September 17, 2019
Distance covered: 637 km.
Breakfast on the road
Look at the distance, and you will appreciate that we not only had to get up even earlier than usual during this trip, we also had no time to look for a cozy breakfast. It was ‘grab what you have left and eat it on the road’ that morning.
Qinyang is located close to the express way, so we were able to speed up quickly. There is not much to say about what followed, until our arrival at the other end of that long line on the map, but that I enjoyed the rapid change of landscape. Henan is China’s main cereal producer. Shandong produces lots of wheat and maize, but also fruits and vegetables. The landscape became greener as we were approaching the coastal region. I like Shandong. I had visited the province many times before and was looking forward to getting to know yet another part of it.
It was around 4 in the afternoon, when we reached Wudi County, the home region of our driver. We had to stop there for some business, but he first introduced us to a kind of fast food restaurant specializing in local meat-filled steamed buns (baozi). They were so good, that even the most avid photographers in our group forgot to take pictures.
The next issue was the hotel. As usual, we had booked a hotel by phone, after identifying what looked like a decent place online. However, a local friend of the driver introduced another, ‘better and cheaper’, place. In China, that usually triggers people to go for the local’s advice. Fortunately, the two hotels were located next to each other, so we could compare them and then choose. We selected the local recommendation.
Selecting a hotel didn’t mean that we would be able to get some rest. We had to lock our luggage in the hotel and get in the car again. Our driver’s local friends had heard that a group of people ‘from Beijing’ would come, including a foreigner. They had arranged for us to visit a newly developed port region. The first stop would be the local coast guard. It turned out to be long drive. That was why we had to leave Wudi in a hurry. The port was really a development area. You could see that it would be huge in the near future, but when we arrived, it was still a large patch of land ready for construction. We were allowed to climb aboard a coast guard vessel. Obviously we all vied for a photo in the captain’s seat.
For the first and last time this trip I made a nice group picture with all the ladies of our team
When it was getting dark, we drove back for less than 10 minutes to a village known as Chajian Fishing Port. The port was marked by a big stone.
Unnecessary to mention that seafood was the main food of that dinner. A local fisherman joined us. It was great to meet such a variety of local people. Our driver was one of the few villagers who had made it to the nation’s capital, which gave him an enormous status in his home town. Now he was bringing some of his friends, including a foreigner, to Wudi. This had to be celebrated in style. The coast guard entered with three large bags. Each bag contained two kegs of locally brewed craft beer. According to the label, it was a new brewery using German technology. The beer was good and we finished all 6 two-litre kegs.
Driving in the dark
It was pitch dark when we left the restaurant. We still had to cover a considerable distance back to the hotel. We decided that it was better not to try to stick together and rely on the GPS on our mobile phones, as had been the case during most of this trip. One car took considerably longer than the other two, but we could all turn in just before midnight. We needed that, because the following and final day of our trip would be a long, and eventful, one.