We woke to our nice room where we had stayed the night before. A nicer place than we usually get. We had walked a total of 60 KM the past two days, and you could notice it in our morning start. Not that because we felt sore but because we didn’t leave the hotel till 11:00 AM. For us starting at 11:00 AM and feeling confident in what we could accomplish in the day is a significant change. At the beginning of the walk, we would have written off the day because it would have felt lost.
“Half the day is gone! What could we possibly accomplish that would be worth it?” is something we would have said in week two. Now we know our pace and can crush 20 KM easily in one afternoon. We’re a little stronger, we know our pace better, and we don’t limit ourselves as much anymore.
We walked to the small town of Huangyangzhen and inquired about staying at a small inn off the side of the road. The initial reaction from the owner was that we could not stay at his place because we are foreigners. With maybe a bit of over-confidence, we went about our normal routine of insisting that we could and that we could register ourselves if only the police would come. Well, the police did come, and they echoed the owner of the inn was saying that we could not stay there. Not only could we not stay at this inn but we wouldn’t be able to stay in any of the other dozen hotels in the town. Our only option from their point of view was going to Wuwei, another 35 Km down the road.
We had interacted with many cops before who had even said the same thing but these guys were not budging. They insisted we had no other options even though we explained we had been through this before and knew we could be registered here. The idea of going to Wuwei, with even the option of taking a taxi back the following day to continue walking from this point, seemed like a small defeat. We understood our options were limited. This place could not let us sleep here, and the police were convinced our best option was taking a taxi to Wuwei. On a whim, we asked if it would be ok if we camped tonight, to which they seemed ecstatically positive about. Their excitement came off as, “sweet, that means we don’t have to deal with them anymore.”
Now here’s the thing…
We understand that it’s illegal for us as Americans to stay in China without being registered and a lot of hotels, hostels, and inns of the like don’t know how to register us when we get there (especially in small places that get little to no tourist traffic). We’ve become pretty good about going to the police and registering ourselves when we get to places like this.
We also understand that we are allowed to camp.
How can we be registered as staying in our tent in the middle of the field? How can it be better for the police to think that our camping is better than taking us to be registered in the big city? When we’re camping we're way harder to track down and document our movements. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I want them to take away our ability to camp freely, it’s just so contradictory to what the party wants. More so, maybe, how adamant the police were about us being registered in a hotel in Wuwei to just say "fuck it" when we said we could just sleep outside. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Tonight, I’m writing this from a restaurant as we take the time to do our chores and eat a hot meal before finding a field to lay down in for the night. We’re all excited to camp tonight and are thankful we don’t have to take a taxi ride to Wuwei. Peace and Chow!
We ended up walking well into the night and making this or longest day in kilometers yet! We slept in a field off the side of the road and reveled in our gains as we went to bed.
Distance: 38 Km
Total: 1083 Km
Written by Paul