The final chapter
So we are on a cold, uncomfortable, and smoke filled bus. The bus station said it will be a 17 hour ride. There is a little baby that is scared of me. Oh, and the worst blizzard in China’s recent history is on the way.
Hours 1-5: By time we got out of the city of Wuhan it was already snowing pretty hard and it was dark. By the speed of the bus, you would have thought it was a bright sunny day in the summer. We were on a normal highway for about the first 3 hours. Then we turned down a smaller road that was a little rougher. Kind of like turning down a country road. It pretty much remained like this the rest of the trip.
About the 5th hour we stopped to take a break and to get some food. It was around 10PM. I noticed that we have been going up hill over the last hour but did not think to much about it. However when we got to the rest stop I decided to go to the WC (bathroom) before I got back on the bus. Not to go into to much detail, I will just say I was doing #1. The toilet was nothing but a hole in the ground. Something I have grown use to in the country areas of China. The only difference about this hole is that I never heard anything hit a bottom. I thought that was a little strange. So after I finished I decided to walk around the building to see what was going on. Why did I not hear a noise. Well, I could not walk around the building because it was built over a cliff!! As I noticed the cliff, I also heard water. About a 100 feet below was a stream, and that was where “it” went. This also brought to my attention how high we have gotten over the last hour.
Here is the only photo we took. The windows always had moisture on them so it was not the best for pictures
Hour 6-13: It was really dark, still snowing, and getting colder. Earlier, every time I looked at the baby it would cry, and it was nice that the baby had finally gone asleep. I was looking out the window when I noticed a light very far away, and way below us. A realization hit me, I WAS VERY HIGH ON A MOUNTAIN!!! I mean hundreds of feet up!!! And next to the road was a straight down cliff to where the cars in the valley were.
If you know me, then you know how scared I am of heights. I suddenly found myself hanging on to things for safety and looking for ways to get off this bus if something happens. We were high for a long time. Eventually, I fell asleep.
Around the 13th hour I was awaken to a sudden slamming of the brakes. The sun had started to come up so I could see what was going on. We were still on top of some mountains, there was an accident in front of us, and instead of any kind of guardrail along the road there were nothing but small poles with a little cable connecting to each one. Oh yeah, and a straight down cliff. Then the scariest thing ever happened. The bus started to slide on the snow and ice towards the edge of the cliff. The next thing I know there were men jumping off the bus and placing whatever they can under the tires to wedge them. It stopped the bus. Whew!!! After that they decided to put the snow chains on. Something I thought would have gone on long ago.
Hour 13-17: It took a while to get through the accident. A bus had slid into the mountain edge and stopped traffic both ways. After we got through we started to go down the mountain. I was assuming that we were getting close to Chongqing. We got low enough where they could take off the snow chains. However, I still did not see any signs of a big city. So I started to ask around to see if anyone knew any English when we got to a rest stop. I finally found one man who could speak just a little. I asked him how close we were and all he could say was something about 6. We were suppose to be there at around 10 AM, and it was 10 AM when I asked him this. So I figured he meant 6 PM that night, or in 6 hours. Both were not answers I wanted to hear. Now our 17 hour trip has turned into 23-25 hour trip. After our break we got back on the bus, and it started to happen again. We were going back UP into the mountains!!!! Before we knew it we were back at the top of the mountains. Back to straight down cliffs, snow on the road, and a driver that thought he was in a NASCAR race. I have never gone so fast on snow in my life. We finally got high enough to where the bus started to slide backwards down the mountain, so we got the snow chains out again.
Hour 17-?: Over the day I finally got the little baby to warm up to me. I could get him to smile a little at me, but that was about it. Then grandma did something with the kid that haunts my dreams to this day. He had to go #2 and needed a place to go since they do not use diapers here. Normally parents will put them over grass or a trash can to go, but we did not have either. So, grandma opened some newspaper and laid it out on the floor. That is where little man went. Right next to me!!!!! It gets worse. Grandma then just covered it with more newspaper and left it there. Right next to me!!! A few hours later when we stopped to take a break everyone started to walk on the newspaper and track it down the aisle. It was sick!!!! So on top of everything that has already happened, I now had “that” next to me on the floor.
It was getting dark and we were still on top of the mountain. It was a sign that we were still not close. Right before it got dark the bus stopped again. There was nothing around but everyone got off. I was tired and cold and did not move. I was in a very dark place at this point and had checked out mentally hours ago. I was not moving until we got there, whenever that would be. I shortly found out why everyone got off. Our bus started to cross an old wooden bridge that I would have not felt good walking across. I figured out why everyone got off. They were not even brave enough to stay on the bus. These are the same people that seemed at ease the whole time in the mountains, but this bridge scared them enough to get off, and here I was on the bus. Oh, by the way, the drop under the bridge was several hundred feet down.
After the bridge we started to go down again, it was the last of the high mountain roads. It was probably around 6PM by then. We should be there soon!!!
Hour 25-?: We stopped for dinner. I found the guy who knew a little English and asked him again about the time. He said about 6-8. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!! Again, I had to assume it was 6-8 more hours, or 6-8 in the morning. We ate dinner and continued on. The rest of the trip was not that eventful. We went though several small villages and let people off the bus. I was far off in my dark place. We were able to get in touch with the guy who was in charge of our boat trip and told him about getting in sometime over that night and he got us a really good place to stay. Finally around 3 in the morning, 34 hours later, we reached Chongqing. Our hotel was warm and amazing, and even though it was 3 in the morning and I have been traveling for 34 hours, I took the hottest most amazing shower ever.
The rest of the trip was great, even though it was very cold. Since this trip I have not traveled on any long distance buses in China. I have been on a few more sleeper buses, but only in hot places, where there are no mountains, and outside of China.