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Saturday, October 10th 2015
This morning, when we left the hotel with a huge smile on our face knowing the rally would start. We finally figured out which car would be bringing us from Beijing to Shanghai the next 9 days: A yellow BMW 2002! Everybody was settled with a car, the wind was blowing ice, and the sun was shining...
After a short and efficient briefing, we departed. First cultural shock : 1st mistake in the first 2km of the rally which brought my co-pilot and myself in a huge traffic jam and where we ended up completely lost. 10 minutes after, we almost ended up in the back of a car...so far so good for the challenge. An hour and 3 kilometers of rally laters, we saw a miracle : we saw a little fiat 500 from the rally in the traffic jam. Without hesitation, we jumped out of our car and ran to him. He told us we were by miracle on the right way to the Great Wall and we were relieved !
The real departure ceremony happened in front of the Great Wall with a nice speach and a welcome banner. Breathtaking.
That's were the real rally started, we started to feel comfortable with the yellow lovely BMW and started to be right on track with time and roadbook, which is clearly organized. Very impressive to try to find the signs on the road where there is little english translation.
The road became more and more and more and more beautiful with landscapes unseen before for a traveler like me. We started to climb mountains from the plains and beautiful goats were there in the middle of the road to set beautiful scene for pictures with gorgeous Aston Martin surrounded by cheep and goats.
We arrived at the first check point almost on time and the second part was also breathtakin with mountain views and a lovely stop and the check point #2 where an amazing "barrista" was brewing coffee and capuccino for everyone next to a fountains of fish in the middle of the country. My impression : the most deserved cappuccino and the most delicious in years !
The last leg of rally brought us in a beautiful area towards Yesanpo where thousands of people were gathered along the way. Second cultural shock : EVERYBODY...yes, EVERYBODY has a smartphone here, even in the most remote area....and...they seem to love Classic Cars and the teams. The blonds in particular for some reason.
Again a welcome ceremony in the Canyons area. Made us think about the national parks from America. 100s of people waiting to see the cars and getting their picture taken with them.
Main impression from most of the teams : IT'S FREEZING !!! the Iphone said 25 degrees celsius. we packed accordingly...wrong. this is ALASKA !
After a 20 minutes discovery of the canyon(gorgeous by the way) with rivers, cascade, beautiful sunset, we discovered our lovely hotel and are about to run to the welcome dinner...yes, everything is timed here, and rush. The Classic Car Passion team is frozen but about to enjoy the evening with the rest and excited to discover day #4 !
The day ended with a traditional chinese dinner, with round platters where some teams, courageous went to see a show outside and the others enjoyed the local beers and some dutch genever brought by our colleagues of PreWar Cars website. Guaranteed hangover but great memories...
© Pictures: D. De Wagheneire - Texts: FG