I am 26 years old, and I’m scared of bees.
Anything with yellow stripes: bees, wasps, hornets.
– “There are killer bees that hunt down people in Africa/South America!”
– “Seven hornets can kill a horse!”
People also used to tell us kids that being stung in the tongue would very likely result in the person’s death, unless drastic rescue measures were taken out immediately (meaning a cut in the throat).
Well, I remember a summer day when I was six or seven years old. I was sitting on a swing in our garden, and I think I was singing a song while I was happily swinging away. Anyways my mouth must have been open, because suddenly I caught a bee or a wasp in it.
There was an immediate sharp pain, and I stopped to swing. There were tears, and then there was a realization.
The realization that I was going to die.
Well, I obviously I’m still alive. That day about 20 years ago, I just had more ice-cream than usual and the swelling on the tip of my tongue went away. But ever since then I’ve been scared of bees and wasps and hornets. The yellow stripes… The humming sounds… The hideous little faces…
During my worst years, I’ve been known to evacuate myself from classrooms even during exams if a wasp had only come in through the window…
It’s embarrassing but it’s true.
Well, I thought I had this thing under control by now. I’ve walked past several beekeepers on the way before, and there have been no panic-attacks whatsoever.
I’m a grown man, I praised myself sometimes, a grown man who’s not even afraid of bees anymore!
So there I was today, out in the most beautiful landscapes that you could imagine in this arid part of the world:
The snow-capped big ones seemed so near:
And the crops were not just yellow but really golden:
Once I got tired, and I lay down in the shade of a gas station:
They had some kind of a power problem, so the only job the staff had to do was tell their customers to go to the other gas station a half mile away.
I was laying there, in the shade, and it didn’t come to my mind that so much bad shit was going to happen in just a little bit:
Then I got up and started walking again.
Then the first bee appeared.
Then there was another one.
And another one.
Then all their friends were there, and the air around me was full of bees.
Oh god please, I thought, make them go away!
They didn’t go away. In fact, they looked really pissed off, and a bunch of them started to circle around my head, trying to find a good landing zone.
I started running.
After all, I figured, they must have a nest or a beekeeper somewhere around here. If I run, then I will pass by them much quicker. Also, the wind is going to prevent them from landing on me.
…4 kilometers. With the caboose rumbling behind me and the furious bees circling and diving around my head. There I was, running and shaking my hair from side to side, and sometimes waving one of my arms, and trying to keep my mouth shut tight (because of the dying thing).
People were staring at me from the shelter of their homes. Some were pointing fingers. I saw many a laughing face. But I didn’t care.
I was running, and the bees were following me, there were bees everywhere, and I could feel them in my hair.
I tried shaking my head from side to side.
I repeatedly screamed through my teeth: “Lasst mich in Ruhe!!” (“Leave me alone!!”)
They didn’t give a fuck. They were soldiers, and if stinging me meant death to one of them, then that was just one for the team. One for their team.
After 4 km I felt that I wasn’t able to stand it anymore. I turned into this driveway:
“Let me into your house!” I screamed at some guys who sitting there playing cards: “the fucking bees are following me!!”
The guys just waved me in and continued with their card game.
A little while later when I felt brave enough to come out again, I noticed that the dudes were still sitting there, playing cards as if nothing had ever happened:
It was another one of those WTF-moments for me.
“The bees…” I started, I was still out of breath: “the bees were after me! Where are they from? Why are they everywhere? And why are they so mean?”
The guys looked up, and they seemed a bit amused: “you didn’t see the beekeeper’s car passing by here a little while ago, did you? That’s where the bees are from. Just chill here, they’ll be gone sooner than you think.”
—big WTF-moment, VERY VERY BIG WTF-moment—
“So I have been running at the top of my lungs to escape from the bees, when all the while I was really chasing them and their god-damned moving nest?!”
“That’s right!” the dudes said, and one of them hit the other on the head because he had done something wrong during the card game, “what are you so scared of anyways? Just take it easy and the bees won’t do you any harm, you’ll see: Chinese bees are really friendly!”
That was a good one – they all laughed, then they continued with their game.
I started examining the damage: 2 massive lumps on my head:
(You can’t really see them with all that hair, but believe me: they’re there.)
See, if it hadn’t been for that terrible bee incident, I would have liked to tell you so much about this nice park I went to in Jiuquan:
Jiuquan means “wine spring”, and there’s a story about a general more than 2000 years ago who poured some of his own wine into a spring here, so that his soldiers would have wine to celebrate as well.
Well, the spring is supposed to be this one:
Of course the design has been altered during the course of the centuries, but the locals claim that the water is still the same from the legendary “wine spring” story back then.
It was a very nice park, if only my head hadn’t been hurting that much.
There’s an ancient drum tower here as well:
It has been remodeled and looks much like any other drum tower (or bell tower) that we’ve seen so far.
The only difference is: I looked this up on the Internet, and it said somewhere that Marco Polo had mentioned this particular drum tower in Jiuquan. I thought that was pretty cool.
The poisonous injections into my head must have impacted my vision, because I thought I saw some kind of fast-food war when I walked past a large public square:
Apparently, the colonel had put a little dancing squad outside his chicken shop, hoping to attract more customers:
…but then the orange chicken shop next door counter-attacked with an own dancing squad AND a bouncy castle:
1:0, orange wins.
…oh, my head hurts.