Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Landslide Rule

When traveling by bus in a developing country, if the road ahead is blocked by a landslide, don't panic. Grab your gear and walk over the landslide. There WILL be transport waiting on the other side. And that's what we did on our way out of BingZhongLuo when a landslide blocked the road just 2 kms from town.

We could have panicked. The road was blocked 2 kms into our 300km journey south to Liuku. There was literally no other way out. To the west is Burma. To the North is Tibet. And the two-day walk over the mountains east to the next town with transport is impossible due to snow. There are three guys with picks and shovels working clearing debris. This could take awhile.

Our south-bound bus was the first vehicle to come across the landslide. The driver made no move for 10 minutes. We asked for a full refund of the fare. The drawback of hopping over the landslide at this point was losing the whole fare of the 300km journey and having to buy the fare again from the next bus. Sun-Ling got on the phone to the bus company who agreed to refund our fare but that meant returning to the BingZhongLuo station which we did, getting our refund, and then walking back 2kms to the landslide. In 10 seconds we were on the other side. And 5 minutes later we had snagged a free ride in an SUV to 40 kms to Gongshan where we bought onward tickets to Liuku.



Crash Eddy said...

Do I understand this correctly? The bus departed BingZhongLuo with no one knowing the slide had occurred only 2km distant? Blocked, you walked the 2km back to BingZhongLuo to collect your 300Y fare. Were you the only walkers or did the whole busload of passengers walk back together? Then you walked back to the slide, gingerly across it, and hitched a ride to the next town with a bus stop? Quite a resourceful happy ending, I'll say!

john said...

Ed, Yes the bus departed at 8AM, just after sunrise, with no knowledge of the landslide. It probably happened just moments before we got there...Blocked, the bus drove everyone back to BZL station, where we got our 90 x 2 = 180RMB refund... Then we were the only walkers back to the landslide, where we walked across, and hitched the ride...We were the only walkers as all the other passengers were Chinese tourists. If they had been locals, they would have walked over as well, but locals rarely take the long distance bus all the way to Liuku...There are a few more wrinkles to this story which I'll tell you in person.