After a couple of days doing this I found my way of hitchhiking in China. I let them drop me off at the service areas or the police. There I showed them my Chinese letter.
In the meantime, I had two letters. One of them I showed them before the ride. It was explaining the concept of hitchhiking, that I am a traveller from Germany and that I am looking for a ride. I showed it to the people and usually the rest happened automatically. As soon as I sat in the car, I was their guest. And if you are their guest, they provide you with water and food or invite you to eat. In the car I showed them the second letter. It was telling more about myself, just answering their common questions like ‘how long I am traveling for’, ‘in which countries I have been’, ‘in which countries I will go’, ‘what am I doing in Germany’ and so on.
This is how I spent the time on the Chinese service areas and in the cars.
Passing all the different kinds of landscape, mountains, rice fields, the Gobi desert as well as several coal and nuclear plants.
In the evening I was looking for a place to sleep in the service area of the highway. I had a look around and notice a fire ladder leading to the roof top. I had another look if there were people watching me and climbed up the narrow ladder with my backpack. I climbed several meters to the roof top and looked over the highway. From there I can see the highway and watch the colorful sunset. A great place to sleep.
After several refusals I approached the young driver of a white Mercedes AMG. He read my letter and looked at me. He seemed to hesitate. I tried to smile as charming as possible and said “Germany” in Chinese. He understood. And agreed to give me a ride.
His name was Chen and I really like him. We always had a laugh together despite some little language barrier. We drove 400km together. He took me to the city Zhongye where he was going to. There we ate a huge meal. He ordered all kinds of dishes and two beers. After eating he asked where I was thinking to stay. I replied to go to a cheap hotel or find a place for my tent. He translated with his phone: “I invite you to live.” and invites me to a 5-star hotel.
The following morning there was going to be the wedding of Chen’s cousine. He asked me if I wanted to come as well. This was a great offer so obviously I definately accepted.
In the next morning we had a Chinese breakfast in the hotel. Then we got into his Mercedes and drove with music of Alan Walker through the city. First we drove to the house of the bride’s father where the first stage of the marriage took place. The groom had to dress the bride in a traditionall red dress. Nice and carefully he put the shoes on her feet.
After we drove with the caravan of black Mercedeses from the house to a hotel we went into a huge hall with maybe around 300 people. It was full of splendor and luxery. I think it was also about status.
The show was amazing and I have to admit that somehow I was also touched. When the bride was walking along the red carpet she smiled at me and I saw the emotions in her eyes. A tear drop was sitting on cheek. The groom tried to keep his countenance. On the huge screen they show a movie of pictures of the groom and the bride. In the backround they play dramatic-emotional music. Everything is perfectly staged.
During the meal Chen translates on his phone: “The weddings here have become a luxery.” Dabei schüttelt er den Kopf und sagt: “not good.”
After the wedding we drove to Chen’s grandfather where we slept as well.
The follow morning before I left Chen wanted to buy me a Chinese sim card. For a foreigner it’s a bit complicated so he was doing everything on his name. When the card was not working on my phone he just bought a new smartphone as well and gave it to me.
Then he took me to the highway and managed to find my first ride. Before I left he wanted to give me 500 Yuan (around 70€). I strictly refused. I absolutely didn’t want to take it. Thereupon he just put it in my bag and said: “For eating.”
I make it the same night to Lanzhou but I am having a horrible night. Desperately looking for a hostel that is accepting me. No hotel is accepting foreigner. So it was a long night with some dubious conversation about James Bond and other spies.