a breeze of anguish

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Today was a breeze.

Yuci is well-known for its rebuilt Old Town:

Yuci Old Town

A lot of Chinese movies and TV series have been shot here.

I ran into some students from Shandong 山东 who were taking pictures dressed up in imperial outfits:

taking pictures in Yuci

To me, this subject is really interesting: How do people interact with their history?

These kids were born way after Chairman Mao passed away, and they probably know only very little of the hardships their elder generations had to go through. They have never tasted the hatred that poisoned this country during the “Cultural Revolution” – what a blessing!

I think enjoying something because it looks nice and it feels right is an underestimated privilege.

But then there is always a way to be even off worse:
ancient prison cell

This is not my hotel room. It’s a prison cell from a couple of centuries back. Hard times, no privileges at all.

Then I noticed the hole:

exit of the ancient prison

See the thing in the center at the end of the wall? It used to be an opening to get rid of the corpses of all the inmates who died during their time of imprisonment.

I wonder how many people have entered this place from the door and left it through the hole. Terrible thought.

But hey, did I mention that this Old Town is really worth looking at?


I spent about 4 hours running about the place in a picture-taking frenzy.

Even a cat looked somehow meaningful to me:

two-eyed cat

Now I’ve seen this before, the thing with the eyes, but it still gets me every time. Mesmerizing…

A little way outside of town I found a place where they make tombstones:

tombstone inscription

This one was for a person whose family name was Yu 宇, and it was custom-made for the occasion. They do get advance orders on a regular basis though. I wonder what kind of a feeling it must be ordering your own tombstone…

Pondering about this thought (or was I just counting my own footsteps?), I heard something that resembled a whimpering dog from afar.

A dog it was not. It was pure anguish:


This lost soul was standing there facing a pile of rubbish and crying and crying and crying her eyes out. Some people were looking. I asked an old guy who came across my way, but he turned out to be mute or deaf or both. Why didn’t I ask her?

I think I was scared.

Scared of what?

Scared of contamination by misery.

Well, I’ll let you pass your own judgement on this. Anyways here’s a picture that I took later that night, while I was still walking south:


Wonder why I look so weird? – It’s a 30 second exposure time.

I’m in a cheap truck-stop-restaurant-motel now, it’s midnight and the day is weighing heavy on my eyelids.

The lost soul is out there sleeping I hope, though crying I think.

Everything is good with me though.

I have remained untainted yet.

  • joao

    Hey, can I ask you some questions out of curiosity? If you can reply tom y email, I's really appreciate it!
    What is your backpack like? I mean how many kilos and what is it that you take?
    Do you use only one backpack?
    Do you carry nikon or canon or none of them?


  • Christoph

    Hey Joao, I think my stuff pounds in at about >20kg (check Nov. 9th for more detail)
    Besides clothes and stuff I got a tent, 2 sleeping bags, a GPS and a small notebook computer, all in one backpack.
    The SLRS are in two toploader bags that I carry left and right.
    Sometimes it feels really like I'm some kind of a "Transformer" or something…


  • Chance

    How come two sleeping bags?


  • Meagan

    The picture you took of the woman touched me. Such misery. So sad. I hope she found some peace.


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