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Audi Q3 Trans China Tour 2011, Day 5: Wrong driver's license

Markus Stier
Audi Q3 Trans China Tour 2011, day 5
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S imagine you would have to work from the outskirts of the city to the center and briefly overcome a distance that corresponds to the size of the Saarland. Welcome to Shanghai. Depending on which areas you include, the mega-city at the confluence of the Yangtze and Huang Po has 23 million inhabitants. The city of superlatives now has the largest port in the world and continues to grow at a rapid pace. The boom only really began in 1990 with the construction of the Pudong Special Economic Zone on the north side of the Huangpo River, where the most impressive skyscrapers and the television tower are located.

Because of its location in the Yangtze Delta is everywhere water. Shanghai has 122 square kilometers of lakes alone. With considerable technical effort, the central government tries to wrest more land from the Yangtze year after year. The Formula 1 race track, built by the German architect Hermann Tilke, was built in a swamp area and rests on millions of styrofoam blocks that give the ground a lift.

The Swede is leaving, the Swiss is coming

The everyday race on the streets has increased so much in recent years that the city administration only issues 5,000 new registrations per year, for which some people pay thousands of euros, to get to the top of the waiting list.

On the other hand, we just want to get out, and at ten in the morning the traffic out of town is not that bad. Nevertheless, it takes over an hour until we have left the outer districts behind us and once again tackle an imposing bridge over the water, which shortens the mouth of the Qiangtang River in the East China Sea to the south.

This Thursday, a leisurely 350 kilometers are on the program. The newcomers shouldn't be overwhelmed on the first day. The first tour group is already on the way home, so with a heavy heart we parted with Nils Svärd, the colleague of the Swedish auto motor und sport. A happy newcomer in car three is Jörg Petersen, editor of the Swiss partner magazine Auto-Illustrierte.

Stier saves the protein patina

But wait a minute, the morning keys were handed out all of a sudden: Petersen and Stier in car one. That's not how it works. The Audi colleagues have extrameticulously made sure that our Q3 is kept away from every car wash, and now we should switch to the sparkling clean one? The case is cleared up quickly and so we proudly carry the flies of the first four days on the radiator grille on the highway.

Speaking of protein: Taurus did not make it to the morning briefing in time and now has to leave Colleague Petersen learned in passing that there was no lunch break today. Everyone can hold out until they arrive in Hangzhou or take their own lunch box. That would be laughed at. Around one o'clock we approach a motorway service station, which causes some of our fellow travelers to feel a mixture of fascination and horror. Some are in China for the first time, but have already heard legendary reports of bad experiences from Chinese motorway toilets. In fact, for larger shops, you often crouch in boxes that are poorly separated by a half-height wall. It's not as wild here, there are even doors. If you get up inside, you can still say hello to your neighbors.

Open the bag, put hot water on it

For more The alley between the small fast-food restaurants and the supermarket, where there is a foul smell, like the one billowing up from rotting meat, shudders down your spine. There are all sorts of gruesome things in the supermarket, photographer Nicole has got hold of a bag with tiny fish that the native likes to take with them as a snack. The male travelers are more interested in the remote-controlled helicopters that are for sale in China on every corner. A small one costs 19 euros, a large one 38. Just don't have high hopes for the life expectancy of the aircraft.

The author of these lines, meanwhile, gets a mixture of revulsion and admiration when he buys an instant noodle soup. It says crab taste, but in addition to artificial flavors, the content of sea creatures is limited to a tiny plastic bag, which is probably also used by cocaine dealers. What the heck, it's just a ready-made soup like thousands of others, and one of the greatest achievements of the service paradise China is the free supply of boiling hot water, which the nation of tea drinkers simply picks up from a boiler at the rest stop. The pasta is done in three minutes. Unfortunately, there was probably too much water, and so the thin soup tastes a bit bland.

This also applies to the drive, which only takes you on the motorways. 100 kilometers from the destination Hangzhou there would be an exotic hilly landscape in the south, overgrown with bamboo forests, but we have to continue west on the G329. For this we reach the stage destination Hangzhou in the early afternoon, but this does not apply to all crews.

Three AudiQ3 will be confiscated

A German couple suddenly found themselves facing a stern-looking police officer behind a toll booth. A check of the papers in China normally takes five minutes at most, but in this case the incident will lead to the confiscation of the driver's licenses and passports, as well as the car keys of three Audi Q3s and to a convoy to the headquarters of the highway police, whose office building is so large, that some banana republic would be happy to exchange their parliament building for it.

The reason for the action is the fact that the zealous policeman considers the Chinese driver's licenses to be fake, insofar as a tremendous accusation, because otherwise the economic superpower China is not a bit bothers about the imitation. From Apple computers to Nike sneakers, a large number of western consumer goods are produced in China anyway, and the blueprints for the products usually end up on the large black market in Beijing, where diplomatic wives buy counterfeit Prada bags and the Italian foreign minister allegedly getting caught buying a fake Rolex. Franco Frattini had traveled to an EU-China summit at which the Europeans wanted to warn the Chinese to protect intellectual property. The government itself faces the open accusation of falsifying statistics on a large scale, of course only in cases where order and harmony are disturbed poor delinquents spent a few hours at the station where there is no water and bread, not even a noodle soup with fake seafood. In the end it turns out that the zealous uniformed man was wrong, the papers are real. But because he would lose face to the long noses if he admitted the mistake, the documents are not returned to the owners, but to the Chinese translators in Audi services.

Let your soul dangle at the lake

When the late arrivals reach Hangzhou, they first torment their way through the usual ugly suburbs and the tough evening rush hour in Hangzhou. But the hardship is worth it, because the contemplative provincial town with its six billion inhabitants offers an oasis of peace right in the center. The mighty West Lake with its pagodas on wooded shores lies in the middle of the city and runs through countless canals and islets overgrown with tree tops, on which the trans-China tour group glides with boats, while the blue hour over the lake is an otherwise gray day covered.

In the stern of each boat sits a pretty Chinese woman who plays old tunes on the violin or flute. The flute sounds particularly impressive under the illuminated bridges. 'This is music for the soul,' says an EnglishmanColleague with Asian roots.

Houses decorated with fairy lights peek out of the green thicket, one of which is our restaurant, which is located in the middle of a garden. The open side doors give a view of a stage, on which a beautiful woman in a blue silk costume with fluttering sleeves performs a graceful dance.

Incidentally: The west lake Xi Hu with its 60 sights is part of the World Heritage Site by Unesco and is so popular in China that it has already been copied several times. It was not possible to quickly check whether the copies were authorized or illegal.

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