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The Gamer's Guide to Hitch Hiking

Under Cover

by Justin Unrau
Jan 03,2006

 

Under Cover

This one's short and sweet for the city kids out there. The out of doors are really dark at night. If you rely on movies/TV you might expect nights to be well lit and the darkness a mere inconvenience to getting a good look at the slavering monster in the bushes. It's really much more.

Granted, when the moon is out and the sky is clear I've had many a night that would be easy to find my way home (even easier if there's snow on the ground), but that is not a given. Because people are not elves.

My city in China is on the banks of the Yangtze River. It provides a beautiful case study in how this darkness thing works because it's cloudy all the time. There's lit-up city on both banks of the river and a band of blackness running down the middle.

There's a story about how the Chinese got rid of the British navy that was patrolling this river back in the 19th century. They attacked a gunship putting a hole in the side. The ship didn't sink, but it was crippled. Eventually the crew fixed the ship and they snuck out of town back to Shanghai.

Before I got here I didn't get it. How do you sneak around in a ship on a river that you can see the other side of? That darkness covers a lot. Even today with electric lights on both sides, it doesn't come anywhere near the interior of the river. Without any lights, a ship can be very sneaky (especially if it is being taken by the current). When I watch the river at night now I can lose track of the huge coal barges who aren't even trying to sneak at all. One green light winking in the night isn't a signal flare.

Another darkness story from my travelling comes from Nepal where my buddy and I were hiking through villages in the Annapurna mountain range. When you're on the side of one mountain and look across to the other side of the valley during the day you can see small houses scattered about. At night when the clouds are right you cannot tell the difference between lights in houses and lights that are stars. It's like you are standing over the edge of the world. Or at least that's what I felt like.

Anyway, that's the thing to think about this month now that the days are getting longer again. Next month's will be a more extensive examination of Festivals.

J Unrau
Hungry J Propaganda
www.djs5.com/hjp

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