Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Road Trip II

So, I've been incommunicado for a few days - not through choice, just too busy to grab 2 hours to check emails, update the blog.

I'm in Guilin and writing this from a windowless, underground internet cafe with literally hundreds of chongs in here 'gaming' - all of them. It's an amazing sight.

Back a bit though. Duncan woke up on Monday and suggested we hire the car again to go to Huizhou and then on to Longchuan. Genius idea! Saves me doing an almost pointless return trip to Huizhou to hand over the photos to the priest and I get their company for another day. So, we went back to the church, met the minister again and presented the past pastor So Kum Young with a high res glossy paper pic of the famous waichow photo (see mwadui.com) as well as a pic of me and grandad (on this site) and also one that we took when we went to see him originally. Tim, Alison, if you make it to Huizhou, see if he's still got them - we wrote inscriptions/explanations on the back.

Then it's through all these tiny little back town villages to get onto the 'coastal' road alongside the east river. We travel through tiny town after town before reaching the end of the road and having to cross by ferry. Woolwich ferry it ain't! 3 cars max and on the other side at Guan Yam Kok (how it sounds, not how it's spelt!) is a buddhist temple (well 3 small ones) that Chan Chak prayed in apparently. This was one of their stopping places for the night. Getting the ferry was great - a real crude affair (basically they just ram the bank and drop the gangplank!) and it was the closest I was going to get to a boat up this river. It's exactly how grandad describes it - very wide (up to 500m at parts) shallow (with sand banks everywhere) and slowly meandering - no wonder they were going so slow in a boat loaded to the hilt with men and stores and going up river on a coal engine...

One weird thing happened on the way - we're stuch in traffic in one of the towns and at 14.28, exactly a week after the earthquake there's a three minutes silence, except it's not silent, it's noisy - every one is blaring their horns - bells on bikes, scooters the lot. The people were silent, the atmosphere wasn't - kinda strange and didn't feel particularly respectful to me to be honest, but hey, that's their way.

Another thing that made me laugh was the local motorbike taxi drivers. So the weather's grotty - drizzly rain all day and they've got these giant purple ponchos that they don- complete with clear front so they can drape it over their lights and handlebars at the front and the lights shine through and then they attach a rainbow coloured golf umbrella to the front of the bike, but it's not a normal circular umbrella, it's got a tail to shield the passenger. Then put this dude in motion, with miners helmet (that's their crash helmet's here) to top it all off and I felt like penelope pitstop was going to whizz past at any minute. It properly looked like something out of the whacky racers.

Time is our enemy again and we only make it to the half way city of Hengyang before night falls. We grab quick noodles here and then start back on the freeway - one guy pulled out infront of us which was near suicide, no lights, no indicators, nonchalantly as you like and no apologies after our driver had to screech to a halt.

2 hours has flown by again, and lots more to update you on, but not enough time as usual. I'll try and get on again tomorrow.

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