June 10: All the “i”s have been dotted, Ts crossed. The proper stamps are in place and we were able to leave the port on June 8. Here we are lined up to leave, Stewball’s last, I wonder why?? Something special about his engine?

We have our driver’s licenses, but I must add, there was a glitch in Ed getting his. More on that later.  Stewball has his car tag displayed in the front window and I even have my first flower in my bud vase!

All  this did take until 4:30 on June 8 and you will see why I am behind in these blogs. Doug had to modify our route and distance since there was no way we could make Datong. Jack needs to drive 50 miles per hour to break in his engine and adding the miles from the port to Beijing on the already 261 miles from Beijing to Datong, we couldn’t make it. So, Plan B went into effect. Only problem, well, one of the problems is many of the highways are used at night by all the truck traffic. Now this is another one of those contrasts in China. We see mostly new cars and mostly old trucks-overloaded and straining.  They break down regularly, blocking lanes. So as the evening wore on, it was us and more trucks than I have even seen on highways in the US. Bumper to bumper and going somewhere very slowly. I have never encounter such traffic jams. I don’t have photos  but this is a must see, so sometime I will get some and post them. I didn’t get any for two reasons, it was clear that we were not getting into any hotel until well after dark and so I was driving. Long story short, we finally reached our modified destination at 1:30 a.m. Now those who know us this is not a good thing. We don’t do night. I can’t begin to explain the exhaustion.  But the other side was we needed to be up and on the road at 9:00 since we now had a second long day to drive to get us back on schedule.

Here we are at Hotel Xuan Hua pretending we are rested, ready to start the day. Don’t be fooled. If you click and enlarge this picture you will see we were starting out with 4 1/2 hours of sleep. This was just a photo opt!

Now let me say, we are really enjoying the Chinese. They are most friendly, and curious about our cars. Every stop they appear from nowhere, gather around and start taking. It doesn’t seem to matter that we have no common language, they are great at gesturing, signing and nodding. They laugh when Ed shows them the engine in the rear. Air cooled Beetles seem to be most unusual here. But here are some more contrasts we have noticed.

We drove on a new highway. China seems to have construction everywhere.  Housing, buildings and roads. As we traveled along on this nearly deserted highway (it wasn’t even in our GPS) we were quickly passed by a 700 series BMW, then looked to the right to see a farmer walking behind his mule plowing his field with a hand plow. These rural antiquated scenes are everywhere. China seems to have one foot firmly planted in their 2000 year old past and the other scrambling to catch up and pass the present.

There is so much more to tell, like city driving. This would take an entire blog, but picture dodging the bicycles, electric scooters and pedestrians  who haven’t heard of rules of the road. They come at you from all directions. As a driver it is a challenge to avoid them all, especially at night, entering a city.

We will see what todays drive to Xian.











About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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3 Responses to Rollin’

  1. crhowle says:

    Hey, you are finally on the long road to Paris! Congrats and best of luck and prayers to you both. Am eagerly waiting for tomorrow’s post. What kind of flower is in the vase?? Love to you guys!!

  2. TBC says:

    Jan and Ed,

    Minus the sleep element, it is great that you are now on the road. What adventures, and your stories of the Chinese people remind me of the ones my great aunt used to tell.

    We can’t wait to see your photos when we all end up back in Hillsborough at the same time.

    Hugs, and safe driving,

    TBC and Arnie

  3. Laurie Horn says:

    So glad you all have your cars and are safely on the road, challenging though it may be . Love the pictures and the contrasts you point out. Hopefully you’ll find your second and third wind, get caught up on your sleep and really begin to enjoy the challenges placed before you. I don’t think I’d like driving in China. Be safe– look forward to the next entry.

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