Fun central

Trip Start Oct 17, 2005
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Monday, October 31, 2005

What does one do for fun in Golmud? It's a city of only 200,000 and it's damn cold. Yak tipping, I suggested. But yaks are scarce, reports the lonely planet. To start off our winter, weekend getaway, we washed all of our clothes in two small basins provided by the hotel. We asked for a third, but after the management refused, we had to agree that a third basin would have been extravagant. Three hours of wringing and rinsing later, we had covered the dorm room that was only half ours with all of the underwear and t-shirts we owned. We left hoping that no one else would move in before everything dried.
Golmud has one natural resource that our books certainly failed to emphasize and that is the strange, floaty feeling you get here. Perhaps it's MSG poisoning or perhaps it's the altitude sickness, but never have three girls been so deliciously giggly and confused without consuming elicit materials. Here's a picture of it, although we don't remember taking it.
And here's another when Amy found cotton candy, but then had immediate buyers remorse because the carnival around her was upsetting and strange.
Another fun thing to do in Golmud is to try to take a shower at our hotel. We had gone five days without bathing, so we suited up and went to use the public showers during the two hours that they are unlocked each night. Unfortunately, a mother and her not very young son spent over an hour and a half in there, refusing to come out. After about an hour of banging angrily on the door and having the wet, naked woman come out to scream at us, I went to the lobby to complain. I caused rather the wrong kind of scene when, gesticulating with my arms, I dropped my towel and flashed the lobby of interested, amused locals. It was half an hour after the showers were due to close that the mom and child slunk out of the shower room, not making eye contact with the irate, large women waiting outside.

Day two was just as entertaining as the first had been. Amy has been having some gastric troubles, true to form on international trips, so I did the honors, as a true friend, of inspecting her rectum.
Nothing to see there, so Amy broke the fast she had begun yesterday with a trip to one of the only local hot spots, the Ali Moon bakery. Here we committed a true crime of gluttony and waste. We told the brightly-clad workers that it was Amy's birthday and ordered an entire birthday cake. We sat in the romantic, plastic vine covered swings, traded off wearing a birthday crown, and celebrated our comparative wealth. I mean Amy's birthday.
It was one of the worst cakes we'd ever had, but a very fine way to spend an afternoon.
We then took a stroll to the only building of interest in town, the local mosque, which was a fascinating mix of Islamic and Chinese architecture styles, but we had to leave quickly when chickens started rearing their disgusting, deadly heads. We found some urchins to play in the dirt with and insinuated ourselves into their soccer game. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to teach them a thing or two about the game or avoid taking a header with what must have been the dirtiest soccer ball on the continent. We kicked their asses anyway.

We'd long since decided that nothing would stop us from celebrating every American holiday. This morning we cheerily trick-or-treated from bed to bed in our hotel room wearing our makeshift costumes. Amy tried to dress (or undress) as 'a new born baby!',
but since we had acquired a strange roommate, she was persuaded to put on her bedspread and be a 'noodle' instead.
I went as candied apples on a stick, a very gross and popular desert here, and Naito was a fancy, long sleeved dancer lady.
Our roommate sat with his back turned to us throughout the whole ordeal. Happy Halloween, everybody.

As fun as Golmud has been, we're making our travel plans as best we can for Tibet. We've managed to leach onto a Chinese speaker who has been making inquiries about buses and permits. With any luck, we'll be on a 33 hour bus ride to Lhasa by this evening. More severe altitude sickness and full cavity searches at the boarder keep our hopes alive.

Until Tibet, then.
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