AS A WAY OF LIFE

nomads, writer, speaker, photographer

CHINA 2012

So Many Atmospheres

China is a never ending modification of our environment, we keep moving, cycling long distances in order to reach our destination, some 6'000km away from Shanghai. We went from booming cities to the powerful silence of the desert, from the bright green of the rice paddies welcomed by the stare of the buffaloes to the barren plateau of white rocks at 3'000 m elevation, we went from the endless flat landscapes to the high summits illuminated by the eternal snow, we went from the mountainous land of yak herds in the world of the Tibetan people, in the world of the prayer flags, to gigantic canyons of sand dunes, we went through multicolour terrace fields welcomed by the playing spirit of donkeys.

We went through the Confucianist world, the Taoist, the Buddhist and the Muslim universe. We ate Chinese meals, Tibetan yak, ouhigour chachliks. Over more than 140 km, four groups of Chinese cyclists escorted us from town to town, offering us meals of honour. We discovered the world of expats in the city of Xi’an. Each time opening a new door on the multiple faces of China.

China was really moving, so many environments, so many impressions, so many emotions. Sometimes it fascinated us, charmed us, inspired us, sometimes it alienated us, constrained us, taking us to our limits. But the magic of China is the sympathy of its population. It is simple, precious, caring and detached. In China, there is always a kind person to cheer you up before reaching the borderline.

But another face of China appeared along the way, we were in a forbidden region, a region closed to foreigners. Police conveyed us out of the forbidden towns. Swept away in a hostile world, in a barren land, in a desert plateau of rocks and sand at 3’000m elevation. But there we were in peace, in these wild landscapes, silent, virgin powerful, inspiring. The spirit was in peace in the deep silence that sublimates the magic of the Earth. Coming back to the essential, to the basic part of ourselves, we felt the power of our intuition. In the middle of nothing, we felt connected to the whole.

But the magical subtlety of these landscapes appeared also in the harshness of their environments. They are hostile; burnt by the powerful sunrays, empty. We had to cover our faces to stop the sun from opening our skin and lips, we had to fight not to be eaten alive by clouds of mosquitoes, we had to carry a lot of food and water, we had to be so patient in a place where distances are unbelievable, as if they were inflated. In this place were the plateau meet the summits, standing 3’000m above us, in the thin air of the world of eternal snow.