Almost There… We Think

As Steve mentioned the other day, we are physically in China now. Once we crossed the border (which took a lot longer than it should have as a result of some paperwork errors – which were not our fault) we drove to Mengla where we were supposed to get our vehicles inspected. Because of the delays we experienced at the border, we arrived in Mengla after the inspection staff had gone home for the evening. Our guide discussed the options with the company that is helping us out and we decided to push on to Jinghong. Jinghong was only about 100 miles from Mengla, but it took us over 5 hours due to some pretty bad road conditions.

Upon arriving in Jinghong at about 11pm, our guide Jason took us to eat some local Dai food at a street stall. The food was quite good and since it was still my birthday for a few more minutes, we indulged in a few beers. When we stopped to get fuel in Mengla, Jason had also secretly bought some fireworks to help celebrate the day. After eating, we went back to the hotel Jason had arranged and I lit off one of the bottle rockets. Unfortunately, the bottle rocket did a 180 in mid air and headed over our heads and straight for the hotel manager who was carrying a small child in his arms. With catlike reflexes, he ducked to avoid the oncoming missile which later exploded outside a room filled with locals playing Mahjong. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it kind of put a damper on the festivities.

Yesterday we awoke with the hopes of getting our drivers licenses, number plates and completing the vehicle inspections. Things were looking good when we went to the local "DMV" to get our photos taken, but when we still had not received the licenses by "knock-off" time, we knew we might be waiting a little while longer. "Knock-off" time is similar to a lunch break or the end of work and in Jinghong, lunch break lasts for about 3.5 hours. At 4, we were informed that there were some other "problems" with the paperwork and that the documents we sent over 2 months ago had still not been translated into Chinese as required. As a result, we were forced to spend another night in Jinghong. As I write this blog, we are still waiting, although our guide has just informed us that we need to go to the inspection facility so I will have to sign off. This is good news I hope and soon we will officially be on the road in China. Having been here for a few days in our current situation I can’t help but sympathize with Tom Hank’s character in the movie Terminal. Hopefully we won’t be stuck in purgatory as long.