Friday, October 06, 2006

Bringing It All Back Home

We did it. Mike, David and I made it back to George in Jinan safely and on our intended arrival date.

Mike during some of the final sooty days through coal mining towns

In the final weeks of the trip, China locked into some sort of hilarious virtual reality, as I gained enough understanding of the culture and language to get my points across and to know where and how I could interact and fuck with the people I came across. I guess I got to the point where I know just enough to be dangerous, to quote my boss back home.
Arriving back in Jinan amid the chaos, we all forgot to check CCTV to see whether we were aired on the sports channel (a film crew was at our hotel on the Tibetan Plateau and they were filming as Mike and I returned to the hotel on horses) and George greeted us with homemade burgers and Johnny Walker, as promised.

David's Dubious Spoke Repair

The last day of the ride was interrupted by a stop to have David's spokes replaced for the umpteenth time, this time the solution being twisting two too-short spokes together to replace each broken spoke. We wound through corn fields, beyond the endless row of trees lining the road, that were full of corn when we first passed through Shandong Province two months ago. From the road, I have watched the harvest cycle: first rice and then corn were tied into bundles, then removed from the field, dried on the roadway, hulled and shucked, and the fields burned and then re-planted for next year.

Crops Planted for Next Year

Similarly, we rode full circle, today riding back out to the reservoir that we had passed on our first day of the ride back in August. It was fascinating to see the difference in construction, crops, and homes that have occurred in the relatively short time since we began the ride.
All told, the ride worked out to a few kilometers short of 8000km. Two months, three brake levers for me, countless spokes for David, one bike drop for Mike, and one bum thumb for George. In that distance, I learned a bit of Mandarin; I see their quirks but still don't fully understand the Chinese; I have a much more realistic understanding of David, who I hardly knew prior to the trip; I learned more about George and Mike, who I thought I knew very well to begin with; and of course, I learned a handful of lessons about myself along the way. I hope to think through all of these interactions, experiences and lessons and write out those stories on this site in the coming months. I know that the thousands of photos alone that we took will take quite some time to process, let alone the things we have done and seen.
Tomorrow morning I will take a train to Beijing. Tonight I will have to sort through all the little bits of junk and gifts I picked up along the way and figure out some way to bring it all back home. In the coming months I will have to sort through the stuff I bring home in my head.

Odometer Upon Arrival in Jinan

It's been a hell of a trip, and to be totally honest, I could get right back on that bike tomorrow morning, go through the irritating process of strapping all my shit to the back of a dirt bike with fraying bungee cords, and head off to yet another unknown city and fumble my way through finding a hotel and meal before doing it again the next morning. Instead, I will plunge back into reality, spending one short day readjusting before walking into the office and seeing how things have changed there in the past few months.
But at this moment, there is Chinese red wine to be drunk, video games to be played, and shit to be talked with George and Mike before we part ways for some time. And I know that the next adventure will be just as wild and fun as this has been.
I'm looking forward to seeing all of you back at home and to eat a bowl of Cheerios with cold, cold milk. Man, that will be fucking great. See you soon.

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

See you soon!

10/07/2006 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(kevin must learn to sign his name after posts...)


10/07/2006 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Mico Verde Wojo said...

Holy shit Cohn you've done it again. I just sailed through an f'ing cyclone on the way to Oz and I still feel like l'il be-ach after reading your blog.

10/30/2006 1:29 AM  
Blogger Buck Pennington said...

What a TRIP... in every sense of the word! I followed the link posted at Radio Paradise (in a song comment forum, forget which song) and am glad I did.

Great writing and great pics. Thanks for sharing.

3/01/2007 11:56 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home