Part III

(click to enlarge)

Ancient Village

Cycling a Tower

Sentry Lookout

130 Degrees


The Gobi Desert

Peng & Kevin

A Needed Shower

     It was here, in Gaoshawao, that the slang words “Ariza,” and “Yang-guizi” were used against me when an old man came up to inspect my ponytail and Fu Manchu mustache. “Ariza”  is a mythical creature that's half male, half female, while “Yang-guizi” stands for foreign devil. The Chinese have no swear words to speak of; nothing in their language as we have in America. But somewhere during the Tour, the closest we came up with was “Bian-tou,” which translates into “Penis head.” Of course in Spanish, it stands for “Wind,” so it all depends on which country you happen to be in at the time.
    Because I was in an area that last saw a white man in 1909, I was constantly getting touched and felt by the local natives. They found it fascinating to see and feel the hair on my arms, legs and chest. If my team and I decided to spend the night in villages instead of on the Wall, a crowd would gather to watch me undress. I felt like the caged “Yang-guizi” of the Gobi who couldn't wait to return to the privacy of the Great Wall.
    At times the desert would play with our minds. I'd have reoccurring dreams of family and friends. Each time their faces would become lighter, until one night, I awoke to headless zombies walking aimless about within the caverns of my mind. 
    One day while passing through a centuries old village, I heard familiar sounds of chirps and whistles that emanated from some box like building. When I discovered the source, I found a group of wide-eyed children involved in a game of Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers. In the middle of the Gobi Desert! When they saw the “Yang-guizi” enter their world, they nearly ran from fright, but were too engrossed in watching me spend the next 90 minutes saving the princess. By the time I was ready to leave, the size of the audience had grown to over 400 people who witnessed the “Yang-guizi” in the Lycra tights and ponytail among them.
    As the desolate, decayed, once mighty Great Wall snaked through the sand dunes, I was putting in my miles as usual, when I heard a loud crack in the sky. Looking up, I saw no clouds to speak of, and thought it might be some Chinese military fighter jet passing through the sound barrier. Then I heard it again. Turning around, my heart pounded erratically, and I momentarily lost my breath. I only had enough time to yelled to my teammates, “TAKE COVER!!!”  before a giant wall of sand came crashing down around me, toppling me and the bike from the Wall,  swallowing us whole. 
    Upon falling, I somehow curled into a ball that gave me an air pocket. I remember reaching up before passing out. A moment later, I felt cool water slapping me in the face, and looking up to see a worried Peng. Once again, by God's grace, I had cheated Death.
    Outside the town of Fugu, the desert portion of our journey came to an abrupt end. Here, the military took control of the Wall, allowing no foreigners to enter the area for the next 1500 miles. We would have to drive North to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, and then South again to Badaling, outside Beijing. This would be my last sunset in this brown, desolate world. We would literally be going onto greener pastures.

(Continued on next page) 



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