Meetings in Beijing and departure to the southeast

Beijing is behind us, and we are now on our way to Shanghai. We have visited Sidel’s factory as well as premium supplier Red Bull. While Sidel is up against a stagnating market for beverages in China, RedBull by contrast has invested in new PET lines to cope with growth in the premium sector. Between these appointments we are making good progress with our Editourmobil in the city traffic. It is impressive how well everything seems to function in such a megacity. Even more so as Chinese drivers seem to consider the rules of the road as just one of their driving options. In particular, joining the motorway or changing lanes are carried out without any prior indication.

Hence all road users tend to adopt prudent driving behaviour. Sit at a roadside café, and casually count the number of cars passing by which have dents on them. Carry out the same exercise in India and out of 10 cars, 9 will have dents. Here in China it’s about one in a hundred. Top of the scale in my personal dent index is France, where every 10 cars have 11 dents. I subscribe to the theory that in France, every car is delivered with a collection of dents.

So there is a huge amount of traffic in China, but – once you are used to it – Chinese drivers are considerate. It’s not all cars and motorways however; I ought to mention the efficient underground network as an excellent alternative to heavy traffic. And finally there is also Shanks’ pony, another easy way to get around. And here again, top marks to Beijing. The pavements are well laid out and on major roads there are bridges and underpasses for pedestrians. In the evening it is a pleasure to saunter along the streets. During the day however, it is less fun – with temperatures typically as high as 35°C in the shade.

As hotel residents and motorhome drivers we are obliged to register with the local police within 24 hours. We duly showed up at no fewer than four police stations, but despite the best efforts of our Chinese interpreter, the police were baffled as to what to do with us. In order not to lose face, the charming official at our last port of call simply wished us a pleasant journey and if there were any problems, we should call 110. Fair enough. When we get to Shanghai we’ll try again to register.