Day 8 – Corn ‘n Coal - 26 June 08 (18km walk)
The driver that we had organised to pick us up the evening before did not turn up so we phoned our friendly taxi driver and he was there in a shot. Off we set on a longish journey complicated by a traffic jam at the bridge where drivers try to sneak through the wrong side of the bollards and everyone ends up sitting facing one another! Made it to our destination and off we walked…..and walked and walked. Through the communes down back lanes past and through fields of corn/maize. Every bit of the land is being used. The corn fields are edged by different crops sown right up to the road edges.
The land is very flat so as we walked along we could see either coal fired power stations or the coal mines to feed them. We walked closely past a coal mine through the village next to it. All the trucks transporting the coal are piled high with the low quality coal dug from under the village and corn fields. It has a sludgy look and is patted down on the trucks so that it does not fall off as they are bouncing along the roads.
All the fields had been double cropped. Before the corn wheat or barley was the main crop. Along the village lanes we came across farmers drying the wheat on the road. They lay the stems out on the road and force vehicles to drive over it to break it down eventually to just the grain. Old men and women sweep it into piles to grade as it is broken down by the traffic. Finally shovelling the grain into the air to get rid of the last of the husks and pouring it into bags.
As always getting back to the hotel was more of an adventure than the walking. Today after negotiations fell through with someone with a van we jumped on a bus to the nearest city. Here we were shown by the (friendly) lady conductor the bus going to Peixian and told it left at 6:40. There was one slight hitch…the bus did not leave until the next morning. Probably just as well because if there had been a bus it would have complicated things as we had left our Peixian taxi driver waiting for us at the start point of the days walk! We then found a local taxi to take us back to the start point. This guy was an absolute maniac. He spent most of the journey either on or over the yellow centre line leaning on his horn passing all and sundry at great speed. There appear to be very different road rules in China. It is every man for himself! Everyone wants to get there first and no-one will give in or give way. We made it back to our Peixian cabbie in one piece and set off on the final leg of the journey to the hotel.
Headed into a local restaurant opposite the hotel for a meal. Once again the best way to determine what you wanted to eat was to head into the kitchen.
Had a chance to catch up with Andrew that evening and he was very keen to hear our suggestions for improving the service at the hotel. Nice to be asked. He also told us that the local TV station was keen to interview Paul. We suggested that the hotel try and do a tree planting. So Andrew put his creative talents to work and also got the approval of the Hotel’s General Manager. What would happen tomorrow we thought as we began another wonderful night of rest.