Day 10. Dingzhou to Zhengding
With all the noise, people, traffic and pollution - is it any wonder I got lost and separated from the rest of the group. If it wasn't for modern communication (mobile), I'd still be trying to find them :)
Uncharacteristically for this trip - we got up bright and
early. Our 5-star treatment must have done wonders for the
muscles as well as morale. It didn't take us long before the
competitive nature took hold and we were egging each other to quick
sprints. Some decided to cheat a little and got a leg up from
the passing traffic.
[Cheating all the way to the top]
Others, well - When did you see Little Dave last?
[When did you last see Little Dave?]
All in all, we were in good form. We pulled in for a quick
tea stop just before midday and had our first group photo together.
To the bemusement of some locals, I placed the camera on the
top of a tractor exhaust pipe.
[China Group Photo]
The scenery was a bit of a mixed bag today, for instance, we had
lunch amongst mountains of rubbish lying right next to meticulously
manicured green bushes, shrubs & hedges. China certainly
is a country of striking contrasts.
[Eating lunch amongst the trash]
We pushed on and eventually arrived at the traditional city of
Zhengding, some 15km to the north of Shijiazhuang city. As
luck would have it, I got separated from the rest of the Zhengding
is what I imagined China to be like - a place of architectural
splendour; such a pity that only a few of these cities still
exist. Archaeological evidence indicates that the city area
has been inhabited for over 5000 years.
[Almost in Zhengding]
The whole city used to be surrounded by the city walls, although
only certain sections of them still remain, including the beautiful
main gate. Modern cars are too large to pass through the gate
itself and must instead drive around; the gate is still used
though, but these days only by cyclists and pedestrians.
[Outside Zhengding main square]
Leading from the gate the road passes by beautiful and ornately
designed traditional houses, some of which now function as display
studios for local artisans. Just off this main boulevard, we
saw a number of temples and pagodas. The city has a number of
small parks, all of which have a magical oriental feel to them.
I couldn't help but think what life here would have been like
1000 years ago and that perhaps, as far as lifestyle and quality of
life goes, China has moved backwards instead of forwards with its
ever faster pace of modernization.
[Pagoda by Sunset]
As the sun set, a nearby pagoda cast a long shadow over the city
and for just a tiny moment I was able to feel tranquillity amidst
all the bustling street-side chaos. China doesn't seem to ever