Traveling to Juba Alone
March 15th, South Sudan capital Juba, a scorching sun up in the sky.
Juba’s new airport was still in the middle of construction. The old and small airport was packed with people, and passengers with different skin colors were crowded around the door to pick up their checked bags. The airport hall was unusually hot and humid, with some strange smells occasionally wafting around.
After waiting for ten or so minutes, the staff finally pushed out the luggage on some carts. All of the passengers squeezing around the door instantly rushed forward, heading up to find their own luggage at the front.
These people would then need to travel to the even more crowded visa area to wait for their visa to be processed.
An idle Dinka man strolled around in the hall and finally found a target.
He headed over toward a young man with dark hair and dark eyes, quickly saying in English: “Hello sir, if you are here alone for the first time, you must be in great need of a capable guide.”
This dark-haired man had just been rudely asked for cash by the airport security guard. Hearing these words, he turned his head warily and looked at this man half a head taller than him.
This Dinka man’s skin was very dark, and even though he was much taller, he wasn’t very heavily built, but rather quite thin. The shirt on his body swung back and forth.
Seeing the fat sheep that he had chosen look over, he immediately revealed a mouth full of not quite white teeth: “My dear sir, it’s too noisy here. If you want to go to a quiet place to quickly obtain an entry permit, I recommend going to the VIP service area.”
The Asian man: “Independent guide?”
“Oh, yes. You can call me Noah, I am a native here.” Noah smiled and pointed not far away: “That is the VIP service area, you can try to go there.”
This passenger, who had just gotten off the plane and had already been robbed of a tip by the airport guard, remained silent. He looked at the still crowded and chaotic hall and eventually still chose to try his luck in the VIP area.
As he walked, he adjusted his phone and sent a message.
Mage: [Arrived in Juba.]
Pipilu: [The plane crash location has been determined. The coordinates were sent to you, pay attention to safety.]
Pipilu: [Our embassy in South Sudan sent peacekeepers to the scene of the accident yesterday afternoon. At the site there were only the bodies of a few crew members and accompanying guards. There is a high probability that the mission target is still alive.]
Mage: [Do I need to act together with the peacekeepers?]
Pipilu: [Hiding is better for you to use your abilities. But I have informed the ambassador in South Sudan. You can go there to request support if necessary.]
Mage: [Received. Thank you, deputy captain.]
That’s right, this man with dark hair and dark eyes, black and yellow skin, a face that even had some pockmarks, and a very ordinary appearance, was a simply disguised Ye Wenxuan, who was holding forged identity documents from the Special Affairs Department and had taken the initiative to apply to come to search for the plane crash.
He had never been to Africa. The only things he knew about this place were the magnificent natural landscapes, the wild animals that roamed the grasslands, and the war, poverty, and disease.
In this situation, hiring a local guide as soon as possible would be wise.
After finishing up his formalities, it was already past 4 pm when he walked out the airport. Ye Wenxuan carried a black backpack, his eyebrows slightly furrowed. He let the young black man named Noah follow him.
“I am very concerned about the security here. Can you find a relatively safe hotel for me?”
“Oh, of course. I am very familiar with all of the hotels here!” Noah hurriedly said: “Sir, did you come here to travel or for work? Juba has several safe and comfortable hotels. If you don’t have any specific requirements, I can take you to the one that has the most convenient access to transportation.”
“That’s fine.” Ye Wenxuan thought for a bit, then simply said: “You can call me Tom Siris. Noah, I plan to collect material on the local culture in Juba, and also want to go outside the city, to some other cities nearby.”
“Oh, Mr. Siris, I can help you with most of your requests.” Noah led him out of the main gate of the airport, saying: “But a few days ago, a few small conflicts occurred outside the city. If you want to go out, we would most likely need to follow the peacekeepers, or…if you don’t mind, you can team up with other tourists in a temporary team.” As he spoke, Noah reached out and flagged over a car: “Mr. Siris, this way.”
Ye Wenxuan followed his guidance, getting into the car and chatting with Noah to understand the situation here as much as possible.
During the drive he looked out the window. All he saw were some low bungalows, or some very unique domed huts, or some casually thrown together simple sheds.
The car rolled over the dirt roads. The streets were full of dark-skinned men and women, groups of leisurely wandering cattle, and children squatting and playing around next to piles of trash.
Occasionally, there would be a skyscraper suddenly towering over the tiny buildings. Noah explained that these were all high end hotels or villas of the rich.
But they were really only six or seven stories tall. These scenes really gave people the intuitive feeling that this place was not as prosperous as a fourth or fifth-tier city in China.
Ye Wenxuan’s gaze moved from the hut to the small skyscraper. He couldn’t stop thinking in his heart, where could Xing Yuan be, would he be in Juba?
The site of the plane crash was not considered close to Juba, but it was also even farther from the other large cities.
Xing Yuan was already not completely recovered from his injuries before boarding the plane. Ye Wenxuan didn’t dare to think about whether he had suffered even more serious injuries when the plane crashed, but if the people on board had survived, he would very likely have searched for the nearest hospital.
With how things were in South Sudan, hospitals were only likely to be located in larger cities, or in United Nations camps and refugee camps. These were all priority search areas for Ye Wenxuan.
They arrived at the hotel. It was said to be the number one or number two high-end hotel in Juba, but in reality it was only six stories tall. But compared with those tin or straw huts along the road, it was indeed a luxury.
Noah helped him with the check-in procedures at the front desk, and Ye Wenxuan just waited to the side. He felt that besides his excessive enthusiasm, this guy was pretty good. So he exchanged contact information with him and agreed to meet him tomorrow to first walk around Juba.
Before Noah left, Ye Wenxuan asked him: “If I want to go to Mount Kinyeti to take a look, how would I go?”
Noah’s smile stiffened, and he kept shaking his head: “No no no, you can’t go there, people like me also can’t go.”
“I know that there will often be infighting in that area, but things have improved a lot lately. I heard that some people have had guides take them there.” Ye Wenxuan stared at him, his expression puzzled: “Could I have been deceived?”
Noah just waved his hand at him, repeatedly saying “can’t go”, and then turned and ran away.
Ye Wenxuan: “…”
He closed the room door, roughly pulled at his hair, and then threw his backpack on the bed.
The location of the crash site of the plane that Xing Yuan was on was near Mount Kinyeti.
That was a war zone, surrounded by several small towns. Some belonged to government forces, and others were occupied by rebels.
In order to compete for territory, the two sides would occasionally clash. Every day, detained civilians, army soldiers, and armed rebels would die. No businessmen or tourists wanted to go there. Those who entered the war zone, besides all kinds of troops, were only peacekeepers, doctors, and war correspondents.
Zheng Xingguo had mentioned that after confirming the crash site, the Chinese peacekeepers nearby had gone to investigate. The wreckage of the plane was incomplete, but from the clothing remains, they could tell that the bodies should be the flight crew and the accompanying guards. The number of people was around seven to nine, but the number of passengers who should have been on the plane should have been more than a dozen.
The army had already taken away the black box of the airplane but had still not decrypted it. But soldiers had found that a door on the body of the plane had been open. From the traces on the scene, it appeared that it had been opened before the crash happened.
“We are still unclear about what happened at the time, but before the plane crashed, there may have been a few people who jumped out.” The head of the peacekeeping team reported back to domestic officials: “We do not rule out some people escaping by skydiving.”
The peacekeepers verified with the embassy in the United Kingdom and determined that the missing people, besides Xing Yuan, may include two security guards, one flight attendant, and the bodyguard Xing Yuan brought with him, Cherno.
And because of this tiny possibility, Ye Wenxuan insisted on coming, hoping to be able to personally see this crash site.
“What a joke…I protected him the whole way, and managed to send him onto the plane with so much difficulty, how could he have disappeared just like this…” He lay down on the bed, quietly muttering.
“Even if he died, I need to see his body before I am willing to accept it.”
Two days later, Ye Wenxuan followed Noah to walk around Juba.
In fact he really didn’t need to take that long. It was really too desolate here, and sitting in a car he could basically drive around the entire city in one morning.
But Ye Wenxuan took it very seriously. He vaguely asked how many Chinese people were here, and whether any unfamiliar faces had appeared recently.
Unfortunately, none of the answers he received were satisfactory.
After a delay of two days, Ye Wenxuan could no longer endure. He expressed to Noah his strong desire to go to the vicinity of Mount Kinyeti.
Besides being a little greedy for money, Noah could still be considered a quite competent guide. He was initially very firmly opposed to it, but Ye Wenxuan said that he was willing to pay him double the tour fee, and Noah could not help but waver.
“This is really not a good idea. If you were a war correspondent or a doctor, I probably wouldn’t be opposing you like this.” He frowned and said in difficulty: “The war zone is extremely dangerous, and ordinary tourists are not allowed in, your request is really…I have brought so many foreign tourists, and not many are willing to go to this kind of place.”
Ye Wenxuan: “Not many, which means that there are still some?”
Noah cried helplessly: “Very few, really very few!”
“Money is not a problem. If you aren’t willing, I won’t force you.” Ye Wenxuan said to him: “But, can you help me find a guide who would be willing to bring someone to Mount Kinyeti?”
Noah: “You…why do you want to go there so much, that is not a good place.”
Ye Wenxuan said: “My good friend came here before, and he went missing near Mount Kinyeti. I…I’m very worried…”
He just said this, but that didn’t stop Noah from filing in the rest of the story in his mind on his own. Sure enough, Noah said: “Oh, that’s awful…okay, let me think…”
In the evening, Ye Wenxuan returned to the hotel, and soon after taking a shower, he received a message from Noah.
Noah: [Mr. Siris, I know a guide who will bring a few people to Eastern Equatoria tomorrow. Their destination is not far from Mount Kinyeti. I spoke to him, and this guide said that if you give him some extra money, he can bring you along. But after getting there, there will only be one day of time for activity. He doesn’t want to stay there too long.]
Ye Wenxuan let out a breath. He threw the wet towel on his head to the side and quickly responded to his message.
Tom Siris: [Money is not a problem.]
Noah: [I’ll send his contact info to you. Mr. Siris, there is war and death every day near Mount Kinyeti, I hope that you are prepared. You are a generous gentleman, I hope that I won’t hear about your death in a few days. Please take care of your safety.]
Tom Siris: [Thank you very much, Noah.]
Shortly after, there was a ding from his phone, and Noah sent over the guide’s contact info and the travel time and location.
Ye Wenxuan took a look, saved the phone number, and then deleted any information on his phone that might reveal his identity.
Early the next morning, he fixed up the disguise on his face, turning back into a black and yellow skinned man with a face full of pockmarks. Then he picked up a pen on the table, sliding it into his jacket pocket, and left a tip on the bedside table. He finally slung the backpack on his back and hurried out the hotel.
By the time he arrived at the assigned location, the guide’s car was already waiting there.
The guide Noah had found for him was called Kabu, also a Juba native. Ye Wenxuan heard that he used to be a South Sudan policeman, but was later wounded during a civil conflict and was forced to retire.
At this time Kabu was leaning against the car door and smoking. Seeing Ye Wenxuan walk to the front of the car, he verified his identity information.
## the african people heard that the thunder god had arrived ##
Hearing that Ye Wenxuan was going to come to Africa, the local prime ministers have put up all kinds of banners at the airport.
[Welcome Comrade Ye XX to South Sudan and the surrounding areas to inspect and guide our work!]
[The people of Africa welcome you!]
[Rain rain rain rain rain rain!]
[Celebrate the early arrival of the 2017 rainy season!]
[Spring in the Sahara desert is even more wonderful because of you!]
Ye Wenxuan who had just gotten off the plane, and was disguised as a passerby: “…”
So annoying, can he buy the earliest flight and go back?
 followed his guidance – 从善如流, idiom, means to readily follow good advice, or willingly accept other people’s views
 black box – 黑匣子, apparently a flight recorder, which is placed in an airplane to facilitate the investigation of aviation accidents and incidents. this is actually a misnomer bc they are actually bright orange to help with recovery after accidents, not black.
A little over an hour: 3 pm – 4 pm, for 3.8k characters to 2.5k words.
Finally, this marks the start of a new arc. The first few chapters are a little draggy, though probably only to me bc I like the chapters with interactions between the MC and ML much better. But have no fear, this arc is definitely one of the best ones, both action wise and emotion wise 🙂