Day 55: Bring on Beijing.

10 September 2010

High Point: Not getting stuck in THE traffic jam.

Low point: Knowing that today was the end of a six week amazing journey, and that stage two (Moscow to Beijing) would finally be coming to an end.

No Point: Night driving and trucks, why oh why?

Author’s comments: Today was a real roller coaster of a day. The remaining stage 2 crew had planned to drive to Beijing in two days. However, after a good start in the morning and a few dumplings in us for lunch, the determination and excitement about finally reaching Beijing got the better of us and we decided to push on come what may. We were told at lunch we would make it in about six hours, needless to say twelve hours later we were still driving!

There has been quite a lot of press coverage about how bad the traffic has been around Beijing lately with tales of a huge traffic jam and people being stuck in their vehicles for over nine days. We came across the traffic about 250km out, when I say traffic I actually mean thousands and thousands of trucks. Three lanes of trucks all completely at stand still…for 250km, wow! Sun Ji our Chinese guide suggested I take to the hard shoulder and try and squeeze past some of the worst of it. With sirens blazing Martha seemed to develop her own personality and nothing was going to stop her, or get in her way. She pushed, nudged, bullied, and cajoled her way through over a 100km. I really do think lady luck was smiling down on us, because if Martha had been literally another 3 inches wider we wouldn’t have made it. The police in their wisdom had designated the hard shoulder as a car only lane, and that’s exactly what Martha became for the evening, a super charged red mean Ferrari.

The jam cleared about 100km outside Beijing, and then it was time to play dodgems.The only way I can do this part of the journey justice is to to describe it as a mythical computer game called Daytona trucks. Three official lanes, trucks four abreast travelling at 80km an hour, overtaking, undertaking, or just simply stopping for no apparent reason. It was the biggest shock to the system we could have ever expected, especially after Mongolia. I must commend both James and Steve for some of the greatest driving I have witnessed, and a big thanks to Ailsa for keeping our spirits up when we most needed it.

We finally pulled into the outskirts of Beijing at 3am where Ben Lloyd (a friend from home) was kindly waiting for us. A much needed swift drink was consumed and a plate of delicious noodles didn’t touch the sides. It was a fitting end to stage two, an epic journey from Moscow to Beijing.

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