Earthquakes, congratulations and get well soon
I had wanted to include the blog that I had written on the laptop, but nothing is simple in China and USB keys are yet again not allowed in this internet cafe. So, I will have to wrack my brain for the last few days' events. This also means that no more photos for the time being and we have lots of wicked ones to add. We are both slightly frustrated by the communication issues here.
Anyway, very boring first para. I last wrote a quick blog in Pingu the penguin and we are currently in Lanzhou. From here we head west towards Kazakhstan and are just over half through our China mission. Overall on our trip we have covered about 4000 miles and have another 8000 miles to go.
The last week has been filled with lots of driving, but overall the road conditions are improving. The stretches of pure unadulterated tarmac continue for longer, although our average speed is still averaging 30km/hour. When we get the chance to drive over 30mph it feels like TT is taking off, which is very strange.
TT is behaving herself, but has developed a few little sounds e.g. whistles, squeeks and groans. I interpret these as a form of communication and I think she is trying to sound like all the other Chinese vehicles. She had a good service and several mechanics have checked her over and assured us she is fine.
Even though we have been driving long hours, the scenery more than makes up for it. By taking the scenic route we are seeing parts of China that most tourists don't get to experience and appreciate. Therefore, our experiences in China are filled with beautiful mountains, landscapes and local people rather than the more conventioanl tourist sites e.g. the Terracotta army. I think the locals find us as intriguing as we find them. Luckily for me it is not rude to stare in China, so I can be really nosey without being accused of impoliteness.
The highlights of the last few days include being stranded by an earthquake. We had been on the road for a good 10 hours and were within easy striking distance of our next town. Ants and I were both experiencing our silly hour and as Ants mentioned I was singing 'Nee Hao' to every living creature that we passed. I think the combination of this and two foreign girls in a bright pink tuktuk was too much to take in and many jaws hit the floor. We passed through a town and I continued howling at crowds of locals, only to exit the town and to be blocked by a landslide. Apparently an earthquake had caused a landslide which had blocked our path. There was no escape and the locals all gathered around and had a good look. I was slightly embarrassed that I would have to look people in the eye after singing to them. The only option was to sit it out and spend the night on the road. It was getting dark and we couldn't reach the town we had left from that morning. Besides, to get to our intended town (for that night) going back the way we came would have taken another day and was over 300km. It would have been like driving 3 and 3/4 sides of a square. Before bed we went and met the local youths and enjoyed beer and karaoke with them. I agreed to do karaoke and was hoping for a Chinese song to sing Nee Hao to. Unfortunately they found me a famous Chinese love song sung in English which I had never heard before. I stood there like a total lemon, bum bag strapped to my waist and tried to sing the chorus. Amusing and confusing for everyone there, horrible humiliating for me.
Bed for the night was the back of TT for me and the pavement for Mr Ant. I got restless legs which totally did my head in, before tossing and turning all night. Mr Ant was in a deep sleep but was awoken at 4am by one of the guys we had met at karaoke- he rapped on her head hard and then blabbered some chinese nonsense to her. I found this highly amusing in the morning and Ants also managed to see the funny side. They used some sticks of dynamite to dislodge some more rocks and a digger cleared away the tonnes of debris on the road. At midday we were on our way.
the last two days involved more driving through alternating rugged, barren mountains and green lush mountains. We passed villages where people still lived in basic mud huts and were lucky enough to drive into an amazing sunset.
I would like to say a big congratulations to my brother on getting a 2.1 in his media degree (he is the future Nick Broomfield) and get well soon to my darling ferret Shrimp, who had a growth removed from his fat tummy.
Until we reach the internet again.........xoxoxo (Jo)