Post # 79 Luzhai
Day 92 898 days to go. Distance: today 65km. It’s 7.40pm Thursday 1/3/2012 Luzhai. You know that scene from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves when Friar Tuck is pulling the cart carrying Kevin Costner and his merry men. He says when stopping ‘thank you Lord for teaching me humility.’ That scene encapsulates me in china. We are reliant on the local folk to move us through our day to day. I so feel a constant sense of vulnerability. It’s nothing about liking or disliking. Its the experience of sticking with it and seeing the challenge unravel. I like to feel independent and self reliant and patience is not a virtue (I can see my partner smiling). However in this situation theres not a speck of room for impatience. Its the dark side and like Yoda says ‘forever will it control your destiny. ‘ Instead I’m on huge doses of humility. This extreme learning environment is overwhelming for the most part but all good and very good for me. Im such an
experiential learner (again I can see my partner smiling). As such there’s lots of deep breath moments and trying again, but were getting there. It’s also not the place for my usual dogmatic head down bum up style of doing things. Instead its heads up and positive, staying open and approachable, one step at a time, and chipping away at it. I have a general plan to start the day but each day ends up looking quite different. Anyone planning to travel independently in China would do well to equip themselves with as much information prior. I’m pretty pooped each day just managing the basics. Internet access is a luxury. Im relying on my spot tracker to let the family know Im ok and maintain a sense of connection. Otherwise my personal contact is with the local folk I interact with during the day. And it’s an adventure. The funny thing is that there’s no ounce of winge factor from my part. Maybe one or two at the road conditions when the calories are low
🙂 But Rube suggests it’s time for a break and we snack up and get back into it all good again. It took us 3 hours to get to and through Liuzhou this morning and onto the right road towards Lipu. This stuff I just cant plan for and instead have to roll with it and work with the locals to best sort through A to B. There’s no keeping track of the amount of people I approach for help but there’s definitely stand outs that make all the difference. here’s some highlights…… I had got to one of the main roads into Liuzhou and stopped to ask a tuk tuk cabby. He drew me a map with pictures I didn’t understand until down the road. He had drawn sets of lights and then tunnels which make sense are common in karst country. He had labeled the map in Chinese. I stopped to make sure I was on the right road and asked this man sitting by the road flattening the tin from a kettle for another use. He was somewhat overwhelmed by the situation but eventual got that I
wasn’t going to bite and nodded I was on track. At the next crossroads I asked some traffic police who dragged in a bystander with a 3G mobile phone. He checked google maps and got me on the right road. At the next crossroads I stopped and was checking the compass when this moped man came up and said, ‘ I like cycling.’ Awesome English!!!!!! His vocab was limited but his effort huge. He soon realized that directions weren’t going to get me out of the metro area so he lead me to the right road which would have taken me the most part of the day to figure through otherwise. His name is Weijiabo pronounced Wayjeearbor. He has ridden road bicycles for 8 years and loves cycling. He works in a factory as a driver. He said he has two names but I didn’t understand why. He gave me his phone number and email and said he wanted to join me in Guilin to cycle to Quaanzhou if he can. He had a look over Rubes and adjusted the quick release pin so that it fitted better.
He showed me on his phone where we were and explained the road numbering to Yangshou. He was my guardian angel today lovely lovely man awesome cool Chinese gent. By the way all this in the rain and cold which was constant and 5 degrees on average. Talk about Brrrrr drippy chill bill for this cold frog 🙂 !!!!! We had done 25kms and were only on the outskirts of Liuzhou. The road soon left the highway and was pretty much off road conditions with roadworks muddy slop potholes eeeeekkkk. Took our mind off the cold but. It was 4.00pm when we arrived 40km later. Luzhai isn’t a metro city but a large dot on the map. I was feeling pretty good and undecided whether to push onto the next smaller dot and Weijiabo said there was a hotel there. It was another 30km but so I stopped for a coffee break to decide. Then I saw this young lad hosing down a truck and asked if I could clean Rube. He was all smiles and happy to help. I gave her a clean and decided to stay
the night, pamper my girl and tackle the 95kms to Lipu tomorrow. I was all happiness but had got pretty dampy hosing the girl so was keen to find a hotel. It was my first official experience of being refused accommodation everywhere I tried. We’re talking a dozen hotels all showing me an identification card which I now know is a Chinese ID card and that they don’t take ‘foreign diplomats.’ Rhe young reception ladies at a couple of places said ok but then another worker would step in and insist they couldn’t have me stay. By the last place I was so cold I think I had ‘beg’ all over my face of where I could stay in town. The young girl who had said yes but was overruled by her male counterpart, indicated she would take me to a hotel that took foreign diplomats. This language was from a google translator they used to help explain. So off we walked under her umbrella (sweetie) to a three star hotel. 300 yen later ($50). Very odd feeling being in this
situation. Certainly not impressed with the outlay but it was unavoidable and we dealt with it. I feel like we don’t belong here it’s odd. Its not my idea of indulgence but I must say the bed is comfy. The beds are so hard here my air mattress is a triple futon in comparison. I hope the whole foreign diplomat thingy isn’t a sign of whats to come. Its definitely a heads up to try stay at the right sized dots on the map unless I have info on the place in my lonely planet. Im kinda torn as its only in the big dots that we may get internet connection. Im sure we’ll find a balance. The smaller towns haven’t battered an eyelid at me staying in fact have been happy and welcoming hosts. Each day at a time but with more experience in our Chinese toolbox. There’s no emotion in it for me and I’m not taking it personally for a refreshing change (now I can see my partner laughing – stop it!!!!). China may not be good for my bank account but it’s good for me.
I’m planning to cycle to Lipu tomorrow then onto Yangshu Saturday. I have an internet date at 7pm so we’ll have to get in early to pretty up. For now one day at a time. Rube and I are safe and sound and that’s what counts foremost. I have a theme song for us that popped into my head today and we’ve been singing it out loud at choice times during the day. It’s Bryan Ferry’s ‘lets stick together…….’ Love it!!!!!!! Time for noodles and our three star bed. Talk soon x