Sunday, April 23, 2006

Driving in China - The Countryside

Sunday was the office field-outing to Qingshan Lake and the source of Taihu Lake. More of that, later (and there are photos here).

This entry is just focusing on the journey and, for you dear reader, a better chance to get a view of things in China that you wouldn't see that often back home.

The journey was off to a reasonably bad start as the main road was being renovated for, at a guess, 25km. Still, I had P, D and M for company so it was enjoyable anyway. Never seen so much scaffolding.

The road leaves Hangzhou and heads west-ish through mostly fields, villages and farmhouses. I'm still struggling to understand why, given the fact that the existing road was bordered mostly by nothing much, that they have gone to the expense of starting to build an elevated road above the existing road, rather than make the existing road wider and flatter?

You do encounter some interesting travelling companions on the road - the truck pictured above was carrying bamboo poles that were twice the length of the truck.

The next truck was carrying twice it's volume in cardboard. Other trucks not pictured were piled a metre above the height of the truck with rocks, chairs, you name it.

Clearly it's not too good an idea to stray too close to the edge of the road as it appears, here, that this truck simply caused the edge of the road to break away with disastrous consequences to truck, driver and their load of rocks.

On route to Qingshan Lake we did stop and ask for directions and were directed off the lovely new freeway onto a small lane which soon became a dirt track. When we asked again we were told by a man on a bicycle that he'd go down this even smaller lane. Good job I bought an SUV. Ploughing on down through thick mud eventually brought us out at... the freeway.

The last picture, on the way back, actually shows the signposted road from Lin'an to Hangzhou - for some reason the road was again replaced with potholed dirt track for quite some period.

Incidentally, I repeated the 'Shoe shine' joke in the car only to be thumped by D who thought I'd said chu sheng - a nasty Chinese insult. I will keep trying the phrase 'Shoe shine' on other people and report back any interesting findings.

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