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E-bike expedition part 3 China - Online diary 2015-2016

A look into the past

N 39°31'48.9'' E 112°48'06.4''
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    Day: 124




    Latitude N:

    Longitude E:

    Total kilometers:
    10,228 km

    Maximum height:
    1.500 m

    Total altitude meters:
    6.011 m

    06:50 a.m.

    5:34 pm

    Temperature day max:
    6 to 9 °C

    Temperature day min:
    minus 1°C

    Total plate tires:

    Plate front tire:

    Flat rear tire:

    Plate trailer tire:

(Photos of the diary entry can be found at the end of the text).


Curious, we visit a farming village through which parts of the historic Great Wall still run. Away from the mass tourism, we are looking for some of the flair that the authorities have suffocated in the gray concrete when restoring and rebuilding their historic sites. From the village, the largest building in the history of mankind winds in a yellow-brown line, interrupted by half-ruined watchtowers, over hills and mountain flanks until it disappears on the horizon. We stand there spellbound, inhaling the sight that constantly transports my thoughts back centuries, even millennia, into the past of human existence. It is a pity that Mao Zedong gave the people permission to demolish the wall in order to get free building material for their houses, and it is fortunate that after his terrible tyranny it was recognized that this historic building should be protected.

Just a few hundred meters further on, we pass through the gateway to another, long-forgotten time. Alleyways narrowed by high clay walls lead us into the poor human settlement. A woman right the barren earth of her tiny front garden. The dust is so thick that I can barely see it through the viewfinder of my camera. The narrow passages, on clayey ground, often concreted, sometimes paved, rarely tarred, lead us to the hutongs. These are traditional, ground-level, unheated residential buildings surrounded by a clay or brick wall. Because it is cold and uncomfortable indoors in winter, its residents spend time outside their homes in good weather. Behind the walls there is a small courtyard in which a lot of old stuff, garbage from the eyes of a rich European, lies around. In Beijing today, most of the hutongs are being demolished to make way for ugly but lucrative concrete high-rises. Here, on the other hand, we experience China as it might have looked hundreds of years ago. Apart from the many tangled power cables hanging around, which unmistakably remind us of the 21st century. “Ni hao!”, we greet an old man sitting in front of an old wooden gate in the last warming rays of the sun, stuffing his pipe made of bone. “Ni hao”, he greets us, shocked at first because he was expecting anything but Europeans. A donkey brays. His plaintive, unmistakable: “Ihaa! Ihaa! Ihaa!” is swallowed up by the clay and brick walls. Suddenly, a constantly repeated loudspeaker announcement shatters the peaceful atmosphere. A farmer steers his smelly three-wheeled motorcycle through the alleyways while shouting into a microphone. On the roof of the old-fashioned vehicle, his call is amplified by a loudspeaker, which is intended to inform all residents that fresh lettuce is being sold here. It doesn’t take long before a few of the residents shuffle out of their hutongs to stock up on vitamins. Forgetting time, we stroll on through the living museum, past half-demolished defense or watchtowers, the remains of walls, doors and gates made of stone and wood, past small houses, some covered with bricks, sometimes with straw…

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