All Of The Lights

By Jane Mountain | January 14, 2014

8332 km so far.

Our plan for this leg of the trip is to take it relatively easy and not push ourselves to do frequent 100 km days. It is tiring enough riding in China, without overtaxing our daily energy allowance by riding too far.

Today we knew we had a short ride, which left time this morning for yoga asana (Stephen) and some blog work (me). As Stephen was practicing in front of the big window in our room, he noticed a small food cart across the street. The woman running it was doing brisk business, with a small crowd around her waiting for their breakfast.

“You’ve got to come see this,” Stephen said. “She’s moving so quickly she must be a vampire.”

I (reluctantly) left bed to check it out, and was glad to find he wasn’t exaggerating. The woman’s hands were a blur as she grabbed a little cardboard container, peeled something off a griddle, placed it in the container, and then scooped little spoonfuls of various toppings over it. She then bagged it up and handed it to the customer, taking money and starting on the next order, all at the same incredible speed.

Dragon in a bag, almost ready for New Year's.

Dragon in a bag, almost ready for New Year’s.

We couldn’t quite see what it was she was serving up, but decided to go over on our way out of the hotel. Sadly, we left so late that she was already gone by the time we got outside.

You Light Up My Life

Our short ride was uneventful, running along two largish roads that were lined with trees. These trees do a lot to break the wind, which was a blessing today as it was blowing pretty hard. But, they also make it hard to see any of the country that we pass by. On days like this, with not much to see, we just keep our heads down and do the work.

This bike is normal here, not ours.

This bike is normal here, not ours.

This leaves lots of time to let your mind wander where it will. Today I found myself remembering people who have made a big difference in my life. Some of them are still friends today, but many of them were only in my life for a short while, or were people I didn’t really know well at all. To all those people, thank you for lighting up my life, if even for just a brief time!

We stopped next door to a huge police academy for lunch. All of the little eateries on the strip were filled with police men and women in uniform, so we felt pretty comfortable about leaning our bikes up outside where we couldn’t really see them.

Chicken or pork dumplings. We looked, but didn't touch.

Chicken or pork dumplings. We looked, but didn’t touch.

The little place we chose served us up a few dishes we ordered using our new picture dictionary. We have pictures on the iPad and iPhone of things we eat, and things we don’t. This dictionary is making our lives so much easier and we are kicking ourselves for not having made it months ago.

The food was beyond delicious. Not sure if this is because we have resumed the hard work of cycling, or if this was just a very special place. Either way, we were impressed.

The Sprawl

After lunch, we only had a short distance to go to get to Yangjiang, our destination for the night. The city goes on for a long way, with dusty busy roads to ride along.

It was sunny and warm again today, and this makes such a difference to my mood and my desire to cycle. In the cold and the smog up north, everything looked depressing and finding the energy to keep going wasn’t always easy. Here, with a little bit of sun thrown into the mix, things look interesting and exciting once again.

With a good lunch, good weather, and a short ride today, I was feeling great when we arrived at our generic chain hotel, 7 Days Inn. Usually, we would never choose a chain over a privately owned establishment, but in China it is a huge benefit to know upon arriving that we’ll get a good price, excellent internet, a nice room, and a decent shower.

Bonus wall decals at 7 Days Inn, Yangjiang.

Bonus wall decals at 7 Days Inn, Yangjiang.

They never give us a hassle about bringing our bikes into the room, and they always have excellent lighting.

In many of the budget hotels we’ve stayed in, there has been just a single ceiling light in the room – not great mood lighting. In the modern chain hotels, they almost always have bedside lights, recessed lights, and other low light options. It’s a small thing, but when you’re staying in a hotel every night, small things make a big difference.

The Monsters At The End Of This Post

We went on a quick hunt for some noodles and fruit for dinner this evening.

The light fantastic in Yangjiang.

The light fantastic in Yangjiang.

Not far from our hotel, we spotted a little shop where three small kids were peeking around the corner of the doorframe at us. As we approached, they screamed and ran away, as though we were terrible monsters. We could see them giggling and hiding in the back of the shop. They ran to the other entrance of the store for a repeat performance as we rounded the corner.

I contemplated yelling “Rrrrrawr!” and running at them with fingers shaped into claws, but thought I might be scary enough just as I was.

Soundtrack: 2013: A Year In Review (compilation by Herr Dr. Jesse Simon) | Wilco, Wilco (the album) | The Electric Bubblegum Arkestra, It’s Really Not The End Of The World | Electrocute, Double Diamond  

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