English Version 20
The visit to the wang ba yesterday was another failure. They had this kind of network, that doesnít allow my PDA access.
This morning itís hard pulling myself together. I need to rest, but Xian isnít that far way anymore.
When I go down a city street all a shops staff is gathered in the pavement. Considering the shop doesnít look big 50 people seem a lot. There is peptalk and gymnastics. When I stop across the street I see how the attention quickly change direction. Against me.
I pass a long bridge, which tie the plateau together across one of those ravines. Where it is not too steep there are terrasses on the side. This is the real China I think.
Itís another grey and dim day and even cold.
As I advance the wind turns more and more and grow to hard wind. I get it on my side but the longer I get the more headwind it gets. Damned.
But then a miracle happens that has nothing to do with the wind., no itís about far more important things. I have just waved to two workers at the road when a pffft... make it clear that the back wheel has a puncture.
When I pull off the tyre to fix the tube I realize a disaster: There has come a 2 cm long cut at the edge of the tyre. All the bad roads have made it happen. A cut that surely isn`t going to grow smaller.
The tube is soon fixed and I decide to find a better place to change the tyres - put the front at the back and visa versa. The front doesn`t carry so much weight as the back.
As I am doing this an old man come by watching. I have them changed but realize I won`t get far. Thoughts of how and where I can get a bus that can take me and the bike to Xian begins.
But the old man points at the direction I am going. Something will show up there, I just can`t understand what. Could it be some kind of garage. Could they vulcanize new rubber on the inside of the tyre? You never know in areas like this where it often is nescessary to think of alternatives to the common solutions.
Well, I just have to follow him it seems, so I do - only a couple of hundred meters, then a pffft... makes it clear that the front wheel now has a puncture.
I drag the bike on to him and continue down a very small village
street where the cows are tied up. At last he disappears into a house
and i start fixing the front tube. After some time he comes back
carrying something in his hand. It shows to be a 26 x 1.75 tyre which
exactly fits my bike. How on earth has he got that? I haven`t seen a MTB
since I left Beijing, and it certainly doesn`t fit his bike.
I`ll never know. I just know that to me this seems like a miracle.
What I shall pay him for this is a question we can`t find a solution for. They (some others have shown up as they always seem to do in China) speak some dialect I guess, I can`t understand a single word. It is not until a young man shows up the solution is found. He and I understand each other. 20 kuai I have to pay for the tyre it seems. I`d gladly paid him 100 or 200 but I feet it isn`t the time to be generous. The old man is just glad (and a little proud I think) having had the opportunity to help a poor wayfaring stranger and just wants what the tyre is worth. (I`m still wondering if it really can be so cheap).
The rest of the day is terrible. I toil much too slow through the wind. A wedding party is the only positive thing. I decide after some consideration only to make it to Dali. The wind is blowing against me most of the time. Then thereíll be more than 100 km left for tomorrow, but the wind will probably cease?
You never know.
Just before I get to Dali thereís a traffic control and I desperately needs a break. I only stand for a moment. Then an officer arrives, this time theyíre all men, and asks if Iíd care for some hot water?
Yes, that would be lovely, now Iíve bought both a mug and some tea. So we walk into the ďofficers roomĒ. I tell them where Iíve been and where Iím going. I just need to do it once, because every time a newcomer shows up, and they do 4 or 5 times, the first one tell it all again. Iím offered an apple, and what do you do in a situation like that, when you know you shouldnít eat fruits that are not pealed? You accept, you simply have to. The stomach comes second in a case like this.
When Iíve had several cups of tea and the map has been looked at just as many times, I give them my hand for goodbye and stride into Dali. Itís not that Iím totally finished, but here Iíll be able to find a three star hotel. I donít know about those two small next towns? Iím looking for a binguan Ė and find it Ė after some looking. Tong Zhou Hotel. For the first time I have the bike with me in the room. They did it while I had my back turned. I was first up on first floor to examine a room and had accepted it, but it wasnít meant to be like that.
There are many strange things about Chinese hotels. This standard too. When thereís no thermo, thereís an electrical kettle, thatís seen before. But this has a cord of 10 cm and the outlets are in the middle between the floor and the table, so whatís the meaning?
In stead of taking the kettle with me to ask, I solve the problem myself. An oval paper basket is laid down and for security I sit and hold the kettle till the water boils.
Another day full of surprises.