Ride to the East China Sea... at last..
Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
101Trip End Oct 08, 2012
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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.