Ride to the East China Sea... at last..

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

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Where I stayed
A place that you cannot find but was beautiful.
What I did
NanBei Lake, East China Sea

Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Monday, May 7, 2012

My goal for many months was to ride to the East China Sea from Xiasha (East Hangzhou).   I have been to Yanguan and back a few times which is a 60 KM ride,   but last week I made a 120 KM ride to the more distant village of Zhekhou,  which is twice as far as Yanguan.   

I had to cross the "Hangzhou Wan" peninsula in order to reach the sea because going around that part of the river would greatly extend the trip.  Like crossing northern Florida instead of following the coast all around it to save distance.  

I called my friends and the only one available was "Ray" who is a great kid and who I've gone on trips before.   Ray's English and overall knowledge of America makes him a great riding companion.   He is a great conversationalist as well when he is in a good mood... which is most of the time.    

We left Xiasha around 1 PM,   so were only planning an easy 30 K run the first half day into the trip.    We reached my favorite "Chinese Town" Yanguan by 3 Pm and kinda bummed around and did some shopping in the small tourist part of the city.   We did have a dinner and went home afterward and watched "The Godfather" on my 7 inch Lenovo tablet computer.   Funny how two people can sit in chairs and watch a small screen from a few feet away and enjoy it.  I mentioned to Ray that the first TV's screens were often that size or less.   It was cool.     Ray crashed early and I spent another hour in the alley smoking some cigs (I dont inhale) and had a few swigs of Chinese wine.   Nice full moon and all that night and the next.

Saturday morning we take off around 9 but stopped for a huge breakfast before leaving town.   We had some eggs with veggies,  and some triangular cold thing rolled up in a banana leaf,  chocked full of cold pork fat and meat.   I politely had a bite,  but didn't want that nasty thing rolling around in me stummy for the next 9 hours,  so I had a few cups of tea instead.  The eggs and noodles were plenty.  Ray had a big bowl of noodles,  which he shared with me.   

We moved on down toward the town of Zhakou which was another 30 K away... We pumped the bikes hard for an hour,  then an electric cart full of pretty older ladies slowly passed us by,  the colorfully dressed one flirted with me pretty hard for the next 3 minutes or so while I noticed that my speed was picking up.  I stayed up with them for 4 or 5 minutes but  I finally had to let the lady wagon go!

We rode along in the increasing heat for another 45 minutes until we heard it...    The majical roar of the distant "Tidal Bore" which flows up this river every day.    So of course we stopped in order to take of movie of this rare phenomena of which the Qaintang is famous for since it has the biggest tidal bore of any of the other rivers in the world.   Last summer many of the Yanguan tourists got washed away from an unusually big "Tidal Bore" which was driven to be larger by a nearby typhoon.    I saw it up in Xiasha and it was a monster.    Today it was powerful but not as deadly as the one back in September.  I've seen at least 9 tidal bores here and they are always amazing to me.

At the Tidal Bore viewing place, the cart full of older but flirty and colorfully dressed ladies had stopped there as well,  and my favorite one grabbed my arm and demanded pics of her and me with our arms hanging on eachother.  Then she allowed the other ladies to join for another pic,  She then shooed away the other ladies and had her driver take yet another pic of her and me.   I believe she was smitten.   I liked her as well, She being a good judge of male character and quite humorous,  she wasn't half bad lookin' either.    I think I might see her again in Yanguan soon,  which is where she is from.  I know the area where the motorized rickshaw drivers hang out.  

Around noon thirty we pulled into the little village of Zhekou after 30 K of driving with what I figured about 30 more k to go in order to reach the sea.   WRONG!     We had no solid map.  Ray thankfully had maps on his celly but never had to navigate a map before (Most Chinese college kids know nothing about street navigation since they are stuck to their parents until age 25 or more) and Ray was about average.   He did ask directions often but never seemed to get them.   Not putting Ray down here as this is quite normal with most of the kids I ride with.   Few can read a map or internalize directions and apply them to real world situations.    Ray is a top kid in our University,  shows more genious than most others in his class and would excel in any Western University.   Just a bit directionally challenged.  

After much ado about the route and other uncertainties,  I just read my compass and kept repeating that we were in fact heading north towards Shanghai and not East to the EAST China Sea.   Ray finally got some useful directions from a filling station (by then I didn't have any confidence) but he did manage to get us to a town near the East China Sea.    Of course there were no decent roads going to the sea so we faffed about for another 2 hours, often down roads with no pavement once on a snaky looking all grass road for a mile and back.   By 3 oclock we were tired and hungry and could smell the sea,  but we could only find an old seawall and miles of fields in the direction of the Sea.    We stopped at a little restaurant/store,  drank a beer and were told that the sea used to come up to the sea wall many years before the government built a huge series of dikes twenty years ago, in order to reclaim many miles of valuable farm land.   The owners did tell us the exact way to get to the sea from there.   Turned out to be a 4 mile schlog down a rough gravel road which was hard to ride down after 70 k of riding all day long.   Ray and I rode the final miles like champions,  even stopped about thirty minutes to walk around in the ocean and ray was having a fun time wandering around.   The beach was muddy and rocky but the sea breeze and the knowledge that we fulfilled our quest made it a happy time.

I very much respect and admire the Chinese farmers for their hard work and ingenuity.   Most of these huge fields that were reclaimed by the dikes were being tilled and planted by armies of villagers with hoes and shovels.  And their fields are all perfect and weedless,  they work from dawn to dusk for most of the year,  even in winter here they are growing greens and cabbage on every square inch of land.   One farmer I know simply stakes out unused government land and grows her crops.  If the US was like China,  the wide strip between the Interstates and the land between the service roads would all be cultivated.   Although I do see the occasional tractor or hand tiller,  most tilling is done with a shovel.  Most harvesting is done with a sickle or knife depending on the crop.   If an asteroid hits or If the US and China ever get involved in a nuclear (not "Nuke u lur") war,  and all the major cities ceased to exist,   The Chinese (60 percent are incredible farmers), would still continue to exist,  many would barely notice (assuming the fallout wasn't to horrible)  very few Americans could survive due to lack of farming skills.  

We finally turned back toward the beer stop and accidently ran into a beautiful village, surrounded by mountains with a gorgeous lake in the center.   Many little tourist boats and rickshaws were around.   We found a gorgeous hotel built inside of an opulent new 4 story house,   with a marble balcony and granite steps going up the stairs.  The old man who was caretaking was wonderful and kind.    After dinner and a short ride we hung out there for the late afternoon until we crashed early from all the day's exercise.  This fantastic hotel cost us like 8 bucks each and included new toothbrushes,  clean towels,  spotlessly clean and ray's bed was like 2o feet from mine where was nice because we both snore and like to listen to different music.    I hung outside on the balcony for a few hours,  then when immediately to bed before 11 PM.

This trip back was much faster since we did'nt have to find the tent or stop to ask for directions.  We were back in Zhekou withing 90 minutes where we had a great breakfast with a couple onlooker children who were quite adorable.   Congee (rice porridge), hardboiled eggs, some roll with spicy meat inside (Bouza?), soy milk,  and we were ready for the last 60 k.  The last day was a scorcher with the burning sun frying us and no shade on the river levee road.  It was 92 humid degrees.   We rode through Yanguan a couple hours later and spent 30 minutes  cooling down in the hotel living room in order to prevent heatstroke.   The rest of the ride was easy enough but uneventful,  except the last 30 minutes when I took off my shirt to even out the contrast between my brown arms and face and my white chest and stomach.  The Chinese men of all ages walk around shirtless,  but I still got more than a few laughs!   Overall we went about 160 kilometers making this the farthest I've ever ridden on one bike trip.  China has been excellent for my health and hopefully will continue to be so for years to come.
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Joanne on

Faf tried to leave you a comment but not sure he suceeded. He loves your pictures as well as your entries. Me too!

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