The region southwest of the metropolis of Guangzhou is crisscrossed by many rivers, all of which flow towards the South China Sea, some of which unite to form wider rivers, such as the Pearl River, which is more than 35 km wide at the confluence between Hong Kong and Macao.
This region is heavily industrial developed, many goods are produced and transported from electronic components to large machines and the infrastructure is expanded accordingly. Mainly long-distance and express routes, for which there are also more or less elaborated bridges for crossing the many waterways. These bridges ultimately determine my route through the region, first northward from Jiangmen via Heshan to the edge of Foshan, to meet Florence again briefly in her home country, then southwards via Shunde to Zhongshan and from there to Zhuhai and on to Macau.
Unfortunately, the winter in the south of China temporarily gives me gray and humid weather, at least since I drove further north from Taishan, it got a little cooler every day with more or less rain. Jiangmen e.g. I remember only gray and with permanent drizzle. There I had a room near a beautifully landscaped park, which many locals used on the day of my arrival for an evening stroll, for singing or dancing, which failed on the second day and evening because of the rain. It’s always a nice spectacle when people of all ages meet in a large square to dance together to the music from a sometimes squeaky loudspeaker at dusk.
In general, I was only a little outside on my day off in Jiangmen, I visited the Xinhui Museum, where several smaller exhibitions are presented -. free admission. There are some works by local artists, some pieces of older Chinese porcelain, as well as excavation pieces that were uncovered when the buildings were restored a few decades ago.
When I drive further north from Jiangmen, the sky is very cloudy, the light rain from the evening has stopped at night, but the dripping noises could be heard from the tin roofs of the balconies in the neighboring building until the morning; more than 15° C will not be that day. The city is a flat city and on the western edge, delimited by a few mountains, also has spacious green areas, such as the Gui Feng Shang Scenic Area. Like so many other parks in China, the site is fenced and well secured on the access roads. Police even watch the traffic in front of the southern entrance, where there is a large parking lot, but where there is also construction going on.
I thought I would be able to drive around a part of the city here on the edge, but in the end I had to go through the center, to which I was already 20 km away. On the way I warm up at a McDonalds – after all there is coffee again. In the center of the city there is a large roundabout, and in the middle there are two museums. Unfortunately, the one for contemporary Chinese art is closed, the second, which is dedicated to the Chinese emigrants of the past two centuries, I’ll take a quick look at. Especially in this area of China, through which I am currently moving, many people emigrated to North America, especially in the 19th century, and enables the construction of thousands of kilometers of railroad lines in the United States and especially in Canada, simply by its large workforce.
The transition from the city of Jiangmen to the city of Heshan is then almost seamless, even if the two cities on the map are clearly separated and theoretically far apart. The residential areas of Jiangmen, on the one hand, continue to expand further north, but are advertised as future residential paradises, where life will be more relaxed and more ecological than before on banners along the construction fences, which always shield such a construction zone from prying eyes. And the other way around, the industrial belt of Heshan continues to expand to the south.
But there are still niches in between, in which smaller villages exist and the green of the landscape calms the eye a little again. In passing, at least for a short time.
Later I drive through the central area of Heshan City on smaller side streets, pass through a residential area with lots of small shops along the streets and look for a bakery. They are often inconspicuously small shops, but they can still be easily recognized from the outside due to the illuminated glass showcases inside. I have now got into the habit of making an instant coffee in the afternoon when I have arrived at the day’s destination and have moved into the respective hotel room and eating a piece of the puff pastry offered in practically every bakery. A creme brulee in miniature, so to speak – delicious after the hours on the bike.
Here, too, I’ll be lucky relatively soon, see a small bakery shop before passing it and, in addition to the pudding tartlet, also buy a piece of another variant of puff pastry cake. Up to now, I always had a kettle in the hotel rooms and this series continues in Heshan.
The next day it doesn’t even want to get really bright, the sky remains dense and gray. From my room on the 7th floor, the opposite building appears like one with the gray of the clouds.
The Guoshang Hotel is conveniently located on the northern outskirts of Heshan, so I quickly come to the Shaping River, a tributary of the wide Xi River, along the banks of which I drive a few kilometers east. It seems to be cooler today, but already yesterday I thought it was the low point. When after a short time it starts to rain with drizzle, then a little harder, I look for a shelter and soon find it at the office entrance of a workshop, which is located on the side lane of the Y985. The canopy is not wide, but is enough to keep the rain away from the panniers, so I can open them. I look for my slightly warmer gloves, because with the very open, simple gloves, my hands cool down too quickly in the rain. I wear the rain jacket from the start anyway, with three warming layers underneath.
When the rain subsides, I drive on. Initially, I am looking for a road along the river bank that I found on the map and that I don’t think is interesting for through traffic, which is actually true. But what I don’t know; There are a number of building materials companies along this narrow concrete runway, which are supplied with raw materials such as sand and gravel directly from the river bank and from the cargo ships arriving there. This makes the handling of the material very easy and the factories then distribute the material further by truck. Very much to my chagrin, because there are a lot of trucks now that come along this narrow concrete road with the fine gravel on the cargo area.
Unfortunately, this road turns into a construction site after a short distance. Apparently it is to be replaced by a new building and has already been relocated by a few dozen meters, in addition, it now serves as a construction road, no longer has a solid covering, but a surface that consists of the former concrete, which was previously shredded and now as new roadway was heaped up and compacted. The rain and a lot of sand that the large vehicles always carry with them from the construction site make this an uneven and muddy affair. I only make very slow progress because I don’t want to get stuck on the bumpy, slippery puddle or slippery surface.
After about 2 kilometers, this spook is over and the bike is now filthy like it has not been for a long time.
For a few kilometers, a section of the already completed new road follows, which is laid out in three lanes in both directions and is hardly used. It serves as a feeder to the S112, actually a low-ranking trunk road, whose bridge over the XiJiang I want to use to the east. Surprisingly, it is closed to bicycles, the sign at the entrance is clear. I ignore it anyway because I have no alternative. As I work my way up the ramp, I realize why. The otherwise always existing hard shoulder has been saved here, but the three directional lanes have been designed a little wider. The long-distance traffic coming from the south of the Jiangmen region consists almost exclusively of heavy-duty, mostly container-transporting trucks, the clock sequence is quite dense.
Halfway up the roadside, where a pedestrian staircase starts, which I really did not want to use, there is a lonely police motorcycle, but I don’t see any one in the vicinity. So in the end I pull undisturbed on the right edge of the right-hand lane over the approximately 1.5 km long bridge and the dam that continues afterwards, but on which there is already a separate lane for slower vehicles. About 2 km further, I take a short breather on a driveway into a village under spreading trees and finally take off my rain jacket, which has become a bit too warm for me.
Later I have to use two more expressway bridges, but they are not quite as large as the ones on XiJiang. First at Leliu, where I only graze the city itself, and later at Long Jiang, each with a side arm of Shunde Zhuxi. In the latter, I can see from a distance that the stairway to the separate footpath over the bridge also has a narrow track for pushing two-wheelers. So I go to the trouble, hang one of the two luggage bags over my shoulder and slowly push the bike up the four flights of stairs, where I can then cycle across the 400 m long bridge to the other bank, completely relaxed and separate from the traffic. There I have to push the bike back down the stairs, follow the expressway a bit before I find my way back at a turning point.
In Beijiao I take another day off, decided to take the metro from Foshan to Guangzhou, but leave it at that due to the mixed, cool weather and instead take a day trip over 50 km by bike to Shanwa, a small town with partly preserved old town center. That leads me in the opposite direction, but this place is also worth a visit.
When I drive south this morning, the air is a bit warmer than the last few days, and the sun also shines from time to time in the afternoon.