Sichuan trucks

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The roads in the mountainous region West of Chengdu are dominated by trucks. Moving heavy resources from the mining towns on one way and building infrastructure in the other. Some villages are are workshop after workshop for truck repairs, others offers a place for truckers to sleep. Some trucks, carrying over 40 ton, start to smoke and smell like burned rubber as they take S curves down. Almost all truckers have colorful decoration inside the cabinet.
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World Earth Day, Camping in Andaman

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A twenty minute drive past Dujianyan train station is Andaman park. We joined QSI school on a camping trip.

Andaman is supposed to host the only organic lodges in China. Sleeping in these adult sized tree houses must be an experience is expensive. Andaman quickly seemed like a weekend park for the elite. Just recently they changed strategy, adding a couple of camping sites, and a hostel in order to receive more visitors.

The park features a lot of activities in nature, mountain biking, horse riding, archery. Everything is band new, and the staff is nice and attentive, clearly they knew we were coming and wanted us to have a great time.

We were received on Saturday morning by a friendly host called John. He also took us on a hike through the forest. After lunch we got to explore the rest of the park, my wife tried zip lining and we all went to a trampoline park. It’s like a heaven for kids, they are all bouncing around.

Then we had a barbeque. As it was earth day, the power went off at eight pm, there was live music and a bonfire.

During the party I met Dino, a Brazilian and the architect and builder of the ‘adventure park’. After setting up zip lining and rock climbing, he proceeded with a miniature version these activities but then for kids.

This was the second time sleeping in a tent but last time Mia was really a baby. This time she is older, just hanging around the tent with a pocket light provided heaps of fun. Our little one slept surprisingly well in the tent. We slept later then usual and were awoken early by the birds.

We immediately tried the kids adventure park that Dino made. First Kids need to wear helmets, gear, the works. They get all dressed up and whilst tethered, walk down the track. Starting low and going up about two meters eventually. The grand finish is a zip line down. Zooom! Mia gained a lot of confidence walking that track today.

Andaman was really a great family trip. Not only a first camping experience, we also experienced a lot of nature (saw frogs, gekko’s) and enjoyed clean air. For Chengdu residents I would surely recommend! More info on the event and Andaman here: http://www.pailixiang.com/m/album_ia63171808.html?from=groupmessage

Pujiang (蒲江) flower garden and ceramic village

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In Chengdu’s hot summer days, there is nothing much to do but sit inside a building or at the pool. Since this early spring weather is still really nice, we – compared to last posts, I am traveling with the family – are in Pujiang! (蒲江县), visiting a flower garden.

Coloured fields of flowers welcomed us, the little ones enjoyed running around the fields of flowers. Further into the park there was a play yard and a model village showing how people used to live in this area. There is an important ‘stone elephant temple’ currently completely being reconstructed but somehow in use at the same time.

The Stone Elephant Lake, Shixiang Lake, (保利石象湖景) is a lush quiet green area, a nice change of environment from the city. We rented a boat to rest our legs, the ride offered some great sceneries and was a nice variation for all the busy walking paths in the flower garden.

In hindsight, this flower park probably has had tulips earlier in season, we had high expectations, as the website showed fields of tulips. However as the flowerpark is combined with the stone elephant lake it was still definitely worth visiting for a day trip.

We spent the night in a nearby hotel in Pujiang. As there was not much to do in Pujiang besides the lake and golf, we visited moon valley ‘mingyue valley’ (明月) a bit far at 30km west.

We rented bikes at the information center right at to main gate and enjoyed cycling through the tea field hills, I spotted some white crane birds and many other birds.

The road is one big loop around the villages, with here and there a touristic activity like ceramic workshops, museums and coffee shops.

We visited a restaurant and a stamp museum. If we would have had more time, I would have liked the kids to try the ceramic workshop.

Pujian is about to have a functioning train station, I suspect this area will develop a lot. For now it’s being developed.

For elephant lake, Tickets were 100 RMB for both the stone elephant lake and the flower garden. Boat was 60 RMB per person. Nice for a visit but our expectations were too high.

Moon valley bike renting was 10 RMB. It’s unusually quiet area. Might be nice to sleep over next time to have more time.

Koreader on both ereader and phone

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When my Kindle e reader broke a few weeks ago, I found the most close thing to a FOSS replacement: the Kobo, with a customized starter to run an alternative reader called Koreader. It runs on many ereaders and supports many file formats.

This morning I discovered that Koreader also runs on my Lineage phone, and that there is a free online syncing service to keep all syncing devices on the same page.

I’m incredibly excited about this feature, not only can I enjoy books from my new e-reader, I can keep on reading on my phone during short idle times here and there.

Oneplus phone left and ereader kobo right, both literally on the same page at all times.

More than just a bicycle

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Got my two year old a bicycle with training wheels. It’s a great investment so far. She talks about it every time and every day after work, we both take our bike’s out of our hallway and cycle around the compound.
It’s more than only simple paddling, this bike is a vehicle (pardon the pun) to so much more with a toddler:
  1. Basic directions (left/right/straight/stop etc)
  2. Spatial awareness
  3. Weather and day/night awareness
  4. Interaction with the neighbors
  5. Basic badassery -> Every time she gets stuck I resist my urge to help, I just give examples and make sure to give a high five once she overcomes the problem.

Cashless economy

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I find myself leaving my wallet at home more often. From principle point of view I’m against a cashless economy but convenience of paying and getting paid with smart phone is winning. I use it for:

  1. Charge phone credit
  2. Cinema tickets and the sorts
  3. Ordering food in
  4. Plane tickets
  5. At restaurants
  6. Supermarket
  7. Uber like taxi (don’t even have to take phone out) 
  8. Etc

Just a tap and a QR to pay appears. So convenient. There are three players: tencent (wechat), alibaba (alipay) and apple. I use alipay. My wallet stays safely at home.


On the roof of the world

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Well… close to…

I visited Hailuoguo glacier park today, about 600km southwest of Chengdu and got an astounding view of mountains up to 7500m. The largest was Gonga mountain (贡嘎山).

As a Dutchman (we have one ‘hill’ at 300m) I might be easily impressed but it was truly epic.

Alhough most recommended to go to the hotspring, really enjoyed the views so I spent up the mountain from morning until the maximum time for descending. The pictures tell it all, the mountain wasn’t easily photographed, size and clouds and all…

Slept in the small town of Luding, where life is simple and slow.

Slept in the small town of Luding, where life is simple and slow.

The glacier 'tongue' with 'middle mountain' behind it. Gonga moutain is on the right, behind the clouds. (click for large)

The glacier ‘tongue’ with ‘middle mountain’ behind it. Gonga moutain is on the right, behind the clouds. (click for large) For someone living in Chengdu, it was nice to see far for a change. This was so far that it was confusing. “Hey look at those moving.. oh those dots are humans!”

The ascent to the glacier (click for large)

The ascent to the glacier (click for large)

Took the cablecart up (hiking path was closed) and visited the climbers memorial museum (of 22 that reached summit, 16 died on way down) and the temples.

Took the cablecart up (hiking path was closed) and visited the climbers memorial museum (of 22 that reached summit, 16 died on way down) and the temples.

"Red stone beach"

“Red stone beach”

Some brought oxygen up.

Some brought oxygen up.

I was so happy! Maybe it was the lack of oxygen...

I was so happy! Maybe it was the lack of oxygen…

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Tibetan writing, I think. Looks very deep.

Tibetan writing, I think. Looks very deep.

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Day trip to Chongqing

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With the family out of town I decided to take a city trip. Woke up at 5:50am Saturday to take the first bullet train to Chongqing, arriving in Chongqing before 10am.

I took a taxi straight to the three gorges museum.  Across the People’s Square is Three Gorges Museum, well worth a visit for its exhibits on the Ba culture and the area of the three gorges downriver from Chongqing. Also noteworthy are a series of exhibits on life in Chongqing during the Qing dynasty, the early republic, and the Word War II era. free.  

Then I went to Eling park 鹅岭公园

Tap to see zoomed image

Quite foggy day (aqi of 70 – so mostly fog)

The park is right in the middle of Chongqing and features a tower which offers a brilliant 360° around the city. I just hang a around there to get a feeling for the city. I remembered that there is a famous metro station based inside a residential complex (李子坝). It’s quite funny, and a station with quite the view over Chongqing and the Yangtze.

I navigated to a high ranked hotpot place to try the local dish. Couldn’t find the place. I ended up walking 20 minutes looking for a hotpot place in Chongqing. Yes, the city is full of them but i managed to take all the roads without any.

Didn’t stay long but overall a city in a mountainous area with lots of lush green zones, spicy food and a cool monorail system, what’s nicer than that?!

A visit to Emei mountain

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Beautiful day at mt. Emei (峨眉山) together with colleges Kai and Mark. We took the 7:20 bus from Xiannanmen bus terminal in central Chengdu. Which took about 2,5hr to arrive at the mountain side. We ate an early dumpling lunch and headed to the mountain.

First we visited the Qingyin Pavilion (清音阁), which means “Pavilion of Pure Sound,” built in 877.

We kept going up and walked the steps to Wannian Temple (万年寺) The Wannian Temple is one of main eight temples at Emei Mountain. Sitting 1020 meters above sea-level, with a Buddha statue over 1000 years old.

We then had to turn back in order to get back home but there are many other sights at this mountain to enjoy.

In the bus back my chair was behind an eight year old kid, tedious at first , turned out he wanted to practice English and had fun talking away, learned some Chinese from him as well.

All and all a great trip!