Friends: Since I'm checking email every day to keep tabs on Stephen I figure I might as well send out some sort of report at the same time.
Tonight I may end up in a hotel for the second time on this trip, as its been raining all day and I'm wet and cold and not warming up in this Internet place, as there's no heat. Nor was there heat in the restaurant where I just had a bowl of soup. I've had to keep moving to stay warm the last two days, forcing me to gain more mileage than I wished to Wuhan. But at least it led to a premium campsite last night where I could linger this morning until 9:30, hoping the misty drizzle might be burned off by the sun. No luck. It was a cold night with the temperature dipping below forty, but I was toasty warm in my down sleeping bag.
For the second time since leaving Xian I camped in a small cemetery with overgrown vegetation obscuring all but the tips of the tombstones. Last night's was in a cluster of pine trees, whose needles made for a soft mattress. As the previous cemetery, it was unwalled, and I didn't realize it was a cemetery until I was upon it. It was off on a dirt path, but still right alongside the highway. Both cemeteries were rare spots of unkempt, somewhat wild foliage, as all other land is under cultivation. China does have a fairly aggressive program of reforestation, but it is so recent none of the forests are very mature, nor more than a patch of a few acres. It makes me long for France, where nearly a third of the country is still forested and finding a place to camp is no concern.
China just celebrated the 30th anniversary of Isaac Stern's seminal visit to China shortly after the end of the Cultural Revolution and the launch of the opening up policy. Stern's son David, also a prominent musician, participated in the celebration along with some of the young musicians who played with Stern and have gone on to be acclaimed musicians in their own rite. Some were part of the 1980 Oscar-winning documentary "From Mao to Mozart" about Stern's visit.
One of the newspapers I picked up in Xian that I just got around to reading last night had a special section on an upcoming China-Japan conference. The countries are growing closer and closer and have just become each other's prime trading partner, supplanting the U.S.. There is still a wariness between the countries though, and lingering resentment over Japan's invasion of China in WWII, committing various atrocities, including a massacre of 300,000 Chinese. Japan seems to feel threatened by China's increasing power and for the past three years has been restricting the number of Chinese students it allows to go to university in Japan. The conference hopes to improve understanding.
As I linger at the computer, the rain continues. I just hope I can find a hotel with hot water.