episode 8 - Guangzhou - Beijing (Feb 12 - March 1, 13)
On this part of the journey, China presents its large cities! We travel from Guangzhou to the capitol of Peking, passing Huangyao and Guilin. Impressive limestone mountains characterize the South Chinese landscape. No matter where we go, it seems that there are always 100.000 tourists there before us.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - Huangyao is the village we have been trying to find on a map for days. On our way to Huangyao we break the limit of 27.000 kilometres that we had set for the entire journey. We have left the warm South of China and are heading up North. The village is about 1000 years old. If a movie wants to show the old China, then this is the place to be. An incredible scenery has been preserved here. It is an enchanting village by the riverside. Some small alleys wind their way between the low-built houses with those typical Chinese rooftops which are gently curved with their stone arches on the ridge and the fiery dragon on the edge of the roof.
Thursday, February 14, 2013 - We have to get up early. The landscape is only supposed to be idyllic between sunrise and 8.30 a.m. So we begin shooting at 7.30. Then the first crowds of tourists arrive, from hotels, accommodations, busses and cars. All paths are blocked with the bits and bobs of the souvenir dealers. Jürgen tells us that the Chinese like company. I am not sure about that. What is the sense of a sightseeing tour, if you cannot view the sight because of the many people?
Friday, February 15, 2013 - On our way to Guilin, from the very start, the incredibly beautiful landscape has infatuated us. The rugged mountain hills of the karst mountains as known from paintings. Can it get more Chinese? Constantly new views and panoramas. So Thomas was shooting until the chips were burning.
Since citrus fruits are growing everywhere on our way to Guilin, we decide to find a farmer to get some information.
We shoot during the tangerine harvest in the mountains. The harvest helpers were extremely friendly and very cheerful. One of them talked with a very heavy tongue. So now I know how it sounds when someone is slurring their speech in Chinese. That was very interesting... from a mere linguistic point of view, of course.
Saturday, February 16, 2013 - Primarily we wanted to drive to Changsha, 450 km away. We ended up driving to Wuhan, 850 km away. Without any problems, swiftly on a free motorway. Ingo and Gregor, who are sitting behind the wheel the whole time, were still lively and cheerful after all that driving. Driving in China cannot be compared to driving in Vietnam, because you can't compare the streets. One can presume that traffic rules exist in China, because a few of them seem to be known to Chinese drivers. I did not have that impression in Vietnam.
Sunday, February 17, 2013 - Today we have a day off. Jürgen and I were doing research, we were looking for the old bridge over the Yangtze River. The great river divides the country into North and South China. And for a long time, there was no bridge connecting them. By the way, Mao Tse Tung once swam across the Yangtze River. Not because of loved ones, but because of power. The Soviets began building this bridge in the 50ies. But then Mao and Khrushchev had a dispute and the Russian left, along with the construction plans.
The Chinese completed the bridge superbly, and so it still stands. The bridge was covered by fog, but looks like a bridge on the top. But seeing it from the coast it is gigantic. It is very high and two stories tall, on the bottom for the train, on the top for road vehicles. Tomorrow we will shoot there.
Monday, February 18, 2013 - We are not in the Chinese tropics anymore, no doubt about that today. It is stormy, it is raining, it is bitter cold and foggy.
Gregor is the youngest in the team, he is somewhat like a "quiet worker in the vineyard of the Lord", he is.. how should one describe him? He is simply a 2fine person", maybe like that. Not only does he drive our team van no. 1 with the equipment, but he is also the second cameraman (not necessarily in that order). I will describe it in military-style: He is the raiding patrol when Thomas is the main army. He is sent into the unknown alone with the camera, and delivers all the takes necessary for completing a story.
We met a young engineer on the bridge, who immediately sent for somebody who helped construct the bridge in the 50ies. The old man was about in his mid-eighties, but very vital and cheery. It was a pleasure listening to him.
We interviewed him in an old, dusty, formerly pompous reception hall of the bridge, which had obviously been requisitioned by the military. The bridge is guarded. They just had changing of the guard, and constantly ran into the frame. Our good and helpful friend from Peking bravely argued with the People's Army on our behalf, until an officer arrived and called off his guards. Good job from our man from Peking, respect!