Car pickup

May 26 th

Pouring here and the pollution is probably the worst we have seen. I understand it hit close to 500 on the Chinese scale. You sure can feel it. It is recommended that we do not do any prolonged physical activity outside. There are major demonstrations and the key issue here in the news is the pollution. Last night, we ventured  out to a restaurant recommended by (mouthful here) a Canadian competitors daughter and husband who work at the university and with 11 years in Beijing. It was  Gary in the Ford Model A. The 'Golden Phoenix' restaurant is about a 20 minute drive down a small street. The advantage pictures were on the menu. We found Fried Fish, a recommendation which was delicious. But we clearly  goofed on ordering the noodles by pictures. They were served cold.  Uck! Being the only non Chinese in the restaurant brought some interesting giggles and the waitress chuckled when we ordered. She went to other employees and they huddled. The fish arrived and yes it was a fish with huge eyes and very crispy. It was very tasty. After eating some of the food, not all, the manager arrived with his Samsung phone. Speaking rapidly into it . It said 'do you like  parading?' We giggled, trying to figure out what the heck? After about 5 more attempts we got. 'Does it liking?' Something like  a Jabba the Hut conversation ensued. So we figured 'did we like it? ' we nodded. I tried to gesticulate could I use his phone but we aren't there yet obviously technologically as he mimed back 'no'.  Wow,  the future is coming and we live in interesting times.


The restaurant has to post it's government  rating, we were a little nervous looking at it, it had a B clearly for cleanliness so a. 😐  neutral smile.  It was a little sketchy when we looked in the kitchen . But it had a Panda Star their equivalent of our food rating service. Panda gave it a best restaurant in Beijing in 2010. So I guess we were safe.

 Earlier in the day, we  registered, our GPS and got our Chinese licenses. Then we were to meet buses to take us to the car. The big moment. Tony and I had a misconnect, I did the registration and he was doing some computer work . He couldn't find me, I couldn't find him. I  got on the bus, they waited and finally began to drive out without him. We had been assigned to a bus for our ride out. No Tony, the bus departs so I run to the front of the bus asking if they would stop so I could search again. Of course no one speaks English. At this point everyone on the bus knows us. I run back to hotel. Tony is searching for me. There he is, we jump on the bus to a round of applause and off we go.

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45 minutes later we arrive at the storage and enter. There in a corner sits our home for the next 35 days. Looking lonely and a little dusty. Tony and I jump in to the car like most of the drivers, he turns the switch to on and nothing lights up. OH dear! OK small glitch he says OK they have turned the kill switch off, so no power. Whew!  Leans into the back seat and flips the switch. Lights on dash aluminate  and Tony turns the key and the car instantly purrs into life. Ah the sound is so sweet!

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Drive out, others not so lucky, we pull out into the drizzle and are asked to sign out. We pull around the corner to avoid others and take a walk around to view any damage. Yes there is some on the right rear fender. The aluminum is slightly bent. tony pulls it out but we get the shipping company to fill in the forms and then off we go. We have our first tulip diagram to return back to the hotel. What an experience, Vancouver, then LAX were voted the worst traffic in North America. Beijing takes the cake for worst drivers. It was scary, we didn't move for some time and as we are a spectacle on the road it made it an adventure. iPhones flashing cars weaved and slowed and one just stopped in front of us on the highway. We almost rear ended that one. Four lane highways have six or seven cars across. People drive on shoulders, sometimes driving across directly at us. So glad we have a loud horn. Finally arriving at the Hotel and being directed into our parking space beside all the similar vintage cars. Here are a few photos of our fellow competitors. There are some completely open air cars, no windshields wow, interesting wet drive back to hotel.  They store the car with blue tarps. at the other end of the scale a last minute entrant from England  has a 60 Chevy pickup, who brought a TV and cappuccino machine and flew his truck here. UMMM interesting crowd. I said to one fellow Canadian team member, wow there are some eccentric people here. He said YES, and you realize you are one of them. I chuckled.

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Well, one comment everyone loves our protective grill at the front of the car.  All are amazed so Andy,  your work is well appreciated. Someone suggested we could use it if we were starving in the Gobi desert to BBQ on it, ( not sure what).

One other thing, with the slow slow driving our fuel pump is making a lot of noise. Hopefully all is well. Thankfully we brought rebuild kits.

Cocktail party at 6:00pm

© Anthony Strelzow 2013