Sooty Sichuan

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Kailai Hotel

Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today turned out to be a really strange day.  Sitting here writing we are not even sure what city we are in.  It was the first day of cycling for a couple of weeks and the first day of our 5000 mile ride down to Singapore.  We had a good breakfast at the excellent Sims Cosy Hostel which we had spent the last couple of days at.  Muesli and chocolate oatmeal with a couple of lattes was the perfect foundation for getting back in the saddle.  Each country we have cycled in has presented different challenges and getting out of Chengdu was difficult.  It was bitterly cold with snow falling.  After a mile my hands were so cold (despite 2 pairs of gloves) that I felt nauseous so that we had to stop and buy reinforcement gloves.  It took a full 2 hours to get out of the city.  We struggled to work out the ring roads system and the signs were not giving us any clues.  It was probably more luck than judgement that found us on the right road out of the city, we agreed that as long as we were heading south, we were on the right track for Vietnam (some 800 miles away!).
Not far out of this super modern city, we found ourselves in the bleakest of surroundings.  It was industrial and miserable.  And so it continued for two hours.  The towns we passed through were seriously depressing.  Chimneys puffed out smoke, village sized factories lined the roads and amongst it all, cold, wet and scruffy people went about their work.
Not much else can be said about the day.  We found the cycling mentally and physically tough after such a long break from the saddle, especially in the relentless sleet and, unfit, our slow pace meant no time for breaks.  When 50 miles arrived we were certainly ready for a hotel.  Our destination of Meishan was another 10 miles away and it was a good decision that made us stop and ask around in a town which was not on the map.  Out came the Mandarin phrasebook and Polly (pointing at words perfected) found a hotel just down the street.  It was a good one at 15 a night, complete with computer in room.
We walked into town to grab food.  Unfortunately our options were limited because of my stomach’s continuing fragility.  The cycle rickshaw driver seemed to know his way to Dicos so off we went at top speed.  Dicos is a Chinese fast food chain, it has a Wimpy feel about it.  There was nothing wrong with the chicken burger and fries (not a chicken foot in sight). 
China is already proving to be a really interesting place.  The people have been without exception very friendly.  The scale of building, development and industry is scary.  It has not necessarily been pretty so far, but I have a feeling we will take a lot from the 800 miles and two weeks we have remaining on our visas.

Distance cycled; 53 miles
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