Well Chengdu is basically back to normal. My friend Charlie's harrowing experience is all over the web now -- here is the AP story, which also has the video. You can check out the text here.
We'll be heading up north tomorrow in a caravan filled with goodies. It will probably only be a daytrip because it is impractical for us to stay up there unless we bring tents .., tents that are better used to house homeless and injured.
Yesterday around 9pm we saw a car full of kids head out to Wenchuan with camping gear and supplies. Some of them were journalists, others were just concerned citizens. The Chinese Red Cross is not taking any more blood, because they are already overflowing with donated blood.
I have heard some rumors that many people are returning their tickets to the Olympics and calling off trips out here that were long planned. I know a few guide book projects I was working on are now on hold. The Chinese embassies are still hassling everyone who wants to come here in the next few months. The combination of natural disasters, Tibetan protests, aggressive nationalism and visa problems is causing an exodus of sorts amongst some of the foreigners here, and it is also keeping others away.
It is a very sad thing to contemplate, an unsuccessful Olympics. For Chinese who have grown up in the past 25 years, it is very confusing and hurtful to have the West scrutinize them so. They don't understand why.
Last night we were talking about the consequences of an unsuccessful Olympics. We basically agreed that China would retreat into itself like a turtle, again, if this were to happen. Here are a few stories about this issue.
We shall see.
The dude I referred to in my last post as stupid and selfish got what he wanted. His video is all over the world, he got paid big money by AP and they interviewed him. I have really seen the inside of the media machine for the first time with this natural disaster. I have mixed feelings about it all. The individual journalists are people just like everyone else, but when the machine gets in motion, I find myself being spun around like straw in a mudslide.
My "friend" Rafael is a reporter for La Vanguardia. We traveled together for one month in Xinjiang in 2003. Since then he has called me twice. Once to find out if I can be his translator and help him find Tibetans and Han that live near each other, in Lhasa .. basically find him the perfect story and report it for him.
The last was the day before yesterday, He showed up in Chengdu and asked me to hook up a car and translate and take him around the earthquake stuff. When i said I couldn't he hung up on me and dipped.
My boy Tenz just said: Amazing how this can impact so many individuals in so many different ways. For me its a clean slate, I can leave China. For others its the most traumatic and horrible experience of their lives. For others its a chance at fame and success ... "
I wrestle with myself about all of this too.
Chachin aint easy ya'll ...