The roof drumming continues from yesterday as rain batters the plastic roof and drips through cracks onto concrete, two floors below. The warter torture has a casualty and team Roberts is a woman down. Al has a bad head cold or bird flu as we know it. She’s so bad she doesn’t want food.
The Horror……..The Horror……..
I use my excellent mandarin skills to order two pork boazi, which are steamed dough dumplings. Both are full of vegetables. Tasty.
We pack, checkout and paddle a coracle down the road to the only coffee shop in Jianshui where we aim to while away four hours until our 4pm bus. We manage one. We catch the number 13 and head out of Jianshui to the bus station. It’s a shame to leave as it’s a fascinating place. The province of Yunnan is the most ethnically diverse in China and there are many people here in tribal clothing. Babies are carried in decorated slings on women’s backs, old ladies wear charms and bells in colourful headbands. Poverty is also on show though, in the tanned faces and durable army fatigue clothing of the rural labourers.
We arrive at the bus station at 2.00pm and decide not to go through the security check to the buses but wait outside where there are toilets and photo displays of people killed in traffic accidents. Al is suffering and cold so eventually we decide to go through but before we do, I nip to the gents. I’m used to amonia burning my middle aged nasal hair by now but I stand momentarily frozen, confused by the toilet. I’m faced with a set of small dividing walls raised about half a metre off the ground by two long rows of tiled blocks. Between the long rows is a trough. I notice a head at the far end, floating above a dividing wall and realise he is crouching over the trough. I can’t see any flushing mechanism. I look around. No water anywhere. Do I really need the loo? Is the bus journey really 12 hours? Someone walks in and climbs onto the long block and aims into the trough. I do the same between a different dividing wall. I still can’t see a flushing mechanism. It is easily the worst toilet I have used so far on this trip.
We go through security and put our bags through the x-ray machine which someone is watching. Wow! We wait and notice people wandering in and out of security and no-one is bothered. We watch buses come and go but they are all small and our seat numbers are 32 and 33 so we reckon we must be on the back seats which can be bouncy on an overnight trip.
A man shouts Jinghong and we get up. He checks the tickets and points to the road outside the station where a coach is parked. We go back through security and the suprised coach driver moves two young girls from their seats, cleans their food debris away and sits us down. The bus is full of adolescents, mainly boys. Seat numbers are irrelevant here.
We snake through mountain passes looking at clouds in the valley below until the light is gone. A couple of hours later we stop at a building for food. Its dark now and we don’t fancy food on an overnight bus but a toilet break is welcome. I enter the gents and am faced by two blokes crouching next to each other over the trough, confirming its use. They both stare at me. One is smoking. I have never been in this situation before so don’t know whether to smile or say hello, so I do neither.
We chat to the other westerner on the bus, a lovely Italian lady who teaches English in Sichuan. We seem to be making excellent progress toward Jinghong and maps.me indicates we aren’t far. At 11pm we arrive, 5 hours early! We have no room booked so cab it to the hostel we had booked for tomorrow night and thankfully they are still up and have a room available.