At what point do you say, “we’ve gone far enough?” At what point do you say, “we need to go farther!” ? With clear deadlines and high consequences, those answers are easy. If we overstay one day on our visa in China, we will have to pay 500 RMB/day. That line is clear, and we will never let that happen. But what if we stay one more day in Lanzhou, or what about that one extra day we spent when we were back in Tianshui? Where do those days go and where is the 500 RMB line? Each day we take off from walking is added somewhere and means we arrive in Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, or Iran that many days later. Physically, our bodies cannot realistically handle walking 20-30 km a day without a break once in a while, and that is understood. But how much behind are we willing to get?
Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
It costs to spend time in these places and we must spend our time wisely. Otherwise, this two-year expedition (Jesus Christ, it’s taking us two years!) will take twenty.
This was the conversation of the day as we walked through Lanzhou, one of the more prominent cities on our route and the Silk Road. Here is where at one point China drew its line and border. Now it is very much a Chinese city with everything a modern city has from our perspective. On some blocks, today I wouldn’t have been able to tell you whether I was in Shanghai or Lanzhou. As modern as some of the city is when we made it to the Yellow River we could see the touch of history as the hillside across the river was speckled with pagodas and temples.
We walked from one side of the city to another to meet up with our host Wenyu, who we met on Couchsurfing. She so far is a rad little Chinese lady who has done some epic adventuring herself. She told us of her trip from Europe back to China, which she hitchhiked the majority of and took a little over a year. She brought us to one of the best noodle shops in Lanzhou (which is saying a lot because Lanzhou claims to have the best noodles in China!), and brought us into her home for tea. Her “couch” that we’re “surfing” on is actually an entirely separate apartment where she hosts her English lessons during the day. We’ve lucked out and are feeling the good vibes.
We’re definitely going to stay here at least one more night.
Distance: 27 km
Total Distance: 812 km
End: Lanzhou (兰州)- Wenyu's apartment
Written by Paul