The part where we witness a crash and nearly slide off the mountain.
It started innocently enough: we were on top of a mountain that was on top of a mountain and needed to get down. There was no other option, no other “safe” mode of transport that could manage the 4,000 meter descent. It seems that a gazillion ton bus has better traction on icy mountains than the home-made tractors, motorcycles or SUVs.
Our bus slid past abandoned cars and chugged behind snow-chainless SUVs that refused to let us pass, and I learned an important lesson. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop. If the bus stops, it loses traction and can’t continue up the hill.
I learned this lesson the hard way, when an SUV skidded out of control, ripped into our bus and crash landed into the guardrail. Our bus hit the brakes, lost control and then we slid in the opposite direction, crashing into boulders. The impact wasn’t so bad, (everything is relative – imagine if we only had prayer flags to stop our descent), but we were stuck between a rock and a broken car.
On the positive side, it a fairly short drop had we toppled over the guardrail, and there was nothing terribly wrong with the bus. After some fits and starts, we continued down the mountain slipping and sliding trying to regain momentum. During this process, my soothing chant sounded something like this: “Close your eyes, there is nothing to see, you can’t control this situation. You are not in control of this situation. CLOSE YOUR EYES.”
And that was our crash. Frightening but survivable. We have now earned our Chinese Bus Survival badge.
Here are some pics from the ride: