Wednesday 19 April – Sunday 22 April
The last few days have been long and fast paced. After an efficient and relatively quick driving license process we had our provisional Chinese Driving licenses. The next step was to register the cars, this was done professionally and quickly, focusing on our brakes and lights. The officials were very helpful and soon we had our new number plates.
The striking first impression of this frontier SW region is the rapid expansion of the road network and the fast train. They are building enormous freeways and rail links to all parts of this huge nation of 1.6 billion people. On our way to Puér the tea capital of Yunnan the scenery is dramatic with towering mountains, swaying clumps of giant bamboo and even conifers. We are going quite high in altitude for the next few days. 2000+ mts to where most of the towns are situated. We passed the Red River which winds it way to Vietnam and the Pacific Ocean, it is a red oxide colour due to the colour of the soil here. The mountains are slashed with super highways, inclines that stretch for 25kms along massive roads and through long tunnels up to 3 kms long. In China they don’t go around a mountain but through it. Long trucks lumber laboriously up the inclines into the mountains. They know how to drive and stay in one lane there are lanes for max 120kms and others for trucks. On the descents which are very long the trucks have to apply water cooled brakes which leave the roads constantly wet so you can imagine the state of the cars!
We stopped off at China’s largest Botanic Gardens which consisted on many different gardens and forests, such as the fig forest, orchids of every variety hang from baskets and trees and containers, flower gardens and pavilions, cacti, aromatic garden and medicinal gardens, are sign posted. Ponds and lakes are filled with waterlilies. It is huge and you are driven from one part to the other in electric cars, get out and walk around until you want to go to another area. It is about 11.0 sq kilometres of gardens to explore.