Contents 1 Introduction
2 Montreal, Monday May 7, 2001
3 Vancouver, Tuesday May 8, 2001
4 Pudong Airport, Shanghai, Wednesday, May 9, 2001
5 Shanghai, Thurs. May 10, 2001
6 Shanghai, Fri. May 11, 2001
7 Shanghai, Sat. May 12, 2001
8 Putuoshan, Sun. May 13, 2001
9 Da Qi, Mon. May 14, 2001
10 Shanghai, Tue. May 15, 2001
11 Shanghai, Wed., May 16, 2001
12 Shanghai, Thurs., May 17, 2001
13 Shanghai, Fri., May 18, 2001
14 Shanghai, Sat., May 19, 2001
15 Shanghai, Sun., May 20, 2001
16 Shanghai, Mon., May 21, 2001
17 Shanghai, Tues., May 22, 2001
18 Ferry to Nanjing, Tues. May 22, 2001
19 Ferry to Nanjing, Wed. May 23, 2001
20 Nanjing, Wed. May 23, 2001
21 Nanjing, Thurs. May 24, 2001
22 Ming Guang, Fri. May 25, 2001
23 Shang Yi, Sat. May 26, 2001
24 Cheng Yang Kwan (Zheng Yuan), Sun. May 27, 2001
25 Si Shi?, Sun. May 27, 2001
26 Hefei, Mon/Tues May 28/29, 2001
27 Hefei to Montreal, Wed. May 30, 2001
28 Some comments and observations
This trip to China is, in some sense, a pilgrimage. From 1895 to 1932, my grandfather, Rev. Henry Stewart Ferguson was a missionary in China. For most of those 37 years, he was based in Cheng Yang Kwan in Anhui province. In 1968, when I was going around the world, I wanted to visit, but that was in the midst of the Cultural Revolution. This time I was more successful, and managed to find Cheng Yang Kwan, even though its name had been changed to Zheng Yuan. My guide, and historical perspective were the letters that grandfather wrote to his mother, Agnes, and sister Alice. I have collected them in Letters Home: Rev. Henry Stewart Ferguson, and family in China.
I was up at 3:30am to feed Pickle, Kali, and Peter. At 3:30am tonight (tomorrow) we will be landing at Shanghai's new Pudong Airport. Then I will have about 3 hours before sunset to put my bike together and ride to Shanghai. I don't think there is any real chance to get there before dark.
Apparently Pudong was too new for Air Canada too. The poor lady at the check in desk couldn't find the right code to check my bags through to Pudong. It took almost 10 minutes, with help from a supervisor, who also couldn't get it to work, until they finally stumbled onto the right ``magic incantation''. Later, just to add to the consternation of several other passengers, and my confusion, the departure gate said the plane was going to Toronto. Even the Air Canada personnel, were not certain that they were at the right gate when they assembled about an hour and a quarter before the flight. At 45 minutes to go, the gate finally says Vancouver. A number of other passengers have just left.
In Vancouver I discovered that my flight to Shanghai was not listed. There were flights to Hong Kong, Taipai, but none to Shanghai. When I asked about the problem at a commuter flight desk, the two attendants could not find my record or any mention of the flight. Finally they discovered that there had been a schedule change and that I was booked on the flight for tomorrow. They said I should have been informed, and when I indicated that I had not, they arranged for me to be put up at the Delta Marina (Airport) Hotel with chits for lunch, dinner, and breakfast. When I noted that it meant that my reservation for tonight night, June 8, in Shanghai, would be missed she tried to phone the hotel to tell them the problem. However, she caught the night staff, it was 2:30am June 8, in Shanghai and the man on the desk could speak no English. It was a nice try.
This was not the end of the reservation problems. I decided to check on my return and discovered that I had been rebooked on flight June 30 but Air Canada had not modified my connecting flights so my return from Vancouver was still on June 29. Obviously some innovative time travel will still be needed. When I tried to correct the Vancouver portion, the lady in customer service told me that she could not do anything with it because it had been booked by a travel agent. When I got to the hotel, I tried to get through to my agent in Montreal but was left on hold. Tony, my next door neighbour was able to contact my agent and left a message that the return reservation had been fixed.
Now there is the problem with my hotel in Shanghai. Perhaps I can fix that over the Internet. My friend, Ian Cumming, whom I seem to visit only when I have airline problems in Vancouver, happened to be working at home. Not only did I get to see his new house, in an old, small town neighbourhood, near UBC where he teaches, I was able to send email to the people at ``www.sinohotels.com'' who made my reservation. They got back to me before I left Ian's telling me that the reservation had been fixed.
We left on time and almost 13 hours later were at Pudong Airport. The actual route went far north of the ``normal'' route indicated on the route map - over Anchorage and into Siberia, and down east of North Korea. I guess that these days, Russia and China are safer to overfly than North Korea. The jet stream on this route averaged less than 50km/hr (30mph).
The flight was uneventful, and had only one real surprise for me. I asked for some cognac after lunch and Air Canada actually came back with a small bottle of Courvoisier rather than the normal ``Napoleon Brandy'' that is usually substituted for ``cognac''. Joe Liu, native born in Shanghai, but living in Manhattan since 1988 was my seat companion. This was the first time that he had been back for many years. Since he has maintained a low profile, he was unconcerned about the recent harassment of Chinese Americans.
Pudong is indeed a large new, and mostly vacant airport. When we arrived, there were two other planes, Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines. They had apparently disgorged there passengers sometime before. The immigration was thorough, but quick and efficient. I declared everything I had with me, bicycle, IBM laptop computer, binoculars, bicycle computer, and some ``animal products'' - the dry salami that Peggy gave me for Christmas and I had been saving for especially such an occasion as this. The quarantine people ignored my salami, and the only question from customs was whether my computer was a laptop. A ``yes'' to that sent me through with no inspection at all.
Joe was being met by his sister and brother-in-law and offered to give me a ride if they could stuff my bags in their car. His sister works at Pudong so was able to meet him just as we stepped out of the gate. She agreed to the imposition. I was able to get through all the formalities quite quickly, and we, with some crowding were able to get Joe's bags, and mine in the trunk and back seat. It was crowded, but welcome.
Pudong does not appear to be very bicycle friendly. All the roads into the airport, and in the airport are multilane, with no bicycle paths. They all converge on a huge toll booth. None of the new freeway access roads nor the other new roads, which seem in the majority are on my current maps. In addition, the new Pudong development area on the south side of the Huangpu Jiang (River) looked confusing and slightly intimidating with very controlled bicycle paths.
After much confusion on determining the actual name of my hotel, the exact location on Nanjing Dong Lu (``Lu'' is ``street'' and ``dong'' is ``east''), and the fact that Nanjing Dong Lu is a pedestrian area, we got ``close'' to the hotel. Joe helped me part of the way, but had to go back to his sister to allow them to be extricated from their illegal ``stopping'' spot. I struggled on with the three bags, and actually walked past the hotel entrance when a stranger waved me back, apparently convinced, correctly so, that I had missed it. I went up to the second floor reception and discovered that they indeed had my reservation and at the price agreed.
They even accepted a credit card. I had left the airport so quickly that I had no money at all. I dumped my bags in room and went out to get some supper and find an ATM. I was successful on both counts, and had to fend off only one young lady that asked me if I wanted to go somewhere for ``tea and conversation''. Dinner, at a Ramen restaurant on Nanjing Lu, was some ramen with very tasty soup base and deep fried chicken - a little gristly but satisfying.
Breakfast for me this morning was my usual, tea, trail mix, and a banana. Apparently breakfast is difficult to find in China - I shall see later1. After breakfast, I spent about an hour and a half putting together my bike. It is certainly less stressful to do that in your hotel room than at an airport - especially when you are worried about it getting dark before you are able to settle in.
The elevator completely bypasses the reception, and is big enough to carry my bike, so I can get it up and down from my room relatively easily. I started out walking down Nanjing Dong Lu and soon was joined by Ted, a fellow bicyclist, but now a walker, from Portland. He had just come down from Beijing but found Shanghai so confusing that he has put his bike away and started walking. Bicycles in Shanghai are on an even par with automobiles for traffic regulation. There are streets that have ``No Cars'' (presumably one way) and those that say ``No Bicycles'' (presumably zero way). The ``No Bicycle'' signs suddenly appear at an intersection, effectively making the street where you have been riding, a ``Deadend''2. However, it does appear that, in most, but unfortunately, not all, cases, and I don't know the rule, you can ride your bike on the sidewalk. We walked together down Nanjing to the river, and along the Bund to the ``Diamond Restaurant''. The walking along Zhongshan Dong Lu by the river and through the Bund was forced. Nanjing is a bicycle dead end. It was also impossible to cross Zhongshan Lu except at tunnels and overpasses. I carried my bike up the overpass to the Diamond Restaurant. The only way to really see the Bund is from the pedestrian mall that runs right along the Huangpu river. Here Ted left me, feeling that I was walking a trifle slow.
The Huangpu is quite busy, with freight and barge traffic. The barges here, as in less populated parts of China, seem to be home for families. Almost all of them had a man and woman on board, and one had a little girl playing on deck. Some people even wore life jackets.
Across the river is Pudong, with the Pearl Tower, and the Jinmao Building, the tallest building in China.
I finally was able to get off the pedestrian mall after I had gone its whole length to the ``Monument to the People's Heros'', where the army was having a celebration, but still could not cross Zhongshan until I passed the end of it too by crossing Suzhou creek. Then, up the creek for a while until there was a bridge that obviously admitted bicycles.
I found an Internet Cafe in Book City, paid for a place to park my bike - yes bicycle parking is also strictly regulated - and sent out my first journal report. After that I went looking for the ``Shanghai Tourist Bureau'' in the metro station in Renmin (Peoples) Park. The station there is really an underground boutique mall with over a 100 of them. I never did find the tourist office, despite several attempts to give me directions, unfortunately by people who didn't really know where it was but felt that it had to be in ``that direction''.
After that failure, I spent a couple of enjoyable hours in a (the only?) ``must see'' attraction in Shanghai, the Shanghai Museum. It has a wide? ranging collection, all in specialised galleries, such as painting, sculpture, seals, calligraphy, coins, and minority crafts.
After that I went back to Book City for the maps that I couldn't get at the Tourist Office, got some provisions, and was hassled by an officious lady, with a badge, for walking my bike on Nanjing. I had supper, fried meat, fish, or something shish kebobs, and two slices of freshly cut watermelon. The shish kebobs cost 1 rmb (20c)3 each, and the watermelon a comparatively expensive 2 rmb per slice.
Today I had intended to leave for Putuoshan on the overnight boat. However, the day lost in Vancouver has just cost me another day. On Fridays you have to compete with the Shanghai weekenders for tickets and the boat was full. I did get tickets though for tomorrow - 222rmb ($44) for a second class ticket.
At about 6.15am, I took my tea and bike out. Nanjing was starting to fill with early morning exercisers, some doing something slightly more martial than tai chi.
There also were people riding up and down Nanjing - apparently the traffic regulations are not strictly enforced at that time of day. After some time in the sun, and several visits by the curious, I too rode on Nanjing up towards Remnin Park. It was about 6:30am and the park had several large tai chi groups, and few very martial individuals. There was also an early morning clinic with a doctor, two nurses, and instant blood analysis machine, and a long line. Although the ``Peoples Park'' appears to be free for the ``people'', it was not for a ``non-people'' like me.
Shanghai is under construction. Some buildings looked as though they might be ready for take off if you removed the ``gantry''.
Others were not quite as ``space ready''.
The rest of the day was spent riding around the city, with the only real objective being to find the Shanghai Library to use their Internet access, apparently the best deal in town.
Some random observations:
My final quest for the day was to find the dock for tomorrow. It was easy to find the general area but the entrance was not at all obvious. I was looking puzzled when a man in a suit, with a briefcase, asked if he could help. With a lot of questions, and confusion, it was finally determined that I had to go in by the freight entrance, gate 5, to get my bike aboard. Tomorrow I will find if it is sufficient.
After pleasantly finding that my loaded bike would fit into the elevator, I rode up to the Jade Buddha Temple, arriving there at about 9:30am. My file photo of the temple shows a monk, standing alone in front of the temple. The reality was wall to wall people filling the courtyard, and tour busses parked for two blocks around it.
It was an international show - French, Germans, North Americans, Italians, Chinese, .... Somehow the monks and adepts were able to pray, chant, and teach amongst the crowd. I truly wonder at their level of attention. I met a lady and her daughter who were on my plane from Vancouver. She said she wanted to make a documentary film on how not to run a tourist site. The number of ``sites'' in Shanghai are rather limited. I don't see how you could do it much better given the population of tourists, both foreign and local.
After another session on the Internet (this time 3/4 of the people were Chinese), I rode around the French Concession and back to the Old City.
Today was really a ``meet the Chinese'' day. Yesterday I had some ``Shanghai Dumplings - xiaolongbai'' for breakfast and at about 1:30pm, saw a small shop with some more. The dumplings are famous and copied throughout China. They have some ground pork in a spicy hot oil, wrapped in a pastry. You start by piercing a hole, sucking out the oil, and then dipping it in some spiced vinegar, and biting into the rest. It is easy except it requires more skill than I have with chopsticks. Just as I was almost finished, an old gentleman turned around from the table in front and came to join me.
After the initial prerequisite question of ``Where you from?'', he said ``You a teacher? I am a teacher in the Lycée. You are 50. I am 86.'' I explained that I was a teacher too, and gave him my business card. He was gratified that he was right but he, as is everyone else in China, mystified about my card. It is in French and quite confusing. However ``professeur'' is close enough to ``professor'' to make the point. He was joined, almost immediately, by his daughter, and very soon we had everyone who worked in the shop gathered around.
Mr. Sang Wu Zeng seems to travel with his personal papers. He brought out a 3cm (1.5in) thick portfolio of letters, papers, and pictures. He showed me a picture of him, sitting in the midst of one of his classes, with a detailed inset of his face. The picture was at least 30 years old. It was an enjoyable half hour or so. My lunch of 8 dumplings, and a half litre of Premium Suntory beer came to 6rmb. The dumplings were only 2rmb - considerably less than in the Lonely Planet Guide - but maybe they did not check the prices in the back streets of Shanghai.
The second ``meeting'' was on the lounge deck of the boat to Putuoshan. Everyone there, except me, had glasses of green tea. As I soon noted, there were tickets for the tea, but since I came in the back way, and having no understanding of the local ways, I was left out. One of the tables had a group of seven young people and on their second invitation, I accepted. The inviter gave up his tea to me. They were all employees of the ``Chinese Peoples Bank'' going to a conference in Hangzou, but taking a day in Putuoshan on their way. They, of course, started out with the standard prerequisite question, but moved on to other things. Although the inviter, led the questioning, admitting that they have 20 years of English in school, but can't speak it, he tried to get one of the girls, who was the local linguist, to help and lead. She declined, but did occasionally help. It was a very difficult communication, with an inability to express thoughts, interference from a loud Chinese rock TV station, and punctuations by the ship's fog (get out of my way) horn. They wanted to know my impressions, how many times I had been in China, my age, the number of children (I replied, ``One, and it is a girl!''), where I was going, details about my bike, .... I had hoped to use this trip for a sightseeing cruise up the Huangpu, but I had to concentrate very hard on the words. Our conversation broke up when they brought out the cards, and I declined their invitation to join them.
Although I entered the terminal by the cargo area, you must take your bike up to your cabin. I had help, but had to unload it to get it up the final set of stairs. It is now locked up in the hall. My second class cabin, with a basin, has four bunks, all occupied, another old man and a young couple.
It is now 5:00am, first light is appearing, and there are islands out the porthole.
After reloading my bike three times, and after a confusing intermediate port, we arrived at about 8:00am - 14 hours (2 hours late) out of Shanghai. It was beautiful and warm, and I started out, with a small stop for some long deep fried bread. Putuoshan is a sacred Buddhist ``shan'' (mountain) and it immediately lived up to reputation, with both roads climbing up a hill out of the port. Foding Shan, the highest point on the island is probably only about 500m. I rode all around the island, about 25km and 500m of vertical climb - my new bicycle trip computer has an altimeter, but the grades were outrageous, and I was exhausted. Most of the local bikes are single speed, including the heavy hauling tricycles that are all over China. Everyone else had to walk their bikes up the hills, except the tricycle riders who had to mightily push, even when they were empty.
Putuoshan is a National Park, quiet, clean and quite delightful. As one might expect, there are Buddhist temples crammed into nooks, crannies, and cliffs all over the island. There are, also, small farms with well tended and tidy plots of vegetables. It is a national park with a life. However, the second part of the life is military. The parking lot for Fanyin Dong, a temple stuck in a vertical sliced cliff on the eastern tip of the island, is a basketball court for the military base above it. The guard at the base above it had a sub-machine gun.
The main village on the island is clustered around the large Pujichan Si (Temple). All the big temples seem to have a large rectangular pond with several sections and bridges. Here the temple was on one side and the village spread around the rest. However, for me the highlight was the top of Foding Shan. Although you can walk up from Pujichan, I went up and down on the cable car (35rmb - $7) on the other side of the mountain. The entry fee to Putuoshan was 60rmb ($12), and almost everything else had an additional fee, including the top of Foding Shan. This mountain top was not a temple. It was, instead, a telecommunications centre, with a prominent ``No Visitors'' warning. All the island, many surrounding islands, and the muddy East China Sea, was visible from the trail around the telecommunications centre. You could even spy out parts of the island from the openings in the old WW2? observation posts.
After riding down on the cable car, I continued north, looking for a beach at the top of the island as a possible place to camp. The beach was there, appropriately secluded, but totally inaccessible at the bottom of a 75m forested cliff. I continued on and only knew that I had reached the top of the island when my compass started showing west and then south instead of north. I missed the road back into Pujichan, although I was not looking very hard, and arrived back at the ferry dock at 3:30pm. The major reason for looking at the beaches was that my guidebooks (Lonely Planet and Rough Guide) said that hotels were expensive, and hard to get. At 3:40pm, I was on the ferry for Ningbo, hoping that I had gotten the ``slow'' boat that went all the way to Ningbo, rather than the ``fast'' boat that bussed their passengers 50km to Ningbo. After one and half hours, the boat docked and the other passengers got into the busses. I rolled my bike off the ferry - at least I didn't have to pack/unpack it. I had no idea where I was or how to get to Ningbo. I got out my Chinese Driver's Atlas and asked where I was. Everyone was quite friendly and helpful. The basic instructions were, ``Turn right at the entrance, and stay on the road to Ningbo.'' It was about 5:30pm when I started, and it was clear I was not going to get Ningbo before sunset at about 6:30pm. I stopped after about 4km in front of a tunnel to put the lights and a new night map-reading light (actually designed for reading books in bed). I couldn't remember where all the lights were among my 4 saddle bags, backpack, or fanny pack, so I opened them all. The last step was to put the map-reading light into its clamp. I then started off, only to discover that the tunnel had a special bike lane, and lights.
It was then that the real adventure of the trip began. After another 3km, I decided I should get out my Chinese phrase book so I could recognize the signs for hotels and inns. I then discovered that I didn't have my fanny pack, with my passport, airline tickets, travelers cheques, and camera. I had left it by the side of the road, or on the back of my bike. I turned around to go back and look for it. On the way I did the second stupid thing of the evening. Going the opposite way I saw a black bag with a blue patch sitting on the top of some boxes on a bike going the opposite way. I thought it might be mine, but my bag was all black. I had forgotten that I had put my camera, with its blue case, and all my pictures of Putuoshan, in the back of my fanny pack - the bag was definitely mine but I didn't stop to go after it. Of course, I didn't find it when I got back to where I put on my lights, and I didn't catch up to the guy and the bike either.
About 20km later, I reached Da Qi, and saw a sign for an Inn. I stopped and asked them if I could stay. They were very friendly, but were concerned when that I was from Canada. They could not accept foreigners. The lady went out on her scooter to look for a hotel that could accept foreigners. However, my problem was much greater than that. Without a passport, I could not stay at any hotel in China. They gave me some tea and asked if I wanted something to eat. I was, indeed, looking extremely distressed. Their son wanted to practice his English, so after the normal prerequisite questions of ``Where are you from?'' and ``How old are you?'', I started to explain that I had lost my passport, air tickets, ..., and that I really needed to make a police report. They wrote ``wait'', but after the lady came back, called the police.
A short time later the police arrived and my bike was wheeled inside the inn. At the police station I was given tea, asked questions, with extreme communication problems about what happened, where I was from, and how old I was, until Mr. Lee of the PSB Foreign Affairs Bureau arrived. He again asked me what had happened, and understood that I had lost money - he was relieved that it was not American - and kept saying ``No money.?''. After the discussion, he took me to dinner, and then to a hotel where I was to stay the night. I kept saying that I needed my bike but he kept saying ``You stay here tonight.'' He also said that ``My police will come at 8:05am.''
First light was about 5:00am and there was starting to be activity outside, even in the early morning drizzle. I went out at about 5:15am to get breakfast and to see if I could retrieve my bike. I found the Inn, but it was completely iron shuttered locked4, as were all the other shops near it. I walked back to my hotel, stopping to get some Shanghai dumplings, and some pita bread for breakfast. At first light, they started getting ready, and there were several places selling breakfast things, but no tea. The dumplings here had a thick pasty cover with a small amount of meat, and no oil, in the centre. I much prefer the version I had in Shanghai with a very thin crust and hot oil. At my hotel, I added the tea. At about 6:30am I went out again. By now the streets were full of school kids and most of the shops were opening. However, the Inn was still closed and remained so until about 8:00am, when I arrived back a third time. My bike was not there! I was worried that this might happen. They told me that the police had taken it and then phoned the police. About 5 minutes later the police arrived.
They drove me back to the station and immediately took me into the office that had my bike, which was apparently completely intact and untouched. After some tea and questions about Canada, I was driven to Mr. Lee's office in a large building about 10km? away. There I was questioned again, this time with Mr. Li, a mathematics teacher originally from Hong Kong, as an interpreter. I signed the statement and asked for a copy, but Mr. Lee said that it was confidential, and that he would write a letter for me when we got back to the station in Da Qi. He wrote the letter while I answered more questions about Canada, and sent me on my way, hoping that this experience would not disrupt my trip to China5. The police, and everyone else were very kind and considerate.
I left at about 10:30am and rode the 25km into Ningbo, arriving just after noon. I got a second class ticket on the overnight ferry to Shanghai. Ferries are one of the few places I can stay at night without a passport. The boat left at 5:00pm and I managed to have a 4 bunk second class cabin to myself. This boat also had a cargo area so I was able to roll the bike on without unloading.
After spending about 5 hours at anchor waiting out some fog, we arrived at 11:30am, five and half hours late.
We came into a Shanghai covered with smog. My first three days here were quite blue and clear in comparison. There are many ``Scenic Boat Cruises'' up and down the Huangpu. The river downstream to the Yangtze, is totally industrialized, with ships from all over the world docked for repairs, huge cranes, and the occasional Chinese Navy gunboat.
At about 1:00pm I arrived at the Canadian Consulate. Everyone there was very helpful, with Clear Yu taking my case. I had sent them email before I left asking about the translation from Pinyin into Chinese of the cities that I would be riding through, and they all remembered. Getting a new passport is complicated in China, because you need a special ``Lost Passport'' form from the PSB, your entry record, and a new Chinese visa so you will be able to leave. Clear phoned Mr. Lee, determined that he was indeed with the Foreign Affairs department of the Ningbo PSB. However, he felt that the Shanghai PSB should arrange for the Lost Passport form because I arrived at Pudong Airport. Clear wrote a letter explaining the situation. I will take that, and the Ningbo Police report, plus other information to the Shanghai PSB. Clear also wrote a letter, attaching my picture, that will serve as a temporary ``passport'' so I can stay in a hotel. It did work, with some confusion, at the Pu Jiang Hotel where I stayed.
The American Express office is in the same complex as the consulate, and they were able to connect me with Sidney, Australia, where American Express now processes lost travelers cheques. However, the local AmEx office cannot issue the cheques. They must be issued by the Bank of China, on the authorization of AmEx. I am supposed to contact them tomorrow to determine the results of their investigation.
The final bureaucratic loose end is my airline ticket. Air Canada here says that they need the travel agent coupon to issue a new ticket. I have emailed my neighbour, Tony, to ask him again to contact my agent and have them to FAX it to AC here.
At about 5:00pm, I arrived at the Pu Jiang Hotel, got a single without bath, for 130rmb ($26). They insisted that I take my bike up to my room. There is some effort involved. The elevator goes up to the fifth, and my room is up a very steep set of stairs on the sixth. Since the Pu Jiang, was the great ``Astor House Hotel'' of the early 1900s, the floors are almost twice as far apart as current construction. I am only going to take my bike up and down once a day.
Today was spent going back and forth from various offices getting various forms, but could also be viewed as exploring strange nooks, crannies, and dead end lanes of Shanghai.
I took a ``Bus Tour'' of Pudong as I went to the airport to get my entry record. It took the combined forces of the local airport police, an international exit hall customs guard, and a local hotel agent to finally determine that I needed to go to the ``visa office'' in the ``work area'' of the airport. This was a taxi ride from the main terminal. I had been told that the taxi driver had been asked to wait, but he wanted to be paid and leave. After I got my form, quite fast and efficient, I walked back to the terminal - it was much shorter by foot in this direction - and discovered that it is indeed possible to get into the terminal building by bike. I suppose it is also possible to get over all the canals and freeways by bike too, but in a finite time?
I went back and forth several times from the PSB office and the consulate, and am starting to get the hang of riding in Shanghai. There are usually parallel streets for bicycles flanking the main roads, but it takes some doing to find them and make all the correct turns. The view of Shanghai is very different on the small ``bicycle'' streets and the main ``auto'' streets.
Although I feel the ``bicycle'' streets are fundamentally more interesting, it is difficult to be a proper tourist - survival requires that you pay close attention to the traffic.
At the end of the day I had
Things left to do:
The major disappointment for today was that my new passport will disappear into the Chinese bureaucracy until next Tuesday. It takes three working days to get the new visa. The ``lost passport'' guru at the Shanghai PSB suggested that I stay in Shanghai until it is ready and not try to use the temporary id given by the consulate. I will be prudent and stay.
The only success of the day was getting my travelers cheques. My ticket still has a small information problem but it will certainly be ready before I need it.
Observations for the day:
Today was spent slowly riding around Shanghai.
Last night I walked my neighbourhood north of Suzhou Creek, and ate at a couple of sidewalk stalls. The first fried a round piece of nan bread, added an egg and spices. It cost 1rmb (20c) - in retrospect, I think it was subsidized by the cook; eggs are 4 for 5rmb7. It was delicious, and my audience and the cook were delighted with my ``thumbs-up'' approval. Of course, the other two stalls tried to get me to eat more. Later, I watched, and approved ingredients, as my stir fry was cooked. It cost 3rmb, and was both filling and quite good.
I started out this morning with a second frustrating failure at finding a ``Shanghai Tourist Bureau'' that, according to ``Lonely Planet'' are inside the metro station at Renmin Park and the Shanghai metro stations. In both cases, I asked where it was, and no one had any idea. In all cases I pointed to what I thought were the Chinese characters.
The rest of the day I was a tourist, while simultaneously gathering curious audiences. I started out at the Longhua Pagoda, Temple, and Shopping Centre. This was off my Lonely Planet map and one of the reasons I had been looking for the Shanghai Tourist Bureau. The temple dates from the Ming Dynasty and is one of the largest complexes I have seen. It does not, however, have a large rectangular pond. There is a certain similarity in all the Buddhist Temples I have seen, but my eye is untrained. Do all European Cathedrals also look the same?
In all the temples I have visited, a very large number of the visitors were also there to worship. In no case did I see or hear any visitors being disrespectful to the worship of others or the monks.
The shopping centre was modern ``traditional'' Chinese architecture and quite crowded - shoppers, kids playing in the play park, and people just sitting and relaxing.
My second tourist stop was the ``Yu Yuan Gardens Bazaar'', dating from 1559, and rebuilt several times after various bombings. I walked my bike into the centre of the bazaar, right to the tea house at its centre. This was strictly illegal, but the Police, had a dilemma. As I walked, I had a continual crowd of the curious, asking me questions, and generally, astounded by my bike, helmet, and especially my map holder and compass. In several cases, I had to stop and let them fiddle with brakes, gears, and even try on my helmet. Even the policeman was intensely curious. I walked out the other side of the bazaar and was about to enter by a third small lane where I was stopped by the police.
It is the map holder and compass that get ``thumbs-up'' from other bicyclists, and pedestrians who strain for a better look.
Today I tried to get out of the smog - with only partial success. I took a day trip to Kunshan, the ``Ancient City of Zhouzhuang'' - as all the signs kept saying, and back to Shanghai. It was a total of 185km (115m) but only 345m (1500') of vertical climb. All of the vertical was on bridges going over canals.
Shanghai to Kunshan, 60km, was on a ``numbered highway'', 312, with km markers and signs in English and Chinese. A concrete barrier separated the paved, but in some places very rough, bike path on the shoulder. It was also continual, uninterrupted industrial plants. The largest presence was Volkswagen. Their complex went on for at least 5km and included a number of plants, and couple of VW industrial parks. These plants are probably for domestic consumption. VWs are quite common in Shanghai. The smog diminished, and you could actually see some blue in the sky, but that disappeared again when I entered Kunshan.
Kunshan was my first introduction to navigation completely in Chinese. I had a city map, but I never could determine where I was. The locals were equally at a loss to locate me on my map. However, I followed my compass in an apparently reasonable direction and found a sign for the ``Ancient City of Zhouzhuang'' which is a prime tourist destination. This new road started out through a Kunshan Industrial Area, and totally bypassing anything interesting in Kunshan.
It was also going to bypass all of the interesting towns on the way. About 15km south of Kunshan there was a sign to Da Shi. This was on the old road, and infinitely more interesting. It was just before Da Shi that I left a large industrial concentration of Kunshan and entered rural and agricultural China.
This ``agricultural'' area was a mix of small fields growing flax?, wheat, and barley?, very extensive aquaculture, and concentrated housing developments. It was not unusual to see a small farm with a flock of geese in front of an apartment housing complex. This area, and the whole of the Yangtze delta are crisscrossed by canals. There are, also a few big lakes where there is so much water that canals are superfluous. Aquaculture, was endemic.
After stopping in a small town to replenish my banana supply and to buy 4 litres of water, I arrived in Zhouzhuang at about 4:00pm. The ``Old Town'' has a number of ``sights'' - houses that used to belong to high ranking bureaucrats, but for me the charm was the tiny lanes, and the residents, who did not seem to mind that you walked down a lane that put you almost inside their front door. I especially enjoyed the turtles, desperately trying to get out of their plastic bowl of water, and the various fish and shell fish for sale for dinner. I did not really enjoy the over abundance of souvenir shops.
At about 5:30pm, I left, on a road that was not on my map, for the additional 68km to Shanghai. It was clear that it would be dark before I arrived. All the roads between Kunshan, and the 318, back to Shanghai, were unnumbered. This was my first challenge for navigating unnumbered roads. Getting to Zhouzhuang was relatively easy, but from there to 318 had some trauma. At one point, when I thought that I should have already been on 318, I was sent in a direction totally opposite that I would have taken. I checked again at a gas station, and was assured that I was going the right way. At about sunset, I finally reached 318, with apparently, 57km to go. This last 57km, was on a lighted highway with a separate bike path, which, in places was as rough as a mountain bike trail with solidified mud from the roadside construction.
After getting lost as I entered Shanghai, I finally arrived at the Pu Jiang just after midnight. The elevators had shut down for the night so I had to carry my bike up six floors to my room. I was quite exhausted, took a bath - the showers shut down at 11:00pm -, had some supper and collapsed in bed.
Today was spent getting, and not getting, tickets.
Observations for the day:
Shanghai had a blue sky and clouds - for the first time since I got back a week ago.
I arrived at 4:00pm for my 5:00pm departure, and, much to my surprise, was forced to pay extra, a minimal additional 11rmb8, for my bike. There is no separate cargo area on this boat so I, with some help, carried my loaded bike up two very steep sets of stairs to my cabin.
There is no ``First Class'' in China. My ``Second Class'' cabin on the Nanjing Ferry has two beds, a basin, towels, power, television set, fan, and extra portable light. There are showers and bathrooms just for the Second Class passengers. This part of the ship has carpets on the gangways, a separate door saying that it is for ``Only for Second Class Passengers'', and a girl stationed in a small cabin that is labeled ``Second Class Watch'', or occasionally playing the video games right by the door.
There are three other classes, fifth, fourth, and third. The fifth class passengers get only deck space. It is not especially crowded, but the inside gangways are occupied. All other inside space is locked or ``watched''.
There are only 5 of us in second class, all in three outside cabins. The others are a young couple and two other boys, all probably in their 20s, that work in Nanjing. This was my third time on the Huangpu, and was certainly the best. It was clear, sunny, and we had our own private second class deck on the bow. The Yangpu bridge is the largest suspension bridge in China, and the only one I have seen with the suspension cables connected to a single tower in the centre of the road.
North of the Yangpu, the river is continuous shipyards, cranes, and docks. Further downstream, towards the Yangtze, the smog returned. We left the mouth of the Huangpu into the Yangtze with the sun going down in a haze. There are ``Huangpu River Cruises'' - I would not recommend them.
At about 6:00pm, I was invited, with an ``eating'' motion, to join my 4 other second classers for dinner. One of them speaks a very small bit of English - much more proficient than my Chinese - and determined that I did like spicy food so they ordered 5 dishes, plus soup, of Sichuan dishes. The spokesman was from Hunan, a spicy food area too. When I asked what they were called, he gave up. They were sufficiently spicy, even for me, and different than anything I have ever had. As is usual in these circumstances, my host pulled out his wallet and paid for everything. Bill splitting in China is an insult.
It is currently 6:45am and we have been tied up here (???) for several hours. Before we left at about 8:30am, we took on some cargo, and a couple of breakfast vendors sold over the rail to the lower deck.
The barge traffic is heavy in both directions. The most visible cargo is dirt, or if your are sufficiently gracious, gravel. As we turned the corner towards Nanjing, the beautiful blue sky and horizon changed to a dirty brown. There was an obvious polluter on the horizon, and the wind was right, but the smog did not clear out behind it. However, it is quite pleasant to sit out on my chair on the front deck and watch the new world.
We finally arrived 3 hours late, with Nanjing enveloped, if you are generous, in haze. There are now two bridges across the Yangtze, a new one on the Beijing/Shanghai expressway that is similar to the Yang Pu in Shanghai, and a 60 year old original at Nanjing.
I was happy to learn after I bought the tourist map of Nanjing that the ferry still exists.
Nanjing is a different world from Shanghai. The frenetic impatience that seems to endemic in Shanghai is missing here. Bicyclists wait for each other, and with a few exceptions, do not aggressively weave around those in front. Scooter drivers actually drive behind bicycles without honking, waiting for a chance to pass. Cars, and even taxis, do not play chicken, at least not very aggressively with pedestrians and bicycles. I even saw an accident where both people calmly assessed the damage and drove away - a scooter smashed into the back of a taxi when the taxi driver stopped suddenly to avoid hitting a bicycle.
I was going to spend two nights here but I was distressed by the mountains that I saw north of the Yangtze as we were coming into Nanjing. I am sorry that I shall not be able to see more but I think it is prudent that I leave. I don't know if I really have any margin.
I went out just before supper and rode up towards the Purple Mountain. The funicular was closed so I started riding up, stopping because I hit the end of the road at a private house, with a gate and a huge German Shepherd guard dog. It was pleasant and wooded, and the residents were out walking, several with their dogs.
Tomorrow I will be venturing out of Lonely Planet territory. I have phrases for most things except ``Would you please tell me where I might find an Internet Cafe?'' Getting the Chinese for this was non-trivial. I tried after I sent email tonight because I felt that would be good place to find people with the vocabulary. The major difficulty was convincing them that I wanted them to write the Chinese for the question rather than just getting Internet access at one of the computers. Finally I got the sentence. The writer, when he heard I was from Canada, wanted to introduce me to several of his friends, and especially John Parsonage, an Australian who has been in Nanjing for 9 months.
I left the hotel at about 5:30am, stopping by a city gate and a nearby market to get some breakfast.
Then I threaded my way through Nanjing to the ferry across the Yangtze, making one wrong turn but correcting it with my compass.
My target for today is Ming Guang. It is about 140km on highway #140. My map clearly showed an intersection of it, the expressway to Beijing, and highway #205. It was misleading. The actual intersection was unmarked, as was the highway for about 25km. The turn here was the only one of the day, and I missed it.
The first 100km was flat rural China - flocks of ducks, geese, thrashing of flax?, water buffalo plowing rice paddies. It also seemed that the water buffalo were always on the wrong side of the highway.
Although it was flat for the first 100km, and there was almost no wind, the temperature started out at 80°F, rose to 102°F (about 40°C). Then, just when I didn't need it, the countryside started to get interesting - hilly, up and downs that felt mostly up. I had been drinking lots of water, about 8 litres, and keeping up on my banana fueling, but I was exhausted. Every km seemed hard won, and I had 20 more to go until Ming Guang. However, the real story of today were kindnesses, from people who could not understand a word I was saying.
It was about 7:30pm, about 10km out of Ming Guang, and quite dark. I stopped, brought out my phrase book, and asked them if they had a room. The attendants were a group of about 6 young people. I was immediately led to a room on the first floor that had wooden padded bed?, was evidently used as a day rest area, had some storage, and had the main electrical panel for the garage.
I was asked if I wanted anything to eat, and with an incredible lack of coverage by the phrase book, whether I would like to get washed. I had a shower and they left the shower facilities unlocked all night just for me (the lock and keys were in the door).
Before they finally left for the evening, I was shown the mosquito coil. I did not use it. I used my small, one-man tent, that I modified to be freestanding, and bought especially for this trip. I also brought out my camp stove to boil water for tea in the morning.
All told, it was a hot 130km and 750m (2500') of vertical climb. My new trip computer has an altimeter and thermometer, along with its normal functions.
I left at first light, and discovered that I was only about 5km from Ming Guang. Even at this early hour, just before 5:00am, there was a wholesale produce market in full swing. I added two folded, deep fried, crisp pastry crescents, filled with shallots, peppers, and some unidentifiable meat mush to my earlier banana, trail mix, and tea breakfast. I ate one of the crescents at the market and the second later at a refueling break. The two cost 1rmb (20c). I wandered around the market looking for bananas, but there were only huge bags of local produce, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a large number of vegetables that I couldn't identify. Just up the road, I was able to get some bananas and some water, but had to wait until the crowd had been satisfied looking at my bike.
Today there was a critical first turn onto an ``unnumbered'' road. I asked twice, and found it without any overshoot. The entire route, after the turn was through rural, and agricultural China. Some highlights:
There are many ways to get slowed down. Today, it was a road that was unbelievably potholed, rough, dusty - the busses blew up dust that obliterated everything.
I also didn't have a map for the only big town on the trip today, and it took a considerable time get out. Then there was the daily broken spoke. This was harder to fix because it required removing the free wheel - it took a half hour instead of my usual 10 minutes. Then the screw that holds on the rear rack broke. This also took a half hour, and my repairs were viewed by a vociferous, and laughing, crowd of about 30.
I finally got to the road, with about 20km to go, that leads to Huainan, at just after sunset. It was starting to get dark when I was shadowed by a young couple on a motorcycle who wanted to talk. His English consisted of ``Hello'' plus a few other stock phrases, and my Chinese was totally lacking after ``Ni Hao'', Hello in Chinese. However, he really did want to do something so I showed him my Phrase Book with the ``I am looking for lodging.'' in Chinese. He said there was a place in the next town, and stopped at the first inn he found. It was a Chinese only Inn, but they decided to accept me in a totally incognito way. The son speaks a little English and was delighted to be helpful in that language. The room costs 30rmb, ($6), and seems quite clean. They brought me water to wash myself, supplied some noodles and beer for supper, and showed me the bathroom, which is out on the street. They also gave me a mosquito coil. Since none of the windows have any screens, and I had the three bed room, all to myself, and decided, again to get out my tent.
The totals today, 510m vertical, 8 hours of riding time, and 103km.
The inn was locked up for the night, and is still locked at the moment, 5:13am. The outside toilet by the door is a bucket full of disinfectant. To get to it last night, I had to be very innovative. The front door consists of panels that slip in and out of place.
I discovered, in the morning, using the ``Where is the nearest toilet?'' on another guest, that you had to go across the street, and up a hill behind a number of houses to find the communal, open pit, toilet. The outside toilet by the door is evidently a pissoir.
The day started out with rain, changed to drizzle, back to rain, and then overcast - a welcome change from the past 2 days of oppressive sun. My second breakfast was a crepe, with an egg, and stuffed with a foot long, deep fried roll bread, onions, and .... I also had an audience of about 20, prodding my bike, and generally being amused by this foreigner. There were some rudimentary English speakers, one of which told me ``You are very friendly.''
Huainan was, indeed, about 20km away. I used my Nanjing, ``Where is the Internet Cafe?'' in Chinese, and the two people that I picked at random, knew exactly where it was. When I arrived, all the machines were in use, but they kicked off a game playing kid, and I checked and sent email. My half hour plus cost 1rmb (20c), much less than in the Nanjing or Shanghai. It was raining again as I left, but my bike had been covered by plastic to keep it dry. After brief conversation with a girl who asked ``Are you going to ride in the rain? You should take a break.'', I left in the rain.
I left Huainan by correctly missing a turn. The main road to Hefei made a sharp right turn, but the S210 to Shao Xian went straight. The change in the size of the road was obvious so that must have been the turn. When I left Huainan, it quickly became rural, and was such, the 36km to Shao Xian, and the following 30km to Cheng Yang Kwan (CYK). CYK has gone through a spelling and name simplification. It is ``Zheng Yuan Guan'' in Pinyin, and that has since been shortened to ``Zheng Yuan''.
However, some people still stick to tradition with ``Welcome to the Open Door Farm of Zheng Yuan Guan''.
Finding a place to stay in CYK was an operation. I stopped just inside town and asked, with my book, for a place to stay. I was pointed up the street. Then I asked again, and some kids on a bike (literally 2 kids on one bike) started leading towards it. Then they stopped and pointed. It didn't look right, and it wasn't. After much confusion, the gathering crowd told the kids to take me to a specific inn up the street. There they were further instructed to take me to a second inn further along and beyond the city gate.
They indeed had a room for 30rmb, and the man with the key led me upstairs, through some construction,
and a flock of chicks, to it. It had 3 beds, screens, television, and an air conditioner. Only one light worked, the door handle fell off, and the tea cup still had some tea in it. The outside door led to two rooms, and was the only one that was lockable. Given what I saw of others, this is their deluxe room.
The pit toilet was ``inside'', and may have been cleaned occasionally, but the chicks still found it interesting.
I left my bike in that vestibule, and locked to the bar through the broken window, even though the keyman and his friend were insisting that it was unnecessary. I paid the keyman in my room, and then he insisted that I come downstairs to register? My passport was carefully examined, but nothing was written down.
Now it was time to wash. I wanted to wait but that did not seem to be acceptable. The ``washing place'' appeared to be a community bath, with a room of over 40 beds, 2/3 occupied, showers and baths. The men there were lying down, relaxing, and drinking tea. You had to leave all your stuff by your bed when you took a shower. I was allowed, after some insistence, to go upstairs to change, and to leave my valuable stuff there. It seemed the lesser of the two evils.
Then I wanted to ride around town. The keyman and his friend were very insistent that I leave my bike locked and walk. I tried, but my argumentative skills were quiet limited. I walked out the front door and was quickly joined by the keyman who had put on his shirt. He pointed ``This way!'' and I gestured ``No!'', then that and again I gestured ``No!''. Finally he got the message and left me to wander by myself.
Very quickly, I gathered a following of 10 to 20 kids, who were with me all the way. I went through the city gate into an older section of the town, and up and down several streets.
Some people wanted their picture taken
and some did not, and some didn't care.
CYK has the greatest concentration and variety of dogs per square foot than any other town in China that I have seen.
The only way I to get rid of my entourage was to buy some fresh cooked bread and beer, and retire to my room for supper. The kids were stopped at the laneway guard at the entrance to the inn. I would have liked something more interesting for supper, but all the sidewalk stalls were souping there food and I didn't trust that.
I left the hotel at about 6:00am and rode, and wandered the back streets. CYK is still a small town and it is very easy to walk and ride around most of its streets in a couple of hours. The streets and lanes were narrow, and the houses old, but there was nothing that definitely looked over 100 years.
I rode up out of town onto a huge dike that now protects the town from the river. Grandfather mentions a dike in his letters but I think this is a new one.
I don't know if the is the River Huai, from which grandfather and family took boats for rest and to get to mission outposts but it is plausible. One nice part of this ride/walk was that it was so early I was able to do it by myself.
I arrived, quite by accident, back on the street with my hotel, and stopped to have breakfast.
During this time my entourage of kids arrived, but more importantly, I saw a cross sticking above the roofs of the houses. After I finished, I walked down towards the cross. The church was hidden behind a wall with a small courtyard, and a lane down the left hand side. It was full to overflowing, the lane was completely full and benches were continually being added to the courtyard, while some people tried to find another small spot inside to stuff a bench. The music was the grand old hymns of the Presbyterian Church that I remember as a kid, but the words were all Chinese, except for the occasional ``Hallelujah?''. I was offered a hymnal and Bible in Chinese, but declined. The congregation were all ages, and kept arriving during the service. The minister was a woman, as were the servers. The mission of grandfather's day was, in a real sense subversive, because it taught women to read. A mark of a Christian woman was that she no longer had bound feet. I wonder if this is grandfather's legacy. I was moved by what I saw and heard, almost to tears.
I stayed for the hymns and prayers, but left during the sermon. I didn't stay to meet the minister because I didn't feel there was much chance to have a conversation. As far as I could tell, I, and my entourage of disruptive kids, were the only ones to leave. During the service I finished the roll of film in the camera and wanted to put in a new one, without an audience. I rode a long way down the street and stopped. As soon as I was seen to stop, the kids started running. I then continued and hid behind a traffic circle monument. I was not there very long before a new crowd, followed by the old one arrived. I put the film in, and decided to leave CYK. It was about 8:30am and I had had already seen most of the town. It was also clear that I would not be able to see any more in peace.
I rode back to Shao Xian, but continued on towards Hefei. I had hoped that Shao Xian was the Shao Chao that grandfather described in detail in his letters, but it was clear that it was not. In fact, the details on Shao Chao are much greater than CYK. Although it was bright and sunny for the Church Service, it became mercifully overcast, and not too hot for the rest of the day.
The rice paddies between CYK and Shao Xian were soon replaced by fields of grain and patches of vegetables. Not all Chinese agriculture is people intensive. There are combines that occasionally replace the sickle.
It is also clear that the combine owners rent themselves and the machines out during harvest. It was clear the farmer in the field was instructing the combine operator.
There were about 106km to Hefei when I made the turn south at about 1:00pm. I had already gone about 40km but 106km seemed feasible. The feasibility lasted until about 3:00pm when I noticed that the rear wheel was bent - the sure sign of a broken spoke. I hadn't replaced a spoke yesterday so I suppose I was due. I stopped at a relatively deserted place on the highway, took out my tools, my headlight, and map light, both of which were in the tool compartments, and put them on the ground by the bike. Unfortunately, I did gather a crowd, some kids who were swimming in a nearby pond. It took me about an hour and half to replace 3 spokes, and loosen the cones on the rear wheel. The cones were so tight it was as if I were riding with the brake on. When I was about to leave, the kids had gone and so had my Cateye headlight9. This reduces me to flashers at night.
At about 6:00pm, I reached Jang Miao, about 50km from Hefei. I took out my phrase book with the ``lodging'' question and was pointed down the street to something. I have pictures of the Chinese characters for ``inn'', ``hotel'', and ``guest house'', but I found it impossible to make a correspondence. The characters on real signs are stylised, and mixed in with others that are specific to the particular inn. I rode out of town and was sent back in, and finally narrowed down the inns. The first two had rooms but refused me. The third was a ``guest house'' across the street run by an old man and woman. They lived in the first floor room, with their tiny kitten (1 to 2 months) and had a room on the second. That room was split into two by a curtain. The visible half had three beds, all piled high with sheets and comforters. There was also, almost no floor space - no place for my tent, not mention water and toilet problems. I said ``No thank you.'' and started riding.
About 20km later, I saw a place that could have been a restaurant or inn. It was about 8:00pm, and quite dark. The family was in the front room, which took up most of the first floor, eating supper. The door was open. I hesitated, watching them for sometime, before I decided that I would try to see if they had a room. The lady appeared somewhat hesitant, but then motioned me to have something to eat. This confused me because I was not at all certain that they were going to allow me to stay. I kept asking the same question, and finally they told me to bring my bike inside. At that point it was still ``have supper'', but I wanted to wash. They finally agreed, and brought two big plastic tubs, one full of warm water into their ``bathroom'' - it really had a bathtub that had not been used for some time. It occurred to me, after I had started rinsing, that I should be standing in the bigger plastic tub to catch the excess rinse water.
To convince that it really was safe to eat, they showed me their kitchen, with the ingredients in the dishes that were on the table, chuckled at my ``OK'', and brought me a bowl of rice. After dinner, I took my bike, with some help from the owner, up the room upstairs. It was very big, with one single bed, tiled floor, and quite nice. Making the bed consisted of covering the mattress with a straw mat, and placing a comforter on it. The next important question from my phrase book was ``Where is the nearest toilet?'' It, of course, was outside, in the back courtyard, and up a small set of stairs, with its own yappy guard dog. A flashlight was definitely needed. I still had one left, the map light. This room was evidently not for commercial use. It had some women's clothes hanging on some pegs in the wall.
I set up my tent on the floor and went to bed. I had gone about 120km and up about 500m.
It was just barely after dawn while I was writing my journal that the owner knocked on the door, and pointed to the rising sun. He watched attentively as I took down the tent and packed everything up. In about 15min, I was packed and was leaving. The room and dinner cost 10rmb ($2), and the beer 5rmb.
According to the signs, I was about 26km from Hefei. It was flat, cool, and sunny - a perfect time for riding. At Gang Ji, I stopped to walk through a 1.5km linear market. I also had some more breakfast - a flat, crescent variation on the Shanghai dumpling. It was delicious, and much easier to eat than the Shanghai version.
Just outside Hefei, I followed the sign to Anqing, a city beyond Hefei, on the Yangtze. This mistake picked up a bypass. I was sure that something was wrong because I had gone 34km, was not in Hefei, and going due south, instead of southeast. I stopped and asked. After some confusion, they showed me where I was. I discovered later that the confusion was due to my old map, 1999, and the crossroad we could see was not on it.
I turned at that crossroad, Huang Shan Lu, and went due east into town, trying to orient myself. Finally I stopped, and was looking at my map when someone pointed out exactly where I was. The position was impossible on my map. Then a second man, who spoke quite decent English, came over. He agreed with the first position, and kept asking where I wanted to go. I said the ``Scientific and Technical University of China (STUC)''. The Lonely Planet map showed it 2.5km out of town. I apparently was already ``out of town'', because a university gate was only 100m from where I was standing. He showed me the gate.
With some more help on campus, I found the ``Foreign Experts Building'', and got a new single room with bath and air conditioning for 150rmb ($30). The equivalent in the Holiday Inn was listed at 1000rmb ($200).
It was the, about 10:30am
My first impression of Hefei is that it is an incredibly clean city. I saw almost no trash, and it is the only city I have seen in China with public trash cans. Almost every stall in the street markets had one or two trash buckets with plastic bags. I had never seen a clean street market before.
Although Hefei has, according to the guidebooks, few ``sights'', it is a very pleasant city to visit. The central core of the city is surrounded by a set of parks, with ponds, pagodas, temples, bridges - totally clean, and a delightful place to walk, or ride where you are allowed. There is also fishing, in sections that have been netted off from the areas with the paddle boats.
In Hefei, KFC has some competition right at its front door.
I spent the two days riding slowly around town, delighting in the lack of smog, and walking through the markets. Several times, people joined me to talk English. In two cases, the men were quite persistent and obviously wanted to monopolise my time rather than just practice. Once this happened in a market, and the second time as I rode up a street. A third time, a teenage girl came up to me as I was unlocking my bike, and stated outright that she wanted to practice her English. This was indeed the case, and after several minutes, she excused herself to go shopping. She had one question that I found very difficult, ``Tell me something interesting about Canada.''
Checking out was more complicated than I had expected. Here, as in other places, they take your receipt when they give you a room key. If you can't produce the receipt on checkout, you pay again. It was just after 6:00am, and the second floor concierge had not yet come on duty, and so when I tried to checkout, without my receipt, the girl wanted me to pay again for my room. There was a real communication gap, so I was asked to write out the details. Eventually, someone went upstairs, and came back down and I was informed that I didn't need to pay again. I didn't really want to be stopped in Shanghai for unpaid bills, so I was quite cautious and asked for a new receipt.
After a stop for breakfast, I arrived at the airport at about 7:20am. It was very quiet, and my only audience for the miracle of putting a full-sized mountain bike in a backpack were two airport policemen. I was finished just after 8:00am for my 10:00am flight. I originally made reservations on the 7:50am flight but changed it when I discovered that I couldn't get out of the residence until 6:00am. The change was totally hassle-free. There was no cost, and the airline had a counter in the residence lobby.
My ignorance is unbounded and some of these comments probably reflect it.
1It really is not difficult if you are willing to eat quite delicious, Shanghai dumplings - but no tea or anything else to drink.
2Occasionally you are warned of the ``Bicycle Deadend''.
3I have converted the Chinese rmb or ``yuan'' into $CDN at 5rmb/$.
4It appears that almost the Chinese Inns lock up for the night and you need to wake up the owner to get out early.
5There was, of course, some disruption.
6``Country'' dogs seem to be quite a bit bigger - perhaps scraps are easier to find.
7The following day I had one from another stand at 1.50rmb.
8I misplaced my receipt and had to pay 17rmb (11+50% penalty?) at the exit when we docked.
was the only overt theft that I had on the trip.