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Browsing Archive: September, 2011

Day 26, 27 and 28 in China (and the road out)

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
We had only two nights left in China now, and drove from our last Chinese campsite to the town of Jinghe – only to realise that tomorrow Jinghe would host the Xinjiang Olympics and every hotel was booked out. Cracking. To make matters worse, we’d left Joe waiting in the car whilst Yingchu and I did the run around trying to find a room for the night, and when we returned, defeated,...
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Day 25 in China, DaBanCheng takes the cake for the WORST toilet in China.

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
Maybe you don’t want to read about this, but it wouldn’t be a fair representation of China if I didn’t tell you about the sights which have scarred me permanently – the loos. This one was unbelievable. We stopped for lunch, and needed to pee, and were directed over the road, through a courtyard where the stench from a mud hut in the corner indicated that maybe that’s where t...
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Day 24 in China - I never thought I’d see you again… MONKEY MAGIC

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
On our way to Turpan we stop at a place called the Flaming Mountains. Turpan is famous for being China’s oven (no, not armpit) as the temperature soars to over 50 degrees here in summer, and the heat, apparently, is at its most palpable on the face of the ‘Flaming Mountains’; spectacular with their deep red and orange hues.

Thinking that’s all there is to it, we take a few...


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Days 22 & 23 in China, Sand Dunes and STILL no flat tyres…

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
A day of rest is just what the doctor ordered and we spend it lounging around in hammocks in the hostel’s massive garden, before climbing up the massive sand dunes to watch the sunset.

Remember the guys in the Range Rover Sport? Our guide decides to take a day trip with them (I politely decline as I want to do our laundry and not die at the hands of some maniac rich kid in an ov...


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Day 21 in China – A stiff talking to at The Great Wall.

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
I wake up to the sound of soldiers running past the car, and an hour later when we’re up having breakfast, up drives a green truck full of soldiers keen to inspect our cameras. I nearly have a nervous breakdown…I know Joe took a photo of the military base on his camera from up above to try and see what it was, and I don’t want them to take his camera away so I give them mine ins...
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Day 20 in China, Camping under the Great Wall

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
We’ve only a week to go now, and still some big distances to make up. There are also still some awesome sights on our itinerary, not least the Great Wall pass.

We eat at another Muslim restaurant where the owner has a soft dark face and the most amazing hazel eyes. He’s beside himself when he realises we’ve driven Bob all the way from Australia. He even scoots off on his mot...


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Day 19 in China. 'When do you think we'll first see snow?'

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
After gorging ourselves on a dumpling breakfast, we (reluctantly) leave Jeannie and James at the Xining long distance bus station, and head back to the expressway, keen to make up some lost distance. We have one ‘spare’ day in our itinerary, and we both want to make sure we don’t use it up driving! 

It’s been awesome having two more friends in the car for a couple of days, an...


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Day 18 China - Qinghai Lake, Kumbum Monestary, Xining

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,
I don’t so much wake up as become conscious of how much agony I am in. It’s hard to know whether it’s the Baijo (rice wine) or the scrunched up position I adopted in order to wedge my frozen numb limbs into any warm crevice on Joes body. Last night was the coldest i have ever been. Ever. There’s no way we’re going to be able to sleep in the roof tent when the temperature dro...
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Days 15, 16, & 17 Terracotta Warriors to Qinghai Lake

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,

The next couple of days get us covering some distance west, from the Terracotta Warriors near Xi'an, to a campsite next to a disused rubbish disposal area, to Pingliang, Lanzou, Xining and Qinghaihu Lake at 3700m altitude.

Our fridge dies, we run out anything and everything you can use to power a camping stove and we come across more towns where finding accomodation for 'aliens' as w...


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Day 14 in China. Xi'an. Crime Day.

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, September 29, 2011,

Everyone knows that the last place you want to be in China is in the back of a police car on your way to the station. You’ll be glad to know that we hadn’t done anything illegal, but having right on your side isn’t that much comfort when you’ve just been robbed.

It was still raining in the morning when Joe ran out to the car to get some of the emergency instant coffee we...


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Day 13 in China, Camping in the farmlands on the road to Xi'an

Posted by Penny Young on Tuesday, September 27, 2011,
The same Chinese lady and her husband walk back early the next morning, and have a good laugh at Joe and I as we sit outside the car drinking our morning coffee, looking out over the valley of cornfields. She has a five minute conversation with us (which we don’t understand) about how her son owns the big house on the hill, and she’s going over there to pick peanuts, she also says t...
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Day 11 & 12 in China, Chengdu, Panda Massage and Guangyuan

Posted by Penny Young on Tuesday, September 27, 2011,
We’re up early the next day to get to the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Centre. You have to get there early before the Pandas get too hot and have to retire to their air conditioned lounging rooms. (What they do in there is top secret Panda business).

They are awfully cute, and pull a ridiculous crowd to watch them munch bamboo for half an hour, camouflaged in their enormous enclo...


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Day 10 in China; Giant Buddha, Hotpot and whatever that Sichuan Opera was about.

Posted by Penny Young on Tuesday, September 27, 2011,
Our Chinglish itinerary had once again blown us away with excitement, describing the scale of the Giant Buddha at Leshan as so massive you can have a picnic on his toenail! True, at 71 metres, it was the biggest stone Buddha I’d ever seen, apparently carved by monks eons ago, but since I’ve never been a fan of food and toenails (you know, together), we settled for a walk up and do...
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Day 9 in China, Rice Wine and Beer do not maketh for optimal driving conditions.

Posted by Penny Young on Tuesday, September 27, 2011,
I woke up feeling peachy and bounded down the road for some hand-pulled beef noodles with Our guide whilst Joe stayed in the hotel to exorcise some of last nights demons (all over himself in the shower, in fact). By 12 noon, checkout time, he was still green faced and moaning and not even a coca-cola had passed his lips, but we had to get moving.

You’re going to hate me for sayin...


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Day 8 in China, How do you say ‘I need a new oil filter’ in Chinese?

Posted by Penny Young on Tuesday, September 27, 2011,

What I love about this trip is how delightfully random some of our days turn out to be. I’m fairly sure most tourists don’t spend their holidays looking round the outer suburbs of a stopover town for a new oil filter – and trust me, its not that bit that’s actually fun – but the situations you end up in and the nature of people you meet as they try and help you - its alway...


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Days 6 & 7 in China, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang, Kunmin

Posted by Penny Young on Tuesday, September 27, 2011,
Tourism might be a relatively new concept for the Chinese, but places like Tiger Leaping Gorge are booming with the screeching song of tour guide microphones and flattening everything in sight to make enough room in their carparks for the hundreds of gawdy bright luxury coaches and their pilgrims.

As usual, we were late getting started and so only got a couple of hours hiking in, e...


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Day 5 in China - Dali and some general steam about driving in China.

Posted by Penny Young on Tuesday, September 27, 2011,
We knew when we signed up for China that the driving schedule was going to be ridiculous – but even at day 5 we were already starting to feel jaded, mostly by the shape of our arses in the face of having done nothing but sit in the car all day and eat dumplings. But it wasn’t just that the days were long and the distances huge; the driving was ludicrously stressful.

I’m temp...


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How's BOB Doing?

Posted by Joseph Ferrar on Sunday, September 25, 2011,

Yesterday we booked BOB in for his next service in Almaty. It's long overdue – the previous service was 8,000km ago in Vientiane. Not ideal but the distance vs. time equation in China really didn't leave much room for a stop! Arranging this service prompted me to recall what maintenance we've had to perform on BOB so far. Before setting off we had set aside a decent budget for repairs and I was fully expecting various problems along the way. Suprisingly to date, this has not been the case. ...


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Day 4 in China, Dam campsite to Dali, and the worst toilet ever

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, September 24, 2011,
You are never alone in China, I realised this as soon as we started driving. There are just so many people. Everywhere. Even on a long stretch of expressway, there’s always life in eyeshot – whether its a scattering of brick huts near a cornfield, or some guy who’s jumped the barrier to take his goats for a walk.

Perhaps I am more aware of it because I come from a country th...


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Day 3 in China, Pu’er to Nanjin and some hard-core road dancin'

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, September 24, 2011,
Oh how we laughed at our chinglish itinerary euphemising today’s driving as ‘dancing on the roads’. To be fair, it was a little bit like break dancing (and being beaten up at the same time), but that’s where the euphemism ended. The tiny road wound around and around some stunning mountains, but also trafficked enormous lorries and the occasional suicidal maniac taking blind co...
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Day 2 in China, Jinghong to Pu’er and the Wild Elephant Valley.

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, September 24, 2011,
Before the light had settled on the streets of Jinghong, we were sitting up at a roadside café eating a breakfast of dumplings and ‘You Tiao’ fried breadsticks in soy milk (kind of like churros, but without the chocolate).

We set off to the Wild Elephant Valley, with Yingchu retelling the story of a disgruntled native elephant who’d smashed in the bonnet of a parked car that...


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Day 1 in China…See you on the other side (Facebook)

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, September 24, 2011,
Today has been the most anticipated, planned, revered and expensive day of our entire journey – the day we enter China, the lynchpin country of the trip and the slow march north becomes the even slower march west.

We only had a couple of options when planning the route back to England, and when it boiled down to those which were safe, logistically possible, financially viable an...


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23rd August 2011, Udomxai to Boten – the last of Laos.

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, September 24, 2011,

Why is it that border towns are always the shiftiest of places with scum of the earth people and a general aura of being nigh on impossible to get anything achieved? For some reason I’d thought that finding somewhere to wash a car, get some currency exchanged and get something for dinner would be too easy. But we failed on all 3 fronts. Instead we end up scrubbing BOB down on the ...


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22nd August 2011, Luang Prabang to OOODOooMMMOXXEEE

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, September 24, 2011,
Being the heathens that we are, when people asked us in Luang Prabang where we were heading to next, we’d told them “OOODOooMMMOXXEEE”, which they’d stared us strangely, until we pointed to the map and they’d said, “Ahhh….Udomxai”. Stubbornly, we continued to call it by its Australian name.

 The closer we drove to China, the less like Laos things started to look, from...


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21st August 2011, day-o-rest with the old elephants

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, September 24, 2011,

As yesterdays cross country driving had given Joe RSI, exhaustion and nightmares, we had a day off driving at the Mekong straddling, ex French Colonial town of Luang Prabang. On advice from Stijn and Uli, we decided to spend a day at the Elephant sanctuary, riding, feeding and bathing the Elephants.

All the Elephants were female, and had been ‘retired’ from their previous ca...


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