English Version 13
Taiyuan 04.30 p.m.
The breakfast wasn’t just for me. You can order it on forehand- There were 2-3 others, but had soon finished. A bowl with something white is the drinking. It tastes a little sweet. I think it’s some kind of soup of millet. There are grains on the bottom, which I think you’re not supposed to eat. When the moisture has been drunk more moisture is added from the pot. There’s a small plate with shredded vegetables (I don’t know how they’ve been treated, but I survived).
Then comes a plate with three steamed buns, which doesn’t taste much. Then an egg which must have been boiled with soya (because of the colour) and at last a bigger bread like piece that tastes the best. All in all a nice healthy meal which will do for most of the day. The father gives me a piece of paper on which Jiayuan has written a more useable e-mail address she’s come up with by the help of a friend. She also says I ought to give her father something – a coin f.ex. Not anything valuable mere as a memorial. I wonder if I had my one-dollar bill with me?
After being urged several times I decide it’s time for fixing the tube. As expected the tyre is completely flat now.
Her father is ready with tools and a lot of good advices, but I’ll show him how to do it!
The quick release is a surprise. How smart. And then I let my fingers examine the inside of the tyre after having it removed. Good grief, there’s the cause. A thin piece of wire is still there and almost impossible to get loose with my fingers. Nice to know that the reason is gone..
A quick repair while a minor crowd of neighbors have turned up, they’re eagerly discussing and commenting. The father is the natural centre – except from me.
When all is finished I turn to the father and say in my best Chinese that “it has been a pleasure to meet you”, I forget the small “le” in the end that shall turn it into a finished matter, past tense, but I’m sure he understand the meaning he speaks some dialect, and at the same time I withdraw a Swedish 20 kronar bill to give to him. That was what I could find. I have brought 280 Swedish kr. But the 20 bills I won’t be able to change anyway.
He’s shining like the sun and must immediately show it to everyone that cares to look. I think I’ve cheated a bit, but who knows, maybe they have the same currency in Sweden and Denmark? Some kind of “Neuro” he can’t read what’s on it anyway. I hope Jiayuan is playing the game too?
I should have known instantly when she told me. It was yesterday. Jiayuan said, that her father, who is a driver, had said that it was 70 km to Taiyuan and that the road was bad.
When a driver says… No when a CHINESE driver says the road is bad –
Even then it exceeds my wildest expectations. I soon feel like in the heart of Bolivia. It wasn’t really washboard, but the surface is gone all the way and the holes were enormous and the layer of dust thick.
When you’re in it you advance anyway – but slowly.
A single encouraging moment happened when I was to pass a traffic control. I told them a polite “Ni hao”, when I passed, but realized it was time for eating a banana, as there was a fence where I could lean the bike.
The girls at the station, almost fell out of the window to look at me and I waved at them and they waved back. One of them shouted something I couldn’t hear, and maybe wouldn’t have understood. When I didn’t react one of them came with a thermo of 2 litre. Ah, so nice, a cup of hot water is always nice. (I really mean it – hot water is actually very good – you don’t need all these additives).
As I never bought the mug – that was on my list long time ago in Denmark – she had to fetch a small metal thermo of which I drank. In the meantime they all arrived and as one of them had a camera I had to be photographed with the first, the second, the third and then two at a time. They were SO sweet.
In the meantime customers had arrived, meaning a local three wheeled truck and they just waved at him to pass outside the bar. He tried, but being alone he ended up riding the truck body on an iron pole. An old man on bike had arrived so we formed a small discussion group trying to solve the problem. A loaded dong-dong-che isn’t easy to move! The driver refused to listen to the old man and I, who wanted him to turn right to get off the pole, but at last he did, and off he came. But the pole didn’t look good. I hope the girls won’t get into trouble because of that, it was my fault – indirectly.
After this encouraging scene I continued through the clouds of dust.
I found in the usual way a place for the night, the most expensive until now: 150 RMB. I could have had a room without shower for 80, but that I wouldn’t. It’s a big nice hotel – from the outside – with guards and gate, but inside the standard is almost like in Xin Zhou. Even there are tea leaves!
When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t help laughing, and feel a bit embarrassed at the same time: My face was TOTALLY black and the stripes from the ventilation holes in the cycling helmet was as drawn with a calligraphy pen.
And the water is not hot – not yet. Had to do a quick face-and hair wash in cold water.
Now it’s hot – shower!