Monday, November 5, 2018

My World Walk Blog/ China Part Two #41

My World Walk Blog/ China Part Two #41


Please read from #34 up which was the first in this latest series of blog updates.

This morning I planned to leave but I left packing my bags too late.
Shag it! I think I will leave on Tuesday instead of today......it's another day when you are walking around the world ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ€
Life is for Livin' and not Rehearsin' Time waits for nobody. So throw away the watch and go and clock out from crap ๐Ÿ˜‚
Yesterday was a busy albeit a pleasant day being a gentleman! For I had not just one but two dates with beautiful blonde women! Hahaha no I didn't pick them up they are my loyal followers, so I guess I got stalked and picked up by them.. As I said I was a gentleman, except for my eyes, lol! Ah! Never stop dreaming Tony ๐Ÿ˜‚
A brunch date at the Hong Kong Football Club with the sexy drop dead lady called Maria and also a coffee date at Pacific Coffee with the equally delightful Amber! Ah it doesn't rain but it pours ๐Ÿ˜‚
When I leave Hong Kong for the China mainland, I will leave with a with a tear in my eye. Thanks to a multitude of people for great chats, help and lots of madness.
Last Thursday after the great time I had at the Irish Consul Generals party I went along and also had a super-duper evening in Hong Kongs McSorley's Irish pub in downtown Soho. And yes I still had my bag of laundry under my arm that I had taken out to the Irish Consul Generals party in his posh oceanside penthouse pad ๐Ÿ˜‚ Reason being that I hadn't been back to my backpacker's hostel. Anyone that doesn't know what I'm talking about missed a great laugh, click below to read
That night in McSorley's it was the monthly meeting of the St Patricks Irish Club who meet there for music and fun on the first Thursday of each month. Timing is everything. Thanks to everyone there, especially to the managers Emma, Paul and also to Kevin and Sasha.
Next morning after getting up early I made my way to the Irish Consulate for their monthly continental breakfast and social chat with some of the Irish community. I'm told there are 5,000 Irish citizens living in Hong Kong, Luckily not all were present, only a hardcore of about twenty Irish which included a handful of 'proud of their Irish heritage' people. I continue to hand our my world walk cards with the message encouraging people to be screened early for cancer, as early cancer screening saves lives.
Once again I met up with the Consul General David Costello and also the Vice Consul, Rory Lawlor. They are minding Karma for me during my stay in the city. I'm grateful for this, as it was not realistic for me to take my cart to my accommodation as just about every living space in Hong Kong, is tiny. My own hostel is up on the eleventh floor of a high rise building and only has two chairs in the common area. That was a bit of pain as I enjoy talking to other backpackers so much. It seemed we had to socialise in shifts! With so much cramped conditions one notices a lot of sliding doors to consolidate precious space.
When I'm stopping in a city for a prolonged period I prefer to stay in such a place. If it's just a day or two, I enjoy my own company in a cheap hotel. In this crowded and cramped city which is home to 7 and a half million people, Hong Kong as mentioned before is an autonomous territory and a former British colony in southeastern China. It is situated on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary. It's also a vibrant,  densely populated urban centre which is a major port and global financial hub. With a skyscraper-studded skyline, it has more skyscrapers than anywhere else on earth. Squaring up at 1,104-square-kilometres Hong Kong is the world's fourth-most-densely-populated region.
I have noticed that Google Maps doesn't work well here, it seems to be a bit out of sync and often when I'm following in the GPS mode that I have already passed a junction when my navigation aid tells me to take a turn. I'm not sure if this is because of so many skyscrapers blocking the signal or the fact that Google Maps is blocked in neighbouring mainland China and this is bordering it. Perhaps a combination of both.
With so many active people walking about and to make my way through any street is like walking up Dublin's Grafton Street on Christmas week. This is obviously a challenge for the cities planners and engineers. These people have come up with some novel ideas for chocker-block zones including overhead walking ramps which are effectively streets on stilts above streets. Some of these are about a kilometre long and they take people off the streets down below. One way not to get knocked over or to find yourself inadvertently doing a pedestrian dance is to just step on a moving escalator belt. One man told me the worlds longest such belt is here and measures a kilometre.
While in Hong Kong I got my wonderful Keen walking sandals reheeled. Cost about twenty Euro. Yes, expensive I know but they needed to be done and are almost as good as a new pair. Let's hope the glue stays strong. I have gotten all the way from Bangkok in them, about 2,500 kilometres. There is still a lot of sole wear so I'm hoping to do this again at least a couple more times. Pretty soon the winter will be on the way and I won't be wearing them. Current temperatures are in the region of 26C. That's a drop of about six in the last month and it has made for ideal walking conditions. I have been on the lookout for affordable winter wear. Top of the list was a warm and waterproof jacket which cost about three hundred Euro here in an outdoors shop. So that was out of the question. Ten minutes later I was in what looked like a charity store but someone suggested it could have been a factory outlets shop selling new but slightly flawed goods at a knockdown price. I was delighted when I picked up a warm waterproof windbreaker coat which still had the tags attached for about thirty Euro. In addition, I picked up a warm fleece top which was also as cheap as chips.
That evening I popped along to McSorleys Irish bar and once again I was Guinnessed and dined for the whole night by the Irish patrons. One of them an airline pilot called Stephen Clancy generously made a donation to my world walk fund which effectively covered my five nights in the backpacker's hostel I'm staying at! Thanks a million, Stephen. ๐Ÿ˜‚

My world walk blog China Part Two/Hong Kong # 40

My world walk blog China Part Two/Hong Kong # 40


Thanks to David Costello the Irish Consul General to Hong Kong for an invitation to his beautiful oceanside home. It was an event which was also attended by many local and Irish business people. Thankfully I was given an exemption from the business attire ๐Ÿ˜‚ Actually due to time constraints I had to pick up my laundry bag along the way. It was an eight kilometres walk out to the plush Bel-Air Cyberport area where the Consul General and his family live. Naturally, I didn't want to walk there in my party clobber and I had planned to change downstairs before I took the elevator to his penthouse pad. I hadn't planned on the welcoming committee being downstairs in the lobby and I was soon spotted and cornered in my rags before I had a chance to change! lol. Eventually, a security guard escorted me to a toilet to change. Somehow my socks went missing in the wash and as I was wearing none with my sandals I was hoping shoes wouldn't have to be removed as in many Asian homes ๐Ÿ˜‚
Never a dull moment!
Upstairs I managed to give my laundry bag to Maria, the Consul Generals wife and Hannah their daughter to hide in a corner and charge up my phone too while you are at it pet ๐Ÿ˜‚
Chat, drinks, networking and much laughter flowed. One Irishman who was working as a caterer stood to dutiful attention and laughed when I called him 'Mrs Doyle' the poor demented housemaid from Fr Ted, the Irish hit comedy. "I have been standing here all night just in case you want a drinkie!"
"Well actually no thanks, Mrs Doyle. Perhaps next time!"
Guest of honour was Minister Heather Humphries, the Irish Minister for Business and Development. The minister gave her update on the state of play of local and Irish business dealings, planned investments and other highlights. Then she spoke briefly about the Irish Governments stance on Brexit.
I had a nice chat with her and passed on some of my cancer awareness cards to hand out to whoever she wanted to in the Irish Government circles. Australia and New Zealand send out self-testing kits to people every five years once they reach a certain age. Why doesn't Ireland?
Also present was Eoin O' Leary the Irish ambassador to Shanghai who says that as soon as he gets back he will stick the kettle on, on a slow boil that is, a slow boil to China ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ€
Thanks a million to Consul General David Costello, a fellow Dubliner and his family, Minister Humphries and the assembled guests for such an interesting evening.
One of the guests there, an Irish woman called Bridget Mullane whisked me away in a taxi to an Irish night out in McSorleys Irish bar in downtown Soho. More about that in my next post.

My world walk blog China/Hong Kong #39

My world walk blog China/Hong Kong #39


Based on my Facebook account.
I got Karma sorted in Hong Kong thanks to Emma, and Irishmen Paul and Kevin,  also to Sacha and many others at McSorley's Irish bar for their kindness. Lots of delicious food, Tayto, fun, chats, and of course Guinness all on the house ๐Ÿ˜‚ Walking around the world is hard to do but someone has to do it ๐Ÿ˜‚
There are two events I have been invited to tomorrow night and I will be talking about my walk message that the Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lines. Firstly a formal event in David, the Irish Councils residence and then a quick taxi ride to the night out with the St Patricks Irish Club in Hong Kong which will feature 'ceol agus craic' aka music and fun! That will be back in McSorley's Irish Bar. Ross, the Irish vice-council just got off the phone telling me that jeans and a shirt would be ok for me as those present would understand! The problem, I don't even have jeans and a sweater! My best rags are across the road in a laundry where the man nearly passed out with the wiff.
"No sir, I don't need to check everything out, kindly put them back in the bag so as I can let my nose go ๐Ÿ˜‚ Hopefully, they will deliver them to the bar for me tonight ๐Ÿ˜‚
Everyone is amazing, I'm so blessed. Thanks also to Tina, Tee Kay Gee
If that wasn't enough I have also been invited to an Irish breakfast with members of the community on Friday morning I'm planning to leave for China on Monday!
I found a decent backpackers hostel and Karma is being moved from the Irish bar to the Irish Councils office in the morning as storage is scarce even in hotels, hostels, people's homes and just about everywhere its a problem. Thanks so much to all of.my latest friends for making this such an enjoyable stay ๐Ÿ˜‚

My world walk blog China Part Two/ Hong Kong #38

My world walk blog China Part Two/ Hong Kong #38


Monday 29th night I arrived in Hong Kong a bit late so I decided to sleep in the ferry terminal on my air mattress. Well, only a half nights sleep as one of the other sleepers snored his head off.
In the morning after a fast food breakfast, I made my way over to a cafe where a couple of local lads made me so welcome and I was able to park Karma there so as I could shop for a couple of things. Hong Kong is a pretty difficult place to get around when walking with a cart. So many steep steps and flyovers, thankfully the ones I crossed over had elevators and walk over ramps. Due to a lack of space, most homes are high rises and are God damn expensive. Many of these high rises have hilly streets and steps that circle around the tall structures and in some cases almost half way up. So its fair to say, it was a tough place for me to navigate my way around. 

The two lads I spoke to in the cafe were almost in resignation as to the future of the local people. "Everything is too expensive, we are in a catch 22 situation, we have to keep working and can't afford to buy a house, renting is also prohibitive." They also wonder what life is going to be like once China takes full control after the fifty-year democracy promise ends in 2047. That was part of the hand back agreement when the British returned the province. And what about the new bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and China I asked. That makes it easier for the Chinese to take control any time they want, was the reply. And it was pointed out to me that it was the Hong Kong people and not China who stumped up the lion's share of the US$20 billion 55-kilometre bridge construction costs.
Later I met Lizette for a coffee. She is a lovely, photo shy South African woman with a great sense of humour. She works as a teacher here. She kindly took delivery of a new bank card which my sister Ann sent on to me. Thanks also to Andrew Lloyd who arranged this for me. 

After checking out some of the reviews of the local backpacker hostels I was a bit concerned, not really for my own safety, more for Karmas. This has been on my mind since reading about an eighteen-year-old British cyclist who had his bike stolen from a hostel in Townsville, Australia. He was hoping to become the youngest around-the-world cyclist. One would imagine there would be decent surveillance and security there? 

Many of the Hong Kong hostel reviews reported poor security, and broken elevators - a problem for me with Karma - and tiny rooms with barely enough room to store luggage

Anyway, to cut a long story short I decided to book a lovely place called Moja Nomad Aberdeen Harbour Hostel that was about eight kilometres away. It didn't seem a problem as it was early afternoon when I departed. Once again I was walking up more steep climbs, almost Alpine-like in nature and rarely was there any respite. With serious effort, I got about halfway and I was looking forward to walking through a nice Park called Aberdeen park and the Hong Kong trail as it's called. It was a shock to discover that this park had huge steep steps up and down and just too many. It would have been foolhardy to continue on so I backtracked onto the highway route which was an extra seven km. A little later the footpath was history and I was walking on a dangerous mountainous road with so many bends. Who said that Hong Kong is just a city I discovered some beautiful countryside. Then somehow I got lost on Peak Road and ended up in a tourist theme park resort. I have no idea what it is about, to be honest, I couldn't be arsed! On the way, I stopped and asked if I could pitch my tent at a fire station and was refused. The boss man suggested a shopping centre and I was also refused there. There was no decent place to camp along the highway as there were too many steep cliffs and private roads. By this stage I was ravenous and as luck would have it there was a Burger King at the resort called the Victoria Peak . That was much appreciated even if it was much smaller and three times as expensive as McDonald's in the ferry terminal. So by this stage, I had forfeited my accommodation as I had to pay the equivalent of twenty euro in advance. I hoped to find a place to camp there.  But for all of that, I was thankful for a beautiful sunset and astonishing views of Hong Kongs highrise skyscrapers which glowed and flickered in the clear night sky.

My world walk Blog China Part Two/ Macau/ #37

My world walk Blog China Part Two/ Macau/ #37


26,000 kilometres have now been walked. I turned that one over on a nice bicycle path near Longtang. Then I had a nice celebratory lunch in a food mall. That day after my 33km day I stayed in a backpackers hostel in Zhuhai, China. It was on the 14th floor of an apartment block and in a semi-swanky area. Surely this can't be less than five euro I wondered, and it was. Thanks to a nice woman who helped me find the hostel within the apartment complex which had no block signage.Next morning I crossed over the border and into Macau which is a former Portuguese colony which has a certain amount of self-rule. It's pretty much a gambling resort for rich Chinese. From memory, it was returned along with Hong Kong the former British colony in 1997. Part of the agreement was that they would remain democratic for a fifty year period, and we are getting towards halfway. China has always considered these places to be renegade breakaway provinces which will one day return to the mainland. I had to go through immigration and all that. They even have their own currency, issued by the Bank Of China. The Chinese are pretty sensitive about this stuff and for the moment are describing it as 'One country, Two systems' In my view, China is playing the clock down well. I'm told that there are no backpacker hostels or cheap accom in Macau. Not really interested in staying anyway, I just came to include it in the walk and I made it, so I moved on. That night I took a ferry to Hong Kong. I had a lot of people there looking out for me, but no concrete plans or offers. I planned to stay for a few days. I got a nice message from the Irish consul staff so have to pencil in a chat and a cup of tea ๐Ÿ˜‚

My World Blog/ China Part Two #36

My World Blog/ China Part Two #36

 

I stopped at a convenience store for a snack and drank a Red Bull and asked if I could sleep outside as there is no accommodation for the next thirty kilometres and camping looks a bit iffy.
Not sure how big this town or village is, with China you never know. Perhaps the same size as Ennis. China and indeed all of my South-East Asian route is safe. To be honest I worry more about Europe and the USA than here.
So I went up to the cooler for another Red Bull and what did I discover! Guinness,! And priced at a Euro and a bit for a 500ml can! I know people like Dave Pearce likes to know this kind of details ๐Ÿ˜‚
It's the first time in all of Asia that I remember this in a grocery store.
Then a gang of children came over to say hello and we had great fun. There were fireworks going across the road and I pretended I was shot!
Some more students who had heard about me dropped by. One girl introduced herself as O'Neill and I said "Ah here! O'Neill and Guinness, too much fun for one day ๐Ÿ˜‚" As she was leaving she corrected me and said her name is Mia. So, I declared. Journalistic licence and said. "No, it's not. It's O'Neill!"
I expect a visit from the cops tonight, let's just see. Those who followed me on my walk through the middle of the country a couple of years who will surely remember the frequent hotel visits the searches and checks on the road. Not to mention a couple of hotel refusals due to 'locals only policies' this time I have had absolutely no police attention and only one hotel refusal. It's almost like a relaxing of the rules, time will tell.
Crisps and Guinness for dinner, bread for lunch and pot noodles for breakfast. Let's just say that I had a revolting experience a couple of days ago. I'm going to spare you the horrible photos of what I witnessed at a roadside eatery and his preparation etc a couple of days ago. It was enough to make even me a vegetarian and I have given up my dog bark party piece just in case I get smacked, skinned and thrown on a wok, I can't stand the food here. I will give a brief description when I'm safely back on the mainland after Macau and Hong Kong but as I said, I will spare you the grotesque pictures ๐Ÿ˜ฑ.

 

My World Blog/ China Part Two #35

My World Blog/ China Part Two #35


Guinness and O'Neill in a strangely named town.
I'm in Shaghin tonight, sorry that should be Shangheng! Some names are easier to remember that others lol ๐Ÿ˜‚
My map provider gave me a 39-kilometre day but I felt it was more like 37 and that was the distance recorded in my log book, tonight Oct 26. It's amazing how in tune with the distance the world walker can get, I would argue with any road engineer propping up those kilometre posts ๐Ÿ˜‚  Macao city will be almost exactly 26,000 kilometres walked. 26k of bliss, thanks everyone for your love and support I'm so lucky to have you all.
Anyway, back to Shangheng ๐Ÿ˜‚
So after my great days walking I arrived in this place. There was still almost two hours of daylight left and with about 54 kilometres to Macao, it surely would have made sense to walk on for another two or three hours and try to reach Macau tomorrow, instead of two days. But shag it, the road is great fun too!

My world Walk Blog China Part Two/ #34

My world Walk Blog China Part Two/ #34

 

Arriving in Chongcheng, a suburb of the larger and more famous tourist city of Kaiping I decided to meander around the banks of the Cangjiang River and do some people watching. First I got something to eat but not without causing my usual disruption in the restaurant! Not knowing what to eat I decided to Google Translate the menu and then as you can see from the translate photo (3 and 4 )  I became even more confused than the Chinese original. As mentioned in a recent post this translation can be done by taking a photo and running a picture scan. Yes, this function seems to be a work in progress! My closed eyes, blind stab at the menu produced a leaf of cabbage which thankfully I didn't order when the waitress asked me did I really want that and nothing else! Finally, I took her recommendation and opted for fish and a pot of pork stew to which I mixed in various vegetables and meat.
Back out on the Cangjiang River I made a short four-kilometre loop and walked past several houseboats. I watched as people relaxed while others did their maintenance and household chores. 
Guangdong province with a population in the region of 110 million was once known as Canton and is one of the most densely populated areas of the world. However, most of that human mass is closer to Hong Kong and in the Pearl Delta region.
It took me by surprise! I didn't even know the Chinese were building a 55-kilometre bridge from Macao to Hong Kong. This is the worlds longest sea bridge and it crosses a bay that connects these two major hubs. It opened the day before.. I will arrive in Macao in three days on my world walk and nobody in the area even knows that a man who is walking around the world and who has previously run around the world is walking towards it! But that's fine! More than likely because I don't do the publicity ego thing that I will get an anonymous ferry to bypass this non-pedestrian bridge. It would have been nice to be allowed to walk over it.

 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

My world walk China part two Blog # 33

My world walk China part two Blog # 33


A summary of my last week based on a Facebook post. You may have seen some of these pictures and read some of the following detail.

My Spot.tracking device hasn't been updating these last few days. 26km yesterday and rain stopped play early. So it was an early shower, some singing and yes shampoo in my mouth ๐Ÿ˜‚
Expect about 34 today. I'm less than 200 kilometres from Macao and then a short ferry ride to Hong Kong city.
I had two similar walking days on some nice and relatively quiet rural backroads in Chinas Guangdong province. Those days I walked through about ten small villages and towns. Both nights I finished at small grocery stores. With a hint of rain in the air, I asked if I could sleep on a sheltered bench outside those shops. As always everyone was kind and friendly. One family gave me a bowl of rice, cabbage and egg and some form of hairy potato for dessert. My offers of payment are almost always strongly refused, so this is a dilemma for me.
You may have noticed from the photos and videos of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam that in those countries that so many people there greeted me with huge smiles, waves and shouts. It's a bit different in this part of China. Its almost as though I'm a white elephant walking down the road for so many people persistently stare at me with long incredulous looks.
It's amazing the difference just crossing a border makes. I offer my greetings to all of these people. More often than not they don't respond. Sometimes when I'm up for it I repeat my greeting a second or a third time. That usually gets a response. I want to be crystal clear here. I'm not suggesting the Chinese are unfriendly, far from it for often I sat down with those that gave me long stares and after a few minutes its like we are all great mates. So many cyclists told me that they considered the Chinese to be an unfriendly race. No, not my opinion. I believe those same cyclists just didn't take the time to stop to get to know them as I do. I love Chinese people.
Just about everyone is amazed that I'm walking and that Karma doesn't have a motor! It's pretty funny watching them look for a motor or even pedals.
One day I saw a large sign in a village and was curious to know what it was about. Another feature of Google Translate is that a picture can be taken of the foreign text. Then a translation scan can be made of this same picture with a translation into the desired language.
I saw the cruel sight of a man with a racoon swinging from a rope which he had attached to a wooden frame. He was selling the poor creature at the side of the road. I had strong words with him but obviously, he didn't understand me, he probably considered me to be a nutcase.
Another day it rained heavily and when I got to the far end of a large town I decided it was ridiculous to keep walking that day. I had no luck trying to source a hotel. When I got to a row of about ten metal fabrication shops I sat on a sheltered step of the only one that as closed for I was too wet to do the 'entertainment show' that afternoon at one of the occupied shops. Just then a man came along and pulled up the shutter and invited me inside. I sat there and watched the torrential rain for half an hour and was grateful the man boiled up his kettle so as I could make a mug of hot coffee. I was wondering where I was going to sleep that night. My maps didn't show any hotels and I was grateful when this man pulled one up on his map. It was just a block and a half away. I zoomed in on it and studied its location so as there would be no mistake. Sure enough, I tracked it down and ten minutes after handing over my equivalent of eight euro I was in a hot shower. Between the rain and smog that day I picked up a bit of a cough.
Next day I walked 32 kilometres along route G325 and enjoyed a nice wide hard shoulder along the busy highway. When I got to a restaurant with an adjoining hotel I stopped for the night...  I thought the dinner and room were much more expensive than what I had previously paid for similar but the company was nice. I enjoyed a chat with the owner who is a 37-year-old woman. Through Google Translate she told me that her son is in the army and her daughter is still in school. This woman is annoyed with her husband who often gets drunk and falls asleep while she has to work the restaurant alone. She is feeling a bit isolated as she is originally from Fujian province. So I started showboating by picking up peanuts from a bowl with my chopsticks. She put me in my place by picking up her peanuts with toothpicks, lol ๐Ÿ˜‚
That Friday, my 35-kilometre trek along Chinas route G325 took me to Juntang.
Stopping at a convenience store for a snack I had another interesting chat in Spanish with a woman who lived in Venezuela for twelve years. It seemed that her family have a business there and she returned to China a couple of years ago when the economic woes hit the South American country. Needless to say, this is the first time she had an opportunity to speak the worlds most widely spoken mother tongue.
With 140 kilometres to Macao which will be followed by a short ferry ride to Hong Kong, I have plenty of time to spare on my China visa. I  holed up in a nice hotel in Juntang for two rest days and sucked on a cough bottle. My cough improved dramatically, but that could have been due to being away from the smoggy highway. One decision the budget traveller has to make is whether to spend more time in the expensive western world with its relatively clean air or in the more affordable but polluted poorer countries. Obviously, there are health issues. When smog is bad I cover up my face.
25,854 myworldwalk.com kilometres have so far been walked in 744 road days.
Please remember that early cancer screening saves lines.

My world walk blog part two China #32

My world walk blog part two China #32


11th October I arrived in smoggy Maoling which I was told is a small Chinese city of about six million. I needed to have some work done on Karmas wheels and also have a rest as it had been a tough week and I was feeling a bit emotionally drained. 

Sometimes hotels can be tough to find in China, so I jumped on the first one I came across. In the ideal world, it would be nice to check out the room before I parted with my money but it's a bit of an ask for the worker to escort me to and from the room when it is on the sixth floor and the hotel has no elevator. Still, I should have known better as the cost was only two and half Euro. I just wasn't in form for further tramping around the city that day. It was more of a doss house with small grubby rooms and little privacy for there was a hand-sized gap at the top of the wall. The light from my room had my neighbour knocking on my door telling me to turn my light off and it wasn't even eight o'clock. The shower was filthy and I stayed clean by not using it. I also used my seeking bag.
I was tempted to forfeit my money and go off looking elsewhere but I just stayed put.
When I have a safe place I usually leave my passport in the room when going out to dinner, but not there. 

Saturday I went down the road and found a nice place for my rest day. I don't like to sit around in squalor on my days of leisure, I work hard enough to deserve better. 

Then I had to find a bicycle shop on Google Maps. That was challenging and not to mention a lot of footing it around for Google seemed to lump every motorcycle shop into a bicycle category. However, on the fourth attempt, I lucked it out when I found the German Bicycle Shop. Earlier I also had to track down a hardware store to purchase some washers. Reason for that is because several spoke heads had busted their way through the rim. So the washers were to put on the spokes to prevent this. It's a specialised pop-off wheel which has its own shaft. This usually has bicycle shops flummoxed when it comes to alignment as it doesn't fit on the alignment rig they use. However, I have been there before and it can be aligned in a workshop vice, and that's how the man managed. Cost, less than a Euro and I had a hard time getting him to accept my tip. 

Next day I was on the road for 31 kilometres to Xiadong and for the second time in a few days a bridge was impassable and I had another long detour along some quaint backroads. I presume this didn't show up on Google Maps as closed because Google is banned in China and perhaps they don't have the latest local information. As mentioned before I can use it and the similarity banned Facebook because I have a VPN installed on my phone. This is essentially an unblocker. If anything happens to my phone and I need to get a new one, then I won't have a VPN and will have major communication hassle. I have heard that despite the Google ban that the company still have 600 staff based in China. There is also talk of legalising Google Maps if stuff like churches are removed from their China maps. It's also been reported that Google is working on a compromise search engine (from memory I believe its called Dragon Fly) for the Chinese government. All of the usual sensitive stuff like human rights and religion will be removed. This project has many Google staff and rights watch groups up in arms. 

Then I walked on through a  village where a dog was up on a table waiting to be sectioned and cooked. I'm sure I've eaten dog before, God knows what else I have eaten. The golden rule in China is not to ask what one is eating for they make everything tasty. Recently I read a report that the Chinese government and also the Vietnamese are starting to disfavour the eating of dog meat. This is not only because of bad tourism publicity but because the first cases of rabies have occurred from the consumption of dog meat

That day I also stopped at a scrap yard to see if I could pick up a couple of spare 20-inch wheels for Karma as the ones I have are a bit dodgy. Previously I mentioned that I was thinking of picking up old 20-inch wheels and doing a respoking job. The problem is that the spoke count is different and my hub which is about a thumb length and is also smaller than the standard ones on child bicycle wheels. However having looked at so many wheels over the last few months in bicycle shops I have noticed that there is a hard to find size that is about a centimetre longer than mine. My latest idea was to look for one in a scrap yard and find an angle grinder to modify it! 

So that's what I did and the staff there couldn't be more obliging. I actually picked up two spare wheels and a nice man used a pencil grinder to remove a lip so as my shaft could fit in. Then using an angle grinder he ground down the outside hub walls so as the wheels could fit onto Karma! It worked a treat. And then they treated me to lunch in their canteen! 

I had a nice Google translate chat with them before I left and they mention that work every day collecting and sorting scrap and never get a day off. One of them showed me a translated message saying that it was their pleasure to help me that it was fun (please see photo) And of course no charge for the work. The Chinese are such wonderful people. 

Then I marched on to my finish in Xiadong and had more hassle trying to find accom. After a while, four young lads escorted me to a pricey hotel and when I indicated that I would rather pitch my tent they found me a really spacious apartment in a building which was behind a clothing shop. The storekeeper seemed to be acting as a broker and then after I handed over my equivalent of eight Euro I had a ten-minute wait for the apartment block owner to escort me to the apartment. 

Then the young lads who told me that they were all 15-year-olds carried my stuff up to my room and then lit up cigarettes in the room! Ah yes, China, I just love it!

My world walk blog china part two #31

My world walk blog china part two #31


Based on a Facebook post

I have now hoofed it on foot for more than 75,555 combined kilometres for both my world run and my world walk.
That just me into second place just ahead of my friend Jean for the second most covered expedition kilometres on foot! Less than 2,000 kilometres ahead of me is my other great friend Masahio from Japan who has the lead and is on a long break from the road, so I should overtake him before the end of the year! Thanks to every single person who made this happen, be they a sponsor, host, friend or offered me hospitality along my way. 
It was a bit of an anti-climax when I passed that kilometre mark for I just kept walking. I have always believed its about the smiles and not the miles, still, I do come from a competitive background and I know a lot of my followers are interested in this stuff. 
Two days ago a man on a motorcycle stopped and then turned around and went on ahead eight kilometres out of his way to the next town and bought me some water and sweet bread. I don't feel comfortable accepting such snacks here as I did in richer countries like Australia and New Zealand for the man probably doesn't earn much money. But after him going to all that trouble how could I refuse without bursting his bubble or offending? Thank you, my friend. That day I walked 35 kilometres and camped on some wasteland and out of sight from the road behind a huge pile of sand.
Yesterday afternoon I was following some minor roads and all of a sudden the road ran out for a bridge had somehow collapsed. So that was a pain as it meant an extra seven kilometres round trip back. I don't count such kilometres as they are not advancing me. I do count as extra kilometres I get lost so long as they are not in a loopback. By that, I mean that it's up to me to decide my routes, so by extension I'm not obliged to take the shortest route. So a long way even if I got lost is just another alternative route! 
That's what happened yesterday. I walked north for about five kilometres before I realised my error. Luckily there was a road that went east, so I took it. By the end of the day, I must have walked close to kilometres and will just record 30 in my logbook. I finished late and camped in a forest. Just as I arrived at the place to camp I busted a hub on my front wheel. I have a spare wheel and replaced it before setting out this morning. Karma is getting such a battering on these appalling roads. Pretty soon I'm going to have to figure out how to modify some new rear 20 inch wheels for Karma. Hers are specialised quick release and I may have to get some regular bicycle wheels and respoke them by using her hubs. Problem is the spoke count is different but I will have to leave four holes without spokes. 
As I have been camping these last two nights I have had to make extra stops in restaurants and grocery stores to keep my phone charged up. I need it for my maps as its so easy to get list here. I had been using a great offline map called Maps.me but it stalled as it needed an update before I could open it again. Unfortunately, it wasn't updating on my data. So, I was lucky that I also had my VPN so as I could follow the blocked Google Maps. I tell you, there is always an issue on the road!

My world walk blog China part two #30

My world walk blog China part two #30


Based on a Facebook post 

Saturday was another uneventful day. Once again nothing to report from my 28-kilometre clip along Route 325. 
Guangxi province is one of five autonomous regions in China. These autonomous regions have their own local governments and have more legislative rights than other provinces.
 Feeling a bit unmotivated I took Sunday off to catch up on some stuff. 
I'm about two road days away from overtaking 
Jean Beliveau's 75,550-kilometre lifetime total of (VERIFIED and scrutinised) expedition kilometres made by foot. Jean is currently in second place and he did this on his eleven-year world walk. He is now retired and living near Montreal. Earlier this year  Masahito Yoshida surpassed Jean's total before he clocked out in his native Japan with 77,500 amassed from a world walk and also a walk the full length of the Americas. I understand he may return to the road but only after a very long break. Perhaps I will have passed his total by then, let's see but I hope he will still be there when I arrive in his hometown in a few months time. 
As regular readers will know the distance of my world run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, and not a metre more! I have walked 25,504 kilometres on this world walk so far. So that's 75,504 for me. 
Please remember that life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives

My world walk China part two #29

My world walk China part two #29


Based on Facebook posts

Back at Kevins house we had lunch and thanks so much to his mother Chen Xuexiang and Sun Jinyun, his father. 

Kevin says that his family are Christians and I ask if they celebrate Christmas
 He said no that in the Bible there is a discrepancy as the Christmas season is 
 out of kilter with the farming season and it certainly wasn't Dec 25th.
I agree and add that its a compromise date and even more so Easter, lol which is a different date every year. I ask if there is any government interference. No, none at all said Kevin that the government are allowing some nearby churches to be built.

34 kilometres today from Hepu to Zhakou. 
Walking through a village one young lad who spoke good English asked me if I needed any help. I was up for a chat so I asked if there was anywhere to get coffee and that I would treat him. He rushed away and came back with three bottles of Nescafe cold coffee. What kindness even though I meant hot coffee. I must be the only one here who prefers it that way! 
Ofttimes when I stop at a cafe and see pictures of the food they sell I take a picture of my selection. Then I show my picture inside. One would imagine that would be the end of it but there is usually a volley of further questions and I have no idea what they are saying. Perhaps they are asking about how spicey or other ingredients I just nod a yes to everything!. One Euro for this beef, noodle and veg lunch. 
After lunch, a jolly looking man jumped off his strangely packed bicycle and rushed across the road to give me a hug! Then he wanted to know where I was from and where I was going. I'm pretty tuned in to this line of questioning and no matter what their language is, when people are talking amongst themselves I always know when they are asking about my nationality. I was able to tell him about my mission by Google Translate but unfortunately he didn't understand when I asked him.
 I suspect he is Chinese and has been travelling around the country for a long time. This man refused my offer of a bottle of coffee and a large red apple.
Then after dusk, I stopped at a petrol station in Zhakou and a nice man walked with me for ten minutes to show me a cheap hotel. This one was above a pharmacy store and I would never have found it on my own for the signage was different to standard hotel signs. I remember experiencing this on my last trip to China that many many bed nights were obtained from places that resembled stores. 
Total 25,446 myworldwalk.com kilometres for 731 road days.

My world walk blog China part two #28

My world walk blog China part two #28


Based on a Facebook post

I took a rest day in Hopu today. It's not every day that I meet a Chinese person who speaks English and offers to show me around. Thanks to Sun Chuanfeng who prefers to be called Kevin, and that's fine with me!
He is the man who found me the hotel last night so I treated him to breakfast this morning. Then we popped over to a local park where many senior citizens were working on their aerobics routines. It's interesting that in almost three months in south-east Asia that I have only set eyes on about two obese people. To me that speaks volumes for our western diet which is high in meat, processed food and junk food, its pretty much the opposite here.

Hopu, China. 
Then Kevin brought me over to his Chinese friend who is called Dan. He has a ping pong machine above his shoe shop. I thought the machine was a bit slow! Wait and see what happens in the next video. He speeds it up and with a couple of balls coming out at the same time. Is it any wonder the Chinese are so good at this game?!
I had a delicious dinner tonight in Hapu. A man called Ah Wei stopped me on the road yesterday and gave me the invite. Thanks to his wife and mother for cooking up the terrific dinner.
Earlier a man called Kevin helped me find a hotel. He went to enormous trouble and I'm so grateful. Kevin is from this area and studied ecological marine management in Belgium for a couple of years and speaks good English.
Yesterday a truck dropped a load of wood shavings on the road. It was a bit funny watching the cops clean it all up by hand as the mad traffic beeped them off the road ๐Ÿ˜‚
So they were two easy days, a 22 and a 24-kilometre day.
25,412 kilometres for 730 road days. Web:/ www.myworldwalk.com
Please remember that early cancer screening saves lives.

My world walk blog China part two #27

My world walk blog China part two #27





Apogies due to time constraints this blog post is an unedited Facebook posting.

Mushroom Crisps!
35 kilometres on my first full day in China from Dongxing border town and along the busy S325 dual carriageway to Jiangshan. There wasn't much to shout out about, a pretty dreary dull day, even when you are living your dream. I have had better days and there will be more to follow. Except for a delicious lunch in Jiangping. These are the meals I love, restaurants with food on display to be loaded up onto a compartment tray. "I will have this, this, that and this and lots of cabbage," I said. I love Chinese cabbage, so soft, delicious and tender.
I walked through two long downloads and was kept fairly dry by walking along with the great golf umbrella that some nice people gave me in Thailand. Later that day I lost the umbrella. I sheltered from much of the first dose of heavy rain at a well-placed grocery store and Mushroom Crisps were on sale, I kid you not! Unfortunately, no bread to make a crisp sambo but really, You just can't beat Tayto as we have in Ireland! I love mushrooms, they are my favourite vegetables and any time I can't make up my mind what to eat from a menu I look for mushrooms. They have the deciding vote be it an omelette, a pizza, burger or a steak. If it has mushrooms I will go or it. But please not these snacks. Yuk!
That night when I arrived in Jiangshan, a grubby town I couldn't find any accommodation or green grass to pitch my tent. So after eyeing up a local covered fish market where I planned to pitch my pop-up tent I spent the night sipping delicious lemonades in a lemonade parlour for a couple of hours until I was ready to retire for the night. Earlier a rat running past the only open restaurant quickly put me off my dinner. It would be tempting just to lay my sleeping bag out in the fish market and not bother with the tent. Yes, folks, I have been in that situation and these types of markets draw rats. So the pop-up tent is always a good solution. It's also good for when there is no grass about but a secure place to camp, including a supermarket in a safe town. I have camped in some of the most bizarre places, including bushy roundabouts and even a quiet street which turned into a busy pedestrian street when I got up in the morning.
Next day, I was a bit of a celebrity in Jiangshan and over breakfast, I was asked to sign several autographs for the school children who were dressed in yellow and green tracksuits.
Out on the road, I was a bit tired and when I got to a city called Guigang after only 18 clicks I called it a day when I found a nice clean and cheap hotel. The reason I stopped early was I didn't expect there to be anything else that day.
I reckon south-east Asia and so far here in China is about 10% the cost of what hotels, meals, drinks, and other travel necessities cost in Australia.
On the road, I noticed a lot of security cameras clicking every passing vehicle. They may be used for speed control, but I believe it's also for other forms of controls and observations. I wish China would use them to get a grip on the insane dangerous driving. Perhaps that's asking a bit too much. I have a lot to say on this subject of surveillance for I have researched mass surveillance extensively and China are the world's leaders. I understand they have a half billion cameras in operation. They are also perfecting facial recognition technology and the Chinese are probably way ahead of the curve there. There are still some bugs in the system but improvements are being made and it's becoming more reliable. It can also be used for positive reasons too. For example in a clothing store and the manager says to the assistant. "Oh yes, that's Mr Tony Mangan coming into our store.. Last time he came in he bought stripy pyjamas. Let's do a hard sell and try to get him to buy a teddy bear this time!"
Don't be surprised if one day when facial technology has been really perfected if a passport will no longer be needed. Hard to imagine but that's what's been muted.
I will write a long blog post on it soon. I believe I also did one for China part one when I walked south from Mongolia and through the middle of the country to Vietnam when I did that leg a year and a half ago. Please feels free to search my website on the blog page for that one.
A little later I came to a village where local farmers wanted to flatten out their crop. No messing with a mangle, they just lay it all out on the road for vehicles to flatten and I did my bit ๐Ÿ˜‚ Please see the photos.
Then a little further on and it looked like a river was about to break its banks for a small section of the highway was flooded. That was a 38-kilometre day that took me to a large spread-out city called Qinzhou. At least half of that day I was shaded by either tall buildings or tall trees and switched sides of the road for optimal comfort.
Arriving in the city and not being able to spot the now-familiar four Chinese characters for a hotel" ๆ—…้คจ " Sometimes just picking them out from everything else that's surrounding them in a vibrant street is challenging. It's like trying to find the hidden letter in a maze puzzle that you sometimes see in children books.
I wandered down some likely busy streets where traders were doing a brisk trade. A little later I stopped and asked at a house where a father and his teenage daughter were sitting outside. She spoke some English and told me of a place which seemed complicated to find. So I asked them to show me and honestly, it was a huge effort to get them to walk a few hundred metres to show me! I was grateful for their kind help, but sometimes I feel a bit frustrated by people who make walking even a short distance a chore. In the past, people have taken their motorcycles just so as they don't have to walk back. This couple abandoned me when I was about two hundred metres away and assuming I could figure the signage just said, "Over there!"  Eventually, I found the place in amongst the maze puzzle of Chinese signs.
Inside at the reception, I showed my carefully prepared Google translated message. Sometimes these hotels make extra money when the rooms are rented out for a couple of hours to amorous couples. There have been a couple of times that when my hotel was so cheap that I wondered if I was getting an hourly rate or the overnight rate. So my message translated into Chinese. In English, it reads: "I want to sleep overnight. How much is your cheapest room please?"
Even though the sign on the wall said the cheapest room is 180/RNB this woman said 100, about €12.50./ US$14. An important rule is don't always take the first rate and if feasible haggle. Then she added that's without a window. This was all communicated on a translate app. Then after I paid and said that I don't need a window she strangely said that she wanted to charge me 200!
I held out and when she asked me if that's all I had, I just said yes. "Will I open a window for you?" She said.
Yes, was my reply and I got a swanky Holiday Inn type room in a hotel called the Q Hotel.  I think I got the 200 room at half price.
Waking up on Sunday morning I was tired because I was up most of the night watching football and then I went back asleep. I resisted the temptation of yet another rest day. It was a hard one to turn down as I walked out of my swanky hotel. A lacklustre day resulted in me getting to a junction for the expressway just six kilometres south of Nali. For most of the day, I had been following route 325 and I will be doing so for the next few days. As Nali is not on my route I stopped at a cafe on the junction for dinner, cost about €1 for beef, cabbage and rice. With nowhere to stay the nice owners said that I could camp next to their property. 30 kilometres walked today, Sunday 30th September.
Sorry for any typos!
Tony Mangan walking around the word with a cancer awareness message that life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives. My website: www.myworldwalk.com

My world walk China blog Part two #26

My world walk China blog Part two #26

 

Apogies due to time constraints this blog post is an unedited Facebook posting.

I crossed from the Vietnam border crossing at Mong Cai to China and had to wait until the following day until I got my China Sim sorted! Thanks to wonderful help from a China Mobile employee. It's now lunch time and rain is pelting the city, so I'm not going anywhere today. It's a day for drinking large cappuccinos and every good day starts with great coffee.

Two days walked in China so far, 35 km on Thursday as far as Jiangshan. Then I departed from there yesterday in the middle of all this bedlam and had an easy 18 to reach Guigang City. 
Please remember that every life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives. My website: www.myworldwalk.com

 

Monday, September 24, 2018

For those who follow my travels, some notes as I prepare to enter China


For those who follow my travels, some notes as I prepare to enter China


The Chinese government are easily offended. As a guest to the country, I will be supporting the One China Policy. For those that don't know what I'm talking about check this link: 

 
In summary, it means that China considers Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao to be renegade breakaway states and it is their intention that one day they will all be back under Chinese control. I also ask you, dear followers, to be cautious about commenting on the OCP, to be honest, it's best if you don't comment on this. I have switched my Facebook settings to 'friends only' in preparation. I will repost an old post tomorrow. China is pretty determined about this policy and you may not be aware that Taiwan due to the Chinese veto does not have a seat at the UN and is not officially listed as a country. Anyone that does diplomatic business with Taiwan will have its Chinese diplomatic links severed. There are only a handful of countries that Taipei has relations with. And do you remember Trump's backtrack when he took a congrats phone call from the Taiwan leader in Dec 2016? Recently foreign airlines have been told that if they want to fly to China that the aforementioned renegade states must be ticketed as and also advertised as Chinese locations. 

Vietnam with a population of 95 million sizes up against China whose population is roughly 15 times that of their southern neighbour and thirty times larger. Chinas main area of population is in the eastern part of the country. Tomorrow I will start walking towards there. Macao and Hong Kong should be reached in less than a month. 

By the way. The last time I contacted Spot, my tracker device company I was told that there is no service in China. I have been having a lot of trouble with it lately and suspect it's days are numbered. I will turn it on to China and see what happens. Enough said, I have walking to do 
 
 

My world walk blog Vietnam #11/ Down and out.



Down and out

Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Vietnamese equivalent of Thanksgiving. It's also celebrated in China and many other south-east Asian countries. It's mainly a time for family and friends to be together and to celebrate the end of the rice and wheat harvests. Moon worship is an important part of the festival celebration. The ancient Chinese believed in rejuvenation being associated with the moon and water, and connected this concept to the menstruation of women, calling it "monthly water"...  Ancient folklore says that the sun and the moon are a couple and the stars are their children, and when the moon is pregnant it becomes round and then becomes crescent after giving birth to a child. These beliefs made it popular among women to worship and give offerings to the moon on this evening. 

This morning after breakfast I couldn't resist playing the drums with my chopsticks! Ringo Starr your job is safe!

What was his song? Oh Yes, Down and Out! 

"Looked at the sky, what did I see?
I saw someone looking at me.
And I'm down and out, down and out,
Well, I'm down, so down, down and out."

Well, my most impressed spectators were a tiny dog who stood up on a seat for a better view and a young child. No, I won't make a career as a politician either, kissing babies and all as they do. This one laughed so much he had a nose discharge ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Then it was time for my haircut and more laughs there.

Vietnam with a population of 95 million sizes up against China whose population is roughly 15 times that of their southern neighbour and thirty times larger. Chinas main area of population is in the eastern part of the country. Tomorrow I will start walking towards there. Macao and Hong Kong should be reached in less than a month. 

By the way. The last time I contacted Spot, my tracker device company I was told that there is no service in China. I have been having a lot of trouble with it lately and suspect it's days are numbered. I will turn it on to China and see what happens. 

The Chinese government are easily offended. As a guest to the country, I will be supporting the One China Policy. For those that don't know what I'm talking about check this link: 

In summary, it means that China considers Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao to be renegade breakaway states and it is their intention that one day they will all be back under Chinese control. I also ask you, dear followers, to be cautious about commenting on the OCP, to be honest, it's best if you don't comment on this. I have switched my Facebook settings to 'friends only' in preparation. I will repost an old post tomorrow. China is pretty determined about this policy and you may not be aware that Taiwan due to the Chinese veto does not have a seat at the UN and is not officially listed as a country. Anyone that does diplomatic business with Taiwan will have its Chinese diplomatic links severed. There are only a handful of countries that Taipei has relations with. And do you remember Trump's backtrack when he took a congrats phone call from the Taiwan leader in Dec 2016? Recently foreign airlines have been told that if they want to fly to China that the aforementioned renegade states must be ticketed as and also advertised as Chinese locations. Enough said, I have walking to do
๐Ÿ˜‚

My world Walk Vietnam blog # 10 - Herculean Smack!

My world Walk Vietnam blog # 10 - Herculean Smack!


Herculean Smack!
Some of you may suffer from insomnia if so I encourage you to visit my website www.myworldwalk.com and click on the blog tab. This medication is free of charge ๐Ÿ˜‚ The blog I'm told is appreciated by my supporters who don't do Facebook. And thanks a million to my great friend Scott Richards for building and maintaining it for me.
As you can see it's pretty much an edited version of my Facebook posts. I try to stitch up some of my brief reports with the longer ones and other stuff that I forgot after pressing the Facebook share button.
Here is an example of what I mean. Well, not typical as in some places this one is a little bit off the wall and I have used some old photos too.
I hope you can visit my website more often ๐Ÿ˜‚
And most important of all, please remember: Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives.
Herculean Smack!
A 34-kilometre day followed by a 33 to Tien Yen. That left me with about 82 kilometres to Mong Cai, the China border town. An awkward distance as I have got into the tempo of lashing out days in the low thirties. So to save a day on the road, that is another rest day I figured on two big days to walk the 82 and I also planned to arrive on Saturday 22nd September.
I'm taking a lot of days off at the moment as I have some projects I'm working on and I have the time to spare on my 30--day visa. Also as its also still pretty hot it's my attempt to play the clock down towards hopefully a cooler October in China. I think I said that in August about September? Never-the-less, here's hoping.
Then a massive 48 km day on a long hot and hilly day with high humidity left me too tired to do a blog update. At around km 40 I walked up a 7% grade that left my legs a bit wibbly-wobbly but I plodded on regardless. However, that day started off slowly; a tortoise-like morning with only 13 kilometres walked in over four hours due to so many stops. At one of those stops, I even made a child cry. No Tony, some drastic action clearly was needed!  I reckoned I needed a boost, a slap to get me going so I texted a friend and her resulting virtual smack, bif, bam and smack resulted in a Herculean performance that 48-kilometre day. I guess I was saved by the bell. ๐Ÿ˜‚
That night I made it to Hai Ha an easy name to remember and fun name. Like many explorers, I have problems trying to remember exactly where I am, where I have been and where I'm going. The place name that gave me the biggest grief in all of my travels is in Mexico. I used to tell people I was going to the Pee place when I was running towards Pijijiapan ๐Ÿ˜‚
Back here I carved out a comfortable final day in Vietnam, I had just 35 km to Mong Cai and my next step would be in the Peoples Republic of China. I expect to cross over on Tuesday.
Mong Cai is Vietnams most important trading hub with China and Cantonese is widely understood. With a population of just over 100,000, it is one of the wealthiest cities in Vietnam with the average family income in excess of US$20,000 in many locations
To get there I walked through about 13 kilometres of congested suburbs where kamikaze buses and truck drivers played chicken with each other while the motorcycles were pushed into the hard-shoulder where I was walking.
Eventually, I made it to the Chinese border, the end of the country. From Laos, I walked 637 kilometres in 19 road days. Thanks a million to all of the lovely Vietnamese people who helped me and also for their kindness and friendship.
That day I heard that the Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang had just died. According to the BBC, he was 61 years old and had been suffering from a serious illness and had gotten treatment at home and overseas. The BBC went on to say: "He was seen as a loyal and committed communist party member and known for his hard-line approach to dissent. Scores of dissidents have been jailed under his leadership."
My condolences to the Vietnamese people.
Arriving at the China border I decided that as  I'm going to spend a couple of days in Mong Cai before crossing I went about searching for accommodation. Mistake: it would have been a better idea to have stopped a few kilometres before the border and walk that when I'm leaving as the price of accom near the border is outrageous as they are fancy glitzy places with porters et al.
I ended up having a bit of trouble but after two hours of aimlessly wandering around, I thought I scored a bed. Then after about fifteen minutes of scrutinising my visa, I was refused because of having Karma, my cart. I eventually found a reasonably priced place to lay my weary head but had to endure another passport scrutiny and then only after the owner phoned an English speaker to interview me! At that stage, I thought it wise just to say one night and to get off the street.
I will have to walk this couple of kilometres again back to the border. I guess if one has to make a mistake this kind of mistake of not stopping earlier is the best kind to make as there could be worse mistakes to make than wandering around and wasting a couple of hours. No harm losing a bit of time, I have a lot of that! On the way into the city, I was shocked to see a huge slab missing from a footpath and running water below. I don't know how deep the water is but its a bit a drop down. I can't imagine how visually impaired people manage here.
Total km walked for 723 road days = 25,240.

My world walk blog - Vietnam #9 - 148 kilometres from China!

My world walk blog - Vietnam #9 - 148 kilometres from China!


148 kilometres from China!
After I left Uong Bi I walked pretty smartly along route 18. The day was much milder than it has been in a long while, so my funny hats had a rest day while I let my feet off their chains and strode out for a 44-kilometre day. Ah! Yes how nice it was to be able to wear just a baseball cap ๐Ÿ˜‚
After 24 kilometres I decided to take a back road to a large busy village called Van Yen and I arrived during the rush-hour chaos. See the video I posted yesterday. The backroad was actually an unopened expressway which was under construction. I let that busy period ease down by feasting on a half roasted duck dinner. That certainly was a nice change. By that stage, it was almost dark so I lit up well and walked for another couple of hours on a smaller highway Those last couple of hours were refreshingly cool and I walked in the shoulder towards the traffic before I finished at 9 pm in a place called Thong Nhat.
I lucked out for I managed to get a luxury hotel for about US$7. The room is nice and clean with white marble tiles and has two double beds, swing doors that lead out onto a balcony where I enjoyed some leisure time the next day.
Upon getting up on Tuesday there was a thunderstorm with frequent bursts of torrential rain. As mentioned before that I have several days left on my Vietnam visa, so I decided to take the day off as there was little point in walking in that.
First I made a breakfast stop for a bowl of Bun Poh and as always I made lots of friends both there and stopping on the way back to my hotel.
I spent most of the day sorting and backing up my photos and then I wandered down to another restaurant and put in my order. When it arrived the owner a man called Luong Hong Lan grabbed me and pulled me over to the family table to share their food with me. And how delicious that was: fish, vegetables, noodles, various spices, tofu and deliciously steamed cabbage. It was a delightful dinner and thanks to this kind man who waved my payment away.
Btw I have been having some trouble with my Spot tracking device. Sometimes after I turn it on it takes a couple of hours to receive a track. Other times I get one within a few minutes. This is perhaps an opportune time to mention that there is no Spot coverage in China. I will be posting a blog pretty soon of what to expect, and what not to expect from me while in the Peoples Republic. I'm now just 148 kilometres away.
25,089 kilometres for 718 road days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My Route through Thailand, Laos & Vietnam as of 16th Sept 2018

My Route through Thailand, Laos & Vietnam as of 16th Sept 2018

I have just crossed my old route in Vietnam when I was heading to Australia over a year ago!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

My world walk blog - Vietnam #8 - "Will you marry me?" ๐Ÿ˜‚

My world walk blog - Vietnam #8 - "Will you marry me?" ๐Ÿ˜‚


Will you marry me?" ๐Ÿ˜‚
Hi everyone! Thanks for all of your lovely messages on reaching my 25,000th kilometre ๐Ÿ˜‚ That happened when I reached km marker 34 on route QL 10.
Each one of your messages is special and much appreciated. I am so lucky to have so many loyal and great friends which I cherish from the bottom of my heart ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ˜❤
I also stopped at a dressmaker office to get some pockets sewn onto my walking shirt. The lovely woman there spoke some 'kinda English' Her vocab was from phrases she had learnt off or read from her notebook. "Are you married? And " Why not you are very handsome!" Lol ๐Ÿ˜‚ "I have no husband" and " What about me? Will you marry me?" ๐Ÿ˜‚
"No thank you, It's not on my agenda!"
Needless to say, a stitch in time so I grabbed my shirt and hot-footed it down the road!
Then she comes down five kilometres down the road on her motorbike and thankfully she had forgotten her notebook but managed to say: "Do you remember me?"
"Will I ever forget you!' Hopefully, I didn't leave a broken heart on Friday!
That day I walked 38 kilometres and finished at a lovely hotel in Uong Bj. I took a rest day yesterday and today Sunday to catch up on some projects that I'm working on. It's always nice to have a quality place to stay for rest days. Believe me, I have woken up in places where ants were crawling all over the room and not relishing my rest day. So for the sake of a few euro, it's always a good idea to check into a quality place when I take a break. This is all possible due to the kind sponsorship of my great friend Richard Donovan the race director of the North Pole marathon and other extreme races like seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, The Volcano Marathon, The Antarctic Ice marathon and 100 km, etc. Richard is the worlds most renown organiser of extreme races. So if you are looking for a challenging race or a lifetime experience please check out his events. 
Sorry for the lack of updates here. Sometimes I need to turn off Facebook and have a little 'Tony Time'
On Friday I was walking through a large town and a park ranger called Kien offered me tea at his office which was just ten kilometres up the road. So, I stopped and we had a nice chat. The previous day I bought a new lightweight high-viz vest and gave my old one to Kien as a keepsake. It just that bit too warm for here. Thanks to Mike Hamiora for that kind gift at a roadhouse (?which one Mike) in Australias Northern Territory. It served me well, but alas, just too warm ๐Ÿ˜‚
A little later I went into a cafe and had lunch and the owner strongly resisted my payment. I was about 500 metres down the road and I realise that I had forgotten to give him my card. Even though he probably isn't on Facebook and doesn't speak English I felt his generosity deserved my card. '500 meters and then back again!' I frowned. What the heck, I have all the time in the world so why not? And that's what I did, I went back and he was delighted with it.
I have ten days left on my Vietnam visa and I'm 192 kilometres from China, so about six or seven standard days walking. I'm not really in a hurry, so expect another couple of lazin' in days next week ๐Ÿ˜‚
I have passed the line of latitude from where I stopped at the Sea of China in Vietnam in April 2017 to walk Australia and New Zealand. That was at the ocean near Haiphong. As you can see from the map this time I bypassed that large city. So, though not technically, I'm pretty much back on my old route. I will cross the exact spot of previous footsteps in a couple of days. 
Thanks to Benjamin in Berlin for providing his unusual fabulously-detailed map which depicts my route here pre-Australia and Nz and ultimately my return to Asia. That is, from the ocean south of Bangkok to here for the last two months.
Have a great, fun-filled and positive day wherever you are in the world ๐Ÿ˜‚

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My World Walk Blog - Vietnam #7 - A day of laughs

My World Walk Blog - Vietnam #7 - A day of laughs


A day of laughs.

A 36-kilometre fun-filled day followed. That day I walked from near Nam Dinh to Cau Vat. The first twenty were on delightful backroads and I continued walking past people busy working in the fields, shops and on construction sites. I had my fair share of offers to stop for a cup of tea. I took up one of those offers at a house which was under construction. However, before I made my exit I did my 'Brucie Wobble' party piece. Anyone that doesn't know what that is please check it out on You Tube here


 A former Liverpool goalkeeper called Bruce Grobbelaar put a penalty taker off his kick in the 1984 European cup final against Roma when he threw a wobbly legs routine! I sometimes do this to garner a smile when people are staring intently at me. It never fails for they crack up with laughter. I did it a lot in Myanmar on my world run. There I was under a police escort for two weeks and there were villages where over a hundred people lined up with emotionless stares. I just ran right up to them, did my wobble and we all laughed. As you can imagine I was soon surrounded but I always loved to stop and chat as best as I could with the language barrier. 

Back here I stopped at a grocery store for a snack. Inside the people were asking if I was travelling alone. No, I have my girlfriend waiting outside I joked as I pointed to Karma. I had left a small wireless speaker on top of her and when I went outside and was bidding my farewells. The Bluetooth connection with the GPS which I had been using that morning was still connected. Suddenly the GPS cranked into operation and a loud female command came from Karmas direction "Turn Left!" 

You should have seen the peoples faces. Their expressions were priceless, and then we had a good laugh before I walked on. 

For my meal break, I went into a cafe for a bowl of phoh. I took a huge swig of what I thought was my water bottle. It was, in fact, a similar bottle to mine which someone had filled with vodka and was placed on my table by accident! That nearly took the head off me and I slat it out!

So I walked on and through Dong Hung where I was befriended by a great character, an outgoing man who looked more like he was on a bicycle tour. I'm not sure exactly what he was doing but he was walking along the road and occasionally picking something up off the road. We met several times as I walked through the spread out city. Even though I had enough water he insisted on giving me a bottle and then kindly gave me a better hat than mine. Once when he was busy with his collecting and left his bicycle unattended I pretended I was swiping it! He responded by grabbing Karma!

Ah, what a laugh and what a day, all 36 kilometres, a barrel of laughs from start to finish. 

Tuesday 12th I took the day off to recover!

24,969 kilometres for 716 road days. I need just 31 for my 25,000th of this global walk. Web: www.myworldwalk.com

My World Walk Blog - Vietnam #6/ A different sort of half-day.


My World Walk Blog - Vietnam #6/ A different sort of half-day.




A different sort of half-day.
Just beyond a large city called Nam Dinh, I was stopped by a young man called Khoa Vลฉ. He was riding a small motorcycle When he departed I gave him one of my world walk cards.  A half hour later we were Facebook friends. Then when I stopped for a lunch break he came out to offer me a bed in the family home that night. I had only walked 20 kilometres and readily agreed as I have a lot of days to spare on my Vietnam visa. It's always nice to receive an invitation to a home, for me that's the ultimate travel experience. However, I had already passed his house so we hastily made an arrangement for a small garage owner to mind Karma and I made the five-kilometre commute back to his house on his motorcycle.
The city of Nam Dinh's population is about 2 million Vietnams 95 million. 
He knew people in a clinic and suggested I have a routine check-up. So I did and a doctor gave me a precautionary hydration drip, which was no harm and I agreed. We had much mirth there and I was cared for by a 39-year-old Doctor Gum! I was told that many of the people had converted from Buddhism to Christianity and she herself is a nun. Interestingly she speaks Chinese as it was necessary to learn the language to study medicine. All medicines are labelled in Chinese and when I asked for something she would recommend for my cough she couldn't as she didn't know the English name.
Then we rushed off to his English Club - as they prefer to call it - and not a school. I addressed three classes of English language students who are all tutored by volunteer Vietnamese teachers. Students pay about the equivalent of ten euro a month to cover the cost of the upkeep of the building. For that, they get two English language lessons a week.
While there I passed around my Vietnam translation of my cancer awareness message. Peter is one of the teachers and during a chat about cancer he mentioned that about 170,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed last year. This is in a country with a population of 95 million. Ireland with a population of under five million has about 40,000 a year.
In the end, what I thought was going to be a half day ended up being a long one. I was shattered by the time it all ended at 9:15!