Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Drinks All Round

We have arrived at Jiuquan, which intriguingly means wine spring. In a variation of the water into wine bible story, legend has it that a Western Han general was granted imperial wine by the emperor. Wanting to share it with his troops, he poured it into a spring which conveniently turned into wine. No doubt we will also share a drink tonight as an early celebration in anticipation of reaching the end of the Great Wall in the next couple of days. That is assuming I do not fall off again, though as the whereabouts of the spring now seems to be a closely guarded secret, it will certainly not be in an alcoholic haze.

We have had quite a bit of media attention recently, with a sizeable slot on Zhangye TV news – Bajiu providing light entertainment by knocking over his water bowl – and a troupe of pretty girl reporters from Jiaquan Weekly who considerably brightened up the day for the ‘boys’.
A year ago we were being hounded by the police to move out of our lodgings and drive 40 miles to the nearest ‘foreigners hotel’. With official certification and increasing publicity, things have changed, and now they even appear to want to join us. The photo below shows me giving pony rides to a charming young Jiaquan policeman.
Everyone is amazingly friendly, and we are often given things to eat and drink - from bottles of water to sunflower seeds – yesterday a guy rushed up and shoved two large onions into my hands! Below is Li May holding a box of apples presented to us by the delightful elderly couple we stayed with in Xinhua.

Some cute kids at Qing Shui.

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