Bike Ride - Day 6. Ya'an to Chengdu

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Jun 27, 2008

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 6 and the final day.  Due to too much alcohol Nic decided not to cycle this last day.  She had cycled the previous day and was way ahead of everyone else due to the fact that she had stored up energy the previous couple of days.
Unfortunately, overnight, the wasp sting had started to react and I now had a forearm like Popeye.  It was slowly spreading up my arm and itched like crazy.

Today we would be returning to Chengdu but not before a short ride.  We drove the van from Ya'an to Shangli and had a quick look round this lovely, but touristy town.  This was an interesting place and in the town centre we saw a couple of pigs that were just sat, refusing to move.  Not wishing to be outdone by a couple of pigs, the Chinese farmers returned with a harness and wrapped it around the pigs body, they then fed a bamboo pole through the harness and lifted this big fat pig up between them and carried it off.  The pig was not happy and started squealing like, well, like a stuck pig.  The other one just sat there watching.

We got on our bikes and enjoyed a superb downhill section overlooking the beautiful countryside and with lots of hairpin bends and drops at the side.  It was great to just free wheel down the mountain and take in the views. Towards the bottom of the mountain there was a traffic jam caused by a mud slide that had gone across the whole road.    A digger was in the road clearing it all away but this was going to take hours.  So we picked up our bikes  and tip-toed through the mud.

The countryside on this part of the journey was very different to the rest.  Here were rice fields and the farm land was very very rich and green.  We saw the whole rice growing process from the flooding of the fields, to the harvesting, to the drying out process and the beating process.  Everything!!
After a relatively short period of time we arrived in Pingle where we ended our cycling.  The next task was to get Chandler and Scott to the airport as they were due to fly back to Beijing.  So we loaded up the van, and headed back to Chengdu.  It was a bit of a rush towards the end but we got back, said our farewells and they headed off to the airport.

Total cycling for the day was 40km (approx 25 miles) and we descended approx two to three hundred metres. 
Our total cycling distance over the six days was 344km (213 miles).
We decided to finish the week off by having dinner and drinks with Dan in Chengdu.  He was not due to fly back to Beijing until the following afternoon. 

This week has to be number one highlight for me in China.  To see what we saw; the scenery, the people, the amazing construction, the way of life, is not something you normally get access to.
I have enjoyed seeing the major tourist sites in China (the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors etc)  but this is real life and real people.  I came away from this tour on cloud nine, totally blown away by the feeling that only fresh air and a sense of achievement can give you.  We were fortunate to share this experience with three great fellow cyclists and the thanks to their understanding of China, and the language, our experience was all the broader.  Deven and Mike, our guides, were excellent.  Their manner was very laid back, very accommodating and very unassuming.  This was money well spent.

That night we returned to the Loft Hostel in Chengdu and decided to treat ourselves to their finest room - double room with private en-suite.  The best the hostel has to offer at 150 Yuan (approx 10 quid).  We were settling in nicely, feeling very satisfied with our achievements, ready for a good nights sleep, when the biggest COCKROACH you have you ever seen decided to launch a full on attack at me.  This thing was at least 15 inches long - really it was.  Ok maybe two inches.  I wrestled with it for an hour or two before finally killing it off with my flip-flop.  We promptly decided to change rooms, to another one downstairs that had solid concrete floors and a ceiling that no bugs could live in.
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