Dear friends and family, Only yesterday did i learn the news of the Sol Cal fires, i hope everyone is doing well and is remaining safe (except Neil who I'm sure is in his car trying to get as close to the blaze as we did in 2003). It feels strange for me to be so far from it all, yet have some many loved ones right in the center of the smoke, my thoughts are definitely with you.
a monastary in guilin
On this side of the world, things are quite different. Life bustles through the crowded streets of Guilin, where I'm stopping through from a few days of rock climbing in Yangsho. Although the city of Yangsho itself has become a western touristic mess, a short van ride by an infamous "Mr. Wong" for $1 takes you out into some of the most impressive limestone crags i have seen yet. Spires rising proudly out of the jungle like canopy offer endless lines of superb fifth class climbing. After renting some "gear" i headed out to meet a few climbers at the "chicken cave". This cave, situated a few hundred yards above a small group farm cottages and endless rice patties, was partly enclosed by ancient fortification. The Qing Dynasty coin i found in the back of the cave lead me to believe its inhabitants had departed over 300 years ago, but the bolts on the walls were new and ready to be climbed. With the sound of farm girls singing below, and the magical rows of peaks staggered into misty distance, it was some of the most exotic climbing i have ever done. However, the advanced corrosion on the buckle of my rented harness did not instill the greatest confidence in Chinese climbing shops, so with some good memories and everything intact i head back west toward the town of Guoyang, and from there to town of Kali where i will head into the mountains in search of more truth amount the minority people of China.
I wait now in Guilin, where in one hour i will board train for the next 20 hours with a STANDING ROOM ONLY ticket.... I'm not totally ready for this next ride... The restaurant i had lunch in offered an assorted array of Snake, Rat, Dog, and some weird looking worm like fish. Another land entirely. Again my thoughts are with all of you back in Southern California, i hope this email find you in good spirits, with all the most important things at your side (the people you love).