I installed Google Earth on this computer the other day in order to scope out any alternative roads to my friend Mr. National Highway 312, and I didn’t find any. But, I did see something amazing. Do a search for Shanshan, China in Google Earth or Google Maps (on the satellite view). Due south of the city, you’ll see endless sand. The change is abrupt. City…and then sand. Amazing. I went for a short skate to the southern end of the city the other day, and was blown away by their size.
They are very accessable. You can either pay 60RMB to get to them via the big tourist attraction official entrance to the dunes, or you can cut through some vineyards and sneak in for free. I did the latter.
I was considering climbing the tallest dune yesterday, but didn’t wake up early enough (I woke at 10am – by then it was too hot). I do look forward to having a blat up one of the ridges at some stage however. There should be some amazing views from the top.
In other news, it looks as though visa restrictions are getting even more complicated. Rob, a friend from Hong Kong (who incidentally is also finding visa issues are putting the brakes on plans for his ongoing adventure) emailed me with he latest goss from the Chinese Embassy in Hong Kong.
In order to apply for a tourist visa to China in Hong Kong, in addition to all the application forms etc, the applicant must have an official hotel booking within China, and must show a round-trip ticket of some description out of China. I checked it out, and sure enough, that is the latest state of things. The same rules apply for the Chinese Embassy and consulates in Japan.
Accordingly, I booked my one-way ticket back home to New Zealand today. Shanghai to Auckland on Air New Zealand. A cool US$750. I hope this will suffice, and will give ample enough proof that I do intend to leave the country. It is all almost enough to make you want to give up on the whole mess and go skate in some other country…but I’m here, and I may as well keep knocking my head against the wall of beaurocacy…at least then I won’t feel my sore legs as much.
I am spending much too much time in this little internet cafe these days, but here are a couple of things I stumbled upon I would like to share:
- A long lost radio interview with CallFM, a radio station in Miami, Florida, USA. From the lack of enthusiasm and energy in my voice, it must have been a tough day…
- A fellow longboarder…Pierre, it seems, is French. I stumbled upon a video of him longboarding in NZ from Wanaka to Cadrona. The road gives me flashbacks from my time in Texas (shudder). See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyamcNTTtIk
- I rearranged my links page, and added a Distance Longboarding links section.
Mentally I am improving…reorganising my goals and intent for this journey. Clearly defined goals (not just skateboarding to Shanghai) are what I’m working on…