June 27th Taiyuan onwards -Simon and Susan with photos by Karen and Tim

Paul had found us a very comfortable conference centre near Taiyaun . I say near Taiyuan it took nearly three hours to get around this 6 million pop’n City and get back into our final hilly traverse towards Beijing. The hotel was set in beautiful grounds with lakes and fountains. As we buzzed around the van making final preparations we had no idea what was in store for at the end of the day. The morning started off gently -Karen got some great shots – Part of the colour coding for Chinese lorries

pink cement mixer

Then into the outskirts of Taiyuan which had a “Gothamesque” feel to it

Gotham city tower blocks

In one of the villages there was a shop selling blow up toys and bouncy castles

At lunch we have our usual official observers

 

 

Tim bravely ops for a pillion ride

Tim

Tim riding pillion

 

 

Back in the mountains for the afternoon section and a warning about rock falls.

rock fall warning

 

oh dear!

A few more villages and the bike stay in formation to deal with UBCCD

Formation flying

Comments from the cab
We left the mining villages behind, Paul confidently told us we had a mere 90 miles of easy driving up into the mountains ahead, no lorries and early supper and bed so we would be fresh for the last day.
My advanced Chinese driving test had begun!

School was out and the entire population  of the first small town  was out too on the main road on foot, bike, tribike, horse and cart, bus, lorry, school bus, tuk tuk, rickshaw, and pushchair, car and lorry. Barriers in the centre funnelled the traffic through the town but of course on both sides it flowed in either direction and  in the occasional gaps a sprinkling of policemen appeared to be stirring the melee and directing very small children into the path of the van. Keeping  up with the bikes was impossible as we were  increasingly slowed and  swamped by the mass of humanity pressing ever closer. The vast inflated yellow elephant billowing  into the middle of the town  was not helping either. Eventually a cheerful policeman pointed left and we dived thankfully up a side street. This was easy we had mastered ordinary  less dense urban driving by now, dodging  vehicles from all directions, asserting ourselves at junctions, tooting at everything that moved, veering widely to avoid potholes, sewers and suicidal dogs.
The mist clung to the steep wooded hillside as we left the town and  wound up and up on a blissfully clear road. Wonderful only 83 miles to go. we had time to notice the wild cosmos, hollyhocks and even  occasional lilies peeping out of the verges. Every terrace filled with maize. We were obviously following the route of the school bus as every few miles we saw children on the side of the road walking home in small groups. Some very,very young. Karen and I gasped as we saw a four year old helping a two year old walk along the drain inches from the van, no adult or house in sight.

Wild Cosmos

The road wound on further up, the evening light set in. Workers were now walking down the hill back to their homes some with hoes and spades, singly and in twos and threes.

In the villages small groups were sitting eating  and talking on their porches and watching the road and sometimes their children playing on it.  Apparently the one child policy is less enforced in the rural areas which is fortunate as it unclear how some make it to adult hood. Maybe, we speculate,  it’s a Spartan approach, only the ones with road sense survive thus fitting them for a lifetime of dodging traffic, because, although we have seen very  old and young women, whole families, children and men on foot and on every form of vehicle throw themselves into the path of the van, miraculously and thankfully we have yet to see anyone get hurt.

walking home

It grew darker, the road spiraled up  only 63 miles to go- we were watching the milometer like hawks we were already so tired.

Evening in the mountains

 

 

 

The light finally gave way to night and then  quite suddenly the road stopped too. In the headlights we could see only mud and in the distance the faint backlights of the bikes. Very slowly we edged forward picking out a path through the rubble  and the mud. Occasionally we  saw a stream or a precipitous fall at the side of the beam,  and occasionally the terrain opened out giving us a choice of route through the holes and  boulders the lights of the bikes like will o’wisps always ahead.  6 pairs of eyes staring ahead, two hands gripping the wheel we lurched on for 4 miles!  Mostly in second gear but dropping into first, we bottomed out several times and stalled too.

light failing

Thank goodness there was no traffic I said! Moments later  the mirrors flickered a blue flashing light! What the hell is that?
“Well” said Karen with that fantastic  calm that is no doubt what makes her a great Intensive care neonate nurse. “I don’t know but it is definitely gaining on us!”Over the next 10 minutes a police car chased us  and over took us at a breakneck 3 miles per hour- it careered crazily on for another few minutes  before turning left and drawing up outside a house. Home for supper at last?
We lumbered on and on,  more houses appeared and slowly  we saw there were other cars bumping and lurching across the muddy wastes, more houses emerged from the darkness and then we saw a great basin in the mud  filled with water. A whole family was camped out on the mound above watching and pointing as everyone  ground their way down and up the other side. Just as we  began our descent a couple of crazy dogs dived into the basin too- how we did not kill them I have no idea but I have seen more dead dogs  on the road side over the past four days than in my whole life.

Night Rider

At last some lights, we  turned left into  a garage forecourt, where did that come from and  then out again into more mud and two lorries; one stuck, one reversing into our path. But we were into true grit mode now, on we went squeezing through narrowly passing under some wires dangling across the road. the mud  also turned to grit and we got into  third gear, wow the excitement, and drove on through the outskirts of a town. The milometer said were should be there!

All headlights undipped

Then on our left we heard an enormous series of explosions, the sky filled with lights- a massive firework display!  I saw Paul’s tail lights at last  and we turned immediately left into  a hotel car park and stopped. I dimly remember a crazy hotel and a meal that featured chips baked with honey and then all my lights went out.

One thought on “June 27th Taiyuan onwards -Simon and Susan with photos by Karen and Tim

  1. Well done you lot. Just great. :-)
    We are Aussie based club in Queensland and just found your web site by good luck and are now filled with envy. We recently met a German couple in Tasmania whilst they were on that leg of their 3 year trip round the world on BMW800GSA’s!! (www.Boomer.de).

    I suppose that after your fantastic trip there has to be something else? Would take a lot to beat that one though.

    Best Wishes,

    Rob Lewis
    Founder WildGeese MC

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