Daily Archives: October 1, 2013

Day 10 Shaowu to Lichuan

An extroardinary range of experiences today.  We started in a large city, pushing through the early morning traffic, which involves going with the flow, even if that means going against the traffic lights.  About a kilometer from our hotel, we turned onto a small road that headed out into the country within a kilometer, and from then on the habitations and occupations along the road got progressively less modernized.  Before long, we were on a quiet two-lane road running through agricultural land and villages watching people harvesting rice, mostly by hand, threshing it, also mostly by hand, and drying it, mostly by spreading it on one lane of the road.

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This was the kind of ride I was hoping for on this trip; very relaxing, with lots to watch.  The villages were mostly made up of older houses, and people of all ages were wandering around the road or sitting by their doorways.  Lots of kids playing, because Oct 1 is the national holiday.

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Before lunch, we had a 10 km climb to go through a pass a little below 700m.  We rode through a lot of bamboo forest, and occasionally had glimpses of little villages in the valleys below.  The descent was glorious, although a little rough, with many scenic vistas.

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For the first time, lunch was in a little village, more or less parked in a farm yard.  Several villagers came down to check us out, and we were able to have a close look at what they were drying in the sun.

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Arriving in LIchuan was a whole other scene.  We came in by the back road, through a very old part of the outskirts, where a street market was in full swing, possibly enhanced by the national day vacation.  It was a wild ride, zig-zagging past butchers a-chopping, shoppers haggling, children dashing about, motor skooters, three-wheelers, and everything else.  Sensory overload.

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After the market, we hit High Street, which was all decorated for the national holiday, with music playing, banners, decorations, and the usual hap-hazard traffic.  Finally, we arrived at our hotel in the quiet outskirts of town.  It is built in “Nouveau Asian Gauche” style, with a grand marble entrance, lots of gold trim, and plush red furniture studded with cut glass buttons.  The desk staff were shooting pictures of us arriving with their cell phones, and moments later a bride and groom arrived with an entourage of photographers.  Rather better dressed and less sweaty than us.

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When I got up to the room, I discovered the bathroom had a TV positioned so that you could sit in the tub and watch the tube. Never seen that before.  On the more kinky side, there was a picture window between the bedroom and the bathroom, presumably so you can performance in one room for the benefit of your partner in the other room….

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A walk around town is always a good reality check:

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Shaowu evening

As usual, we had our briefing about tomorrow’s ride at 5:45, and went up to dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, sitting around round tables sharing food from dishes placed on a lazy susan in the middle of the table.  As usual, there was a nice selection of different dishes, plus rice and soup, and after an initial feeding frenzy when we sat down, people gradually slowed down before all the dishes had been scraped clean.  We have been getting a nice variety of dishes, generally very nicely prepared.

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Supper was over by 7, so I went out for a walk in the cooling evening air.   There was a crowd gathering and music playing under the bridge near our hotel, which turned out to be a very organized dancing session, with four middle-aged ladies wearing matching outfits dancing on a higher level walkway, being followed by dozens of women of all ages on the walkway below.  Like a giant outdoor dancercise class.  These were not Cuban dancers who looked like they danced all their lives, but graceful and proud dancers who knew all the moves for a large variety of music. 

On the other side of the bridge, there were also some couples dancing to the music.   What a beautiful way to enjoy a warm evening.  It changed our impression of Shaowu.