Sunday, 14 November 2010

Yuxi - And the place names keep on gettng weirder!

We’ve really broken the back of the driving in China now, we’re on the home stretch leading towards the Laos border. The pace is slowing and todays drive is only around 400km, practically a free day compared to the long hauls we’ve done in the past.

It’s a late start and after loading the car up with fresh fruit we hit the highway. The road climbs into the mountains and keeps on climbing for the duration of the drive….I find myself saying it every day, but the scenary is awesome. Serena explains that this area has some of the most picturesque driving in the whole of China.

The roads really are very impressive. This region of China is covered with mountains, to save drivers having to constantly ascend and descend them, the Chinese have used countless bridges and tunnels to cut through terrain and connect mountains, making for an easy drive in spectacular surroundings.

350km down, we’re nearly there….As we make our way up one snaking mountain pass, I spot a queue of trucks ahead of us. A traffic jam? But we’re in the middle of nowhere…The drivers of the parked vehicles are milling about the road looking very bored.

We slow up a little but continue toward the summit. A little further up I spot some blue lights and something blocking the road. Its an accident, and a bad one. Serena asks one of the drivers whats happened - A heavy lorry descending the hill had brake failure, the driver lost control, hit the crash barrier and flipped the truck on its side, its now blocking the entire carriageway. Sadly we’re told one man has no head, one has no legs and one has no face….This is definitely no place to need medical assistance, the guy with no head probably had the better deal.

We park up and prepare for what could be a very long wait..I can’t imagine how they’re going to move the smashed truck, we’re miles from a major town and halfway up a mountain. There doesn’t seem to be any signs of anyone moving anything yet. Its getting cold, cloud starts to roll down from the mountain tops and the light begins to fade.

One of the truck drivers explains that there’s another route to our destination, the old and now very dodgy single track mountain road on the other side of the valley….We decide its worth a shot and motor back down to the entrance. Here we meet a truck driver who reckons we have practically no chance of making it through the mud and rocks in our car. We turn back and return to our original place in the queue of trucks.

Fortunately Serena has a plan, she reckons it’s a great opportunity for us to learn how to play Chinese poker. The next three hours are spent in a make shift camp in the middle of the road - Cards for entertainment, petrol cooker for heat and a head torch for light. Its ironic that one of our funniest evenings was the result of such tragic circumstances…

11pm - We get word that they’ve shifted the wrecked truck . The queuing traffic starts to crawl up the mountain. We file past a blood stained sheet loosely covering a body at the side of the road and continue to our destination….

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