Most people in Shuiquanzi are farmers that try to profit from their fields as well as from the highway:
This morning, one family called me over to have their picture taken:
“You’re a photographer” they said (word had gone around rather quickly), “please take a picture of us, will you?”
Of course, the pleasure was absolutely mine:
When I finally ventured out into the Great Unknown a bit later, there was something I immediately noticed in all that brownness:
Another stretch of the Western Great Wall! (a hard pass)
I walked around on it for a little bit.
Besides this, there were some weird cone-shaped things standing around in random patterns:
I think they must have been some kind of markers for burial sites. There were no other signs or written indications whatsoever though, so I have no idea whether these were rather new or rather old:
There weren’t any people to ask around, either.
Actually, there was almost nobody the whole day – no restaurant, no gas station, not even a little shop:
So I rationed my water and tried to keep a steady pace that would hopefully enable me to make it to my destination before nightfall.
As you can see I reached an altitude of over 2500m in the early afternoon, which made walking actually a bit easier, just because it didn’t seem to be so damn hot up there:
Once I realized I had come to the highest point, I took my shoes off, massaged my hurting feet for a while and then stretched out for a long break.
Here’s the outcome of that break:
It’s called “clouds.”
…and that’s when my streak of luck began.
First, I ran into this motorcycle gang:
“You need something to drink?” they asked me right after we had exchanged greetings.
Of course I said no. I didn’t need anything – not me, not the-longest-beard-Chris!
Well, I guess these kind people could totally tell that I was a fraud, so they just ignored whatever I said, and two minutes later I had two fresh bottles of the finest sweet jasmine tea stuffed into the side pockets of my back pack.
It was so nice suddenly not to have to worry about this problem anymore…
The other issue was about food – sure, there were these stands selling wild mushrooms everywhere:
But those mushrooms were dried. How could I eat them?
I had to find a restaurant.
Once, just once, there was a building that had a large sign on top and some vehicles parked outside, just like a real restaurant:
…but then it turned out to be a shop specializing in wild mushrooms.
Doesn’t sound like a good-luck streak to you?
Well, I was about to find out, because this is what turned up in the western sky just a bit later:
I could hear the heavy thunder rolling in my back when I was still about 40 minutes away from my destination, but somehow luckily I managed to stay ahead of the thing all the way until I was there:
I got a room in a tiny motel, dropped off my stuff and ran across the street to a small restaurant.
“Wild mushrooms!” I yelled, and wild mushrooms I got:
The most tasty wild mushrooms in the universe.
Then the rain started, just as I got back to my room:
And it never stopped coming down.