written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Mar. 2: The high road to Zhaoxing

DSCF7394, originally uploaded by gofeetgo.

Now, finally I get a decent early start to Zhaoxing. And there of course are two roads, the high and the low. I take the high, no traffic at all, thats because its a mountain path. I rode up and up on a pebbly dirt raod for about 4 hours. Astounding views of the valleys and the abandanned rice terraces. Stopped at one point to bathe a little in some erratic water coming off the rock cliffs. The wind blew quite hard around some bends. It was hard, but I never felt distracted by its difficulty. Like a streaming endorphin flow. I didn't (and I don't) listen to my mp3 player, it doesn't even occur to me to listen to music. Indication that I am fully present in the action, I guess.But when I do remember, music makes it all the more sweeter.

When I finally reached the top I of course thought that everything would be down hill from here. I sat on the very edge of mountain and ate a soy sauced-soaked hard-boiled egg. It was 2pm. I crunched down the mountain passing a village tucked in a hanging valley.

I kept thinking that Zhaoxing (after 5 hours) was just around the corner. I was wrong. Once I down off the mountains and onto paved road, at a town called Guandong, I was just half-way there. A little disspointed but still feeling pleasant from my accomplishment of getting over the mountains, I decided to eat a little lunch (though I usually don't eat meals while I am riding, but instead snack here and there). Stopped at a women's outdoor kitchen and had her fry up some eggs and greens, with a bowl of rice. I like thisd simple eating. Some kids oogled my bike and shyly practiced their english in the next room--I guess working up the nerve to perform it for me. They never did and instead opted to yell "Hello! What's your name?" at my back while I rode away. Riding down main street, with the locals gawking at me, I turned around and yelled back "Hannah, and you!!?"

From the city on it became very hilly, and not the pleasant kind of hills, but the kind that you crawl (or walk) up and then go down so fast that you end up needing to break most of the downhill. It was frustrating, but again the scenary-- rice paddies, orange groves, and the first sight of limestone outcroppings-- made me not dwell on how exhausted I was.

Actually, this was the toughest ride (I think) I've ever done. It was 30 miles of thigh engagement and deep lung heaving. The Bike Asia crew do the ride with no bags. My bike, is hardly liftable, maybe 70 lbs or more.

Zhaoxing was the Dong oasis I was expecting. Its not as pristine and renovated as I thought, but that's good. It is a living village that invites tourism, rather than existing because of it. Its in working order, rather than all appearances.

Here in the lovely Dong Village Hotel (40Y), I met and hung out with the first foreign traveller in a week. A young, hip Japanese doctor from Osaka namd Massa. We had dinner together. His english wasn't great, he had a lisp (a cute one), but his exuberant miming made up for lost meanings. He couldn't speak Chinese and I enjoyed being a bit of a translator. I couldn't imagine travelling around a country only pointing at scibbles in a notebook, which is how he gets around. Japense characters are 3/5 understandable in Chinese (according to him). Tomorrow, no riding, except, maybe a little.

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson