September 18, 2019
Distance covered: 350 km.
Goodbye Yellow River
We had to make this detour to Shandong due to some official business, but one of the good things, apart from inspecting the local Coast Guard, was that we would be able to see the Yellow River flow into the sea. We had seen that river at the very first sight of our trip: Xianglusi at Jiaxian, also the location of our first hotel. We had seen it the third day, strolling along its banks at Lanzhou. The we had seen the beginning, The Yellow River First Bend, high from a mountain. Now we were given the opportunity to say goodbye to the river that is referred to as the Mother of China. It was flowing as rapidly as in Lanzhou.
However, as you can see from the photo, the sight was not really spectacular. According to the couple in our group that had already visited that spot, we should have been at the south bank, so we would have been able to get on a boat, or the watch tower, which you can see in the background. Still, when you look beyond the man-made stuff, this is exactly the place where you can see how the Yellow River got its nickname. The entire scenic area and a considerable part of the fertile soil in this part of China consists of sedimented soil transported by the river. We Dutch can related to that. The main difference is that the Chinese let the river do all work, while we Dutch helped nature by building dams.
It was, once more, a good spot for a final group picture
Locating the lawyer
This header may puzzle you, so let me explain. Our driver also had former army mate who with a legal background. After leaving the army, he had settled as a private lawyer. Hearing that his friend would arrive, again with a group of people including a foreigner, he insisted on inviting us for lunch. We never oppose such an invitation, but the location was rather obscure. We drove and drove, made a phone call, asked for the road, drove on again, etc. We saw a lot of China’s famous Shengli (Victory) Oil Field, with pumpjacks everywhere. We finally arrived at the restaurant which was located in a very new area, so also unknown to our driver. The lunch was good, but we had to rush, which is probably the reason that we have no pictures.
The final venue, before hitting the freeway to Beijing, was the village in which our driver was born and raised. His parents had asked him to pick up ‘some stuff’ for friends in Beijing. You can’t refuse that in China, and we were eager to see the village. Surprisingly, our driver made a few wrong turns and had to ask for directions once, but then we arrived. We didn’t have much time for getting acquainted with the driver’s relatives. It was getting dark and we wanted to get as close to Beijing as possible, before it would get dark. The ‘stuff’, as could be expected, was mainly local produce, like extremely fresh dates. However, one item that stood out was a couple of huge pancakes. Check out this picture of my sister in law with one of them. Apparently, that is one of the specialties of that region.
Separated and (almost) lost
We were doing alright and although it got dark soon, we trusted that we were getting closer and closer to familiar territory. However, that proved to by nothing less than hubris. Just before we reached an important crossing, where we were supposed to go right and proceed on a newer, less crowded, road, only car nr. 1 made the correct turn. We (2) and car nr. 3 remained on the original road. To make a long story short: car nr. 1 arrived in Beijing almost two hours earlier than we did. After a traffic jam caused by an ID check, we moved on quickly, but perhaps it was because we were all tired, we took two premature exits, forcing us to make a detour to return to the freeway. Anyway, we got back at the place of departure after 23:00 hrs and we were back at our hotel just before midnight.