WenWei Cun (real China)

Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Sunday, October 16, 2011

Today a couple friends and I crossed the 2 mile long bridge across the Qiantang river and drove around the small village of WenWei Cun ("Cun" means village).   Kay and I drove a couple miles to Al's university,  met up with him then headed to the first bridge tower by the river levy.  We put our bikes in a big elevator which left us about 5 floors off the ground and next to a bike only lane that we used to get across.  Fighting my fear of heights while trying not to look down (the fence railing was only about 4 1/2 feet high and my bike is so tall,  I was freaking out.  My bike's seat and handle bars were maxed out in hight; making the bike a bit rickety.  Plus my head was nearly 7 feet off the ground and I could not touch the ground with it adjusted this high. Conbined with all that,  the bridge itself was moving...alot!  So I didn't feel in complete control of my bike or my mind.     I lowered seat which made it much nicer since I felt more in control and my head was no longer high above the guard rail.  Once on the other side,  we took another elevator down and wound up in a construction site.  After another mile of driving through small farmers fields on the other side we crossed the ancient canal into the village of Wenwei Cun.  

  Very much resembling a small Texas farmtown,  this place was both ancient and old modern combined with a bit of new modernization showing in some of the houses.   Old modern looks like old ugly concrete from the Mao era,  while the new modern looks a bit like Disneyworld.   There was very little ancient buildings left but I did see a few.  The canal was ancient as was this old bridge we found in a field,  under the highway bridge.  There were a few old buildings with clay roofs and fancy stone sculpture on the eaves of the tops of them.   

Kay, who had gone there the previous week (alone),  knew where the outdoor food market was. Once there,we were being stared at far more intensely than the staring I experience around Xiasha.  I get the impression that many of these folks had never seen a white man,  much less two giants like me and Kay.   Kay is of Swedish decent and is tall and strong,  so she was getting her share of attention too.   As usual I took the movie star approach and just smiled, waved, said "Hello" and "Ne how" to all I could see.  Rather than just staring,  many people ran up to look at us closer which was a bit annoying.   Then the loud yelling back and forth to each other.   At first Lil Al liked it,  but after having to answer so many questions like "what does he eat?"  and "can he pull a plow?",  Lil' Al started to look a bit ready to resume the bike ride.  All this happened when we stopped at the outdoor market.  I want to go back there as soon as possible.  There are many villages over there and one Buddhist temple on the top of a small mountain,  but that was too far for us to ride to this day.    Kay and I were thinking about renting a place over there just to have a place to spend our days off.   I bet the rent would be like 50 dollars a month.

  We had already gone about 10 miles and sunset was about 2 1/2 hours away,  so after Kay got her bike aired up at the local bike shop,  we headed back through the scores of small farms,  many with farmers out there with their hand tools manicuring every inch of available land they had.   The farms were perfect and about 1/2 to 5 acres in size,  many of the farmers lived in huts using modern plastic canvas for the roofs and occasionally the walls.  The frames were bamboo.   I would love to live in one someday, maybe spend a year while working on my music, writing and techniques of the Chinese farmer.   The combinations of crops were fascinating as well,  with each farmer producing many types of crops including ornamental shrubbery and palm trees.   Stalks of corn were spaced about 4 feet apart and beans would be planted in the extra space so the bean vines could use the corn for climbing purposes.   Every plant was perfectly cared for and not a weed in sight.  I would love to study the farming techniques here.  

We found a small gravel trail leading back to the bridge from whence we came. Once we got where the highway started it's ascension to the bridge,  we wound up riding underneath the highway before the gravel trail dead ended.   All of a sudden "WHOOSH"  as a big shovel load of dirt and rock came down about 10 feet in front of me.   I noticed a worker on the road above as she tossed another shovel load.  I yelled out,  "Hey!",  and got cussed out in Chinese by a tough looking shovel wielding lady.  "Get your stupid ass back under the bridge" is what she said,  or at least what I felt like she was saying this.   This kind of sucked because there was a quaint little ancient bridge and cottage but no real path to get there,  and "WHOOSH" was heard every 20 seconds or so.   Kay and Lil' Al were already past the bombardment zone but I had to run the gauntlet in order to get to the next road outta there.   This is why my pics of the bridge were blurry since I was looking out above while trying to shoot them.

We finally made it back to the bridge tower and then back to the Qaintang levee on the Xiasha side.  For some reason the acrophobia wasn't much of an issue, but I drove slowly. Once on the other side we headed upriver toward the park. It is a Sunday and families and others were enjoying the park where I used to go to watch the tidal bore coming in.   Once I got to the top of the Levee,  a bunch of college aged beer drinkers had a big party going and motioned for us to come join them.   So we went and had a beer while they kept taking turns getting pictures made with Kay and I.  They wanted us to stay,  but we were tired and the sun was closing in.   They promised to text me when their next party was going to happen and I fully plan to go to it.   Turned out that these folks were factory workers and not University students.  Most did know a few English words, unlike the little farming village we had visited earlier.

Kay's tire got a flat so we slowly made our way to a bike shop that I remembered in my previous explorations of the area (about 3 miles from my house).  The guy replaced her tire and tube for a total cost of $4 which is unbelievable.   Al went back to his University and Kay and I pedaled the last couple miles home.  Not sure the exact mileage,  but 20 miles is about correct.   I am used to riding 10 mile trips all summer and this was at least twice that.   Great leasurely workout,  and all of my riding muscles are sore as heck since I haven't been on a bike in a couple months

   Kay is about 10 years older than me and her strength and stamina is very impressive.   I am also impressed with her sense of adventure and fascination with the culture.  The Chinese seem to like her alot.   Kay has lived in remote areas of Alaska as well as many other places in the US.   She has also spent time working in Rwanda and other countries around the world.   I have considerable respect for her.   Next time we are going to do to that Buddhist temple, but a ride that far might require a taxi to bring us back,  or at least an overnight stay in a hotel somewhere (Kay wants to bring a tent and camp of course)...
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JoAnne on

Enjoyed the time spent catching up on your blog. You're a good writer.

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