On the road to Chengdu

With the advice from the police to stay the first days on bigger roads and not to cycle into forbidden areas we start cycling again. Its a little change of our plans, but that doesn’t matter.

In Anquin we cross the Yangtze River and we spend the night next to this big river with all its traffic. For a while we think it’s nice to follow the river up to Wuhan, but we change our minds quickly when we see the ugly and stinky factories. We find a small road into the countryside and we enjoy the Chinese working on the fields. The police don’t stop us so we can continue our trip.

The temperature drops from one day to another with 20 degrees Celsius and we have to get used to it. In the morning we cycle with long sleeves and we enjoy a warm shower when we arrive in the hotel. The first leafs are falling down and the wind blows strongly. For the Chinese it’s time for their harvest. We see how they are harvesting the rice. In front of almost every house we see the rice laid out to dry. From the rice area we arrive in the cotton area. The harvest of the cotton is a social event here. Everywhere groups of woman are busy with the cotton. We also find out how the peanuts are growing. We see them everywhere lying besides the road, but we didn’t know they grow under the earth.

In the evening we find good hotels to sleep. The rooms are all big and clean with attached bathroom and there is always hot water to make noodles or tea. The noodle soup is perfect here. You just buy a big bowl of noodles and you add some hot water and there it is. It’s also great during the day because everybody can arrange some hot water while we are on the road. One more good thing of the bowl of noodles: you know what you eat! In a restaurant that’s not always the case. When we enter a restaurant the girls start always giggling.

Two of those large strangers makes them obviously nervous. When we sit down they bring us soon the menu, which we can’t read. A look in the kitchen is a better way to order something. We just point at something which we would like to eat. But sometimes this goes also different than we expect. One evening Steven points besides some vegetables also at some prawns. When the meal is served I scream because the prawns are jumping inside the bowl. They are still alive!! The waitress looks very surprised at us when we tell her that we don’t like this meal. She tries to explain us that the little animals will go to sleep in a while because they are swimming in beer……..

In Nepal everybody went to sleep early after eating Dahl Bat, in China it’s very crowded on the streets in the evening. In Yichang we walk around after dinner and we arrive at a square. At one corner there are big boxes with loud music and a group of children in nice dresses are dancing here. They all are swinging on the cha cha cha, the jive and the rumba. The mothers of the children are very proud and are supporting their children.

At another corner we spot a group of elder people moving on music. About 50 women and a few men do the same exercises on music. They start giggling when they spot us and the movements don’t go as smooth as they did before. A man approaches us and he starts talking English. He tells us that this is the corner for Chinese who want to talk English. There will be a lot of people who will love to talk to us. We want to move on and walk into a group of people dancing with swords. This kind of entertainment we will find in many parks from now on. For the Chinese time to relax, for us entertainment.

In Yichang we take a day of rest and we make a visit to the biggest dam in the world. By bus we arrive at the enormous dam with a lenght of more than 2 kilometers. More than 2 million people had to move in this area because of the dam. When you start thinking about the amount of water that this dam has to hold, you really don’t want to stay for too long in this town. If the dam would break ……. One day of rest is enough and we leave the dam behind us by taking the boat through ‘The Three Gorges’ of the Yangtze River.

The boat is really ugly and trough the windows we cannot see, but we find ourselves a place next to the motor of the ship where we can enjoy the beauty of the gorges. After six hours we arrive in Wanxian and we put our bags back on the bicycles. We have to climb to reach the center of this town. There is not one bicycle on the road here because the streets are really steep. We only see motors and men carrying luggage on their backs. The people in town find it interesting that we are there on our bikes and they are cheering and giving us their thumbs up.

We continue our trip to Chengdu, the road is not so flat anymore and we have to conquer some nice climbs. The Chinese roadmap we bought in Shanghai is very handy every day. We look at our English map and than search for the Chinese signs on the Chinese one. Than we can show where we want to go and the Chinese people can point us into the right direction. Our Chinese is improving very slowly, we can say just a few words which the Chinese do understand. The word ‘hotel’ is still difficult. It seems that the pronunciation of this word is different in every town. But we also found a solution for that. There a list in the Lonely Planet with some important words which we can use. There are the Chinese signs with it so we just have to show these signs and then we can find a hotel!

The talking is very difficult with the Chinese but making contact is not a problem. The people are very curious to see us and our cycles and when we arrive at a place we are surrounded by people soon. They inspect the bicycles, looking at the gears, the bags and the tires. The conversations we have don’t go further than “Hello” , “Sank Joe” and “Whele aal Joe goingk?”

There are scary moments in the traffic when a motor passes by us. The drivers keep looking over the backs of their shoulders to follow us. We see the coming drivers approaching, but it goes well up till now thanks to the loud horns. The drivers also like to talk to us while we are on the road. They keep on riding next to us and they are telling us big stories in Chinese. The answers they receive are in Dutch…..

After 2200 km of cycling we arrive in Chengdu. Here we meet my parents who we haven’t seen for more than a year. It’s great to see them again and to catch up with each other with a cup of real Douwe Egberts coffee and a Dutch stroopwafel.

We visit the breeding centre for panda’s for which Chengdu is famous. The black and white animals are nice to see. They are laying in all kinds of ways eating lots of bamboo. My parents experience the Chinese food, the swinging Chinese in the parks and the traffic that is everywhere. On Saturday the 30th of September we fly together to Tibet where we will travel around with the four of us. After that we will continue our trip to Laos.

Qingyang-Chizou: 46 km
Chizou- Anquin: 65 km
Anquin-Qianshan: 68 km
Qianshan-Huangmei: 105 km
Huangmei-Xishui: 98 km
Xishui-Ezhou: 50 km
Ezhou- Wuhan: 92 km
Wuhan-Maiwang: 98 km
Maiwang-Shayang: 121 km
Shayang-Dangyang: 111 km
Dangyang-Yichang: 80 km
Yichang-Wanxian: boot
Wanxian- Liangping: 91 km
Liangping-Dazhu: 100 km
Dazhu- QuXian: 50 km
QuXian- Nanchong: 84 km
Nanchong-Suining: 99 km
Suining-Lezhi: 93 km
Lezhi-Jianyang: 68 km
Jianyang-Chengdu: 81 km



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