The Dragon snore
It had been a long trek on the wall to get to the crew meeting point, which was in a small remote village where we were going to spend the evening. Hopefully we would be able to convince a farmer to rent us a room or two as it was freezing cold. But it was one of those valleys where the wall dropped down and down – a never-ending downward spiral for 5 km. We trundled down and down into the village. Every time we thought we were there, there would be another “donga” or “wadi“ that would just throw everything into a painful rollercoaster of an up and down and up and down, and so on it went until, finally, we flattened out into a path that lead right into the village. A very interesting one at that. It goes by the name of the “Underground Great Wall village”.
This hamlet has an estimated 6km of caves and interlinking tunnels under the village that were dug by the villagers in the ‘70s. The reason behind this was that Mao had warned the country to prepare for every eventuality in war and a probable nuclear strike from the west.
As we ran into the village, I saw Pete – the camera man – standing just outside the village. We ran towards him, expecting an interview or some pics, but he was standing uneasily moving around, so I asked, “What’s up?”. He said in an uneasy tone, we are all in one room. I didn’t really know what he meant by this. We walked in together and chatted. Slowly the pieces came together. We were all together on one bed. I have been through this last time I was in China. The bed is a massive hollow slab and under it they light a fire so that it can keep you warm in the winter. It’s an experience sleeping like this as we are so accustomed to our own space.
We had a fantastic home-cooked dinner that was served at a table in the owner’s bedroom. It was quite cool: they cooked the dinner, placed it on the table and then went and lay on the bed and watched us eat. It was now our turn to hit the sack.
We each found a space and nestled down – six guys in a bed! Then it started. Within minutes, Dragon – the team leader – was fast asleep, but what a noise! I’ve never heard snoring so loud. I shouted at him, others followed suit, but nothing really helped – within a minute he was back at it with vengeance. I tried to push it out of my mind, but no, it just got louder and the rhythm kept changing. Eventually I got up and went to look outside if there was a spot that I could sleep, but the wind had picked up and was sand blowing everywhere plus the night had a chill in the air.
It was back into the den. Dragon was now in full swing. He would draw in a rumbling breath down his throat it gargled and into the depth of his lungs. There was then a slight pause and then came the fire. He would expel the air with such bravado and force that our teeth would chatter. His lips would flap in the wind and his nostrils would flare out as he blew every last drop of his breath out until it sounded as if he was being choked and suffocated all in one. Then he would gasp for air, and once again the massive suck on the cool night air began as he filled his lungs to capacity and breathed life into his carcase, reviving and bringing himself back from the edge, he would then roll over and bellow out a new challenge to the night and anyone who dared try and sleep!