9,559 so far.
Roads, for the most part, have been really well built and well maintained in China. We have, so far, ridden 3,000 km of road in China, so I know a bit about that of which I speak.
Sometimes though, inexplicably, the road turns to shit. This happened today. I wish we’d stopped to take some photos of it, but when you are in the thick of it, you just want to get out.
A Sea Of Concrete
Just after lunch, for no apparent reason, with no large factory or building site in sight that would explain the destruction, the road disintegrated.
What had been a nice, smooth concrete road, turned into a churning sea of huge chunks of concrete slab, jutting up into the air and sinking into the ground.
Huge ruts were formed by vehicles driving through the broken mess, and this caused even more upending of the road, with the earth pushing aside concrete, and it ending up all askew. It was as if it was an abstract art project depicting a sea in the midst of a violent storm.
We ran into two patches of road like this today. This first went on for about 2 km. On a bike, surrounded by cars, scooters, huge trucks, and buses, all trying to survive the sea of rutted concrete swirling around them, it feels like 20 km.
Part way through a man on a motorcycle rode beside me and said hello. Unlike the normal experience, when he asked me how I was, and I told him, he responded. I then asked how he was, and he said he was fine. It may not seem like much, but most people who talk to us know some English words, but not their meaning, or how to respond to them.
Anyway, I asked my new friend if the road got better any time soon, and he assured me it did. I decided to trust him, as it made me feel a bit better, hoping this would all be over soon. He said goodbye, and rode off. True to his word, about 500 m later the road flattened out again.
Dragons At Dawn
Our route today was along the G325 for 125 km. We rode from our hotel outside Anpu into Lianzhou, a city we only chose because we knew it would have a good selection of hotels.
As we were leaving our hotel this morning we finally saw a Chinese New Year parade complete with dragons! I must admit, this was pretty exciting. We have both seen these parades countless times back in Canada, but had not seen hide nor hair of one in China.
People were banging drums, clanging cymbals, and playing ancient-looking Chinese flutes. There were two enclosed statues of some deity or other being carried, and two dragons. It was small, but proper. The seemed to be going from business to business where, upon arrival, the owners would set off long strings of firecrackers.
It was noisy, jubilant, and entertaining for everyone.
Lianzhou is a short distance from Beihai, the seaside town we had hoped to sail to from Hainan. If all had gone according to plan we would have already passed through this town a few days ago, and would already be in Vietnam.
However, here we are. We found a room easily, as well as a tasty dinner just down the road. This is really all we need. If you ever end up here, I read about an underground river with stalagmites and stalactites close by that you can take a boat on, and apparently there is a gorge as well.
We’ll be saving these delights for another time, as right now, we just want to keep moving.
Soundtrack: David Byrne, Look Into The Eyeball | R.E.M., Up | Eels, Hombre Lobo | Blur, Modern Life Is Rubbish | Tame Impala, Lonerism | This American Life podcast | The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs ♥