Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I am posting photos in no order now. I thought to write about China, to illustrate the writing with the images, but I have given up on that. We went from Bejing to Xi'an, from temple to oddity, from palace to antiquity. The air was as hazy as my memory. It was hot, the roads crowded. In Bejing, we stayed at the Red Wall Hotel. The first floor had a disco of ill repute. In Xi'an, we stayed a block from the train station. On the fifth floor was a massage parlor of ill repute. We opted for massages from university students recommended by our tour guide. This from my journal:

"One night, however, our Chinese guide, John, told us that the University of Xian gave degrees in massage and that he could arrange for some of the graduate students to come to our rooms to provide us with their services in this most famous style. Cheap. We had been on the bus for days, so everyone in the group leaped at the opportunity. After dinner that night, I waited eagerly for my masseuse. I had asked John if he would be sending up a boy or a girl and he asked which I wanted. "A girl!" I laughed. I was hopeful when I heard the knock on at the door. I opened it to a short, heavyset woman who looked as if she were eager to get grimly on with business. She had no massage table. I wondered what I was supposed to do. She motioned to the bed where I compliantly lay down in my clothes. She told me to turn around, to put my head at the foot of the bed, and then she kneeled on the floor and proceeded to massage my eyeballs. It was awful. She dug her fingers deep into my sockets and moved them all around, then stuck her fingers in my ears and did something that felt terrible, after which she decided to massage my lips. It didn't get better. I would have believed that she made the whole thing up if everyone at breakfast the next morning didn't have the same account. One fellow on the trip, a thick, heavy man with a large belly, said that his girl rubbed the hair on his arms and called him a monkey, then pulled up his shirt, laughed, pointed and said he looked like a Buddha, after which she climbed on top of him and farted three times. It was definitely the weirdest part of the trip."

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