Late this morning we ran into this guy. As usual, Doug was walking about 50 yards ahead of me and had stopped and was waiting for me to catch up. This man got out of his car and asked Doug, “Can I help you?” Doug explained that he didn’t need help, that he was waiting for me and that we were walking from Dali to Hong Kong.
I eventually caught up to Doug and the man asked me, “Can I help you?”. “No thanks”, I answered and we gave him one of our cards and we took a photo of the three of us together.
Doug and I continued walking and the guy drove off in the opposite direction. About ten minutes later the guy pulled up in his car beside Doug and tried to give him 200 kuai. Doug of course refused. But, just to let you know, 200 kuai would have paid for our hotel room for the next 3 and 1/2 nights. It’s this kind of generosity and spirit that fuels our spirits.
Less than 350 miles separates us from Hong Kong. We are both anxious to get there but I will truly miss this experience that we have been having.
At times, one can’t help but be disappointed in people’s behavior. I’m aware of what’s been happening back home. People being shot in churches, churches being burned down, all kinds of ugliness and brutality. But I will tell you this. The way we have been received here has been like turpentine on everything that those few people have painted black. Humanity prevails.
Warning. This post gets heavy and kind of gross. If you have a weak stomach, you might want to stop reading now.
One of the great things about traveling is seeing what other people’s day to day life is like. China is not the first country I’ve been to where I’ve seen entire families riding on a single motorcycle and not one of them in a helmet. Doug and I, multiple times have seen a family of 5 on one motor scooter. Dad is driving, one kid is standing on the little floor board and holding onto the 2 rear/side view mirror bars, another kid is sitting on the seat in between dad’s legs and mom is sitting behind dad while a third child sits behind mom.
A few weeks ago I saw two scooters nearly collide. The driver of one scooter flew over the handlebars, his arms out in front of him like Superman and i watched him skid belly down into the dirt and gravel. He had some bad road rash but he was ok.
About four days ago I saw an elderly man crash his scooter into a deep rut in the road. I ran across the road to help him. He was bleeding from his knee and ankle but the way he was clutching his chest scared me. I couldn’t tell if he was having a heart attack and crashed his bike or vice versa or if he had just hit himself in the chest with the side view mirror. He eventually got up, picked his scooter up, turned the key and drove off.
Early this morning, right after Doug and I had taken a water break we saw a man by the side of the road. He was scraped up and bleeding, his shorts were shredded, he was talking to someone on the phone and looking off the side of the road that was fairly dense with vegetation and sloped downhill.
I talked to Doug about helping him. I think this whole trip has been about “helping”. We have received a lot of it and we felt it was time to give back. We decided to go across the road and help this guy pull his motor scooter out of the ditch.
We had actually walked past him a little ways and when we crossed the road, we saw that his scooter was off the road and a good 20 yards ahead of where he was standing and looking.
We walked back to where he was and looked down and there was lying, a man of about 50 who was so tiny that he couldn’t have weighed more than 80 lbs. He was not conscious, he was bleeding from his head and I could clearly see that his lower leg was broken badly. The bone was sticking out several inches and the rest of his leg was hanging at an awkward angle. The man with the phone went down into that shallow ravine and picked up the injured man and carried him like a child, cradled in his arms and lay him on the side of the road. He was alive, he was breathing at a consistent rate but it looked labored. He eventually started opening his eyes and trying to move but we did our best to calm him and to keep him from moving. He actually moved his broken leg which was a relief to me because I’m assuming this means that he doesn’t have a spinal cord injury.
It’s very likely that this man could completely recover from his broken leg. But what about his head injury? A helmet could have really mitigated the severity of his injuries. We honestly don’t know if he will live or not.
Eventually an “ambulance” with some “paramedics” showed up. I put both of those words in quotes for a reason. The paramedics didn’t look like they knew what they were doing and the ambulance was little more than a white van. Inside there was no gurney, just this plastic sled thing they loaded the injured man onto and slid into the back of the van. The paramedics were more occupied with his broken leg than his head injury. He wasn’t bleeding from it but it still occupied their attention. There was not one piece of equipment inside the ambulance.
So, perhaps you are asking yourself what exactly is the point of this whole grim story. It is simply this. Wear a fucking helmet people. Lately on Facebook I’ve seen people ranting about helmet laws going into effect in different states and how our government shouldn’t be telling people what to do. Fine, don’t wear a helmet because your government forces you to wear one. Wear a helmet because I am ASKING you to wear one. OK? Can you do this for me?
We had breakfast courtesy of this kind woman. Xie xie!
My backpack woes continue. My hip bones are getting bruised and I think I’m restricting circulation in my right leg because my skin feels numb and tingly even after I take the pack off.
At first, I was using hand towels to pad the hip belt but needed something to secure them in place. I thought that electrical tape would be perfect. Ten hours later I found a package of electrical tape lying in the street and it had my initial on it!
The hand towel system was a slight improvement but not a good fix. So I went to the Pacific Crest Trail Facebook page and asked for advice. Someone suggested foam padding. A few hours later I found this on the side of the road.
That turned out to be a little too rigid but the point is that I asked for it and I got it!
Last night I went back to the drawing board and thought to myself, “what I really need are water wings”. This morning we were walking to the edge of town and these were being displayed right out on the sidewalk.
I haven’t tried them out while walking but they sure feel good when I’m just standing there with my pack on.
We stopped to buy some water this morning and shared our story with this shop owner. The closer and closer we get to Hong Kong the more surprised people seem to get. We gave him a postcard snd he asked us to sign it!
It’s nice to be received so warmly.
Yesterday aftwrnoon we were shouted out of the hotel that we were trying to check into. We we were so close, we had the room key in our hands when another woman came out, took the key back,returned our money and became agitated and quite angry.
We walked one block down the street and found another hotel. We asked if they had a washing machine and they told us no but they would do it for us and quoted us a price – 50 kuai or roughly $8. We thought it was a little pricey but worth it. A few hours later, our laundry was done. We had misunderstood the fee for doing our laundry. It wasn’t 50 kuai. It was 5 kuai! That works out to about 80 cents!
We also went to a foot massage place today. It was brutal! They massage/ beat your back, neck arms and shoulders while your feet soak. Then they cut your toenails with a very sharp chisel instrument. They manage to somehow do this without cutting off your toes. I asked them to leave my callouses alone. We need them for another 400 miles yet. They use the same chisel instrument (Doug says it looked like a sharpened putty knife) to shave off your callouses. I watched with trepidation as a man went to town on the feet of the guy sitting to my right. Doug and I are thinking about trying it out when we get to Hong Kong.
In other exciting news, we picked up a package that we had mailed to ourselves. I’m very excited to be wearing a new shirt. Doug also went shopping for replacement sandals for himself. He didn’t have any luck but he did find a new pair of pants for me. I’ve got a whole new wardrobe practically!
We brought our A game today. We started at 4:30 am and even though I felt like my feet were dragging all day we still managed to do 17 and 3/4 miles and get into a hotel room before noon!
We enjoyed some AC and hand-washed our laundry before we went out to find some lunch and cold beer. Now we are back in our hotel room. Doug is lying on the bed with a pillow over his head trying to block out the cacophony of pig and duck noises coming from outside our window.
This is the beer that we had with our lunch today. Can you imagine trying to order a bottle of this in a crowded and noisy bar?
Believe it or not, this is not the first woman I’ve seen walking down the street with a tree trunk on her shoulder. I won’t even tell you how long it took me to catch up to and pass her. It’s shameful. She was at least 70 years old. I