Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Day 115: Pingyao to outskirts of Datong - Tue 18 Jun, 2013

Day 115: Pingyao to outskirts of Datong - Tue 18 Jun, 2013
Washed hair, consumed Western breakfast, farewelled Moka the huge Golden Retriever puppy, passed the two ladies on corner in midst of bingle between bicycle and electric bike (latter so deadly you never hear them coming), passed the ruts worn in cobblestones from carts in ancient times, under the South Gate, past the aerobics and shuttlecock in the town square in the shadow of the walls, retrieved our camper truck, made bed with clean sheets, and hung up items of laundry that were still damp (fortunately everything bar the tea towel and bathmat was clean).


Put Eagles track on high and off into the smog we went. Group decided not to drive out and back the 120kms to an underground castle after all, so headed for the Hanging Monastery outside Datong. Two traffic accidents in a row around Datong turnoff (amazing weren't more with the ducking and weaving to get onto the right lanes and exits), passed yet more coal-fired power stations churning out thick smoke. “Should we go see China Coal Museum?” I don't think so!! 

Morning tea at highway rest area surrounded by usual stalker-squawkers... then same same for lunch. No water at this stop, can't even clean windscreens. Jon and Jude scored, filling water tank from restaurant kitchen. Truck driver watered cattle in back by filling 600ml water bottle from his brake water tank and squeezing into mouths of those that could reach through side - fortunately it wasn't too much further to a large dairy farm where we hope they were headed.


Too many thirsty cows for one small water bottle

New highway all to ourselves, tolls too high for rest of traffic which travelled on national roads alongside us. Green flat valleys with little evidence of irrigation supporting extensive cropping, corn, vineyards; blocks delineated by rows of poplar trees. Thankfully haze all but disappeared, mountains most attractive rising from green fields.



Found roadside campsite on way to monastery, in field against stone wall at base of striated sedimentary rock mountains. Flock of sheep (fat ones with bulbous tails) were led along trails by more disciplined goats (Jon realised he had parked a little too close to the manure pile when the wind direction changed). 


Shy stalker-talkers

Our Garmin can't seem to locate on the micro card the stored China map or those of upcoming countries so GirlRob worked with Jude to backup then remove all maps we had downloaded and replaced with their image file containing multiple countries. It will be good to have turn-by-turn navigation once the campers separate to go in different directions post China. Also copied the video-clips cum movies of their trip to date (for inspiration with the multitude we are collecting), and the photos of us they have taken. Had demolished half bottle of rice wine by then... not too bad a drop if that’s all that’s on offer in shops...

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