It happened this morning (as I write in my diary on February 19th): on the busy G325, which runs a bit north of Yangxi and which I have to use for about 6 – 7 km before I can dive back into the hinterland, I can already see the silhouette of a rather unusually loaded two-wheeler in front of me. I will soon be able to recognize the typical Ortlieb pannier reflectors on the bike, which is a little slower than me. A bike traveler who is obviously on a long tour, because in addition to two large bags on the rear wheel, he also has two pockets on the lowrider at the front wheel and an additional waterproof bag on the luggage rack, as well as an empty water can. I pass and greet and it turns out that it is a Chinese, about my age, who has been traveling through his country for around four months and is now on the way to Shenzhen. His English is not particularly good, but it is enough for a short exchange. We are happy to have met each other and we wish each other a good trip, because he continues to drive on the long-distance road while I switch to a branch to the south, which we have now reached. I just want to drive to Yangjiang today and can afford a detour of a few kilometers.
Short stop after about 12 km at a bakery, which offers sweet pastries and many different biscuits as well as toasted bread with cheese. I need something for a ‘second breakfast’ and for the afternoon.
Since Yangxi, the environment has changed a bit, in some places the vegetation is really lush. The landscape offers more variety than on the last days; green hills, little agricultural land, the road changes its direction frequently, crosses a train track twice. The surrounding villages do not have any advantage of this causeway that cuts their landscape as the nearest train station is far away.
Unfortunately, it is not really bright today, the sky has been continuously cloudy since it had rained heavily last night. The air is still not cool, about 22° C with very high humidity, occasionally fine drops of rain fall.
In this area, too, I occasionally pass larger ponds where geese are kept in large numbers. Elsewhere there are fish ponds again, they are not always filled with water. In the small towns there is always a lot of activity on the street, whether individual people are selling their goods under a parasol on the side of the road, sometimes just some fruit, or several market stalls ensure that the roadside is blocked, whether someone is collecting boxes and with them the folded cardboard overloads his handcart or the loading area of a larger tricycle, whether a craftsman is sitting in front of his workshop and doing his welding work in the fresh air or whether cooking is being improvised directly on the street. Actually, everywhere I meet people who are busy with any activity.
Beside a bridge over the side arm of a nearby bay, which opens into the sea about four kilometers further south, there are some larger fishing boats, which will probably not leave until the next night to lay out their nets. There are actually always boats somewhere on the shore, or ‘in a package’ if there is not enough space on the shore, if a waterway somehow has access to the sea. Fishing is obviously of great importance here, if only for the own needs of the locals.
When I look around on the outskirts of Pingdong, it starts to rain. But I can shelter myself there together with the bike under the tin canopy of a currently locked hut and wait. At some point a rat runs in a zigzag across the hut and sniffs and searches for a pile of things covered with a small tarpaulin.
Rats – yes, of course there must be, too, with the often open garbage collection points and the rarely closed wastewater cycles in this country. Especially with the quite high number of flat-out copies that I see on the street every day. The animals do not seem to attribute anything to road traffic and apparently run across them at any time, but so far, apart from the dead animals on the road, I had not seen any rats running around.
In Yangjiang, like in other large cities, there are rental bikes from several companies that are apparently in high demand. Even before I get to the city center, I notice these rather small bikes.
Often people don’t even have a place to permanently store a bike with them, because there is simply no such thing as a basement room for every apartment in a house with dozens of floors, so it is obviously easier to borrow one if necessary bicycles are available almost anywhere, anytime. In the large square in front of a shopping mall, right next to the entrance to the parking garage there, the bikes of one of the distributors widespread in the country are in large numbers. Mostly with an electric drive.
Not right in the center, but on one of the wider thoroughfares in Yangjiang I get a comfortable, large room with a view of this wide street. There are some dealers of scooters, electric scooters, auto repair shops and dealers for workshop supplies and household items. In the southern suburb, through which I get into the city, there are many small workshops on the street and people sit outside together and play cards.
The next morning breakfast is directly brought to my room. When I checked in yesterday, I was told that there would be breakfast at eight o’clock, but I had given nothing special to this information. Anyway, at three-quarters of eight there is a knock on the door while I’m still brushing my teeth. Apparently the hotel has a cooperation with KFC, then the rice porridge with chicken and the shaped fried egg come in an appropriately printed paper bag. There are 2 servings since it is a double room that I stayed in. So I quickly make some instant coffee with the water boiler and eat in peace, write something before I pack and go.
First I go to the post office, which I had seen last night when I was eating in the nearby shopping mall. I want to send some cards and finally buy some stamps, which ultimately succeeds. But it takes a lot of time again. If the people at the offices where I had already have handed in postcards always started to stamp the cards quickly or to show me where to insert the cards, the two employees here in this office first had to find out where the cards should go and whether the postage stuck on them is correct. And they do this on the basis of a handwritten sheet of paper on which many, many country abbreviations are noted. The cards are weighed and then there is discussion about the 5 yuan that I have stuck on every card. Can this be enough? Finally, one of the two clerks glues two small blue labels onto each card. Maybe something like ‘airmail’? In any case, I have never seen anything like this before.
After I also could by some postage stamps (only counted and not too many, because the reserve of this office is surprisingly not that big), I get on my bike and roll out of the city in north-east direction with the increasingly dense traffic relatively late in the morning. After just a few kilometers there is a really big food stall next to the street, where also some larger businesses seem to be set back, which is just busy preparing for lunch. When I take a closer look at the large fireplaces and pots, the women immediately want to invite me to lunch, but it’s still too early for me.
For more than 2/3 of the route to Enping I have no alternative except the G325, but since there is also an expressway in parallel, the traffic from the junction with this route remains manageable. In addition, the road surface here is in poor condition, as I have never seen it before, neither on any provincial roads, nor on the heavily used long-distance roads.
I also find points on this trunk road where I can briefly leave the road for a short break or simply to eat some fruit. Sometimes there is no-man’s-land between the street and the next village.
On the by-road, that brings me to Enping in the afternoon, there are several wood processing companies that apparently produce veneers. The wood in the format of large arches is drying on frames that are spread over an area of hundreds of square meters.
From Enping I drive eastwards. THe city of Taishan is about 50 km away, but the landscape is becoming more mountainous and the actual route is anything but straight. The G325 trunk road is far from my route, which then leads past a few smaller villages and, due to the mountainous terrain, includes some extra loops. In the end it will be 67 kilometers.
The lightly cloudy sky promises a nice day, with the temperature quickly climbing to 28° C in the morning. The air is also very humid.
At larger settlements along the route, only Chishui and Sanhe are actually worth mentioning; places where I also switch from one country road to another, market spots with a friendly bustle. In Chishui, a town with a typical, two-storey architecture, I briefly look for a restaurant and find only one at the central traffic circle, then take a longer lunch break under the expansive tin roof and eat leafy vegetables (bai cai) with a little chicken and rice.
Today, driving with less traffic is much more pleasant than on the last few days. Locals often look at me in disbelief and it sometimes happens (not only today) that someone lifts a thumb in my direction as I drive past. This shows me again and again that I am not simply perceived as a disturbance on the street. In the warm weather, I also stop more often today than I did in the past few days. Drinking water is important and the supply is never a problem.
In the afternoon I take a trip to a larger park in the east end of the city in Taishan. There is next to a lake, around which many runners turn their training laps despite the afternoon warmth, a ridge on which Buddhist monks left some inscriptions on granite rocks in earlier times.