We were alerted to this neat little site when it was still just a photo blog, with beautiful pictures of random 老百姓 (laobaixing – local civilians) around the Xinjiang area. Now its creators, Andy and Evan, are setting off for a year-plus tour of China by bicycle… today!
As they describe their mission in their blog:
The most important thing to do before taking on a task like this is to clearly define what we’re looking for. It can’t be just LBXes. Nor can it be just LBXes and the mess they’re in. Many of the LBXes in China’s cities are indeed in a big mess, but we’re not trying to describe how hard their lives are or what obstacles stand in the way to their happiness. There is a great volume of work available on this already, and it’s depressing. Our goal then is more positive and hopefully useful: to seek LBXes who have been able to create happiness and beauty despite it all…
The Chinese even have a phrase for what I’m describing that goes something like, “Even though the swallow is small, its five organs are all there.” Yes, it’s small, but it lives and thrives just as well as the big birds. Perhaps it even lives a more complete life for its being small.
So that’s the perspective we take at the outset of this project: to find dignity and humanity in a place that is perhaps most replete of both. Our challenge then is to render our discoveries into a transferable medium.
Okay, so we’re not sure we get the whole philosophical viewpoint behind the trip, but we do love stories of people traveling around China(!) so we’ll be keeping an eye on them.
Their latest blog post says they’ll be biking down Chang’an Jie in Beijing and through Tiananmen, trying to “take pictures in front of Mao’s portrait and the SWAT guys standing around with automatic weapons.” Ooh, we hope they manage to make it – we here security’s not taking kindly to weird things happening around that area right now. See how they do on their Twitter.