One of the limitations for foreigners in China is driving. Unlike any other country, the Middle Kingdom doesn’t accept international licenses but requires taking a Chinese test. This is why I got really excited when we decided to go on a road trip to the Thousand-Islands-Lake for a weekend.
7 girls, 700 kilometers and 1 car – what else do you need?
…a lot of patience! Organized by our Chinese friend, time and planning were relative, so that we left the car rental station with an hour delay. As the sun was shining despite the rain forecast, we weren’t too concerned about it – we were in a car by ourselves! But Shanghai is Shanghai, an onmi-traffic jam that made us stuck for quite a while until we finally reached the highway. Smart as we were, we had chosen the Chinese Dragon Boat Fest-weekend for our trip, so that we were heading to the highway with pretty much everybody else who possessed a car.
In the end, it took us almost 8 hours to master the 350 kilometers to the lake – which was still worth it. The Thousand Islands Lake is huge, with different arms and many islands. Being too late for a boat trip, we decided to have a pick-nick including belated birthday-cake for me at the shore and as we had food for a whole enterprise, we entirely enjoyed the last two hours of sunshine. Fresh and clear air, warm soil and no one else around: it was hard to believe that we were still in the most populous and polluted country!
Another hour through the dark, passing little villages on bad roads and we reached our hotel. The receptionist was already waiting for us and as it was already too late for him, we didn’t have to check in anymore; the computer was already turned off. Asking for WiFi, he nodded and disappeared, only to come back with a couple of brand-new routers that he installed in our rooms! Included in the price were also Chinese-style breakfast and the entrance to the stone forest that we visited the next day in the predicted rain. After the two hours walk, we got back in the car to make our way back to Shanghai. A beautiful ride through China’s country side, on bumpy ways that made me again realize in what a bubble people are living in Shanghai. While you can live a pretty western life there, the country itself is far from being “fully developed”. Unfortunately the rain prevented us to explore the area a little more.
The traffic wasn’t as bad as the day before, but we still got stuck at the toll-gate driving into the city. As nothing was moving, we spontaneously took this occasion for a little highway-party. A fun trip – and literally a road trip! In the same time we spent in the car each day, we could have crossed Germany from North to South or flied to Malaysia. Being all together without any stranger made this an exceptional China-adventure and I know one thing for sure: The Thousand Islands Lake will see me again!
Check out Nadja’s blog where she writes about her adventures in the Middle Kingdom (China) at nadjainchina.wordpress.com