Day 4-5: America so Plain

After a day of dreadful driving, all 623 miles of it, I arrived at wonderful KCK aka Kansas City Kansas.  Because apparently there is a Kansas City Missouri which is of course more bourgeoisie and a lot more like a metropolitan center.

But oh man, America is so plain, and by plain I mean the Great Plains. With its never-ending rolling greens, it is as if the entire western Kansas is a huge open golf course with bison prancing around. Other than that, well you have no where to hide from the harsh winds, which moves so fast people have thought to put wind turbans up and take advantage of that. It moved the larger trucks left and right and left a new driver like me sweaty with angst.

However, once I hit Topeka and Lawrence, the scene shifted. There was actually trees, I know OMG. And the climate became more humid and wet. Marsh lands and river became more prevalent as well. The drive made me appreciate even more the tenacity and drive of those people who had moved from the east coast to the west coast per-continental railroad. Not only do they have to deal with the crushing wind and boredom of the great plains, but the Rockies in Colorado, and then also the arid lands of Utah and Nevada before finally reaching California. No wonder some of them stopped and just settled along the way.

Other than the Jesus sign over 10 miles, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in Kansas. Oh wait, there is. My first Asian family sighting since I left home five days ago was in Hays, Kansas. All American city of Hays, Kansas. I was filling my  gas, and there it was  in a Kansas plated SUV, a full-flesh Asian family. It made my entire trip that much better.

Alas, I would like to thank my friend for being from Kansas, it was so wonderful to see her and let her show me a different side of Kansas City, not to mention the BBQ at Oklahoma Joe’s. Definitely worthy of the title “Best I’ve Ever Had”. It was just so energizing to see someone I knew after thousands of lonely miles, I love her for that and I really appreciate the time spent.

If I have to ever drive across the country again, which I probably do driving back home, I would do it alone. Its so much loneliness, I started talking to my Tepig. My hopes that intense sharing on social media would cure the loneliness, but nope sorry it doesn’t work like that. No matter how many likes you get and how many comments, it’s still just you in  car across the beautiful terrain from sea to shining sea.

Day 2-3: America so Beautiful

The second day of driving gets me exactly 1,000 miles from home in mile high Denver. Population- definitely a lot more than all the parts of Utah I drove through.

I must admit, even though Utah is breathtaking in its own right. I would not lay my eggs there if I were a hen. But Colorado in comparison, just might be the most beautiful state I’ve ever drove through. It’s so beautiful, I decided to stay 2 days here. I mean I don’t kid around with my time.

No wonder this is one of the fittest states and cities in the USA. I woke up at 7 :00 AM to check out the Red Rock Amphitheater and there were already hundreds of people jumping up and down the stairs and biking around as if strenuous activities that breaks down their knees and ankles will help prolong their life. I am sure it does, why else would so many people be out there this early in the morning.

Mt. Evans in nearby Idaho Springs was even better. Supposedly the highest peak in the nearby Rockies, though I have my reservations. It was so cold up in the thin air of 14,900 ft, I had to burst out my old monk robes cause it was the only heavy clothing I got in the trunk. But the view was wow, just wow. If I could marrying into this state, I definitely would.

This section of the road really made me realize just how beautiful America is, how vast the land, how different the Eco-systems it contains, and more importantly how well this wonderful nature is kept (at least the parts I saw in colorado). We are very fortunate to live in a nation whose economy is not solely based on the exploitation of our natural resources, though we do a good job of exploiting our own citizens and other nation’s resources in the name of more nobel pursuits. But man, God sure did bless America.

Driving through the twists and turns of the mountains reminded me of the tough circumstances that the early settlers faced as they wagoned their ways from the east coast through the Rockies and into Utah, then Nevada and California and so on. Even with the amenities of the 21st century, it’s still a tough stretch of land. Much respect to those who travelled the roads before me.

Funny thing though, since I left my home in SoCal, I have yet to see any other Asian homies this entire trip. Not at the gas station, not at the attractions, and not at the restaurants I ate at. Maybe I just took the wrong turns or maybe not. I don’t know.

Next stop Kansas City, i am not even sure if that’s in Kansas or Missouri but I bet I will see lots of great things there.

Day 1: America So Big

End of day one left me in Richfield, UT.

Population, a lot more than Swarthmore and a lot less than 10,000. Driving was fun for like the first 500 miles, then your eyes starts giving out.

525 miles later, I stopped driving. Only because the 1st quarter of the spurs game was starting and couldn’t miss that for a few more miles.

Gonna attempt an exercise in replication of this “excessive sharing” thing that people with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, snapcheat, and whatever else there is out tend to do on a daily to yearly basis. So far, I am seeing that the sense of acknowledgement and recognizing you get from other people swiping at a screen is pretty cool but fleeting. And as much as you share it don’t make you any closer to any body, at the end of the day you are still alone on the road heading towards your destination.

Btw, America is hella big.

XC: The Great American Road Trip

Tomorrow morning I will drive from my home Southern California all the way back to Swarthmore College, whether I make it there or not. Well stay tune to the blog for more updates.

This is an exercise in replication of the Great American Tradition, lugging oneself from sea to shining sea, in the confines of ones’ own gas-guzzler. Hopefully everything goes well, and I get to live my American dream.

First stop, somewhere in Utah.

I Am Still Alive…

I would just like to make it known that I am still alive despite being absent online for the past 3 wks or so. (which I guess is a big thing nowadays, to be off-line for such a “prolonged” period of time) And I would also like to thank everyone who thought “thankful” thoughts about me around Thanksgiving but weren’t able to get them to me, don’t worry it’s the thought that counts, which is why I had thankful thoughts for you guys too.

Quick news update as of late. I am no longer at the Shaolin Temple, I left about a week ago for an early Chinese New Years Break, it’s basically like the only-est Holiday and the biggest holiday here, so they were quick to give me an early leave for break. There was also a big snow storm at the temple a bit before that, which destroyed the little electricity we had (thus causing me to disappeared from the internet) and the temperature dropped to around 0-10F  with us still having no heating of any sort. But the real reason I left early for break was because the homies I trained with all left for 3-month long performance tours at Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, and etc. , and I really dislike training alone.

Since a wk ago, I have been living in Xinjiang with my family, where it is even colder than the Temple (from -10-0F) but thank god the heating here bring it back up to the 70s. I have been practicing with the University Martial Arts team here, and also training with the  State Sanda & K-Boxing team on the odd days to sharpen up my reflexes. I just got back from the State Championship Wushu Competition a couple days ago, where my university practically dominated all events even though we only had 13 athletes (plus me), even though I didn’t even attend their university I was able to go and compete for fun in my specialty “The Mantis Fist”. Yeah, FYI, anything is possible in China today, depends on whether you have what it takes or not.

My daily schedule now consists of training in warm gym and get sick cause the outside is so cold when I leave, watching NBA games online in the morning cause of time difference, and going to see retired, or “lazy” NBA players playing for CBA teams live at night. T-mac is in town next Monday, so if you want autographs, let me know. Though you won’t get them till I get back in 6 months.

Dear Beijing:

Dear Beijing:

We meet again today, it’s been 8 years since I last saw you. You have changed much, yet managed to not change at all. You are still loud (very annoying at times), you still talk weird, and yes you still think you are better than everyone else just cause you are the capital. But you are bigger now, you carry too much pressure and weigh, I hope you don’t break down one day, cause that will be bad.

From age 2-10, I spent every single day of my life with you, and you patiently observed my growth. You saw my first fall, first kiss (or did I bite her? i don’t know, but she was cute, she had short hair), and my first fight. Yes, I was even more “temper-mental” when I was younger. But I too, observed your growth. Other than getting richer, fatter, and consequently more unhealthy (with all the pollution), you have managed to keep the same intrinsic characteristics that makes you the cultural, historic, and political center of my homeland. But more importantly, you have remain a “home” for me.

Though I have left you for a place with equally as many “Asians”, if not more. You will always be my first home, and I will always get that warm, comfy feeling every time I see you.

Hope you don’t change too much, and try not to get any fatter ok? (cause you are at 6 circles now, don’t get any bigger).

Until next time, your  prodigal son

Where the Hell Am I?

I am nearing the end of my “travelling days”, with about a little over a wk before finally heading over to Shaolin Temple to start my year-long training. I am currently in GuangXi province, in southern China, visiting relatives, climbing treacherous mountains, and getting raped by mosquitoes all day every day.

In exactly two days (Aug 14th), I will be leaving for Hong Kong, so if you are there and want to hang, PLEASE hit me up because I have all the time in the world. After HK, I will be heading back to my “first home” aka Beijing , from August 17th till August 21st. Walnut is like my “4th home”, I have lots of homes, literally and metaphorically.

For all my friends back in my “4th home” who are heading off to college for the first time, I wish you guys nothing but the best. Meet lots of people, makes lots of mistakes, and say all the wrong things. Cuz this is the time for those things. If anyone misses me too much, you can always reach me at koshimomo@gmail.com, I am a great listener.

Hahhahaha hahaha jk jk, only if you want to.

Daily Observations: 8/8/12

I write down my observations in a little notepad that I carry with me all the time, today i just had some extra sights and sounds that I thought I would share with y’all.

1.) The ground here in China is often cracked, no wonder people be tripping…..get it?

2.) The sidewalk especially, is always cracked and crushed even. Found out today that it is because cars always drive UNTO the sidewalk since there ain’t no where else to park.

3.) Men here often wear purses when going out, now I am not talking about satchels (that’s what I have), I am talking about Coach and Gucci hanging about freely on these male shoulders. I was viscerally  appalled by this sight.

4.) The youth smokers here (youth as in 16-28) are always wearing sleeveless or no shirt and are often in pretty good physical shape. No wonder people here assume that I, too, am a smoker.

5.) Girls here like to seem taller than they actually are, most (around 75%) wear “elevated footwear”, I call it that cause I have no knowledge of female footwear.

6.) Piano is pretty well-played over here. I was running in the morning to keep my “8-pack”, and all I could hear from the nearby building was the sound of piano scales. It was annoying and thus helped me achieved a better workout, cause I was always speeding up to get away from the sound.

7.) People always stare at me when I walk on the streets. I just observe eyes pinpointed on me all the time.  I do not know why, maybe its the way I walk? Maybe I am just too narcissistic and think that they are looking at me when they are not? What do you guys think?

I Don’t always Blog about My Day……….

I don’t always blog about my day, but when I do, it is because the day is pretty damn worth blogging about. Today was one of those days.

Slept for like 11 hrs, obviously a great start to any day for any one. Ran out to get some Cha Sui Bao, cause those little bites of heaven ain’t fresh no more after 11:00 AM. Then headed right over to gymnastic practice, cause I have a special guest in the afternoon. Practice was shorter than usual (only 2 &1/2 hrs), but it was hella productive. Finally got enough tries under my belt for the back-flip where I can now just practice it on flat ground, without the comforts of mats or coaches on standby. What I learned today?? that the best lower abs exercise is to continuously do back-flips while increasing the speed of your ‘Knee-tuck”, it ain’t easy.

Went to get a hair cut after practice, cause I simply cannot stand having hair longer than half an inch. Then went to the Metro station to meet up with my Homie from walnut, Hong Chen, who happens to reside in nearby Dongguan. Y’all don’t know how happy I was to see someone “who I know who knows me”,  I haven’t been so ecstatic in awhile. My Happiness came not only from meeting again with an old friend but also from the prospect of knowing that I probably won’t see any of my good friends from walnut for a yr or longer, which made the moment all the more special and worthwhile. Took him to a local fav for lunch, while on the way there, we conversed in English on the streets, much to the dismay of people nearby who gave awkward glares and quiet motions of disbelief (i guess they really like to eavesdrop here).

In search of a good convo place, we want to the most-Seattle of places, (nope, not Pike’s Place), but Starbucks. There we proceeded to trolling each other for hours in an attempt to waste time. Jk Jk, what proceeded was quality time spent, deep conversations, and some horrible exchanges in Cantonese (which I was entirely responsible for). Pretended to not speak Chinese when ordering, and not to my surprise, received far better service and even got a “sir” written on my cup (which was smaller than the Venti I ordered). Before seeing Hong off, we went to the most-fastfood of places, yes, MacDonald’s, and the girl messed up Hong’s order of “Fish Fillet” with a “McChicken”, how she was able to do that is unfathomable to me cause unlike me, Hong’s Canto is spot on. I got my ALL TIME FAVE, two pineapple pies, which I later forgot in a taxi, en route for home. I guess it wasn’t meant to be 😦

As we parted way, I quickly sprinted home to watch Liu Xiang’s 110m race, only to witness what was both a disastrous end to an illustrious career and an truly inspirational yet artificial “one-legged”  symbolic finish of his Olympic journey.

Today was worth blogin about, I hope you agree with me.

     

Why People Think I am a Weirdo (cont’d)…….

1.) Because I say really stupid things, and the thing is, I really do mean what i say.

2.) Because my Cantonese is not that good, so my accent is kinda of funny, but its mostly due to the content of my speech.

3.)Because I am scared to cross the street and would be stuck in the middle of the road for up to 10 mins.

4.) Cuz I laugh all the time, I think for good reasons, but they think not.

5.) Cuz I eat a lot and don’t get fat, in fact I actually have visible abs now, it is like a first for me so yay me

6.) Cuz unlike everyone else here, I say whatever is on my mind, without filtering it, sometimes its very appropriate.

7.) Cuz I sweat a LOT and often walk on the streets half-naked like a homeless.

8.) Cuz I like to wake up early to get dim sum alone while writing my blog.

9.) Cuz I call out everyone that smokes around me, and cuss out every car that steps right in front of me.

10.) Oh yeah, and cuz I don’t shut up or get tired.