8,134 km so far.
Once again, we are cycle tourists. I am quite happy that things didn’t work out yesterday with getting on the train to Maoming. We weren’t too keen on the idea of riding our bikes out of Guangzhou, but once again, Pocket Earth showed us the way.
We rode over a few bridges that were just for two-wheeled vehicles, found some actual bike lanes, and despite the busy-ness of morning commuters and delivery trucks, slowly but surely made out way out of town.
We’re Not Alone
Not long into our trek today, stopped at a stop light, Jane said:
I am working on remembering that all of these people around us are going to work, and we are on holiday. It’s making things a little less stressful whenever someone gets in my way or cuts me off.
I kept this in mind for the rest of the day, and she was right. It really made a big difference to put myself in this mindset. The roads are so chaotic, having help keeping our minds focused and calm is essential. Thanks Jane!
We met some other cycle tourists at a stop light as we were leaving the city this morning. We had a quick chat while riding, but the traffic was so crazy we couldn’t ride side-by-side for long. They were three young Chinese guys riding mountain bikes and carrying a small duffel bag and a day pack each. They’re headed to a coastal city about three days’ ride from here, so for the distance they are going, their light baggage was perfect.
Before long they went one way, and we went another. I knew we’d see them again later as we were all headed in the same direction.
Sure enough, about 45 minutes later, there they were. We had stopped to take off some layers (it was hot today and as the morning wore on, our clothes came off), and waved to them as they passed.
Not long after lunch they came up behind us again. They had stopped somewhere else, and had obviously taken a longer lunch break than we had. It was nice to have some new friends on the road today. I wonder if we’ll see them again.
If you have any furniture that was made in China, chances are that today we rode past the showroom it once called home. We have written before about how every town seems to have a single industry, and today we found Furniture Town. Officially, it’s called Lecong.
Lecong must translate as Land of Furniture. There are countless massive complexes that house furniture manufacturing showrooms, hundreds of smaller stores filled with furniture, and signs for numerous World Furniture Expos, lining both sides of the road, the S121. Some of the showrooms are divided into furniture types: office furniture, restaurant furniture, hotel furniture, living room, bedroom etc etc. Some showrooms specialise in one thing.
Our favourite is the store we saw called We Only Chairs Here.
For about 10 km along the highway all we saw was furniture, furniture, furniture.
Jane’s note: I imagine the town slogan must be something like: If you need furniture, come to Lecong. If you need anything else at all, go somewhere else.
On the edge of Lecong are the supplementary businesses. There are leather suppliers and synthetic leather suppliers, fabric dyers, quilted fabrics manufacturers, and foam suppliers with mountains of foam rolls outside of their warehouses.
I even saw an old brick house filled with perfectly curved plywood chair backs waiting to be taken to the factory and painted.
The Economist was as impressed as we were with this furniture madness, and coincidentally published an article on the city today. (They say the furniture is in Foshan, but we’re pretty it was all next door, in Lecong.)
We decided to take it easy today, and only rode 63 km. since it was our first day back on the road, there was no reason to over-do it. We finished the day in Heshan, a town like so many others, bustling with people out for Saturday evening shopping and eating.
The atmosphere of a Chinese city on Saturday night is so hard to capture in a photo or video. We wish we could bottle it and send it to you. It’s like being at a street carnival or gigantic block party.
There are so many people that foot traffic spills over into the roadway, but there are so many vehicles that everyone honks to get the pedestrians out of the way.
Music blasts from every store, salespeople shout and clap from storefronts to get the attention of prospective customers, and there are countless stalls where you can buy snacks – dumplings, milk teas, and skewers of barbecued meats – to carry with you as you walk.
And, of course, as we wander down the street, there are the gasps and exclamations of surprise that follow us everywhere. ♥