The Sleeping Beauty
On most of our journeys we have used the walk to directional finder on our phone maps.
We are given a point by the crew where they will meet up with us and then we track to that point along the wall. The amazing thing about this app is when you get into a village or city, its finds the quickest route out along crazy little paths and back alleys, the next thing is you are back onto the wall and off you go. Even in the deep rural areas, somehow we manage to find a farm rack or path that gets us to the end point, but like any tech, some days it goes wrong.
We were blindly following the app down a river bed leading through the massive ‘Wadies’ (dongas) and valleys trying to get back to the wall as in this specific area there were just watch towers. The next thing we find ourselves in a developed tourist area, people and cars everywhere. On we go following the map into the resort which turns out to be a whole series of Buddhist caves and a whole lot more. There were rows of stalls, touristy stuff, food stands and the rest. The next thing we hit a security barrier and are stopped. Trying every charade skill we have in trying to explain where and what we are doing, nothing helped. Then came the worst. “Passport please “and the hand signal, “come with me!”
Off we trundled to the office.
I remember saying to Andy – “We are in the shit, the last time I was asked for a passport in China and didn’t have it there was an issue”.
The explanations continue and in the end we worked out that they thought we were trying to get access without paying. Eventually an official arrived and could speak English. We now managed to sort everything out, but still no access allowed, and it was explained that there was no way through as the whole area had a 4-metre wall around it, so basically it was back the way we came. This meant that we would have an extra 10km to do. So, it was back to the only thing we knew. Our default setting, which is – “There must be a way out and we will find it!”
There was no way that we were going to do the 10km extra.
We headed towards the parking lot and the right turn to the exit, but no, we turned left and headed up the side of all the building and into the parklands; it wasn’t 10 minutes, there it stood, a massive 4 metre wall we were told about. All we could now do was walk along this wall to try and find a way over, a tree, or something. After a few minutes we came to a road leading parallel along the wall and straight to a guard house with a massive gate in the wall – was this an opportunity, or it was back to the office to please explain?
A motor cycle was parked in front of the guard house, I cautiously walked up to the window and peaked in; there sprawled out on the bench was the guard fast asleep, belly rising and falling as he lay. I quickly signalled to Andy and pointed to the gate, maybe there was a way over. Both of our eyes then caught it at the same time, the padlock was open, but hooked through the latch. We quietly approached, unhooked the lock and pushed the massive gate open on its rollers just enough to squeeze through. As I went through, my rucksack hooked the lock and there was a massive clang.
We froze – nothing happened, and we slipped through and quietly closed the gate and Andy replaced the lock.
We were like two loaded springs, we just could not wait to get out; as soon as Andy got the lock back in place we shot up over the hill and into the distance, hearts beating like a couple of escapees.
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