English Version 7
I decide to go on
immediately without breakfast. I donít want to eat more here. I have 3
bananas, 1 cookie and some sweet and half sweet.
The weather is the usual mist. It rains a little from time to time.
AT last Iíve come to a valley, which seems to continue for some time. And weíre in the country, where the days go by, like theyíve probably done for the last 100 years. The peasant is ploughing with his donkey, or is it a meagre horse? He uses his own weight to keep the plough down. At the road are grinding mills to be moved by hand used for grinding millet. Once10 workers with harnesses are carrying a concrete pole. It looks impressive. But in the long run maybe not that efficient? AT another spot 3 workers shovel coal in a coal mill. Thereíre almost hidden in coal dust, but no one has a mask or similar. Later I see a man without a horse, but with a motor driven one manís plough. The future is on its way also in this valley. Theyíre using a washboard down in the farmyard. The chickens are scratching the earth along the road, a single dog on a chain is barking. I feel in another time, Iím in China, Hebei province.
The valley narrows and twists. The mountains arise in all directions.
It looks impossible in front of me. As a miracle the valley turns to the
left and goes on, but much more narrow. It goes on until km 33. Then
itís over, I see a white spot high up at the opposite mountainside. Try
to ignore it, but deep inside I know, that this small dot tells that
there is the road. Itís a road marker, and thatís where Iím going. From
the start the altimeter shows 930 m. Iíve also felt the road climbing
steadily all day. At first I think Iím up at 1060 m, but then I suddenly
see the road almost disappearing up in the sky. Two fighting trucks with
tiles pass me by. Later when theyíve made a stop I pass them, at 1230
they pass me again. And then, at 1310 m weíre up. Thereís a toilet
building and there are the two trucks parked. I have a ďconversationĒ
with the drivers, they have a book of maps of the entire Hebei province.
Only Chinese names, but the towns look more relevant. The town in my map,
I never see, but several appear that SHOULD have been there.
Then down is goes and the road is immediately worse. Rough but with no holes. Have to use the breaks so that the luggage doesnít come off. Itís a cold descent. The distances in the map doesnít fit. There should at the most be 50 km, I passed that long ago. I end up at a village street going to the right. Itís time for lunch. Some girls show me where to ďChi fanĒ Ė eat. Up a stair and along a gallery. There are small rooms with curtains. Iím shown into one. The curtain is extremely dirty. But besides it looks OK.
Iím prepared this time. Iíll say chicken meat and point around the menu. Have found my homemade dictionary and the necessary words. Even though it goes wrong. They donít have chicken. Meiyou, have not. It goes on. They donít have rice. Then Iíll have something which I think is round bread. Itís bean sprouts and noodles, but OK. All in all a nice meal, which I cannot finish. Itís not all of the beef thatís easy to chew.
Iíve looked at the map that there should be parts of the Great Wall along the road, but if itís 5, 10 or 20 km away it doesnít say. Iím a bit disappointed, specially today. Iíve looked for it in vain and have long given up. I find a shop to buy water and when I get back thereís a man I ďtalk toĒ a bit. I say Cheng Chang, as is the Chinese name and point around. Of course itís there, and he drags me to the other side of the street and points and really! Just above the roof I can barely see a watchtower on top of a mountain. I walk another 10 m and see a sight Iíll never forget. Through the mist all the mountain ridge is filled with watchtower next to watchtower. Itís a marvellous view, that leaves tears in my eyes. Something Iíve experienced before. The most unexpected views are often those that give the strongest impressions.
After having the day saved this way I continue down G108. The mountains gets lower, but I still have to pass 7-8 lumps before the valley gets wider. The road starts having certain defects. A restauration is apparently soon to be. For longer parts the old surface is removed and itís like riding a bad dirt road. The dust is thick from the trucks.
Then I arrive at a spot where the road is blocked. Theyíre building a new bridge. I quickly realize they wonít finish the first month and think: What then? When I see a trail disappear down the riverbed to the right. Thereís a chaos as always because everyone wants to cross first, but I manage to twist through. Then follows more dirt road, where I literally have to cut through the dust. It must be very fine grains, because I have no problems with my contact lenses. Then the road is blocked once more and a longer diversion has been made including a river passage, where Iím almost forced to remove my shoes and socks, but I make it, the shoes are waterproof and the water doesnít reach the edge. But Iím nearly drowned when a car passes the water at high speed. Reasonable Ė butÖ.
I reach the goal of the day Laiyuan, which is the biggest city since the suburbs of Beijing.
Now the heaters water must be hot, so youíll have me excused. Iíve looked at myself in the mirror. There were black stripes on the top of my head where the openings in the cycling helmet are!