There stretches a long beach, deserted on this windy afternoon. At its southern end the Head of the Old Dragon, the easternmost end of the Great Wall, juts out into the Bohai Sea. To the north the beach reaches the shipyard docks in the Economic ＆ Technical Development Zone.
Both, however, are veiled today in a shroud of sand, raised by the gale that sweeps the coast. The same strong wind is challenging Volker on his solo ride to Shanhaiguan right now. The forces of nature once again proved stronger than the dynamics of our overloaded tandem. Earlier this day I had to take the kids and our luggage for one hour ride on a hard-seat train to Shanhaiguan. The good old hard-seat, on which I spent much memorable time during my student days in Beijing, has been upgraded during the last twenty years. It is less crowded now, much cleaner, the seats have textile covers and there are even curtains. Only my old habits have not changed – I still tend to arrive at the station more than an hour ahead, with enough time and courage to withstand the queuing crowds, only to find out that there are neither crowds nor queues anymore. In five minutes I have my ticket for the next train with more than an hour to spend in the waiting hall.