Shiyan, China; northwest Hubei Province

I've been a bit cranky the past few days, with too much traveling and not enough relaxing. Traveling through China has been stressful, and even in Beijing I'm told it won't get too much easier, though I doubt it can be as difficult as traveling in Shiyan, China, which so far has been the least appealing of any city I've visited.

It is the epicenter of the Chinese automobile industry, apparently. I traveled here only because it was the closest train station to Wudangshan (Wu-Tang Mountains), where I'd visited the day before. I stayed in Shiyan for the better part of one day, waiting for my train to Beijing.

To be honest I don't have anything positive to say about Shiyan, except that the two guys below were friendly: Grayson, on the left, told me that he took his name from an American TV show called Cougar Town; Pierre, on the right, didn't have an English name until I donned him Pierre.

Yes, I know Pierre is a French name.

The guy on the left of the photo was one of the dozen or so Chinese people who circled around me for the better part of thirty minutes, just staring aggressively and invading my personal space. Grayson later told me that it was probably the first time some of them had ever even seen a foreigner, which makes it understandable but no more comfortable when they're only three or four feet away, just staring and sometimes reaching out to touch my tattoo.

I was glad to leave Shiyan.

Two Chinese students, Grayson and Pierre, one of whom (Pierre) lives in Shiyan.

A can of Pabst Blue Ribbon (~59 cents USD) in Shiyan was even cheaper than a can of Chinese beer, Tsingtao (~66 cents USD).

Railway station in Shiyan, at about five-thirty in the morning, when I first arrived on my way to Wudangshan.