Post # 74 Jenzhou
China is truly amazing – Im now right in the middle of upturn egg carton country – It’s like glasshouse mountains everywhere as far as the eye can see and 360 degress. It’s up there as one of the most beautiful countryside Iv ever seen. It’s very cold and rains allot – when it rains the temp drops to not much above zero and the goretex and balaclava comes out. Today however was cloudy as all days are but no rain – so it was 7 degrees which is a lot nicer to be in and makes a huge difference. If I wear my wet weather pants, lighter jacket, cycle shorts underneath and merino t-shirt I can cycle without sweating. I swop the gloves and balaclava with my cycling gloves and hat when the temp changes but otherwise that worked really well today. It’s important not to put too much gear on as I sweat underneath and then when I stop its freezing cold. It also makes for allot of wet gear at the end of the day that doesnt dry overnight. Yesterday I found myself 30kms from where I thought I was on the map and that pretty much sums up what ts like to move from A to B. The map I have is great as far as it gives me names to ask directions but the distances are out and making planning the day a bit trickier than it alreay is. I also need to plan my kims around bigger dots on the map where Ill know I will get accomodation as Ive been knocked back a couple times now from accomodation that only takes locals. This tends to be the smaller towns and dots on the map. I should arrive in Yangshu on Saturday all gong well but its really up to the elements and rain playts a part in how far I can manage in a day. Yesterday I only managed 35km but today got 90km done – Im aiming for a big day tomorrow but that’s just the plan and what happens from there we don’t know until into the day. The people are soo interesting and very intrigued by us. Some give us a wide birth but check us out on the periferal. Most people ar very interested to communicate but have had little experience talking with foreigners who don’t understand Mandarin. They think that speaking slower will make a difference and then they even write it down in chinese to help. It’s so genuinely trying to communicate but no idea. I am so happy and relaxed and rolling with it as there’s no option just to do the best we can with what we know and make the rest up as we go. The countryside as I said is sooo beautiful. Most of the day is spent cycling through the remoteness intermittant with villages with a backdrop of egg cartons. They are farming folk mostly this southern part of china farming sugercane, rice of course, corn and mixed greens. They use terracing to grow their crops. The people work so hard and everything by hand ploughing with water buffalo, planting, cutting. They burn their cane and it reminds me of Bundaberg of old the smell in the air and flecks of ash. They then stack anything from bicycles to trucks from 50 nyears again pile high with the burned cut cane to take to wherever they supply. Just watching their rural day to day life go past is amazing and I’m loving it. I didn’t realise I’d be smack bang in the middle of this hast country so early and being in the middle of rural remote villages for most part is just perfect – saddled up to my first bowl of noodles today with a boiled egg plopped in the middle. It was soo hard it gave me the hiccups but the lady was soo gorgeous and was keen to know I had a full belly before heading off. Meanwhile the local men gathered round Rube and poked and prodded her parts discussing her in detail – it looked great – half of them then came into the stall and sat around me eating their noodles also and encouraging me to eat up – My hands were a bit cold and took ages to warm up, so I found using the chopsticks a bit tricky but got there in the end holding my hands over the steaming soup – im happy and well and loving every precious moment here – I’m out on a limb as far as finding my way around and totally dependent on directions. Not having any access to info in english took me a while to get used to how to manage but again were getting there.
Talk soon, Ree