April 24, 2002 GMT
day 4 or so.

Time seems to become lighter and less and less important.
At my 4th day of trip I reached Wuhan, another huge metropoli somewhere on my way.
Not much to see here apart from the frenetic life of China getting richer and richer every minute.

Leaving Tonling this morning i didn't know what to expect.

My 2nd day of riding has been a up and down of rain and very very bad roads.
After I left houzhou 3 days ago I headed to Tongling to find out after 100k that there were to cities that souded just the same: Tonling and Tonli.
For the ones that speak chinese it might sound quite funny. For someone like me, for whom chinese is still a bit of a mistery it turned out to be a nightmare.

Time seems to become lighter and less and less important.
At my 4th day of trip I reached Wuhan, another huge metropoli somewhere on my way.
Not much to see here apart from the frenetic life of China getting richer and richer every minute.

Leaving Tonling this morning i didn't know what to expect.

My 2nd day of riding has been a up and down of rain and very very bad roads.
After I left houzhou 3 days ago I headed to Tongling to find out after 100k that there were to cities that souded just the same: Tonling and Tonli.
For the ones that speak chinese it might sound quite funny. For someone like me, for whom chinese is still a bit of a mistery it turned out to be a nightmare.

After leaving Houzhou I rode on the illusion of a beautiful state road and a fairly good day. destination Tonling.......
The main reference point was a city called Wuhu: well marked on the map it is supposed to be a middle size city and therefore be connected by fairly good roads.
...however, after about 50 km the road disappeared under my weels.

A little puzzled in front of the only intersection in front of me I ask for some direction and the crowd gathered around me says that the only way to wuhu is on the right.... and they all advise me NOT to go there with a motorcicle.

I am not sure if they meant it or not. All i know is that for the next 50k I find myself totally off road full of mud and pot holes. Truks, cars, motorcicles (yes, them as well....) 3 weelers , dogs, people and so on crowling as they could in the effort to cross this fantomatic hill...
In the meantime rain starts and at that point stopping was not even an option.
Once on the other side of the hill (quite high and long hill!) I reached an intersection... and .. surprise, a new road.
I mean new because it was not marked on my map and seemed to lead directly to Tonlling without going to Wuhu.
I choose to go that way and try to ride on a little faster.
After one hour ride not seeing anymore direction and with the rain becoming heavier I decide to stop at a gas station to ask and to rest a little.
At first the couple looked at me like I just felt from Mars. This is indeed not unusual for a foreneir in China, but what struck me it was her.
The lady: an older woman thet could be the mother of the guy that looks at me intensively. Her look was not couriosity, but worry.
After a few minutes, and a few approaches like someone in the jungle trying to approach a tiger of a strange animal of whom she does not know the reactions, she offers me some tea and a sofa chair (yes, a sofa chair) to sit on.
I smile, very happy to have a place where to rest and a hot cup of green tea, while i wonder what to do next.
I am very tired and it is now about 3pm.
According to the guy Tonli is 2km back, Tonling is 20 ahead. The rain does not seems to stop and the lady offers me to eat and sleep at the gas station for the night.
Even if i really appreciate her offer and even if I really consider this as an option I decide to ride on and o reach destination.

In the room of the hotel I just have to time to blow up (it caught on fire!) the air drier the hotel landed while trying to dry my shoes... (yes, because Timberlands AIN'T WATERPROOFFFFFF!!!) then it was darkness, outside the hotel and inside me.

I closed my eyes happy to have a roof on my head.

The next morning it was the same grey sky.... the same ... grey.. gloomy... sky.
When I opened the first eye at 6am it was too cold and seemngly still too nasty to even consider to take off.
Around 7.30 when also my second eye opened I noticed it was grey, but not rainy.
Once downstairs someone's driver was very nice and wrote me in chinese the names on the cities on my way. (I only have a map in english, yes, no chihese manes on it, and this makes the whole project a littel more complicated. thank good though there are a lot of nice people in China: always surprised to see someone like me arriving they are usually happy to help)

Not even after 15 minutes after i take off the rain starts again.
No turning back.
Today is one of my longest lags. I did not want to think about it and just rode on.
If it hadn't been for the rain the ride would have been very nice. The roads were quite smppth and for a long part quite curvy. a good ride for a sunny day....


but !!!! what the hell is a chicken doing in the very middle of the street!!!!!!!!
....
...
...
..
.
.
.
.
bloody chickens!!
.
.
.
....
.
.
After about 240 km I reach a city called susong (or something like this) the name of this city almost became a mirage. I kep seeing the signs, but I seemed never to arrive.
On the way the scenery was not vey exiting. A lot of very ugly chiese houses along the roads. Most of them new, they witness part of the new China today. They represent the next step for the new Chinese middle classin being able to own their home. From how the houses look it is clear that the priority is not appearance, but just to build it somehow to have a roof on the head and a block of bricks on the land. All they are after all is indeed a blok of bricks since most of the houses are not finished and they alook from the outside like a naked wall of bricks.

I ride on for a little more until i see the sign: Wuhan 240 km.
240 km!!!
It is now 2pm. It does not stop raining and I am 1/2 way. For a moment I consider to find an hotel and stop for the night.
This time I stop to ask a police man. Usually not a good idea in china, this time he was the only one around. He turned to be also very nice and he wrote me a new map. A new, apparently faster way to reach destination.
Just the time to get the info, a few xie xie (thank you) and i took off as fast as I could after the police men started to ask me info on my registration, plate and so on.

Further down the road I stop at a gas station and some how i decide to carry on to the next city. According to the new map I have another 140 km to go. I start to be tired. Riding with rain is no fun. Before I leave I change my socks and insert inside my shoes (which are still not waterproof!! ) some plasic bags.
The trick does it and I ride on with dry feet.
Town after town they are one smaller than the other.
The road though improves a lot allowing me to keep an everage speed on 100k. The rains slows down and the ride becoeme easier.


what the hell!!! another chicken's doing in the middle of the road....!!!
...
...
..
what is wrong with chicken in China!!!
..
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.

I keep riding for a little while...

What is that!
Feathers?
They are all over the road...
.
.
.
.
.... that's another chicken!
still in the middle of the road!!
.
.
.
.it's smashed!
..
.
.
.
.
.
...... morons......


At 6.00 pm I am on the outskirt of Wuhan. Like happened a few times the nice and wide road suddenly stops in front of a pile of mud supporting a huge billboard of chinese propaganda!
No more signs, only 5 direction.
I have to try 4 of them before I was reassured I was on the right way.
After 508 km i stop at an hotel after a day of rain avoiding dogs and chickens on the road.
When I mark the km on my schedule I notice with some pride that the km calculation that i made with pencil and ruler based on my map is as accurate as a gps! lets hope it will be as accurate for the rest of the trip.

The doormen at the hotel was kind anough to show me to an internet cafe. China never stops to surprise me.
We go together on the back road into a maze of dingy and dark halleys. It rains again and all is very dark. A red sign at the end of one of the hallyes indicates something the guy points at. It is in Chinese. I have no idea what it means. I tell the guy let go see. For a moment I have the feeling he understood I wanted to get a massage.....

On the second floor of this little house a huge room full on computers opens to my eyes.
"cool!!!!!" was all I could say.
The conneciton is faster than in Shanghai and here i am, leaving you some notes.

hopefully tomorrow will not rain anymore. Here it is now 9 pm and i don't know where to go buy an air dryier.

tired but happy
sqm..


ps:
The first day of the trip the "Shanghai red devils" rode with me for 1/2 the first lag.
I appreciated a lot their coming. At the time of our last "salut" I had to go left, they had to go right.
Standing there with Annouk I saw them off.
One by one they waved me goodbey riding off on their bikes. I felt empty for a long moment......
somehow I knew this was the very beginnig of the trip and that the devils were not there to suport me from there on.


Posted by sqm at April 24, 2002 09:45 AM GMT
Comments

dear instancabilli i am curious to ask that how you could posibly ride your own bike in china. How you attained the valid permit for your bike.
Thank you

Posted by: hg yang on May 3, 2004 09:55 AM GMT
Sorry, due to heavy form spamming, Comments are OFF.
 


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