Big Bear Lake
Mt. Huashan China
Guoliang Tunnel China
Guoliang: Another shot
of the cliff face where the windows into the tunnel can be seen clearly.
This section is near the end closest to the village previously isolated
before the tunnel was dug.
Mount Huashan: Looking
up one of the narrow flights of stairs I frequently considered turning back.
But the prospect of a longer climb down put an end to that nonsense.
Guoliang: Another shot
looking out one of the windows across a depression in the cliff where
another of the windows can be seen.
Greetings from Pangea,
In my Bolivia Death Road
postcard last year I mentioned a couple other "dangerous" roads to be
found around the world and my determination to visit them all one day. In
south-eastern China the
Guoliang Tunnel in Taihang Mountains looks more dangerous than it is.
The amazing engineering feat accomplished by determined villagers using
only hand tools is intriguing to say the least. The other "dangerous"
attraction, also in China is a treacherous hiking trail up
Huashan (If the article leaves you thinking only idiots would hike
such a trail, be sure to read the reassuring
Huashan Letters at the end.). Conveniently located not far from Xian,
I'll try to visit both during this trip.
My Japan Airline flight 61 leaves 13:20 on Thursday, 29 May, arriving in
Bangkok 23:25 Friday. Between jotting down these few notes to alert those
of you who follow my exploits and doing some last minute research, I am
more or less ready to go. I'll get to the Pangea part shortly. Starting in
Bangkok for my long overdue "annual" physical checkup at the fabulous
Bumrungrad Hospital, I plan to work my way into southern China through
and Nepal. The actual itinerary is not set of course, as serendipity
always plays a central role in my adventures. On the last trip to Nepal I
discovered an air link between Kathmandu and Lhasa and recently found
flights linking Kathmandu and Paro in Bhutan as well. So, I am good to
I suspect most people missed the four hour worldwide peace extravaganza
dedicated to the interconnectedness of the human family on 10 May called
Pangea Day. Pangea,
as you may recall from your high school geography class is the name given
to the hypothetical cluster of land masses before the movement of tectonic
plates created the current continental configurations. Symbolically, it
represents a time before continents drifted apart... when all the world
was one. I watched most of it on the Internet in real time. The organizers
made the 51
film centerpiece available for viewing at your terminal and I highly
recommend watching some of the short films. I especially liked "Small Blue
Dot" and "The Slap." They will make you think; they will make you cry and
some will make you laugh. Never has a program more clearly demonstrated
that we are all members of the same human family. It was the brainchild of
Jehane Noujaim and TED.
My longtime yearning for world peace made Pangea Day especially poignant
for me as it coincidentally occurred on the day I turned 74, a very nice
Several friends have alerted me to worrisome warnings of a "POSTCARD"
virus. This is a hoax. There is a remote possibility this particular hoax
is only the latest in a series of pranks directed at my Yahoo email
activities. The recent move to Gmail.com for future travel related
communications and the aggressive weeding of my mailing lists were
prompted by a long history of serious difficulties with Yahoo. The urban
section at About.com is a perfectly reliable and authoritative place
to check the various "Warnings" people are mindlessly forwarding to their
friends about virus attacks. I always research such well meaning helpful
hints and NEVER forward them to anyone! Most are hoaxes and the real ones
generally don't need to be sent to the average computer user. That's what
the commercial virus checkers are for, right?
In the process of looking for ways to strengthen the security of my own
computer system, I came across the free
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer. If you have a reasonable degree
of computer competence, it is a highly recommended computer security
assessment and enhancement package. I was amazed how many vulnerabilities
it discovered on my system, all of which it helped me painlessly correct,
ending nearly all the mysterious grinding sounds my machine used to make
A friend recently sent me a link entitled: "The
Three Trillion Dollar Shopping Spree." The innocuous sounding title
conceals a profound reality: war is very, very expensive. The Iraq war
will eventually cost us
three trillion dollars! Link to the shopping spree site and see what
else $3,000,000,000,000.00 would buy! Could you spend the money more
wisely in the service of humanity without jeopardizing American national
security? Be forewarned that it is not easy to spend that much money!
In case one of my upcoming adventures turns out to be more dangerous than
expected, I'd better get busy with some house cleaning before I leave -
remember what our mothers told us as kids about wearing clean underwear!
I wouldn't want my surviving heirs to think I'm a slob and besides it will
make the anticipation of homecoming more delightful. The next missive will
arrive when I think of something astounding to say along the road.
Fred L Bellomy
Mount Huashan: Some
climbers wanted to go faster than others so passing became necessary... and
Mount Huashan: One of
the many exotic sculptures on the grounds of the Taoist Temple at the base
of the trail to North Peak. I explored the way up to the trail head the
afternoon I arrived. The temple grounds are beautifully maintained and a
lovely place to pause and contemplate the meaning of life.
Mount Huashan: This is
one of the real heroes of Mount Huashan. He makes the climb everyday
carrying a hundred pounds of cargo on his shoulder pole... sometimes twice a
day! Of course he is paid... 25 Yuan... about $3.80 per trip! I suggested
Sophia show this picture to her "lazy" younger brother and remind him what
to expect without a good education.
Guoliang: We reach the
tunnel entrance and Chang indicates this is as far as he goes. So, I start
to hike up the road inside the cliff. It soon becomes obvious why only nuts
drive into the tunnel: the road is steep and muddy. I watched as another car
sat stalled with tires spinning in the mud, ladies trying to push it into
motion again while the husband handled the more difficult job of steering
the stalled vehicle.