Angels, Gut Instinct & The Dragon Boat Festival

Trip Start Jan 01, 2005
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,
 
Yeah, it's the Dragon Boat Festival!
 
Three and a half days off to ride like the wind, sleep in, watch dvd's (due to rain) and also squeeze as many delicious Zong Zi in as I possibly can!  What does all this mean you ask?  We'll get to the Dragon Boat Festival a little later, first I'll tell you about my huge bike ride today.
 
Even though it's a long read  about a simple bike ride this entry is more about, a child left alone, one yet to be conceived, how rewarding listening to your gut instinct can be and the fact that once you have an understading on how to read it, that it will always be correct.
 
After two days of rain and watching dvd's, today I placed foot upon peddle and with a body so full of energy that I felt like I was going to burst if I didn't exercise I headed out of the city in a south western direction.  Today I was going to see if my usual 'hunch' was correct when it comes to combining two or more of my bike rides.   Usually there is a mountain or three between them but I will always ride and explore for months if I have to to join them and today I finally joined another two of my rides. 
 
For those who are wondering what obsticals lay between the two rides;
Check out the following three photos!

 

Seriously, what type of idiot would look at these montains and say, I will find a way to ride over you!
Me!  Yes, I am that type of idiot.  I will spent days, weeks or even months to find a way through!
 
On one side of these mountains is my city and my south western village ride and on the other side of these huge rocky mountains is the new freeway and my Freeway Temple and River bike ride.  Not long ago as I was riding along the river, I crossed a bridge and sometime after I came to a small village crossroad where I stopped to rest before slowly retracing my peddles back to the city. 
 
Here I had a strange feeling that I would return here but from another direction.
 
The other night when I was riding my South Western Village bike ride (on the city side of the mountains) I remembered (at the old brick factory where the ugly smoke stack was) that there was a small road that continued further out towards the mountains.  My plan for this long weekend was to ride until either my legs dropped off or until I at least found another road or track that had the slightest promise of somehow taking me over or maybe by magic, through the mountains. 
 
Today I followed the small road that led me along side the mountains.
For about an hour until it began to climb and climb and climb. 

Around half way it began turning north so I nearly gave in but decided to continue (just incase my hunch was right and for some reason it usually is).  After another hour of climbing my legs were beginning to turn to jelly but in the distance I could see what I hoped was the same road swinging to the left and heading back up the mountains.  So I continued climbing and climbing and climbing until the road turned back on itself and I finally made it to the top.
 
For those who love hill riding here is where the hard decision has to be made.
 
Do you venture down the other side in hope of finding an easy way back at the bottom or do you simply relax and head back the way you came knowing that it is all down hill and that your couch and a cold beer lay awaiting your arrival.  I'm the type of rider that always ends up allowing time to make the decision for me and if I have several hours of light left I will always venture down the other side knowing that I 'should' have enough light left to make it back. 
 
But that of course depends on how large and steep the hill/mountain is doesn't it. 
 
Todays mountain or what soon became mountains were more foe than friend as when I began my decent the road continued to snake its way slowly down the other side in a western direction and by half way down it felt that I would soon see the out skirts of Xian city so I stopped and did something I don't normally do, I actually asked a farmer if it would take me back to Shangzhou city. 
 
He laughed and pointed back the way I had came, back up the mountain.
 
So I waved the white flag and after another hour of climbing I made it back to the top of the mountain where I sat for another half an hour listening to the farmers words and also to my gut feeling that told me that I would end up at that small village cross road.  For those who have travelled or lived in the places I have their gut instinct should always come before anything else as usually (unlike this time) it could either save your life or help you make the right decision in a world that will always remain somehow foreign to youu.
 
So you guessed it!
 
Off I went back down the unexplored side of the mountain and back in the westernly direction I had just spent an hour retreating from.  As a bike rider riding the strange and far away places I do I simply believe that  I can't get lost as all I need to do is go back the way I came.  I think that getting lost is for those in cars in which land marks etc pass by so fast that they resemble nothing but a blur and that corners come by so quickly that after several of them you no longer know which way is the way back. 
 
In four years I have never been lost on any of my bike rides here in China.
 
No matter how far out into the mountains and rice or wheat fields I have ridden I can always find my way back, or I will always end out where I thought I would. But when I used to drive around the suburbs of Melbourne (or any where in Australia) I'd get lost quicker than a brides nighty would be off on her wedding night.  Sometimes I'd sit there for such a long time even trying to figure out which page of the Melways (road atlas) I needed to find to find myself let alone my final destination.
 
So you guessed it!
 
About twenty minutes after I waved to the totally confused farmer that gave me directions back up the hill and I came to a t-intercetion that gave me a choice of continuing west or that of heading south east which was the direction I was searching for.  Twenty minutes after that I felt that same feeling I always feel when I see, or should I say find, that exact spot my hunch told me I'd find. 
 
Today I must say there were quite a few confused people staring at me!
 
At the village cross roads there is a small motorbike repair shop where each time I have riden my Freeway Temple and River bike ride I always get a billion hellos from the mechanics and the local villagers but today when they saw me coming from the direction of the mountains they were at a loss as there is no way I could have past them from the river ride un-noticed. 
 
They pointed up the mountain and as I nodded they simply shook their heads.
 
I took half an hours rest and sat in the dust on the side of the road and thought about all the rides and all the times I had to make a decision that was based on what my gut told me to do it always and I mean ALWAYS turned out as I had hoped it would.   I also thought about all of the confusing times in the past that I had listened to the jumbled and confusing mess that went on inside my head and the mess I had usually ended up in. 
 
I guess today you could say I conqured not only a mountain but a mountain range!
 
For those of you who are sitting there bewildered and questioning the point to this entry the fact is on my river ride prior to and after that one cross road there were several roads that led into the mountains but the fact is when I sat at this one cross road I just knew that this is where I would end up if I was to simply place foot upon peddle on the other side of the mountains and follow the direction my stomach told me go. 
 
Most people just as I always used to do, usually forget or don't trust that first initial feeling or thought and get lost in the jumbled mess that their brain leads them into when it comes to decisions in life and that's why most people I know end up questioning most things or decions they make as they usually lead them to places they never really wanted to end up and then have to spend months or even years dealing with the outcome.  So I'll end this entry with what I think is one of the most simple yet amazing lines that I've ever heard in a song and it was penned by the none other than Sir Ozzy Ozbourne.
 
There's no need to leave the lights on.
I'm so used to being blind!
 
It honestly confuses me as to why Paul Macartney received a Knightship over Ozzy. 
Many confused Beers N Noodles toya.....shane
 
PS: for those who want want to read about what the Dragon Festival is all about continue to scroll down beneath the photos.  This entry is also dedicated to a most beautiful soul, MS LORENA PEREZ (and of course the Kerstins) who made the decision not to bring a new soul into an already over populated world but to give new hope and love to a beautiful soul that was already living in Fujian Province, China, JiaHong/Lucia.
 
And for that she deserves more than a Knightship, she deserves an Angelship! 
 
As do all those who choose not to give birth but to allow the new birth of love, hope and happiness to any child who has been left and maybe forgotten.  I know most people choose to give birth to new life but that doesn't mean I understand.  I don't and will never question their choice and right but simply put, I guess I will never understand.  

For me there is no choice between a child left alone and a child yet to be conceived.
Thanks for the Sangria Lorena it was well needed!
___________________________________________________________________
 
The soundtrack to this entry was by a random play of all Ozzy Ozbourne albums.
No matter who or where the child is from, let's put an end to Mr Tinkertrain!
___________________________________________________________________

 
 
Dragon Boat Festival
 
The Dragon Boat Festival which is also known as Double Fifth Day falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. From what I can gather there are many different stories as to where and how this festival came to light.  But the most popular version and the one officially accepted is about Qu Yuan, a minister during the Warring States Period.
(475 - 221 BC).
 
Dragon Boat Festival / Double Fifth Day
 
The Dragon Boat Festival which is also known as Double Fifth Day falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. From what I can gather there are many different stories as to where and how this festival came to light.  But the most popular version and the one officially accepted is about Qu Yuan, a minister during the Warring States Period.
(475 - 221 BC).
 
Legend of the Dragon Boat Festival's Origin
 
At the end of the Zhou Dynasty (1100 - 221 BC), the country known presently as China had fallen into a state of conflict and despair. The Zhou Dynasty had now ruled for several centuries but many other states were trying their best to rise above being a feudal domain and become their own kingdoms. One of these states known as Qin finally rose above them all and once it became victorious it unified all of China under one rule for the first time in history.
 
Qu Yuan served as minister to the Zhou Emperor. As he spent his life fighting against the corruption within the courts he was both loved and feared by the other court officials.  Upon Qu Yuan's advice to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom along with his repeated advice aimed at how to deal with political corruption, these same officials pressured the Zhou Emperor whom soon removed him from the courts service and sent him into exile.
 
During his time in exile, which lasted for many years he traveled far and wide.  He taught and wrote poetry and here is how he became Qu Yuan the legend!  In 278 BC the capital of Chu was lost to the state of Qin.  Upon hearing this Qu Yuan wrote the following poem and in a state of despair he threw himself into the Milou River.
 
His last poem reads:
 
Many a heavy sigh I have in my despair,
Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time.
I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot,
And waited for the wind to come, to sour up on my journey
 
Qu Yuan was adored by the common peoples whom then rushed to the river and on long boats they beat drums to scare the fish away.  They then began throwing Zong Zi into the river to feed both Qu Yuan and the fish to stop them eating his body. 
 
For many years after this, local peoples would row their boats down their local river and throw sections of bamboo filled with rice into the water as an offering to Qu Yuan.  Now the traditional food known as Zing Zi is thrown into the water as an offering to him.
 
The Modern Dragon Boat Festival
 
Supposedly from that time until the present, people have continued to celebrate Qu Yuan's death by way of the Dragon Boat Festival where they have Dragon Boat Races, eat Zong Zi and do many other fun filled activities.
 
The Dragon Boats bring huge crowds to the river sides where they sit to watch brightly coloured boats race each other down the river.  The boats themselves can be anywhere from forty to one hundred feet in length.  Their front is shaped like a dragons open mouth and the rear is shaped as a dragon's tail.  An unbelievable eighty rowers can power them as they race other Dragon Boats to grab the flag at the end of a water course.  Along with the rowers there is also the flag catcher and a drummer.  Prior to entering the race the Dragon Boats must be brought to life by way of a sacred ceremony when the Dragon Boat receives its eyes
 
Zong Zi (pyramid-shaped dumplings)
 
Some say that there is another part to the legend.  Some say that someone met Qu Yuan's spirit on the same river bank.  Qu Yuan supposedly told this person that all the food offered to him had been eaten by a dragon.  Qu Yuan then told him that dragons fear bamboo leaves and 'five-coloured' thread.  Therefore people began making the traditional food known as Zong Zi. 
 
Zong Zi is glutinous/sticky rice with a small filling of pork, beef or something sweet.  It is shaped into a pyramid and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.  It was traditionally held together with 'five-coloured' thread but now many people use normal thread of strips of dried bamboo leaves.
 
Talisman and Charms
 
As the Dragon Boat Festival is held at the beginning of summer, people also wear talismans to fend of evil spirits whom supposedly bring diseases.  People also place a picture of Zhong Kui at the door of their home as he is the guardian against evil spirits.
 
Adults can drink Xiong Huang Wine and children can carry silk pouches filled with fragrance to ward off evil spirits.  Some also believe that if you can balance a raw egg on its end at exactly mid day, the rest of the year you will be very lucky!
 
What ever mate, I'm just hoping to watch the coloured Dragon Boats and one day get through the billions of Zong Zi that now fills my fridge.  Unlike Moon Cakes I actually love Zong Zi.  Some foreigners say they are too bland but many like me really like their taste.  How sticky are they?  If a plane wing falls off in mid flight and if someone had Zong Zi onboard you could pretty much stick the wing back on and it would stay until something more appropriate could be used
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