But more about that later so let us start were I left off a few days back in Laos.
We woke early to get to to the border for when it opened and made out way up through all the construction of the new border posts and highway to the Old Border Gate still in operation past hundreds of trucks waiting to there turn to cross after queuing for 4 to 5 days. On the way breakfast was hot grilled pork and rice from a vendor on the side of the road.
We left Laos after a bit of hilarity, while I was at the boom gate getting things sorted Julie who had passes through the passenger lane had to bring me some paperwork to make everyone happy. Once he had decided that I could go Julie went to jumped in with me only to be told she had to get out and walk the 5 metres to the other side of the gate to get in. Go Figure???
The China side had Julie and I cleared in 15 mins then the waiting game for Penny’s clearance started with having to use the truck lane to enter China. With a bit of creative driving I had Penny at the front of the queue only to find out the T’s were not crossed and the I’s not dotted yet on the entry forms. So I was instructed to pack between the truck coming and going till all was ready for me. It is sad I don’t have a shot of this position that after a while led to a very small wound on the right rear fender from a truck. After a hour this was all sorted then off to the Mengla Hospital for an eye check followed by the Traffic Police for the numberplate and licence. This was funny as we were put on machines to test brakes and heads lights which we failed miserably. The final test was the head inspector stood under a tree while I drove up and braked hard beside him to show that we could indeed stop and it was deemed a pass after looking to see that the Lights and Indicators worked.
We had been helped through this process including having a great lunch by our guide Tom and his driver Mr Goo, some of you on this list will know Tom from the Himalayan Rally.
After our night in Jinghong which is on the banks of the Mekong or the Lancang as it is called in China we visited a great local fruit and meat market for some fresh stock before heading north.
This started through rubber plantations that covered the mountain’s until we saw signs about not to blow horns at the elephants as we were passing through a large wild elephant reserve. Julie spent the time looking very intently hoping to see one but alas the elephants were nowhere to be seen that day.
Our trip up to Dali was along mostly National roads avoiding the Expressways. It was very enjoyable driving through all the different crops and farming techniques along the way. Drives like that really highlight the Farmer in me with the change in soil and elevation changing the crops along with seeing so many crops grown that I have farmed in my life like Tobacco, Sweet Potatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Maize and Pineapples. However there is always rice on the flat bits and the hill side forever different. I have found out on this trip that Chinese don’t eat any corn although growing as much of it as rice, it’s all grown to feed the pigs, as every family has at least one pig.
With some road works giving a diversion yesterday we ended up being on a country lane for a couple of hour going through small farming communities.
As the elevation increased yesterday we passed through a Walnut growing area with the collection and delivery to the village trader in full swing, the collection all the same with them being picked up from the grass by hand before delivery by a variety of ways from carried on the back and scooters to small trucks.
Lunches on this trip has been in little villages at local cafes and have been nothing short of spectacular to say the least and that filling I have only been having very lite dinners.
Dali has changed a lot since I was last here in 2014 with it becoming so much more tourist commercialism with all the little place that where still making thing and selling there own wares now replace by shops, bars and restaurants. I guess that progress driven by the mighty $$.
Our rest day in Dali started with a little bit of love and tenderness for Penny as she had developed loose steering arms in both the front stud axles that required finding a machine shop to make up a couple of special washers to pull them up tight.
This was completed in time for us the visit a local Indigo Tie-dyeing centre at a village 20 k’s away. there are still using the same process and system that have been handed down for eons with this turning in to a great afternoon for us both. Julie being able to tie up a sampler and have it dyed then unpick it to see the finished product and i just enjoyed the process.
Now on to the title of the post, until this morning I have travelled in shorts and shirt with the sleeves rolled up. This morning we woke to it raining, being a smart man I started the day in longs and raincoat. We had only been on the road 30 mins and smart was the wrong adjective to describe myself as we and to pull into a service centre and dig out my down jacket, gloves and neck warmer. The fact that we are now at 2400 metres elevation also helped with the drop in temperature,
The roads in this area get very slippery in the wet so today we used the Expressway to travel to the ancient city of Lijiang for the night. I have written this during the afternoon before going out to dinner in the old part of town.
We are just back from a great night walk around the old town dating back 900 years. This town has not changed as much as Dali in the 5 years since my last visit.
So till next time I hope you are all enjoying the blog.