English Version 11
Somewhere at G208. (Zou Dian Zao I think it sounds, but I think they speak some dialect here)
Another day at the office. More pancake landscape. The road disappears in the horizon and only occasionally a side road stretches down towards a distant village. In this case you have to set up goals during the day. Iíve decided to go 100 km today, if I succeed will show. First goal is G208, which I have to follow until I reach my old companion G108, which I maybe will follow all the way to Chengdu. Itís 40 km, so first goal is halfway. Thereís a light headwind, but Iím advancing anyway and before long Iíve gone the first 20 km.
A couple of birds I havnít seen before. One of them looks a little like a woodpecker, but has feathers bristling from the neck, so the head happens to look like a hammer. Later I remember having seen such one in south of France.
At one spot I think theyíre piling. Some high mobile towers in the open land. Coming closer it looks more like long pipes having a cylindrical thing on top: oh, itís turning Ė theyíre drilling! If itís for oil or water or something else, I donít know, but there are 5 more drilling pipes on the other side of the road.
One of the partly goals is the expressway, which Iíll have to cross several times. It has little traffic. I can see a sign telling about a gas station and parking and below I catch a glimpse of: next station 57 km. Not too bad even after European conditions. The future is not far and the Chinese are ready: just let it come. The few cars are because itís toll road, but thatís only a matter of time before people are able to pay.
When I get to the crossing with G108 I stop to make sure that it IS the right one. One of the girls quickly takes a picture of me with her camera phone. Now she has something to tell at home and to her friends.
The road is worse in the beginning but turns perfect later. The mountains which has been seen faintly all day have come closer. I look at them incredulous. Thereís snow on top? Can it be true? Itís the same ridge I passed the other day to the east. The explanation must be that the nightly rain that has been falling the last days, has fallen as snow in the mountains. The wind was too really cold when I was on my way down the mountain.
I ask for fried rice with vegetables from the phrasebook. They donít seem to have that, but fried rice with eggs seems to be better. Now Iíve written all this I havenít seen anything yet. So I drink another glass of tea.
After a huge portion of fried rice Ė with a little egg and a tiny bit of green I on my way again.
Iíve done it, friends! Iíve gone a 100 km and have crossed the mountains, and whatís more: Iíve passed through the wall. The Great Wall. I havenít just seen it again but passed right through it. But itís all coming too fast Ė how was it?
The road is doing an even climb and I already see the highway aim at the mountains. It has to be slow and itís going to pass far to the right maybe through a tunnel? While G208, and I, are aiming more directly at the ridge.
I havenít expected a steep climb, and it isnít. But at the beginning, just after I passed under the highway, I suddenly see something thatís got to be a watchtower up on the mountain to the right. I can see light through the dark lump and such formations are rarely seen on mountaintops.
And when I eagerly look around and go a little further, I see it all. On the left is a slightly damaged watchtower. So close that I can go and touch it and thereís a wall to the next and the next and father away up more watchtowers and a crossing wall. And to the right the wall goes on behind some houses and up the mountain. Itís not intact like at Simatai, it must be hard to walk on it, but itís THERE.
Exited about this I continue and at a moderate speed I climb, 10 and 9 on my scale. When I reach 1430 m I think that that was that, but Iím wrong. Again something at the opposite mountainside looks a little like a road, but it canít be.
Yes, it could. At a 1500 m marker I adjust the altimeter. It only goes on until 1680 m, but long before Iíve seen how the sky is getting darker behind me, and is there something I wouldnít like here, itís snow or hail or even rain in this cold. On top I put my Helly Hansen fleece jacket underneath in a hurry and down I go. From 71 km to 84 km all I have to do is steer and brake, when nescessary. But itís cold. I keep the same position on the bike for too long, so when the bike comes to a halt at last my right knee has stiffened, and has to have a gentle start all over. I am now in 1080 m, which corresponds to 5% which isnít much without luggage, but withÖ And 6-7% is probably what heavy loaded Chinese trucks can manage, so itís promising for the continuation.
But itís obvious, that the rain is coming. I reach a crossing where I have to decide if Iím going to Dai Xian (10 km) or to another smaller town only 4 km away. I choose the bigger one and hammer along. And I must be descending still and the wind must be in my back cause Iím doing up to 34 km/h for a long distance, all the way till I reach G108 and ďjustĒ need 6 km to the left. The last part the traffic becomes more intense Ė heavy traffic, and now it gets even worse. The first heavy drops fall and all is an inferno of broken concrete surface, tooting trucks, dust and a still thickening rain.
I move through one of the usual awful parts with industry, garages, roadhouses where cars go in and out Ė before the real city starts. I almost pass it, when suddenly I recognize a main street going down left. Go 50 m. Ask a young man for lŁguan. There! he points Ė Iím right in front of it. I utilize the opportunity to ask for wang ba. There! He points down the opposite street. Thatís really good. Well, the room is in the cellar and the bathroom on 2. floor, but you canít have it all Ė every time.
When I want to go to eat, the landlord shows me where himself itís 20 m down the street. He made me aware of it when I arrived, so he probably gets a bonus.
Itís a tiny room and very cosy even all is plastic and bad taste. People comes rushing in and out. Itís amazing how fast many Chinese eat Ė theyíve practiced the chopstick thing for a long time for sure butÖ My technic is primitive but efficient and I reject the spoon Iím offered. You have to learn?
Another day at the office is done.