Monthly Archives: October 2013

Day 29 Lingshan to Quinzhou 105 km

The day started off poorly for me, because I had diarhea since midnight, and in the morning I could not stand the smell of breakfast.  I decided I would be happier riding my bike in the fresh air, where I can control my stops, rather than riding in one of the buses.  It worked out well, although I was not able to eat anything all day, so I had a good rest when I got to the hotel.  There were a couple other riders who had similar problems today.

image

Our route took us down a country road for the first 36 km.  That will be our last Chinese small country road.  Lots of villages and lots of life as usual.  One exceptional old building, like a fortress.  Clearly still inhabited.

image

Then we got on a big regional road with no villages and no life — other than construction crews and motor vehicles — and we rode into Quinzhou.  Took a picture of the lunch break, since I was not feeling like eating any food.

image

Tomorrow is a rest day, and we ride toward Vietnam. Everyone is ready for a change of country.  Hopefully I will get over this stomach bug.

Day 28 Yulin to Lingshan

image

We were mostly on smaller, rural roads today.  Very pleasant.  Lots of karsts at the start and the end of the ride.

image

We climbed a steep hill in mid-morning, which came unanounced, and required a lot of standing on the pedals.  Fortunately, the temperature was quite cool, around 16 C, and the sun was not out, so it was quite manageable.

image

Highlight of the day was meeting a group of Chinese touring cyclists at the top of the pass.  They were extremely enthusiastic, and wanted to take pictures together, even though we could not speak each others’ language.  What a difference from cycling clubs elsewhere in the world, who tend to turn up their nose when they see a group of tourist cyclists!

image

One lady had the most ironic T-shirt I have seen to date.  There are lots of misspelled “brand name” shirts, and some shirts with ironic messages saying something about “fake” brands, but this one is a classic, ewspecially considering that she does speak English:

image

Day 27 Cenxi to Yulin 100 km

A relatively easy but unexciting day; rode on G324, a big secondary highway with mostly smooth concrete and not too much traffic, but not very inspiring scenery.

image

We passed by villages, rather than going through them, and the forested areas we went through were being fairly extensively harvested and managed.  It is fun to see the outline of the top row of trees on some of the hills.

image

We saw some karsts, but mostly at a distance and the air was very hazy.

image

Went by a town park under construction, and found some rather unconventional lions at the entrance.

image

Highlight of the day were these smiling pomelo vendors who were taking a picture of me as I took one of them.

image

Day 26 Kaiping to Cenxi 145 km

image

Our ride started off among the karsts, with dramatic scenery at every turn.  Very green all around; some tea growing in one spot, and — for the first time — a couple of horses grazing in a very green spot.  This was the first time we saw an orchard of Dragon Fruit growing on cactus-like small trees.

image

Highlight of the morning was a Coke stop with Mike and Ralph in a busy market, near the chicken section.
Lots of women shopping with children strapped to their backs.

image

One lady shopped from her scooter, and put the live but hobbled chicken on the floor at the feet of her child, and drove off through the traffic.

image

image

Some of our colleagues rode through the scene

image

image

The scenerey got dryer, flatter and less interesting, interspersed with rather bleak towns.

image

On these secondary roads, there is an impressive number of intercity buses, some stopping more often than others.  This is great because there is a viable public transportation system, but it is hard on the ears because buses are equipped with extra loud horns, and the drivers like to use them to push their way through traffic. 

image

The hotel is in a lively end of town, with markets in the streets, and a dentist offering his services in a store with a big window, rather like barbers do….   Raining tonight, hopefully that is over by the morning.

image

image

Day 25 From Kaiping to Chunwanzhen

Just a few hundred metres out of the hotel, crossing a river, I was surprised to see stilt houses, boats, and people living in boats.  Quite a contrast to the modernized city along the roadway.

image

Other than than, the first 50 km were on a boring secondary road, but I took a side-trip to visit a UNESCO world heritage village.  That road took me through some quieter country, where I noticed some of the small villages had big, beautiful shade trees with benches around them, that look like ideal gathering places.

image

The road out to Zili village was also lined with trees; tall, quite spindly trees with light coloured bark.  Reminded me of some of the tree-lined roads in France.

image

The remarkable architectural feature of this area are the Diaolou towers that look like watch towers. I did a bike-tour of the Zili village, where new structures are not being built, and offending modern structures have been removed. Apparently the Diaolou towers were built by Cantonese returning with considerable wealth from working abroad at a time when banditry was an issue (1920-1930). The towers are therefore fancy — representing the wealth of their owners — a mix of architectural styles — representing the experience of their owners — and fortified — too keep the bad guys out.

image

image

image

As I was the only one to have done this detour.  I nearly missed lunch.  Got there just as they were packing up the bus.  They dug out peanut butter and bananas, so I refueled on those, and headed out again.    It took me a long time to catch up with the rest of the group,  but I found them at a quiet country store drinking cold pop, so I joined the party, and as we were about to leave, a lady came by hearding ducks!

image

There is lots of duck farming in this area.  At another stop, I saw a truck carrying ducks:

image

Finally, in the last few kilometers before reaching the hotel, the scenery changed again, this time featuring dramatic “karsts”, jagged rocky hills.

image

Day 24 Macau to Kaiping

We took a bus to the border to be there at 9 am, when it opened.  On the other side of the border, we met our Chinese buses and our bikes.  It was 10 by the time we got rolling, so we did not beat the heat. 

We rode back into pretty typical industrial surroundings, with construction going on all around us, and, of course, vege growing on any available space.  I felt quite at home getting back to familiar Chinese scenes and traffic.

We were in the Pearl River delta, going over some big expanses of water on long bridges.  A few fisherment working in the rivers, and lots of barges coming & going.

image

Lots of fih farm operatons too.

image

I was intrigued by some of the houses built on stilts, and by several towns we passed which were built around canals.

Part of the ride was on smaller rural roads, where we travelled among local cyclists and motorcyclists.  One was notable for his effort to deal with both sun protection and helmet protection:

While another demonstrated how to cary an infant son on the motorbike:

Day 23 in Macau

We took the turbo catamaran ferry from Kowloon to Macau.  Very smooth ride, lots of spray as we beat through some considerable seas.

image

Took a bus to our hotel, which is very comfortable, but in a quiet residentrial neighbourhood.   So, we decided to go for a ride on the open-roof tourist bus.  That was a huge disappointment, as it went around the outside of town on the perimeter road, with a tourist guide whose English and a PA system so bad that we couldn’t make out what he was telling us. so I got off when we got  close to downtown, and dead reckoned through the old town.  Had many similarities with Lisbon.

image

Fascinating temple where I got off, busy wth lots of worshippers.  

image

It was dedicated to A Ma, or Tin Hau, the goddess of teh sea, from which Macau got its name.  There was a lovely little model boat in the shrine.

image

The lion guarding the front entrance looked like it was about to throw a snowball!

image

There were boys with dragon dancing kit waiting around, so I thought we would see a performance, but no such luck.

image

There are no rules about not doing business in the place of worship; busy shrines have desks inside where you can buy incense and other things to present to the gods.  Note the lady reading the newspaper while she waits for clients.

image

Walked toward the old town on extremely quiet residential streets.  It was only when I got to the main touristic square that I found a lot of people, mostly tourists, enjoying their day off.

image

image

The cathedral had been dedicated to Mother of God, with a prominent Maria over the front door, and no sign of a crucifix. 

image

The walk home was interesting, observing how the colonial neighbourhoods were gradually being built over, and visiting a graveyard where many of the memorials were carved in Chinese.

image

image

Got fo find my energy back for the big ride tomorrow.

Two days in Hong Kong

image

Thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hong Kong.  The city is high density, with extremely lively streets for many hours each day.
Even the  high-rise financial centre is full of people on Saturday; lots of shopping going on.  Markets and stores squeeze in between the huge office buildings.

image

image

Fantastic view of the city from the top of the Peak tram, which is actually a funiculaire that climbs at a very steep angle.

image

The Taoist temples seem very active, full of incense lit by worshippers.

image

The art gallery has an excellent mix of  ancient and modern art, with lots of explanation on the panels.  I think I maybe saw two oil-on-canvas pieces, the majority of the old pieces are on scrolls.  Lots of caligraphy.

image

image

Found the bird market, which was a chatter with birds, and mostly men.  Of course, where they sell birds, they sell bird food….

image

image

image

Stores along all the streets, with occasional concentrations of a particular kind of product offering.  Strangest sight were the Hallow’een and Christmas decorations!

image

image

Day 20 Arrival in Hong Kong

Apparently Hong Kong does not allow visitors to arrive by bike, so we loaded our bikes into the Chinese buses, and rode into Hong Kong in a different bus.  Took quite a while to get through the border, because the Chinese border guards are sticklers for details, and they found a couple of riders’ visas that were not right.

image

Coming into Hong Kong from China is probably a very different experience than arriving here from the West.  What strikes me is how orderly & civilized everything is, rather than how oriental it is. 

image

Streets are certainly far more densely packed with stores and restaurants, and the decor is very chinese, but there are very few motorcycles, the cars are not constantly honking, and people are less disorderly about how they use public space, so the traffic of all types seems to flow smoothly down the busy streets.

image

The high rise buildings create a canyon atmosphere, which helps keep the sun off the streets, and the city does a good job of planting some trees.

We are staying on the Kowloon side of the water, so we look over at the “downtown” across the harbour.

image

image

Friday October 11 2013

Day 19 Huidong to Shatoujiao 103 km

Lovely warm and dry morning, we got out of town before rush hour and rode on a big secondary road past factories and towns that straddled the road.  The light was mellow and pretty at that time of day, but those streets must be terribly hot once the sun gets high.

image

We took a smaller road heading South through hills and some forests.

image

The best part of the ride started when we saw the China Sea; a sudden change of scenery.

image

We saw big freighters anchored off in the distance, junks moving about under power, and a fisherman working off a raft.

image

Much of the coast is developed for tourism, with flashy hotels, beaches, and even SeaDos roaring around.  They have made a pathetic, but expensive effort to build a bike path along the coast.  Whoever designed it had no authority over land access, so the path crossed the coastal highway repeatedly, and designer had no cycling experience; there were very steep sections with stairs taking up most of the path, all kinds of obstacles, and dead-ends.  We did bicycle on some parts of it to enjoy the view, but a couple of times we had to lift our bikes over a barricade to get back on the road to proceed forward.

image

Closer to Shatoujiao, we rode through a huge container port.

image

The town is presumably heavily influenced by Hong Kong; it is very high density, but clean and very liveable.  I walked down to the sea front through residential neighbourhoods.  Found a lovely Pagoda and their key tourist attraction; the Russian “aircraft carrier” “Minsk”, which did not look as big as I expected.

image

image

The day ended with another great dinner at our hotel, which is right by the border crossing into Hong Kong.  We will be going through the border by bus tomorrow.  Apparently we are not allowed to arrive by bike, so our bikes will go by bus to Macau, which is where we will meet them in a few days, after exploring Hong Kong and Macau.

image