Rainy adventures in Laiwu – Sat 17th

Not quite the day we were hoping for with a few obstacles to overcome. Firstly it rained overnight and when the Team woke up and met for breakfast it was clear that there would be no practice at the official field for a day or too as it was too wet and not yet ready for foot traffic. The line we need for the winches is also held up in customs until Monday and the official batteries won’t be available until Monday either. Tom and Darrell had visited the field to inspect its condition and Roman told them that though they were behind a day and a half to the planned schedule everything was coming together.
Breakfast at the hotel is a huge buffet style layout of mostly chinese delicacies with some odd items on the menu along with some very delicious treats too. The spicy chook feet looked worthy of a taste test but I can assure you that as a taster the spice level was a little high for this time of the morning after 30 hours of traveling. It would certainly encourage regularity in the plumbing department I was sure. Instead we were all able t order eggs cooked to order and the bacon was thick and tasty.
The team decided to make it a day of rest and check out the local stores etc. Before we went out I began to set up my JR 2.4 in the Target I had taken delivery of from Dave. I had a fair bit of work to do with no model memories already in the TX I brought and setting this ship up from scratch. Tim Traver also had some work to do as Kyle and Dave helped him replace some V tail horns in his new Vampire. We finally went out to lunch and discovered a KFC only a block away.
The chicken at this KFC was similar to the standard US brew but definitely different. Prices for KFC were quite a bit cheaper with a small coke and chips and a chicken sandwich being about 25 rmb (or $4 US)

The most interesting thing about the traffic in Laiwu is the chaotic order that seems to prevail everywhere. Though many folks seem to ignore simple road rules by cutting up the wrong direction against traffic flow causing many drivers to simply steer around the offender or stop while they do their thing – all the while honking their horns as if to say “get out of my way” or “hurry up and move”. Dave and I discovered that crossing the road requires looking in both directions always because just knowing the direction of traffic flow doesn’t meant that you can’t get hit by someone going the wrong way. The roundabout or traffic circle up at the corner is hilarious as a constant stream of people on foot, riding mopeds, little 3 wheeler trucks, bicycles and cars all navigate their way around the circle in a constant slow moving line. Everybody appears to be very patient and almost all the traffic moves really slowly so it is easy for them to avoid each other without collision. And yes – sometimes very brave people cross over the intersection on foot even though it is a 3 lane traffic circle!!! The end result is an amazing constant movement of traffic apparently without any jams as people politely make room for each other and navigate through what appears to us westerners as complete chaos without rules.

We explored some of the stores and a local mall and were surprised to discover that the prices that were being asked for were at least equivalent in price to USA or in many cases even more expensive. This included a huge variety of clothing, shoes, handbags and all the usual things you would find in any large shopping mall. There were also many items you may not find in a US shopping area too, like a store selling weird toilets which appeared to be just like an enamel sink with a funnel in the bottom. The most interesting part though is the food available and the groceries. Some of the items we saw on the display cases were truly difficult to imagine in ones mouth. On some menus were items like Large Pigs Intestine, Braised Bull Frog and Spicy Fish Heads or Stewed Ox Sex Organ. That was certainly a killer item and everybody in the Team wanted some. Piles of tiny krill or shrimp in various sizes, dried fish, fish tails, live fish, pigs face, pigs snout etc. Lots of interesting stuff.

We discovered a “tent sale” for mopeds and Dave and I sat on a couple much to the amusement of many chinese staff and customers. In fact they insisted that we both wait while they took photos etc of these two westerners on little mopeds. The interesting thing is that in this part of China many of the local people may have seen few people that look like us. Everywhere we go the local peoples reaction ranges from un-ashamed staring to coming up and asking us many questions often in chinese – so we have no clue what they are saying. Clearly they are very inquisitive and wish to learn much about where we are from and what we are dong here.

In the end we had a very adventurous day often in drizzling rain and fairly cool conditions. We decided that if we were to do some flying on Sunday we had better obtain a some winch batteries so Darrell and Tom took a trip to a local store and purchased two Varta 700CCA batteries. We finally finished the day off with a meal at a Japanese restaurant in the hotel and went to bed with an expectation of finally getting to fly in the morning.