Beeping off the beaten track

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
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Trip End Jan 04, 2012


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Where I stayed

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 Another day, another tour. It's really the only way when you're short of time. We opt for an eco-tour visiting some monastery, some old villages and a Naxi cultural show. The tour gudie is late, apparently the driver cannot find our hostel. He is very apologetic to us when he arrives as our hostel hostess lays into him pretty much as soon as he walks through the door. His "Chinglish" is highly amusing and he tries some small talk relating to football and David Beckham - when will these people learn that Dave is just not top of his game anymore. I npolitefully nod to avoid any sort of confusion. "Oh my good god, it is so very warm today" tour guide exclaims and I quietly snigger to myself at his textbook speak. He'll start giving me facts about Stephen Hawking next.
On the tour bus and it's just us and a couple of New Zealanders living in Hong Kong on a business and holiday trip in the Yunnan province, Nice place to visit. They are very friendly and we get on well enough for the requirements of the tour.
Within minutes of being on the bus , 'Thud'. A taxi hits us from behind and we grind to a halt. The host is bewildered as his bad day has just gone from bad to worse so he once again profusely apologises for the delay letting us know it may take some time. It takes about 30 minutes as we sit in the middle lane of a 3 lane carriageway getting honked at as details are being exchanged. We appear like some kind of tourist hotspot, with glaring faces looking inside the cage and pointing as they drive past. "Yes, we have white faces  - we know already - no need to point or laugh as the case may be".
At this point I see some value in passing on some wisdom gained and it relates to the use of a car horn. We were informed early in this trip (I think the guy was trying to be funny, but I've shown him) that there is actually a language among drivers relating to how many parps of the horn and thier duration.  With the chinese having little or no emotion at the wheel of the car, there had to be some truth in this. Considering the eratic driving it is a miracle we have only witnessed a couple of accidents to date, sadly, us being in one of them. With the basic mandarin I have learnt and some thorough studying of horn patterns within the Sechuan and Yunnan provinces I have managed to translate different Beeps into thier mandarin tongue and then into English. To keep it simple, the beep and English is only shown below.

"Beep Beep" (Two short parps) - "Excuse me Mr, I am overtaking and just letting you know about it"

"Beeeep Beep" - I am overtaking sir and someone is apparently approaching from the other direction. Do be a dear and slow down to let me in please"

"Beeeep (with a pause to check...Beeeep" - "Sir or Madam, it is advisable that you do not persist in reversing into the path of my oncoming vehicle as I do believe it would lead to a road traffic accident which is preferably avoided."

"Be Beep" - "Cyclist beware, you appear to be cycling in the wrong direction and that could be hazardous to your health and other road users, but please feel free to carry on in your current trajectory"

"Beeep B Beep Beep"  - "Honey, I'm home (as he pulls into park)"

"Beeep B Beeep B'Beep" - " I am desperately in need of a watemelon on a stick and a small Chihuahua"

This guide is not a definate translation as there is some difficulty with the rising and falling nature of the tonal language of Mandarin Car Horn - however it is a basic guide.

Carrying on, we had a good day all in all. A nice quiet monastery with no tourist crowds (and no apparent monks either), some unspoilt (mostly) villages of Shuhe and Baisha and a show ran by the locals which ended up with the audience joining in on a dance somewhat like the 'Hokey Cokey' (and drinking some strong liquor). We took to the two New Zealanders and discussed some of our destinations in a coctail bar in Baisha (which was truly surreal - sipping long island ice teas as locals trudge past with limping dogs and children playing in the dirt).
We booked some bus tickets to allow us to visit the much talked about in these parts 'Tiger Leaping Gorge' in the morning, an early start and a 3 hour journey in each direction - but hopefully it will be worth it if the weather holds.
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