Day SIX → To Yin Xian
Okay, so I’ve been asked to take over writing the report. I’ll do my very best to make it entertaining and legible, but you’ll have to forgive me for not adding all the roads for I didn’t pay much (read: ANY) attention to them. I also hope that I’ll be able to decipher Clegg’s terrible hand writing and short hand…
On our way the next day we soon went looking for off-road opportunities. Personally I find straight roads boring and the more bored I get the more my sore buttocks bother me. Unfortunately the county-side didn’t give any except for endless fields of crops. We did find an enormous rock, of a small but very good road (with corner mirrors!), which we climbed. After descending the bolder we continued on the road further and further up a mountain. Suddenly the road ended on a small plateau with a restaurant (of all things to find on a mountain). The family running it offered us an apple (one of those apple-pear things) and shade for a rest.
The woman was cleaning freshly slaughtered chicken and on inspection of the disembowelled corpses we saw an egg yoke. We asked what that egg yoke was doing there and she explained that the chicken was making an egg before it was killed but wasn’t finished. I’m telling you this because of the conclusion: which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken! (and what came before the chicken you might ask? Fish…before that, one-celled organisms…)
Okay, back to to riding. After we finished our apple-pear things we hopped back on the bike and drove back to the main road. After a few miles we found another lovely looking road, but it was closed and the guard wouldn’t let us through. We would probably have raced through if the opening between the lever and the guard house wasn’t so narrow we almost got stuck, giving the guard time to run up to us shouting from out of nowhere.
So on we went to Yi Xian only to be welcomed by hotels who wouldn’t take us. Tired, overheated and immensely grumpy I persuaded Clegg (The Boyfriend) to haggle for a room in an expensive tourist hotel. The asking price was a staggering 488 RMB, my personal hero got it for 180 RMB! The room was nice but no different from the cheap ones…
It occurred to us that the whole town is stupendously expensive after a disappointing dinner of three plates (one of which was almost inedible) for 80 RMB.
Still not willing to give up hope for relaxation and fun we went for a massage, we got a good one, and more beer. We found a great little terrace on the side of the river, where we were chatted up by a group of kids under the watchful eyes of their mothers. Clegg was so elated with the town showing us it’s (affordable) secrets, he bought fireworks and set them off somewhere in the centre at two in the morning.
Back in the hotel we drifted off into a deep sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows, only to rise the following morning covered in little spots that where so itchy I thought I’d go mad! There must’ve been bed bugs in the bed, there you go for getting a tourist hotel! I have to admit I don’t do very well in the morning, growing attached to the bed within a second and having to separate from it not helping my mood for the better. The bed-bug-spots made it worse and so did the breakfast, thank god there were boiled eggs!
Day SEVEN → To Shitai
After a breakfast of two boiled eggs and some rice gruel we went for a ride, objective: find off-road fun! We found a small area where Clegg could drop the bike again, other than that no luck.
When we got back there were three police cars parked in front of the hotel, so as casual as we possibly could with wet washing in our arms we packed up the bike.
By now we really felt a bit sick of the mountains (Mind: The Netherlands are very flat and I like it that way!) and we just wanted to get out.
The road was narrow and Clegg was racing, flying through it and in turn scared the living daylights out of me! After what seemed like an eternity I gave a yelp (as he calls it) and made him slow down (for some reason dashing of the side of a mountain and crashing to his death hadn’t occurred to him being a possibility).
Around four o’clock all the dragonflies came out, hundreds flying in battle formation, bouncing off our helmets, forcing us to close every bit of our gear that could be closed… The invasion has begun!!!
We had a break at the shore of the river we’d been following and made a dam (Clegg is not very good at this) with the river stones. A refreshing dip, juice and some tofu later we were back on the road.
Further on the road became broader and better paved, cutting its way through the
mountains, forming cliffs searing up from the sides of the tar. Here high speed was exhilarating!
At about 25 km (according to the signs) from Shitai I spotted rubber dingies floating in the river and I shouted “Iwannit! Iwannit! Iwannit!” It turned out to be “wild” river rafting (in a dingy?), it wasn’t very wild, but great fun. Peddling the thing in any (wanted?) direction seemed almost impossible…so we mostly swam, much to the surprise of the river faring and shore-bound Chinese especially since I had refused to wear my life vest. Four km downstream, a dingy filled with water, at the end of the dingy route, it turned out that the 80 RMB entrance fee didn’t include a ride back up, so we walked (by road a mere 1 km) too cheap and principled to hash up the 10 RMB taxi fee.
After this wet adventure our hungry bellies made us practically fly to Shitai, where we easily found a hotel, good food and a massage.
By now our shitty saddlebags were falling apart, quite literally…