Dave's Travel Journal

A vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking. - Earl Wilson


Give a Listen to the Erhu

This is my favorite Erhu(二胡)player. Here he's playing a slow song but sometimes he plays a fast tempo tune that makes good use of his right foot cymbal and left foot wood block.

He's awesome.

To a western ear the songs seem to go on forever but if you listen closely you can recognize a sort of improvised melody weaving through the song. At least I can when he plays.

Most of the street players aren't much good, but he's the exception. On a sunny day it's a pleasure to stop briefly and "give a listen." (By the way, this is literally how you say "Can I listen" in Chinese: "Please give me a listen.")

He's there every Saturday and Sunday morning from 10:00 to 1:00. I place a few bills in his can. He's worth it!

Click on the picture and have a listen.

...dave
A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. -Leopold Stokowski

Moped Madness

moped repairYou'll never see this in America, a guy welding out on a busy thoroughfare.

We needed some work done on our mopeds. Shops that tear down a moped and do the work on the spot are just down the road from us. They use the already dangerous sidewalk as their workbench. Pedestrians simply walk around the tools and moped parts laying in the way. It's all part of living here. (OSHA would have a field day.)

In fact, I believe that the sidewalks were built to cause injury. Uneven and broken tiles pieced together without cement rock when you step on them. Even special yellow tiles installed for blind people are more treacherous than just walking in the street. The tiles are slick, especially when wet. Spill some oil on them and there is no way to walk down the sidewalk without doing a face plant. It's insanity.

Anyway, were was I? Oh yeah, a friend and I went down to the local moped repairman, who sits in an open roll up doorway. We explain that the kickstand doesn't support the bike correctly and my key ignition is spinning freely and needs replacing. On the spot, within 30 minutes, he welded stops on the kickstand (he just used bolts he had laying around in a bin), and replaced all four key locks on my moped. If I needed these repairs done in the States it would take a week and cost a fortune. But here in China, it was done while we waited and it cost us just $7, labor and parts included. Amazing.

When we arrived in China back in April I bought my moped at the second hand market. I just went down to the market, gave the guy 272 bucks and drove off. No license, no tax, no registration. Easy. But theft of the bikes is high. So to crack down on this the government has instituted a new program: all mopeds must be registered by January 1st.

This is a crazy process, especially for foreigners. The paperwork required: original purchase receipt, moped ID card, passport, VISA, local police office registration, proof of residency, etc. is a pain and complex. In addition, the form I had to fill out after handing over all this stuff was in Chinese. What's worse, my passport is in English (duh, it's from America!) so the guy typing all the information into the computer couldn't read it. I stepped around the barricade and helped him get the information into his computer. Eventually after two hours I had my license plate, personal ID card, and stamped numbers on my bike frame.

Yet, while riding down the road the other day, a cop flagged me down. Said that we are not allowed to have two people on the moped. Of course, everyone rides with two people on their electric bikes. I didn't argue. Ruth got off, I paid the $3 fee, and drove off. Ruth had to walk the rest of the way.

Go figure.

...dave
No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up. - Anonymous




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