21 days in China

China is a big country.  Our estimated time to journey from the Laos/China border town of Mengla to Kashgar, the China/Kyrgyzstan border town was 21 days.  So to do China east to west would take more than one and a half month, I think.  Really China should have three time zones but for some reason best known to the authorities they have only one time zone ie GMT+8 just like Malaysia.  So for our journey over the 21 days we didn’t have to reset our watches at all.  China Mobile, the mobile phone service were very good and we were able to remain in contact with Malaysia all the way, even in the remotest of Tibetan towns.  Their maps were also good and GPS worked fine.  And that was in 2005.

It was on 16 August 2005 that we entered China from Laos.  Border crossing was quite smooth but since we were a big convoy of 16 cars, the formalities took some time especially for the cars; all were fully checked out before being given Chinese number plates.

Image

I’ve never been to this part of China before. It’s Yunnan province and very mountainous; beautiful and scenic though. I was looking forward to be in Lijiang where I read that there’s a tribal minority Chinese of Roman descent. Apparently during the days of the Roman Empire around 368 BC, some of the soldiers that were on a war mission to China didn’t go back to Rome, deserted their regiment and intermarried with the local women. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of these “Roman Chinese” in Lijiang.

chinese_roman

But Lijiang being known as the Venice of the East for their canals and waterways probably had something to do with the Romans.

Water-wheel in Lijiang canal

Water-wheel in Lijiang canal

Onward to Lhasa
From Lijiang we drove on heading north-west towards Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. We were ascending and in some places on rather primitive roads cut along the side of mountains with raging rivers below. Road works, however, were evident everywhere. [It’s now 2013, so I think one could drive a sedan car quite comfortably all the way to Lhasa.] But for 2005 it was all 4×4 offroad stuff. Very exciting and adrenalin pumping driving indeed. However, the scenery was just stunning and picture perfect. And Shangri-la gave us some real beauty of nature to be admired and cherished forever.

Bonding

Bonding

Bridge work

Bridge work

Raging river

Raging river

To Shangri-la

To Shangri-la

Twisting and winding all the way

Twisting and winding all the way

Stunning sight

Stunning sight

Our convoy doctor had prepared us for AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) so no one really got sick except for our experienced Convoy Leader, who had sinus problems.  He was driving; misjudged a turn and brought his Landcruiser into a roll down a slope causing extensive damage to the car. Luckily he, his wife and passenger weren’t seriously hurt. The mechanics got to work on the car so that it could be driven all the way to Lhasa, where it’d be properly serviced and repaired.

Damaged car

Damaged car

Dr Hew giving First Aid

Dr Hew giving First Aid

Mechanics at work

Mechanics at work

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