Day 97: Lugu Lake to Xichang - Fri 31 May
One month left in China. Andy with us leading, all reluctantly saying goodbye to our paradise camping spot by lake. Passed quaint villages, people in colourful traditional clothing gathering for Children's Day parade through town, dressed and made-up for a performance.
Followed babbling brook through gorges, narrow roads. Donkey caravan as well as usual goat herds on road, well-used but in poor condition. Bridges, waterfalls, washaways - huge boulders fallen from rock face into stream. Open-ended duct over road directing water into gorge. Delayed by road clearing caterpillar trucks for 20 mins, so made it morning tea stop. Talked to South Korean helicopter pilot who was in China for 8 months to put out forest fires - told him about similar exchange Elvis program in Oz. He admired our convoy and said we would have no problem driving through North Korea (really????) Many small hydropower stations along river, sometimes dammed high, sometimes a trickle. Addits/ tunnels on side of hill - maybe bringing/diverting water into bigger river. Huge silt/ gravel deposits in river, using to build walls to divert water to one side of bed, and use other bed for small crops. Saw coal seam, and mining operations.
The river turned to the north but we continued east on appalling roads, dustier than ever. Town of Meyiu - horse and rough carts carrying passengers (local version of tuk-tuks). First 6 hours we only averaged 29kph!!! Thankfully road improved after Yan Yuan, but there was a steadily increasing rattle/noise from underneath our truck. Lunch beside river, looked at shockies/ springs but couldn’t see anything. Apiaries/bee keepers in mobile tents every few kilometres on switchbacks/ downward side of mountain road. Finally down mountains to face industrialised city, bypassed Xichang as turned onto tollway north and into a raging dust storm.
Weary after 9 hours on road, stopped at first fuel stop/rest area. Uh-oh, discovered source of noise – our 2nd fuel tank had dropped below skirt of vehicle, sheared bolts and broken bracket (sound familiar John and Ann???). Bush mechanic conference and offer of longer bolts, then BoyRob diverted half fuel into main tank, jacked up spare tank and put it back in place so we can continue our trip tomorrow - phew!! We ate in the diner - catfish, rice and veggies (fish better than expected) Dust storm worsened, all vehicles parked close together between buildings to reduce the effects of the wind and called it a night.