Saturday, 11 May 2013

Day 77 - Jinghong to Jiangcheng - Sat 11 May 2013

Day 77 - Jinghong to Jiangcheng - Sat 11 May 2013
Overcast, with low fog, on road by 8.30am, decision to go via highway for first 100kms. 
At a police check were asked to "open up, see inside", but waved us on after check of number plates, registrations, passports and licences (although one didn't appreciate Mad’s iPad photo). Our five overland vehicle convoy certainly attracts interest. 

We had our first test of the time it takes at a service station for all to take turns to fuel up, fill water tanks, toilet, snacks – not bad at 45 mins. The passing views were of agriculture and plantations (including coffee and tea) interspersed with quarries, cement works etc. Pickers in action in healthy looking green fields with irrigation systems. Water appears cleaner than in rest of SEA, minimum rubbish laying around in towns and on roads. 

Melons and vegies in hothouses. Impressive power system, substations, huge hub towers, electric wires taut on cement poles. Solar panels side by side with satellite dishes on homes, some of which are modern, many more substantial wooden structures than previously. Multiple apartment blocks. Funny to see dummy police cars and officers with radar guns propped up in bushes. Turned off highway at Puen, toll fee higher than other countries to date, based on weight on weighbridge at tollbooth.

Windy road through countryside, healthy looking cows on road. Red clay brickworks, some of the rural buildings obviously built by eye than string and plumb. Picturesque emerald green or water filled rice paddies, and terraced tea plantations. Nowhere to pull off road for a country camp though, all spaces have been planted, fenced or landscaped. Squeezed as close to edge of road as possible for lunch –then found a landscaped viewpoint around the next corner – ces’t la vie!

On the road again, appeared to be in caldera with smaller fumeroles within large diameter crater. Lots of opportunity to observe geological landscapes. Discussion of Tea Route between China and Tibet, trading tea for horses… how can that be a fair trade?? Apparently it starts at Chengdu where Andy lives. Timber mills, little 2cyl small-motor diesel flywheel trucks straining uphill under rocks, sand, logs, often blowing smoke. Uh-oh, rain - have to accommodate Andy on Phil’s back seat...


Campsite on hill with village water tank, overlooking tea and banana plantations. Permission to stay from people who live here, and they all visited off and on rest of arvo. Did hand-washing, and cooked stir fry. We were invited to visit family down the hill, young man, very young wife and baby. House had ceramic tiled roof, mud shed, roofless drying bungalow, pig, dog, pups, kittens, chooks, chickens, neat woodpile, Chinese truck and taxi - substantial! 

Rain as last light faded, bought washing indoors. Cosy read, shower and bed, but no sleep until after the person who drove up and squeezed in next to us with radio blaring, walking around looking at all vehicles using iPhone as torch, had gone down the hill as well….

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