Tuesday, April 4, 2017

World walk blog Vietnam 1

Mar 31

13,352 my world walk kilometres walked in 339 road days. I am walking for cancer awareness.
What joy it was to start my walk through Vietnam, the tenth foreign country of this global ramble. I have been walking in communist or former socialist republics for a year now; my seventh consecutive such state. After the restrictions and hassles in China I was walking with a spring in my step. As I caught people's eyes, they usually smiled. Some shouted out to me. "What's your name?" When there is a group of people I usually have to answer the same questions several times as people are eager to show off the few words of English they know. "Where you from! Where are you going?" And it goes on. Finding my way is much easier now that I have the Latin script back. No more will I have to look at Chinese place names and remember them as collections of pictures of picnic tables, tents, ladders, springs or Christmas decorations! Ah! Yes soon in Australia I will probably have more interesting place names, like Snake Valley, Crocodile Cross or Alligator Alley!
That first night in Vietnam I made it to a town near Lang Son and enjoyed a nice hotel and two donner kebabs with lashings of coffee for breakfast. Traffic was heavy on route one towards Hanoi, the capital which was about 150 kilometres away. I had no hard shoulder to walk on and had to pay extra attention to traffic coming from the rear. For overtaking drivers at the rear is the biggest danger on such a journey. More dangerous or likely to happen than an attack from a wild animal, or even a wild human.
My plan is to just touch the coast of the South China Sea. That would be the end of Asia for me. I feel like I am in party mood. A bit lazy, like its Christmas week, going on holidays soon! I will be ending Asia near the port city called Hai Phong where French forces invaded the country in an effort to put down a colonial revolt. That was just after World War Two. The French took a bit of a pasting from the Vietnamese but stubbornly didn't want to pull out after their embarrassment in the world war. For them it was all about saving face. Eventually, they were saved when an international agreement was called in Geneva. It was decided to divide Vietnam up into two countries, north and south. The communist Viet Cong soon took hold down south and America didn't like that and sent in troops. As we all know they got bogged down there for many years until Nixon finally yielded to public pressure and eventually withdrew the troops. So, another big victory, these bug***s know a thing or two about guerrilla warfare!
Next two days on the road for me  I walked 28 and 32 kilometre days and camped at grocery stores. The people as in China are so friendly. On the second night I was even given a shower. Earlier that day I was starting to stress a bit when the minor road I had turned onto began to deteriorate. Soon it was a single lane potholed and muddy track. Not a problem when walking with a backpack but with a cart there is always a danger the road could become impassable or a steep climb up a mountainside.
As it turned out I had an enjoyable snack stop at a shop an gathered up a large welcoming party. Many of which escorted me out of the village and thankfully onto a paved road.
Thanks to everyone for your great messages of support and no I haven't forgotten about the final warts and all China wrap up blog, I just don't want to get behind on Vietnam either. In addition to that I will also be penning a post that I didn't want to write there for fear of having my visa revoked. It's about China's former one child policy (recently relaxed to two) In many cases the policy was abused by city officials who collected taxes imposed on couples that had more than one child. How they collected them is jaw-dropping but also sad. Often these ' taxes ' were obtained by heavy handed means and used as a revenue source to fund many town and city budgets. However, that's a story for another day.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

World walk blog China 24
Total for 328 road days: 12,948 kilometres. Please check out my blog www.myworldwalk.com. I am walking around the world for cancer awareness. Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives.
41 kilometres took me to a SinoPec petrol station. I asked if I could pitch my tent, instead I was given a bed and a shower, can't beat that!
Next day. After 45 kilometees I got to pitch my tent at another SinoPec station.
There has been a lot of rain lately and I am having difficulty staying dry. It's also difficult for me to dry  my clothes after I wash them for there are no dryers. It's a constant battle to stay clean and fresh.
Monday I walked 39 kilometres. Eventually after almost two months I left highway 210 for good. Now I am on back roads towards the Vietnamese border, some 300 kilometres, a week away. Tonight I stopped for pot noodles at a grocery store and was allowed to pitch my tent on their veranda. The nice people made me tea before they went home.

World walk blog China 23
Date: 18 March 2017 at 13:46:14 GMT+8

Thanks everyone for your nice St. Patrick's Day wishes. I walked a marathon and camped at a grocery store. After a nice chat I retired to my tent and enjoyed listening to Irish music. Phil Lynnots ' Old Town' is an all time favourite of mine. Thursday 34km. I wanted more but as happens so much when I stopped for a break I discovered a good place to stop for the night. Please see photos. It was a kinda covered garage area where people lived and have restaurants. I asked if I could sleep there. Just as I settled down a rat ran past me! It was only 9.30pm, so a long night ahead of me. First I remembered the advice I received in many places on my world run all those years ago. " Be sure to wash your face before going asleep, otherwise the rats will oblige!"

Not really wanting to pack up and head on and do the extra ten kilometres that I really wanted, I just pitched my tent. Problem solved, an a solid nights sleep. Also in the picture I am sorry that every time this young boy saw me he cried. In the picture he looks like he can't make up his mind about me!

Wednesday 53. That night I was stuck for a place to camp and came to a huge roundabout just beyond Nandan. The town itself  was bypassed. I walked over a long bridge above the town, so I just kept going. It was after midnight. The roundabout had a lot of shrubbery, so I camped in the middle of it!

This last week there have been less towns and villages. It's also  been raining a lot. Now I am also getting to the business end of china. Perhaps, ten days to Vietnam.
World walk blog China 22

Latest distance 12,694 kilometres walked in 322 road days on www.myworldwalk.com Thanks to Scott Richards for updating my website.
Not a lot to report in southern China except the roads are the worst to date. There is a lot of road construction and mud. I have missed a couple of diversions as they were in Chinese!

Monday I walked 45 kilometres and camped on the grass beside a monument. Earlier in the evening I stopped at a grocery store for a tub of pot noodles and as happens so much, the nice family brought me inside. They were watching a Chinese/ Japanese war movie on television. I have noticed that almost every time I turn on a television here there is such a movie on. The Chinese like to talk about the two Japanese invasions which have occurred. One of them was a massacre in Kunming in which hundreds of thousands of Chinese died. Because of this there has been a lot of Chinese animosity directed towards Japan. I heard a podcast where a Japanese politician has said that the Chinese keep asking them to apologise for the atrocities. The Japanese politician said that they must have apologised 25 times.

I took great interest in the movie and wondered why it was subtitled. I guess that's good for foreign propaganda! It seemed the Chinese Calvary troops were marching in October snows. They were in bad shape but because the spirit of Chairman Mao was with them they inflicted huge damage on the Japanese troops and then went onto a great victory. That's usually the Chinese gist. Apparently, Chinese and Japanese children's history text books differ.
Today, Tuesday I got off

To a slow start and only had an hours walking behind me by noon. I had stopped for a late breakfast, more of a brunch. A man who took a photo with me later returned to present me with a print.

So, on I walked, past a lazy dog lying in the middle of the highway. I have seen a lot of this here, Chinese dogs are not going to win any IQ tests! With all my clothes destroyed by mud it was time for me to buy some more clobber. I even had a tear in my sleeping bag repaired. I tell you between mud splashes and sleeping bag feathers I am a real mess! Tonight after my 40 kilometres I found a hotel and was given a room, as long as a shipping container. It is a huge bedroom for it even has seven built in wardrobes. So, I did a major laundry in the shower and have all my clothes hanging up. About two weeks to Vietnam. I want to be in Australia in about a month. I plan to fly to Melbourne as Michael Gillan, my crew man will be working at the Coburg 24 hour race there. I will help out too. Then the plan is that we will spend 3 or 4 days driving to my Aussie start in Perth. Talk soon, thanks for stopping by πŸ˜€

World walk blog China 21

My walk for the next week or so will be along route 210. From where I am tonight in Tuchangzhen to Mashan, as mapped in the last photo.
I walked east for a couple of days this week with little southern gain and towards the end of my China walk I will have to walk back west for another couple of days, once again with little southern gain.  Sometimes when treadmill, not getting anywhere stuff like this has to be done; its best for the morale not to follow the map too closely, just walk and enjoy!

Today I had a wonderful day, as usual I stopped to lay a few more bricks in the friendship wall that is China. My 39 glorious kilometres started with a stare out with a horse. I met my usual share of characters along the road and could have taken just as many photos again for this region is just pumping with vitality.
With the help of a shopkeeper I found a cheap inn. However, I am sharing the room with two smokers! Still, for the cost of a coffee and a Mars bar it's a bargain. It's raining outside. Inside I am comfortable and there is wifi.
Once again I had a police visit. Five officers, one of them spoke English. He was apologetic telling me he was only doing his job. Still he barked questions at me like...
 " What are you doing? Where are you going? Where have you come from today? Do you have a weapon? I showed him my pocketknife and told him it was for peeling apples. " Open your bag and show me inside?
I didn't offer to show him Karma which was parked downstairs.
Increasingly, I have to be forceful trying to protect my passport as its common for officers and hotel clerks to grab it roughly from one another as they examine the strange English script. I have also had people trying to hold it with a cigarette or a drink in their hand.
I love the Chinese people but I will be glad to move on.
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Saturday, March 11, 2017

World walk blog China 20

Update: 12,570 kms walked in 319 road days on www.myworldwalk.com

> As I wandered through towns and villages in southern China I continued to get a great kick from the people. Their warmth is infectious. I particularly enjoy playing with the children. Often it's a big enough shock for them just to hear a foreigner speaking ' funny ' without one who pulls faces and goes through the whole gambit of animal noises! Sometimes I screw off the orange cover of my plastic beaker and hold it between my teeth to cover my nose, orange nose. That always gets a laugh, from the young and old.
> After a 47 kilometre day I was walking long into the evening. I was wondering where I would stay that night. Just then I came to an illuminated hot springs resort which had a large car park. There was nobody about so I decided to pitch my tent in a quiet corner. Just as I was setting it up a security guard came along. He phoned the manager. My luck was in for the friendly manager of the Yu Long Hot Springs brought me inside for a free session and then later I was given a comfortable bed in a VIP lounge, luxury!
> I left pretty late the next morning. For the next three days drizzle was to accompany me towards Duyun. I walked over muddy potholed roads,
> Splashed by trucks and several times Karma saved me from slipping on the greasy surface. Sometimes she is like my Zimmer frame! I had to be particularly careful when walking down steep hills.
> China has been pretty much like one big building site, so much construction and modernizing going on. I understand that many new treasures and archaeological sites have been discovered in the process.
> After my session in the hot springs I was jaded on the road the next day for it took a huge effort to walk my 32 kilometres. Perhaps I didn't drink enough water during and after the session. I also went through a couple of days where I didn't get good quality food, for I made bad choice stops in some eateries where the food was cold or not palatable.
> But I was soon  back to form, I was turbo charged for I pounded out a mud soaking 57 kilometres over a 13 hour day. I only stopped once, for a late lunch. That was in a town with a name which has to be pronounce carefully ' Fuquan! '
> Well it was that kind of a day and evening. I walked past several villages where dogs barked me down the road. Dogs here are not really kept for pets, they are always kept outside. More like cheap alarm systems. I was wondering where I would stop for the night. Just then I came to a place that looked like a grocery store. It was also a restaurant and doubled up as an inn with a bed for the night. What luck I got a clean bed in a basic room for little more than the cost of a coffee in Europe. Dinner cost the same. The old man gave me a basin of hot water to wash myself and then another to soak my feet.
> Further on down the road I met a couple of English cyclists who had just cycled from Hong Kong. Pam and Steve were on a six week cycle holiday and they spoke of the axles and gear mechanisms on their bicycles getting clogged up with the mud.
> I noted that Steve rode an old classic bicycle, a Hollingsworth  which he rode to India on over forty years ago. He also rode from the UK to South Africa.
> Just like for me, Steves inspiration was Dervla Murphy, the Irish woman who cycled to India on a three-speed bicycle in the '60s.

Tonight, Saturday, tired and wet I got five refusals in Duyun before I finally found a hotel that would allow me to stay.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

World walk blog China 19

> 12,353 kilometres for 314 road days.
> A tough 46 kilometres walking across a steep mountain pass. For most of the day I walked past construction sites and a road widening project. Hardy women  dressed in high- viz vests, hard hats and sometimes an apron mixed it up with the lads. They worked harder lifting blocks, mixing concrete while many men stood smoking cigarettes. At the top of a mountain pass I was pleasantly to find a vendor selling fried potatoes and hotdogs. There was drizzle that day, combined with many roadside gravel piles which were scattered along the road it made for a muddy day. Even though the nylon shell of my waterproof walking pants are easily cleaned with a damp sponge, they just get mucked up again. Mud is perhaps the most embarrassing consequence of such a journey. I am regularly eyed up and down by smart dressed people who have just jumped out of a car or meet me when I stop. One can only feel dirty, no matter how one tries to stay clean, a splash from a truck and I am a mess again. That night I camped at a petrol station just six kilometres north of Zunyi City.
> In the morning just before I cleared the city a boy of perhaps ten years of age ran out in front of me. He was lucky that a careful bus driver slammed on his brakes, the boy also missed being hit by a truck by an arms length. He was shouting and running across that wide road to get to his friends. To me he seemed oblivious, almost like a dog that wanders out in front of traffic.
> I stopped at a roundabout to check my bearings. I was leaving route 210 which I had been on for over a month. I was looking for route 205. I noticed a white mini bus parked on the opposite side of the road. He made a u-turn and stopped to show me a message he had prepared on his translate app. It read: " If you betray us I will find you wherever you are."
> A strange person in deed. I was so taken aback that I didn't make a note of his registration number.
> I was to spend a long time mulling over that unusual comment. Who and what was he, I wondered.
> Does he do this to every foreigner he meets, well there are not many here. To be honest I was a bit hurt at the suggestion, for I love the Chinese people. There are many autonomous regions in this part of China. One reader emailed me to say it is populated by the Han people. Further on up the road a rat ran out in front of me as I approached a rubbish bunker. Village people burn their waste in them.
> Soon I was following a new road which was not on my google or on my maps.com. It was definitely more direct than the 205. Foolishly I followed it for over an hour but then it ran out. I was now walking alongside the expressway which I can't walk on.  I could see on my GPs that if I could walk another four kilometres then I would be back on the 205. But there was no more road. To cut a long story short I ended up on a trail. However, the map was not complete. I have noticed this a lot in China. My mobile data was also not working but I was able to open an email which my friend Benjamin had sent me with directions and thankfully Chinese characters. I copied and pasted a nearby town called Shenxi which was near the  route 205. From that I was able to get a ' pin drop ' location and find my way towards a house. Beside the house my gps directed under the expressway. However, as there was a little used underpass the homeowner used it as a garage. He was obviously a carpenter for there were stacks of planks and posts beside his truck. All the while a fierce dog who was just out of my reach was straining on his chain. The owner came out and was too lazy to move his truck. With fading light I was pretty stressed at that stage for I had no food and little water.
> Still he continued talking to me in Chinese. I was sure he was asking me what I was doing I was asking him what he was doing blocking a public pathway. I moved some of his planks and poles and managed to push my way through to the other side. With much effort, and trying to stay out of reach of the barking dogs teeth, I found my way through the underpass and onto 205 again. I made my way to a Shenxi and found a hotel. After paying for my room the police came along and after much mishandling of my passport I was told I couldn't stay in that hotel. I walked through town following the patrol car, for they offered to help me. Two more police vehicles joined in and a total of eight officers looked on. I walked to three more hotels before I was allowed to stay. My terrible day was not complete for I then had to go to the police station with them for a passport check. I had to explain why I was walking  towards Vietnam as I had an entry stamp from there from my visa run a couple of weeks ago. It was suggested that I was already there and didn't need to return to China. Spare me!! I felt I did well to manage 32 km that manic day.
> Next day I was feeling a bit lazy and when a man gave me two bags of fruit I accepted his invitation to dinner in a restaurant in Tuanxizhen. I had intended to walk on but I didn't instead I camped under a tented area outside the restaurant. 28 kilometres.
> Then a tough day in the mountains up and down steep inclines followed. I didn't stop much walked 38 kilometres before dark. On the way a group of six men and women stopped me on the road and informed me they are government workers.
> That's great I said, and walked on.
> Once again I planned to walk on but when I saw that the restaurant where I had dinner had a nice cheap hotel attached, I stopped. Once again after going through the usual passport being mauled routine the police were called. Luckily after a lengthy examination of my visa and information I was only asked for my name in Chinese; that's all!
> The officers accepted my answer when I ran my name through google translate. I have been told that hotel owners are afraid of misbehaving. That possibly includes accommodating foreigners. So they call the police for reassurance. The police, trying to regulate the order of things, want foreigners only in assigned (unmarked, but collaborative) hotels. Therefore the hassle.
Private people are not allowed to host tourists. If they asked the police for permission they would get hassled. So they don't ask, because they are still kind and hospitable. Camping outside is neither forbidden nor allowed. Officials don't know what to do. Ignore or hassle are the two possibilities.

Monday, March 6, 2017

World walk blog China 18

Late at night having walked 44 kilometres I arrived at a small grocery store. Inside the owner and some customers were playing Chinese dominoes. 
I ate pot noodles for dinner. As I was still six kilometres from the next town I asked if I could camp outside the store.
In the morning as I sat on a chair having my breakfast the thoughtful owner played Danny Boy on his laptop. He followed it with a Chinese version of the Irish song! 
A tough 41 kilometres with a lot of climbing followed in the mountains. 
Men and and women of all ages worked their small cabbage patches. They used makeshift tools, shovels and picks. I waved, sometimes they smiled but more often than not I was greeted by stone wall silence as their eyes followed me down the road, for they had rarely if ever witnessed such an unlikely arrival in their villages. Sometimes I stopped to shake their hand and more often than not this raised a smile, always a special moment for me. 

That night I was between towns.
I came up a steep hill in the dark and came to a family restaurant. It was closed but they were cleaning up. I asked if I could eat there and they cooked me a huge meal. I ate it with the family sitting around me. The eight year old girl as sharp as a tack asked me where I was going to pitch my tent. Can I pitch it outside? I asked. They allowed me to sleep on the floor on my air mattress. 

Walking through China there were days when old men proudly wore their uniforms from their days under the rule of Chairman Maos Cultural Revolution. They carried heavy loads on their backs. Young fashionably dressed people drove nice cars, SUV's and ride motorcycles. I don't find them as interesting as their parents and grandparents.
Perhaps some of these older people are the survivors of Maos Great Leap Forward, his Great March, a sustained drive to modernise China in a time when he considered neighbouring Stalins regime to be too soft.
Maos targets were unrealistic for those manual workers to achieve. More food was required to feed hungry workers and the country didn't have it for so little of the land even today is arable. This resulted in a famine which killed some 70 million people. Every time one mentions a number in China, it's always a staggering drastic.

Today, China has 20% of the world population and only 3% of its land is suitable for farming.
I find it remarkable that a man responsible for such pain and suffering is still held in such high regard by many, his picture is on Chinese banknotes. A couple of people I spoke to have mentioned to me that he cleared the path for others to eventually modernise the country.
Today China has the worlds second biggest economy and is vying with the western world for respect and to be viewed as a true superpower. The country has led the way ( as I mentioned in a previous post) with programs to deliver food to its huge population. They are driving forward with their One Belt One Road revival of the Silk Road by rail and sea. Big business has bought up whole farms in France and ship the resulting produce back to China by rail, one of just 15 freight rail connections to Europe. They have bought meat processing plants in the USA and want to not only own but run and export back to feed the Chinese people. Like wise as in France the Chinese are buying up farms in America. There is no shortage of Chinese investment either. When the local government in Vancouver imposed a tax hike on foreign investments. Chinese investors responded by moving their business a short drive across the border to Seattle. That created an unexpected boom for the American city.
While all this is happening I wonder what the other overpopulated county India is doing to feed its people for India population is expected to overtake China's within the next 10 or 20 years. 

My world walk blog China 17
 It has taken one year (307 road days) to walk 12,062 kilometres across Europe and Asia as far as Qijiang in southern China. It all began in Ash Senyks Run Logic store in Dublin. It's been a blast, thanks to all those that helped, housed or fed me along the way.
As much as possible and without coming on too heavy I showed my translated messages in the form of a screenshot to people I met along the way. I shared my world walk message: Life is precious. Early cancer screening saves lives.
Here is the wrap up of the visa run to Vietnam and my return to the road. As always it was written late at night between yawns and eye closures!

While waiting on my train connection from Kunming I noticed a crowded smoking room where fathers even took their children inside to wait for them. On the train I was sitting beside a bunch of friendly senior citizens. When I ate a mushy black banana they thought it was the funniest thing they ever saw and laughed their heads off! The more they laughed the more I laughed and then two children joined in and we all had a great laugh all the way to Hekou.
After a five minute silent examination of my passport I was stamped into Vietnam. My first impressions of the country were of more considerate motorists. I noted that motorcyclists wore helmets. I have heard Vietnam been described as a clever communist state. Usually before I cross into a  new country I check out the exchange rate. I take a screen shot and can show it to the money changers.
After a recommendation from my friend Greg I ordered a bowl of pho in a restaurant. It was as he promise delicious. As far as I could tell it consisted of cabbage, strips of beef, noodles and various herbs. Checking into a nice hotel I was impressed by a display of ornaments and statues on display in the foyer.
Normally I keep my passport well wrapped up in zip lock bags, by for some reason I didn't in that hotel. There was so much moisture in the air that when I awoke this morning the cover of my passport was curled up beyond straightening. Passing back into China it didn't seem to be an issue. However, the immigration officer took a long time checking his computer and then to test my identity he asked me my name. Then he pulled me up for not including my middle name. I was asked which cities I had visited and why I have been in China so much. I was even asked how much I had paid for my visa. Too many questions for my liking. When I told him I was walking around the world his eyes lit up! After a few more questions about the walk his tone changed to one of incredulity. Then I received a "God bless you" greeting. A few minutes later I was back into the madness on the road and another sixty day stamp in my passport. Hundreds of Vietnamese vendors with huge carts of products were also crossing. As you can see from the photos they were running as they pushed their carts under supervision of the Chinese border guards. They went through a separate gate without any document checks. I was not sure why they were going to Chinese border town to work, and not the Chinese.

An uneventful five hour train journey took me to Kunming where I was told there was no train to Chongqing that day. So, I had to overnight in a hotel.
Eventually, after 19 hours in a train with no sleeper I arrived back in Chongqing at 8am. I was shattered for it was most uncomfortable sitting so long in a seat. In all my visa run took up six days. I had always wanted to take a trip in a Chinese train though on this occasion I regretted not flying. The nightmare was not quite finished as I had to wait all day in McDonald's for Harry to finish his his teaching job as he was minding Karma.
While using the WC there some disgusting person crapped into the  solitary urinal. I wondered as I had been hanging out there all day if the staff were pointing their fingers at me. I though it wise not to shave there.
Back at Harry's apartment I had to replace a suspension bracket which snapped on the way to his place a few days before. I was not sure if it was caused by a delivery man for a fast food restaurant. He clipped the side of Karma with his motorbike when cutting in front of me on a pedestrian crossing. Almost a year on the road and that was the first one to snap. On my world run I broke about four in the 14,000 kilometres I pushed that cart. I reckon there is more pressure on the suspension while running. Two of those breaks were suffered in a short distance on a washboard road in the Chilean segment of Patagonia. Not a good idea to run while pushing a cart on beat up roads, better to walk. The bracket itself is about the same dimensions as a 15cm/ 6 inch ruler and weighs about 80 grams. I have five more spares.
Replacing it is a bitch of a job that can take a couple of hours, especially at the side of the road. When it snaps the laden cart moves only with difficulty.
Unfortunately, it was late when I finished and too late to go out on the town with Harry for he had a busy day in work the next day. That night I slept like a bear in hibernation.
I was also eager to get back walking. Before I departed I left my winter and other gear with him for he kindly offered to mail it on to America for me, about ten kilos.
Two enjoyable days followed. I clocked up my 12,000th kilometre just outside of Chongqing. The city is China's largest and surprisingly the second largest in the world. To be honest Mexico City was more problematic for me. That night, just after midnight I camped at a petrol station just past Yipin Town. I had walked 50 kilometres. When I arrived it was closed. When I awoke it was open for another day. That day, February 27th I celebrated one year on the road. I powered along route 210 and started my second year on the road with 38 kilometres in my account, all before the sun set. I figured I earned my delicious stir fry dinner and a nice hotel which my friend Tom Denniss kindly sponsored. Tom has also run around the world, see his Facebook page: Toms Next Step.
I promised Tom I will also get a steak dinner, but I may have to wait until I get out of China, for steaks are difficult to eat with chop sticks!

Walk Map to 3/2017 Over 12,000Km so far...
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From: Tony <theworldjog@gmail.com>
Date: 22 February 2017 at 10:51:17 GMT+8
Subject: Re: World walk blog China 16 
China/Vietnam/China visa run. Some good news and thoughts on my route ahead.
Thanks to Harry James, originally from England for helping me sort my train ticket to Kunming for my ' visa run.' Harry speaks fluent Chinese as he has been living in China for two years working as a teacher. It was a relaxing 19 hour journey of over 800 kilometres/ 500 plus miles. I now have a wait of a few hours for my final connection to Hekou, the border with Vietnam. That takes about five hours. I will then return to Harrys house with my fresh Chinese visa and finish my walk across China.
I have not mentioned it before but I had a lot of hassle getting my six month Australian visa!
Because I spent more than three months in Russia which is surprisingly a health risk I had to do medical tests. I thought this might be a nightmare to organize in China. I was almost considering skipping Australia and New Zealand πŸ˜‚
I considered walking South America as a plan B instead. To be honest I have never heard of any full four-continent circumnavigation that didn't include Australia. Even though South America would have been technically acceptable, I just didn't feel good about it.
In the end I found an international medical clinic in Chongqing and on Monday I passed my medical examinations and tests. I was sub sequentially granted my six month Australian visa. I was particularly worried about the X-Ray exam as I am just getting over a bad cold, not to mention the smog which I have been walking in here since November! Once again thanks to Harry and Benjamin Kniebe for their great help in helping me locate the clinic.
Message from Australian Immigration:
" Dear Tony ,
We are delighted to inform you that your Australian Subclass 600 Tourist visa has been granted and you are free to travel to Australia! Please find attached your Visa Grant Notification letter as issued by the Australian Immigration Authorities."

My Australian route will be:
Perth to Melbourne. Possibly Tasmania but I haven't decided. Melbourne to Canberra, Dubbo to Sydney. This is across the Nullarbor desert. Michael Gillan
who did such a wonderful job crewing for me on my world run (from Melbourne to Alice Springs to Darwin) has kindly offered to come on the road and crew again πŸ˜€πŸ‘£πŸ‘£
New Zealand, South Island from Bluff to Cape Regina in the north island.

As mentioned I was considering walking South America instead and looking at the route in the final photo posted here. From Lima, Peru to Machu Picchu to Brazil (Amazon region) to Guayana, Surinam to French Guayana and back to Georgetown. After considering it as an alternative  I am pretty sure that I will include it before I take on the USA. Thanks Benjamin Kniebe again as he is one of my route consultants. I appreciate this so much as he is so busy. Benjamin is also fantastic at checking stuff for me (including long tunnels in China and finding better ways) on Google Earth satellite image maps. He goes over it with his magnifying glass and even checks googles pictures.

From South America I will be island hopping through the Caribbean to Florida. Cuba is my main interest. I am not sure about Jamaica as it has a dangerous reputation. I am now almost certainly going to walk the perimeter of the USA. Florida to San Diego, to Seattle to New England to Florida. I really want to walk Japan, so I might do it as an extra by walking from Seattle to British Columbia, Canada and then to Japan and possibly South Korea. Then returning to USA west coast.
From Florida to south Europe; Gibraltar or Spain.
No ' when will you? ' questions please πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Its not really fair to me as I am walking  around the world. Many times when I estimate I feel locked in to a schedule. Schedules require one to know in advance how many days and how much distance one will walk in in advance! I have been doing really well with my New Years resolution: avoiding this terrible wing-clipping question. So far, I only have been giving vague estimates, and that's only to those I have committed to previously!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This was my trial (and only preparation ) walk before I set out to walk the world this day last year. I started on 27th Feb. Unless you are going for records you don't need to be physically fit for something like walking around the world. Plenty of time on the road to walk oneself fit πŸ˜€
On the trial walk I was knackered after my 12k marathon to Peter Winners Re-vitalized Foot Care Clinic in Dublin's Chapelizod. 

Now a different 12k is fast approaching. My 12,000th kilometer will be walked on my next road day.
Thanks for your amazing treatment Peter! I miss you and my girlfriend friend πŸ˜€πŸ˜œ
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Peter Winner Tony, I miss you to  " your girlfriend is still here , waiting for you " she is in good hands 
Take care 

Thanks for the reminder of faster days Scott Richards and Matt Mahoney
This was one of the first ultra races of the new millennium which I was fortunate to win while living in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It's going to be great returning to my old club mates; the Space Coast Runners on my world walk 


Harold Tucker 50K Beach Run
                     Cocoa Beach FL, Jan. 2, 2000

Results submitted by Matt Mahoney

1.  Tony Mangan       42 M  4:15:01
2.  Matt Mahoney      44 M  5:15:15
3.  Stuart Gleman     55 M  5:43:42
4.  Gerry Miller      58 M  6:16:58
5.  Yen Nguyen        37 F  6:20:57
6.  Jeane Ann Klein   32 F  7:01:34
6.  Jim Sullivan      48 M  7:01:34
6.  Curtis Cormier    45 M  7:01:34
    Steven Ehrlich    54 M  DNF (25K)

2 x 25K Relay
1.  "The Only Team"         5:16:09
       Craig Kennedy  41 M  2:41:00
       Mike Gawel     39 M  2:35:09

(Below) Tony Mangan (left) and Matt Mahoney after finishing first and second in the Harold Tucker 50K in Cocoa Beach.
Tony Mangan and Matt MahoneyThis was my ninth unsuccessful attempt to break the 5 hour barrier, something I routinely do in other trail 50K's. The coarse, soft sand and crushed shell mixture for the middle part of the race just sucks all the energy out of you. I ran (and walked) this part of the course -- miles 8 to 22 -- barefoot, and wore beach slippers for the flat, hard-packed sand through Cocoa Beach, where the running was good. The course starts at Sidney Fisher Park, goes south 15.5 miles, then turns around at Paradise Beach park in Indian Harbour Beach. The temperatures were in the 70's to about 80, sunny with moderate humidity. Lots of people were out on the beach, fishing, surfing, and working on their tans. The race is always held during low tide, so the starting date and time vary from year to year.
I ran the first two miles with eventual winner Tony Mangan, at what was first an easy pace, but as he picked up the pace to about 7:15/mile, I made an excuse to let him go. Stuart Gleman (Ancient Oaks 100 RD) was only a minute back at the turnaround, and I was determined not to let him pass me again. I had a good scare when I thought I saw him gaining on me with a mile to go, only to find I had held off the relay team instead. I had no idea that Stu had fallen apart in the second half.
Race director Bruce Bayliss did a first class job, with all kinds of goodies to eat after the race. Long time Space Coast Runners club member Harold Tucker coordinated the ham radio operators at the aid stations every 3 miles, allowing the progress of all of the runners to be tracked throughout the race.
(Below) Mike Gawel is greeted by his loyal fans after finishing the second leg of the 2 x 25K relay.

China Blog 15 Pictures

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Date: Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 1:50 PM
Subject: World walk blog China 15
To: Tony Mangan <theworldjog@gmail.com>
Cc: myworldwalk2016@gmail.com

China's One Belt One Road.

Latest: 11,901 kilometers for 303  road days. Location: Cizhu.

A woman with a weed killer spray followed me down highway 210 for a kilometer. Not sure what she was talking about but I managed to avoid her spraying me. Am I a parasite I wondered? Ah yes! The joys of world walking, I could have been at home watching football instead!
That night I walked towards the southern end of Linshui for I failed to find a reasonable priced accommodation. This is the hometown of China's former leader, Deng Xiao Ping. He is the guy that opened up China and allowed the market economy in.
Anyway, I made it to a small plaza near the city limits where a few catering tents were set up. That night after leaving 42 kilometers behind me on the road I figured it would be a smart idea to just pitch my tent among the other tents. Surely, they were 24 hours. I got a great welcome from a few lads and as always refused several offers of cigarettes. Most Chinese men I meet  smoke too much. Almost everyone I see has a cigarette between their lips.
While I slept the caterers packed up and left. I woke up not in the quiet plaza with four tents around me, but in a busy pedestrian zone.
Then I walked an enjoyable 33 kilometers as far as Tantong which was marked as a village on my map. Many Chinese villages are as big as the towns like Naas or Gorey in Ireland. On the way there were a lot of fallen down houses at the side of the road. Almost as though there had been a seismic movement or some form of a landslide. Dozens of people were busy stripped slates, bricks, posts and other materials which they could use to build onto their own houses. They stacked all of this onto trucks and  onto three-wheeled rickshaws. That night I was treated to a hotel compliments of Dave Stack who sponsored it by pressing the link on my website www.myworldwalk.com
Halfway through my 25 kilometers to Cizhu I was shocked when an elderly man handed a firework banger to a child. He was barely two years of age. The child just threw it into the ground before it exploded. I saw this so much in China over the New Year period. Adults not supervising their children properly. I don't like the firework culture here.
I am now 70 kilometers from the major city of Chongqing. I expect to arrive on Sunday. On Monday I have some business to attend to. After which I plan to meet Eoin O'Neill an Irish ex-pat and Harry James an Englishman from Southampton. The lads are working as teachers here. I will be leaving Karma with Harry and making my visa run to Vietnam by train. It's about 1,200 kilometers to the border, so I will probably be off the road for a few days. Hopefully, I get back before the 27th February and walk the 30 kilometers required to reach my 12,000th kilometers before the first anniversary of the walk.

China is currently trying to revive its ancient silk road trading routes. Deng Xiao Pings dream is now becoming a reality. According to the China Africa Project program: When complete, One Belt, One Road (OBOR), or the Maritime Silk Road as it is more commonly known, will connect China via rail and shipping links with major markets in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.
Billions of dollars in new rail, shipping and airport infrastructure are underway in dozens of countries including Egypt, Djibouti and Kenya who are among a small group of African countries that are expected to benefit most from OBOR.
While most countries welcome the Chinese investment and inclusion in Beijing's trading network, others wonder if it will  actually be able to pull off such a large, complex undertaking. Furthermore, in some ways, OBOR is also reminiscent of Britain's old imperial trading network that was designed to extract natural resources from its colonial outposts and then sell back finished goods to these markets.
China has gotten much of the rail part of the project going with freight trains to Iran and also to
15 European destinations including a recently added station near London. However, it seems the maritime project is proving a bit more tricky partly because of pirate activity off the coast of Somalia. The Chinese have long since been involved in fighting the piracy problem.
There is also growing concern to protect the countries interests in the event of a possible conflict with the American navy over the much disputed South China Sea and having their oil lanes cut off in the Indian Ocean.
Part of the OBOR project is to build overland gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia to keep energy supplies going.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Date: Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 1:42 PM
Subject: World walk blog/ China 14
To: myworldwalk2016@gmail.com

Touch wood, I have dodged winter this year! I put in big distance waking days across Russia to get through Siberia before the weather became uncomfortable. I was specifically concerned about Mongolia, a country where even cattle have died from cold extremes. In all I only had a couple of real cold days.  My biggest climatic problem was pitching and wrapping up my tent, about a dozen such occasions. Almost always, once I started walking I was okay.
The current seven day forecast in Dublin is much colder than where I am in southern China!
Chinese people continue to impress. I love them so much.  Saturday I walked 41 kilometers and finished at a construction site where the security guards allowed me to pitch my tent. They assured me they would guard me too!
Monday night I was between towns, I arrived at a petrol station and asked to pitch my tent at the side. They gave me a couch in a store room to sleep on. I also had access to a hot shower. Back on the road I became a pied piper for about fifty children. We laughed and joked for about half an hour. After 36 kilometers I arrived in a town which I can't find on my map. The first person I saw I just asked him to help me find a hotel and he did. I walked across the road and had a street food Valentine's dinner!  DeliciousπŸ˜€
However, once again the cops were standing over me and wanted my passport. Eventually, I handed it over. Then they went to a late night copy shop, made a copy and wished me a good night. It was a bit irritating. One needs to accept this if walking across China. That's about six times on the road and about the same with hotel visits. However, that happened in the USA and Canada too. I have to make a ' visa run ' more than likely to Vietnam before the end of the month. For those that don't know, a visa run means leaving a country and returning just so as to 'acquire' a fresh visa I have a multi-entry Chinese visa and each entry is valid for 60 days. I  last entered the country on New Year's Eve, so I gotta leave and return to my route with the next two weeks. I reckon I need five more weeks walking to reach Vietnam. In such a country I have to worry about having my visa revoked. So, I have to be careful also what I write, I want to be respectful.
 I may be walking on a single engine, but it is fueled by Chinese love. When I returned to my hotel the lovely proprietors had decorated my room with luvvy-duvvy decorations.
Happy St. Valentine's Day.
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Newspaper Article

Irishman sets himself mammoth task of walking around the world to raise awareness of cancer

Tony Mangan will have walked a staggering 12,000 kilometres by February 27

·        64SHARES
·        18:13, 10 FEB 2017
Description: http://i3.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/article9795243.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/I170210_160139_596069oTextTRMRMMGLPICT000111314420o.jpgDublin man Tony Mangan pictured as he walks around the world
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An Irishman has set himself the mammoth task of walking around the world to raise awareness of cancer.
Tony Mangan - Ireland’s very own Forrest Gump - will have walked a staggering 12,000 kilometres by February 27, a year since he set off on his epic adventure.
He’s looking to complete 45-50,000 kilometres by the time he finishes his trip of the world, which started in Dublin and currently has him in China.
The former construction worker from the Liberties in Dublin aid there is a minimum requirement needed in order to complete the trek.
The 59-year-old revealed: “The minimum distance required for a world circumnavigation is just over 26,000 kilometres and four continents. Sometimes dreams are more important than records.”
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The route Dublin man Tony Mangan pictured as he walks around the world
But it’s not the first time Tony has walked the circumference of the earth.
In 2014 he ran 50,000km across the world. But he wanted to send a message this time around.
He added: “Previously I spent four years running a 50,000 kilometre lap around the world. I ran it mostly with a backpack. That was my life’s dream.
“During the planning for that expedition, I wondered how it could be done. I was also considering a ‘Plan B’ to walk around the world as it just seemed logistically easier. Eventually, I managed to pull off the run. Still restless, I revisited my old Plan B and said ‘why not?’
“The reason I travel on foot is that I feel at one with the people and gradually see a country slowly unraveling. Because I am travelling at a slow pace, I meet many people every day.
“Often I get invited into homes for refreshments or even a bed for the night.”
And Tony said that part of the reason for his trip is to help raise awareness of cancer.
He added: “During my world run, my mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer. It was a shock as she had always lived healthily.
“She wouldn’t let me stop as my dream had become hers too. We were told by her doctors that her cancer was discovered too late.
“Had it been discovered earlier perhaps she would be alive today. Mam lived another five months after she crossed the finish line of my world run. It just seemed appropriate that I should walk with a message: ‘Life is precious. Early cancer screening saves lives.’”
And Tony said that he is flying through pairs of runners on the expedition.
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Dublin man Tony Mangan pictured as he walks around the world
He continued: “I am on my 9th pair of running shoes in almost 12,000 kilometres. On my world run, I wore out 50.
“I have worn them all and love Skechers which I am currently walking with in China.”
And he said that to date there is one day in particular which stands out more than others.
He added: “I was walking in a storm in the Mongolian Gobi desert. The tailwind was so strong I was being blown along the road at about eight kilometres an hour.
“I took out my camera and shot a video. Just then I came to a nomadic settlement. There were camels, cows and sheep grazing.
“I went over to one of their yurts and was invited inside by a man who amazingly spoke good English. Their large round tent had a hot stove taking centre place and it was furnished just like a house for it even had beds, a wardrobe, solar power, a television and satellite dish.
“I sat there drinking tea and talking to the family for half an hour. The storm blew me to a record distance of 72 kilometres.”
And when asked if he ever once thought about giving up and heading home when the going got tough, Tony said: “No, because there is a lot of dream time gone into this walk. If I didn’t finish it, it would haunt me for the rest of my life as ‘unfinished business’.”
But he’s not sure when he’ll be finished the trip.
He added: “I am trying to live in the moment and not answer any ‘when’ questions. It seems that the world’s two favourite questions are, ‘what time will you?’ and ‘when will you?’ Perhaps three or four years.
“There are days when I am so happy on the road that I feel I could walk forever.
“It will depend on my funds. People can sponsor a day or a hotel night on the road on my website www.myworldwalk.com
And he said that despite carrying out the trip on his own, he doesn’t really get lonely.
He revealed: “I rarely feel alone as there are always people staring at me. However, in non-English speaking countries there is only so much baby talk communication I can do.
“I sometimes yearn for live music, a relationship or even a proper conversation. As best as I can, I keep my sanity by listening to podcasts or the BBC World Service.”
He said that he has met some truly incredible people on his journey so far.
Tony concluded: “I know it’s a cliche but the more I travel, the more I realise that the world is full of good people, with just a few bad apples.
“In all of my travels I have only met a couple of unsavoury people. Every town in the world is full of people who want the very best for their children and their families.
“It doesn’t matter what language they speak, their religion or country they are from. People are the same all over the world.”
The paper version…
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