Sick and tired of travelling, feeling dirty, hungry and technically Chinese, after spending four days as one of the only two Westerners on a Chinese “cruise” boat down the Yangzi Jiang (Yangtze River), we stopped in a filthy car park in the middle of Yichang.
Without so much as a chance to catch our breath, take in the surroundings or find a loo, we were bundled onto yet another bus full of angry looking natives, for the four hour drive to Wuhan.
With sense of humour failure setting in and the ever curious smell of Chinese luggage burning our nostrils we were not the happiest bunnies.
Stopping at a dilapidated petrol station to buy water and the obligatory iced tea, the lady serving from a trestle table under an awning stared at me for so long I thought an alien had landed behind me – actually I think I was her first English encounter and she didn’t mind soaking up the full experience with a bewildered, yet fascinated, gawp from my head to my toes.
Safely back on the bus and nestled between my traveling buddy and a couple who had bought the entire contents of the Three Gorges souvenir shop and adjoining supermarket, we continued our journey down one of China’s mega highways, amidst rustling shopping bags and the constant accompaniment of the man in the seat in front clearing mucus from his throat and spitting it out of the window.
After a while with respective iPods in and a Bruce Lee classic on the tiny screen at the front of the cramped bus, we started to relax, get lost in our thoughts and began to look forward to the next part of the adventure…
After all, it’s not every day you share a bumpy bus ride through central China with the Kung Fu master on his own turf!