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Someone had left his sneakers outside, on a wall next to the road:


My boots didn’t care much though. They just carried my aching body away:

mountains in Shanxi

The mountains to the left, the flat land to the right, stomping the concrete highway, so we walked, my boots and I:

bus stop

Some kids were shooting pool, and I briefly thought about challenging them:

pool sharks

…but then I decided to do that another time.

I had a rest (cookies and water) here:


A tiny spider crept up my leg and sat on my knee, and I wondered how it had survived the snow just a few days before.

Then it was gone – or maybe I had inhaled it with my cookies?

When I got back on the road, nothing had changed:


At least the mountains hadn’t moved a bit.

Just when I thought today was going to be the most boring episode ever on this trip, I arrived at the gates of what seemed like some kind of temple:

Bian Que Temple

Indeed a temple, dedicated neither to Buddhism nor Taoism or Confucianism, but to a guy called Bian Que ๆ‰้นŠ.

Now I had never heard of this Bian Que before, but from what I understood he was a legendary miracle doctor a couple of centuries B.C.

From what I can see on the Internet now that I’m writing this, Bian Que has recently been claimed by the Falungong ๆณ•่ฝฎๅŠŸ, a group opposed to the central government in Beijing.

But for the people here, this wouldn’t make any difference anyways – the site is more than 600 years old, as ๆŽๅ…ˆ็”Ÿ (Mr. Li), the keeper of the temple grounds, tells me:

within Bian Que Temple

I stayed around for about two hours, sipping on green tea and enjoying a delightful conversation with Mr. Li ๆŽๅ…ˆ็”Ÿ:

with Mister Li

Some people showed up and burned some incense, and it was only then that I realized how late it was, and that I would have to walk the rest of the way at night:

night in Shanxi

Sometimes I like the darkness though, because I can hide in it.

The only things audible: the rattling of my bags, the hushing of my breath, and the beautiful dry leather sound of my boots on the asphalt.

They would be quiet if they were only sneakers.

  • Marvin

    I bet you are looking forward to spring. This whole journey is turning you as tough as the leather on your boots. What mountain range is that, the Himalayas?


  • Christoph

    Hahaha, NOT the Himalayas (and you know well I'll never ever be tough, I'll always be dorky chris, hahaha!)


  • Joshua

    Fun to read 12 years later in
    Also year of the rat

    N know you are about to jump off into the rugged and remote from now until
    Almaty??! Or maybe all the way to Iran??!


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