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Finding Compassion in China: A Bicycle…

Finding Compassion in China: A Bicycle Journey into The Countryside

by Cindie Cohagan

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I dream of cycling in this region, north of Lijiang. So this book was useful in just sketching out the terrain, the high passes and small villages. Such riding gets to be a tough slog. The interesting question becomes: why?

That was the main topic of meditation in this book. Cindy had been cycling for quite a few years already with her husband Tim. Cindy wanted to connect more with the people and places around them. We don't hear much from Tim but somehow when Cindy expressed that desire it became a seed of contention. In my own clumsy efforts at relationship I have noticed that often what my partner reacts to is not the message I thought I had communicated. But hey if these folks had cycled together for years through such difficult conditions... they must have worked through more layers of stuff than I can imagine.

The whole tourist thing is a bit odd really, checking off sights seen. Sure, cycling is much more demanding and involving. But still, if checking off accomplishments is the goal, then there is a kind of superficiality, a lack of real connection. Cindy seems through the experiences she narrates here to have become enough discontent with that lack of connection that she eventually made a change, to connect more deeply.

Seems to me that travel does not imply a lack of connection or a lack of depth. One of my fantasies is to study gyaling reeds. A gyaling is a type of shawm played in Tibetan Buddhist ritual. The reeds are cut from plants growing by lakes and rivers. I want to cycle around Qinghai and Szechuan and learn from the local experts how to find those plants, how to cut them, how to bind them, and then to learn gyaling melodies. Yeah who was that fellow who drove around the Southern USA in what the 1930s or some such, recording old country blues? Yeah I want to ride from Lijiang to Xining, learning gyaling tunes and how to make reeds!

Anyway this book is a sincere telling of her story of cycling in this area, with all the challenges of terrain and politics and relationships. It's the traveling that moves the book along, rather than the development of ideas. ( )
1 vote kukulaj | Jan 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0985009659, Paperback)

By the time Tim and Cindie entered China, they had been traveling the globe by bicycle for three years. Cindie was ready to explore China’s interior, but what she wasn’t prepared for was the intense isolation that comes with not speaking the language, the scheming tactics of the Chinese government and the unexpected outpouring of kindness from the locals. Along the way the duo was arrested by the Chinese government, turned away from the only hotel in Siziwang Qui, thrown out of Internet cafes and called late at night by prostitutes. Yet whenever they needed food, shelter, or directions, the local people were there and willing to help—even if that “help” was scary at times.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:47 -0400)

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