Friday, March 31, 2006

Day 210 - biking from Shiqu to Xiwu

Start: Shiqu, Sichuan, China
End: Xiwu (aka Xiewu), Qinghai province, China
Distance: 97 km
Time: 8'38"
Avg: 11.2 k/h
Max: 45 k/h
Total: 10,190 km
Total riding days: 121
Riding hours: 0945 - 1930

It was a day of three halves, all of them brutal. Apart maybe from the last one, though that was only a quarter, really.

First up, a mini-pass with a small patch of astroturf at the top, about one foot square, just big enough to tea up from. Shame I forgot my clubs.

Then a long haul across a wind-swept plain and up a broad river valley, most of it on a rough road. There might be a better, parallel road on the south side of the valley, but I couldn't find it.

Stretches of the road were lined, literally lined, with dead dogs.

I can think of four possible explanations.

i) A plague of some sort.
ii) A cull.
iii) An unusually cold winter.
iv) Asmund has been through recently wielding his double-edged light sabre.

The second half ended at the top of a monster pass that just went on and on and on and felt much higher and harder than Que Er Shan at 5050 metres; disappointingly, the sign at the top said only 4700 metres, and called this the An Ba La pass.

Zonked at the An Ba La pass, the Sichuan-Qinghai border

The third half, which was really only a quarter, took me 22 km down from the pass into Qinghai province and to Xiwu, in 45 minutes, on a perfect new road. Half an hour earlier and I would have beaten the sun. As it was, the sun was just dipping and it was a cold old road.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I have it!

And all this time, I was thinking Asmund was Asmund.
Three days in the deep-freeze and suddenly everything is clear.
Asmund is in fact that bloke offof Harry Enfield. You know the one: "You don't want to do that! No, you want to do it like this!"
In other news, I am in Shiqu, which is the coldest place in the universe.
In two days I will be in Yushu, which is supposed to be warmer. Full report will follow from there, when my fingers are operational again.

Day 209 - Zhong Qu to Shiqu by bicycle

Start: Zhong Qu, Sichuan, China (this place is called Zhong Qu on the map, but not by anybody else. But it does exist, and you can get food, and lodging of a sort, there.)
End: Shiqu (aka Serxu, Sherxul), far north-western Sichuan, China
Distance: 75 km
Time: 5'48"
Avg: 12.9 k/h
Max: 30 k/h
Total: 10,093 km
Total riding days: 120
Riding hours: 0940 - 1630

I forgot to say I went past 10,000 km since Shanghai yesterday. About bloody time.

OK, figure this one for me.

I began the day riding east. I had a headwind.

Then the road turned north-east. Headwind.

Then north. Headwind.

Then north-west. Headwind.

Then west. Headwind.

Then southwest. I had a headwind.

Someone want to tell me what is going on here? I didn't know Messrs Sod, Murphy and Butterside-Down had a franchise going in China.

People like to talk about the butterfly effect, whereby a butterfly can flap his tiny wings in Bolivia and send a typhoon sailing up the South China Sea.

Any Bolivians reading, could you encourage your local lepidoptera to beat their little winglets to a different tune, please?

Darn cold all day. Shiqu must be the remotest, coldest, bleakest, why-the-hell-did-you-built-it-there-est county town in all of China.

But it has a nice hotel. With radiators.

No heat in the radiators, but they're a nice touch, all the same.

This is the road to Shiqu, before the really bleak bit. Looks quite nice, unless your computer has got wind too.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Day 208 - riding San Sa He to Zhong Qu

Start: San Sa He truck-stop, far north-western Sichuan, China
End: Zhong Qu, Sichuan, China
Distance: 89 km
Time: 6'07"
Avg: 14.4 k/h
Max: 37 k/h
Total: 10,018 km
Total riding days: 119
Riding hours: 1000 - 1730

I wake up, and it is snowing. It has been snowing all night.

The guy at the truck stop reckons I should wait a day - but the likelihood is that it will be snowing tomorrow too, only more so. And the room at the truck stop has a resident rat or two - I don't feel like staying.

I go.

There is another pass today, but a gentler one.

New technique for dealing with head-winds: ride backwards.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Day 207 - cycling from Manigango to San Sa He

Start: Manigango, Sichuan, China
End: San Sa He (truck stop), Sichuan, China
Distance: 61km
Time: 4'41"
Avg: 13 k/h
Max: 45 k/h
Total: 9930 km
Total riding days: 118
Riding hours: 1145 - 1715

Manigango is the sort of town that would be a one-horse town, were it not full of horses. And dogs, and yaks.

From here, the scenery changes from the deep cut gorges of the Yangtze/Jinshajiang valley to more open, higher, rolling grassland. At this time of year, everything is very dry and brown.

Another pass, and a kicking headwind.

After yesterday's experience, I keep my shades on today.

Giant hamsters, or are they dwarf elephants, are everywhere on the frozen tundra-prairie.

Monday, March 27, 2006

At the Que Er Shan / Queer Shan / Qiao Er Shan / Cho La pass

A bus that attempted a short cut down the mountain.

I make the pass: 5050 metres above sea level.

Where I record a rather breathless and not-terribly-interesting message for the good people of Devon [hosted on the BBC Devon website].

Ooh, listening again, it's quite a good David Attenborough impression, actually. Just need a couple of penguins waddling past to complete the effect.

Day 206 - Over the Que Er Shan pass to Manigango

Start: Road hut below Que'er shan pass, Sichuan, China
End: Manigango, Ganzi Prefecture, Sichuan, China
Distance: 62km
Time: 6'07"
Avg: 10 k/h
Max: 42 k/h
Total: 9869 km
Total riding days: 117
Riding hours: 0850 - 1700

There are two bad things about the ride to Manigango.

Firstly, there is the risk that your head will become infected by the It's a long way to Manigango virus. This debilitating condition results in the words it's a long way to Manigango to gurgle, waft, bubble, eruct and honk their way through your brain endlessly to the tune of It's a long way to Tipperary.

This is not pleasant.

Secondly, there is snow blindless, which happens when you forget to wear your sunglasses on snow at 5050 metres.
This is not pleasant either.

It hurts. A lot. I felt a sort of fellow-sufferer's sympathy for Polyphemus.

The pass, at 5050 metres, is the highest point on the road from China to Devon. Downhill all the way home, right?


The ride up was on deep but traffic-compacted snow. Pleasant, but pushing-only.

Going down was a slushy muddy meltwater hell.

On the up

Cockpit view

Climbing the pass.

Next morning... all that was left...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Day 116 - cycling from Dege to half-way up the Que Er Shan pass

Start: Dege, Sichuan, China
End: Road maintenance hut, half-way up the Que Er Shan (aka Qiaoershan, Cho La) pass, Sichuan, China
Distance: 51km
Time: 4'10"
Avg: 12.1 k/h
Max: 31 k/h
Total: 9807 km
Total riding days: 116
Riding hours: 1210 - 1700

The road out of Dege climbs gently through a gorge. It is the G317, the northern branch of the Sichuan-Tibet highway, and is mostly pretty well surfaced.

Towards the end of the day the road begins to climb out of the valley, switchbacking towards the pass. A convoy of police SUVs F1 it down the road, dashing from a lunchtime knees-up in Manigango trying to make it back to Dege in time for dinner, perhaps? They nearly knock me off the road, in any case. And off the mountain, too, for that matter.

The woman at the road maintenance hut persuades me to call it a day. Perhaps not a bad thing because a blizzard is coming from up the valley. I get a hot dinner and a bed for the night.

A Tibetan trucker stops in for hot water to fill up his jam-jar teacup. He mouths off about the Chinese government and says things will be better when HH the DL is restored.

The Han couple at the road hut take it on the chin.

Someone nicked me feet.

The post makes it through.

The road hut below the Que Er Shan pass (51 km from Dege). Friendly folk there.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Days 189 - 204: Hangin' on in there in Dege

The local bovines get all the best food in Dege market.


Houston, we have a problem.
I was paying for this merry little China-England bike ride by submitting monthly scribblings to Asia and Away, East Asia's premier English-language travel magazine.
Sadly, from next month Asia and Away will cease publishing.
Which leaves me in a bit of a pickle.
So I have a question for you:
Do any of you happen to know any newspaper or magazine editors who spend their days pacing up and down the office muttering "Now what we really need is to find someone riding a bike from China to England who can submit monthly feature articles and photography from the places he passes through en route "?
If by any chance you do, could you perhaps pass on my name?
Thank you very much.
Failing that, any other suggestions as to how I might make riding a bicycle economically viable?
Winning the Tour de France would be good, yes, but I'm in the wrong country just now and I've got the wrong sort of bike. Other than, that, sorted.
I don't know how long the Asia and Away website will remain online, but for now it is still there, so hurry hurry hurry while you can and read:

After a decent interval has passed, I hope to make PDF versions of these articles available for download. These will be in the original published format, and so display the photography much more effectively than the on-line versions do.


Friday, March 24, 2006


On the off-chance that I actually get out of bed in time to leave town tomorrow, I leave you with news that -

My route from here takes me via Manigango, Serxu, and Yushu. The last of these three should be about eight days' ride away from here.

[And if you don't like it, PG, you can lump it. If I am hit by a meteorite en route, it's your turn to laugh.]

While I am away, Asmund/PG will probably keep you entertained.

But, failing that, why not whip out your wallets and make a small donation to Force Cancer Charity, or to Sustrans ?

(Yes, I'm doing a sponsored Stay-In-Dege.)


Oh, and, err, here's me, two years ago to the day (24th March 2004), posing at Donaueschingen in Germany - famous for not being the source of the river Danube, and a major way-point on the Exeter-Hong Kong Highway.

(Yes, I had good cold-weather gear then, before the Mongolian pinched them all. I'm doing Tibet in a bikini, now, Asmund.)


Typical house painting, Dege old town - grey with vertical red and white stripes. This pattern is particular to this corner of Sichuan.


Masks at Gongya monastery near Dege.

Stare at this photograph for a minute or two, and you will see, from left to right, John Prescott, Cherie Booth, and Tony Blair.


Jester at the monk-dance, Dege.

His job was to go around blowing raspberries at the dancing monks, and pretending to whack them with his staff.

Good chap.


Spinning prayer wheels, Baiyu monastery, Sichuan.

[This, and all photographs on this site, copyright Edward Genochio.]

Shootin' pool

Shootin' pool down in Baiyu town.

Sound advice

If you have a problem, and nobody else can help, maybe you should - errrr....

Dali, Yunnan province.

The story so far

People have told me that there are too many in-jokes on 2wheels, and that newcomers won't know what's going on.

So, if you're a first-timer here, here's a quick summary:

The 2wheels blog is supposed to document Edward Genochio's attempt to ride a bicycle from China to England.

Nobody is quite sure why he is doing this, unless perhaps it is an attempt to prove that riding the other way, from England to China, in 2004 wasn't a fluke.

As such, this blog is usually phenomenally tedious and not really not worth interrupting your tea-break for. Typical entries go like this:

Monday. Got out of tent. Cycled a bit. Went to the lavatory. Got back in tent.

Tuesday. Got out of tent. Cycled a bit. Got back in tent. Didn't even go to the lavatory.

At the time of writing, he (me, in fact) is in Dege, a small town in the back of the Tibetan beyond.
He seems to have been stuck there for some time.

The route is supposed to go a little something like this:

From time to time things get a little more interesting, usually when Asmund, an escaped Norwegian lunatic also known as 'PG', decides to get involved.

Asmund's speciality is to list all the different ways there are of dying, and then to explain why the intrepid English cyclist (recently described in The Sun as a 'hero', under the really-rather-gripping headline British Cycle Hero is OK) will succumb to each of them.

Last month, Asmund's thesis was basically that I would be killed by the Tibetan winter, and I would be better off waiting till summer.

Now that spring approaches and I remain inexplicably alive, he has changed his tune and is now prophesying how the Tibetan summer will kill me, and I would be better off waiting till winter.

To follow this story, you really only need to know two things.

1. Asmund likes to wear pink gloves.
2. Asmund likes fish.


Mixed messages

In China, too, people have ambivalent feelings towards the British prime minister.

See also:
Teflon Tony
Put 'em all in the dock


You will all, I expect, have been as shocked as I was to read Asmund's extraordinary admission that he sometimes takes the boat.

Can we ever take a Norwegian explorer seriously again?

It is only a matter of time, I think, before it is revealed that his near-namesake Amundsen reached the South Pole by monorail. Forpulte norske hvaldreper.

What's your problem with swimming, Asmund?



Scared of the whales, is that it?


On a happier note, I think I have found the place where Asmund does his shopping.


Some Chinese don't like it when people describe their country as 'backwards'.

And rightly so, I feel.

Lama dance, Dege

Lamas dancing, Dege.

Photograph by Edward Genochio.

Drum, Dege Monastery

Decoration on a ceremonial leather drum, Dege monastery.

Photograph by Edward Genochio.

Gongya Monastery

Handbell and book of scripture from Gongya monastery, near Dege.

Photograph by Edward Genochio.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


All these kora-ers (see Kora Curiosties, below) do inflict a certain amount of wear and tear on the pavement surrounding the kora-ed item.

There is a massive re-paving exercise currently underway around Dege monastery.

Dozens of stonemasons are employed to hand-chisel about 30 parallel grooves into each paving slab, presumably to make them less slippery when wet.

A wise precaution on the part of the Abbot, I think, in these litigious times.

Gosh, the things you learn on 2wheels, eh?

Wonders never cease.

Money rides on this one

Right, so I says, Invernessshire has got to have 3 esses in it, innit?
But this other geezer is like no way, you can't have 3 esses in a row, it's Invernesshire.
So far, Google gives it to me by 83,900 to 61,900.
But that's a pretty close call.
Anyone got a twocentsworth on this?

Search me

Welcome to the websurfer from London who landed on 2wheels after searching for " Who stole my bicycle?"
Such touching faith in the power of the internet to solve all life's problems...
(I know who stole mine, it was a Mongolian horseman. Says so in The Sun.)

Kora curiosities

More from the Dege kora circuit.

[The kora is the ritual pilgrims' walk around a sacred mountain, building or shrine. In Dege, the kora goes round the monastery.]

1. A deflated inflatable Father Christmas.

2. A dead cat.

3. Another dead cat

One dead cat, and you might just think, well, a cat has to die somewhere.

But two? That has to be more than coincidence.

Do devout Buddhist cats come to the monastery walls to die, like Hindus to Varanasi?

Or is it more akin to the fabled elephant graveyards of Africa?

I should probably not make semi-facetious remarks about peoples', or indeed animals', religions, especially when I'm coming from a position of utter ignorance.

But seriously, the cats are there, and they are dead. Can anyone help me out? What are they doing there? Waiting to be reincarnated? Somebody must know.

And as for Father Christmas, well, that's anyone's guess.

Real men - or, the attack of the killer courgettes

On my way 'home' to the Queer Mountain Hotel the other day, I stopped off at this little BBQ stall for a courgette kebab.

Three hours later, the world was spinning, my head was exploding, I was unable even to stand up, far less walk in a straight line, and my stomach was having an emergency clear-out. I was, in short, dying (not for the first time this month).

40 minutes later I felt fine.

A clearer case of courgette poisoning there has never been.

Now I've heard it said that Real Men don't even eat courgettes, much less get poisoned by them.

Well, that means I suppose that either I'm not a Real Man, or they weren't Real Courgettes.

I make no comment.

On hearing the first.... mosquito in spring (after, ahem, Delius)

Continuing my series of springtime firsts....

I saw my first mosquito this morning. Admittedly it was still indoors, the arthropod equivalent of a houseplant, but a mosquito nonetheless.

Spring must be well on its way. With any luck it won't be as bad as Siberia, last year.

Asmund, me ol' herring-potter, perhaps you could update me on the perils which mosquitoes bring. And offer some tips on how to avoid them? I hear that napalm can be effective. (Asmund's thoughts on dogs can be read here.)


It has come to my attention that the first cuckoo in spring was not heard by Ralph Vaughan Williams at all, but by Frederick Delius.

[This Delius link is blocked by the Great Firewall of China, thanks to the enlightened policies of Mssrs Who?, When? et al. Readers in China can try getting round it deliusly like this.]

Whatever put that Vaughan Williams notion into my head, I don't know, but I shall leave it un-amended here as a monument to my folly, much as we leave the world as a monument to all our collective follies.

Apologies to anyone who noticed, or cared.

See also:
In praise of... Japan


D-D-Day approaches.

Departure from Dege, that is.

Through tear-misted eyes, I cast one last glance at the World Wide World around me, before plunging headlong once again into yakland.

What do I find?

In London, Simon Hoggart says unkind things about nice Mr Cameron. ("Mr Cameron sat down with a tight little circular smile that, I regret to say, reminded me of our cat's backside.")

"Buyers of big cars have to pay more tax!" screams the headline in today's... China Daily! How about that? Is nice Mr Brown moonlighting for the other side?

Also in China, a new report links the habit of chopsticking food from communal plates - the normal way to share a meal in these parts - with the spread of disease.

Curiously, Hu Yaobang, a high-ranking politician who raised this issue in the 1980s, and called for the introduction of more hygienic western-style, capitalist-individualist personal plates, knives and forks, was subsequently elbowed out of power.

Also in the Shiny Happy People's Republic, a man has been sentenced to death for forcibly tattooing hundreds of Chinese characters on the bodies of three women.
Now one thing I like about the United States is their sometimes-creative approach to sentencing. And surely here there was great scope for something more imaginative than the Death Penalty?
Add you suggestions for what you would have tattooed on the man's forehead here.

In Afghanistan, they want the Rule of Law to apply, while in London, Washington and Berlin, we would prefer they did things the old-fashioned way, on a nod and a wink.

The story, if I read it right, is that an Afghan man will, if convicted of apostasy - converting from Islam to Christianity -, face the death penalty. This is apparently in line with the Laws and Constitution of the Land, as drafted by that loya jurga thing We in the West were so proud of a few years back.

Security considerations prevent me from carrying out a comprehensive opinion poll on the subject, but maybe the majority of Afghans feel that the this would be a punishment that fits the crime, however peculiar an attitude We in the West might feel this to be.

Nice Mr Karzai, the President, has admirably said that he will Respect the Independence of the Courts, as he was probably taught to do at CIA Democracy School.

He might be puzzled to find his (school-)masters in Washington and elsewhere now yelling that he'd better intervene, or else. Talk about confusing a puppy about where he's allowed to poop.

And in Norway, Asmund proposes Firecrackers. I have some thoughts on that .

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

You may not care, but...

England have just beaten India by 212 runs.

And that is a jolly good thing. If you like cricket. And are English.

If you don't, or aren't, then here's a picture of the Potato Service Hotel in Zhaoxing, China.

It so nearly says 'The Ding Dong Sing Song', too.

Yup, it's win-win here on 2wheels.


Despite the Landcruiser logo, this was just a little Chinese taxi.

And the caption, in case you can't read it, goes:

I move where my heart takes me.
I'm not bound to anything.
I run in the field.
I cross over mountain tops.
I pass through a lot of great places in this immense earth.

Cute, huh?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Guess Who?

Guess who said:

"I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words international law. We are not concerned about international law."

Here are your GCSE-style mutli-guess options:

a) Slobodan Milosevic, before his death, at his trial in the Hague.

b) Belorusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko, after his recent, disputed, re-election.

c) An un-named military judge in the United States (presiding at a secret trial of British citizen Feroz Abbasi).

d) Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, on being challenged by Condoleezza Rice over China's human rights record.

You want the answer?

Try googlin' it.

See also:

Monday, March 20, 2006

Equal opportunities

Those of you who saw the original "Women To Let" sign might have assumed this was a one-off misprunt.

Not so. Not even confined to that batch, either.

Whoever has bribed his way into the post of Chief Sanitary Signwriter (Foreign Languages Division), Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China, is clearly working from a faulty dictionary.


Right, so I'm walking up the street minding my own business when this ruddy great Dong Feng truck comes along with some kind of outsized umbrella poking out of its cargo bay.

The umbella snags on a bundle of overhead power and telephone cables (of which Dege has many), and brings the whole lot crashing and sparking to the ground.

I escape electrocution by about a foot and half.

Whoever said that time-biding at 3500 metres was safer than cycling at 5000? (PG??)

The story has a happy ending though.

Rather than waiting for six weeks for a BT engineer to come out and suck his teeth, the truck driver climbed up onto the roof with a roll of electrical tape, and within five minutes the bright lights of Dege were glowing again.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

In praise of... France

This is probably very old.

But I laughed anyway.

Go on, try it: Google "French Military Victories".

See also:
Another one to haul before the courts

Latest from Dege

And in other news, India are 199 for 6.

In praise of... PG

To get you in the mood, I bring you never-before-seen footage of Asmund ("PG"), viewed here from the southern aspect.
The eponymous Pink Gloves, you will notice, are strapped to the back of his bike.

(See them in action here.)

For those of you who have not been following the story so far, here is a brief summary: Asmund thinks I am stubborn and am going to die.
(You can read the extended version here, but only if you a have couple of free days. )

Now, Asmund is probably right in one respect. I am probably a little bit stubborn. All cyclists are at least a little bit stubborn; if they weren't, they would take the bus.

Let me tell you a little story. A true story.

Once upon a time there was a man called Asmund.

Asmund had only two ambitions in life, both of them laudable.

One was to put herrings in tins.

The other was to cover Asia in Lines. Lines are what happens when he rides his bicycle from A to B.

One day, Asmund was in the middle of making a Line. He had reached the border between Kyrgyzstan and China, and the border guards told him that it was Not Allowed for him to ride his bicycle across the border. He would have to get a lift in a truck across the border zone.

Now this sort of thing is very bad for Lines, because it makes a Hole in them. And a Line with a Hole in it is as good as useless.

Asmund explained this thing about the Lines to the border guards, but they were unsympathetic.

So Asmund got out his tent, and went to bed, right there where he was, in the middle of the Highly Restriced Border Zone between Kyrgyzstan and China, and told the border guards that he wasn't moving until they let him cycle across without making a Hole in his Line.

And Asmund continued to lie there in his tent while the border guards pointed their rifles into his tent and told him to bugger quite frankly off.

This stand-off continued for several days; Asmund began to run short of water. His tent was getting rather on the high side, too, which got right up the border guards' noses, so they picked up the tent, with Asmund still inside, and dragged it, and him, out of the Highly Restricted Border Zone.

- The End -

Yes, I can be stubborn too.

Just a little bit.

PS Asmund - please feel free to correct any details in this story. You know where the 'comments' link is, I think.

See also:
Asmund in full swing [long]
Nocturnal shenanigans (twice)... [long]
To comfort Asmund/PG....
Rare PG tapes found
Has anyone seen PG?
In praise of... Japan
In praise of.... Iran
In praise of... Serbia

More help from the government

Either Rod Liddle is having us on, or the latest poster campaign from the government really is final and conclusive evidence that they really have, completely and totally, lost it.

I'm talking about this - 5th and 4th paragraphs up from the bottom.

I have been out of the UK for just over two years now, so perhaps I am missing something. But really? A poster campaign like that, to inform comrades that raping one another is, on balance, undesirable behaviour and bad for morale?

Perhaps we should also have campaigns featuring notices pinned on front doors saying "No burglaring, please", or signs hanging round necks saying "If it's all the same with you, old chap, would you mind awfully not murdering me?"

I wil remain in Dege until somebody tells me that this is a spoof.

Moppin' (reprise)

Meanwhile, back at the Queer Mountain Hotel, they're doing synchronised sweeping now.

See also:
Cashing in...

Not pedallin', but peddlin'

When I arrived in Dege (some time in the mid-eighteenth century, I believe it was), a bloke chased me down the road trying to sell me a piece of leather.
It was, to judge by appearances, a fairly ordinary piece of leather, of the sort you might rip from a fairly ordinary cheap Chinese shoe. In fact, I think that is exactly where this piece of leather came from, because it was that-sort-of-shape, and had stitch-holes around the edge.
I don't know what was more surprising - that the bloke wanted 50 yuan for it, or that he thought I would be interested in buying it at all.
But times have moved on. A minute ago, another bloke waltzed into my wangba booth, and tried to flog me a, errr, I don't know what, really. A sort of globule. A cast-off from an injection-moulding factory. A deformed lump of plastic, striving for but not quite attaining spheroidicity. About two-thirds of an inch in diameter.
And the asking price?
50 yuan.
If I can track him down again, I'll try to get a picture. And maybe flog it on eBay.

Teflon Tony

You know what? That's not a bad tactic:

Announce that you're going to quit one day.

And then just, well, do whatever the hell you want.

And if anyone thinks you should resign (say, for being a scoundrel, a fraud, and a liar), you can tell them that you're going to, one day, anyway, so just get off my case, OK?

Matthew Parris really said it, I think: "I believe Tony Blair is an out-and-out rascal, terminally untrustworthy and close to being unhinged".

Now one thing that man doesn't mince is his words. (If 2wheels may be permitted one more little "homophobic" jokelet before Easter.)

See also:
Put 'em all in the dock
Our Tone: Misprunt?


Continuing my "Let's be nasty to our buddies the Americans" series...
Whatever happened to the Good Old Days?
You know, when you met Americans abroad and they were confident and proud to tell you that they came from God's Own Country, the Land of the Free and the Brave.
These days, you meet a yank and they come over all defensive.
"Hello, yes, sorry, I'm an American, but I didn't vote for Bush," is the opening line you get, even before you've told them you're a Socialist Worker/al-Qaeda kidnapper/member of the Dick Cheney Fan Club.
Something tells me that something has changed. Americans are going abroad and finding that people really don't like America any more.
Well, Georgie-Porgie - that's your foreign policy at work. The Department of Homeland Security, and, errr, the Department of Overseas Insecurity?
See also:

Bad news

** Warning: this post may contain references to cricket, which some viewers may find offensive, baffling, or dull. **

1. The third test has just started in [B/M][o/u]mba[y/i].

2. The Grauniad over-by-over commentary is on the blink. Latest news, apparently: "qwqwqw".

3. As a result of this, millions of cricket lovers around the globe are googlin' Guardian OBO and landing up on 2wheels.

4. This leaves me with a public-service obligation to provide a commentary, I suppose. Well, England are 299 for 3; Flintoff, on 30, has just hooked Pathan for six. And, goodness me, there's lovely red double decker bus coming down the Kirkstall Lane, and a rather dandy-looking pigeon strutting about at long off.

5. England are going into this game missing (through illness, injury, or personal misfortune) Harmy, Jonesy, Vaughany, Trescothicky [they don't call him that, do they?], Cooky, and the King of Spain.

Which leads me to suggest that it's bloody difficult to get into the England team unless your name ends in Y, or you're royalty.

See also:
What a web we weave
On fire this morning...
Competition! Win a prize!
Sorry, but this was just sensational

Ceci n'est pas un touriste (Part Deux)

A few months ago, in Vietnam, I forget where exactly, but it was a touristy stay-in-a-real-ethnic-stilt-house-and-sleep-on-the-floor-for-the-real-authentic-experience sort of place, I asked a couple of fellow-guests if they had a guidebook I could borrow for a moment.
"Hallo, do you have a guidebook I could borrow for a moment?" was the gist of my chat-up line.
"WE'RE NOT TOURISTS!" was the squawked-in-unison shriek I got from the pair of yankee-doodles - not that I had so much as mentioned the T-word.
Frightfully sorry, chaps. Apparently they were English teachers in Hanoi, taking a weekend break.
Next time I'll just call them Bush-voting, father-raping morons - they'll be less offended, I think.
See also:

In praise of... Japan

Continuing my series of paeans to pariah states...
Japan? Pariah state?? I hear you cry.
Well, I'm in China, you see, and round these parts Japan is Public Enemy Number Ichi.
On seeing the first backpacker in spring (after Vaughan Williams)
I returned to my presidential suite at the Queer Mountain Hotel the other day to find I had company. Yes, my room had been officially designated the laowai [foreigner] dumping-ground - many hotels in China don't allow foreigners and Chinese (except prostitutes, of course) to share a room, on grounds of racial purity, national security, or for your own safety.
My room-mate turned out, on closer inspection, to be a Japanese backpacker. Of course, one Jap-packer does not a summer make, but the vanguard of the backpacker migration must at least herald the coming of spring.

The Japanese are always the first to emerge, like early crocuses. They are hard, you see. Just take a look at Japanese TV game shows and you'll know where they're coming from.
Japanese backpackers are pretty cool, actually. Abhorring the bustling boulevards of the Lonely Planet, shunning the smooth paths of the Rough Guide, they have their own, mystical magical backpacking books, which take them to places caucasian crowds cannot reach. And then they do their stuff - spending six hours locked in a tank with a hundred million snakes and scorpions, and other delights which keep them a breed apart from the LP/RG massive.
Presumably, this means they have some different anecdotes, too...
Anyway, this chap was off on the road to Tibet. In this the Japanese have an advantage over the palefaces - they can pass for Chinese, which helps gets them past the checkpoints.
Good luck, mate.
See also:

You know, you're beautiful when you're angry

In case you missed it, you must check out the grassy knowl's masterpiece.

"Of course you are luv!, now do me a favour eat a salad..."

I don't know if there's an Oscar for Rant of the Year, but if there is one, the grassy knowl gets my nomination.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Go, go, BoJo

When Cameron's Conservatives come to power it will be a golden age for cyclists and an Elysium of cycle lanes, bike racks, and sharia law for bike thieves. And I hope that cycling in London will become almost Chinese in its ubiquity.

So says BoJo the blond bombshell in the Grauniad today.

And thereby makes his third appearance on 2wheels in as many weeks.

You'll be famous yet, Bozza.

See also:
What two things connect?
In praise of... Iran (comments)


Here's how it goes:

The good folk of Dege tip their trash into the Sequ river.

In a couple of months' time, the rainy reason will slosh it all 20 kilometres downstream to the Jinshajiang.

A thousand or two kilometres further downstream, the Jinshajiang changes its name to the Chang Jiang - better known to English-speakers as the Yangtze River*.

The Dege Dustbinfuls will then lap up against the Three Gorges Dam, creating a pretty patina over the surface of China's tub-thumpingest reservoir. And just multiply Dege by a couple of tens of thousands, to account for all the other towns, villages and cities in the Jinshajiang watershed, and, well, that's going to be a lot of crap floating around down there.

*Or, "The Mighty Yangtze", as the Evenmoreindescribablyboringthanusual called it today.

Please, please, please - I am weeping here. Isn't that the first thing that they teach you at Journalist School? - never, ever, whatever you do, ever slap "the mighty" onto a river. It doesn't help. Really.

OK, now Google me and see if I've ever cycled past the "mighty" Danube/Volga/Yenisey/Yellow/Yangtze/Mekong. And sue me if I have.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ceci n'est pas un touriste (after Magritte)

I am not a tourist.

I am not a tourist!

Loooook! I've got a TRIPOD!

That makes me a PHOTOGRAPHER! Right?


Not a tourist. OK?


I take pictures of poor people, and sell them to rich people, because rich people like to look at photographs of poor people - it makes them feel better.

Don't confuse me with a paparazzo, who takes pictures of rich people and sells them to poor people, because poor people like to look at photographs of rich people - it makes them feel better.

Here are some poor people, yesterday.