In April 2010, Eleanor Moseman left Shanghai on a journey of more than 10,000 miles, across 3 countries, on one bicycle. This is where she updates from the road.
  1. Is that you, Death, sleeping at my side? (or The Last Day of Freedom in Tibet)

    Place: U-Tsang, Tibet Autonomous Region
    Time: September 2011
    Approaching 20th day since illegal entry

    The days on the plateau were calm and peaceful. Spending my days alone, on the saddle or pushing up over ridges, headed towards the horizon. The view of my route leading right up to the heavens. Lifting my arm up in the air knowing that if I were to stretch my skinny, frail and knotted body just a little further…I could pluck a cloud right out of the blue sea I’ve been swimming in.

    The past couple of nights, sitting in my tent and looking up at the sky, questioning how much longer I could endure this. I was starving, my drive for food had nearly vanished. The ringing in my ears being the only sound that kept me constant company. Hunting for water by climbing to the top of hills and finding the fresh, bubbling source…while avoiding the run off that interweaves around yak and elk tracks (maybe wolves). Fingers and toes taking on a purplish hue and a constant lethargy, my daily desire to find somewhere to sleep away the days.

    Death…what will you feel like? Perhaps I have an idea.

    As I zipped myself into my green down coffin, inside my green tomb, I envisioned myself not waking up from this life but continue to live on in this glorious dream. I was in the most magical and beautiful place in the world. Alone and free…and I have never felt such a rush of true happiness in my life.

    Awaking that day with a rain shower, camping next to a lake, as I unzip my tomb, I am overtaken by a bright and transparent azul lake with a range of shimmering glaciers.

    To the West, I can see thick storm clouds touching the horizon with the winds prickling against my face as I question my agenda for the day.

    Exhausted, I zip up and fall in and out of sleep with the sound of the rain and wind against this green tomb, my home.

    Moments, the storms would subside and silence and brightness would enter the tomb. Some time would pass and it would become dark again and I would fall into a dream, the sound of the rolling water down the nylon.

    It wouldn’t be so bad to spend the day here, I could set off tomorrow for Nima, as I was only a day ride away. Having a little water and some snacks for survival, yet my belly is getting smaller and smaller and more difficult to force something down. What is happening to me?

    Late afternoon, after the storm has cleared, I stick my head out in the sunshine and see the Tibetan family approaching. Nothing to worry about. My concern is on the massive storm clouds coming closer and closer from the West.

    A few men, a child, and a woman come over to me. The younger man can speak a smidgen of Mandarin and I’m directed I need to get going, that I can’t stay. This is the ONLY time this has ever happened to me. All other times I would have been invited into their home for tea.

    My conscience tells me that these folks may not be like all the other souls I’ve met along this path so without an argument or pointing at the storm clouds I crawl out in my pjs and begin to pack up. I’ll go a few kilometers up and set up camp for the day.

    I’m moving so slow, slower than I’ve ever moved before. The family sits about 2 meters from me and watches my life in slow motion. They have brief discussions when I shove my bag into a tight bag or break down the tomb poles. Just a sentence or two…nothing more.

    Slipping some clothes over my pjs with my intent to go back to dreaming in just a couple of hours. What’s happening, all I want to do is zip up into my green lit tomb and dream…….

    The storm clouds are black and they are nearly hovering over me.

    The winds are whipping everything around and I have to move fast to prevent my possessions from being blown over the plateau.

    We are engulfed in darkness and the air temperature drops fast. The Tibetans and I say goodbye and they watch me walk fast towards the West and they begin to run home to duck out of the storm.

    I’m hit with cold ice from all sides. It’s painful. It’s cold. Battered…it’s a hail storm.

    There is a bridge going over a stream of glacier melt behind me.

    I push my legs as fast I can, and backtrack, past the Tibetans to hide under the bridge. They watch me pass without an offer of help or shelter. Being pummeled by ice, I jump off my bike and duck under the bridge.

    Trying to stay dry, I press my body against the cold and damp concrete of the standing structure. It’s this or be misted from the sides and ice dropping down between the wooden slats above.

    I watch cardboard boxes and other miscellany fly by with a great speed, tumbling over what ever stands in it’s way. When I stick my head out from under the bridge, my hair is whipped around and my face stings as if I’m being attacked by an angry swarm bees.

    Early evening, the sky opens up and the plateau has returned to its near blinding light. The dark clouds are to the South East of me and perhaps if I move fast enough I can stay out of this storm.

    The remainder of light is spent going up and down over the plateau, avoiding glacier melt, ditches, and trenches. I may have had a Tibetan or two pass me on his motorcycle, that part of this memory is not so clear. My soul was elsewhere, a place that’s not on this earth.

    Nightfall arrives late on the plateau, after 9:30.

    There is a brilliant full moon. She lights up the sky and earth for me. Never have I experienced an evening like this. I am Moon bathing and her energy is lighting up everything for me to continue on. Never have I seen such a clarity.

    I recall having a feeling of “the end”. It had been visiting me for the past couple of days but that night, under the stars, I remember thinking, “this is my last day”. It wasn’t some starved, crazy woman thought…it was very clear, as clear as the night sky that had engulfed me…womb like. It was calm, I was not scared or anxious. This was the end.

    Pushing through the moonlight, I hear this “huff…huff…huff…huff…huff”. What is this deep breath I continue to hear. I stop, I listen…it has stopped. I start pedaling again and I hear “huff…huff…huff…huff”. Am I delusional or am I hearing this…can someone tell me if I really heard this? “huff…huff…huff…huff”…

    It must be the Tibetan deer or elk. What else could it be? I had seen them in the fields for 100’s of kms. All alone, with no soul around, there is not even an instant of fear. “Huff…huff…huff…huff…huff…”, this breathing continues as soon as my feet make their revolutions. Stopping when I stop.

    Perhaps it was my “Animal Guide”, the Moose, did I finally slow down enough for him to catch up with me. Our first encounter under the silver flecked night sky.

    The plateau is a very tricky place to estimate how much road is ahead.

    I had seen motorcycle lights weaving along the horizon, like shooting stars. Further ahead I could see spotlights dancing in the sky, they must be coming from Nima.

    Repeatedly telling myself, “just a little further, just a little further”.

    Close to midnight, I gave in to the calling of sleep.

    There is a Tibetan village. No lights but I hear a couple of dogs and watch the single light drive off the road and up to the ridge. The moonlight exposing the little concrete buildings to me, with a grey smoke slowly rising above.

    I never feel comfortable entering a village at dark, especially around midnight.

    The village is about 1km South of the road…I set up camp about 2 meters North of this road. In the morning, we will be able to clearly see each other.

    One reason I camp close to people is because if something were to happen, I can find help. I’ve had practice with my “War Cry” so I know the glass shattering sound will pierce their ears.

    As I set up camp, for the final time in Tibet, a single light approaches me. I squat behind the tent, to avoid any interaction and hopes they will just leave. It works. They pull up about 1 meter away to look at the tent and move on without a word.

    I stand there and I look up into the sky. Trying to photograph this moment doesn’t work…it shows “nothing”. What I see and feel can not be described in a photograph, it barely can be scribbled down on paper, let alone, being pecked into a blog entry.

    Curling up in my tent after gazing into the heavens for nearly an hour, I fall asleep…questioning, “is this all a dream” and knowing…it’s over.

    1 comment

  2. Moments of the past

    Camp in Qinhai on the way to Tibet, with Brandon Wallace, under the Qinghai/Tibet Railway.

    Taking a break along Namucuo, highest salt lake water in the world. 2nd day solo in Tibet, heading West.

    Tibet at 5280m altitude. Physical ailments are beginning to become noticeable. Hungry and tired.

    Leave a comment!

  3. November 26 – When the police make you stay and try to get you blitzed. (Illegal photographs of Xinjiang Police).

    The strange terrain between me and the tarmac. There are remainders of salt or something on the dirt.

    Coming up from camp.

    There is a short strip along some trees. I notice they are growing in the direction of East, so I know I’m not insane thinking I have a headwind. There have been worst, but it’s there.

    Only a small bottle of water. This has happened to me once before, but I don’t think about that day very often these days. Main concern today is to get to a water supply. My map says there is something smack dab in the middle of the two towns. I’m not sure why it kind of translates to cow area/center lake…I learn this means pumping fields for oil/gas/etc.

    The closer and closer I get to this center point (about 85km/85km out) the traffic becomes almost nothing except for the occasional worker van/bus loaded with folks in their red uniforms. I wonder if I confuse them with my red matching jacket.

    There are strange stone structures on top of the gravel/sand dunes.

    The sky is getting smoggier and the fields are becoming filled with oil pumps, which do kind of look like fields of mechanical bulls (NOT the kind you hear about drunk people trying to ride).

    View from google maps.

    (Please take note dear reader, that when I use ” ” in my dialogue with people I am speaking Chinese and it’s translated here for you)

    So things are not looking very good around 4 in the afternoon. I have no water, so I know dehydration is already beginning to kick in. If I camp, I’ll still be hungry because I have no water to cook my food and can of extra salty “Fried Sardines with Black Beans” is not going to quench the thirst. It’s looking hopeless, especially as I pass through the intersection of the mid point from nowhere to nowhere and it’s nothing but smokestacks, refineries, coal trucks, and oil pumpers. I can see a wind farm off to the North towards the Mongolia border.

    I stand in the intersection look all around, turning slowing clockwise…examining what my options are. Face West and tell myself, “power on”. I’ve got about 3 more ours of daylight against this headwind.

    One or two motorcycles pass me coming from where I’m going. The passengers wearing the red uniform of the China Oil/Petro companies.

    The sun is setting and I’ve only 1 hour before sunset. I’m beat, I’m hungry, I’m dry/dehydrated, and just feeling like, “What the f*#k am I doing?!” Dismount and walk the bike hoping for a car to come by and offer me a hitch. Hitching only really happens when the cyclist is pushing the bike along the road.

    The sunset seems to turn everything orange, I think of correspondence with Ed Genochio every time I see orange.

    A white, typical double cab pick up pulls up to me heading from the East.

    The driver is Han and the front and 2 rear passengers are obviously Kazakh, the one rear passenger closest to me is looking a little blitzed.

    “What are you doing?” asks the driver.
    “Resting, I’m going ahead but I have no water.”
    “Where are you from?”
    “United States.”
    “One person?”

    After I state I’m American the drunkest looking Kazakh hands me his water bottle, although already half drank. (My imagination is turning it into a bottle of Hep/TB/etc when looking at the water, and smile and hand it back, “no problem”.)

    The Kazakhs are all talking in the truck, nothing that alerts me but gives a feeling that they are discussing where I should go or how they can help. I’m anxiously awaiting an offer to throw my bike in the back and get a lift.

    “Can you understand Kazakh?” asks the driver.
    “I’m sorry I can’t.”

    The driver smiles. The Kazakhs are now telling him something. There is a discussion and the driver tells me about 3 km up there will be a place to get water. To stop there. He points ahead and that it’s on the hill. I thank them graciously and give a big smile and go on.

    No working bike computer, so I’m estimating km counts or trying to find road signs, facing me or stopping to read signs going the other direction.

    There is music coming from the sand dunes. I see cows so I KNOW there has to be life around. If there are herds of any animal there has to be water around which leads to some type of human life.

    I debate whether they meant here or if there is a place further down the road. After riding past the gravel road for about 3 minutes I get off the bike, stare off into the dunes and see about a half a dozen little white concrete blocks. A few cars.

    Take a deep breath and push my bike through the dunes and past the cattle.

    The music hits a point in me, a strange feeling of comfort and excitement rushes over me – especially when I push over the final dune to see about 20 Kazakhs dancing on a small concrete area in front of a block house, with a yurt to the left. There are others standing around.

    I pass a police officer in his desert camo on his phone, “Hello”. This is expressed with an uncomfortable, yet confident, wave. He looks at me a little confused.

    The strange looks from the people is nothing new. Except out here I feel that the women are little more apprehensive than Tibet. Tibet, the women will run to the road to pull me off just to offer me tea and tsampa.

    This is an area I really wish Brandon was with me…feeling I should be traveling with the opposite sex.

    Within a minute I have about a dozen men and boys surrounding my bike and looking at me. On older, shorter, drunk man approaches me. He speaks Kazakh and I tell him I can’t understand, he talks to the other men and a younger man asks where I’m from.


    It’s translated, some understand.

    Smiles, “hellos”, “America” are coming from all directions.

    I tell them I need water and the drunk Kazakh man orders a little boy to fill up my water bottle.

    There is a ruckus that I can’t quite remember. I’m pretty sure it consisted of the typical questions of “one person?” etc…the same run down as usual.

    The boy comes back but the bottle is missing the cap. This makes the bottle nearly useless so I began to drink the water.

    The drunk Kazakh, which I will call “Teacher” (you’ll learn why later), asks me if I want tea and something to eat.

    “Okay.” Thinking that this could lead to a place to sleep.

    I distinctly remember seeing 3 officers in camo, there may have been 4. The dancing stopped for a little during the commotion but the music never stopped.

    The Teacher guides me into the concrete block with the typical coal burning stove and the large platform covered in carpets with tapestries hanging along the walls.

    There is the cloth opened up with 3-4 different types of bread and some candy. I’m handed a cup of milk tea, politely, with two hands.

    “Eat Eat.”


    I sit there and people take their turns coming in to look at me. I’m on display, nothing new. Two girls get close and I smile and say hello. The men of course are much more relaxed to make their attempts to talk to me.

    Approached by the officers, I’m asked for my ids.

    Handing them over, “Boss” – the one in charge, pretends to look through them as if he knows what he is looking at. Here we go, this is when everything is going to begin to change…and it’s not going to be for the best.

    Teacher asks me if I want to eat some lamb, if I CAN eat lamb. I say sure.

    The children are beginning to come and look at me. Of course I smile and say my hellos. The children are smiling, although some are shy and stand behind their parents. I begin feeling the women warm up.

    It’s dark outside, a man inserts a lightbulb outside so the dancing can continue.

    “Teacher” repeatedly comes in to make sure I’m okay, every time reminding me to eat and reminding a woman to fill my tea. He wants me to dance but I repeatedly remind him, “I can’t”. Kazakhs actually have an exceptional dancing ability.

    One tall man comes in with a felted white hat on that says “KZ” embroidered in blue. Every time a new addition arrives, he is told that I’m American and the smiles are exchanged. Big smiles…authentic warm welcomes.

    “Teacher” pushes a boy of around 8 years old to me. He tells me he is one of his students.

    “Hello. Welcome to my home.”

    I express myself with the biggest smile and say, “Thank you. What’s your name.” I give him something easy because I know if a successful dialogue passes between us, this will give the boy confidence and hopefully continue on.
    “My name is (insert Kazakh name here).”

    The whole room laughs, in a good way, and encourages the boy to speak more. There is some clapping. The boy is smiling.

    “Boss” is now telling me that when they are finished, the police will take me to a place to sleep. There is nowhere for me to stay here. I know this is complete BS and if they weren’t there I’d be staying with some local family, warm and well fed.

    The boy and I continue on in very basic English, “Teacher” is beaming.

    An portly old woman sits next to me, closely. The women begin entering and smiling at me.

    I know this game. Get in well with the children, show myself as a woman with a love for children, and things begin to fall into place. If I were living in a small community where we don’t have visitors, let alone foreign guests, I would be weary of any stranger that appeared. They are just protecting their families and I appreciate and understand this. After doing this long enough, I also know the game. Generally, don’t get to chatty and smiley with the men either. As soon as a woman warms up to me, I will latch onto her and leave men behind.

    This is beginning to happen.

    The lamb arrives. It’s nearly a complete lamb on a silver platter.

    It’s placed in front of me on the platform. “Teacher” sits next to me and “Boss” takes off his shoes and climbs up on the platform to my right.

    “Teacher” offers me baijiu. “No.”

    I can feel the women let their guard down even more. I sense them smiling and beginning to see I’m not that different from them. Beating that awful stereotype of American women.

    I deny multiple offers of baijiu. “Boss”, who is the officer in charge, has taken down about 10 shots of baijiu. One after the other. This is beginning to worry me. I question how am I going to get out of this. He tells me that shortly we will leave.

    “Teacher” has handed me a large knife to cut pieces off the lamb.

    “I can’t, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to eat.”

    He smiles, takes the knife off and cuts me off a nice fatty piece. Oh god, here we go again, how am I going to do this.

    Chew chew chew chew chew, gulp.

    I’m handed another, a little less fatty. He’s cutting faster than I can chew and gulp. Eventually, I have a little handful of mutton and a little handful of half chewed, large fatty pieces of spit up lamb.

    The old Kazakh woman hands me a sugar cube. I smile, “Thank you”. She returns the smile with a gentle nod of the head. The women and children, especially the two girls that have been there since the beginning, are getting closer and closer to my left.

    “Teacher” keeps trying to take me to dance. I keep trying to get my camera out to get photos but “Boss” and his minions are preventing all my free movement with their controlling eyes and the fear that is beginning to build.

    The music is loud, everyone is dancing. “Boss” tells me it’s time to go and “Teacher” drags me out into the dance floor. I’m guided to the DJ where he introduces me to an older man, where I am introduced as an American. I’m directed to stand next to him so a photo can be taken. I shake his hand and smile at the DJ. “Boss” is looking for me and he is drunk.

    I take a deep breath and I know everything is about to change as soon as I leave this village. As soon as I put my bike in the back of that truck. (My stomach is turning just remembering the point where everything is about to change.)

    Pushing my bike up to the pickup, it’s to be loaded into the back over the tailgate and onto farm tools and hay. Another car is being loaded up that will be traveling with us. I repeatedly remind them NOT TO LIFT FROM THE SADDLE…”BE CAREFUL OF THIS!!!!!” Pointing to the triple crank as it’s precariously thrown in. Double checking to make sure my fuel bottle hasn’t fallen out.

    Nothing worst than a bunch of drunk men wanting to show off their muscle and intellect. Wait, there is…


    Blitzed “Boss” gets in the passenger seat and a drunker Kazakh gets into drive.

    Slowly down the street, through the dunes with a star filled sky, I can feel the bike bouncing around in the back. I pray that it’s okay, but there is nothing I can do at this point. This is stressing me, I hate the police. I really really hate the police.

    I can feel the truck moving from side to side of the road. He’s not going too fast and there is a car in front of us. I’m assuming he is just following the taillights at this point, or his drunk vision.

    “Boss” keeps asking me stupid questions and I respond with “I don’t understand what you are saying” or “I don’t know”. If I say “I don’t know” he responds with “Ai Lun, why don’t you know” and using this strange voice. A voice a man in authority would not use.

    Over and over, these trivial questions that I can barely make sense of are coming in my direction.

    He offers me a cigarette. I take it and smoke it. I’m stressed, I’m scared, I’m worried.

    “Ohhhhhh, Americans smoke?”


    At this point I’m just answering questions with yes or no or maybe, with no real idea of what I’m saying but giving him stupid answers to his stupid questions.

    At this point, in such a short ride, he has put his hand back and shook my hand telling me he is glad to meet me…oh, about a half dozen times, if not more. In these handshakes he repeatedly takes his middle finger and rubs it in my palm. I pull away quickly and firmly. This happened to Brandon in Tibet and we never figured out what it meant. We had assumed the same that it was something vulgar.

    “Aren’t you cold? You aren’t wearing enough clothes. Look at my jacket, it’s very thick.”

    He turns from his side view of me to completely around where he squeezes my arm but then moves his hand up and down my upper arm in a caressing, yet extremely firm, movement. Removing his hand he goes directly to my thigh and begins groping it telling me I don’t have enough clothes on.

    I immediately and firmly remove his hand and push it back to him. I’ve had enough of this.

    In a matter of 15km, I have had to tell the driver to watch the side of the road about 4 times! He’s nearly driven off the road more than a couple times and then “Boss” shouts at him, like the driver is a moron.

    I’m watching the road, shivering, scared.

    We turn off the tarmac onto gravel/sand. My natural defenses are turned on. I know I have to cry now…I have to cry as much as possible. There are visions of me being driven out to middle of nowhere with a drunk Kazakh police officer. I wouldn’t think this, BUT, I’ve already been groped twice in 15km. Also, from my past experience, the desert doesn’t contain the most sane folks of China. Visions of being locked in a room for hours, repeatedly being told I was going to die if I said anything…is flooding my memory.

    I let it all out. The tears are flowing.

    “Where are we going? Where are we going? Where are you taking me? I’m scared. REALLY…WHERE ARE GOING…where are you taking me? I’m scared.”

    Boss turns around and lights my face up with his cellphone.

    “Why are you crying?”

    “I’m scared, where are you taking me?!”

    “Don’t worry, it’s nothing” says the Kazakh man. I was really hoping he would worry about me and know something was wrong.

    “Boss” repeatedly asks me why I’m crying. “I’m the police, it’s no problem, it’s very safe, don’t worry.”

    I continue to cry. There is nothing I can do at this point. Everything is out of my control – I imagine myself ditching my bike and stuff, jumping out of the car and run into the desert.

    They point ahead to the lights and tell me that the police station is right ahead.

    “Why are you crying Ai Lun? Why are you crying? Why are you crying? Why are you crying? Don’t cry. Don’t be scared. We are the police.”

    It seems that I’ve set them off enough to push him off of me for awhile.

    We arrive outside the locked gate of the police station and the Kazakh stops and turns of the engine. The car that was traveling with us is parked behind. Boss stays in the truck with me while the driver exits and walks towards the back of the truck.

    I feel very strange, physically. Is there an earthquake? What’s going on? Why do I feel like I’m moving? The truck is rolling down the road towards the wall of the police station. Boss is turned around looking at me and I point ahead to the wall and steering wheel and begin screaming “HEY HEY HEY HEY!!!” and shaking my hand and pointing. The Kazakh jumps in and makes an attempt at controlling the truck while braking. Not very successful.

    Boss grabs the steering wheel and it drives off the embankment into a ditch, through a fence, and stopped by a small tree.

    Boss gets out and expresses his ignorant manliness by a lame attempt at pushing the truck out of the ditch with the Kazakh driver trying to rev the engine up and backwards.

    (I hate Boss, I wish the gears had slipped in that truck and ran over his fat face.)

    Extra hands and we are finally out. Boss gets back in the truck and starts laughing about how he thought it was an earthquake, then shouts at the driver.

    We unload the bike with again special attention called to the saddle and the crank. Of course as soon as it’s on the ground one of the younger drunk officers makes an attempt to get on and give it a ride. I push him back and express very firmly, “NO.”

    I push the bike to the station with the 3 uniformed officers, including Boss, and we enter to be greeted by warmth and another desert camo dressed officer. Took notice of the SWAT/riot gear sitting in the entryway.

    Boss shows me his id and credentials which mean nothing to me. I know enough about desert/basin dwellers to know that the people stationed out here can’t be the greatest of the force. There is a reason these morons are in the middle of nowhere.

    Sitting down Boss sits across from me looking at my Passport.

    “You are so beautiful ‘pretty girl’ (美女).”

    “No, I’m not”.

    He hands over my passport and visa to the other officers to photograph and enter my information.

    “Yes, you are. You are so beautiful. When are you leaving tomorrow?”

    “Uh, 8:30” but then I remember that sunrise isn’t until after 9:30 so I go back and reply with, “around 9:30”.

    “Yes, you can’t go too early. You are too beautiful, the wolves will eat you.”

    The only wolf I see, and will see, is your fat face holding back your fangs and drool.

    He gets on the phone and there is some movement and progress being made around the office. My passport and visa are handed back to me and I’m told that we will be going to his friends who has a place for me to sleep for the night.

    Outside we discuss the situation of my bike outside and if I have anything that will be damaged by the cold. As I rumble through one of the panniers they get frustrated, especially Boss, and he dismisses me and directs the officers to take the bike up the steps and inside.

    Again, BE CAREFUL OF THE SADDLE!!! Of course every DAMN time, they want to lift from my beautiful, newly repaired, Brooks. I pull one of the officer’s hands off the saddle. I’m getting fed up with this shit.

    I help direct the bike against the wall next to the SWAT gear.

    We walk through a pitch black field with the tall officer and Boss. There is a dim flashlight, which they don’t use for most of the way because obviously they’ve stumbled drunk through this cow path before.

    I see some typical concrete block Chinese homes, about a dozen. It’s pitch black except for the lights on in a small home with a concrete wall around it. Boss tells me that the couple with the little boy at the Kazakh village will be there along with his friend.

    The door open to the home and I see 2 women, 1 man, 1 officer, and a little boy around a table with a large amount of food. One woman exits, whom I haven’t seen before, and leads me to a door that opens to a two bed guest sleeping area. The small coal stove is going and the room is quite warm. I set down my bag and gratefully say “Thank you, it’s very comfortable”. I’m hoping this will be the end until morning and lock the door and be rid of them.

    No, Boss instructs me to go have dinner with them all. So far, with my personal reactions with Boss and observing his power over the other 3 officers…I know it’s not up for debate.

    “No no no, I’m okay, I’ll just rest here.”

    “No, eat together.”

    I enter the living area and sit at one end facing the door. If you know Chinese culture, the guest of honor usually sits at one end facing the door.

    The food is simple, good, Chinese food. Conversation basic and trying to help the little boy with his English. The boy is to my left and a lower ranking officer from the Kazakh village to my right they were there upon my arrival.

    Dinner is short for the us before Boss starts ordering shot glasses and busting out baijiu. Boss passes one to me and I let him know that I do not drink…I WON’T DRINK, “I can’t drink baijiu. REALLY REALLY REALLY, I CAN’T DRINK BAIJIU, it will give me diarrhea and make me throw up”. I have to keep all my senses as alert as possible.

    Boss is getting very frustrated with me and another woman, who I find out is pregnant. She is told it’s not problem, I guess fetal alcohol is NO PROBLEM IN CHINA?!?! We are getting bossed and I finally say I will drink a beer and she agrees to a fruit beer, basically a pineapple O’Douls.

    The “cheers” begin. For hours this goes on. Boss and cronies make me chug my entire glasses of beer with their shot of baijiu. Ok folks, I can drink Chinese beer, it’s never been a problem…only the headache afterwards. I’m drinking tea still, to keep the drunkies away. When I say make, Boss likes to scream at me a lot. Shouting orders the drunker and drunker I watch him.

    Conversation turns to why was I crying and I said it’s because there were no women around and I don’t trust men. I have met bad men before and had problems. The women completely understood where I was coming from.

    THEN…Boss tells me he had to take me away because he heard some of the younger people talking about cutting my earlobes off for my earrings. My 5rmb earrings! This I find a little strange, as I don’t remember anyone staring at my ears. But he goes on and on about how it wasn’t safe and he had to take me away for my own safety.

    Boss continually gives me the damn handshake with the middle finger rub. I see him do it to the single woman living there, the hostess, and she pulls away and slaps him playfully and pretends to be disgusted. So, I’m right. It is vulgar.

    I finally ask the younger, tall officer, he’s 24 and I’ve been to address him as “little brother”. I ask him the meaning and he says it means “I love you” in English. Maybe these guys don’t translate “I love you” and “I want to take you to bed” (I’m being easy with my language here) the same way I do.

    Little brother and I talk about the Kazakh minority and ask him to teach me some. Boss interrupts this by screaming at him and I about something and now he’s going to sing a song. A serenade of sorts. I had a video but it seems that the undressed officer erased this with many other photos from that night.

    At one point when there was dancing with the others and I was sitting at the table, no one was looking and Boss grabs my right breast and squeezes. I push it off and pull away.

    A little later he pulls me up to dance for the second time. He is trying to pull on my body where his right hand is. If I had fat there he would be groping it but he’s basically just pinching my skin. I continually try to pull away but at the same time to go along with it the best I can. My bike is locked up and there is nothing I can do. The couple and child have left, but the hostess is still there.

    Around 3 in the morning, the older officer but minion is passed out behind me. Poor guy, Boss repeatedly was shouting orders at him to drink and I finally said, “no” when he was passed out and his head on the table. This is one photo that wasn’t deleted and took it after I felt a hand groping my bum.

    Boss and the hostess, during another one of his drunken serenades.

    “Little Brother” who seems to have a good and warm heart. I kind of feel that I can trust him. The man in the back is the husband of the pregnant woman and father of the child. He returned later in the night and acted very effeminate, he also deleted all my photos off my point and shoot. Take note of the baijiu bottles on the table, there were about a dozen on the floor.

    Of course I can’t include everything that happened that evening, because I’d spend all week going into details.

    But I did notice Boss getting angry when I was speaking with “Little Brother”. Granted, I was a little tipsy, especially when Boss barks orders at me for not finishing my entire glass of beer during his millions of “gangbei”.

    “Little Brother” leaves to go home.

    Around 2am he shoves a shot of baijiu in my face and the hostess. He states this is the last for the evening. Okay, finally, I’ll cooperate if I can just go to bed, please. I’m exhausted.

    Damn, I hate Moutai…tastes like hot plastic and gasoline!

    The hostess is cleaning up and Boss buys 2 packs of smokes from her. He asks me if I’m ready to “rest” I say “yes”.

    I assume he is only escorting to my room with his flashlight…but I’m still on guard.

    He opens the door and there is still some coal burning and there is no room light so he navigates with the flashlight. I’ve had this happen a dozen times where I have to arrange for bed with their flashlight and then they leave.

    I set on the foot of the bed as he adds some coal to the fire. The hostess told me he was a good man and there is nothing to worry about, I’ll never trust a whores opinion again.

    I’m looking straight ahead and he’s at my 9 o’clock and I watch his fat fingers fumble to turn of the flashlight.

    Every single hair on my body is standing straight on its end…I’m all senses right now. The room is completely black and he walks towards me and I watch the glow of the cigarette.

    Sitting down next to me, so that his legs are pressing against the side of mine…I watch the red glow of the cigarette butt fall to the dirty cement floor i n s l o w m o t i o n.

    Within an instant he’s on top of me and I scream at the top of my lungs, push him off me, while he tries to tackle me out the door but he’s too drunk. I run into the room with the hostess in hysterics…when I say hysteria…I mean complete hysteria. He’s the police, this could end very badly…I have NO POWER HERE.

    She starts screaming at him of what he did and he says,
    “Nothing, she just started screaming ‘aaaaaaaaaahhhhhAAahahaha’ and I didn’t do anything”.


    This goes back and forth between the 2 for about 15 minutes and then him trying to coerce me to go back to the room. Every time he comes towards me I throw myself back against the wall and start screaming. I’m going to act as insane as possible…nothing worst than a crazy ass foreigner.

    I start with repeating my “oh mani padme hum”, a Tibetan prayer. I speak it in Tibetan so they are confused with what I’m saying and can’t understand anything. The prayer takes over me like a trance and I have memories of Tibetans and monks and pleasant moments rushing over me.

    They think I’m drunk out of my gourd but I’m not. I’m praying because it’s all I have at this point. Over and over and over.

    He continually comes over to me and reaches for me, again I throw myself to the back of the wall.

    The hostess comes next to me and tries to comfort me. I’m holding on to her crying. She tries to soothe me and says it’s okay and “it’s nothing” “it’s nothing” over and over and over.

    Every time boss approaches me, I scream, and she screams at him.

    I text Jason to call me. He calls and I hand the phone to her. Her first statement is “I don’t understand you” after Jason asked her what the problem was.

    Jason is screaming at her and she is acting like an idiot, saying there is no problem. Jason confirms she is an idiot and tells me to call the police and I say, “he is the police!”.

    This isn’t going anywhere and after over an hour Boss is still sitting smuggly in the corner denying anything. Saying he didn’t do anything. Over and over and over…

    I take a deep breathe, look him deep in the eyes, stand up…and scream in Chinese, “I’m an American and I’m going to tell the American Government and the Chinese Government and YOU are going to have a big problem. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A BIG PROBLEM BECAUSE I’M AN AMERICAN!!!!!”

    He’s out the door in 2 seconds.

    Little Brother returns and he and the hostess try to soothe me. Little Brother says he will stand guard of my door all night. I say that’s not necessary and I explain to him and the hostess what Boss did. They acted a little surprised and there were some “oohhhhh’s”.

    The hostess gives Little Brother and I some drinks to take to the other room because it gets dry because of the coal burning stove. The both escort me in and light 2 candles for light.

    Finally, it’s over…not yet.

    Hostess tells me to lock the door when he leaves and shows me how, she leaves.

    There is something about Little Brother that I found harmless…and I still do, but he is intoxicated. Do not let the guard down.

    He sits on the bed across from me and we are smoking cigarettes. He tells me to get ready for bed and he will protect me, reminding me that he is “little brother”. Only the shoes are being taken off and I get under the covers.

    A couple seconds later he is sitting on the edge of my bed…tucking me in because he is “little brother”. He then asks if he can sleep next to me.

    “NO. You can sleep on that bed.”

    “Big Sister, it’s nothing, I’m little brother, it’s okay, no problem. I’ll just sleep next to you.”

    Come on…REALLY?! I may have fell for that when I was 16…but really? You think I’m going to believe that line. I laugh and say, “no, you can sleep over there, really, just me here…no room, i need to sleep. please leave and let me sleep.”

    This goes on for about 10 minutes of him asking over and over again if he can sleep next to me and that it’s nothing.

    At this point I’m just laughing at him, poor dear boy, “No.”

    Then we get to the point where I’m telling he needs to leave, nicely. That I’m tired and I need to rest because I have to ride tomorrow. Okay, on one condition…that we kiss.

    HAHAAHAHA…REALLY!?!? I have to kiss you for you to leave. Little brother you are talking to the WRONG kind of big sister.

    He points to his lips, “here”.

    “No. Please leave I need to rest.”

    “No? Why?”

    “Because, you are little brother and I want to sleep.”

    Again, we are going around in circles about this. He asks for one on the cheek. “No.” After some time negotiating my services to him he settles for letting him kiss me on my forehead, after I denied the lips/cheeks/etc.

    I’m under the covers with them pulled up to my neck at this point. I say I will allow it as long as he promises to leave afterwards.

    The covers are pulled up to my eyes just so I can peer enough over them. He kisses me gently on my forehead and I can feel him moving downwards as I fight pulling the covers upward. This is ridiculous…I start saying, “okay okay okay go go go okay go” as I sink further under the covers and making my head disappear to the best of my ability.

    After about 5 forehead to crown of head kisses he leaves. I jump up and lock the door. Good Night!

    It is also illegal for me to have photographs of Chinese police, but what they did was completely illegal so I’m exposing their scandalous ways.


  4. The End of Part II

    I thought it would only be fitting to post images from the end, last month, in Tibet.  This was the most awful bus ride I’ve ever experienced – besides the fact that I couldn’t eat, I was vomiting, and…

    You get the point, it was rough.  Day 1 took 13 hours to travel 150km.




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  5. Close to the goal…in Tibet September 2011

    7000m peak in the background with Namucuo (Namu Lake) to the left in the photo…the highest lake in the world.

    self portrait

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