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We are going to try to write to you what we've been doing on a weekly basis. There also will be a link to our photo album and to our country info. Look at the homepage to see in which country we're now!

May 20th, 2004

Shaolin Si
After a heartbreaking goodbye, we left Beijing to go to a little village called Shaolin Si. There's not much there, accept the Shaolin temple where kongfu was invented by monks to protect their temple against intruders. But now it is a major school of martial arts and if you want, you can get some lessons there to become a kongfu master. Children from all over China (and as young as 4 years old) come tot this school to become the next Jackie Chan.

We didn't do the kongfu-thing because we're a couple of stumbling fools. At first Nine wanted to learn a bit, but unfortuanally her plans turned a bit the other way.

We've seen a demonstration about what the children learn at this school and we have to say, it was quite impressive. Some things you wouldn't even recommend to a contortionist! Kongfu is based on animal behavior, so we saw people acting like they were tigers, monkeys or eagles. And we have to admit, they do a perfect impression. After this demonstration two monks put a spear (with on both ends a sharp metal point) on their throat and started to bend it like a straw. Another monk started hitting their backs with a stick like a maniac. Both the monks didn't even have a scratch.

Even the training of the young recruits is very impressive. A siren goes off at 5.30 AM and all of a sudden there are little kids running around. Their Kongfu exercises are very difficult but even the smallest children are doing them with the biggest ease.

The strangest thing still, was that no matter what the scenery was, the Chinese thought we were much more interesting (mostly Hilde with her big pink glasses and her height). Everywhere we went people were staring at us and shouting "hello' just to get our attention and we ended getting our picture taken at least a 100 times.

But then Nine got sick and had to run to the toilet every few minutes. We shared our room with two Chinese women and a boy about 7 years old. The strange thing is that normally the Chinese sleep with their clothes on. And so did the two women but not the little boy. So when Nine woke up at the middle of the night, still feeling a bit noxious, and looked up at the shining blinking brown star of the little boy, she had to run to the toilet again!

After a few days taking it easy and enjoying the surroundings and the kongfu fighting, we went back to Luoyang.

we’ve tried to buy train tickets to Xi'an, but it wasn't a great success. We stood there and tried to say in our best Chinese that we wanted two tickets hard sleeper, but the lady at the desk just stared at us like we were from Mars. After repeating it a few times and still not succeeding an elderly guy came up to us and asked us where we wanted to go. So finally with his help we got the tickets!!

After that we went to the Dragon cave grottoes, where you can see all kind of Buddha’s. This was amazing. But also here people were shouting at us and 'secretly' taking pictures of us, the little basterds!

After arriving in the city, we directly dumped our bags and went into the city center to explore.

In the moslim quarters there were a lot of souvenir stands where you could buy things as a waving Mau alarm clock, mahjong, kites, Chinese clothing and paintings. Great fun just walking around. When we walked back, Nine saw a tiny vehicle with an even tinier men in it. She found it so amazing, that she stopped and stared at him. It was so great to see that he could do so much when you think about the facilities for handicapped people here in China.

And guess where we went to the next day...the terracotta warriors! The warriors are 2000 years old and were made to guard the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuan. But unfortunally a lot of the warriors are destroyed and lost their original colors. So now they're having a day job just puzzling which peace belongs to which warrior.

Also went to the Neolithic Village. Great fun, because half of it was closed for renovation.

Back in Xi'an we bought some souvenirs. Great fun haggling to get the right price.

After again a great train ride we arrived in Chengdu. Dumped the bags and went straight on to the Panda Breeding Research Center, where we saw the real deal. It was fun, just watching the panda's eating and the little ones playing with each other. To bad it looked more like a zoo then a reserve. Definitely worth a visit is the museum with stuffed animals looking like aliens.

After this great experience we went to a teahouse in the people’s park of Chengdu. It was fun, sitting there, sipping tea and chatting like some old grey-haired goats. We decided to do the train ride in the park that was recommended by our travel bible, the lonely planet. We have to admit that we are seriously wondering if the person who wrote the LP has some common sense, because he wrote that after walking trough little cafes and restaurants you would finally end up at a supersonic train that will take you for a trip trough time. What we got was quite different, because after walking through sewer like winecellers and passing a few dusty stalls we arrived at the train. It was a joyful ride going past a poster of Santa clause, E.T. and fashion dolls dressed up in Ming dynasty clothing living on the moon. And the most fun part of it all, was seeing it all again, because the train goes back to the beginning. Definitely worth while 10 Yuan...not!!!!

Saw the biggest Buddha of China. Big fellow indeed, 71m high, his head alone is 10 meter. Very beautiful and impressive when you're standing near his toes and looking up. Jeez what big feet he has.....We actually wanted to go to Emei Shan, but there was almost no way of getting back tot the village, so we missed the bus and got stuck in Leshan. We didn't mind at all, because we ate some of the best food we ever tasted here in China, fried apples with carameled sugar on it...hmmmm!

Emei Shan
And what is there to say about Emei Shan but stairs, stairs and more stairs!!! That’s about the only thing we've experienced when hiking mount Emei. We didn't like the Chinese stairs after hiking 10 km on the great wall, but now we really hate them. Chinese seem to build stairs to torture people because not one step is similar to the next. The question is how many lives Hilde has, because she kept stumbling every other 10 steps some almost fatal because of the steep cliff next to us. The surroundings where beautiful but the temperature was so tropical that Hilde didn't like it, Nine loved it. The last climb to our Monastery where we wanted to spend the night, we were mentally supported by a monk who also was going there. The monk was climbing the steep stairs like a goat, but we where huffing and puffing al the way to the top (especially Nine who had a major cold). The monastery was beautiful and it was great to see the monks doing their daily stuff, like washing their clothes and scraping each others ears out with a key, yummy. When we went to sleep it was definitely 'goodnight, don't let the bedbugs bite'.

After a good night sleep and waking up with the sounds op humming praying monks, we decided to go to the top. That was a good decision, because the view was stunning. We saw a temple in the distance looking like it was just floating in the air on clouds.

A lesser experience was when we saw a bunch of monkeys surrounded by Chinese tourist. They where taking pictures of them and we decided to take some to. So we asked a Chinese guy if he could take some pictures of us with the monkeys on the background and stood there all perky, when a Chinese women came up and jumped in front of us shouting at her husband to take a picture. Probably the women thought, two for the price of one. After asking a few time if she wanted to move Nine pushed her away, because the women was playing deaf. Hilde found this al so amusing that she started giggling. So al least one of us looks merry on the photo.

April 29th, 2004

Ni hou!

We finally arrived in Beijing. So thats the end of the trans syberian experiance. Irkutsk was fun, but verry cold (duh syberia!!!). Good news, Nines camera is working again. After she droped it and broke it, she droped it again. She thought that it couldn't be much more broke than that, so she started to fiddle with the lens and all of a sudden it popt back in place! So we're back on the internet with pictures.

We've spend the night in an appartment and the next day we decided to try our hostel again. This time it was open, jeee!!! We dumped our stuff and went to the city. We wanted to go to Listvianka (a village near lake Baikal) ourselves, but when we arrived at the busstation the bus was long gone.

So we took a tour the next day (very expensive!). The lake was beautiful, but verry cold. We almost froze our butts off. After taking a few pictures and turning into human icepopsicles we fled back to the car. But it was fun to stand on the lake. The ice was 11/2 meters thick and verry slippery (Hilde fell on her butt). After buying a smoked fish, we went back to Irkutsk to take the TSE again to Ulaan Baatar.

This time we shared the coupe with two Germain girls we've met the previous time. So we've had a lot of fun. The boardercrossing with Mongolia took ages. We had to fill in all kinds of paperwork. Hilde started to see dubble and made so many mistakes at one form, that she ended up with loads of stamps an signatures. (She is verry proud of that)

The next day we arrived in Ulaan Baatar. We can tell you that it's a little bit difficult to find an ATM and a place to eat at 7 am on a sunday. Luckally we met a man named Mr. Kim, who's running a guesthouse (called UBguesthouse). He gave us a few tips and free coffee. After that we tried to find a bus that went to Terelj national park. Because nobody knew if, where or when the bus was going, we wandered around for hours. But finally we found it!

After arriving at the park we stayed in a traditional mongolian tent, called a ger. the only things inside the ger were a few beds, a little cabbin, miniature furniture and a huge firestove (that went out every two minutes, well what ever keeps you off the streets...). We didn't have any running water (just a thermoscan) or electricity, so we had to use candles and when we needed to pee (or do something else) we had to go outsite to our little outhouse, where the shit almost touched your bum.

We thought we lived like a true mongolian, but that was just a fantasy. We were invited in a real ger. And this is what the interior looks like: a big freezer, a bigscreen tv and a dvd player. The luxuary!!!!!! The traditional welcomings drink is so discusting that we almost threw up in this nice big ger. It's tea with yakmilk, butter and salt (yummy!). The first few sips ytou don't tast anything, because the tea is to hot and you just burn your mouth on it, but after it starts to cool down its really gross.

We also went horsebackriding. We never done that before but like true cowboys we climbed on the backs of our nobel stalions. The first things that crossed our minds was: How do you start this thing and where is the brake. But after a few minutes of hobbeling around, it starts to feel enjoyeble. The thing we didn'n like so much was when our mongolian guide started to shout 'tshoo' at the horses, wich made them go faster and faster and faster. So we felt like doing the hokey-pokey on our horses. But stil it was great fun.

After our nice ger-experience we went back on the TSE to go to Beijing. Almoste the same story here with the boardercrossing. It took ages! The chinese railway is smaller than the ones in Mongolia, so they change the wheels. This time our bunkies where a Chinese guy who couldn't speak English and a Mongolian guy who could speak a little bit English and Chinese. So you can imagine the communication going a bit pour. We met a lot of other travellers and agreed to meet eachother again in Beijing.

We like Bejing a lot, we defenitly fell in love with the city. There's so much to see and do, that we felt like one week alone isn't going to be enough. The highlights where, the great wall, summer palace, the forbidden city and the tempel of heaven park.

Eating with chopsticks is harder than it seems, mostly because the Chinese people are trying to teach you the propper way of holding your sticks. But because we're both lefthanded its a bit of a problem for us. But still we manage to get our food in our mouth without making a big mess.

the spitting part, is another thing we're getting the hang of. But it still is discusting when you hear people snarl and seeing them spitting the whole contense of their noses on the street.

We celibrated our Queensday at our ambassey. This was great, especially because of all the typical dutch food, like haring and bitterballen and Heineken beer!

So you can see, that we're still having great fun on the road!


Nine and Hilde Russia
April 14th, 2004

We've just finished the first part of the Trans Syberian railway. We thought we could take it easy for five days...not! We've been verry busy making contact with other people en to learn some basic Russian words. Now we know how to make contact, but we still don't know the polite way to get rid of people. the consequense of that was that we've got stuck with some bloke from Azerbaijan. The jerney however was verry pleasant, one day we're riding in a snow landscape and the next through beautiful houses looking like they just came out of a Astrid Lindgren book (like Pippi Longstockings)

We've met two German girld who are going to take the exact same route with the TSE as we are. Who knows, maybe the next time we're sitting in the same cabine. Because this time we were lucky to get a two persons cabin although we didn't book it.

The arrivel in Irkutsk went smoothly at first. But then our cabdriver couldn't find our hostel and drove up and down the road. After a lot of unwanting sightseeing, we finnally arrived at the hostel, only to find out that is was closed (or as we've learned in the train: ZAKRIET)! So there we stood with our good behaviour. Luckaly there were some nice people in a nearby building wo could speak a little English and were willing to help us. They offered us a apartment nearby the hostel, were we could stay for the night. We felt so at home that we washed our undy who we've worn for five days in a row!

After that we went to the city to get ourselves registrated, but they still live in the middle ages, so as you can imagine this didn't went smoothly as wel! After walking the same block over and over again, we discided to ask the way. After a couple of hours we were finally registrated and went back to our apartment. Today we've been looking for tours we could do here and Nine's camera fell down so it probably will take a while to get pictures on the site.

Thats it for now, till next time

Love Ninaaaaaa and Ghildaaaaa

April 9th, 2004


Here's our first message on the site.

We're 3 days on the road. Saying goodbye on the airport went ok. We expected it to be a big blubbering party. The flight was ok, except for the part where Hilde almost lost her jacket because she was stripsearched bij the securety.

When we arrived at the airport in moscow, a cab was already waiting for us. So we just set down on our arses and enjoyed the ride. We were pretty overdressed because it was verry warm in Moscow. But the next day we found out that the weather can change verry quickly. So we were glad that we had our long johns with us. The hotel was ok, only it was locaded nearby a subway. So every time a tube came by we were shacking in our beds, like there was an earthquake. But we slept pretty good.

The next day we went to the Red Square and St. Basils Cathedral. After that there was no time to go to the Kremlin. So we dit that today (our 3 day).

Speaking Russian is verry diffecult. The speaking and writing is so different from eachother, so when you think that you're prenauncing it right, they stare at you like you're speaking jibberish. They are not so much used to tourist. When we don't speak, they think we're russian but when we open our mouth they look at us like we are from Mars.

The Russians are verry nice and are always trying to help us even though they don't speak any English. We have to use our hands and feet to make ourselves heard. So Hilde started to make stranges noises like the sound of a chicken, cow or sheep. Verry funny!

Dispite our languagebarriere we managed to find the TSE to Irkutks so tonight we'r going to relaxe for 5 days.

So till next time!

Hilde en Nine

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