We were headed to Qufu, the home of Confucius. It had been determined that 0630 was the appropriate time to depart Shanghai to try to miss the traffic.There had also been a miss calculation of the distance we had to drive. It was 780k not the planned 500. Luckily its day light at around 0515, so not a big challenge in rising early and packing.
The couple of cool, damp days in Shanghai were appreciated. A chance to wear long pants comfortably and in the evening add a vest.
The countryside north of Shanghai was a continuation of the coastal plains. Flat and rich green. A sea of wheat divided by trees and a multitude of small villages. We crossed the Yangtze for the last time and headed into Shandong Provence, described as the agricultural heartland of China.
The freeways are lined with trees. It appears there has been a significant push on greening and beautification. The trees also have been planted to try to mitigate the effects of dust storms coming in from the Gobi.
We were making good time until midday when the traffic came to a halt on the freeway. There was no escape. After about 15 minutes we decided that this would be our lunch stop. Out came the chairs, crackers, tinned tuna and peanut butter as we settled down with the locals in the middle of the roadway. There were the obligatory groups of locals wandering up to examine the cars and watch us eat. After lunch I walked for a couple of kilometres to see what was happening. I got to a point where I could see for another 1k, and there were still a wall of trucks parked. Drivers sleeping in the cabins. I decided to walk back.
By that stage I think we had determined on the basis of the number of police cars that had gone past that there had been a truck smash blocking the highway. In Australia in these circumstances you would ask a truck driver as he would have been in contact by radio with others and the word would have passed around. No so in China. While the truckies all have phone, there are no CB radios.
After 2.5 hours we were underway again. By late afternoon the countryside had dried a lot. The air had changed from blue to a dusty, hazy brown. We had to turn our lights on to b seen. At first we thought we were encountering the smog of Beijing, but I think it was more a dust storm.
Wheat gave way to intense vegitable growing and acres of green houses. Grapes were also prevalent.
Our entry into Qufu was down a wide dusty main road lined with landscaped gardens and manicured trees.The down town area near to the Confucius Mansion indicated that this town (population 600k) hosted a lot of tourists.