cars, mountain bikes, girly bicycles… Here comes the portfolio, by chronological order.

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It was very cold today, I had all my warmer clothes with me, I hope it’s not gonna be this way from now on…

Abalak - Heros a froid