Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thor Anderson, Sandra Chiang and Harbin Springs experience

Remember Sandra Chiang? The Singaporean lady we met in the supermarket in Argentina? She drove 1 hour to meet us in San Francisco, bringing our stomach back to life, fed us with home food!
Sandra also traveled to many places in the world. click on her icon by the side, where our 'followers' are.
This kitchen was opened by an Indonesian couple. we chatted with him and later when we left, he handed Sam 2 plastic bags of home drinks and fruits! AWESOME!

Lime Tree, Southeast Asian Kitchen
450A Irving St. @ 6th Avenue.
San Francisco, CA94122

Thanks Sandra for the lunch and your time.

Remember Gerry? We met him the 3rd time on 3 different countries during our trip!

Gerry, me and Thor. they were joking that Sam and I were staying in a old folk's home. It's amazing how Thor took good care of us. Gerry, staying about 1 hour away, rode to Thor's home to see us. We requested Gerry to stay for a night with us and he agreed! by adding their age up, the number come out to be more than 150. Both of them now travel intensively all around the world. one of their favorate place is north Thailand and Laos which they would always fly there during winter to ride around.

Thor is truly a motorcycling legend to me. in the late 1960s, he rode this bike from Saudi Arabia to North Europe. On those days, there isn't internet to find out information. on those days, i don;t think maps were very accurate. On those days, services were limited between towns. How would anyone be so daring to put on a trip without getting much information? What about getting parts? what about gasoline? what about GPS? what about safety? Sam and i had alot of ??? about his trip, that such a trip is really tough in the 60s. This picture was taken by someone he met on the road in europe. Curious what is that shop was selling?

One of my motorcycling hero, Thor Anderson.

Chinese camp during the gold rush period of S.F.

Chinatown in San Francisco. Hope Too stayed outside while we went in to have a dip of Chinese tim sam!

Coming into San Francisco, Sam and I nick name this bridge as the $6 bridge.

Thor knew that his friend, Richard is hosting another RTW traveler from Germany: Katarina and Thomas. When we met them, we realised that we had alot of friends in common! Jacqueline and Richard were also very helpful people+biker themselves! By looking at this picture, Jacqueline seems to be small in size but she had traveled all over USA alone on her bike!

Thor, me, Sam, Jacqueline, Richard, Katarina and Thomas on a chinese dinner, yehhh, chinese food!

Thor hosted us for a few day. Infact, he was waiting for us since few months back that we planned to reach Alaska on June 21, 2009. yes, plans always failed for us.

On the day we left Thor's house, he led us to Richard and Jacqueline's house, where Sam had left our camera at their place 2 nights ago! Then Thor led us the way out of the city to the easy road Northbound, to Harbin Hot Springs. Along the way, we will pass by the famous Califonia grape growing area, Napa valley.
Route 29 took us to Middletown directly but we used the parallel road which was less stressful and calm. few miles before reaching Middletown, the curves weigh Hope Too left and right. I didn't use much brakes on these curves as they were very friendly.

We would like to thank Mark Weeding, USA, Montana, for sponsoring us for the Harbin Springs experience. Thank you Mark.
Entering the property, we would need to stop by the guard house for instructions. Looking at their uniform, it seems that they are like a monk, living without worries. I asked for more information about what this place is about, he said many things but the one that blasted my mine was the sentence: this place is clothing optional. that means you could chose to wear clothes or not inside the property.
we took a sheltered room for US$90. there we understood what is half bathroom and full bathroom.
half bathroom: toilet with basin and WC
full bathroom: toilet with basin, WC and shower.
but we took the no bathroom or what they called the shared bathroom.
the shared bathroom was unisex. the shower door was almost transparent but we could use the WC for private businesses.
This place is very quite, seems that visitor comes here to recover themself from the busy city life. We went into the little grocery store for lunch. Don't expect meat, burgers or fried chicken here. We had good soup, vegi and organic bread. The food in the store were all healthy food.
the rule in this place is simple:
No Cameras allowed.
No Mobile phones allowed.
No Alcohols allowed.
No Drugs allowed.
No Sexual activities allowed in the common pool.

We went to explore the pools. the water came from nearby springs. there were a few pools.
very hot pool: (i donno what was the temperature but i was inside only for 5 minutes)
very cold pool: (i donno what was the temperature because i was nearly electricfied when my toe touches the water.)
warm pool: where most of the people would hang out. I went in alone, Sam was abit shy to join me. I was abit uneasy going in naked with other men and women. after awhile, i noticed that everyone was enjoying the peace and comfort in the pool, ignoring other people's naked body.
Talking was not allowed in the pool so everyone really had absolute peace. There were also 'Watsu' service. It's kind of water massage, relaxation of body in the water by the terapist.

I went furthur to explore the dry sauna. I had really not sweat so much for the past few months. I sat inside with about 4 other person (couple) and the story begans when a lady came in, she laid down feets pointing at me, knees bend, head and body laid back onto the bench, without clothings off course. then after awhile, the she started touching herself all over and made some moaning. she was on my left side and i could see her from my corner of my eyes without glasses on. I could hear the touching as the sweat slicks from the hand. I guess she must really not enjoyed so much after her husband left her 10 years ago?! i took my towels, wrapped myself and walked out to breath some air.
Dinner was at a 'canteen', very similar to a school canteen. I can't find any famous american food on the menu board. mostly were made from green ingredient, healthy vegetarian meal and low cholestrol seafood. Either baked or fresh. Serving was large so Sam and I shared a portion.

Harbin was like a community place. Visitor come hear as a retreat center. many come here to seek for a peaceful place, for a more healthy lifestyle, looking for a place where they can be themselves. there were also long time resident here. There were many activities to join by looking at the time table. The night's activity was a traditional drumming session, headed by a local living behind and these activies were mostly free. Then there would be talks on relationship and improving sex life. (with a fee). then there were many free yoga session. every morning there would be a chanting session.

This thing hits me. chanting? what are they chanting? i realised that there were statues of hindi gods and culture. It's getting popular in the western word to seek for spiritual healing where there would be some Tibetian/Tamil/Hindi named people that everyone will idol upon him/her. Example names like Lakshmi, Paramahamsa and blar blar blar, that had given the western world of buddhism or hinduism had a certain energy of healing and everybody that practice it will reach to be the nirvana.

you need spiritual help? call now...
Wanna be part of them in spiritual healing? it's getting popular and profitable, espicially in the western world!

we find it strange...we respect other religon but...

Sam and I do not like to approach such people or people that practice such spiritual stuff. If u wikiped 'spritual healing', they will relate mostly with christianity. if u google 'spritual healing', you will find things about Aura, energy, chanting, yoga, hindi looking people saying quoting words of 'wisdom'.

i think some had gone too far of using religon to earn money, i am not pointing about Harbin but the people that is practicing it. some people view it as a cult. for us? as long as it saves life or helped health problems, we have no objection to it.

instead of joining them, we went to the library and read some books, then turn to bed early on this quite night.
when i walked into the toilet in the morning, i was really woken up when i saw a 'half clothed' woman combing her hair in the toilet. I did my morning business and went for breakfast with Sam.
Again at the same canteen, we browsed the menu on board, it was all healthy food. we ordered a plate of toufu (bean curd) and vege. I never knew such plain food could taste so well!
As a whole, this place is really a retreat center where we were cut off from the outside world. I would strongly recommand this place to people that had a stressful lifestyle. I would recommand couple to come here to enjoy the company of each other and learn about one another. don't treat this as a relax place and do what you want, shout or yell, act crazy and run around. they have their rules. Check their webpage for activities that you are intrested before booking a place here. If you do not like to stay here, you can apply for a one day pass, use the facilities here and drive back to the town and stay in a motel and eat a hamburger but that defeats the purpose being in Harbin. it is to live there and 'heal' yourself from the stressful and polluted world outside.
we would like to come back to this peaceful place again, maybe to stay for a week or so. there wasn't much place that we would go back in the trip but if there is a Harbin in singapore, we would definately go!
This was the place where we met Duncan, from Santa Barbara. He is one of the weirdest person that we ever met but we found him to be a very sincere and meaningful person. He really reached his hand out when helping people, not just talking but action!
will tell you more about Duncan in our next blog.

This is the only picture we can take in the resort.


Marisol said...

Hi guys!
What an experience, eh?? That place you've visited seems to be a real "must see" in any traveller's list.
About your friend Thor... after what you wrote... he's my hero too!! What an amazing trip he made! Must be absolutely interesting to share some good chats with him. Please send him my greetings.

I really really liked your pics from Yosemite. And when you wrote about the bears, I couldn't help thinking of the British couple riding their bicycles we met in Viedma. Remeber their story about the bear?

I hope you're enjoying Australia very very very much!

Lots of kisses for you both.

Sandra Chiang said...

Hey hey hey! Bu-yao-ke-chi-lah! :-)

It was great to see you two again in SF, both doing well and happy. Love your stories! Look forward to catching up with the both of you again soon.

Greetings from Singapore,


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