"Tai chi walk"

Diary from China - Thursday, August 4, 2005; Yong Nian, China

Greetings from downtown Feng Feng in the province of Hebei! When I last wrote, I was leaving the wang ba (internet cafe -- see photos of the route through the town) in a back alley of Yong Nian at 2:30 in the morning. Stephan still had "20 minutes" left to do on the computer (turned out to be 2 hours!) so I went back to the hotel myself. That involved walking in TOTAL pitch black for about 2 block-lengths along a narrow dirt alley with deep puddles from the heavy rain (hoping that Stephan gave me correct directions!) and then walking for about a half mile (with street lights, thank goodness!) through a COMPLETELY deserted town and through 2 dark tunnels under the old walls, then eagerly going into the shower to wash off my FILTHY dripping muddy feet / sandals and OH NO! No freaking water AGAIN!

During the walk, I wasn't scared, just nervous, which was a pleasant surprise (as a teenager, I had always felt sheer terror when walking home along our very dark, long driveway at night, so I was glad that at least that unreasonable fear has dissipated). There is virtually no crime there, so the only problem was trying not to get ankle-deep in the puddles or slip in the mud. At one point in the dark alley I groped for and found the narrow ledge that we had walked on earlier to avoid the puddles and mud, and I used the Tai Chi walk we'd learned the day before to step forward with my weight on my back leg for when I unexpectedly reached the end of the ledge or a hole (it worked great!)

Ledges like the one I used for the "tai chi walk" are shown below:

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