On the Road in The People's Republic of China
With Peter Schindler
Between May 12th and August 12th last year a dream came true.
After two years of preparation, Peter and Ron took off on a 100-day road trip
through China, not in a Land Rover or Porsche Cayenne or a Hummvee, but in the
granddaughter of a 1950s Lotus, a car made for British race tracks and Sunday
morning leisure rides on the smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom country roads of
England. Peter's 21,000km journey along China's two great rivers - the Yangtze
and the Yellow River - took him from the artificial glitz of Shanghai to the
natural splendour of the Tibetan Highlands, and from the terraced rice fields
of Longsheng to the plains of Inner Mongolia.
At the end of the journey, Miss Daisy - as Peter's open-top mother of all
sports came to be called - was auctioned off at a gala charity event hosted by
Yao Ming. The proceeds went to the China Youth Development Foundation.
Miss Daisy is a 'Caterham Super 7 R300'. In all likelihood, you've never heard
of a Caterham. I can't blame you because it almost isn't a car. Take a modern
car's list of features - ABS, power windows, power-assisted steering, air
conditioning, automatic gear shift, and the like; strike everything off this
list, and what's left is a Caterham. Except one - it does offer 'keyless
entry'. That's because it doesn't have doors.
And yet, or maybe precisely because of this, Caterhams offer the world's purest
and most exhilarting driving experience. What's more, it makes anyone who sees
it smile and perk up. A friend put it best: 'I've never owned a dog, nor had a
child, but a [Caterham] Seven can outcute either.
And that's why I chose it to drive through China - because it attracts people,
it makes them curious, it bespeaks passion, adventure and freedom.
It better do all this, because there couldn't be a worse car to be doing the
journey I'm going on. With a road clearance so low that its floor pan will give
furry rodents a crew cut when running over them, driving speed will be reduced
to sub-walking speed on many an occasion. And without a heater near the source
of the Yangtse in the Tibetan highlands, I know I will curse the day I've had
this silly idea, despite wearing not one, but three layers of long johns.
To find out more about Peter's adventure, please visit:
To check out Peter's other driving adventures in China, have a look at his home
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