I realized today when I sat down to write on the blog that it has been a while since the last post. Maybe it sounds strange to some that I haven’t had the time, but these last two weeks have been a lot of fun and I have met so many nice and interesting people. So I guess sometimes I don’t think about the blog when I’m too busy enjoying this strange but awesome lifestyle to the fullest.
My first stop after the rainy ride to Dezhou was the city of Jinan. Bu this time I had gotten used to cycling through big cities. Some people I have met who live in cities with about 2 million inhabitants don’t consider them to be very big. But for me who is from a small town in a small country all of these cities are very big. They are constantly growing and sometimes it feels like cycling through one big construction site.
On my way in to Jinan I crossed over the Yellow River on a floating bridge that swayed a lot when a big truck drove over it. Once in the city I found the meeting point and met up with Felix who was my host for the day. He worked as a teacher, but not a English teacher like all the other I had met along the way. Instead he taught physics at an English speaking high school. We had a nice “boys nigh out” with two of his colleges eating Chinese BBQ and drinking beer.
The next morning I was excited to get op on the bike. So far the road had been mostly flat but today I had a little mountain to climb and some green hills and fresh air was exactly what I needed
But I was a little worried when cycling up the hill because I say some signs about roadwork and was hoping the road wasn’t closed. Halfway up the hill a passed by some roadwork and thought that was it. But since there was almost no other car going up or coming I started to realize that there was more work up ahead. Going back down and taking another road would take me a lot of time and most likely I wouldn’t make it to Taian where I had made plans with a host. So I got really worried when I reached the top and saw this..
But luckily I could push my bike over the dirt wall and on the side of where workers where laying down new asphalt. The ride down was awesome on the perfect new road all the way to a beautiful lake where I sat down for a long and relaxing lunch.
While waiting for Alex to finish work I sat down in a park. And parks in China are never boring and there is always something interesting to see, for instance someone doing Tai Chi and another man drawing Chinese characters with water on the ground.
After Taian I continued on south to Tengzhou where I stayed with yet another teacher. This time Samantha from New Zealand. It was great getting some advice on where to go and places to see for when I’ll go there new year. I stayed another day with Samantha and went on a little tour around town on electric bikes with her boyfriend Frank and another Kiwi teacher named Tod. And that man was one of the funniest men I have met in a long time and we had a fun but short trip to see the pagoda.
Next stop on my way was Xuzhou, and I got there in good time on a day with nice weather and a light breeze in my back. Before cycling into the city I stopped by a little food stand by the road for lunch. And with my non existing Chinese I manage to get some food. The nice lady also carried out a little stool for me to sit on right next to the road. Halfway through my big bowl of rice and meet she came out with even more rice and a big load of meet. That was probably my biggest lunch in a while and when I wanted to pay for my lunch the nice lady just shook her head and smiled. I thanked her so much and got back on the road with a stomach full of food. Once there me and my host Drinta had time to go for a little trip to the lake with a great view of the Xuzhou skyline.
Later in the evening we met up with two other couchsurfers living in Xuzhou; Carl who was a local and Sebastien who was from France but working in China. We ate a really tasty BBQ at a place where you got your own BBQ and grilled for yourself. And when picking out what to eat Sebastien suggested that I tried an insect (Cicada), I said why not and ate bugs for the first time. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined but I think I prefer chicken instead.
Drinta had his apartment full so he got me a room in a massage parlor that was his family’s business. It was a great and luxurious room but it felt a little strange sleeping on a massage table.
After a great breakfast with Drinta I got back on the bike for another morning rush hour ride out of a yet another big city. The next city was a little smaller (just 600,000) and on my way in my host Lyla met up with me on her bicycle and we rode together to her flat. She had a really nice place overlooking the city and really made me feel at home. Since I need to get to Hong Kong before my visa expires I can’t stay in all places for long and the plan was just to stay one day in Suqian. But after a really nice dinner together the choice to stay another day was easy. So after dinner we headed out on town to a night club drinking, dancing and stayed up all night (drunk photos not included ;) .
The next day we rode our bikes to a nearby lake and had a nice and relaxing day with picnic on the grass.
Time went by fast and the next morning I was back up on the bike again headed south. This was one of the times having a dead line to get to Hong Kong forced me to continue on when I instead would have liked to stay longer. But the show must go on and I cycled another 130 km to Xuyi where I found a nice place to set up my tent. Since I have been so fortunate with invitations along the way I hadn’t slept in my tent since I was in Xinjiang province in the west. But I like camping and had a great night sleep in the tent. Next city along my way was Yangzhou and for a second time this week some nice people at a restaurant gave me a free lunch and we took some photos together. I think if people tagged me on their Chinese social media I would find myself on a lot of photos. In Yangzhou I met up with Alva and she had arranged for me to stay with her friend Hu since her house was full of relative during the national holiday. Both Alva and Hu was really cool and we had a nice dinner and a good rest which was good because the next day we squeezed in as much of Yangzhou as possible. We started 8 in the morning with breakfast at a very popular place, I had never seen so much people in a restaurant before and finding a place to sit was a competition. After a great breakfast we went to the old street and strolled around the old buildings where there were many interesting shops with craft work. After that we went on to the king’s tomb, the museum and ended up at an amusement park.
We had a nice dinner with Hu and another friend and later went to a place where they showed off ice sculptures. It felt a little like being back home and probably the coldest I will experience in a long while.
Yesterday I had a long day on the bike covering just over 140 km with an annoying head wind at times. But I made it to Yixing before dark and met up with my host Jacqueline at her work that was the biggest and most luxurious hotel in town. I got some strange looks when riding up to the entrance among Mercedes and BMW’s on my bike.
After some guys asked me what I was doing there Jacqueline came out and showed me how to get to her place. Finding an apartment in the dark in China where it’s so crowded and many places looking the same is really difficult. But after asking around for a while a found the place. And since Jacqueline wasn’t with me the neighbors looked a little confused when I rolled up with my bike looking for the flat. After a well-deserved rest we went out for some BBQ and had a good time. I have to say that I have been very lucky to have met all these great people and it feels good that I still have so much more to see here in China. Because when I return from Hong Kong I have 60 more days to stay in China and maybe I’ll meet up with some of my new friends again…