Monthly Archives: September 2013

Day 9 Wuyishan to Shaowu

image

Lovely ride for most of the morning on a relatively quiet and beautifully smooth country road. 
Passed lots of plantings of tea, had to take a picture at the giant tea pot.
Lots of rice along the road, with harvesting going on in many of the fields, both mecha

image

nized and totally manual, which consists of holding a sheaf of rice and beating it against the side of a wooden tub.  Extremely laborious. 

image

There were many places along the road where people had spread their green rice in the husk on the road to dry; they were evidently confident that it was not going to rain, because this was happening on a large scale.

Curiously, at the same time, a street washing truck was cleaing the highway with an extremely strong lateral spray of water, but he must have been avoiding the spots where the drying was going on.

image

We went through a number of rural villages which still had old-style rural residences mixed in among the typical new boxy houses.  They had nice courtyards in front, with a gate to close off the road, and very open attics, so there would be lots of air flow under the roof.  They were also built close together around narrow alleys, so the sun would not get in as much as with the big new roads.  The villages in this area must have looked very different 10 years ago, and people must be going through significant adjustments to adapt to the new style of habitation design.  So many of them seem to be living on the parking apron adjacent to the road, rather than in their enclosed courtyard.

image

Day 8 touring Wuyishan

Rest day, so time to explore around.
Went across the river

image

…to find breakfast in the local market,

image

…. and then a group of us set out with a local guide to explore the park, which is a UNESCO cultural and natural site with remarkable hills of rock forms and a lovely clear river running through the middle.  

image

image

A very popular park with Chinese tourists, but apparently not a common destination for westerners.

image

image

A fascinating garden around the grounds of a “palace” with bonzai-like minature trees with quite substantial trunks, but very deliberate shapes.

image

Finally, Sally, our interpreter, had made plans with a local tea producer to taste some teas so she could buy a gift of tea for her father, and invited a few of us along for a tasting and buying session at the factory of a local family.  We were treated to a delightful tasting session.

image

image

Day 7 to Wuyishan

Much nicer ride today; lots of country roads, and then a climb into forrested hills. 
The housing and activity along these small roads is very different than on the major routes, and there were lots of kids playing around, presumably they don’t go to school on Saturday.
There is a type of house which seems to be the “standard issue” rural home, with small variations.  It reminds me of the uniformity of houses on Indian reserves. 

image

Almost all the old houses have been knocked down where they were replaced with a new one, but occasionally the old style house was still there, a sharp contrast between the two designs.  The lack of a shed in the new homes seems to lead to the front room with the big door being used for everything from dining to storing motorcycles.

image

While still in the lowlands, I found a shrine associated with an old tree, and a sign in chinese that made reference to 900.  I suspect the tree was 900 years old.

image

Our road wound along a lovely river with clear water and bubbling rapids.

image

As we entered the hills, I saw another shrine in a lovely building.  This one had buddist-like statues inside, and was clearly in active use.

image

We climbed 700 meters to a pass, and had a fantastic ride down on smooth pavement with very little traffic.  The temperature changed from 14 degrees at the top to 26 degrees at the bottom, where we were in tea growing country.

image

We are staying in a hostel in a park.  Very quiet and peaceful after the cities.

Day 6 Shangrao

Lovely surprise as we stepped out of our hotel to explore the town.  Chinese music coming from the promenade along the riverbank.  Looked like a seniors’ gathering place; several different groups of elders playing music, some for dancers, some for singers, some just playing.  Generally, men were playing the instruments and women were singing and dancing.
image

There was also an impromptu group of men and women singing in unison as a leader pointed to the words on large sheets of paper.  One of our group was enticed to join in, and she did a great job of singing along, even though she does not speak or read Chinese.
image

image

Farther along, men and women were playing cards and other games. Usually when we see card games it is just men, but these groups of players were very inclusive.
image

image

In one corner of the park was a kiosk where a dozen pages of a newspaper were displayed behind glass for people to read.
image

A busy place, with lots of socializing going on among older people.  Quite a strong contrast with the vibrant shopping streets in the adjacent neighbourhood, where mostly younger and fashion-conscious people were wandering from shop to shop, which looked like the equivalent of the shops in a typical Canadian mall, except many more, with brighter decoration, and much busier

Day 6 to Shangrao

We were on highway G320 all day today, along with a lot of trucks and busses.  This is a secondary road; we saw a main expressway running parallel at times.
It took us through a lot of gritty industrial/agricultural country.

image

Lots of towns with lots of activity beside the highway; so much so that the bike lanes were more like service roads, except that trucks feel free to park in the middle of them.  Sometimes it was safer and easier to stay out in the traffic lanes were there was not much traffic, rather than dodging all the goings-on in the bike lanes.  But the bike lanes did allow a closer look at life in all the little shops and workshops beside the road.

image

We went through one town where food processing was going on; both drying of grain, which we see quite often and drying of pasta, which we see less often.  The pasta must be a little grey after spending a day by the road, because the wash water coming out of my shirt after half a day of cycling is very grey.

image

Lots of kids here; often being cared for by older people, presumably grandparents.  We went by a school where very young children were sining.  Very lively at 11:30 when kids were coming back from school in bright, clean clothing.
Most colourful picture was of a man pushing his three wheel bicycle up a hill with a load of decorative and/or commemorative wreaths.

image

Mystery of the week are the big old trees wrapped in black cloth.  Sometimes they are dead stumps, sometimes they are severely pruned back but alive.  Can’t figure out what is going on with these.

image

Day 5 to Quzhou

We rolled back down out of the mountain village into the plains. 
They sent us over a mix of back roads, back alleys behind villages and big highways.  On the smaller roads in the villages we get some surprise reactions from the local residents, but on the highways we only occasionally get waves or smiles; those folks have seen it all.

image

image

The highlight of the day was a little shrine I spotted by the side of a newly built highway.  Since it had horses painted on the front wall I thought I should go check it out, and it was well worth the visit, as the door was open, and there were brightly painted life-sized figures inside, as well as paintings on the wall. 

image

image

Two of the characters were very dramatic, the rest looked more saintly.  There was lots of melted candle wax  on the stand in front of the three main figures.

image

The rest of the road was regular rural chinese highway between fields, housing developments and factories. 
The most interesting street vendor of the day was a bee keeper who had his hives right by the side of the road and a couple of jars of honey available for sale on a table by the sidewalk.  He was not wearing any protective netting, nor was he using any smoke as he worked around his hives.

image

It was a long day, 130 km, but a cool day, with cloud cover keeping the sun off us.  We got into the hotel about 1  pm.  It is a brand new grand hotel with a couple of chinese touches; lions by the doorway and modern electrical devices; in this case hall lights which turn on as you go by, but unfortunately the hall is dark and the lights turn on only when you get right beside them, so it creates a dark cave

Day 4 Yiwu to Guodong

Another amazing day on the road, and we are staying in a very different environment than last night, or the night before… We rode through a lot of suburban industrial zones again.

IMG_20130925426

We must have passed thousands of factories by now, some looking busy, but most not. Some look very basic, while other have grand entrances with their corporate names on marble, guard houses at the gate and lions by the entrance.

We also rode through a lot of towns where the highway was lined with 3-4 storey buildings consisting of a workshop at the ground level with open garage doors, and residential above. We rode through some ridges between flat areas, which offered short climbs and long runs down.

IMG_2013092539902

In the middle of one town, we ran across a fellow standing at the edge of a round-about selling puppies to people driving by in their cars. That was strange enough, but stranger yet were the black stripes on the puppies; never seen that breed before!

IMG_2013092538763

Finally, at the end of the day, we turned off the highway into some hills, and climbed up an increasingly small road to a mountain village with a mix of older buildings and some more modern ones.

Our hotel is at the top of this village, which seems to be a “resort”, a tourist site and possibly a former religious centre. Several bus tours of Chinese people walking around with guides, and a number of stores selling what appear to be medicinal herbs, leaves and seeds. There were also a number of simple restaurants to cater to the passing tourists, and a group of us settled down in one to share some beer and lunch.

IMG_2013092558986

The streets of the village are full of unusual sites, ranging from small workshops producing cloth bags with Santa Claus images to a little shrine with an elaborate scene made up of brightly painted sculptures.

IMG_2013092533974IMG_201309251521

Day 3 West Lake in Hangzhou

I went for a ride in the West Lake park in Hangzhou.  It is a well designed and extremely popular park.  The lake itself is a good size, possibly 10 km square, it is surrounded by park, it includes a few islands and a couple of causeways.  
The city is in the background across the lake.
image

We were allowed to ride on the causeways, but not on the walking paths.
image

image

The light breeze of the day was imperceptible in the forest surrounding the lake, but felt lovely on the island and the causeways.  There were thousands of people enjoying the breeze and exploring around the park.  
image

Literally hundreds of boats are available for tours of the lake, most with an oarsman skulling in the back, but there are also some bigger motorized boats, including one two storey house which presumably can serve meals on board.
image

The grounds were beautifully planted and maintained; everything was clean and well organized, but people were at ease & enjoying themselves, even dancing in one of the pavillions.
image

Day 3 Hangzhou to Yiwu

Today we saw a lot of small-scale industrial China from a large secondary road.  Thank goodness for big, wide bike lanes, because we were beside a 4 lane road the entire day, sharing the ride with an increasingly rural assortment of scooters & bikes. IMG_2013092434527

Not a very scenic ride.  We passed by some unusual sights; a brush salesman and his wife going house to house must have tired of striking a pose and smiling for most of the 40 cyclists who passed by.

IMG_2013092437339

There was also a duck farming operation with swarms of ducks scattering from end to end of the pond.

IMG_2013092436102

The town of Yuwi seems to specialize in trade shows, and we are in the textiles area.  The hotel is called “Lai Ting Fashion Hotel”.