No matter what journey I have been on or which country that I find myself running in, the trucking community are much the same.
Hard-core give it all, take no shit on the road crazy guys and yes, the odd girl in the mix as well.
These big steel monsters belching fire and smoke creak, rumble and hoot their way across the landscape. They are the blood running in the veins of a country, carrying the vital supplies to every small village town or city, keeping the economy going and vast populations alive and fed.
These steel beasts come in many shapes, sizes and state of repair.
Some bright shiny new beasts that are capable of breakneck speeds and others are from yesteryear, relics of a bygone era but somehow still managing to keep going. Somehow they are held together by a patchwork of welded plates and lengths of wire, on the trundle spewing out black smoke as they cough and splutter up the freeway. With a bent chassis, crabbing up the road and leaning over sideways overladen like an old man carrying a massive bundle of wood, they trundle on into the distance.
I have seen bad cases of driving in Cuba, I can’t even begin to explain the Indian truck drivers, they are off the scale for many reasons, probably the most un- roadworthy vehicles of the lot, and the hooters, don’t even get me started on that. But in saying that they do have the coolest looking rigs.
In China, at the moment, as we trundle through the Shan xii province, the truckers are in my sights. I must say that most of the trucks are newish and in fairly good nick, but that’s about it. I have never seen trucks overloaded to the limits that are achieved in China. They definitely give this a new meaning. For the brakes to cope in slowing down these massive loads they have developed a backyard spray nozzle system that spews a constant stream of water on the wheel hubs to cool them down.
In the early morning all you see are clouds of steam approaching as these trucks come careering down the hill at you, trying to slow down. Every 5 km we see the evidence of epic fails as their steel road dragons lie belly up among the trees with their innards strewn all over the farmlands.