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Sick of me going off about all the terrible sins against the environment?

Well, things went a slightly different path today.

But first things first. A frosty morning:

river scene

I decided to take a small detour to see the famous Stone Village of Yu 于家石头村 that lies south of the highway.

So I got up early and walked the 8km – and found it absolutely worth it:

Steindorf

This village is mostly from the Ming-dynasty (明 1368-1644) and very well preserved. Tradition has it that 95% of its population stem from a certain Yu Qian 于谦, a heroic political figure from the 15th century.

The buildings are particularly interesting on the inside, because some of them have the round roof you can see here, and then of course the kang 炕 – a traditional brick-bed in northern China:

cave dwelling in Shanxi

I took a short lunch break (cookies and yogurt-drink), then talked to some people about a possible way west. They told me that walking across the mountains would be very difficult. Poor roads. They said I would get lost.

I didn’t listen and only learned when I got there:

left or right

This was the time it dawned on me: They were right. Which way to go? I opted for the path on the right:

Shanxi countryside

…and was wrong. The path became narrower and narrower. Buildings with broken windows, no living soul in sight.

Then the remainders of the track took me up the mountains:

lost in the mountains

Nothing to do but keep walking. I remember, back at home, telling everybody: “I’m not going to be that stupid anymore. No more walking where there is no road. And once I know that it’s a dead-end – then I’ll just turn around!”

Well, there’s always some hope left, though, besides, the way back was already too long, and I was seriously considering pitching a tent and rationing my bag of chips and my water bottle.

Then I ended up just walking to wherever the hell it would take me, all the while appreciating some perfectly unspoiled nature on the way:

tree in the mountains

Then, all of a sudden, and without warning:

rural tunnel in Shanxi

A tunnel. What do you do with a tunnel? You walk through.

– also, I imagined I could hear the trucks on G307 honking their horns on the other side –

Oh, and it was true! I staggered out from the dark and into a field where people were working, and another few steps down there was a little village with a schoolyard:

village kids

Man, was I happy to see these little guys!

No camping today!

…instead I was back on my dirtytrashysmellynoisy beloved G307:

trucks

Happily sucking in the exhaust fumes from the vehicles rushing by, I had a great time knowing that I would find a place to eat and spend the night just another two or three hours down the road.

Screw the environment!

Then I crossed into Shanxi 山西:

workers

No sign or indication of any kind, just these guys breaking their backs next to the highway.

How I knew that I wasn’t in Hebei 河北 anymore?

Standard Service Message: “Dear China Mobile customer, welcome to the beautiful province of Shanxi…” – blablabla

It was all good.

PS: Have you ever heard the sound of an exploding tube on a truck tire?

truck tyre

Well, this one happened right next to me, and the sound was so loud it actually blasted some windows nearby:

broken window

Luckily, I was just listening to some fine music and had my earphones in.

No harm done.

Good for me.



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