As our bus pulled away from the hotel we had only one thought in mind: "RAIN RAIN GO AWAY!" The further we drove, the bigger the drops became. All signs were pointing toward a very wet day until, miraculously, just as we had all rugged up and waterproofed ourselves, the clouds burned off, the drops dried up, and we were all rushing to de-rug and de-waterproof before the intense greenhouse effect set in.
Breakfast left us all a bit wanting (hard boiled eggs, soy sauce rice, anda wide selection of odd accompaniments just didn't quite hit the spot) so we made a quick pit stop for bananas. They are a whopping 25 cents per kilo. Really breaking the bank!
Within minutes we had met our climbing buddies for the day - an army of Chinese women who speak brilliant English, escort and supervise our every step, and turn into mobile shopping malls at the end of the day. In the spirit of our team's tradition of buying everything in sight, we bought everything in sight. This group of 14 may be singlehandedly response for China's 4th quarter growth rate of 9%.
Today's theme was most certainly steps. Steps up, steps down, steps over, steps around. There were big steps and small steps, wide steps, and narrow steps. When there weren't steps there were ledges. Big scary ledges whose edges plunged anywhere from 25 to 500 meters into the valley below. In a moment of excitement Nicole decided to head near the edge for photo. Our team Moms, Lorraine and Darryl, were less than amused and in there ever so adorable Yorkshire accent yelled out to her, "Give over! Come back over here you silly little thing before I bop you on the nose."
Crisis averted, we carried on finishing our shorter but more challenging walk in just over four hours. From there it was onward to lunch, where the lovely restaurant owner (the same gentleman who had cooked up a mean goat the night before) had ice cold beers waiting for a beleaguered and hungry bunch of Aussies! Nothing that entertaining happened save for Rod being his usual irritating self. Just kidding Rod!
We made a quick pit stop in a teeny tiny village where every horizontal surface was covered in drying corn. It was a bit of a "first foreigners" situation, with children and adults looking at us with both intrigue and confusion. Rod, Peter, Andy, and Brendon made a valiant effort to entertain the children at the local primary school before being sent to detention by a very well-dressed headmaster. Paul sat pondering life and love with new mate (pictured), which was great because the rest of us were really getting sick of him. Just kidding Paul!
There was one more pit stop to be made before getting to the hotel and my goodness, was it popular. Why, you ask? Because we could shop! Cookies, crackers, crisps, ice creams, candy, soda (yes we are a healthy bunch), dried fruit, razors, underwear, socks, and NINE bottles of Baijiu have now joined our ever-heavying bus. As I said, if it's not attached to the ground it will be bought!
Dinner was surprisingly low key and now we're off to bed with our biggest walk yet coming tomorrow!!! GO TEAM!!!