"WELCOME TO PU'ER!": Glasses stretched and clicked all round, rice wine skulled. The two young men from the next table were genuine and enthusiastic with their welcome. They poured a small taste from their bottle and we were glad we were able to toast with beer. Cheerful, friendly people, at ease and self confident. Someone asked Gerry what he thought of China. Before Gerry could say anything he exclaimed “I love China”. At the door of the supermarket a cheerful young man smiles and says “Welcome to China” as we enter. In the tropical evening young and old stroll, eat, drink, banter, and shop in wide, clean streets with modern shops – an Apple store, supermarkets, restaurants, computers, whitegoods, and tea, lots of tea.
Pu’er is the tea capital of China. Neat rows climb the sides of the valleys for hours along the highway, a motorway to rival Europe’s, over the top of the old mountain road connecting the valleys and villages. The Dodge took it all in top gear; the Whippet needed an extra cog occasionally. Our headlights in the tunnels exposed our reasons for driving exclusively by day.