Hitchhiking 15 000 km through China (4/5); The hardest part of my expedition

Abend China

14.05.2016, 19:03, Shijazhuang

Tactical mistake. Again one of those situations where I could get upset about for hours. I am on the main track towards Bejing, just need to stay on the highway. Pretty easy. Good day so far and I am on a run. Then miscommunication. My driver leaves the highway 7 km before the service area. No problem for me, I can walk this 7 km in the worst case. So I am about to leave the car, but he does not want me to leave. Calls a friend who speaks English. Long Discussion. Several good options to solve this and in the end I come to this stupid gas station, right next to a city I never wanted to go and with no traffic in my direction. What the fuck. Coming from a very good situation into a very bad one. This mustn’t happen to me just out of politeness. Next time I should just leave the fucking car. I should have done that with the taxi already. This is exactly what ruins your run.

14.05.2016, 19:10

The two funny three. They seem to be business man. Driving not into my direction, but who cares. Just off this fucking gas station and fighting my way back on the track. I am planning an altrnative route already.

23:40, vor Bejing

I did not make it far, but I am on the right highway at least. Also we had dinner. We ate long and copiously. And they had hard liquor. Seems to be common in China that everyone gets drunk during the big meals. Except the driver of course. They had some kind of vodka, maybe it was gin, I can not say for sure. I don’t like hard liquor at all. I drunk one glas and then I had to admit, that I am not drinking. Only two of them left to kill the rest of the bottle. I felt like on a dinner with the triads. Seperate room, the very good liquor, the sumptuous laid table, this Asian men who get more and more drunk and cover their baldness with some side-hair. Beautiful evening indeed! I really liked it.

Geschäftsleute China

Essen China

15.05.2016, 05:46, Bejing

I faught my way through Bejing all night long. Five rides I needed to get to the first service area behind the city. Did it. The old man at the toilet got some sweets as a present. I needed to lighten my supply bag and he seemed not too proud to reject my present. Now I found a 1000 km ride. Karma.

10:15, Somewhere

After that service area I felt asleep for four hours straight. Now awake again. Sitting in a Mercedes Jeep. Got a coffee and some rolls. In the radio Paganini is playing. Welcome to my hitchhikers life.

22:49, Harbin

In the last 16 hours I did around 1200 km. Pretty cold up here in the north. I still have 1000 km to go to my last checkpoint. But I am very tired. I think I will sleep here now and turn around to go towards the Pakistani border tomorrow. I feel the strong need for a hostel, which I had in South America the last time. And if I feel like a hostel, it means that I am really exhausted. I probably need another 7-8 days to my next checkpoint. 5500 km to go.

By the way I am in the laundry room of this gas station. Chinese doors, always open. And most of the time someone is sleeping behind then. I am more cautious meanwhile, which door I open to find a sleeping place, after I woke up several people withing the last days. Yesterday this man who managed to sleep on two chairs, till I entered the room. Felt a bit pity about this. Okay let’s sleep, I have the feeling I will get waken up early here tomorrow. So I just sleep in my hitchhiking suite. My second skin.

16.05.2016, 05:24

First ride. Not into my direction, but I take it anyway. My driver slept all night long and wants to have a ten minute break, before we start.


Just a little tiny nap. Both of us are well now. Let’s go.


Obligatory lunch. In return I give him this 3kg heavy pack of random sweets, that someone else gave to me before. Lighter luggage, here I come.


An old couple picks me up. I get a purple potato for eating. Delicious. After that they bring some dumplings which are filled with onions and meat. For farewell three bottles of water and an apple. My bag is filling up again.

Lila Kartoffel China


Truck taking me to the next service area.


No wrong. Found a car that is going 800 km fahr. Nightlift to Chengde. BÄM!!!

17.05.2016, 07:48

My driver buys me a big bag of food, with four breads, three bottles of water and sausage. Well seems to me, that I have my proviant for the tour to great the Chinese wall.


Chinese travel buddies pick me up. They approached me at the service area. And of course took me to lunch. Finally someone is translating, what we are eating. Pig ear and pig feet. New tastes. Yummie!

After that follows my climb up the great Chinese wall, which I already wrote an article about. Next morning I was back on the road.

18.05.2016, 09:38

My first ride after the accident was a little moto with some loading area in the back. I could seat there. Wind was blowing through my hair in the cold morning. I just realized how much I love this kind of rides. As refreshing as a cold shower. Wonderful!


My driver speaks a little English. If I am hungry? Well…..I did not eat all day, but still I feel strange about answering this question with „Yes.“…..“A little“, I say. For farewell I get a bag full of food, a bottle of water, a can of coffee, soup, tea and some cookies made out of green tea.


Finally make it to escape from the Bejing urban area. I am on the wrong highway, but anyway. Three bottles of water, again. My supply bag is full.


A lot of traffic but nothing in my direction. Fuck. I decide to go to the next service area and come out at a point with very little traffic. Difficult.


Some guys from the gas station try to make contact with me. For welcoming they give me two bottles of water.


Now I am very desperate and take this ride. Once again wrong direction. Can’t find anything towards South. Take an alternative north route. If you have 4500 km to go, it does not matter if you will have a 100 km detour.


We miss my service area. One moment not attentive. Now I came from the right to the wrong highway. I need to get out here. Those tactical mistakes really make me angry.


At the service area. The woman comes back and seems to feel pity for me. She asks if she should introduce me to the people. Please not! I just want to take my time. Already sitting in front of the laptop and writing the story about the Chinese wall.


Three Chinese service area employees are standing directly behind me now and starring on my computer screen. Since five minutes. Now a cautious hand is passing my shoulder and touching my notebook, which is on the table.


And now the whole service area is here and looking at me. Some take pictures. I am smiling. Staying polite. Deep inside myself I run riot.


A guy with a smartphone camera enters the scenery and takes place 2m in front of me. Is this guy doing a video? I am getting crazy. Then a police approaching my table. „Do you recognize me?“ Am I fucking stupid or on drugs? What is going on here? I give him my explanation paper. He asks where I am from. He not even read the first sentence. Sigh. The other guy still filming. I got to keep myself together, so that it is not escalating soon here.

Polizei China


Okay this police men is actually very friendly. He speaks English, is pretty young and curious about traveling, as most of the Chinese police men. Behind him still the whole service area is waiting. And still filming. Like in a zoo.


Agreement. The police will give me a ride to the next service area and bring me into a better position. At least something positive after this shit hitchhiking day. When I get into the police car, they offer me a cigarette.


Parking car. Police control. Some instructions through the megaphone. „Stefan you stay in the car, it is dangerous!“ Of course I do!


The girlfriend of the policemen is calling. Five times, till he finally picks up. She never gives up. videochat. „Look here, this is Stefan.“ „Hello.“ „Hello.“ „And here Peter is sitting.“ „Hello Peter!“ „Hello, how are you?“ They talk a little. Then we get into another control. She is still on the phone. „I really have to go now. Yes. I have to work. Yes. I really have to go.“ Funny scenery.


The police instructs me to sleep inside a restaurant of the service area.

19.05.2016, 04:23

Woman with the loud organ here again. Can’t sleep. Why are they working all night long. No costumers here. Probably they are preparing food.


Let’s get up. The owner of the place is first offering me some breakfast, then a cigarette. I add him in WeChat, so that we can communicate.

Suppe China


Arrived near Yinchuan. My driver said something about being careful and that the people here are not as friendly. Indeed the people here are a little different. But well, who cares, I am just traveling through.


Okay this seems to get a bit difficult here. I am already pretty annoyed. Everyone wants to be an expert and telling me how to hitchhike, that I need to go in another direction. Some want money. But the worst is the guy who cleans the parking area. Totally over motivated and always there, when I approach a driver, starting a long conversation by himself. I really don’t know what they have to talk so much. Just looking for a ride.


Okay, now it happened. They put me into a random car and I was just like: Get the fuck outa here. Can’t be wrong. I mean, there is a intersection 10km ahead of me and whatever way they take, I can get out there. So I thought. Till they left the highway at the next exit and went into the village. Man, this is really annoying. Now turning around and heading back to the service area.


I am back. Now sleeping. Of course on the roof. Business as usual. But I am done with this people here for today.

Schlafplatz China

20.05.2016, 09:00, near Yingchuan

Wake up! First saying hello to my buddies and tell them, not to send me with a car into the next village. That sucks. A new very helpful guy is there today. Taxi driver. Always there, when i approach people. I give up and go into the gas station. There are three young Chinese guys working. We communicate via Google Translate.


Finally out of this service area hell. Some policemen brought me to the toll station. There was even a fucking toll station before the crossing. Really, every fucking car would have helped me, except the ones that are going into the next village…..terrible.

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