05.05.2016; 01:03 Uhr
What a strange feeling, when I was sitting in the train towards the border today. As if I would leave my familiar environment. Going to China. Do I have everything? There is no way back, once I entered. Single entry. I felt like going into prison.
After crossing the border, I had to recognize, that I had no orientation anymore. Gmaps i shit in China. And so I got lost immediately. Also I was terribly hungry, cause I haven’t eaten during the day. What a start. I looted the the first fruit stand and got myself some bananas and peach. If you are hungry everything tastes so much better.
After this I finally found the gas station, where they had some Chips and other sweet snacks. Then I was ready to hitchhike. At 10 o’lock in the night. I have to admit, that I am always a bit cocky, when I start a big trip like this. I often start very late and most of the time the first day is kind of fucked up. Nighthhitchhiking is very possible, but I think you gotta be on the road already, to make a good run possible. If i started late out of a big city, I was not very successful most of the time.
Maybe another reason for this is, that I am often very tired when I start. So today. And sick. And suffering from countless mosquito-, flea-, and bug bites. Hong-Kong was not treating me very pleasently. Everything was itchy. My body was close to have an allergic reaction. Also the reason why I started so late. The decision, that I would enter China, came spontaneously during the day. I didn’t want to camp another night in the jungle. And so I am here now.
It took me 20 minutes to catch the first ride 70km north. At the moment I am on one of those rest areas and I kind of like it here in China so far. Everything a bit more easy than in Hong-Kong. Not so well organized. The restaurant at the gast station had three floors and the top one was almost empty. Big rooms, partly without windows, every door open, if existing. You can do what you want here.
In the end I found this beautiful ladder going up the roof. I had to escape after several people threatened me with their help. Pretty nice those chinese people. But I am fine alone. Still need to figue out the hitchhiking a little bit. My prewritten letter works quite well so far and seems to become my secret weapon. Beside that I don’t understand anything here. Maybe I should work out a better strategie. Allthough the letter explains everything what I am doing. But it seems not to be helpful, to tell the people, that I am going into this town which is 2000 km away. Too confusing.
However, now is sleeping time. Tomorrow I am going to be fresh as fuck and continue. I have to leave mosquito land, to catch up some urgently missing sleep from the last 7 days. At least I have the sound of a highway in the back again. So familiar. I am back on the road! Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me!
06.05.2016, 01:09 Uhr
Conclusion of my first hitchhiking day in China: 900 km done, my rides gave me three bottles of water, ate a 20 cent „hope-this-was-meat“-sausage, got invited to a exurberant dinner and feeded with little cakes that tasted like in turpentine dipped milk rolls.
Beside that the hitchhiking in China is for me as followed. I arrive at one of the service areas, maybe I make it unobserved to the toilet but at the latest after washing my hands someone is approaching me. One minute of understanding nothing what he is saying to me, then I hand over my letter, tell where I have to go and all what you gotta do then is…waiting. They will care. At the moment a police man is walking aross the service area and tries to find a ride for me. Very relaxing.
The chinese peope are in general very generous and friendly and definitely not as rude as I expected them to be. Also the culture shock is still missing. It is pleasent not to find this western style capitalism here. The shops are much more empty. At the gas stations you have only one sort of chocolate bar, if there is chocolate bar at all. But this also mean less decisions for your unconcious mind. My mobile data package from Hong-Kong works perfectly, not even a VN needed. All services are fine. Facebook, Google, etc. Also the first time in my life, that I have Internet while being moving. You know, only got a smartphone since San Francisco. To be online is very annoying. Constant distraction.
Last comment for today. Chinese highways are not a very good place for epileptics. Everywhere are colorful, blinking lights. Someone in the ministery of transport seems to have a favor for LED’s here. Also there are strange flashing rails all along the highway. First time we went through, I thought we had been to fast. After the third time I realized, that there must be another reason. Don’t know whats going on here. Probably they are just there to keep you awake.
So. The night begins. Does not look like sleeping so far. I have 500 km in front of me, to reach the footage of the Himalayas. Maybe I will be lucky tonight. Also depends how motivated this policeman is.
06.05.2016, 23:16 Uhr
Day three is representatively for the leisure nature of my trip. Around 21:40 I arrived here at this gas station behind Kumming. Perfect position to catch a night ride and finally get into the mountains. Usually this would be a normal process for me. But instead I took an hour meditation and getting ready for bed now. Tomorrow I will do the last 300 km to Dali and then stay there for 1-2 nights in an artiost community. Sleeping in a bed instead in the streets. Super relaxing.
The day was glorious as well. Two times I got invited for food. My first ride was a very sweet Tibetian familiy. I was communicating with the daughter through Google Translate on my phone. The father drunk a cup of liquor and ripped a tabak bong during lunch, to fall asleep in the back of the car afterwards. Also they feasted me with fruits and vegetables and asked in the end, if I want to come home with them. I declined. Of course. Can not leave the road. Some traveller might find that unjustifiable, but for me this was enough love of this wonderful peope. I need to keep on going.
The Chinese are getting more and more friendy. Much more pleasent than expected. Now I am the third time in a row on a roof of a servies are building. Doors are always open in China. The mountains are watching the city and we have a starry sky. Beside me is the atmospheric noise of the highway. Sometimes I hear some trucks arriving at the parking lot, which sound like they would implode, when they rush over the speed bumps. In the backround is the train station. Chinese trains are not as romantic as the American ones. When they whistel it not sound as majestic, but like lung cancer in the final stage. And I also have the feeling they don’t have any signal lights, but only signal riot, to regultate the traffic.
Day two is over. 1500 km behind me without working much. The letter strategy proved its value once again today, allthough I catched two of my three rides with my thumb. Works as well. Average wating time tends towards zero. But one ride I had to leave, because it was too slow. The driver brought up some mini bananas to jolly me along, but there was already the next service area upcoming. He looked a bit disappointed and I felt pity about it, but if I would have continued with him, I would only arrive late after midnight to Kumming. Also the bananas have been slightly mouldy.
08.05.2016, 09:49 Uhr Dali
Just as I begin to write the chinese syrinx starts to play from downstairs. Beautiful.
There is not much to say compared to my crazy travel reports in South America. China is relatively quiet so far. Yesterday i woke up, waited 10 minutes and catched my ride ins 300 km distant Dali. So far my hitchhiking day.
Now I am here in this artis community. Found that on tristroots.org. In sout-west China re so many great hosts. Fuck couchsurfing. Nobody needs that shit. I might even stop in Chengdu aswell, because there is some guy runnng a nomad base and he looks so sympathic, that i might want to visit him. Here in Dali I will chill till tomorrow. Yesterday I ate duck neck the first time and pickled duck intestine. Not that bad I have to admit.
In the evening we went to a lake and had a barbecue. This is working a bit differently than in Germany here. In general everyone is sitting with his sticks around the grill and picking whatever he wants. The roast everything. Meat, vegetables and hopefully-meat-products. When we arrived at seven in the evening the grill was already full of stuff and this did not stop till 11 in the night. Everyone who came brought something different. What a feast. Culinary the Chinese are absolutely next level. Even an old man passed by and left four ready-to-eat fishes for us. I found that really cool. Not as boring as a German barbecue, where you prepare all the meat in one run and then eat.
Also the had, to my suprise, Jägermeister. I stopped drinking, and never liked that stuff. But out of politeness and necessity I had to make an exception yesterday. A fishbone stucked in my throat and I saw myself dieing already. One of the guys pour me some homemade hard liquor and I had to drink it. Afterwards I also allowed myself a small beer and a cigarette. Yes it feels strange to mention this, but I am very serious with my tox-free lifestyle. This needs to remain an exception.
In general China is a hard smoking country. If they want to have a cigarette, they always take out two and offer you one. It is someohow like in Russia, where you are not allowed to drink alone. In China it seem unusual to smoke alone. For me as former party smoker, this would have been the dream. But I am also a bit concerned about the young Chinese. Because the smoke really a lot. I thought the Turks would be bad, but China is definitely the world champion in smoking.
I will stop that boring talk now. We wanna get back to hitchhiking soon. Meanwhile I am above 1900 m. My next chekpoint Deqin is at 3550m. From there I will leave the highway and enter a gravel pit road into the mountains along the tibetian border. This road is not even mentioned in Google Maps. I expect very little traffic, but nice road. Sounds familiar.