This morning at around 9:30 a man in a truck on the opposite side of the road from us saw us walking and offered us what we thought was one of those huge papayas. We had just had breakfast so we politely declined his offer. Six hours later and about 14 miles up the road we were taking a break in the shade. We had left our packs sitting on one side of the road, crossed to the other side and had climbed over the guard rail and were sitting on a little curb. A truck pulled over a little ways past us and stopped. The driver got out so I stood up to see what was going on. It was the guy from this morning who had offered us papaya. He had seen our packs by the side of the road and was looking for us. He led us to the back of his truck and on closer inspection we saw that he hadn’t been offering us papaya. He had been offering us watermelon. He pulled out a knife and cut one into pieces and offered us some. It was so good and we were so hungry because we walked straight through the day without any lunch. I am constantly surprised by people’s thoughtfulness here.
It poured on us for most of our walk todsy and it was beautiful. Once again, we were soaked from the waist down all day long but the air felt so cool that neither of us really cared. At one point I was making my way across a particularly large and deep puddle and time just wasn’t on my side. Halfway across 2 semi trucks and a bus sped through the puddle and I was drenched 3 times in the space of 15 seconds. Sheets of brown water pouted off of my umbrella. Luckily I had turned my back to the road so it only got my backside wet. But within a few minute the pouring rain had rinsed me more or less clean.
We got the feeling that this rainfall was pretty epic even by local standards because people were lining up on the bridges watching the torrents of brown water rushing beneath them.
Incidentally, this is what our wash water looks like every time we do laundry in a machine. We throw our clothes in the machine, add soap, turn on the water and before long, it looks like our clothes are swishing around in chocolate milk. We pick up so much dust from the road and it sticks to everything. That’s another nice thing about the rain. It keeps the dust down.
Here are some pretty pictures from todsy.
We are in Wangdian Township now and once again formally acquainted with the local police. We went to check into a hotel and the lady that was at the reception desk asked me to bring our passports and to follow her. I thought maybe we were going to a place to photo copy them but instead, we went to the police station. In Chinese police stations, if you are the big boss, you get to take off your shirt while a female employee rub your shoulders for you.
He waved us out of the room and the lady from the hotel and I were sent to another room. The sign outside the door said that everything in that room would be audio and video recorded. Soon a police woman came in and asked me a lot of questions through the text tranlation device on her phone. What were we doing, where were we going, where had we been, where were we going next, we’re we going by car? I thought that my explanation in Mandarin was very clear. Morning wake up. Walk 30 km. Look for hotel. Sleep. Morning wake up. Walk 30 km. Look for hotel. Sleep. Apparently, this is highly suspect behavior. The room where the male police officer was having his shoulders rubbed had a bed in it. I pantomimed/gestured sleeping there and they told me I could go.
I can’t imagine any tourist getting this kind of run around back home but hey, it all makes for a good story. Regardless, I think I’ll learn how to say, ” do I need to call for bail?” in Mandarin.
As of today at 4:00 we are officially 50.3% through our journey and we have walked a total of 576 miles. We now have 37 days left to walk another 570 miles. I just saw on the English language news channel that today marks the official last day of spring and the first day of summer and warmer weather. I hope it doesn’t get too much warmer-it was in the low 90s today and that was plenty hot.
Today is also the official day of the Dragon Boat Festival and one of their traditions is to make sticky rice wrapped in either bamboo leaves or banana leaves depending on what part of the country you are in. We were offered this treat twice today. Our sticky rice was served wrapped in a banana leaf.
Well, tomorrow is a new day and we need to average 15.4 miles per day to finish by July 27th.
We had planned to be walking by 4:30 am but when the alarm went off this morning at 4:00, we could hear that it was pouring rain outside so we went back to bed for 3 more hours. We slept from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am! We started walking at a little before 8:00 am and about an hour later it stared to rain so we put up our umbrellas.
If it’s not cold out, I really enjoy walking in the rain. We got soaked through but neither of us were complaining because the rain made it a whole lot cooler. It was so pleasant that it could rain every day for the rest of our trip and I would be pleased. It sure beats the heat we had 2 or 3 dsys ago.
When it first started raining we were delicately picking our way across the little puddles and rivulets of water in an effort to keep our feet somewhat dry but that was a losing battle. We gave up on that and just walked through the water that was running down the street and coming up over our sandals. That appealed to the kid in me- sloshing around in the rain and not caring about how wet I got.
The rain really reduced the amount of traffic on the road too which was a good thing because we saw at least a dozen landslides that had spilled out onto route 324. The rain also brought out a lot of creepy crawley insects and we saw a few centipedes traversing the road searching for higher ground.
At around 3:00 we walked into one of the smallest towns we have been in so far. It’s called Banto and I swear the whole town is 1/16th of a mile long. It has 2 hotels. We are in the one at the furthest end of town. When we signed in, Doug noticed that there hadn’t been a guest here since sometime in 2014. It cost us just as much as the hotel we were in last night that had AC, a king sized bed, a shower with hot water, a western toilet and cable TV. This place is the size of a prison cell, has 2 twin sized beds, no sheets, a cement floor and a squat toilet down the hall that we have to haul water in a bucket up 3 flights of narrow stairs if we want to flush it. It also has a shower head that’s not connected to any functional plumbing. I know it sounds like I’m complaining but I’m not. It’s just all part of the adventure!
Yesterday was brutally hot. It didn’t matter that we started walking at 5:30 am. By 10:30 it was stifling. By 11:30 it was unbearable. This morning we were up at 3:00 am and on the road by 3:36. But guess what. It was still 84 degrees out! We walked in the dark and the heat and it wasn’t awful. It was actually an improvement.
We talked about how we were missing the scenery by walking in the dark but it also had its advantages. For example, you know you are walking uphill but you don’t have to look at the hill stretching out on and on in front of you which can be daunting. We also had the road to ourselves and as the morning wore on it actually got cooler. We walked until 11:00 am and checked into a hotel before it got too hot. Of course, now it’s 1:40 pm and I’m exhausted.
In 7 and 1/2 hours walking, we only took 3 breaks. At around 8:30 we stopped to buy some water and the woman who ran the store brought us slices of watermelon right out of the icebox. It was delicious!
It is too hot and humid here. My weather app says actual temperature is 94 but the “feels like” temperature is 102. Combined with the humidity it’s just too much and potentially even dangerous. So tomorrow we are getting up at 3:00 am, plan to be walking by 3:30 am and be finished and in a hotel with AC cranked up high by 11:00 am. We can walk a lot faster when it’s cool and we have the roads to ourselves. We will wear our headlamps and these little flashing beacon things we have.
Today, we shared some shade with these guys at around 11:30 am when it was already as Doug says, ” Hot as 2 rats fighting in a wool sock”. (Except the rats aren’t actually “fighting”. I cleaned up the language a little.)
Just last night I was telling Doug that I needed to find some tape. I’ve lost a little weight and now the hip belt on my back pack doesn’t tighten as much as I need it to. I bought 2 hand towels and I folded them in thirds and then thirds again and put them in between my hips and my backpack. The problem is that they shift and slip as I walk. Hence the need for tape. But not just any kind of tape. I wanted electrical tape because duct tape would have been too gummy. Yep, it had to be electrical tape. Then, this morning this was in the road just waiting for me. I know it was meant for me because it even had my initial on it.
It also got really hot today, really fast. Until now, daytime temperatures have lingered at around 85. That is warm but in no way unbearable. This afternoon it got up to at least 95 and the humidity jumped too. I was DONE by 3:00. I simply wasn’t having it. Doug seemed to be doing OK. He even ate a green pea flavored popsicle.
We are talking about getting up at 5:00 am tomorrow and getting a few hours in before it gets so hot. I’ll be honest, just about every morning I’ve said to myself, ” I don’t think I can do this”. What I think I was really telling myself was,” I don’t think I want to do this”. It’s been challenging but in no way impossible. Our packs feel heavy, our feet hurt, we get tired but it’s always been manageable. This heat is another thing all together.
Doug did some calculating today. We are 43% through. I was hoping to be at 50% by Saturday.
We had a really nice lunch today made by these kind women. They gave us two bags of plums for the road. We gave one to a man who seemed to be homeless. He made me think of my great,great uncle because he was carrying a bed roll. It wasn’t strapped to his backpack. It was hung from a piece of bamboo.