Another Sunday Bike ride, and other tales.

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

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Sunday, October 30, 2011

Five Students and I met at my University to go exploring down river toward the sea.   Lil' Al and his friend "Nana",  one of my students "Forrest",  and another Freshman English enthusiast whose name escapes me at the moment.   We headed through all the universities and finally hit the Qaintang River after 4 or 5 Km's of easy riding.   Al and his girl seemed to be having fun,  speeding up then slowing down.   Me and the two others enjoyed watching their antics,  it really made the ride lots of fun.   Once we were well past the bridge my tire started leaking and we had to return to the Qaintang park and found a bike shop in one of the University shops.   It took the repairman about 5 minutes to patch the tube for which he only charged 30 cents,  and we headed back down the river in order to discover new worlds and civilizations.   After about 6 or more miles we found some interesting ruins that could have been from WW2, since the Japanese bombed the shit out of the lower Qaintang river.   I did witness the bombing area that was being rebuilt at the Buddhist Temple..   The ruins were beautiful when juxtaposed with the wildlife--squatters-- agriculture--nuclear power plant--sunlight--flowers in the fore and background.   I wish I knew the history of this place, but it seems to be long forgotten.  Around noon,  we found a road that lead from the levee into a maze of brand new highrise apartments,  with a park like theme,  and much of the infrastructure was just being built. The style of which I have always called "Tinkelywinkely Town"  We rode thru those places for a couple miles and wound up on the main street of a frontier looking boom town which I am guessing is "Qi Hang Lu",  many towns around here have several names, and some of my students still thought we were in Xiasha,  which was 16 kms away at this point. 

Once at this growing hamlet we drove around until Al (our leader) found a decent restaurant and shared the usual 6 or 7 dishes lazy susan style,  putting our mouth on the chopsticks then digging into the community food, before reinserting the chopsticks into our filthy mouths.   Doesn't bother the Chinese to "double dip",  when in Rome......I always say.    I loved the spicy eggplant stuff,  and ate some of the boiled Carp.   The pig stomach was rubbery as usual,  and I liked the rice and beer of course.   "Nana" and "Lil Al" are from another University,  but the other two students seemed to get along with them just fine.  The unNamed student was not an English major but his English was far beyond the others,   he asked interesting questions such as: "Are Chinese students as dedicated as American students"?   I will leave this one for my readers to answer.    He had many others.   I really like this bastard!   We plan to take the bus to his home village that is a couple hours east of Hangzhou.    He says his village is on a beautiful lake,  no doubt a trip there with a local will be a good experience.

I hated to leave this new town,  but the sun drops from the sky quickly this time of year,  and we had to head back to Xiasha,  a more established civilization.  The ride home always goes much faster than the ride there,  and by the time we were back on the levee, and could see the bridge off in a distance,  we got another surprise!   The bloody TIDAL BORE!!!  The amazing thing  shoots by with all it's fury,  which was great because I was explaining to my students what the "tidal bore" was earlier.   This sure know what it is now!    After getting movies of it,  we raced it for several miles and even closed in on it,  but we ran out of energy after a long time.   We did pass Al and his friend who happens to be a girl,  but they didn't give chase to the wave.   Once back it the QianTang park in Xiasha,  the boys told me not to wait for Al,  we assumed he was having fun,  and we had much farther to go in order to get back to our university (Al's school is right by the river).

Forrest and the other kid have never been to the river here in Xiasha before and both got to see the tidal wave for the first time.  This was a most enjoyable ride,  and we went a total of 35 kilometers or 22 miles.    I have no problems keeping up with the Chinese students on bicycles with the exception of lil' Al who is quite an athlete.    The other kids are regular (but intelligent) students,  and they had to keep up with me.   Once the winter comes I will dearly miss our bicycle riding opportunities,  then probably switch over to playing "Majong" as a way to spend excess time with my students.

I never get tired of exploring the countryside.  I persistantly did this in Texas, Utah,  and now here.   There is another new thing, object, or idea, just around the corner.   My students generally had no idea where we were or what the town we were in was named.   Most just say "HangZhou",  although we are far from "Hangzhou"  even Google Maps gives me many entries for each place,  since many places have muliple names,  and the village name changes depending on what part of the village you are at.   The term "Village" itself;   is a flawed term since all "villages" in this part of China tend to look like city blocks in the middle of the country.  No Gilligans Island looking stuff here.  Maybe a few farmhouses with bamboo frames and industrial fabric for walls and roofs.  But the people are country.   They are villagers on this delta town of the Qaintang river,  where they grow their crops,  run about the villages making their daily visits and purchases,  and every now and then the circus,  or the white man comes to town,  and gives them something to disrupt the daily existence.    These people seem happier than the competitive morning rush hour traffic career folks in the west.   They are not stressed out,  they are not competetive,   they just do what needs to be done.   Then the relax and get ready for another day.   Village life is quite simple.  Village life is life itself.

Spent Monday,  hanging around the apartment (can't spend money this way),  but around 2 PM I went for a coffee at the coffee house near the giant park near my school.   This place is very nice and relaxing,  has wifi,  and strong excellent coffee.  At $2:50 per cup it's a bit high but the giant cup of high grade expresso (they call it Americano here but it's expresso),  will give you quite a jolt.   The music is well chosen for a coffee house and it is mainly in English,  often songs that I haven't heard since childhood  "We have joy we have fun we have seasons in the sun"...ect..   I still love this music today.   Whipped out the I-Pad clone and commenced to do so serious reading.   Although this does work as a computer I primarily use it as a reader.   I am now a confirmed fan of the E-reader concept.  I can sit down and choose between Thoreau, Fitzgerald, Doyle, Shakespeare, Chaucer,  and the bio's of Ben Franklin and Marco Polo.  Using project Gutenburg I can also down load much much more of the classics,  but I am doing fine for now.   Much easier to read the print for me then a regular book due to the lighting of the text against a dark background.   You can set the font size and lighting requirments to even those of us with old age vision issues can not read again without discomfort.    The 20 RMB for coffee serves as a very nice and pleasant place to waste a couple hours during the dreaded "Bastard Time" of the day.  I personally dislike the hours between 1 PM and 4 PM and consider this to be the most boring of all the hours on the clock,  hence the name "Bastard time".   I took this title from a Steinbeck quote where he refers to "Time" itself as a "Bastard",  and Twain would probably agree with him.   I just dislike the hours between 1 and 4 PM often the longest hours until one gets off work,  yet also the most boring during vacation days.   Pissing those hours by reading in a coffee shop is a good constructive use for them.

Afterwards I went to dinner with my British friend and we found a decent place to grab a bite and a few Chinese "Manhattan's" which were priced cheaper then my coffee.   We were basically sharing family issues and concerns and comparing them to Chinese families and their concerns.   Since he has a Chinese wife he knows both sides of the observations.   Had a great time shooting the breeze with someone closer to my age group,  which is rare since the rest of my friends are students.   My friend Steve is as young at heart (immature) as me and neither of us believe in growing up. 
   Being young is easy.   Just treat every day like a new adventure.  Learn new things.  Do something that scares you.   Laugh at your mistakes.  Treat others with respect.   Enjoy the mundane and make the most out of it.  I just wrote all this positive crap off the top of my head so these concepts have probably been written before.  Just avoid the rut of taking yourself too seriously and grubbing for money rather than happiness,  or competing against others for credit or recognition, that you may or may not deserve.  Cease to care what others think of you,  as long as you keep a good conscience,  don't screw people over, don't expect anything or have conditions for others to meet,   forgive everyone you can,  you can and should enjoy yourself.   Nothing can keep a good man/woman down.   Wow!  all this minutiae kind of flowed right out of me.   I stand behind it all one hundred percent.
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JoAnne on

Your 22 mile bike trip must have been a wonderful experience. You saw so many interesting things.

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