New Year's Eve Again

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

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We ate all of our enormous bowl of noodles this morning, knowing we had 74 miles to do in order to make it to Jianshui. We had planned these big distances for the first two days so that we could stay in large towns, and therefore nice hotels, and also make up some ground so that we didn't have a mad rush on the last day when we need to cross the border.

Setting off in the sunshine was great, and although we had some pretty steep uphill on our way to Tonghai, it felt so good to finally take off the waterproof coats we didn’t mind. The locals were clearly in full holiday mode, with all the children dressed up and everyone out and about buying mad foods. Loads of poor chicken being carried around by their feet, on their way to the pot. Tonghai was a big town, but once again we found it very difficult to find food other than noodles which we had just had for breakfast. Eventually, after pushing our bikes through a hectic market we found some pancake wrapped sausages, prawn crackers and lots of fruit. A Japanese boy came over to practise his English and helpfully got his mum to show us where to find out route onwards.

We had decided to sneak back onto the expressway and hope not to get chucked off as the other road was 18k longer. They waved us through at the toll gate, so we set off quickly. After a steep uphill, we found the amazing 18km downhill sign, I’d seen on the other cyclist’s blog. Brilliant! We had spectacular views for the rest of the day, and although we started to feel pretty exhausted by the end of the day, cycling in good weather has really given us a boost. Cycling into towns at sunset the last two nights has also been beautiful.

Jainshui was not as large as we had hoped and the town was surprisingly empty. They had a ridiculously pimped looking hotel however and we decided to check it out. As usual, it was insanely cheap – 13 for a twin with an incredible shower. There was some confusion with the reception desk who didn’t speak any English and were really dappy, but using the Mandarin phrasebook we eventually ended up in our lovely room. By the time we had showered, it was already late. We saw in the news that tonight was in fact New Year’s Eve, and that the celebrations began at 8pm. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, we could hear the fireworks start.

I showed the woman at reception 'Where can I find places to eat?’ and she said ‘NO!’. Hoping she was wrong we set off into town.  In the street it was ridiculous. The fireworks were fun for about 5 minutes then just unbearably loud, and combined with the bangers being set off all the time, really annoying! We couldn’t find anywhere to eat and so hailed down a cab and pointed to ‘centre’ hoping we were just in the wrong area. He drove us everywhere then stopped outside a hotel called ‘centre’. When we pointed to restaurant he said ‘NO!’ too. At this point we gave up and got him to take us back. There really wasn’t anywhere enroute.

 It was 9pm when we got back and we had to show the woman at the desk ‘I’m starving!’. She offered us some cakes she’d clearly bought for New Year, but didn’t seem inclined to get the hotel to cook us something. We headed back to the room and had to make do with pot noodles again – rubbish, but at least they always have them. On the way to the room, we stopped at the hotel bar to get some beers. It was also a Karaoke centre and the barman showed us a family celebrating New Year in a booth listening to the Dad sing REALLY badly. Very odd.   

Totally exhausted, there was no way we were going to stay up for New Year and we soon collapsed despite the loud noises outside. Two hours later however I woke to what sounded like cannon fire. At the window we could see fireworks being set off literally everywhere over the whole city, it was completely unreal really, and honestly sounded like the city was being bombed. Very spectacular. After watching for 10 minutes, we put our pillows over our heads and tried to get back to sleep!

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triciagick on

Complete mystery as to why you couldn't get food on such a special evening - where do the locals eat? xx

panf007 on

Chinese new year is a family oriented celebration, home cooking mostly.
Awesome journey around the world by the way... great blog.

Chinese New Year is like Brazilian carnival, just do what the locals do, don't worry too much.

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