Saturday, 18 May 2013

Day 84 - Kunming to Midu - Sat 18 May 2013

Day 84: Kunming to Midu - Sat 18 May 2013
Mug of tea with breakfast muesli and kiwi fruit, also filled two additional thermos mugs with tea (never any chance to boil billy at morning tea time on road). Mutterings from Phil’s camper "C'mon baby, do it for me..." – fortunately his vehicle started OK!! Then we were off to escape the capital and head for Dali (after a few double-backs to avoid low bridges!). How bizarre - people on concrete barriers of the underpasses buying second hand cars –stop in middle of traffic, take cash, hand over your keys and walk off!

We are looking for water when available – countryside has been in drought for two years, water at Minorities car park was padlocked, only trickle in rest area toilets. A line of black cars, lead covered in u-shaped arrangement of red flowers turned out to be a wedding not funeral procession. Toll booth delay whilst they rang for instructions - had to show Chinese license plate - got piece of paper stamped couple times before could go on...to be stopped almost immediately by police check. Looked at Chinese number plate then license then asked for more, Guy just continued to shrug a lack of understanding, and they finally waved him through. But rest of us got third degree, then reinforcements were called, whilst waiting for additional “toll police” a cacophony of horns started as the traffic piled up behind, went on for solid five minutes. We are becoming used to hefty tolls on highways and national roads. Police car arrived, smiles all round at sight of us, normal toll charged, and we FINALLY drove into Dinosaur World at Lufeng (baby dinosaur toilets were cutest), site of largest fossil remains in world, including humanoid. 200 full free standing skeletons and many others left in situ in massive covered quarry (shaped like dinosaur back). Weirdly, museum had a display showing how humans had evolved from dinosaurs! Whilst Chinese can’t help but theme park everything, the science was awe-inspiring.

Back on the road - cannot believe there was another man just lying/sleeping on side of road - these people so readily play with their lives. Some houses have round emblems/ totems or geometric designs eg bulls, stars. Andy says they are to bring happiness. Many houses have walls painted with murals of local attraction eg dinosaurs roaming forests, or giant mushrooms in the town specialising in multiple varieties (including a toadstool shaped factory). 


All of us now short on water, pulled into Water Station for trucks with water cooled brakes (cost Y9 per fill) but very yellow/muddy, decided no. Went to very next servo and all filled up with free clear rainwater! Roadside rest areas are amazing, this one had conference facilities, and advertised upcoming event on the multiple varieties of mushrooms! Vehicles climbed mountains, peaked just over 2400mts high. Plateau full of crops/ township, very dry - people carrying buckets of water on poles and watering plants by hand. Donkeys on narrow rim of terraced fields, agri-pets. Sun came through clouds. Clusters of grave-sites on most hills.

Found a campsite at Natural Bridge Park at Midu, with temple halfway up mountain. Some walked to nearby pool and had a swim with the fish, but GirlRob had laundry chores and had to wring out washing in barrel, and do extra hand-washing before dinner (disconcerting with people who've done this every day for centuries watching our every move so closely). Ladies at site offered their clear mountain tap water for rinsing, so of course we had to show them through camper (and another dozen who came from nowhere to join the queue). 


Following a dinner of scrambled eggs (we just love this eating main meal in middle of day at stalls, cafes or restaurants). We joined group to play "relationship trivia" game, devised by Jon and Jude, about how well we knew our partners. Marina was the winner with Mads close behind. GirlRob was a contender but lost all her points on last round as Boy Rob insisted he was a folder, not a scruncher (her cries for a demonstration and recount by the judges fell on deaf ears as the teams broke up for the night….)

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