Beijing (original email)

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September 17th 1997
Published: November 22nd 2010
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Hey everyone,

How's it going? We are now in Beijing, having crossed by train into China about 4 days ago. It was pretty neat, we took local trains (as opposed to one international train that most travellers take) and so got to stop in a couple towns that probably have never seen tourists before. Got to learn to count to ten (in Chinese, we know how to count to ten in English, we're math majors) in some restaurant with the whole family helping out. Gave them a Canadian flag pin for that...

So today we just got back from the Great Wall. We camped there over night, at Simitai (about 3 hours from Beijing). It was way cool, first we had to climb up the wall, it's in a non-touristy condition, so quite dangerous in parts (climbing up 75 degree slopes with a tent on your back ain't easy...) but well worth the effort. After about 2 or so hours, we reached the tower that we camped in along with 5 other people we had met in the hostel earlier. It was amazing, as the sun set in the west the moon was rising in the east, I couldn't decide which way to look... as if that wasn't enough, a gentle cloud cover passed in front of the moon. It's enough to give a guy inner peace, and I haven't even got to Nepal yet.

After mastering the Cyrillic script, we are now onto Chinese characters. We know about 10? so far, at this rate by the year 2013 we will know enough o read a newspaper.

So back to Mongolia for a sec... It appears that we only talked about the problems we had on our trip. Lotsa good stuff happened too:

Mongolians are amazingly polite and curious and helpful. (There's no thesaurus on this thing). I think it's because the borders have just recently been open to tourism, and so we're the first wave. (Sullying the place up for future travellers.) We went to sand dunes in the Gobi over 100m high, and the edges on them were perfectly crisp... unlike some that I went to in Chile, which were amazing in themselves, but there was major evidence that you weren't the first one there... Our guide even took us to an Ulaan Baatar disco after our trip (everyone was watching us as the official dance gurus because we were from the west (and Gerry's from Strathroy, Ontario for crying out loud))

Local Customs (Mongolia):

- Drinking fermented milk of various milk-producing animals (camel, horse, mare, goat, sheep...) I kinda liked it after a while, Gerry got gas

- Living in Gers... as nomadic people they move around a lot and so live in portable tent-like things that they can move in about 7 hours. (As former co-op students we can appreciate this)

- Brewing home-made vodka... first round of which each person must skull (that means drink it all for you non-Aussies) and entire glass. This one we're bringing home

Toilet Update: (Mongolia)

- Gerry writes 'In the open air baby... well for 8 days at least' Otherwise it's a mix of fully functional toilets, toilets placed over holes in the ground, or just holes in the ground. But the toilet paper has improved immensely from Russia. (Quite impressive for a country with few functional toilets.)


Bobby: You'll be the best player on the team for sure. Do they have ice in Tennessee?

Roach: that one never gets old.

Phil: email $5/hour, nice Spanglish

Dan: anything happen between you and Danish girl?

Brad: Thanks for the Princess Di info.

TnT: Lake Baikal, Mongolia, email at internet cafes, coming home early December, will make it to LA's, will go with Beee (if she'll have me ...) We're in China.

WLS: What's your handicap? Say hi to Nancy Connor and Ben... Do your kids admit to having girlfriends yet?

Ang: now in China, headed to Nepal, India, etc... nice to hear from you.

Pat: here's your mail.

Kirsty, Eileen: James' address is

Jason: More detail please... don't you learn that stuff in school ?

MJV: Sorry we haven't changed your address yet, email here keeps dying on us...

JHT: About flippin time... or have you just been in SAP training/headhunting interviews the whole time?

Steve, MSB, GB, Roach, Brad: Thanks for Messier info, Canucks, who'da thunk? (it's good to get hockey news)

MSB: Develop drinking problem? PS need passport signature in 5 years PSS no golfing in Russia PSSS youski sunkski myski Redski Octoberski

Kimmy: Pretty - yes. Most women cute, no computer in apartment, no backyard, cool phone, eleven years high school, 6 years uni, not good English but better than our Russian, no Guinness it's against the rules unless you're in Ireland, what do we do with all those "I love you Kimmy" pictures now that you're kissing boys? VB ask Jen to ask MJV, he'll get you the scoop.

REF: internet cafes, computer stores, libraries and upscale hotel business centres

Chuck&My: Kirk, Daniel Boone?, we're glou-ing heavily, only 25 cents US for 642ml of 3.4%!b(MISSING)eer in a bar...

DLA: So finally popped the question, congrats, say hi to Rachel

Lloyd: Mom wanted to know, are you growing the flowers yourself? The key here is timeliness...

Viv: no comment on first email... Very funny stories, glad you're still alive but you gotta work on your spelling

Louisa: Can you please take us of your joke distribution list, it took us 3 hours to read our emails and the cost is killing us. Thanks.

GB: Russia no bicycles, Mongolia no roads suitable for bikes, China billion bikes, no fat people.

So that's it. I know we may be asking a bit much, but if you do reply, can you please not attach our original message at the bottom ? We've had horrible internet connections, really slow. Thanks.

See you soon from Xi'an (that's in China)

Love Eric and Gerry (or Gerry and Eric)


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