Today we arrived in a town just south of Lanzhou, but after Lanzhou, the safe havens become fewer and further between. As for now though, our day was cheerful and smooth with a surprise appearance from a guy who stopped on the side of the road and proceeded to interview us with a live audience on his phone. He said he was from Panda TV and as he chatted with us we saw a live stream of viewers typing questions on his screen. He followed us for a bit and offered a ride, but after we told him, “we must walk.” He said he would go ahead, buy baozi from the next town and deliver it back to us for lunch. He did exactly that. Returning, once again, with his live stream audience asking questions so fast that it was difficult to answer even a few. There was a particular fascination with why Paul’s and my eyes were blue, and Timb’s were brown.
Coming into this expedition, I expected to endure the cities and relish the wilderness expanses between. Modern adventures and outdoor enthusiasts all seem to be drawn to the idea of removing themselves from cities to enjoy natural places. I mention this because I’ve had a few thoughts so far on this journey that made me think about the difference in perception between modern adventurers and the traditional travelers of the Silk Road circa 300 BCE.
What would a group of travelers from a couple of thousand years ago think of the idea of the Silk Walk Expedition? What would they think if they knew modern conveniences offered options to traveling this route in ways that avoid all hardships and can be done in a matter of a few hours? They would probably think we were a bunch of idiots. To be honest, I sometimes think it might be a bit stupid to walk this whole route instead of bus or train from place to place. And, in fact, many locals have asked us why we are in their village. We respond, “because we are traveling.” To which they reply, “so... why are you here?”
It’s true; old world adventurers would have thought differently about what adventuring meant compared to how we think about it now. More than likely they were traders or explorers out of necessity e.g. selling wares somewhere else may increase sales or profit; explorers were ordered to do so in the name of their king for the benefit of the king’s empire. Or something like that. Nowadays, modern adventurers seek out more challenges than their normal lives provide for myriad reasons from personal growth to bragging rights.
This brought me to another thought along the lines of perception. Old world travelers probably thought of the cities as safe havens and the in-betweens as a question mark to some degree. Based on either first-hand experience or second-hand hear-say. This dawned on our group maybe a week ago, but I’ll tie it in here. We started this trip expecting safety in our tents outside the cities and anticipated difficulties finding legal accommodations at an affordable price within the cities, but after about a month of front country trekking, we are finding a sort of attraction toward the old mindset. We can resupply our food stores in the cities. We have the option for a bed, and meals to be cooked for us. We have access to WIFI to offload these journals to all of you, and to brush up on news. Maybe even a hot shower and a beer. Likewise, leaving these safe havens behind as we embark on the next expanse of in-between gives us pause to check ourselves much like those old world travelers would have done before setting out.
Distance: 30 km
Total Distance: 722 km
End: Gancaodian (甘草店)- Hotel
Written by Pat
Also, today my wheel fell off.
So I've been running into a lot of things (stationary things that are very obviously visible; no idea why I'm not watching where I'm going), and it would seem that I bumped the quick-release button that holds the axle to the frame. Over the course of a few kilometers and a tunnel's bumpy sidewalk it managed to wiggle its way off. But we managed to wiggle it back on, and are happy to announce that no trailers were harmed in the course of today's events!