Musings - Day 13
Day 13 – 8th January 2020
Firstly guys let me say thank you for all your support. The messages are great! Must say huge thank you for our friends in the USA – Eleanor, Dan, Eileen & Wayne who are messaging me through the blogs. Thanks to everyone, together we can get this thing done.
So here I am in China – fifteen minutes in the driver tells us all we need a break. Gave us time for a stroll, change some currency and have some thing to eat. All of which I did with an interesting couple named Goda (from Colombia) and Adrienne (from France) This is the couple pictured opposite me. Also at the table was Vitali from the Ukraine. (spoke very little English but seemed happy enough)
Goda and Adrienne were a couple who had been travelling together for six years after becoming an item at University. There sole purpose was to hitch hike all over the world at every opportunity, only when all else fails do they resort to public transport. They were both Vegans which I thought meant they liked Star Trek, but apparently its something to do with not eating meat or dairy. (weird concept to me, but 'lah di dah' ) Goda explained that her single mother brought her up as a child never eating anything that wasn’t organic, a kind of ethos that has been passed down. She told us the tale of when she was seven or eight she went to play at her school friends house and was invited to join their family for dinner. Unknown to her, there was meat in the meal prepared. Within a minute of eating it she became violently sick, and her whole body came out in huge hives / blotches. She explained in her really quite competent yet broken English, that she had gone into an anaphylactic shock. (which you can imagine took quite a bit of Bobby talk to arrive at that one) She was rushed to hospital, recovered, but was advised never to touch meat again because her allergic reaction. So she didn’t, and seems perfectly happy with nuts and noodles. Adrienne, I get the impression, (yes your there before me) goes along with her, seemingly to enjoy the diet. He didn’t mention it on medical grounds although he made quite a song and dance with the waitress when their noodles came in meat sauce. One thing that I didn’t mention and you may of picked it up from photo, is that Goda wears a nose ring with two ball shaped end pieces resting either side of her septum. It is so difficult when talking to someone over a meal with this kind of face furniture because you always think that they have left a piece of bean sprout without knowing. (or worse)
Back on the bus, but hold on we are in China, so you know what that means. Out with the passports, scanner and security questions. Plus annoyingly One Yuan (around £0.12p ) for a ticket to get back on the same bus you left fifty minutes ago. This security aspect, apparently is particular to the Xinjiang province of which Urumqi (pronounced “Yurumchi”) is the capital. I am led to believe that security checks and inspections become less in China after you have left the province. So we have seven more hours on the bus, to which there were three police stops and security checks, plus one passport inspection, in a holding centre, on the way. So we arrive in Urumqi greeted by a distinct lack of bells and whistles, to say the very least.
My bunk buddy and his wife said that we were meant to be dropped off at the new bus station. So we were all shocked to find that we weren’t. In fact it wasn’t even the old bus station, or come to think of it any kind of station, meeting place, bus stop or even building. It was just a side street with road works. Pitch black, six thirty in the morning with the rush hour traffic just building. It was a kind of everyman for himself. “Tally ho chaps see you back in Blighty,” sort of vibe. Bunk buddy and his wife soon jumped into a taxi, the two vegans stuck their collective thumbs in the air, whilst I am stood there wondering what the Dukes of Hazard is going on? So in times of uncertainty, rationalise, be pragmatic and find a way forward. So I did. Found myself a street corner on a busy thoroughfare and stuck my thumb out. Surprisingly and hereby hangs another tale, every single car stopped. All giving it loads of the “Ping nong ding dongs,” but weren’t happy with Bobby talk. I discovered that they have brought in a fine system (not good but penal) for people who do not car share on their commute, so they stop for everyone and anyone to get in. Each pay what their relative bus fare would have been, that way beating the system. Okay so now I understand that the Urumqi version of Bobby talk is going down like a discovered bra in a monastery, I change tack. My lodgings are booked through an app, so I reveal the app to the next driver. Result! I’m on my way. Still pitch dark, neon Chinese drawings everywhere and not a clue where Mr Din the driver is taking me. Such fun! So he had dropped me off at the hotel around twenty minutes and five miles later. Great thanks mate, how much do you want sort of thing, not knowing the protocol?
“Two one, ” he said. I thought he was giving me the Villa score.
“How mush?” (Bobby talk)
After gestures and fingers we arrived at Two Yuan (Chinese currency – about £0.25p)
Paid him, thanked him, waved at him, to then turn round and find that it is the right hotel chain but that it was the wrong hotel. This where I met Gordon, head of security at the wrong hotel. Now while trying to show Big G the right hotel on my app – the phone battery ran out. - Timing! So here I am, Big G is trying to help, I am going through my back pack like a demented swan, trying to find a one kilo battery pack to charge my phone to give back to Gordon. Find it, dropped it, hit Big G’s right foot before coming to rest on a drain cover. Thankfully the head of hotel security reached it before it fell through the slots. This was as cool as Sting. Sorted it, established the mistake and would you believe it, drove me in his own car to my actual hotel.
So I am in Urumqi, feeling reasonably impressed by the place. Much larger city than I had given it credit for and altogether clean and more modern than I had expected. Now here’s a fact (look it up if you want) Urumqi is listed in the Guinness book of records as the most remote city from any seas in the world!
This a large bridge in the centre of Urumqi. It is a testament to how well my Chinese is coming on a bundle because I think it reads, "Don't Jump"
I visited the Xinjiang Palaeozoic Park, because it was recommended by the hotel reception. It’s housed just in the North of the city, and I went because they have found many fossils of dinosaurs in this region that have had enormous impact on our understanding of such times. Built around a petrified forest and just a short bus ride from my hotel, I found it quite interesting, in a not got anything else to do kind of way. At approximately £1 for seniors (always take your bus pass where you go) I found it excellent value.
This is the Petrified forest - Well wouldn't you be?
Position: 43°79'77” N 87°61' 27”E – Miles completed: 05914
Location: Urumqi, China. 08:30 - 8th January 2020 - Journey 13 days 6 hours