English Version 16
Pingyao, Yamen Hostel 8.15 oíclock
A little sad to have to move on. A nice town. Wonderful people here at the hostel. And their English is useable.
This morning I lay on my bed thinking what had passed in the room during the ages.
Once the whole complex was owned by a rich family. Later perhaps 20 families? And during the cultural revolution? Which tragedies and suffering have it witnessed?
Treated myself to a Swiss breakfast, for which Iím waiting after having had two kinds of ďbunsĒ. One of the steamed kind. I donít remember their name.
The days trip should end in Huozhou. A little more than 100 km, but if the roadís still fine it should be no problem.
I forgot to tell why I call the manager Xiao Lu. Lu of course, is his name, while xiao means small. As being the eldest I address him with xiao, while he on the other hand if he knew my name would address me lao Steen.
But I donít think they use it so much anymore, I donít think I hear it anywhere.
When Iím ready to leave theyíre all there. The prettiest of the girls snatch my crash helmet and walks around with it, so I have to take a picture. And afterwards Lu wants to try out my bike, dressed in helmet and all. I reflect on how itís going to go, but decide that the bike will not be harmed even if he turns over. Itís not that easy to go with that much weight on the front wheel if youíre not used to it. It turns out all right even itís close. I get a picture of him too and canít he have it transferred to his computer right away, cause he actually has a laptop?
So when it comes to all itís later than Iíd hoped. So I do not but bananas and bread because there are no salesmen at the north gate, from which I embark. I can buy it during the day, I think, and strolls on, on this excellent road. All is well for the first 40 km. Then at last a village street appears where a shop is to be seen. They have some kind of buns. They will do until I find a place to eat later.
When I leave itís obvious that the front wheel has a puncture. I drag the bike across the main road and get ready for a repair. Some men are looking interested. They seem surprised that I carry a pump. I soon locate the hole. I remember all too well the repair that now has given in. The tube ought to have been replaced. There are 3 patches glued together. So I change the tube. One the men has fetched a wash basin with water to help finding the hole. Nice of him, but Iím already putting the new tube on. The water seems yellowish, I wonder what it is, urine?
When Iím finished Iím rather dirty, so I end up accepting the offer of having my hands washed in the yellow water. A little later I use some of my precious drinking water to wash again.
And now the film breaks or literally the road. The surface is gone. I donít remember how or when it changed. The rest of the day from now on, 12 oíclock, isnít quite clear to me. But I think it all started in a village where the road turned all muddy. And when the mud was gone it was dust for the rest Ė of the day! I loose my Chinese map, which I usually put under the backpack, whose weight will keep it there. Only the road is too bumpy for that today. Well, Iíll soon have to leave this province and enter the next and by the way just follow G108.
The next severe thing to happen is that we have to cross the river. The road has entered the riverbed, because theyíre building a new road. And down the riverbed thereís no bridge, only some sort of wade with a lot of current.
I canít go through. My front panniers are low riders and will get under water. Iíve tried it before. In Bolivia, but then there were not hundreds of trucks around me, here there are!
When I goes near to inspect the wade thereís a loud bang and a cascade of water goes up the air and drifts by the wind over me. The back wheel of a truck is exploded, there must have been something sharp under the water?
I pull off the front panniers and my boots and socks and take them across. It sounds easy, but itís not. I have to fight for room with the lorries. After having crossed itís back again to drag the bike across. I succeed once more and I feel the triumph. A motorcyclist has succeeded too and is now returning with his girlfriend on his back. We congratulate each other by thumbs up.
Being relieved after the crossing I little new of what was to come. I
only found out that I had lost my sunglasses. They must have fallen into
the water or somebody took them while I was crossing without the bike. I
think it must be the first.
Twice more I had to do the same crossing trick. Those were even wider. The only good thing was that a private car (that had passed me very close - the only time I was annoyed until now though I didn`t shout at him) lost its power in the middle of the water. So for the next long time no one passed me from behind.
Then came something I can only describe as a big lake where a long line of lorries were stuck. All traffic had come to a stop as only one car could pass at a time at the wade where the private car had come to a stop.
The water didn`t look that deep - but it was. So the front panniers were partly under water some of the time. I wonder how they`ve managed - havn`t looked yet.
From time to time kind people told me that I was black in the face and shouldn`t I wash it in the river?
As if I didn`t know! And it would be black again after a short time!
But after a little pavement after 95 k`s I thought I had come through and went to some houses and a garage where people were standing. Asked by gestures if I could have some water (shui) to wash my face. They were so kind.
Had the bad road come to an end?
First after 101 k things were getting a little better. It was almost dark when I began entering the city of Huozhou.
A glittering neon-sign and something that could be a hotel lobby made me stop.
When I looked in the mirror I saw the face of a coalmine worker after a long shift. The white in my eyes glistening on the black background. Totally worn out.
Even after 20 min`s under the shower black stuff kept on emerging from eyes, ears and nose. And after rubbing my eyes the best I could the towel had long black stripes when I dried my eyes. I`m happy I don`t wear make up usually.
They`d told me to come downstairs after my shower and I thought there might be a swimmingpool. That would be nice.
There wasn`t, no it`s not exactly the truth there was something like a spa. But that was the only thing I shouldn`t try.
First I was stripped naked, then under one more shower, then a sauna - how nice!
Then I had a massage. For something that seems like ages two men are rubbing, scrubbing, pounding me. Iím rubbed into fragrant oils and in the end send for another shower. Even my ears were cleaned. And tooth brushing was a part of the show too, only I had to do that by myself.
During the show I wonder how much this extravagance will be, because this canít be part of the stay. If Iíd asked beforehand it would have been cancelled, but is there anything my body needs now itís probably this. Itís like participating in the Tour de France.
56 RMB, around 60 d.kr. For being thrashed soundly for half an hour, isnít that cheap?
I`ve never had a massage before in my entire life. But now I have - and Chinese!
I only felt like sleeping when I was through but unfortunately I hadn`t had anything to eat yet, so I had to sit in an ugly room beside the hotel while everyone was watching me. They must have considered my chopstick technic too bad, because they came with a spoon. I refused. Wrote my diary - in Danish - until 11 pm and went to bed. I haven`t heard the trains horns all night, but I`m sure theyíve been blowing - as they are now.