Day 102: Chengdu to Wanzhou – Wed 5 Jun 2013
Day spoiled early by argument with hotel over "self-serving laundry" charges- Y50 per day! Had inedible breakfast - choice of dark, medium or light noodles with indeterminate "stuff"... or leathery fried eggs (to eat with chopsticks had to pick up whole egg and nibble inwards), washing down with insipid green tea... City Inn not recommended! Spirits rose once on the road again with clean bedding, towels and clothing, a full fridge, and rested bodies. Departed in smog and light rain (we reckoned heavy rain couldn't get through pollution layer!) Chinese drivers drive with hazard lights on in rain, most off-putting when trying to spot real hazards. Aiming for close to 400km along highway today. Met Jon and Jude along highway - they'd run into the HR manager of the panda base who ended up giving them free TShirts (jealous!) Rain abated, drive was uneventful. Had soup and crackers for lunch at road stop.
Just when we thought pollution fog might be lifting, we hit another major city, and visibility shortened once again. Passed monstrously overloaded truck. Drove through series of tunnels, longer ones full of monoxide fumes. It was actually raining IN the 5km tunnel (scary...)
Covered 475kms today - long day in saddle but good to knock over so many on the highway to our next attraction. Without the smog it would have been a pretty drive with tall white buildings on hillsides among deep green fir trees, brooks and fields below. Pulled into an amazing rest area for campsite, in addition to usual toilets and restaurant had free shower (once passport registered that is), outdoor gym, indoor lounge with free wifi and electronic charge stations. We weren’t permitted to park in concreted area at rear; it became clear why when townswomen turned up for 2hrs of nonstop outdoor aerobics dancing. Jude joined them enthusiastically whilst rest cooked, showered, wrote up journals and edited photos (with snoopy attendant looking closely over our shoulders whilst eating noodles, belching, hawking and farting...) (we may have been better off paying!) We had good reception for State of Origin (but bah humbug - a loss for the Maroons…)