Escape from Beijing on the road trip from hell.

Malanguan Travel Blog

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Lisa and Steve witnessed a man-on-bike-VS-car incident while waiting for our driver.
Woke up this morning feeling more congested than usual. I have felt worse each day here -- I think my body is losing the fight against this grimy air!

Our plan for today was to get out of Beijing...road trip! A guy ("Dick") had given me his card at Tiananmen Square, and I had called him to request his services for the day. The plan was to go to the Eastern Qing Tombs (by the way, Qing is pronounced "ching"). According to Fodor's, "The Eastern Qing Tombs are a two- to three-hour drive from the capital. The rural scenery is dramatic, and the trip is one of the best full-day excursions outside Beijing." Sounds perfect! And the farther from Beijing, the better.
Trying to figure out how to get there...


We had a little snafu with the driver, who was waiting at the wrong building. We were supposed to meet at 8:00. At 8:15 I went back up to the apartment to call. The phone was ringing when I opened  the door -- it was our guide for the day, Sherry. I could not figure out what she was saying (We are on the ground! On the ground!) and she couldn't understand me (We are waiting outside Building 7. We are outside. Building 7. ) Somehow it worked, and when I got downstairs she was there with the driver (who wasn't Dick) and an old dusty car. Guess Dick farmed this one out.

When we told Sherry where we wanted to go, she did not know where it was. After we showed her on the map, she promptly doubled the price, which had been quite cheap to begin with, so we agree on the new rate.
The first three hours were spent driving through dust.


Just so happens that our driver, who we believe to be mildly retarded, is the only timid driver in all of China. Timid...and slow. Really slow. You know when you are driving somewhere new and you are not quite sure where you are, but you know you have a turn coming up so you go really really slow, annoying everyone around you? That was our guy, THE WHOLE WAY. Oh, and we stopped no fewer than 12 times for directions. That's not an exaggeration.

The clean air I was hoping for was a long time in coming. In fact it got a lot worse before it got better. The first three hours were spent driving through the chaotic suburban sprawl of Beijing. You would not believe the construction! It was so dusty, and packed with huge trucks, spewing black exhaust and kicking up dust and dirt.
Can't...breath...
In some cases we were almost squished between trucks! I wish I had taken more photos, but I was too busy trying to arrange clothing into an air filtering system. My nose was running, my eyes were watering, and my chest hurt. It wasn't what most people would call fun.

We finally got to cleaner air, and drove along a huge lake. The water level was really low. China really needs rain to fill the lakes and wash the dust everything off.

Four and a half hours after we began, we finally landed in the general area of the Qing Tombs. Dumdum couldn't figure things out and let us out at a deserted pagoda. Sherry assured us it was Yuling's Tomb, which is what we wanted to see. It was most definitely not Yuling's Tomb -- we had a full description in our book. So we suggested they bring us to the parking area and perhaps we could buy tickets and a map.
Steve outside Yuling's Tomb.
Of course our driver had to get directions even for that ... we could clearly see where to go and we can't even read the signs!

Tickets were super expensive (I think we got a special "foreigners rate"). Since it was getting kind of late, we just paid for entrance to Yuling's Tomb instead of an "all-inclusive" ticket. We had also hoped to Dingdongling's Tomb but that was not in the cards.   

The buildings had a true patina -- they weren't all painted up and "restored" like the Summer Palace had been. The colors were soft and beautiful, plus there were no screaming children. Perfect! We had a little picnic on a stone table, then we explored the grounds before heading down into the tomb. The entry to the tomb was marble, with beautiful carved Buddhist images.
Sanskrit carvings.
There were people, animals, instruments, and sanskrit writing.  It was very well preserved, and well lit. A couple of coffins in the burial chamber had been destroyed by a warlord/tomb raider, but the ones left there were in pretty good condition. One was cracked open a little -- spooky!

I felt exhausted after this short visit, so we turned out and set off for Beijing. Along the way, we stopped so I could photograph some pear trees. There was a particularly scenic stretch, and I took several photos. (But don't get the idea the whole drive was like this... mostly it was dusty and ugly.)

We made good time (despite being flagged for a police check...luckily we had remembered our passports!) until we got to Beijing. Then we hit traffic, and inexplicably, dumdum wouldn't go over about 40 mph.
Pear tree on the drive back to Beijing.
People were passing and honking, and when he missed our exit, I nearly leaped over the seat to strangle him. We (well, Lisa and Steve ... I was completely lost like Dumdum) had to direct him to our apartment. All in all, the drive back took 3-1/2 hours.

By the time we got home, I felt like I had been run over by one of those trucks. The left side of my head and face seems to be over-packed with stuffing, my glands are swollen, and my throat and neck hurts. Plus, my eye lid is all swollen and won't stop watering -- that's an interesting twist. I look pretty scary. I feel as bad as I look. Good night.

ironwork80 says:
she is i have ridden with her
Posted on: Apr 21, 2008
cmgervais says:
Oh, yes, I really like this kind of crazy driving, and I am very good at it :^)
Posted on: Apr 20, 2008
portia says:
Hi, yes we had time to see several tombs there, I was very impressed with the row of stone animals leading to the main entrance, looks like you got to see them too. I think growing up in Taipei and then lived in L.A. had made me immune to the bad air?! Really you think it would be fun to drive in China? I thought it was really crazy the way they drive there!
Posted on: Apr 20, 2008
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Lisa and Steve witnessed a man-on-…
Lisa and Steve witnessed a man-on…
Trying to figure out how to get th…
Trying to figure out how to get t…
The first three hours were spent d…
The first three hours were spent …
Cant...breath...
Can't...breath...
Steve outside Yulings Tomb.
Steve outside Yuling's Tomb.
Sanskrit carvings.
Sanskrit carvings.
Pear tree on the drive back to Bei…
Pear tree on the drive back to Be…
On our way!
On our way!
Umm, thats pretty close!
Umm, that's pretty close!
Scenery outside of Beijing.
Scenery outside of Beijing.
Small town on the way to Eastern Q…
Small town on the way to Eastern …
Dusty road outside of Beijing.
Dusty road outside of Beijing.
Traffic on the way home.
Traffic on the way home.
Road side repair See the supervis…
Road side repair See the "supervi…
Supermarket on the way to Qing Tom…
Supermarket on the way to Qing To…
Grocery stop along the way.
Grocery stop along the way.
Grocery stop on the way.
Grocery stop on the way.
Misery.
Misery.
Big trucks closing in on us!
Big trucks closing in on us!
This town needs a good rain.
This town needs a good rain.
On the way to Qing Tombs we met ve…
On the way to Qing Tombs we met v…
Finally, weve arrived!
Finally, we've arrived!
Stone horse outside the deserted p…
Stone horse outside the deserted …
Three funny faces.
Three funny faces.
Looks like hes laughing.
Looks like he's laughing.
Deserted pagoda -- all locked up.
Deserted pagoda -- all locked up.
Steve tries to figure out where th…
Steve tries to figure out where t…
Grounds of the deserted pagoda.
Grounds of the deserted pagoda.
White cheese on white bread for lu…
White cheese on white bread for l…
Steves ham sandwich.
Steve's ham sandwich.
Steve enjoys a ham sandwich.
Steve enjoys a ham sandwich.
Lisa -- happy to be out of the car…
Lisa -- happy to be out of the ca…
Feel like hell, but at least I won…
Feel like hell, but at least I wo…
Fellow picnicker.
Fellow picnicker.
Yulings Tomb grounds.
Yuling's Tomb grounds.
Yulings Tomb area.
Yuling's Tomb area.
The grounds outside Yulings Tomb.
The grounds outside Yuling's Tomb.
You could rent this vinage clothin…
You could rent this vinage clothi…
Steve and Lisa outside Yulings To…
Steve and Lisa outside Yuling's T…
It must be good luck to touch his …
It must be good luck to touch his…
Steve checks out the bells outside…
Steve checks out the bells outsid…
Roof line of Yulings Tomb.
Roof line of Yuling's Tomb.
Lisa and Steve at Yulings Tomb.
Lisa and Steve at Yuling's Tomb.
Stone work outside Yulings Tomb.
Stone work outside Yuling's Tomb.
Yulings Tomb.
Yuling's Tomb.
Sign for Yulings Tomb.
Sign for Yuling's Tomb.
The tunnel to the tomb -- carved m…
The tunnel to the tomb -- carved …
Marble carvings in Yulings Tomb.
Marble carvings in Yuling's Tomb.
The police who stopped us and chec…
The police who stopped us and che…
The scenic portion of our drive ho…
The scenic portion of our drive h…
The road home.
The road home.
Scenery on the way back to Beijing.
Scenery on the way back to Beijing.
Blossoming pear tree on the way ba…
Blossoming pear tree on the way b…
He drove by at the perfect time.
He drove by at the perfect time.
Farmer.
Farmer.
Rural traffic.
Rural traffic.
Malanguan
photo by: cmgervais