My Chinese driver’s license

I have been living in China for 9 years now, but didn’t feel the need to drive a car here. I lived in Yangshuo for more than 6 years and went around by bicycle because of the beautiful environment there and because it was so small that I never had to cycle very long.

Since 2015, I live in Shenzhen. The public transportation is very convenient, so I didn’t feel like getting it there either. But, my husband has a car and he felt it would be nice that I would have my Chinese driver’s license.

I have my Belgian license and… it seemed I got very lucky. Belgians are one of the few nationalities that don’t need to do the test. I just had to get my Belgian driver’s license translated into Chinese by a recognized translation bureau and had to get all the papers of my visa etc…

Since March this year, I finally got my Chinese driver’s license and my husband immediately got me into the traffic. There was no first trying to get used to the car. The next day I got my license, he told me to drive and I had to take place behind the wheel and drive into the hectic Shenzhen traffic. It went much better than I thought. But, I had to have eyes everywhere. Cars are coming from all directions, changing lanes all the time and buses or trucks don’t care, they just drive into your lane, so I have to stop and let them go through first.

After a couple of weeks of me driving (my husband is taking it easy, he doesn’t want to drive anymore), he told me I had to use the speaker more often. He didn’t know the English word, so after a while, I understood what he wanted to say: I had to honk more.

Slowly, I am learning to get my way through the traffic. I honk, I change lanes many times, I go from the outmost left lane all over the other lanes to take an exit. I am starting to become a real Chinese person in traffic and I must say it, I enjoy it. There is a flow to it. Once I understand the rules of: buses and trucks have the most power and I can’t hesitate, I just have to keep moving, everything goes well.

I now realize how much I have missed driving a car. And it must be said: most drivers are honest. Just a couple of days ago, we had parked our car in a small parking lot. And someone hit our car from behind. We didn’t put our phone number visible at the windshield. We didn’t see the dent in our car. When we wanted to leave the parking lot, the guard told us that someone hit our car and they had the phone number of that person. We could phone him to get this settled in the best terms. This is also the honor code that people have in China, which I admire very much.

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Day 4: To Ama Dablam Base Camp

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Yesterday afternoon, I again had nothing to do, so I was reading and went to bed around 8pm again. I woke up around 12am and dozed on and off till 6am. I had breakfast and immediately set off to Ama Dablam Base Camp. It was a relief not to trek with my big backpack! I felt so much lighter… Just outside of Pangboche , I had to choose between 2 trails: one was a big wider than the other. I asked a Nepalese and he pointed at the wider one. I walked and walked and met many others. Ama Dablam was constantly at my right side, but there was no trail leading down. I had to go down and cross a river to go to Ama Dablam. After more than 1 hour, I came to a sign in stone to point to Periche and Dingboche, no Ama Dablam. At that moment, some porters passed by with yaks and I asked them. They told me I had to go all the way back to Pangboche. So, I thought it was the smaller trail that I had to follow, not the wider one. Fortunately, the trail was not that hard and I went back. I took a rest at a bakery in Pangboche. I thought of having a nice snack there, but the cinnamon roll I had was at least 1 week old! I asked the manager the way to Base Camp and my feeling was right: I had to take the s20160517_125411maller one.

I went down to the river, crossed it and the hike was amazing. It was quite steep all the way up, but I didn’t find it that hard (again, the smaller backpack helped a lot!). I think my body is getting trained. I can definitely feel that my clothes are starting to be baggy, even after only 4 days! The view up there was amazing, but the wind was really strong. It was much colder. Ama Dablam Base Camp is at 4600m, so I climbed more than 600m in altitude. I could definitely feel it in my breathing: every step, I was out of breath and my heart was pounding in my chest. I had my lunch up there: a chapati, with yak cheese and… chocolate! I love it that I can eat, and even have to eat chocolate, because it gives you instant energy. So, when you are trekking and you feel tired, you have an energy dip, chocolate is the best snack. I stacked up on Bounty, Twix, Mars, Kitkat,… You can buy these things in every village.

I loved being there all by myself, surrounded on all sides by mountains. I was in awe to be closer to Ama Dablam, 6812m. I will definitely try to summit this mountain! The moment I laid eyes on her, I knew I would climb this one. Every time I looked at the summit, I could picture myself climbing it. It was really calling me. I had a strange feeling the whole time I was there. I knew I will come back here. This is my next goal!

Day 3: from Namche Bazar to Pangboche

I woke up around 2am. I went to bed last night around 8pm (there is not much to do in these villages and most trekkers go to bed early to rest well before their next trek), so maybe that’s why I woke up that early. Or maybe, it’s because Eric would start his way to the top at 2am this night. It will take him 4 days to go from Basecamp to Camp 1, Camp 2, Camp 3, Camp 4 and finally the top on 20 May!

I couldn’t fall asleep anymore and got up around 5.30am, had breakfast in the lodge and set off trekking at 6.30am. Yesterday, just before coming into Namche Bazar, I met the guy who sat next to me on the plane to Lukla. I told him about the lodge I would stay in and he decided teverest_trekking_map 3rd dayo stay in the same lodge. We had breakfast together this morning, but he left a few minutes before me. Just outside of Namche Bazar, we bumped into each other again and decided to go trekking together. He first thought of going another way: first go to Khumjung and go through the 3 passes, but he decided to do the same trek as me for now and do the 3 passes when he comes back down. The first one and a half hours were quite easy. After one hour and a half, we came into a village and decided to have a milktea. We sat outside and enjoyed the view! We continued trekking, and we went down a lot (from 3400m till 3200m), that made us a bit apprehensive, as we knew we would have to climb up more, later on. And yes, a bit later, the climb started: up till 3800m, Tengboche! I lost the guy on the way. He was slow. At first, I waited for him, but he told me not to wait and I kept my own pace.

I arrived in Tengboche around 11am and had some momo to eat. Momo is the Nepalese variant of Chinese dumplings. You can choose different fillings. That day, I had potato filling and it was really tasty! I continued trekking to Pangboche. The view was amazing! I just kept on taking pictures and couldn’t believe how lucky I was to experience all this… It started to be hard again, because I started to feel tired, but the trail was well-kept and I rested a lot. I was taking pictures and videos, while doing this, I could rest every couple of minutes! I arrived in Pangboche around 1pm, the altitude here is 3930m. Which I could definitely feel. Just walking a few steps makes you breathe heavily in and out. And when I want to drink, it already starts to feel like choking. Your body just wants to breathe!
In Pangboche, I just booked the first lodge I saw and changed shoes. The weather still feels hot and my hiking boots are too warm.

I rested here in Pangboche for the rest of the day, just reading my book. Tomorrow I would trek to Ama Dablam Basecamp at 4600m, without my big backpack. I will just trek there and come back to Pangboche to then stay here for another night. When I first laid eyes on Ama Dablam, a mountain of 4812m, I knew I will summit it one day. I just couldn’t keep my eyes of her… Such a beautiful mountain! I kept on looking at it, and could already see myself going to the top. How something can captivate you immediately and you immediately know what your next goal is! It’s amazing! I will keep on dreaming of this mountain until I reach this goal!

Climbing Mt. Everest

My husband summited Mt Everest. He succeeded on May 20, 2016! A big adventure for bot of us. I went to Base camp to meet him when he came down the mountain. This picture is takIMG_20160522_140629en when he just came back from the mountain to Base Camp. I will write in a few blog posts my trekking to Base camp. It is a beautiful trek! I would recommend everyone to do it…

 

 

 

 

 

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First day of my trek

 

 

The first day I flew from Kathmandu to Lukla. It was early in the morning and the airport for domestic flights at Kathmandu is very basic and not quite organised (to say the least). Everything is very old and it was confusing, also because flights to Lukla get canceled on a regular basis. Lukla is the world’s most dangerous airport and the weather conditions are most of the time not good to land on the very small landstrip. So, you never know when you can fly. I spoke to 2 other people; we were all going around the same time to Lukla, but we all got a different flight numb

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The plane to Lukla

 

er. After a while, my flight number was announced and I could go through. The plane was very basic and old. The flight lasted 40 minutes and we flew around the mountains. The
view was amazing! We landed on a very short strip!! I heard about it, but to really experience it, was something completely different. Those pilots must have great skills. Unbelievable how they can stop the airplane on such a short time.

The first thing I did in Lukla was to have a huge breakfast: masala tea (how I enjoy these!), chapati with honey and oatmeal porridge with banana. It was a bit too much. I could feel it for the next hour in my stomach…
I didn’t have a porter or guide, so I had to carry everything myself: 1 big backpack of 10kg and a small bag of 5kg, going up, I could feel every kilogram!
I started in Lukla at 2860m, around 10am and I took a break in Phakding, around 2610m, around noon. Eric, my husband, told me that I could rest here before going further. But it was only noon and the trek was not that difficult so far. I didn’t feel tired at all, because I was overexcited of everything: the trek, the environment,… The fact that I am finally in Nepal after already almost have gone 2 times. So, this is the 3rd time I planned and finally did go!
I was even thinking of going all the way to Namche Bazar today.
A bit over 1 hour of trekking later, I started to feel that I underestimated it: I started to feel really tired and my energy level dropped significantly. The fact that I got up early and hadn’t slept well the night before because of excitement will have had something to do with this.

IMG_20160514_105018So, around 2pm I arrived in Monjo, 2835m. The first guesthouse I saw, I booked a room and ordered food. After that good meal, I went to my room, took a shower and relaxed for the rest of the day. I didn’t eat anything in the evening. This will be my routine for the whole trek: eat a big breakfast and after my trek, have a big meal, but nothing or just a couple of biscuits in the evening.

 

Chinese culture… Why is it so appealing?

I am in Shenzhen now, on my way to Belgium. I haven’t been back to my country for more than 2 years. In the 6 years I have been living in China, I only went back 2 times, each time only 2 weeks. After 2 weeks I really start to miss China again. Now, I will go back for almost 3 months, because I want to spend more time with my family and I want to see if I will still miss China that much.

I don’t really know why this culture has such an attraction on me, but I feel I am not done here. I might be done with the town I live in: Yangshuo, because it is too touristy now, but I want to experience living in other places in China. To me, I guess China is still mysterious. It takes many years to know its history, to explore its beautiful nature, to know the language,… Every aspect takes you many years to finally know and that is a challenge I like to take!

I initially came to China to study martial arts and it would be only for 1 year. Now, 6 years later, I feel I still know only the basics of tai chi, so I want to learn from other masters and I want to learn it in Chinese now. I feel that, if they explain it to me in English the essence of Tai Chi is lost. It is hard to explain traditional Chinese medicine and Daoism (closely related to Tai Chi) in English words, half of it is lost because English doesn’t have a direct translation for it and also because our Western mind can’t always grasp it.

My Chinese journey continues to get to know more about this ancient mystery, about this Land in the Middle!! And my quest is to, once I unravel more of it, to teach people in the West this ancient knowledge, so it won’t get lost and we can all benefit from it.