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October 17th, 2000 · No Comments

Xindu to Zhongshan

Day 291

The night was long, but my sleep was short. All night I felt ants on me and the noise from the streets was unbelievable loud. The hotel bed was simply a plywood board covered with a sheet. It was a harder surface to sleep on, than the ground. The windowless window in the bathroom let wind blow through, which in turn made the bathroom door swing back and forth, slamming every few minutes, until I figured out is was our door and stuck my shoe there to stop it. Let’s face it, this place didn’t have any stars or any portion of a star. It was a starless hotel!

Mountain viewMy day began in slow motion, I was exhausted. The ride was described as “mostly flat”, but it was very hilly and into the wind. After running on the excitement of adrenaline yesterday, today I was on the opposite end of the pole. Tired and worn out. Even the kids didn’t seem to be as friendly this morning. It was a “lead butt” day.

Field KarstThe scenery changed from the dinghy monotonous farmland to the sharp pointed limestone pinnacles called karsts. They are remarkably beautiful, my mood lifted with the sight of them. This is why I came to China.

rice paddiesRice paddies in the foreground and Karst in the background.

The Chinese live with noise. On the streets the vehicles constantly use horns to signal they are approaching, get out of the way or to express their happiness. All day long we listened to the honking horns of the approaching buses. They honk as they approach a bend in the road to signal other vehicles. Sometimes they are honking at pedestrians, just to let them know not to walk into the street. Of course this seems odd, but then the way people around here move the honking if part of the flow of the traffic, it is a honk of consideration, not one of anger. Once understood, it is expected.

As a driver one must know when to honk. The appropriate time is long before the honking subject is near. The honk should be longer then necessary, just in case the subject is totally deaf, in which case it truckthe honk is long enough the deaf subject should be able to feel the vibrations. The honk should have a lilt to it, not a constant honk but one with some distinction in the beginning and the end. This way the subject will know it is not a honk of danger or anger. A honk, done properly will result in all subjects merging left or right and allowing the passing vehicle to pass without slowing down.

It is a Chinese traffic symphony designed to sell more aspirin.

The last 20 kilometers we were blessed with a tailwind and blew into town soLen fast, I could hardly believe we were there. Zhongshan was the first town in China that looked as if the people had some pride of ownership. The apartment houses had trees and flowers growing from the balcony and there were street sweepers working in the street. The streets were clean.

Our hotel was on the opposite end of a very crowded open air market. It Bamboo poleswas so crowded that Stephanie and I had to get off our bikes and walk them through, for safety. The vendors were selling all sorts of vegetables, most of which neither one of us could identify. There were guys walking around selling sweet looking things that looked like peanut brittle and sesame crackers. They looked delicious, but after Morocco and the flies, I’m not into eating anything that is not wrapped.

Bamboo TruckOnce settled in our wonderful hotel room with such amenities as glass in all the windows and a sit down western style potty and a TV that only speaks Chinese (darn!) we opted to go for a walk. Down the street we were told was a bakery. I was dying for some bread to put my peanut butter on, so off we went. On the way there we were beckoned by a young Chinese lady as to where we were going and where we were from. She spoke to us in perfect English, a treat to our ears. As we expressed interest in a bakery, she led us there and acted as our interpreter explaining what each unusual looking item was.

After much discussion I purchased two rather good sized cookies, two different types of rollsStephanie and a donut looking pastry. This entire purchase cost 5 RMB which is about 60 cents U.S. Food is cheap here. I added up all my expenses since I arrived in mainland China 3 days ago. I have yet to spend $5.00! Of course when we hit the tourist cities over the next few days, I’m sure that will change.

Autograph houndsOn the return to the hotel, we were mobbed with school children. They were waiting in ambush, screaming for our autographs! Each child had either an autograph book or a pad of paper, some had mere scraps of paper, but they were treating us like celebrates. It was a gas. Stephanie, myself and many other riders stood there patiently signing our names for them. It was a charmed moment to reflect on for us.

Art and Lynne on the Orange Crush machine!

Art and Lynne

BrianMy “lead butt” day ended up being another day of “10,000 hellos”. The people of the Republic of China are awesome.

Tags: China