Saturday, September 15, 2007

Running and Hiding from the Police

I got to the bus station at 6:50 AM for my bus from Datong to Wutai Shan. I was told the bus would leave by 7:30 but I needed to be there at 7:00. I don’t know what all was going on but about 8:30 we finally left the bus station. I thought well we are on our way but we had to make a couple of other stops to pick up some boxes and more people.

I think the driver was trying to make up for the late start so he was driving really fast and a little bit crazy. All of a sudden I heard this sound that sounded like a siren. I was not sure it was a siren or if it was meant for our mini-bus until I saw the police car come up on the left side of the mini-bus and a cop point to the driver. The driver of the mini-bus just seemed to ignore the cop car and kept driving at a high rate of speed. The cop car was trying to force the bus to the right but the driver would just honk the horn and keep going. At one point the cop got in front of the bus and the bus slowed down and made a quick left turn on a dirt road. The mini-bus was going up and down the boxes loaded earlier were flying around as the mini-bus bounced down this dirt road. The mini-bus stopped for a few minutes later and sort of hide behind a wall. After a couple of minutes the bus went on down the dirt road. This was not much or a road and about 30 meters later the mini-bus seemed to get stuck in the mud. With a little bit of back and forth and a couple of guys pushing we went back to where we had stopped before and stopped again. The mini-bus set there for about 15 minutes. The guys working on the mini-bus and the driver made a few phone calls and walked to the end of the wall to see if they saw the cop car. When they thought it was safe we drove out the same way we came and then proceeded to turn on another dirt road though a small village. We kept going down these dirt roads that were really bad and very wet from the day before. I was sure a number of times we where going to get stuck. In one of the small villages we went through the mini-bus stopped and ask for directions. About 15 minutes after asking for directions we came to a regular road again and proceeded one our way. Even though I was looking for police cars the rest of the trip this was the end of our police chase and I was really surprised.

You would figure this would be enough interesting stuff for one bus trip and in comparison the rest of the bus ride was nowhere close but still interesting. We drove past the Hanging Monastery and just prior to getting there we hit a huge traffic jam. This gave me a chance to take a picture of the landscape which was much easier to see than the day before.

The traffic jam was full of trucks loaded down with coal and the jam was cause by a truck broken down in the tunnel. Really for the next 40K it seemed like there was at least one truck per kilometer broken down. The Chinese drivers are not a patience type and they tried to use the left lane in the tunnel that is meant to be used for traffic in the opposite direction. Basically this caused a traffic jam in both lanes and it was impossible for someone to drive in the opposite direction. We did move forward and some of the landscape along the route to Wutai Shan was rather pretty.

At one point we got to a place where all these trucks of coal where headed and there was a line of trucks loaded with coal that must have stretched on for 5 kilometers. We did get to Wutai Shan in one piece and what should have been a 5 hour trip turned out to be take 8 ½ hours from the time I got to the bus station in Datong.

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