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The cheapest busses
Today, Li-Xia and I took the cheapest kind of bus
into the centre of the city. These busses have three nice things:
- They are very cheap. We paid 7 dollar cent per person for going there
and back. You pay about 1.6 dollar cent for each stop you have to go.
- They are driving with the windows open, which is nicely cool compared
to standing still.
- They are so packed that you cannot look outside, and do not have to
worry about all the near accidents that you otherwise would have seen.
In one of the shops we went, all the girls standing with the racks of
clothes were wearing some of the clothes on the rack itself. In that same
shop there were also many girls eating their lunch, mie/noddles with some
sauce, with chop-sticks from plastic bags.
Most shops still have one girl per rack or per 3 meter counter. And they
have this funny way of paying: You get three tickets from the girl behind
the counter, and with these tickets you go to a special counter where
you pay. There they person puts some stamps on the tickets, after you payed,
and returns two tickets to you. With this two tickets you go back to the
first girl, who in the meantime has packed the things you wanted to buy.
You give her one of the tickets in return for the goods, and you keep one
ticket for yourself.
Today it was hot again. About 36 degrees Celsius, without any wind.
In the evening we got some wind. Usually it is not this hot for such
a long time in Urumqi. The strange thing is that many counties around
Urumqi suffer from floods, while it has been dry in Urumqi. Some of the
roads going outside the city are cut off by flooding rivers that are
usually dry at this time of the year. Somehow if find it hard to believe
that this taking place, but we hear reports about it from all sides.
Taking a shower
Just when I had finished taking a shower, I felt some cramps and had to
go to the toilet. The shower and the toilet are in the same room. Half way,
I had to request for a paper fan, because I felt too hot because of the
humidity caused by the shower. So, there I was sitting, with a fan in
my hand while emptying my bowels, having a little diarrhea.
The Olympic Games
Although we are in a remote area in China, this does not mean that people
do not have cable TV. They can receive about 13 different channels, some
even featuring English programs. Today the Chinese moved to the third
place with respect to the overall ranking. The scenes with handing out
the gold medals, and the raising of the flags, were broadcasted repeatedly
on the different channels.
The Chinese are definitely proud of their achievements. The Dutch, coming
from such a small country, did not win many medals at all. I am not aware
of us having won any gold medals.
When I write this it is six o' clock in the afternoon.
Xuan Xuan are all asleep.
Li-Xia's mother is making the soup with sheep
meat, because Annabel likes it. Annabel has not eaten much since we have
arrived. She has been drinking enough though. It still worries me a bit.
I think it is a combination of the strange food and the hot weather that
makes her not wanting to eat anything.
It is getting cloudy, and there is a little wind from the west. It seems
as if the temperature has dropped outside. Inside it is still 29 degrees
Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit) with all the windows open. But because the
house is facing south we do not get much wind going through the house.
Today we have stayed home. Li-Xia has been acting as a translator for
a man from the Swiss, who lost his bike a week ago. He has come here by
bike from the Swiss. Yesterday the police found his bike again. He also has
some problems with his visa. He only has got a visa for 20 days, which
has to be extended over and over again, if he want to continue his travels
through China. Sometimes, I am afraid that people like him think that
things go here like they go in Europe when they start out on a trip
through Asia. When his bike was stolen someone asked him 500 Yuan (60 Dollar)
for bringing him to the police, and helping him to report.
This morning, I have written some comments
for the second chapter of ZatAoMCM.
In this chapter Prisig made some comment about a certain joy that can
be found in the monotonism and boredom of the daily life.
Later on, I have been reading in the letter of James again, and then
continued with Ecclesiastes. In Chapter 5, verse 18 it says:
Here is what I have seen to be good and beautiful: to eat, to drink
and enjoy oneself in all one's labour in which he toils under the
sun during the few days of his life which God has given him; for
this is his reward.
I did find some English books around here. Of course, books for learning
English. Furthermore, some English book related to computers.
Reference guide to Windows NT, for example. I wonder what is the use
of that book around here. And finally, English literature works.
I have been thinking about buying `Wuthering Heights' from Emily Bronte.
I have no idea what the book is about, but think it might be interesting
to read for some reason. It is funny to see how your can crave for reading
something in a language you know, when you are abroad in a country where
almost no one speaks your language, and where there is not much to do.
Last night it rained, which has given some refreshment. Today the
weather has been very nice indeed. We have gone to a small mountain
close by. From there we had a nice view over Urumqi, and we could
even see the Bogda Peak.
Sadly enough the air pollution caused by
some pipes on the other side of the city was also pretty evident.
This evening we have made Jiao Zi (dumplings)
with the whole family. Typically something that a family does one there
free day when they are all together.
A ping pong ball
Once there was a factory in Japan where they made ping pong balls.
And one day a box of ping pong balls was produced which was just
like all the other boxes, but this box was handed over to the
prime minister of Japan, to be given as a gift to the Chinese
prime minister. And so it happened that this box became the first box
of ping pong balls given to the prime minister of China.
The prime minster of China was friends with one of the best
ping pong players of that time, and he gave the box to this man.
And because these ping pong balls were so special this ping pong
player gave three of them to his old teacher, Mr Ma. Mr Ma gave
one of them away to another good friend. And this friend after
some years forgot about the ping pong ball, and she travelled
abroad leaving the ping pong ball behind in her mothers home,
where it is up to today somewhere stowed away, but no one knows
Today, we have gone to a church around here. The church had three
rooms on top of each other. On the third floor was the platform
where the services was led from. The lower floors could follow
the services by video. The church has about 3000 seats. Quite
When we came home this afternoon, there was no water. This happens
almost every week. The water has just returned at about 12 o' clock
in the evening. Finally, we can use the toilet again, without having
to worry to run out of water. They always keep some water in at hand
for when there is no water. The electricity also has been shut of
twice during the day. So far, we did not have any electricity drops
in the evening, but I would not be surprised if it does. Three
years ago, it did several times. In those cases it is funny to look
at the window, and see people search for matches and candles in the
opposing apartment building.
They are putting asphalt on the road just in front of the yard we
are staying. First, they lay a layer of rock, which is then covered
with a layer of grind. On top of that they put a rough layer of asphalt,
by hand. They have a truck dumping the asphalt in small heaps, and than
people (many women) spread it out. The final layer is laid by means
of a machine. It looks like these people work from early morning
to late in the evening. I was surprised how much they had come, when
we passed by this morning.
Text on shampoo bottle
In the toilet/shower room I found a bottle of Amola natural body shampoo.
On the back it says at the bottom line: `London . Paris . New York' giving
the impression it is a foreign brand.
The English text on the back reads like:
Softly feeling. Beautifies and moisturizes your skin.
Nothing cleans like.
Amola natural body shampoo. It is specially formulated with
various natural elements. Completely cleans and helps control
itching. Giving you a lovely and fragant with comfortable
soft feeling. Apply Amola natural body shampoo every day can offers
excellent protection of your body and care for your skin in the
most beautiful way.
On holidays you do things that you otherwise do not do, and that do not
have any purpose at all. The last days I have had this urge for going
to walk around on the road. It is ready now, and it is being used by cars,
bikes and people all at the same time, and in the evening serves
as a market place. I just enjoy walking around, watching the people,
and do nothing. Yes, this is really one of the good things of a good
holiday: having nothing to do.
But there are still many things to worry about. Annabel has been keeping
us awake during the night, and in the early morning. During the day
others have been taking care for, borrowing her for some time. She is
a beautiful girl, but especially around here, where there are only
Chinese, she is even regarded as extra beautiful.
Annabel is still not eating much, and today she got some diarrhea. I hope
it is only temporary, but you never know with children of her age.
Tomorrow we are going to Lake Tianchi (Heaven Lake).
We will leave around 9:30 and come back around 6:30. It is about two hours
by coach, which means we have about 5 hours to look around. Seems to be
Li-Xia found some more old pictures.
Three years ago, we already took
many of her pictures with us. At that time I was very excited to see
all her pictures. Li-Xia looks very nice on pictures. Of course, this time
the harvest was much smaller, but it is still very fascinating to see all the old
Today we, that is Xiao Zhong (the brother
of Li-Xia), Xiao Wang
(his girl friend), Li-Xia and I, went to
Lake Tianchi (Heaven Lake).
(For me it was the second time.)
A truly unforgettable trip. We left home around nine o' clock, to
go the centre of the city. For some time. I had doubted whether I should
go, because my stomach was not feeling nice.
At half past nine, the coach left. I decided to sit near the window,
so that I could take nice pictures and videos through the open window.
Sitting at the window also meant sitting in the sun.
At four places the road was broken. At one place a bridge over a river
was gone, because of a severe flood which took place two weeks ago.
Which meant we had to go through the river, which had dried up completely
again. But at all four places it meant: dust, dust and dust. Reason
enough to close the windows.
We arrived at about 12 at the gate. There we had to buy tickets, and
wait for the engine to cool down. The last part we had been driving
in first gear, and most of the climbing still laid ahead of us. So after
about half an hour we started moving again. But because it was so crowded
the coach could not make it to the top, and had to stop at about two third.
This meant we had to clime the rest by feet. Immediately, we were surrounded
by Uygur people, offering their horse to be rode on.
We prefered to walk by ourselves. At that moment, I started having
A little after one, we reached the top of the road and saw the
Lake, which is at about 1900 meter above sea level, and about 100 meter
deep, and from which you can see the Bogda Feng, a mountain of more than
5400 meter high. We decided to walk along the lake. Then I started to feel
more and more horrible, the cramps returning about every minutes. Luckily,
we found a western toilet, so I could flush my bowels. I immediately took
some Inmobium, an excellent medicine to bring your bowels to a rest, and
we sat near the edge of the lake under a tree, and had lunch (for me only
some mineral water), and took some pictures, of us sitting on a rock in
the lake. We also watched a cow eating the remainders of a watermelon.
Cows were walking around freely. A handy garbage disposal system.
From there we walked back to the top, and walked to the other side,
visiting a water fall, from which the water flows out of the lake.
There was a nicely paved road (of concrete) to it, but when we arrived
at the water fall, it turned out they were building some kind of
pavilion (Chinese style) in the middle of the river that flew from
the water fall, which I found rather distasteful.
Just before five we found our coach back, and not much later we went
back. And because the sun had turned, I was sitting in the sun again.
Around 8, we were dropped off about one block from home, and walked home.
Today, I have been suffering from culture shock. Culture shock consists
of three phases:
I have never stayed in another culture long enough to reach the third
phase completely. It seems as if these phases occur at different speeds
for different things. Today, I got upset with the lack of quality.
For example, the pictures which we developed turned out bad, while
they said this was the best shop for developing. But that is just one
example. We had heard rumours of a McDonald's being established here
in Urumqi. Today, I wanted to search for it again. But as they do
not have phone books here, such a search is very difficult. The others
did not want to assist me. I really would like to eat a hamburger,
some fries and drink a coke, as some things that meet the western
standards of quality.
- Being amazed by all the new things.
When you just enter a new culture (or environment) there are
so many new things to experience, which make you delighted.
You are spend so much of your time thinking about all the new experiences
that you forget to worry about anything.
- Missing the old things.
But when the initial amazement wears of, you start focussing on all
the things which are different, and you start missing all the things
you were used to at home. Often you can crave after some kind of food
you had in your old culture.
- Integrating old and new.
Finally, comes the time when you have accepted the new things, and
they have become as natural as the old things.
This also made me realize how much we are spoilt in the west by the
constant high quality of everything around us, and how comfortable
our lives are. Life is much harder around here.
Today the weather is a little colder. Usually, it is not so long so hot
as it has been here in the past weeks. Yesterday evening there was some
cold wind. Inside it is still rather hot.
Xuan Xuan are
playing outside together with Li-Xia's mother.
I just took some video.
It seems as if I am having some problems with my stomach again after two
days in which everything seems okay. What worries me most is that it
is difficult to trace the source of the problems. Was it an ice-cream
I ate yesterday? Or is the Mineral Pot, which filters the water, and
add some minerals, not reliable anymore? Or is it just some food that
had turned bad?
Yesterday, the temperature suddenly dropped about 15 degrees Celsius,
as a result of turning winds. This must be a typical Siberian cold
wave coming in from the North, which will sweep over the whole
country within a few days. This might also mean that the temperature
in Beijing might have dropped a little when we arrive there next
Monday. Now the temperature is still around 30 degrees Celsius, which
is no fun with the high humidity they usually have there.
Yesterday we went to visit the ``grave'' of
Li-Xia's father, which is
the place where the ashes are stored, one square box in a cupboard
at the provincial graveyard. Someway it is special that his ashes are
allowed to be stored in this graveyard, as not everybody is given this
honour. We also looked at some stone graves to which we might transfer
his ashes. This kind of grave, much looks like the ones we are used
to in the West. It is obvious that the Chinese have stronger traditions
around the burial of the death, than we in the west.
This might be my last entry to be added to this on-line diary inside
China, as we are thinking about leaving this laptop computer behind
when we go to Beijing. Now we getting closer to leaving, we all start
to feel more at home. Even Annabel has started to eat normal amounts
of food again, and even enjoys some of the typical Chinese food.
I have been reading through
Must be my third reading. It is a good book, although I feel that
his solutions to the problems we are facing in this world are rather
limited, and somehow do not touch on the real problem of evil.
Of course, this is due to the fact that I do not agree with his
Nevertheless, I think the book is a great piece of art, and I enjoy
reading it. I also have been thinking about how to integrate all these
philosophical thoughts with my own Christian believes.
Taking pictures of Annabel
One problem with taking pictures of Annabel is that she always laughs
after the picture has been taken, but not before.
Yesterday, we arrived at Schiphol, Amsterdam. Today, I spend most
of my time reading emails. I am home again, but find myself a stranger
at home. Is seems I forgot many things about my own place. Or is this
just an effect of jet lag?
Today, I found a nice page about
Many people are not aware that one of the major languages of the world
is very regular in many ways. This language is the Turkish language.
I just wanted to take my handkerchief out of my pocket, when I got
a small sock inside-out in my hands. Yesterday evening when
Annabel a bath, she asked me to clean out Annabel her shoes and socks
because they were full of sand from playing outside. After I had done
this I brought back the shoes. When Li-Xia asked me where I left the
socks, I did not know where I had left them, and looked around for
some time. I must really have been very tired yesterday evening, as
a result of eating dinner and the jet lag.
This morning, I suddenly realized that Li-Xia does not have a single
official name. According to her Chinese passport her name is `Lin Li Xia'.
The Chinese put there surname first, a thing that usually causes confusion
when Chinese come to Western countries. A Dutch custom is that when
a woman marries she adds the surname of her husband to her last name.
The Dutch authorities would consider her official name to be
It has been raining almost the whole day. A typical Dutch day, I would
say. Luckily, I am inside drinking some tea.
This morning Annabel was screaming again when I brought her to child care.
Yesterday it was the same. I am afraid that she has to get used to it
again. In the past weeks she received a lot of attention from first of
all our family and friends in China, but also from many other Chinese,
who often called her Yang Wa Wa.
From Susan I received the following email:
from somebody's signature:
" Jesus said: "Love thy neighbor." (Matthew 22:39)
Elvis said: "Don't be cruel." (RCA, 1956)
Jesus walked on water. (Matthew 14:25)
Elvis surfed. (Blue Hawaii, Paramount, 1965)"
- anon, from "Why Elvis is god"
(At least the original author believed in the that
Jesus was God incarnated.)
I made some Makefile for processing a document with LaTeX, makeindex, and
tib. It looks like:
paper-t.dvi : paper-t.tex \
cp -p paper-t.aux paper-t.aux.old
cp -p paper-t.idx paper-t.idx.old
paper-t.ind : paper-t.idx
paper-t.tex : paper.tex
tib -d /home/db/xxxx/REF -p /home/db/xxxx/REF/INDEX paper.tex
paper-t.ps : paper-t.dvi
The trick is in the files compare-paper-t.aux, and
compare-paper-t.idx, which compare the newly generated
paper-t.aux, and paper-t.idx files with the old ones.
In case there are no changes, the new files are replaced by the old
ones, preventing the latex command to be executed again.
The compare-paper-t.aux file looks like:
if cmp -s paper-t.aux paper-t.aux.old; then
echo "paper-t.aux is the same"
mv paper-t.aux.old paper-t.aux
echo "paper-t.aux was modified"
July 1996 |