Day 9 – Plant a Tree in China - 27 June 08 (19km walk)
This morning our friend Andrew, the HanYuan Hotel Assistant Manager had organised local TV coverage and a tree planting in the hotel grounds. This was great publicity for Paul’s Greening the Olympics walk and for the hotel, which is very new. The interview took place in the hotel gardens. We all took part in planting a Gingko tree (which Andrew, who at very short notice had to find a tree, had donated from his own garden) and were all filmed doing so.
Then the hotel wanted some pictures of us taken at the front of the hotel so we all lined up with the hotel owner and all the department heads – chefs, bell boys, reception staff and housekeeping etc to smile for the camera in front of the hotel. It was great…everyone was happy.
Also check out Paul Coleman’s blog about the tree planting on 27 June at http://blog.myspace.com/earthwalker_paul_coleman
Said our goodbyes to Andrew (who has become a good friend) and headed to the next town to check into a new hotel before beginning today’s walk. Had organised two taxis so travelled in a bit more comfort! The traffic jam at the start of the bridges was even worse than the day before. On our side we were five vehicles wide taking up the whole width of the road all facing the on coming traffic leaving no space for it to pass. The Chinese solution to this problem is to turn off the car and sit and wait. As soon as someone moves all the engines burst into life again and everyone vies to move into any available gap and so the problem continues. There is absolutely no logic and certainly no-one wants to be the mug who gives way. He would probably still be waiting to get back into the traffic flow the next day as no-one would let him in! Finally as we made it on to the bridge the police were turning up to try to sort out the mess. During this time I had got talking to the local powerline boys. They invited me into their van, which had great air-conditioning. The others were amazed to see me wave at them from inside another vehicle. Rode across the canal bridges with them until they stopped to pick up their fellow workers who got a shock when I jumped out of the van.
We finally arrived at our new hotel for one night which was an older government hotel on the outskirts of Tengxian. After checking out the room price on the internet and having it confirmed by reception the price suddenly went up when we went to look at the rooms. The price we are paying is not much less than the HanYuan however this hotel is very tired and quite grubby really. Having said that the service is very good and the meal we had at the end of the day was also very good.
Today’s transport options worked very smoothly and did not create any more adventure for the day. Hailed a cab and showed him a picture of where we wanted to go and were delivered directly there. At the end of the walk a taxi driver pulled up behind us and delivered us straight back to the hotel. It was all too simple!!
The walk was long and hot. We are walking due north and apart from a slight deviation to the west to cross a bridge were able to follow roads alongside the fields (only sometimes having to walk through the fields) in a direct north/south line. We have walked out of the coal mining area so did not feel as grimy as yesterday. We passed many farming communities and the few times we stopped were able to converse with the locals. As always we draw a crowd. We passed mothers with toddlers in their bottomless daks (no need for nappies in the countryside), old ladies passing the time of day sitting on the street outside their homes and many, many people working in the fields.
Finally reached the journey end for the day – the junction with the main road, which we will be walking along for the last two days of the walking part of our intrepid Chinese adventure!