Maoxian is a long, long way


1. Chengdu 12.04.10

2. Chengdu 13.04.10

3. Chengdu 14.04.10

4. Chengdu - Maoxian 15.04.10

5. Maoxian 16.04.10

6. Maoxian 17.04.10

7. Maoxian-Chengdu 18.04.10

8. Chengdu 19.04.10

9. Chengdu 20.04.10

10.Chengdu 21.04.10

11.Chengdu - Kunming 22.04.10

12.Kunming 23.04.10

13.Kunming 24.04.10

14.Kunming (Shilin) 25.04.10

15.Kunming 26.04.10

16.Kunming - Dali 27.04.10

17. Dali 28.04.10

18. Dali-Lijiang 29.04.10

19. Lijiang 30.04.10

20. Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge 01.05.10

21. Tiger Leaping Gorge - Lijiang 02.05.10

22. Lijiang-Kunming 03.05.10

23. Kunming 04.05.10

24. Kunming (West Lake Mountain) 05.05.10

25. Kunming 06.05.10

26. Chengdu 07.05.10

27. Chengdu (Airport) 08.05.10

28. Chengdu (Dujiangyan) 09.05.10

29. Chengdu (Cykelværktøj) 10.05.10

30. Chengdu - Jiuzhaigou 11.05.10

31. Jiuzhaigou 12.05.10

32. Jiuzhaigou-Songpan 13.05.10

33. Songpan-Maoxian 14.05.10

34. Maoxian 15.05.10

35. Maoxian 16.05.10

36. Maoxian (Rådhuset) 17.05.10

37. Maoxian - Chengdu 18.05.10

38. Chengdu 19.05.10

39. Chengdu-Guangyuan 20.05.10

40. Guanggyuan-Xi'an 21.05.10

41. Xi'an 22.05.10

42. Xi'an (Moskeen) 23.05.10

43. Xi'an 24.05.10

44. Xi'an - Chongqing 25.05.10

45. Chongqing 26.05.10

46. Chongqing 27.05.10

47. Chongqing-Chengdu 28.05.10

48. Chengdu-Shifang 29.05.10

49. Shifang-Anchang 30.05.10

50. Anchang-Deyang 31.05.10

51. Deyang-Chengdu 01.06.10

52. Chengdu 02.06.10

53. Chengdu - CPH 03.06.10



Letter 4

Thursday 15.04.10
I take it easy this morning. At eight I've taken a shower and am eating breakfast. They have müsli. I ask what comes with it and learn it is yogurt. The yogurt is less sour than at home, there's not much of it (it's expensive in China) and the rest is mainly fruits, but that's fine. They have these water containers with both cold and hot water, but the hot one isn't hot enough to use for making tea - I think - but I've asked for hot water and know now, that they have a big thermo at the bar (chinese sort - 2 l) where I now get water for my green tea leaves.
Then shopping. Toilet paper and a bag of the nice tea for the wife of the english teacher, if I should be invited inside. I go searching for a pocket knife too, one with opener for beer and maybe cans. The only ones I see don't have any extras. They are for young people and have to look "cool". Back at the Mix Hostel I meet Laura on her way out. Where can I get such a knife? Across the bridge on the right side, In the booths with military stuff. Definitely, she says.
I go there. The first one has ONE. Far away in the back but with only knife. She gave me the word "daozi" - just to be sure. In the next they have no knives. Then only the ones for young people, and this way it goes on and on. Give up? No, your NEVER know. I walk across the next street and - bingo, there it is beneath the glass. Green with opener for beers and cans - and flashlight too. She wants 50 RMB. I think it's hard to get the blade unfolded, she's almost ruining her nails trying... "Wu shi kuai, tai gui" - fifty is too much, a very useful chinese phrase. What about 40 then? And I take it for that. That's probably too much, but it satisfy my needs.
I go back and pack, it's going to take some time before I learn how to pack in the easiest way. I finish. Check out and luckily there is a vacant computer and I can send letter 3. Then off for the bus. First one to the train station. From there I can take both 523 and 86, they say in the reception. Is it to the left or to the right at the station? The right. Two years ago it was 1 RMB for the bus. Now it's 1 or 2 depending on if it's a bus with aircon or not. Mine has. I get off when I see the station ahead of me and cross under the street to the other side. I catch a glimpse of a 86 at full speed in the right direction. Find the bus station to the right from the train station, there is no 86. I walk to a normal busstop. 86 doesn't stop there. Damn. I walk to the left from the train station in stead, it looks as if some busses are waiting there. One of them happens to be a 153. I enter and hope for the best. It takes a long time before it leaves. Other people enters with lots of luggage (chinese style) and
that comforts me.
Shortly after it turns right, that may be right - but when it turns right again it worries me. But I lean back and let faith decide. At the next crossing the bus makes a u-turn - and we're back on the track. I stop counting the stops, because the driver just stop if someone's getting on or off. My "Cha dian" has turned into "Cha dian zi" in the ticket collectors mouth and at some moment she tells me it's the next stop. I get off even I see that it's not EXACTLY here. On the stop it says "Cha dian zi" and something more. There are some scooter taxis and I've already seen them as a way out. After some discussion with people at a shop someone is capable of saying: "Five" to get there, so it can't be far, and it isn't. I recognize the surroundings shortly after. But I'm pleased to pay 4 to avoid walking there. I've turned a bit indolent - it's quite a difference with the luggage on your back and not on the bike.
I head directly at the info counter. The one today speaks even more english words than the last one. There is no bus for Maoxian today. I can get to Wenchuan. They're constructing the road. In Wenchuan I will have to get on a "little bus. Many people go to Maoxian today", she says. So there will (probably) be no problem getting there?
I buy the ticket for Wenchuan and enter the waiting hall. There is actually a bus with a sign saying: Maoxian, so... But my ticket says 14.00 so... A little later the bus leaves for Maoxian or where ever it goes. It's 13.00, so maybe there is one each hour?
I eat, write my diary (by hand) and wait. 13.46 a bus rolls on and half the waiting hall (so it seems) gets up. I can't see the sign. I show my ticket to my neighbor who is also getting up. Yes, that's the one. When I get out there there's a sign in the front saying: Wenchuan. The luggage compartments are filled already so I and a couple more have to bring our luggage into the bus and stow it in the passage. I get a seat at the window that a man had hoped to keep for himself to get a sleep. Anyway he sleeps the moment the bus leaves. Before we leave I draw a lot of attention - it's not every day a foreigner is on his way to Wenchuan. But noone speaks any english besides "Hello", and just ONE is that capable. So I shake his hand. I understand when they ask for my name, so they get it. And "dan mai", meaning Denmark, I can say too. As soon as we leave the bus is quiet, most people are sleeping. We go by the expressway, that's fine, so soon after the city turns into countryside
and we're on our way to Dujiangyan. It's about 60 km. I take a picture of some of the sleeping people, so my "hello-friend" wants me to take one of him too, so I do. So he brings up his mobile and takes two of me.
Within long we get to Dujinagyan and the mountains rise and the road divides. Straight for Yingxiu, right for Wenchuan. I'm confused, I thought them both to be on the road no. 213. Anyway we turn right and a sign tells 77 km at Wenchuan. Well, later comes a sign showing both Yingxiu and Wenchuan.

We go on on the new part of the expressway. The part that was almost finished when the earthquake started - and had a one year set back. Now it's finished I've read in Peoples Daily at the internet. We pass a tunnel of 4-5 km and leave just above the Zipingpu dam. This is where I zig zag'ed on my bike up the mountain to go through a tunnel and go down again. Now we just pass through a smaller tunnel and come out where the expressway ends. Then through a tunnel with only one tube free - there's construction, the dust is thick inside. A lot of spots the consequences from the earthquake can still be seen. The mountains are litterally split sometimes. With fences and nets they try to "keep the mountain at ease" and protect the road from new landslides. There are also "rock-catchers", to pick up falling rocks. some of them are full and stretched to the limit. Everywhere workers do everything from planting trees (not many) to weld the long cylinder gratings that will turn into
long concrete legs balancing the future motorway across the river.

The scars from the earthquake can still be seen on the mountain sides   A heavy discusssion in Wenchuan

Then the traffic stops. The driver turns off the engine. After some time the oncoming traffic comes rolling. There is apparently just one lane here. People go outside to smoke and to spit or blow their nose, everyone is calm. It's no surprise it seems. We stop for how long? It takes some time before I start counting. About half an hour is my guess.
In the end we're the ones to move and on it goes towards Wenchuan. We're hopefully passed the worst part, cause it's less than 50 km left andd in a minibus?
We arrive and get out. I'm quickly made member of a group all going to Maoxian. Some vans are waiting. People in some of them. There is a loud discussion, that kind where people shout. After some time a lady wants me to join one of the minivans. nothing else seems to be happening. So I go and ask the prize? 90! I gape. It was 40 RMB to get to Wenchuan. I'm convinced they want me to pay for the whole van. No, those inside have paid 100. I write down 50 in the dust at the bumper. No way. Then what is her offer? She's not negotiating, it's a fixed prize. I reconsider paying. I have to get there. I put in my backpack and enter. There's still room for two more so we cannot go yet. And this way time passes. At one moment I'm switched to another car. In the end they find one more and we start moving. Slowly. Soon after we stop and the driver turns around. It's a question of logistics, I think. How to have the most cars to leave in the shortest time. There is some kind of cooperation
between the drivers. After some more waiting we leave in the end. It's now 17.50. We only get to the point north of town where the road crosses the river and meets with the other road going north. The traffic is jamming the usual chinese way. Nobody can go anywhere. We wait for 10 min. Then we're ordered to take our luggage and walk on passed the traffic jam. There we meet with a minibus on it's way to Wenchuan to pick up more passengers. It must belong to the same group and this way we go on. The road - or the missing road is terrible. It's like the road to Houzhou two years ago, which faithfull readers might remember - only worse.
Our new driver look like Will Smith with glasses. He drives like hell. We jumping like rabbits in the car. It's really insane. The road gets worse and worse andd Will Smith is shouting in his mobile most of the time. While he honks the horn and blinks the light constantly and stays on the road. At some time it's totally blocked by some workers and a sign. I use this opportunity to cross some piles of earth and rocks to pee. You never know when you get there. A truck is delivering gravel and a bulldozer ready to level the surface. There is the sound of explosions. I don't know if they're connected. but soon after we go on. I'm beginning to understand the prize. First I thought it rude that a few people were allowed to exploit the poor passengers, but with a driving like this such car won't last long, so it all makes sense. We change car once more and in the end it gets dark. We have passed through one villages after the other I don't seem to remember. I'm searching for something wellknown
The landscape is bare. Where is all the green? Is it just because I'm here one month early?
In the end I see the gasstation in the light from the headlights! It's on the right side of the road, but there is one small extra building. Right where I and some others stood waiting for a couple of hours. It has been used while the main building have been reconstructed. Maybe it's not finished yet? We're supposed to go left and cross the river to the left soon? But where were the trees on the slope, that I ran down to save my life? Is it all gone - or is it just the darkness and the tinted windows of the car? Anyway we go left andd the bridge is there. Much longer than I remembered. We're in Maoxian. In the dark it's hard to recognize much, but we reach the point where the other bridge crosses the river again to the right. We go left towards Songpan, so we'll go behind the school. I see the new school but I can't catch much, it goes too fast. We stop and someone gets off. "Lüguan?" I try. He points ahead. We reach "my" mainstreet and stop. They point to a neon sign. It might be the hotel
where the other foreigners stayed - or where they stayed outside - to put it right.
They speak no english but after a scene with bashfull giggling, which I've encountered before, I end up in the (in my view) presidential suite for 160 RMB. I also havee two dishes to my room and a bowl of rice that could serve a chinese family for a week. And a beer. We're talking about a meal around 40 where half of it would havee been sufficient.
There is an electrical kettle and TEABAGS. So I use my own leaves.

We walk past a traffic jam to a new minibus   The road is temporaryly blocked


There's no CCTV9, the english spoken channel but everything else. On CCTV4 they show something from the earthquake in Qinghai. The usual horrible pictures.
I'm sitting writing till about 00.30 after I've eaten. When was I here? I think it was 20.30?
I manage the aircon, it can also heat and it was cold here.
Now I'm going to bed. A surprising day. Maoxian has been left behind regarding roads it seems. No, maybe it couldn't be done in any other way. But the entire distance from Wenchuan was one never ending construction site. And it's not possible to finish the surface before bridges and all kinds of support is finished? I actually think the plan is to let the expressway go on all the way to Maoxian? You have to go through bad times before....