June 10: All the “i”s have been dotted, Ts crossed. The proper stamps are in place and we were able to leave the port on June 8. Here we are lined up to leave, Stewball’s last, I wonder why?? Something special about his engine?
We have our driver’s licenses, but I must add, there was a glitch in Ed getting his. More on that later. Stewball has his car tag displayed in the front window and I even have my first flower in my bud vase!
All this did take until 4:30 on June 8 and you will see why I am behind in these blogs. Doug had to modify our route and distance since there was no way we could make Datong. Jack needs to drive 50 miles per hour to break in his engine and adding the miles from the port to Beijing on the already 261 miles from Beijing to Datong, we couldn’t make it. So, Plan B went into effect. Only problem, well, one of the problems is many of the highways are used at night by all the truck traffic. Now this is another one of those contrasts in China. We see mostly new cars and mostly old trucks-overloaded and straining. They break down regularly, blocking lanes. So as the evening wore on, it was us and more trucks than I have even seen on highways in the US. Bumper to bumper and going somewhere very slowly. I have never encounter such traffic jams. I don’t have photos but this is a must see, so sometime I will get some and post them. I didn’t get any for two reasons, it was clear that we were not getting into any hotel until well after dark and so I was driving. Long story short, we finally reached our modified destination at 1:30 a.m. Now those who know us this is not a good thing. We don’t do night. I can’t begin to explain the exhaustion. But the other side was we needed to be up and on the road at 9:00 since we now had a second long day to drive to get us back on schedule.
Here we are at Hotel Xuan Hua pretending we are rested, ready to start the day. Don’t be fooled. If you click and enlarge this picture you will see we were starting out with 4 1/2 hours of sleep. This was just a photo opt!
Now let me say, we are really enjoying the Chinese. They are most friendly, and curious about our cars. Every stop they appear from nowhere, gather around and start taking. It doesn’t seem to matter that we have no common language, they are great at gesturing, signing and nodding. They laugh when Ed shows them the engine in the rear. Air cooled Beetles seem to be most unusual here. But here are some more contrasts we have noticed.
We drove on a new highway. China seems to have construction everywhere. Housing, buildings and roads. As we traveled along on this nearly deserted highway (it wasn’t even in our GPS) we were quickly passed by a 700 series BMW, then looked to the right to see a farmer walking behind his mule plowing his field with a hand plow. These rural antiquated scenes are everywhere. China seems to have one foot firmly planted in their 2000 year old past and the other scrambling to catch up and pass the present.
There is so much more to tell, like city driving. This would take an entire blog, but picture dodging the bicycles, electric scooters and pedestrians who haven’t heard of rules of the road. They come at you from all directions. As a driver it is a challenge to avoid them all, especially at night, entering a city.
We will see what todays drive to Xian.