Friday, November 06, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: Bizarre Driver


As part of my profession, I end up hiring a lot of drivers. Almost every job I am involved in requires me to travel somewhere and hire a driver so that I can get either from A to B, or so I can make multiple visits in one day without worrying about standing around waiting for taxi's.

With that being said I can say with confidence that I've hired hundreds of drivers over the last nine years in China. I've had the chain smokers, the mobile phone talkers, the drunks, and one who fell asleep at the wheel. But don't think it is all negative; I've had a few gems as well.

Last week I was bumbling around Hainan Island working on a story and I hired a driver to take me from the provincial capital in Haikou along the coast to south to Sanya. The drive was very pretty and at one point, after cruising through endless stretches of cocunut plantations, we came across a massive mountain right on the coast.

My natural reaction when I see something like that is: let's get to the top and see what the coast line looks like. And after convincing my driver it would be exciting to veer off our original path for just a few minutes, he said he would try the road that seemed to be leading up the mountain. And so we followed the narrow switch backs for almost 20 minutes twisting and turning until we reached near the top of the mountain. Once there, it was just a short walk up some bamboo stairs to the summit of the mountain, and endless views north along Hainan's coast. I popped out of the car and started towards the stairs, my assistant was close behind me; but alas the driver stayed put.

Dumbfounded I walked back to the car and asked him if he wanted to come along? Then mentioning that I wanted him to join us. He said no and reclined his seat and closed his eyes. I asked him if he had been up to the top of this mountain before, he said no; never having opened his eyes. I let it go.

Upon reaching the summit I was amazed by the incredibly beautiful coast line; I shot a bunch of shots with several different lenses and once finished I just sat back and gazed out at the ocean for a good half an hour; taking in the salty sea air. It was a perfect moment of relaxation after a few hectic days of traveling and shooting.

Upon getting back to the car my assignment was beaming about how lovely the view was, my driver had been out cold; sleeping like a log. Once we got back in to the car I asked again if he would like to take a quick peak, he said no, started his car and we carried on with our trip down to Sanya.

Odd? Normal? Lazy? Unmotivated? Generally unhappy? Focused? Goal Oriented? Exhausted?

It strikes me as odd that sometimes in China, particularly men, don't seem very adventurous or care much to seek out the natural beauty of their own country. Are they above it all? Or just simply uninterested? I couldn't believe it when my driver said he wasn't going to come with us. There was not even an entrance fee. It was free. Clearly you don't have to be a photographer to enjoy an incredible mountain top coastal view. What gives?

Mountain Viewing Note: Travel from Haikou to Wenjiao on the provincial highway. From Wenjiao continue East until you reach LongLou. Once you get their you'll be able to see the massive mountain. Just head due East, straight to the ocean. At the bottom of the mountain you'll see signed that indicate that the site is a nature reserve, then about half way up you'll see another sign asking you to turn back and that it is forbidden to enter; ignore that one and keep ascending. You'll have to park you're car at the Chinese Naval Base at the summit of the mountain, don't worry there are fairly tourist friendly. Stay away from the base and take the bamboo stairs up to the summit, opposite the base. Enjoy the view.

Ryan Pyle

No comments:

Post a Comment


This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle