Great Escape

This trip hadn’t been easy. Officials were drunk and annoying. Accommodation was poor – a mediocre guesthouse, a school, a dormitory for government workers. Bus drivers left me by the road side – ‘Full’! And there really wasn’t much there, in those remotest corners of  Jinping, itself a remote county in Yunnan province.

Towards the end I got to Wuyaping. I arrived after dark. The head of the village offered me cold leftovers – dog meat, some green leaves, rice. He made me sleep in his office. He lectured this was a special place to visit, emphasized the proximity of the Vietnamese border. He was drunk, annoying and rapacious. He suggested I buy him a computer. I paid four times the normal price for a meal and a place to stay.

The next morning I looked around. And there wasn’t much there. Soon I wanted to get out. There was no bus. At long last I got a ride. It lasted twenty minutes. Then the road was blocked by a crane, hoisting remains of a truck from the ravine. It was going to be there all day. And tomorrow. Nobody got past. Nothing to do but turn back to Wuyaping, said my driver.

In travel we are always rewarded for our frustations, discomfort and bad luck. Some people there were discussing a possible detour. My escape was great, on the back of a truck lying in soft bundles of clothes, among the Hmong traders whose merchandise this was, along a mountainous dirt road, remote and beautiful and with wide views. At dusk when it got cold they pulled out blankets that kept us warm. I shared one with the old lady next to me who kept laughing about it. I watched the stars.

Late that evening I reached Mengla that I know well and where I like to stay.