I eat mysli in "Emmas Kitchen" 6.30 am., I`ve ordered the night before. The yougurt doesn`t look like the usual one. I ask if one can get yougurt in the shops here? No, it`s from "The Grasslands". It`s yakyoug. Mnn. The real stuff.
Where was she when the earthquake started? In the restaurant. They had all out in the street in a hurry, some had to leave the internet all in a rush. Then they stood there in the middle of the street and felt safe, as there were no tall buildings around, and nothing was destroyed in Songpan. The bottles in the fridge were klinging violently and the bottles in the bar, but they did not fall down. But afterwards they slept outside for a long time except those in wooden houses.
We`re going with different busses, the german and I, there is a special one for Maoxian. So I find his bus and we say goodbye - maybe we`ll meet again in Chengdu?
The bus leaves, the driver hasn`t closed the door, it`s cold and I`m sitting in front, but he will hopefully close it when we`re out of the city after having picked up people. They show no ticket and don`t pay when they enter. I wonder how it works?
We go to the southern part of the town and turns around at a gas station. Then we go back. Why is that? Back at the bus station more get on and we leave again.
Two more enters with big packages - and eventually - the door is closed. Now it`s serious.
The valley is quite wide, around 300 m and the road is not so bad as I feared. Somewhere there`re blooming peach trees.
Aha. It`s cash when you get out - no ticket. He get use of the stop to pass through the bus and collect money. The door needs an arm and a leg to open - there`s often an explanation.
Then he turns the bus around and goes back for the second time. It`s not so popular it seems.
It`s 7.55 am., the children are on their way to school and we`re back where we started - in the busstation.
Some rushes out and while the driver turns around they rush back with some more I think. It was apparently a minibus that had given up getting more passengers.
NOW we`re really moving. A violent thunderstorm has made the Min rivers waters brown. The sheltered yard in the hostel was declining and all the water gathered in our end. If there had been more the water would have ran into the rooms.
The thunderstorm hasn`t improved the road. From time to time the bus
sails across the mud, but we get through. The valley widens and narrows
like after a scheme, we`re at 2800 m, from time to time there are fields.
We arrive at a town I, from the map, take to be Anhang. We`ve done one fifth of the road and it`s 8.45 am. So we`ll make it in 5 hours?
We make a stop and get some bags on board. Right through the drivers window.
From time to time we encounter men with red and green flags. Just now we`re waiting for a big cortege to pass.
A turned over truck in a village tells its tale. We have two high loaded ones ahead of us. That close to the river they don`t seem to like moving a lot. We can`t see what`s happening until the front truck appears in the line of sight just as it slides against the river - but it manages - and slides back.
We do move forward, for a distance where the new road is being constructed on the other side of the river, the old road is intact - but for too short unfortunately.
The road is blocked by a pile of rocks, but a machine is loading them to a truck - that`s what we`re waiting for.
We`ve just come up to a bigger bus, it`s obvious that it`s difficulties with this road.
Two westeners on bicycles are on their way up north. We meet them in some part with hard surface. The dirt and the hardship is painted in their faces.
At 11.30 am. There`s a stop for toilet. The bus with the german is there with a breakdown, I don`t know what`s the matter. He says, they expect to arrive at Chengdu at 9 pm. We`re leaving soon - the driver is one hour late.
The number of oncoming cars dies. There shouldn`t be any. Those we`ve met must be those that didn`t make it all the way yesterday.
The Min river, whose from time to time very swirling waters we`ve followed all day is stopped by a dam somewhere ahead.
Here they drill tunnels and construct bridges for the new road.
The last 36 km (or is it 56) seems to be on the old road. What I didn`t know was, that it inclines, up across a smaller mountain. The new road has to be drilled through, I think. We`ve been up to 23-2400 m, now switchbacks lead us back down to the river. We have to cross to the other side for the last 22 km - that much I know.
I think I was lucky never to get this far last time on bike. All this cannot be seen from the map. But I think I`ve read about it. It appeared as much closer to Songpan.
Then there is one ore break - the bus needs a wash. Maybe the road then will be ok for the rest of the distance?
At 1 pm. We leave, it was just a quarter of an hour.
We`re declining, they`re constructing the new road down deep under by the river. But when we come down there, nothing`s finished, but the bus is clean - as long as long as it takes.
The road is moving from one side of the river to the other, that cannot be seen in the map either.
We`ve stopped. Some machine is going to clear our way.
In the end we arrive at the "right" bridge to the other side, 28 km to go, 22 according to the map. And then we stop again. It`s 2 o`clock pm.
We move on quite fast but at 3 pm. the traffic comes to an end. It only takes 10 min`s then we`re rolling again - for some 100 meters? No it`s serious.
After a couple of more stops we pass Maoxian International Hotel which lies some km north of town, and at 4.05 p.m. We stop at the bus station in Maoxian. I know exactly where I`m going: WestQiang Homeland Hotel. It`ll cost me 160 RMB a night, but it`s worth it. The girl in the reception recognizes me, I don`t have to show my passport. I try to ask for a cheaper room, but I don`t understand the answer. The room is heaven compared to last night.