China, Yunnan province, 150 Kilometres Northwest of Dali.
Every journey we made by bus in Yunnan 云南 this summer was plagued by problems.
This is the account from our dairy which describes the ride we took on the 12th of August 2010, from Xiaguan (Dali City) to Yunlong.
“… We have no trouble getting a taxi this early in the morning, thank God, so we arrive at the bus station nice and early. There, we make the mistake of asking how long it will take and they tell us 5 hours, instead of the 3½ we were expecting…… more road works apparently….. We’ll just have to resign ourselves.
The first 40kms or so we proceed smoothly, straight down the Dali大理– Baoshan保山 express way (an engineering marvel, hewn out of the rock face of towering mountains)，and we start wondering whether the people in the bus station have made a mistake, or whether we’ve simply misheard the times…. But no, as soon as we turn off the motorway the road basically vanishes. From now on we’ll be driving through thick red mud, along a rough track that is at times completely flooded by water running down the mountainsides. The whole area is just one great building site where we constantly have to dodge bulldozers, caterpillars and other heavy machinery, swerve around piles of construction materials, avoid the little shacks put up for the workers, and so on.
We have hardly started on this non-road when we come to an abrupt standstill because there has been a landslide and there’s a huge rock on the road. We’ll have to wait for a bulldozer to clear it. It doesn’t help of course that it’s absolutely pouring down with rain, again.
Once we’ve overcome this first hurdle, our bus hobbles on, making steady, but excruciatingly slow, progress. A bit later on, our driver (who, incidentally, is very careful and capable) has to park the bus in a safe spot, while we wait for the next landslide to stop… This time it’s all happening right in front of our eyes and all of us, passengers and drivers alike, watch in amazement as large boulders, different-sized rocks and stones all come crashing into the road …
After a few moments of silence have elapsed, the drivers of the vehicles on both sides of the landslide hurriedly clear away some of the biggest obstacles. Then we all get on again and take it in turns to cross the dangerous patch. Heaving a sigh of relief, our driver takes stock of the situation: bus undamaged, passengers unhurt. And so we carry on.
With all that, we can’t say it’s been a boring ride; we’ve been going through lush green mountains, we’ve passed rushing rivers, seen plenty of scary rocks, etc. At times the road is so bad that we can’t believe they are actually letting buses on it, or that we’re actually going to make it!
We eventually reach Yunlong sometime after 2 o’clock, after a bumpy 7 hours – and the distance is only supposed to be 150 kms! Fortunately, it has stopped raining by now…”