Donít tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to her house in Normandy, France with a stolen Yamaha XT250X prototype crossing the middle east on the way.
Episode 5: Yaks and earthquakes.
So here we are, I just left Chongqing to go to Chengdu. Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province, in the south of China.
A Chinese colleague who was working with me in Qingdao took a train for many hours to meet me in Chengdu. The plan is that I will take him for a 2 weeks ride into the wild western China.
Chengdu and around:
But before continuing, I just realized that I forgot to tell you a little sorry that happened on the way to Chongqing the week before.
I was riding with the friend from Quebec on the Chinese highway, when suddenly there was a toll for the entrance in the Chongqing province.
There was no truck in sight (I usually passed the tolls hiding behind trucks as it is forbidden for motorcycles to go on the highway in China).
I went straight for the toll gate in order to pass next to the toll gate quickly, in the little space on the right where a motorcycle can sneak in. Bad news: there were a lot of cops there as it was the ďborder of the provinceĒ.
They screamed at us and I put full throttle.
Nothing happened for a few kilometers and when we are 1.5kms from the next exit of the highway, there was a Police car chasing us with lights on.
I stop reluctantly. The two guys seem quite angry. Then, the one coming to us gets all surprised when we remove our helmets and he sees that he just stopped two laowei (= foreigners).
We start using our classic ting bu dong (=I donít understand, literally: ear not understand).
I pretend I do not understand that he wants my license (I didnít want to give out my fake Chinese license which was going to be useful outside of China but probably a lot of trouble inside China!).
One of the two cops seems more scared than we are.
I give them a photocopy of my passport.
He tries to remove the keys of the motorcycle but I had my own little routine of fixing them to a cable with a climbing snap link. So he couldnít get them out.
We where 1.5 kms away from the exit of the highway, he only had a photocopy of my passport, we were still sitting on the bike. I was seriously thinking of rushing to the exit with the Yamaha, the time it would take them to get back in their car I would already be out in the next city.
I decided to keep my smile and wait as I didnít what to expect from the Chinese police if I ran away (and I still had to get out of the country!).
They escorted us to the exit; the idea of leaving them behind was getting more and more tempting.
Then they called some superiors. We waited next to the bike. The superiors came with a car and asked us to step down of the bike, show all the papers etc.
It was getting more serious and I already saw the end of the trip being shortcut.
I was trying to look confident because my friend was quite worried. I was in between being angry at myself, getting excited about making a move to leave and feeling some fear.
The superiors eventually called their own superiors, who took a long time to arrive. We had been around 2hours with the cops until now, just pretending we did not speak any Chinese and trying to look cool.
One of the superior was keeping a constant distance of 10meters with us. Very funny, we were slowly approaching him and he was getting backwards, until we got him on the grass on the side of the road. Well, that was the only funny thing to do at that point.
30 minutes later the superiors of the superiors come. One of them spoke a little bit of Chinese, should we pretend we only speak French?
We decided not to take it too far and spoke with him in English, he was actually quite friendly and happy to see some foreigners, he gave a quick look at the papers and told the other cops to leave.
He said itís alright, we can go but we should never get on the highway again, he didnít give a fcuk about the paperwork.
Then escorted us into the city and told us to go, with a nice ďyou are welcome to here *Chinese accent*Ē
Well, that is when I just said bye to them and passed a red light in front of them. Shit happens, but they were still waving, I guess it was alright.
Back to the report:
I am now leaving Chengdu with my colleague, Leo, a great Chinese guy, really nice and speaks English and German!
Ear cleaner in Chengdu
So we are now heading north of Chengdu, driving through the Sichuan province.
It is high (not as high as Tibet but still very high).
The roads are gorgeous.
No name Lake, Leo and Fred posing.
We then get very close to the epicenter of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
The 2008 Sichuan earthquake or the Great Sichuan Earthquake was a deadly earthquake that occurred at 14:28:01.42 on May 12, 2008 in Sichuan province of China and killed at least 68,000 people (probably a lot more).
The roads are all wasted here and entire cities are in ruins.
We continue our way in this cataclysmic scenery; the ride is improbable and intense.
Here is a video of the Chinese TV making a report on the earthquake with some security camera which survived the quake:
Alright, back on the road. We meet some Yaks on the way, let me introduce you to my horny friend, the white Yak:
We spend some long days of riding, going through entire lines of traffic blocked on the roads by stones fallen from the mountains. It is great to have a motorcycle on these roads, passing all the traffic. It took us hours to do what some trucks will take two days to do!
I finally made some new friends in the police, locking my bike to theirs was the best way of not getting stolen that I found around there!
Next episode: Going too high !
Sincerely yours, hugs from Argentina.
16th of November 2010.