Day 67. Marthas theory of evolution

22 September 2010

Langvhong to Chengdu

High Point: Barham finding the clutch.

Low Point: The 6th rather than 2nd gear that followed.

Ignoring the Point: Me almost wiping out a taxi rank whilst feeling a slightly sleepy.

Made up game of the day: The Tea Pot of truth. Like palm reading but more scientific.

Waking to the unusual sound of relentless pouring rain, our ‘executive decision’ not to spend the night under canvas was instantly rewarded. We’d been looking forward to a night out under the Chinese stars getting up close and personnel with the wildlife. Instead we had to make do with Ross’s infamous snoring Hippo impression. Whilst we’ve all developed a certain level of tolerance to this natural phenomenon, the other guests in the traditional Chinese hotel, with its paper thin walls, didn’t benefit from the same level of conditioning. Breakfast was therefore memorable only for the bleary eyes and accusorial stares pointed in our direction.

In retaliation I’ve started to fight fire with fire to the extent that our room has started to sound like a farmyard to the untrained ear. This still pales into insignificance to the otherworldly noises that escape Steve and Pauls room in the middle of the night. Apparently they both enjoy a strange cult ritual called Skyping!

The drive to Chengdu was remarkable only for its unremarkableness. However, wet roads, an 8 ton truck and other traffic driving toward you on the wrong side of the road do at least keep you awake! It’s hard to explain how tired everyone is from a typical 10 hour drive. The constant concentration, unfamiliar surroundings, local road ”customs” and Martha’s race tuned suspension mean we all arrive at our destination aching and craving deep uninterrupted sleep.

Chengdu is Sun Ji’s home town. He has spent the last few weeks telling us what a great place it is. We were eagerly looking forward to our visit and were blown away by the reception we received. NAVO and the Crowne Plaza hotel looked after us royally. William the general manager presented us with a cake and gave us free reign of the great hotel as we sought to catch up on much needed sleep, admin and importantly laundry. A few weeks of sweat and oil had dulled our sense of aroma and we had become unaware of the full extent of our unique Eau D’Martha. We perhaps should have realised when our t-shirts started walking themselves toward the laundry basket.

A fellow guest in the hotel was Dr Jane Goodall, the legendary primate campaigner, who was on the Chinese leg of a world tour raising awareness. After posing for pictures and once again holding up rush hour traffic Jane contributed one more monkey to the zoo that the cab has become.

James Stevens

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