In any given English dictionary, the word love falls pretty much in the middle. ‘L’ is the 12th letter of the English alphabet and ‘o’ the 15th; and when one factors in the regrettable paucity of ‘x’, ‘y’, and ‘z’ words, that places love very nearly at the nucleus of the lexicon, or, if you prefer, at the center of its pulsating heart. Whether you consult Webster, the OED, or any lesser compendium, you will always locate love after locust, loop, and loser, nestled snugly between law and lye. It lingers somewhere between joy and nocturnal, and on any given day of the week it can be found minding its own business at the crossroads of abyss and zenith. Love appears after haemophilia, homewrecker, and hysteria, and before parasites, parturition, and paternity. Always. Without exception.
Thoughts like these repeat over and over as James Zheng pushes to keep up the momentum, struggling to bike uphill. Already at a height of more than 5,000km above sea level, he ignores the elevation-induced nausea forming in his stomach as he reaches the end of a roughly 140km biking day.
Days like these are tough for James and his biking team, which consists of himself and three co-workers, Austin, A-Sen, and A-Kun. A former personal trainer, James and his buddies embarked on an intensive seven-day bike ride from Qinghai to Lhasa last August. Spanning approximately 1,200 km from start to finish, the long days of biking were rewarded with breathtaking view of the plains, mountains, and local life they passed along the way.
If this is your first Chinese New Year, you are in for a crazy treat. The chaos of New Years Eve in China is unlike anything in the world. My first experience with fireworks, like other Americans, was a 4th of July display. They occur yearly, under controlled circumstances, in a large field, with airspace and people cleared for one mile. They obtain police permits and follow strict city ordinances, ensuring ambulances and fire trucks are nearby. In China however, these explosives can be purchased by anyone and ignited anywhere: on busy streets, in small alleys between 20-story apartment complexes, from rooftops.