2008 Nepal & China
Home Up Bangkok 2008
Postcards from:

Big Bear Lake California
Bangkok Thailand
Kathmandu Nepal
Lumbini Nepal
Xi'an China
Mt. Huashan China
Guoliang Tunnel China
Chengdu China
Leshan China
Emeishan China
Kangding China
Xining China
Shenzhen China
California Home


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.


26 May 2008


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 Mount 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 Bhutan 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 references to flights linking Kathmandu and Paro in Bhutan as well. So, I am good to go.

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 birthday present.

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 legends 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 when "idle."

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 scary.





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.

Reference photo: author
 August 2002

Next Postcard