Friday, July 11, 2008

The journey to Yichang

When the coach Reg # 1587 finally arrived, all the waiting passengers rushed towards it for boarding. They were prevented from doing so as the driver went for a smoke and probably to relief himself. Unknown to D2 and me, Shirley had struck up more than just a chat with the coach operator and the bus guide.
When the call for boarding went out, again there was a mad rush forward to the bus front entrance. I presume it was to get the best seats. There cannot be any other reasons. D2, me and Shirley kept behind, looking amused at the situation. It happens all the time in most places we've been to. So, it wasn't surprising to see it happening here. We were the last 3 people to board. Yet, the 2 "best" seats right in front, with an unrestricted view and much legroom,
were not taken. Shirley had arranged with the operator to reserve them for both of us telling them we are guests from Singapore....and they fully agreed! So this was another pleasant surprise. The other passengers never complained and simply gave us healthy and respectful nods and acknowledgement. All this only added to my increasing storehouse of observations about Singaporeans vis-a-vis the people of China, and especially people of Hubei [ my final analysis will come at the end of the on-going story]. Only an experienced guide such as Shirley would have thought of this even before the bus came and made the right connection and approach. We did not and never would have requested for special treatment everywhere we went. Nevertheless we were thankful. So, bless you Shirley!

It was to be a 4 and half hour journey to our destination....Yichang. We left at 12.30 pm. We made ourselves comfortable for the long bus ride. It was a very hot afternoon as the bus cruised through the rustic Chinese countryside. The first toilet stop was at the Petrol and Rest station of Qingqiang which was well decorated with flags, streamers and a huge banner welcoming the Olympic Flame to that place. It was picked as a venue for a handing over torch ceremony in the days to come.

Top photo: Qingqiang, a venue for the Olympic Flame passing through that region of Hubei.

Centre photo: From our grandstand seat at the front of the coach, I captured this scene.
We have been travelling very much through the land of the Three Kingdoms story.

Finally, at about 5 pm, we rolled into the historic city of Yichang.

This place is definitely less crowded than Wuhan and therefore the traffic is lighter. The pace here seems to be more easy-going and relaxed.
We alighted from the bus at this 3 Gorges Cruise Centre. Someone will be picking the 3 of us at about 6.30 pm,from here.
With 1and 1/2 hours more, we decided to have a proper dinner. But we were lugging our travel bags as we walked.
Super Shirley had a clever idea! She walked us into a big department store
where they had free bags locker service. We left our luggage there and collected a tag. Now free, we walked like free men and women everywhere! So, bless you Shirley!
Shirley recommended that we try some local Yichang food and who are we to argue.
She has shown initiative, sharpness and good judgement on top of being an excellent guide thus far. And what a wonderful dinner that turned out to be !

No comments: