Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kung Fu Hustle

This past weekend I went with my Gong Fu (how it's spelled and pronounced in Mandarin) Master to his alma mater: Shaolin. You may know it from several movies, specifically ones starring Jet Li. Shaolin is a monastary, but it's also the capital of all things Gong Fu. All of the monks are Gong Fu masters, and those who are training practice Gong Fu, religion, or Buddhist medicine from 5:30 in the morning to 8 at night. It's a pretty full day. To hear Xiao Xie (my Gung Fu master) tell it, it's all day long physical exhaustion after which you collapse into your bed and sleep like a rock. (All of this, by the way, is sustained on a vegetarian diet).

Because Xiao Xie is an alumni, we got to do all sorts of cool stuff at Shaolinsi. The first thing we did was watch a Gong Fu performance. They do some crazy crazy stuff. For example, they can do handstands on just two fingers (do the peace sign with both hands, now flip yourself upside down). One guy took two metal-tipped, pointy spears, and made a diagonal between the ground and the nape of his neck. The sharp pointy parts were in his neck. He then used his NECK to bend the METAL spears. Another guy broke steal bars on his head. Several people broke thick wooden sticks with various body parts. Their acrobatics could easily rival the best gymnasts, and make any break dancer drool. It was absolutely crazy.

After the performance, we toured the grounds for a bit. We checked out a tree that was filled with holes that any normal person would believe was made by a woodpecker. No. These holes were made by monks who, in order to strengthen their fingers so they could do those crazy finger-stands - poked the tree over and over again till there was actually a hole in it. The main temple floor, paved with stones, had dents in it from where the monks used to practice Gong Fu before they built practice space. Crazy.

During this walk around the grounds of the temple we learned why Shaolin monks wear robes that cover one arm and leave the other arm free. The very first monk there was visiting from India. On a very cold day a bunch of people waited outside his house on the pretense of wanting to become his desciple. It even snowed overnight and still they waited. Finally he came out, and one of the waiting people said "When will you teach us?" The monk replied: "When it snows red." (similar to "when pigs fly). So the man who asked the question, to prove his dedication and desire to learn the Buddhist way, grabbed his sword and cut off his arm, causing the snow to turn red as it fell around him. This man became the next (and second) Abbot of the monastary, and in his honor, all Shaolin monks wear robes that cover their left arms, and bow to each other holding only their right arm up in a half prayer position.

Next we went to the Pagoda Forest: Ta Lin. It was absolutely beautiful. After a monk dies, his ashes are placed under a pagoda. The more important or more deciples a monk has, the more awesome his pagoda is. Those monks who are just average have shared pagodas. I took a bajillion pictures, because it really was stunning. Also, interesting, I found one pagoda with Daoist markings on it, although Shaolinsi is a Buddhist temple. I'm still trying to figure out who would be the best authority to ask about it.

After Ta Lin Xiao Xie got some of his monk friends to work out with us. So we had some Gung Fu lessons with Shaolin monks. We learned some new moves, new combinations, and got to try and fight them (clearly, winning was not involved). It was pretty awesome. We also got to play around in the monk gym, which was like a playground filled with hard to work toys. One of the more exciting things was a bunch of posts, that stood about 6 feet off the ground. The point is to stand on them and fight with your fellow monks without falling off. Equally fun, a giant, supremely heavy marble that you have to push a long a track.

That night Xiao Xie took me and the other kids in our Gong Fu class weapons shopping. I learned that swords are pretty cool, and I taught Xiao Xie the word for vicious. He loves that word and now uses it to describe all of his Gung Fu moves. After shopping we got to meet Xiao Xie's Gong Fu master and his little brother who is currently enrolled in Shaolin (and who is sporting a broken hip, thanks to a crazy fighting class, but is still going to workouts, because Shaolin people are hardcore).

Saturday morning we woke up, worked out with monk, ate breakfast, said goodbye to Shaolin and headed for Kaifeng. Kaifeng is one of the ancient capital cities of China. Kaifeng is also known as the "city of snacks." Thank goodness, we all know just how I feel about my snacks. I even learned the chinese word for "snacking between meals" and "viscious cycle" this weekend. Anyways, they had these giant puffed rice balls that were the most amazing thing in the world - mosty because they tasted like cereal that i miss with all my being. Also amazing was this nut stuff. It's like a Chinese granola bar kinda, except there is no granola in it. What I mean is, it's almonds and peanuts and various dried fruits all held together with honey and it's like heaven in your mouth.

After binge eating for a while we went to this park called Qing Ming Shang He Yuan. It's like the epcot of China. Everyone is in traditional Qing dynasty garb and you can watch all these Qing dynasty events and fun things and buy Qing dynasty items. I now own a Qing dynasty purse. I watched water puppetry and stilt walking and women's polo. I skipped the cockfight - 'cause that's just sad. Also in the park were several olympic displays (because the countdown is on) so I did some vogueing with my favorite katong's - especially jing jing, he's the cutest. Kaifeng had just finished up with hosting the World Chrysanthemum festival, so the park was covered in beautiful flowers. A woman asked to take my picture in front of the Chrysanthemum Festival sign because "ni shi zhi shi bairen zai kaifeng!" - I am the only white person in Kaifeng.

Sunday we found ourselves in Luoyang, another ancient capital. After a nice early morning workout with Xiao Xie, we stuffed ourselves with breakfast and headed off to Long Men Shiku - Dragon Gate Grottos. They were absolutely awesome. Really. There were so so so many carvings. They ranged in size from multiple meters tall to one centimeter. (Clearly the big ones were donated by important people and the small ones made by civilians). It was really nice to wander the place because everything looked so awesome.

[[side note: right now there is a man outside my window singing opera at the top of his lungs...he's pretty good]]

After the grottos we went to a paper cutting factory for an educational experience in this traditional art, and also the chance to try it out for ourselves. I made a butterfly. It's beauty is pretty much indescribable.

Just after lunch we visited an underground household. Back in the day, people in the Luoyang area used to carve out their houses underground. The would dig a big square that would become the open-air courtyard, and then dig rooms off the sides. From the surface you wouldn't see anything, unless they had trees growing in the courtyard - then you could see some treetops. Even cooler than this, was that the woman who lived in the house we visited had just turned 100 years old, and had bound feet! She showed me some of the shoes that she made for herself, and maybe my thumb would have fit in them. Perhaps two thumbs actually. But they were about thumb length. Thats just crazy crazy stuff. Her two great great grandsons were there visiting and they kept calling the white folks aliens and chasing us around pretending to be dogs. They were pretty funny (if mildly abusive to aliens).

Finally we ended the day with some free time in downtown Luoyang. I opted to go to a museum built around an ancient tomb that they recently discovered on the site of a middle school while building a sewer pipe. It was kind of like the terra cotta warriors in content and setup, except everything was real - not terra cotta. There were a bunch of horse drawn chariots (wooden fossilized chariots now, pulled by horse skeletons) as well as a couple dog, chicken and human skeletons. You've got to be prepared for the afterlife. Unfortunately, they only excavated the area around the main part of the tomb where the body is, because the body is underneath a huge bank that noone wants to tear down. That's China.

So I think that's all for now. Next up - Shanghai! I leave tomorrow, right in the middle of my registration time. Ha. We'll just have to see how that plays out. And, there were no sleepers left - 12 hour soft seats, here I come. You had better be chabuduo yiyangde feiji like Candy says!

Miss you all and love hearing your updates!


Monday, October 29, 2007

World Series Champions.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wo Shi FaGuoRen

Everyone in China thinks I'm French. Really. It's odd if I can get through one day without at least one person asking if I'm French. They truely believe it, too.
Example: Tonight I'm at the noodle shop, waitin for them to bring out my takeout. While I'm waiting I strike up a conversation with this guy. We're speaking in Chinese for a bit about what I'm studying etc etc, and then comes the inevitable question: "Can I practice English with you." (Since I am white, I obviously speak English). Sure, so we continue the conversation in broken Chinglish. We've been speaking for about 5 more minutes - mostly about how he has been taking American English classes because he wants to go to California - when he asks where I'm from. When I bust out with the America card, he gets all shocked: "zhendema?! wo juede ni shi faguoren!" Apparently all this time, despite my perfectly fluent American English, he has thought I was French.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Tomorrow I have a xingqikaoshi. What does that mean? It means slap-you-in-the-face midterm. Which makes me bitter about Chinese. Which makes the following post, a compilation of things that frustrate me about good ol' Zhongguo, seem appropriate. Perhaps on a more jolly day when I dont have a massive kaoshi or a bu hao bing, I'll post the list of happy, interesting observations. Hopefully you'll be able to see the humor as well as the rage in most of these. So, in no particular order, here we go:
(P.S. requests for pictures of any of these things could most likely be provided)

Trench toilets
-The squatting toilets I can deal with. They’re in my dorms; I’ve learned to deal. It’s the wall less trenches where the scary Chinese lady squatting next to you stares at the white person the whole time that freaks me out. Damn my bladder. I now rate bathrooms on a star scale, and get really exciting about a 5 star (meaning, a western toilet with toilet paper, soap AND running water) and no longer fear the 5 black stars (black means negative; also usually means trench with no walls or water running through it).

-Seriously? Sometimes I just don’t have the bag space for a roll of TP.

Syrupy honey
-Honey is runny. That rhymes. It also means that it’s difficult and quite messy to spread on toast.

No ethnic food
-Unless you count KFC, it’s pretty much Chinese or nothing. A little Korean, but good luck finding anything outside of the East Asian area. How I miss you, Greek, Mexican and Ethiopian!

No tap water usage
-To many chemicals. Avoid it for all but the briefest usage, unless you’re into mutation.

Going bald
-I’m also attributing the chemicals in the tap water with making me go bald. Showers seem to be unavoidable.

75 words a night
-It’s really just a lot of words to learn. Good think every Chinese person I meet thinks flashcards are incredibly amazing and that I have invented the most creative thing since sliced bread.

Hand washing
-People in China hand wash their clothes every night after they wear them. They never have more than one outfit hanging on the line. When I hang up my load of laundry every two weeks (i.e. everything I own) my roommate lets out this horrific sigh and goes “ahhhhh hen duo yi fu!” as though she’s judging me for my American excessiveness, when really, she has more clothes than I do, she just doesn’t put them on display.

No socks
-There is no such thing as normal athletic socks in China. You have a lovely choice between dress socks of all colors, knee-highs, or super expensive above the ankle numbers, often made by Pepsi.

No reeses cups
-Really. Not anywhere. I’m dying here.

Sporadic hot water
-Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. If you’re lucky enough to have it, expect it to fluctuate between scalding and freezing, with a few blissful seconds in-between.

-’Nough said. I have the black lung.

Language partners
-Since I’m white, I literally can’t even walk down the street without people asking me to be their language partner. Everyone is desperate to learn English. If you make the mistake of giving away your contact info, expect hourly texts accompanied by the following: :) , : D, ;) etc.

The subway card refill machine
-HOW THE HELL DOES THIS MACHINE WORK!? All I want is to put money on my card. I try and I try and it will not work. The fuyuan will not help. Please, God, someone show me what buttons to push!

The post office stamp debacle
-Walk into the post office. See 3 counters. None are labeled stamps. Ask attendant “where can I buy stamps.” Sigh of anger. “I guess you can do it here” (I have never managed to pick the correct counter – apparently). “Give me $X and your letters.” I have never seen the stamps. They do it for me every time. And I think they’re overcharging. I just want some damn stamps.

-All among the sites that the Chairman doesn’t want me to see. I guess they might corrupt my thinking. Yes, this includes this blog (I hope it’s pretty!)

-Big tests. Friday mornings – 8am

-Medium tests. Every morning – 8am

White people tax
-I’m white, therefore I must not speak Chinese (this assumption is even made when I’m speaking it), and thus I ought to pay more.

-Hocking a lugie is perfectly acceptable behavior, be you man or woman, old or young, inside or outside.

Juvenile behavior
-Sideline off the last point and segway into the next: everyone in china is perpetually stuck in junior high. I literally would not be surprised if someone pulled my hair and made a fart joke on the bus.

Anti-queue/line up day (the 11th)
-On the 11th of every month China has instituted a wonderful holiday called “paidui” – line up day (get it? the 11 looks like people lined up – the communists are so clever). Anyways, they have this lovely holiday because China doesn’t know what it means to line up. Queuing simply does not exist. There are mobs everywhere: at checkouts, at banks, to get on the bus, at intersections (in their cars) etc etc. In the subways they’ve painted lines to illustrate where you should line up and where you should wait for people to get off, but no one follows them. No one even lines up on line up day. This means that you can’t get off the subway when you want to, and you WILL get cut in line when you’re paying for something. Be aggressive.

Padded tiny bras
-There are no bras in china above a B cup or without excessive padding. None. I suppose this makes sense, but it’s unfair to the foreigners. Also a good oxymoron: the Hooters over in chaoyang.

Pantless children peeing in the streets
-Children in china either don’t wear pants, or their pants don’t have crotches. This is because when they have to pee, they just squat where they are, be it a back alley or the middle of Tiananmen square. Public street peeing in incredibly unhygienic, incredibly prevalent and incredibly acceptable.

No heat, yet windows open
-For reasons I have yet to figure out, many buildings here have no heat, yet perpetually leave the windows open – even when the thermometer says 7 degrees on it. I attribute this practice of my roommates to the deathly illness I currently have.

400000 incomprehensible busses
-There are bazillions of busses here. The routes do not make sense. You must be fluent to read the signs. There IS NO WAY to determine which bus you ought to take. You simply must know it. All the Beijingers do. (Luckily, they are quite giving with this information).

Buying something in a dept. store (receipts)
-This is an extreme production that I think I talked about earlier. At the counter where you select something you are handed a receipt. You then walk over to another counter to pay where you are handed another receipt. You then go to a third counter where you pay the remainder of your item’s balance. You are handed another receipt. Some places have yet another counter, but at most you are now allowed to return to the original counter where your receipt is scrupulously examined and you are finally given your item.

Posted signs: Chinese :: cockney: English
-It’s another language. Words mean drastically different things. It could be a cockney like rhyming scheme. I think it’s more of a sounds sorta kinda like that and starts with the same letter scheme. Regardless, reading signs is hopeless.

-All dorms have them. They lock the doors (with bike locks) at 11 on the weekends and 12 on the weekends (although I’m told that my dorm is open later than most because they know foreigners who like to stay out late live there). This is a pretty much citywide observed rule though. The only people out past midnight are usually not Asian. If they are, they’re in KTV (karaoke) where they’ve reserved a room for the night and do not plan to return to their dorms till they reopen at 6.

Counterfeit money
-It’s everywhere, and it’s a cruel cruel thing indeed.

No personal space
-If you come to china, expect to give up any love you may have for your bubble. People will stand uncomfortable close to you at all times – even if the crowd doesn’t require it. You will cuddle penguin style on busses. Chinese people will sit in your lap and laugh at your character writing. These same people might also force feed you fruit and ask to be a language partner.

Missing address numbers
-Address numbers don’t exist. I may have the correct address, but I will not find it, because who knows if I’m at the #5 end or the #2780 end of the block? Good luck to you, intrepid person with a plan.

Clothing: bedazzled and petite
-I cannot shop here because finding something in my size and/or finding something that is not bedazzled/sparkly/bright pink/covered in feathers/cutesy/or any other number of tacky adjectives is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Chinese class starts at 10
-All full time Chinese college students start their classes no earlier than 10. I have 8 ams every day. Chinese students also start their college careers by taking a test that determines their school and major; the school then chooses their schedules. They do nothing but go with the flow.

Coffee is a myth
-It’s true. Instant coffee exists, but is expensive. Real coffee is supremely steep and must be purchased at a place such at Starbucks. The coffee shop is an elusive mirage that I will never find and never study in.

This list could so easily be continued, but then I'd be failing tomorrow's midterm. Hope everyone else is surviving midterm season rage free.


P.S. Tomorrow evening I go to Shaolin with my Kung Fu instructor for the weekend. I'm gonna beat up some monks.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sox in the Series.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Simatai Sunrise

I've just realized that I never wrote anything about my trip to the Great Wall, so I figure I ought to do that now before I forget.

We left for the Great Wall on a Saturday morning. The section we went to was part of the Badaling wall (near Simatai), so it was about a 2.5 hour bus ride from school. It was raining when we started out, but as we went along the sun came out, the mists lifted, and it became absolutely beautiful.

We hiked along the wall for about (I don't remember, but I'm thinking/researching the number, I'm going to guess 6)) kilometers (about 3 hours) until we got to the town of Gubeikou. The walk itself was visually stunning, but a lot more exhausting than I would have expected. Clearly the walls were not built with transportation, or even people running back and forth between watchtowers in mind. At times it was incredibly steep, and the stairs could get quite daunting. Since a good part of the wall we were walking on was unpreserved, there would often be just crumbled rubble to scramble over, and once or twice we had to physically scale walls in order to climb through the windows of towers (there were footpaths around these towers, but we're too hardcore/into being nijnas to bother with those). We met a bunch of interesting people along the way, mostly tourists from both China and elsewhere, although the wall was not too crowded. It was littered with people who were willing to sell you anything from t-shirts to bookmarks to beer along the way. After we crossed the drawbridge into the town we walked through the village to the home of one of Ai Laoshi's friends where we ate dinner. The main source of income for these people is clearly corn: we walked through acres of cornfields, and each house had a huge stack of husked corn out front (I think the harvest has just finished, so there was literally tons at each home). This corn buisness was also reflected in the meals we had - there was always delicious cornbread available.

After dinner we hung out at the house until 9, because it's illegal to camp out on the wall, so you have to sneak up under the cover of darkness. It was absolutely freezing. Thank goodness for hot water and penguin mentality, or we never would have survived. Finally someone had the good sense to build a fire, and the penguin huddling moved into a circle. Singing happened. Our hosts went out and got fireworks, and we had a show. It was lovely! They set off the fireworks about 5 feet from where we were standing (just on the other side of the corn pile from the fire huddle), so it probably wasn't incredibly safe, but it was beautiful. There were the little wimpy poppers (which hardly sounded wimpy from that close distance) and also a few big blossoming ones .

At 9 we had to divide into two groups. One group would hike up and sleep on the wall for the night. The other half would sleep in host families houses in the village and then wake up at 4 for a sunrise hike up Simatai, the highest tower in the great wall. As much as I was tempted to actually sleep on the wall, I opted for this second choice, as it sounded like a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I had heard so much about how the Simatai sunrise is a lifechanging experience.

Myself and 4 other girls went down the road to our hosts house. They set us up in a room with a giant heated bed that we all shared. The beds have a furnace underneath them, so the freezing temperatures were absolutely no longer an issue. In fact, I woke up several times extremely hot. All of the houses in the village had pretty much the same style and layout: an L shape around a courtyardish area. The middle of the L was a living room/kitchen, and then there was a bedroom on either side. Most people ate outside in the courtyard that was formed by the building and the corn pile. Here's a picture of a typical house in the village:

Waking up at 4 was difficult. It was cold, early, and pitch black. We began our hike up the wall. It was incredibly trecherous. We had no light, and were feeling our way along a footpath littered with rocks and such. On one side was a steeply climbing slope covered in brambles and thick trees, on the other side an abyss into dark nothingness. Tripping was common. Our guide looked like he was 60-70 years old, and he bounded the whole way up, not even stopping for breath despite the extreme steepness. As we got to the harder parts of the hike, luckily, it started to get a bit lighter. This was absolutely important, as at some points we were quite literally crawling up the slope. So much for switchbacks - the rule of this illegal-to-climb mountain is to grab the tree above you and drag yourself through the mud up to the next tree, because it's a bit too steep to walk. Making it to the top was so worth it though - it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I ended up finishing the hike on my own, the group I was with was climbing too slow. As I started to clear the treeline, the view was incredible. I had to stop every once in a while to catch my breath, and to capture the sight of the valley below on camera. At the top we all grabbed spots on the rocks next to the watchtower to settle in and watch the sunrise. The hight and sheer drop to all sides of this tower is extreme. You would think there would be no need for a tower - or wall - there because it's practically unclimbable on the Chinese side without a rappel line. The Chinese though this too - until 8 crazy Mongolians managed to make the climb, kill a bunch of Chinese, take their cows, and get away with it. I couldn't help thinking of those guys on my way up, unassisted like I was by a path and a guide.

Anyways, the sunrise was gorgeous. You could actually see the sun moving up and over the mountains. I took a video, but it hardly does it justice. I understand now why so many people have found that place, and that moment, so inspirational.

And there were so many mountains! American mountain ranges can hardly compare to Chinese ones. I think it's because the Chinese ranges are bigger, more rugged, and, for lack of a better word, spinier. I'm really upset that not many of my pictures came out well. Because of the low light, I needed a really high exposure, but I had no tripod and my hands are not steady.

After the sunrise a handful of us hiked over to the neighboring peak in the direction of the tiger's back ridge for a view back at the watchtower. This peak was a bit lower, but provided an even more amazing view. I really cant even describe it.

The hike back down was just as extreme as going up. We had to use the trees again, literally choosing a tree, falling on it, and then repeating the process all the way down. Our guide was behind those of us in the front on the way down, but eveytime we got to an intersection we would just wait a few minutes for his dog (who made the hike up and has the amusing name of PeePee) to come find us and show us the way. PeePee is the Lassie of China.

Around 8 we settled back into our house's courtyard again for breakfast. Corn zhou, corn bread, boiled eggs. It was delicious. I'm a huge fan of corn zhou, especially with a bit of sugar.

To get down to where our bus was able to drive to, we had to either hike down a trail on the other (China) side of the wall, or take a zip line over a ravine and then a boat to the bus. Clearly I opted for the latter. The zip line was amazing amounts of fun and totally worth the 30 kuai. There really is nothing like zooming over a ravine under the great wall tied to nothing but a rusty wire.

In sum, the Great Wall was gorgeous, and if you get the opportunity to make it out to Simatai, you should absolutely not turn it down. Also, if anyone would like to make it back to the wall to camp out, let me know (because it's still on my to do list).


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Bookworm is Salvation

Today I cut econ to go to a book lecture in Sanlitun by an author that my Daoism professor always talked about. I was pretty excited when I recognized his name in That's Beijing. His name is Bill Porter. He does a lot of translations (of the Dao de Jing etc), but the book that I've been trying to get for forever is called Road to Heaven. He basically got curious one day about whether or not Chinese hermits still existed, so he literally had a taxi drop him at the foot of a mountain rumored to have them and set out on foot to find some. And he did. And he wrote a book. And it sounds awesome! And now I've chatted with him over coffee, and he's shown me his slides, and I feel substantially informed about Chinese hermits. I could totally find one (if I had the means). We also chatted about why I couldn't find his book - apparently he has some lame publisher who only makes so many copies a year, but keeps the copyright, so the publisher can continue to suck money out of the book. I guess he's involved in some legal action, and the book is consistantly sold out. But he says he gets his copyright back in 2009, and will switch to another publisher. It sounded like a nightmare.

He was wicked cool though, and I was pretty thrilled to hang out with him. He totally looks like you'd think he would, too - kind of like Santa, but in a Marlin's t-shirt. He got me really pumped up about traveling China, and now I'm especially hoping that I'll be able to make the Wutai Shan trip in a few weeks. I wish I could stay longer to travel around China. It's so difficult to squeeze in everything that I want to do. Hopefully I'll at least be able to get Shanghai and Xishuanbanna to work out.

After the lecture I hung out with some random people I met there for a bit. It was so nice to speak English and talk to nice intellectual people with accents over Mexican food. Followed by Baskin Robbins (or should I say: "American Flavored Ice Cream"?) It was a good night. Except that on the way home I got off the train and proceeded to stand at the bus stop for a good 20 minutes wondering why the heck my bus wasn't coming before I finally thought to look at the sign and read that the bus I wanted had stopped running for the night. Damn.

I hope everyone has been having a good semester so far. If you read this (if anyone reads this?) email me some updates on your life! I feel so cut off from everything. And if any ADPi's are reading - congrats on the new Alphas, you guys seem like you're having so much fun!


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I Went to a Concert with Bread and a Polo

Last night I went to Talib Kweli concert. I regret not having my camera, but it was a bit of a last minute decision to attend. As in, I was walking home from the bakery, was accosted by a friend on the street and thrown into a cab. So I attended the concert in a polo and loafters carrying a loaf of bread. But, it was totally worth it because the concert was awesome. I was in the very front, and got a few high fives (I was also right next to the speaker and my right ear is still ringing a bit). He's a really good performer. At one point during the concert he did a couple throw back sing alongs that he would rap over including Sweet Dreams by La Bouche and other such guilty pleasures. I didn't know the band that followed his performance before last night, but they were amazing! They're called Ozomatli, and you should definitely look into their stuff. They're from the LA area, so their music has a spanishy feel, but they're also very rock and easy to dance to. They played a ton of instruments too, including trumpet, trombone and gourd. For their big finale, they jumped off the stage - with their instruments - and played a song or two in the middle of the crowd, and then - still playing their instruments - started a conga line with the entire audience for the final song. It was awesome. Basically they were just amazing performers who really got the crowd incredibly pumped. We hung around afterward to meet the band and they were all really laid back and cool, so we went to the after party back at their hotel for a bit.

Basically, last night was awesome and totally worth sneaking in through the window at three in the morning, and I really want you guys to listen to this band, because I think I love them.


P.S. The silk road back entries are coming along. Please scroll down and check them out.