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After the cars have left on the 20th of March we all felt a little bit amputated because of the loss of our beloved cars, that will be our home for the months to come. A lot of energy was put into the preparations of our cars. The last get together was on the 14th of April, right on the spot where we will hopefully finish the tour on the 30th of October. Last details were shared and tips and tricks were exchanged. We enjoyed the company of all participants for the last time before leaving. We felt a relief that the cars had left and the excitement grew. The most important day would be the 6th of May; the day we would leave from Schiphol airport. These last days couldnít run fast enough, but these were also the last days with friends and close relatives. Departure On the 6th of May about 200 relatives and friends had come to the Dakota bar at Schiphol Airport for the final farewell party. Last wishes and wise suggestions were given to the people that would leave for the first part of the Round Table Tour for Children 2004: China and Tibet. We flew via Copenhagen right to Beijing.
In Beijing we all wanted to go as soon as possible to Tianjing to see our beloved cars again. But first our Chinese guide wanted to show us the highlights of Beijing. He showed us the temple of Heaven and the square of heavenly peace in the centre of this beautiful city. After a nights rest we finally left by bus to Tianjing to see if our cars had safely arrived in the containers. To our great relief all cars were save and sound and the Round Table Tour for Children 2004 could really begin! After returning to our hotel we attended a presentation of two Dutch people that work at the first project that is supported by the Round Table Tour. This project is a birth clinic in Shaanxi province, and the sponsor money is used for educating the nurses in the clinic. The next day we drove in our own cars to the city of Zunhua. This first day was a day to remember. In China people are not used to see foreigners driving their own cars! A lot of people looked very surprised at this long cord of Land Rovers that passed by. We all enjoyed this first day very much and felt that this was a good start for the rest of the tour. On our way to Zunhua we visited the imperial tombs of the Qing dynasty. As real Dutchman we taught our guide mister Wang that we are not in a hurry and like to have a break for coffee and tea now and then. The next day the tour brought us to Chengde. It was a bumpy ride through the country side, and we really enjoyed the parts where our Land Rovers had to work for it! We passed small villages and surprised people. Every time we stop for our short break all people gather around us to have a closer look at our prepared cars. In Chengde we visited the Summer palace from the ancient emperors of the Qing Dynasty and two very beautiful temple; the small Potala and the Puning Temple. Via Xunhua we travelled to the city of Datong on the 112 highway. Here we stayed for 2 nights and were able to visit the ancients Huyuan temples of the Qing Dynasty. A characteristic Boedhistic festival had just started and we all watched the ceremony in this temple. Not only us, but also about two hundred people joined this ceremony. Of course a lot of photoís were taken and we took the opportunity to stroll around the streets to meet people and look around. Right now we are already in the city of Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. The landscape must have been very wide and dry. Now the Chinese have planted a lot of trees and build several factories. We havenít seen any Kerís yet, but hope to see these Mongolian tents in the next days. We have to learn to travel in a group of 22 people and 12 Landrover cars, especially in the cities. But we will get used to it before entering Nepal and India. Than a new crew is flying in to Katmandu and half the group will change places. A new challenge to face! Besides this we all will have to face the heath and moisture of the Monsoon in Nepal and India. As most of us have plans to camp, maybe this is the ultimate challenge for all of us! As for the projects: we succeeded in fundraising for all the 27 projects in India and even some more projects in Nepal and India besides the FTE projects. We would like to thank our friends in Nepal and India for their help in preparing this tour and we are looking forward to visit Nepal and India to meet al our Roundtable friends. We will try to keep you informed regularly.