Monday, August 20, 2012

The Road to Xueshan. Day 2.

We made it by bus to Tongren (Dot Three) relatively early in the day. That's where our public transportation alternatives ended. We hitched a ride to another town (Dot Four), where we thought there was a bus or car that could take us further. The bus, and the road that the bus used, were no longer in service.

Time to improvise.

Fortunately, last night, Pierre found a map that had some important road detail, including the names of towns in Chinese. We celebrated the acquisition of the map; it seemed like something that could be really useful for a road trip. Using the map, we planned a new route to get to Xueshan and we began trying to procure a ride.

What we discovered is that maps are not universally useful. Something to consider when traveling through this part of China is that it seems that i) many people don't read Chinese, ii) many people don't speak Chinese, and iii) many people don't know what a map is.

You can look and point to places on a map all you like, but it's not going to get you anywhere if the map is nothing more than modern art to the person you are asking.

Time to be tenacious.

We (Pierre) talked to every driver who would stop, hoping that they might help us to connect the next dots. People were friendly, but those who understood where we wanted to go weren't heading in that direction. And those who seemed to be heading in our desired direction didn't seem to understand what we wanted. We kept trying.

Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Success! At last we were on the move again.

Perhaps our struggle to keep progressing toward Xueshan that has heightened my sensitivity to the beauty around me, but I feel that we are inching our way toward something truly magnificent. The population density has decreased and the landscapes are becoming increasingly beautiful. It's like someone covered the mountains entirely with green velvet. Every inch covered in green and the shades changing with the contours of the hill. If you look more closely, you can see that it is not just green, but, in fact, filled with white and purple and yellow wildflowers and, in the distance, with yaks and the occasional yurt.

A number of the roadside yurts that we passed today had pool tables outside. The tables were destroyed from the weather, but, strangely, still in use. We will probably never understand how or why the pool tables are there.

Ultimately, we made it through Dot Five and then on to Dot Six (the actual names of which I will not attempt to write). Our room for the night is on the second floor of an unmarked hotel. The room has a TV and a DD player, but no toilet. The town toilet is located about a block away from our building, just past the garbage dump. When you stare down the streets of the town, it isn't obvious that this place has a designated garbage collection area, but next to the toilet is where a lot of the garbage seems to end up. The piles of wrappers, cans, tissues and other waste have formed a colourful garden of stink through which people must walk in order to reach the toilet. And, when I say "toilet", I mean "raised concrete box in which several holes over which it is possible to squat".
Once you move past the waste management situation, the town actually has a certain charm to it. It is clear that tourists - western or Chinese - don't come through here often. We are sort of celebrities tonight.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home