Maureen and Pat display our route in front of Mog in Beijing!The Anglophone group of five vans and nine people arrived safely in Beijing at about 10:15 (local time) on Friday the 9th of August 2002!

The journey so far has taken us about 125 days and we have covered over 22,000km.

The four French vans are between Wubu and Taiyuan and should arrive in Beijing in a couple of days (they were delayed waiting for spare parts.)

The two major highlights between the Labrang Monastery and Beijing were Xi'an (The Terracotta Army) and Pingyao (A Ming dynasty city). The lowlights were the roads, road tolls and finding somewhere to camp. As we have moved east into more populated areas it has become increasingly difficult to wild camp, and the support we have been getting from our "host" company in China (China Swan) has left a lot to be desired.

In Xi'an we parked in the grounds of the Xi'an Peoples Hotel, an impressive looking hotel boasting "more than 20 restaurants" however none of us were able to find one in use! The hotel did however arrange a minibus tour including a visit to the Terracotta Army. When I first visited this site in 1984 there was a single "pit" open to the public in the midst of fields in the countryside. Photography was strictly prohibited. The site is now a cross between Blackpool and Las Vegas! With temperatures in the 40s (Celsius) considerable stamina (and water) was needed. The "army" itself however remains very impressive. Contrary to what we were told you can now take photographs (without flash) in Pit 1 and Kodak now sponsor some of the on-site "attractions".

Pingyao is a well preserved Han Chinese city surrounded by a complete 6km Ming dynasty city wall. The city was used as background for the film "Raise the red lantern" and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Recommended. We were allowed to camp overnight in the well guarded coach park for only 20 Yuan ($3USA).

Stephen Stewart.

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