(China) Mission : Do Not Stay Alone On The Birthday.

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It was not much difficult to get out of Urumqi although it was a big city. Usually to enter into a big city is difficult, but to get out of the city is easier. I saw many people dancing together with the music at the park in the morning and I thought they had so healthy life.
Before the dark, I stopped at a tollgate and asked a police officer for the place to sleep around. Then he said he was not authorized here. So he introduced me to the charger of the tollgate. To set up a tent in the empty room was not possible that he suggested me to sleep in the forest which was at the next. The ground level was not flat for the sleeping and it was really cold. So I decided to keep cycling. Then the police car followed me behind and told me there is no place to sleep around that I should sleep around the police station, 3 km (1.8 mi) far away. And then they followed me by their car the behind.

 

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It was freezing cold night that they suggested me to sleep inside of the office. I was really happy that I could sleep warmly.

 

Vlog

 

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There was a cafeteria for police officers and they let me had dinner. It was my first time to try Chinese flower bun. It didn’t have any taste. But the food was really spicy so it was good to neutralize the spicy taste.

 

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At the next morning, I dressed warmly. The heat usually goes out from the top of the head. One time there was a picture that a baseball player dropped cabbage from his cap while throwing a ball. The reason he had that was to reduce the heat. In the winter, it is important to cover something on the head to keep the heat. I tried a hat and others but it pressed too much when I wore together with a helmet. So my favorite thing to wear was this thin red rain jacket’s hood. It prevented the wind, kept the heat, and looked cool like Superman.

 

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Along the road, there was a cemetery. It seemed it belonged to Chinese Muslim for there was Arabic on the tombstone. It would sound weird if I say “Many tombs are very interesting all over the world.” Anyhow, it would be interesting if there is a picture collection of the world’s tomb cause the tomb represented their nature, culture, and human.

 

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I had spent much money on winter gear recently in Urumqi. But it was not warm enough. My fingers and toes were still suffering. This was my second time to cycle in the winter. The first time was in Russia, Finland, and Poland for five months. This time was in Kazakhstan and China. This winter was the same as the previous winter that I had to fight against having frozen fingers and toes.

 

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To cycle on a winter morning was really painful. But still, I loved the morning. The morning was the best time of the life and thankfully I had it every day. I became free from the pain in the afternoon as the temperature went up.

 

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There were many wind powers on the way to Turpan, the next city. This place was known for strong wind. Luckily I didn’t have strong wind.

 

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Before the city, I saw many people planting and I realized a really weird thing. There was no any single plant around. Whether semi-desert or red desert dune, I saw always plants. But this place didn’t have any life on the ground. I had a question that it was my first time to see the land without any plant. I wondered that how this place would be changed after a few years.

 

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Approaching the city, suddenly I saw many trees and grasses. It was surprising that Chinese city’s road was a bit similar to Duch road. There were very good paved cyclist roads many times next to the road. Chinese usually rode an electric bicycle, motor bicycle, and scooter.

 

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I had met Chinese travelers at the hostel while registering. They were drinking a very strong one. They gave me a small amount but I couldn’t finish it. My throat was just burning!

 

vlog

 

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The dog and cat got along well. The cat was really friendly that she crawled to my bed in the morning. To start the morning with the cat meant lucky day.

 

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Chinese travelers and I would have the tour together to visit ruins. Before going there, we had a nice lunch. It was called Dapanji which made of the chicken, potatoes, peppers, and vegetable. It was Xinjiang province’s cuisine. This was not the food I can order only for myself cause it was a big dish. I was happy that there were Chinese friends to eat together.

 

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We walked around the ruins. To be honest, it was difficult to guess what this was in the past. I needed more imagination.

 

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We had a hotpot for dinner. It was not my first time to have it. When I was looking for a restaurant with the traveler in Urumqi, we walked in conveyor-belt hotpot restaurant. I had never been coveyor-belt sushi even before. So I was really excited at that time. I had my own pot in front of me on an electric stove and there were skewers with meat and vegetable going around. At that time I didn’t know the food I had was called hotpot.

Now I knew hotpot was very popular food to have with friends and family in China. This time we shared the pot together. One side was spicy soup and the other side was non-spicy one. The soup was good from the beginning. After soaking so many vegetable and meat, the soup turned to fantastic taste. I did love so much hotpot while traveling in China. I really liked to eat with people though. To have a hotpot was like eating Korean bbq (Samgyupsal).

 

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It looked like I had so many skewers. But trust me it was just distortion of wide angle lens.
Chinese beer was really weak that usually, it was only 2.5~3.2%??. I really didn’t feel the alcohol. Later I got one tip. If I drank so fast Chinese beer, then I could have a similar experience of having 5% beer.

 

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On the way back, we saw bbq fish. It looked interesting that we ordered it. I liked it but Chinese travelers told me it was too simple. The way of bbq reminded me of Masai having bbq on the street. It looked quite similar.

 

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When I came back to the hostel, I found there were two traveling bicycles. At the next morning, I met them while having breakfast. They were brothers from France and headed to Shanghai (or Beijing? cannot remember exactly) I went out for the tour with these two cyclists cause Chinese travelers wanted to go other places. Before we were heading, we had lunch on the street.

 

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The boy was wearing special Chinese pants that there was a big hole in the middle so that he could easily poop or pee anytime he wanted. I thought it was really good to wear it than to use chemical diaper if he only wears at his house. But if he wears in the city, then um…
I saw sometimes kids just pooping and peeing in the middle of the city because these pants gave them freedom. Usually, it happened in a small city more than a big city though. My travel friend told me she saw a kid pooping while she was eating the food at the restaurant.

 

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We were about to head to Flaming Mountains but it was really difficult to go. Nobody spoke English and google translator or map didn’t help to communicate. After taking several buses, we just gave up and visited a historic site around the city. This was similar to what I saw in Uzbekistan. The inside was quite simple but the entrance was $10. I thought it was too expensive compared to what I saw.

 

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I bought their traditional bread which was similar to Central Asia. I had seen this stove since Armenia.
I had found Chinese bread from the grocery shop were too sweet. I heard Asian eat very sweet bread. European bread spoiled me to hate sweet bread that I really liked the bread like above the picture which didn’t have sweet taste.

 

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Finally, I got a package!!!!! I had a long story about it. My tire was broken at the side, which kept making a flat tire. I bought a tire for $3 as an emergency. Then I ordered a new tire, rim tape, and a bicycle computer through online to German friend. And then he sent to Dushanbe’s hostel from Germany with DHL. But I didn’t get it in Dushanbe after a while. I went to the post office and they told me it was sent back because the name of a receiver was different so they kept it for two weeks at the office and then just sent back without any notification to me or him. The problem was the guest houses in Dushanbe didn’t put any signboard outside, so it looked like just someone’s house. Luckily(?) German friend got the package back at his house.
This time I asked him to send to the hostel of Turpan, China. But it didn’t arrive again. The problem was the hostel was about to close for the winter season. I asked the hostel’s owner to call DHL. Then she said it just arrived in the office but they didn’t know when it would send to the hostel. So I asked her to tell them I would go there to pick it up. When I went there, I couldn’t communicate. They said I cannot go in. But then someone helped me with the paper which hostel’s owner wrote for me. After waiting outside without knowing what’s going on, finally, I got the package from some worker. I felt so lucky to have it. If the delivery guy found the hostel closed at the next day, they would send back to Germany again.

 

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I couldn’t believe this $3 cheap tube was so strong at a dirt road in Pamir Highway. It was like my life. Who knew I could travel around the world with this weak body. haha. By the way, it was really difficult to take away because the rubber was very tough. Maybe that’s the reason it lasted long enough although it was too cheap.

 

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My chain kept jumping these days that it was quite dangerous to cycle. For example, at the corner or crossing road, I started pedaling with thinking a car was coming a bit far from that it was enough time to cross. But then my chain was jumping and I was stuck middle of the road. In this case, the car could hit me.
I tried to fix it by myself but it was difficult that French guy helped me. I cut one chain out. But he told me it would keep jumping until I just change to a new chain. I would buy a chain, cassette, and crankset in the next big city.

 

Vlog of Turpan. I don’t have vlog anymore cause I lost all my videos which I kept on my portable hard drive cause it was broken.

 

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It was the last day of the hostel. If I came here in spring or autumn, it would be so good. But when I was there, it was really cold. The toilet was outside. At least there was hot water to take shower. But before the shower or after the shower it was super cold. Especially in the morning, to brush teeth and wash the face with the cold water at the basin was challenging. I understood why the hostel closed it in the winter.
By the way, people shouldn’t visit here in the summer because Turpan is one of the hottest places in the world.
I was sure that French cyclists would go very fast that I said goodbye to them and started at my own speed.

 

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This was the place where French guys and I tried to come by bus the day before. But actually, it didn’t need to come by bus because it was on our way to the next city. It was a touristic spot because it was said the place looked like lava flowing. I was not sure it was worth to visit by complicating bus. At this time I didn’t need to buy the ticket cause I could just see from far away. Around this place, there was a really strong wind that it was difficult to cycle.

 

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I was about to visit Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves cause the name sounded very interesting. But the way to the attraction was really amazing like the heaven, just fantastic!!

 

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I thought there were thousand caves. In reality, the picture was all and even some of the room were closed. The entrance fee was $13. I had noticed that the entrance fees were very expensive in China whether it was simple or amazing.
In many countries, the government gave local people a big discount for the entrance fee of the historic place. Many travelers have told me it was unfair that foreigners had to pay a lot more than local people. I had a different opinion that I agree with their policy because local people were the one who maintained this all ruins and they paid tax all their life for the country.
But in China, there is no any discount for local people and even the entrance is very expensive. I heard that some Chinese people shared how to sneak in some places on the internet.

(At the beginning of the trip in China, I had visited many attractions. But later I gave up because I had realized I spent much money on the entrance fee. Sometimes it was worth, sometimes it wasn’t. Later I only visited if it is the really important place. )

 

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After touring, I saw French guys again. They were already finishing tour caves and sand dune. They told me they saw me arriving from the top of the dune. After taking the picture together, they left and I climbed to the sand dune.

 

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The scenery was really amazing. I really wanted to recommend any cyclist to visit this route. But I doubted about paying $13 to see a few rooms in Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves.

 

*Warning*
(The next pictures are about the toilet. Please scroll down quickly with looking through half-closed eyes if you are eating something.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I wanted to use the toilet. But when I went there, I got shocked. This was the toilet I saw only on the internet. I had paid $13 for the entrance. But this was what I got back. Fortunately, big tour groups all left. So I could have some privacy.
There was one weird thing that in China, people didn’t close the door in the public toilet sometimes. I got surprised when I entered the toilet cause I had to see people peeing and pooping. I understood the door could be broken sometimes and they hurried that they couldn’t hold the broken door. But sometimes they opened the door even it was not broken.  Actually, they didn’t not only open the toilet door but also hotel’s room door too. It was not that cheap hotel, but around $15 with modern design. But still, people opened their door sometimes. So the noise from TV and talk went around the corridor and other rooms. And I felt weird to pass someone’s room opened.

 

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This was another unique toilet in the west north China. There was a long connecting tunnel under the toilet. So sometimes I pee while someone’s pee was flowing. As you know, poop cannot flow. So usually it was stuck there like the above picture. If it was a bit good toilet, the water was flowing automatically every some time from the end.
There was one weird thing that Malaysia had a similar thing. When I took the shower at the hostel, I found the tunnel was connected on one side. For example, those silver tunnel on the picture was much smaller on the one side corner and it was connected to all bathrooms. So I had to see someone’s water flowing while taking shower and I added my shower water on that. You know girls could have a period while they travel. Imagine someone’s blood is flowing in front of you while you talking shower at the hostel. I had a chance to go to a very nice gym in the capital of Malaysia for free. Even there was a tunnel at the side that I saw people’s water flowing in front while having the shower. I was not sure why Malaysia had public bathrooms like this.  While writing this post, I have realized maybe it was from Chinse immigrants. (In Malaysia, there are local Malay, Chinese Malaysian, and Indian Malaysian) Now I am confused Korean have this shared tunnel drain system, too. I was away from home for a long time that I cannot remember.

 

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I wondered all this area would be turned to the sand dune in the future.

 

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After the beautiful desert area, I passed a very pretty village. They had unique paintings on the wall. While looking for a restaurant, I met French guys again.

 

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They were already invited by local people while looking for a restaurant as well. We got the bread, raisins, and tea. After farewell, they left first and I cycled with my slow speed.

 

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The next village had a cultural painting as well.

 

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I decided to stop at the next village that I asked local people to set up my tent in their yard. But local lady suggested me to sleep inside. She was starting cooking that I helped her. The oven was connected to the room that she could heat the room while cooking.

 

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She had two beautiful kids. She showed me the video of some ceremony in the village. The way they greeted was really interesting in the video.

 

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A lady put my head scarf later. Late night it seemed she was picking lice from her daughter’s hair. So, I guessed she was worried that I would get some lice? Or she was sincerely Muslim that she thought I should cover when her husband arrived. I just thought that she was just worried about me having lice.

 

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Thanks to them, I could stay warm last night.

 

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I saw this machine taking oil in Canada for the first time. And from time to time I saw it in different countries. Now I saw it again in China. Around the sunset, I reached a small town. The hotel I saw on the map from the phone didn’t exist. I asked local people where the hotel was. When I went there, it looked like closed. I went to another place, and she said she could not accept a foreigner.
It was already dark and very cold. I didn’t have the choice that I just went to the police station and told them I was denied to stay at the hotel. I asked them there was any place I could pitch my tent cause it was already too dark to find. Then the chief told me the hotel was on the other side of the town which was 15 km far. He said they would carry all my bags and bicycle at their pickup car to take me there. A girlfriend of a police officer translated all this by the phone. When I arrived there, they paid even my hotel. I couldn’t believe that they were so hospitable. It was my first time that the police officers paid my hotel on my trip. I thought Chinese polices were very strict. But the officers I’ve met were so friendly and helpful that I thanked them.

At the hotel, suddenly I felt weird. I found I forgot my shoes at local people’s house. NO WAY! NO WAY! I bought recently winter shoes that I just carried my casual shoes on the back. In the morning, my chain was the problem, so I cut one part. At that time, I put all my luggage on the ground. I put my shoes on the corner and I totally forgot it. I was really upset and sad. One of hardest thing on the trip was I forgot belongs often. When I was in Kyrgyzstan just last month, I forgot one pole of the tent at local people’s house. One miracle thing was that I didn’t lose my passport yet.

 

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At the next day, this was my place for the night. It was a truck stop that I was the only woman. The room was quite warm but the toilet was far outside. I had a simple dinner because I failed to order a big dish with a language barrier. Just before the sleep, I really wanted to go to a toilet. But I really really didn’t want to go outside the toilet because it was too dark and there were only males at the hotel. But I couldn’t hold it. But I really didn’t want to use that toilet in this dark. So……… I decided to do something, which I’ve never done on my trip.
During the daytime, I had some energy drink and the bottle was quite fat and the top was quite wide. So why not use this bottle? But I didn’t have any experience of it that I was not sure it would be alright. But anyway better than going out. So.. I tried. And actually, it was perfect. I didn’t drop any pee outside of the bottle. So lucky that I didn’t have pee more than the capacity of the bottle. By the way, the bottle was really warm that I thought it would be so good to hold when there was an emergency while hiking or something in the winter. Thankfully my room was quite warm that I didn’t need to keep this for an emergency.
*Please don’t tell me when you meet me in person
“Hey Jin I read about your Chinese trip. That’s a unique experience that you pee on the bottle.” I don’t want to talk about it in person. I just share it for your information if you have any emergency in the future. haha. 

 

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The next morning was really beautiful. I really loved the desert cause it was really calm and peaceful. It had gorgeous color especially when the sun goes up or down.

 

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My bicycle computer was broken recently that it was a perfect time to use my new bicycle computer. The guy who cycled together with me in Iran and U.A.E used this computer, Sigma BC 14.12. It looked quite good that I bought as well. I thought I had changed my bicycle computer as much as changing tires like every two years. The reasons were like broken cable, lost, and broken by long uses.  This new computer was the most expensive computer I’ve ever used that it was around $40. The reason it was expensive was that it can check the temperature and altitude. The morning was -10 c (14 f) that it was really cold. But it didn’t go under than -10 c (14 f). I thought today was stuck on -10 and I hoped it went up high soon. Later I saw the manual that -10 (14 f) was minimum number that it cannot check colder than -10. I was wondering that what the hell real temperature was in the morning???

This was a different painful winter than Finnish winter because it was desert.

 

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Camels were looking at me like “You poor huuuman. You have to be born with the fur to survive from this winter.”

 

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It was 22nd of Nov and I cycled like crazy hard. I had to eat to have some fuel on my body at first. This was really spicy that my stomach was very sore.
Honestly, there was a very important reason why I cycled so hard. 23rd of Nov was my birthday that I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t like to say “Today is my birthday” to a stranger I just met in the past. So over four years I’ve never heard “Happy birthday” in person, but only from messengers. On my fifth year, I had a cycling partner and I had a birthday party with a local people that it was really fun. This year I didn’t go back to my lonely birthday. There was one Chinese guy I kept in touch on email. He introduced me someone in Hami, the big city. It was very far to reach in one day. But I really didn’t want to be alone on my birthday.

 

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I started cycling from 8:30 am and I finished at 1 am a very late night. I had to fight against the coldness and darkness. My water on the bicycle was totally frozen. It took almost one hour to find a not too bad hotel with reasonable price.

 

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This was a new record! The longest distance on my trip! 190.70 km (119.5 mi). What a crazy distance in this cold winter. Maybe I thought the pain to make a long distance under freezing cold was better than the pain to spend the birthday alone.

 

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Yup. Dreams came true! I spent my birthday with some local people. hahahahahahahahaha

 

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The guy I kept in touch looked for the person from a bicycle club in Hami. So I had spent my birthday with them. They invited me to the dinner and this red pork meat was so so so soft.

 

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When I was checking my bank account, I saw I was almost broke. This was lowerest money I’ve ever had. I had received some money from magazine every month at that time. But it was not enough cause I bought winter gears and I had to change important bicycle parts. So I decided to write something on my facebook traveling page like “It is my birthday. But I am almost broke. As you know, I try to keep my blog to share with you guys. So if you can donate as a small birthday gift to fix my bicycle, I would appreciate.”
I didn’t expect much. I thought maybe I would get some donation to cover my bicycle parts and winter gear. But wow I couldn’t believe the result. I got so many supports that I thought it was enough money to cycle in China. I thanked them so much at that time to save my travel.

Suddenly I got big money that I decided to change many parts. Actually, the mechanic guy didn’t want me to pay the labor fee but only parts. But he really worked hard for two days only for my bicycle that I didn’t feel comfortable to not pay about his labor. So I explained that I really wanted to pay. Then Finally he accepted it.

I’ve learned that Chinese had a very strong hospitable culture that they must pay for their guest. Sometimes even Chinese traveler I met in the hostel wanted to pay my meal. What? Come on, we are same traveler. But then she said No! You are my guest!

 

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My frame was 50 inch. But I thought it was a little big compared to my height, 166 cm ( 5.4ft). This bicycle was kind of secondhand. Someone built this bicycle with new frame mixed with old and new parts. I was the first owner though. It was $400 cheaper than buying from the factory. But many times I thought it was bigger than my height because I had the pain in my neck usually at the end of the day. So this time he put a new part to pull a bit to the front.

 

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On the picture, the left guy was an amazing mechanic who took lots of time to make my bicycle better. And the center guy was the one who took care of me in Hami. Thanks to him, I had an amazing time in Hami.

 

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This was all old parts. Usually, front derailleur lasts longer than other parts. After 57,000 km (35,418 mi), finally, I changed it. I was so happy that my chain would not jump anymore.

 

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Some broken nut was stuck on the frame that I could take it away. Also, I fixed my front top rack which was broken in Pamir at the garage.

 

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My glasses were broken that I made a new one with my birthday gift money from my follower.

 

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The old glasses had some broken part. The top one was a new one.
I was broke after five years of my cycling trip. But thanks to people’s donation, I could keep doing it.
I think I couldn’t go further like this much if there were no people supporting me. I am not only talking about money. This trip is too long to do alone. If I didn’t share my traveling on the internet, I doubt that I would finish my traveling earlier cause I would feel bored and tired. But after sharing with people, I could overcome boring, tiring, and lonely time.
Many people have sent me a message when I had some accident or frustrating moments. They were happy together when I had an exciting moment. As updating my facebook and blog, I didn’t feel lonely and bored cause there were always people talking to me on the internet. I had a responsibility for keeping my blog because I saw there were some people waiting. I have found that I have learned more when I write on my blog than even when I cycle on the road.

Many people update their Instagram and Facebook for different reasons. I have three main reasons to share my traveling on the online. The first reason is I hope people track me through my last post if I didn’t update any news for a long time and I don’t answer anymore to anyone. The second one is I want to share the information like culture, nature, different lifestyles, and so on. The last one is I am lonely. This trip is too long to go alone. Since the third year of my trip, I have felt loneliness from time to time more often. I hoped there is someone just next to me. But to expect someone is staying next to me all the time is just greedy thing to me, world traveler. But thanks that there is internet I can connect to people always. I appreciate people who follow my trip. Honestly, it is difficult to keep the contact that usually after one or two years the contact is cut. Many people left me or I left them cause they have their own life to catch up. But it is alright. My life on this trip is more like mayfly that I only have today cause I don’t know tomorrow. So I thank people although they spend time only today with me. That’s enough for me as the mayfly.

9 Comments
  1. Like your post v much ! It’s an inspiration for all ! Keep writing pls👍

  2. Keep going Jin! It has been a joy to watch your growth and development as a cycle tourist over the years from the initial stages in the Americas up to now in Asia. Wow! Thank you for sharing your journey so openly and candidly. You have a writing style that is so different to other cycling journals which is part of your charm. I look forward to reading your further adventures on the road and wish you all the best and safe travels!

    • Thank you for following me and sharing your opinion about my posting. Many times I thought I should change the way to write. But actually, this is how I think when I travel. So, I would keep writing like this! Please keep following me until my traveling finish. I have the plan to finish at the next year 🙂 Thanks!

  3. cheer up, jin!!
    I love your trip and all postings! and dont forget this . many ppl loves you and watching you.

  4. Hi Jin! I’ve bee reading your posts for a while now, and I think what you’re doing is admirable. I really like the way you observe all these differences or similarities between cultures and places that are thousands of kilometers apart. It’s very much like traveling with you, in a way! If you keep on cycling, and ever get back to Europe, you’re totally welcome to stay here, in Belgium.

    • Hello Alex,
      Thank you for the feedback! I really like to share my story cause I feel like to travel with people on online 🙂

  5. I hope you always keep your writing style. I love it. 🙂 Particularly about your conversations with the camel. 🙂

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