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I stayed around at the house of Grandpa Liu 刘爷爷 until noon, chatting with the old man and the old lady, waiting for the kids to be back from school.

Even the dog was nice after he had gotten used to me. Lovely people. It was hard to leave.

Grandma had prepared some bread and some apples for my lunch, and I made sure to have them in the nicest place I could find on my way today:

Shanxi mountains

I stayed up there for more than an hour, just listening to the wind blow, the cars going by in the valley – and I think I even heard some birds singing…

Then I was back on the track:

mountain road

A pretty rugged track it was.

I thought maybe short videos could be nice on this. I placed my cellphone down on the ground and pushed record. Then I started walking. When I was just about to turn around, the motorcycle appeared:


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See the dude looking over his shoulder? Must have been weird: there’s this foreigner walking around in the middle of nowhere up in the hills, and then he suddenly turns around and starts FOLLOWING you, hahaha…

Today I had an interesting conversation with one of Grandpa Liu’s grandkids, a twelve-year-old girl:

me: “So, you’ve been to Beijing before! How did you like it there?”

girl: “It was pretty good, I had fun.”

me: “Well, what exactly did you like about Beijing?”

girl: “You know, Uncle Chris, if you wear something white here in our town, it will have turned black after a day. But not in Beijing. You can wear white clothes all week if you want over there!”

…so much for one of the greatest pass-times a few hundred thousand foreigners in Beijing have in common: complaining about the bad air.

A photograph of my shoe impacting on the ground next to the road might help to illustrate:


That’s some bad-ass dust, eh?

Here’s my paw after a couple of hours outside:

hand at the end of the day

From what people tell me this whole pollution problem seems to have been at its worst in the late nineties, and is slowly getting better now.

Let’s hope it really does.

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