English Version 22
Xiían 21.30 oíclock
Itís hard work being on the road, but itís also hard work to be in town.
What have I done today? Nothing much I think.
But Iíve been both inside and outside the city wall Ė and the city is BIG.
Iíve been searching for sunglasses, but they were too expensive and didnít fit me well. Iíve bought a pair of trousers. They adjusted them for me. Fine Chinese fashion trousers with nice pockets.
Iíve been to visit the Temple of eight Immortals. Thereís a blessed peace in the courtyards when you think of the noise and the fuzz outside.
At last I made contact with my PDA, so I spent a couple of hours in front of the computer, doing back-up and working with a programme for pictures, so hopefully youíll soon get some pictures. But there are still some problems.
At last I went to find a spare tyre (easy) and a spare tube (hard). The Chinese tube have an auto valve. A tube for MTBís was only available in the other end of the city.
When I was on my way, I suddenly wondered if Iíd gone too far. In
such case some Chinese words are worth gold: women zai nar? Where are we?
You point at the map and ask where we are? But itís good to have your
In this case the young man points at a spot where it obviously ISNíT, because the road not is ending in a T, but continues across the intersection. And if youíve managed to stop one Chinese, there are more to come in seconds. They love to help and a good discussion. And if someone nearby is able to speak 6 English words, sheíll arrive too. After several minutes discussion and talk, they reach a result. We are just where I thought we were, I merely wanted to be sure, because I wasnít QUITE sure, and now I have no problems finding out how to move on. But helpful THEY ARE.
Except once. Iím quite close to the target. I end up saying ďExcuse meĒ instead of ďDuibuqiĒ, and am at once told that he doesnít speak English. No, pal, but I just want to show you something written in Chinese. The girl in the bike shop have written down the name of the shop Iím looking for, where theyíve got the tube I want (Sheís phoned them!). He looks at it reluctantly. He doesnít know, and besides he doesnít speak English! Just after my eye catches the shop, itís on the other side of the street. Sheís put the dot on the wrong side.
When I after a couple of hours return to my hostel from this excursion, Iím spoken to by a girl, who shows to be another university English student. (This time former student) who wants to practise. And I want to practise my Chinese with a teacher, so we stand talking, while it gets dark, and her girlfriend first stands, later sits on the bench at the bus stop looking sour.
So now I have an appointment tomorrow evening at 19 oíclock with Carly.
When I get into the hostel thereís no longer room for my bike on the first floor, a Japanese guy has arrived and put his bike there. Heís come from Chengdu, where Iím going! It shows to be from Qingdao instead, not far from Japan. But we have a long conversation about China and staying for the night and food and roads etc. We could have met in the road, if Iíd been one day late, because the last 50 km weíve been following the same road.
So itís 21.40 before I have a chance to try my dish I bought in Beijing after Angelas recommendation. Itís a noodle dish in which you only have to add boiling water and 3 small bags, which are in the package plus a folded plastic fork, that has to be clicked ready. Iím lucky also to have a smoked chickens leg and a Harbin canned beer I bought long ago. Itís not a great meal.
I have to describe the traffic here. Thatís why a quiet day like this gets so exhausting.
Youíre always allowed to turn right no matter the colour of light. You normally turns left just before the green light, so you can do it before those going straight from the other direction have started. And when one is turning 2 or 3 follows. When you being a cyclist have been waiting at the red light and starts to move, you have to interlace with those turning right and at the same time look for and interlace with those turning left from the front. Plus look for the pedestrians which didnít make it to the other side before the lights changed. And if you are going in the shielded lane for bicycles and cars who are to park, you have to look out for cars and cyclists going in the opposite direction which should be somewhere else but for practical reasons have decided to go against the traffic. And the worst spots are where there are busses too. They squeeze you at the bus stops because the stop is in the bicycling lane. Not to mention all the pedestrians who, although there IS a path for them, have chosen to walk in the cycling lane. And if they all just kept there positions. They often do, and then you just overtake to the right or to the left if thatís more adequent. But not always. And when one is going outwards all those overtaking follows. Luckily. Or more would get hurt. I have ONCE heard a man Ė not shout Ė but grouse because of traffical rudeness. But mostly you take it as it comes, thatís the way it works here.
They donít use the horn much in the city. Itís actually forbidden, but no one cares about that Ė like in so many other cases.
The traffic in the roads Ė youíll have that another time.
When I sit here at the computer sending this last report, itís 23.45 oíclock.
So good night.