Tofu is Rubbish

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

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Where I stayed
Tian Bo Hotel

Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Thursday, January 20, 2011

The bed at our lovely hotel was so comfortable we overslept and missed breakfast – annoying as I really wanted to know what it was. Nevermind, coffee in bed set us up for the day and we set off on our first snow-free day excited about seeing another great big Buddha. We reached the ticket office for the Leshan scenic Big Buddha park after 4miles and were just purchasing very expensive tickets (9 pounds) when we met a couple of Spanish girls who had hitch hiked all the way from Spain. Incredible, especially as one of them was in a wheelchair. They said it had taken 6 months and had been dropped off in Leshan by accident. They were on their way to Kunnming and we bumped into them again 3 hours later at a garage, so they must be making ok progress.
When we reached the gates into the park, the officious little man pointed that the bikes had to go over the road. We’ve  now worked out that the way to solve this is to carry on shouting in English about what you want, and they eventually give in. True to form, he let us leave them safely behind the barriers in the park after 5 minutes of loud discussion. The park was beautiful and it would have been nice to spend a couple of hours there. Having seen the money shot of the enormous Buddha carved into a cliff however, we were happy enough to get back on the bikes and set off in search of breakfast/lunch. 
We’ve still not really sussed the eating situation in China and find it hard to tell which are the good places to eat. The language barrier is also a massive stumbling block. By 2pm we were really hungry, and decided to take the next place we saw. Crossing a bridge we saw a clean but empty place and decided to go for it. The 4 people in there were very excited to see us, as was the mechanic next door who had a good look at the bikes and told us lots of stuff in Chinese. In the restaurant they had pictures of their dishes on the wall, which were actually not that helpful as they seemed to be of the ‘special’ treats like enormous eels and meat cut up and shaped to look like a turtle. In the end, we showed them the words rice, noodles and vegetables in our mandarin phrase book and one of the men happily bustled off into the kitchen.
The meal we were served looked delicious and was mostly pretty nice. Apart from an enormous plate of white chunks and grey sludge which turned out to be tofu. There are not many things I can’t eat when needing to be polite, but tofu is one of them. I couldn’t believe how disgusting it was in both taste and texture – I thought it was meant to be tasteless?! Stir-fried greens with red chilli is a good bet though. The entire meal cost 3 pounds so it didn’t matter and the staff and some other randoms who had come in to have a look at us were extremely pleased when we showed them the words ‘Its delicious’ and ‘I’m full up!’ We took a photo of them, and then the cook insisted of taking one of us before we set off feeling stuffed.
The next 20 miles were pretty straight-forward, flat good roads make lovely cycling. It’s great to be on a river again and amazing to see how much agriculture is going on along the banks. Every available bit of river bed is being used to grow greens, or dug up for industry.
Google maps was spot on today and we arrived in Qian Wei at 4pm after a short 37 mile day. Checking into the first hotel, we are pretty pleased with our cosy room.
In town we found our first Chinese supermarket and had a great time looking at all of the crazy things they sell. Wandering through the town later we got a lot of surprised looks and smiles, but no hassle. Munching a frankfurter on a stick we had our first taste of Huajiao, otherwise known as  Sichuan  peppercorn which makes your mouth go numb – pretty tasty!  Will try and be brave and try a chicken’s foot when Mikey is better!

A leisurely 37 miles
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