Day 39 - Wednesday 10th May - Beijing to Shijiazhuang

A late start to the day was planned, This gave us much needed time to just catch up on stuff. Some work on the car, update the blog, chill out or do some more exploring of Beijing.

We had originally planned to use the time to see more of the city as the couple of days we have spent here have given a very cursory experience. However, when we look at all the stuff that was mounting up around, it was decided to use the time to catch up on things.

I had receiveda delivery of spare parts in Shanghai to replace those used in southern China. The new electronic module needed to be fitted to the spare distributor and all the parts needed to be stored. Plus the car needed to be checked over as things were coming loose: the bonnet locking mechanism was about to fall off (not a good look when you are zooming down the highway at 100), the passenger door was no longer lockable, easily fixed by tightening the retaining screws for the door lock.

You will also have noted that a week of blog has also been added and photos sorted. It is taking me about an hour to write up each day and then the phot up loads vary and can take up to 5 minutes each. This is after running them through Photoshop first to downgrade the size.

We also had media with us for much of the afternoon. Otherwise known as the “Tony fan club”, they had done a piece for the evening news the day before and were doing some more stuff on our journey. It seems everywhere we go Tony is known and knows a lot of very interesting people who he ropes in on occasion to talk about what they are doing or about some place. A diverse group ranging from potters and ceramic artists through to conservation architects.

Our route today was just over 300k on tollway to Shijiazhuang, a nondescript town of 10m people that was located the right distance from Beijing for our stop. When we did get away it was 2 turns and we were headed out of town onto the G4. Our late departure mean that we were headed into peak hour traffic and were going to be driving in the dark before we reached our destination. Luckily the Beijing traffic kept moving. Once on the tollway things moved freely.

Shijiazhuang is actually south of Beijing. We turn west tomorrow.

As we headed away from Beijing the pollution grew. The smog thickened, reducing visibility, giving a striking sunset and both our eyes and noses smarted. We were headed into the industrial heartland of China. As the sun set, the lights of industrial plants lit up the horizon. 

This was our first effort at highway driving after dark. The cars thinned, but the number of trucks remained constant. Not sure whether the cars felt unsafe or they were all home having dinner. We learned quickly that the locals don’t worry too much about having their lights on high beam. Most of them drive this way constantly, blinding you in the rear vision mirror. Unfortunately self dipping rear view mirrors were not invented when MGs were made, so the options were to turn the mirror towards the roof and not know who or what was zooming up behind, or be blinded. The choice was generally the latter lunatics still abound.

By the time we reached the hotel my eyes were sore from both the smog and the lights. So it was a quick beer and off to bed.