A Day On My Own

By Stephen Ewashkiw | January 24, 2014

8,879 km so far.

Jane spent most of the day in bed, but the good news is she is feeling quite a bit better.

While she slept the morning away I took care of a few chores.

Mr. Clean

Jane’s bike has been squeaking, mostly I suspect because she isn’t as OCD about cleaning it as I am about mine. She always jokes that I take too long to clean my bike, but I have fewer squeaking issues than she does as a result. Dirt left on the spokes, or on the derailleur can easily come off when riding, get in my chain, and cause friction.

Bikes are such simple machines, a bit like a handgun or an old combustion engine. Clean each part, give it just the right amount of oil, and it’ll work perfectly, and last for decades. Let it get dirty, allow the dirt to accumulate, and it jams.

Jane’s note: My real objection to cleaning is that it never fails, the day after a good cleaning, we always end up on some sandy or mucky road, and the bike is filthy again before you know it.

I gave Jane’s bike a fairly deep clean today, doing my best to get into the small spaces, and clean out the gunk that has built up. It’s going to need another deep clean before long to get at the layer of dirt I revealed, but it should ride a bit smoother when we head back out, hopefully tomorrow. I also gave mine a cleaning because we rode through some water draining from a field yesterday and it was really gritty, getting into my chain, and onto my chainring.

Once the bikes were spruced up it was time for some laundry. Not an exciting morning, but chores need to be done, even when you’re on a bike trip. And since Jane was down for the count it felt good to be able to take care of a few of our more mundane tasks so that she could wake up to clean clothes and a clean bike.

The Streets Of Boao

Before long it was noon, and although we had discussed finding another hotel that was a bit cheaper and had WiFi, Jane was still in bed. I decided it made more sense to just stay here another night. She needs the rest, the bed is comfy, and we’re already settled in.

I needed to eat, and to take some pictures, so we headed out into town. Here’s what I saw…

There were lots of piles of sticks around. Everyone appears to be preparing for winter, although we’re in the midst of it, and it’s 22C/74F today. I guess they really use these for cooking fuel.

Pile o' sticks, Boao, Hainan.

Pile o’ sticks, Boao, Hainan.

There are endless construction sites here, and while they are tearing down the old homes, and building extravagant condominiums with pools and palm-lined avenues, the construction workers live in simple accommodation on the edge of the property.

Housing in Boao, Hainan.

Housing in Boao, Hainan.

We have seen this all over China. In most parts of the country they live in prefab dorms, but on Hainan simple single-story brick shacks seem to be the norm.

These old trucks are everywhere in the south, spewing thick exhaust into our faces as they transport all kinds of goods. As they trundle down the road it’s like Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown has just rolled by and we are swamped in a cloud of dust and fumes.

Pig-Pen truck, Boao, Hainan.

Pig-Pen truck, Boao, Hainan.

Beach Boao-um

And then there is the beach. I do love a good beach, and the beach at Boao is spectacular.

The beach in Boao. Why go to Sanya?

The beach in Boao. Why go to Sanya?

I have heard that in Sanya, the main tourist destination on the island, the beach is literally jam-packed with people, with next to no space between you and the next person. Here, finding your own spot is easy. The nearest people to me were easily 500 m away on either side.

The sky is actually a beautiful clear blue here (well, OK, I guess a scientist would tell you it’s not ACTUALLY blue), the sand was clean, and palm trees were rustling behind me. I could see a few fishing boats out on the water, and this one fisherman on the shore.

After relaxing on the beach for a couple of hours I came back to the hotel and found Jane curled up on the sofa watching Six Feet Under. I managed to convince her to come out for a short walk to see the town a little, get some fresh air, and pick up some fruit at the market.

Salaam Aleik-yum!

I want to give a shout out to Lan Zhou Zheng Zong Niuroulamian. Their name means “authentic beef soup with pulled noodles, made by the Lan Zhou family”. But today they made me two delicious vegetarian meals.

We have found that Muslim pulled noodle restaurants are a perfect place for vegetarians to eat. Most traditional Chinese restaurants make one dish from one vegetable. Order eggplants, green peppers, and tofu and you get three large plates of food. Muslim restaurants generally have fresh-made hand pulled noodles (fresh as in you watch them being pulled in front of you), and make dishes that include a variety of vegetables on one plate!

A lovely bunch of coconuts, Boao, Hainan.

A lovely bunch of coconuts, Boao, Hainan.

We have also decided that because Muslims understand dietary restrictions due to their faith, and share land in the west of China with Buddhists, they seem better able to understand that we are vegetarian.

Lunch was a fresh spaghetti style noodle with tomato sauce and tofu. I had initially tried to order tofu and noodles, and the son whipped out his smartphone, opened Google translate, and told me “tofu and noodles isn’t very tasty”. He suggested adding tomatoes to it, and he was right.

For dinner, they made me flat pulled noodles with various veggies, something that was pictured on their menu board. I also got an order of loabing, a thin, flat bread with chillis. Again, another excellent, vegetarian meal.

If you find yourself in Boao, look for Lan Zhou Zheng Zong Niuroulamian on the east side of the main street.  

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