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Shibanxi Holiday 2011 - Day 10 - Xianrenjiao to Bagou - the long way around

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We had originally hoped to walk to Caiziba from Bagou and then catch the third passenger train back, but we had ended up at Xianrenjiao instead and it was barely one o'clock, so rather than freeze waiting, we decided to walk back. We hoped in part to use the 'new road' above the tourist run past spot and I had assumed that it would connect to the truck road that skirts the village and crosses the railway line on the bridge on the Jiaoba side. However, when we set off up this road, there was no sign of a new junction and when we got to the ridge we turned right onto a path. Almost immediately we came across this small building, the guardian figure outside suggesting there might be something interesting inside. Indeed there was, this is a 'buffalo' temple, the larger figures are the king and queen of the buffaloes, two of which are seen left and right under the red cloths. Behind was a small shrine with the more common landlord and landlady figures.

We headed down the track which brought us back to the railway but some way above it before the first tunnel. Going through the settlement above, we found the new road some distance away - where it finishes I can't say but it must take the long way round... The relatively flat section on the top of the hill has merely caused the loss of some useful agricultural land, but the ascent shows that the environment is definitely not safe in the hands of Chinese peasantry. A few token trees have been planted but the existing mess will soon be added to as the quality of construction is so poor that cracks are already appearing near the edge in places.

We paused to watch a coal train come past...

Again we went down the hill behind Jiaoba and since it was starting to drizzle again there was no temptation to follow the road down to the junction shown in the previous blog. Instead we just made it through the first tunnel before the coal train returned, the lack of available light is clear from the brightness of the pedestrian traffic light in the tunnel. Immediate entry into the second tunnel was not recommended:

We found our visitors had been out and back in our absence, it was apparently the birthday of Guan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy) and there had been many visitors to the shrine on the hill above Bagou. Notwithstanding that, the lure of the electric blanket had been too strong and sensibly they had returned to bed. As for the path between Caiziba and the Mamiao road, we tried again the next day from the Caiziba end. It was certainly more successful, even if not quite what we expected.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson