Our fellow travelers in Yuanyang were, as usually, most interesting! Martin has traveled to China 11 times since 1992 (!) and knows every corner of Northwest & Southwest of China. He had lots to tell about how the country has transformed in a positive way. Especially the attitude towards foreigners has changed dramatically, reflecting the official government policy.
The Swiss ladies, Murielle & Camille, studied near Shanghai and spoke Chinese really well, which came in handy in a place where nobody masters the English language yet. Especially funny were their stories about eating habits in China, so different from anything we experienced in almost one month here. For instance, in a good restaurant or in a well-off family, rice will be served at the end of the dinner!
Less funny and rather revolting were their stories about the way animals are treated in China. Vietnam was already a shock for us, but China is even worse. Of course, they had stories about fishes cut up alive and skinned alive, but also one of small chickens having their feathers plucked alive… “Why not do it now, they will die anyway” (!)
For us, it was the first dinner in a group so we got to taste lots of different dishes. Martin and the two of us successfully thwarted Murielle’s culinary adventure to order a big frog, obviously a delicacy here.
Later a young German joined us, who, together with his girlfriend, has been biking for two years, from Freiburg in Germany, through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal (in the winter) and partly Tibet, where they were arrested and made to leave by train “for their own safety because of the riots in Lhasa”. They are currently pedaling through Southwest China. This, for us incomprehensible way of traveling, will later take them through Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, East Timor and finally to Australia, where they plan to work for a year to finance their further traveling.
As so often before, when we met people biking around the globe, we wondered what drives them and how this can be endured. Apparently, Germans and Swiss enjoy this way of traveling in particular. Unsurprisingly it is the cheapest way of traveling: that couple had spent 10.000 Euros in two years. This is less than what we spent per person in seven months in South America!