Posted in China, Macau

It’s going foreward and to Macau

Happy Chinese New Year – year of the pig

I don’t go straight from Zhongshan southwards, because the mountains there suggest that the route could be uncomfortable. Instead, I want to go in an arc along the coast to Zhuhai, my last stop before the Macau border. To the east, a broad traffic artery leads away from the city center and only after a good 12 kilometers then as S111 further south. Out of town there is the now familiar picture, with only a minor change: housing along the expressway, here a little off the actual asphalt belt. In addition to the motorway and expressway, there is also a new railway line at Nanlang.

A little further south there is the opportunity to switch to a side route, at least temporarily, and here I can enjoy cycling again with less traffic. The weather is getting better and better and the road winds through a hilly landscape for a few kilometers. After a short time, signs indicate a museum: The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Museum extends west of the street in the shape of almost the entire village of Cuiheng. This is where the founder of the Republic of 1921 most recently had a residence and is also where he was born. The crowd of visitors in front of a security check at the entrance to the apparently extensive grounds is quite large.
After a few kilometers, the road leads back to the southbound motorway and then runs parallel to it, only a few meters away. At an underpass that is only approved for small vehicles, I finally get further east to the coast.


In Shangzha I spontaneously stop at a restaurant and have a noodle soup made with vegetables and chicken. It is Muslims who run this small restaurant on the edge of a commercial area and they make their noodles by hand in the traditional way, just as I saw it a few weeks ago in Bo’ao in Hainan. The boss gazes inquisitively at my bicycle parked in front of his entrance, then looks at what I’m writing in my diary while his son is in the kitchen preparing the simple meal for me.
These are real pasta that were used in the soup, not the usual rice noodle or vermicelli.

Through Shangzha and Xiazha I drive on and come back to the S111 and after a short distance along this straight, newly built wide road to a wide bay, Quanwan Bay, on the northern bank of which a whole chain of snow-white skyscrapers stretches.
After bypassing the foothills of a hill, the bay is followed by Xiangzhou Bay, which extends much further south, where there is also a small fishing port, protected by the offshore island of Yeli Island.

In the afternoon sun, workers are busy preparing flower beds for planting along a promenade.

This outermost district of Zhuhai consists largely of holiday apartment blocks, which are secured behind high fences in the first row on this spacious promenade, with a view of the snow-white facade of an architecturally unusual concert hall which is located on this island.

I then leave the coastal area at this part of the bay and drive from here towards the city center, because my accommodation is at the opposite end of the city and about 8 km away.
Again, I have to take a detour because, as it turns out, the S366 bridge over the Qianshan River, which would pretty much lead straight into the neighborhood with my pre-booked hotel, is again closed to bicycles. So I have to drive a few kilometers along the river bank to a more makeshift bridge, which then leads from a different direction and right through a construction site. Not bad either, but it takes me a while to find the hotel, which is somewhat hidden in the district.

Ultimately, however, I find the Lim Hotel and later in the evening the somewhat angular and confusing quarter with its many small shops is no longer confusing.
For dinner in the evening, rice with celery and Chinese spinach plus an egg pancake, I drink a Tsingtao beer once, as a farewell to China, which I want to leave tomorrow via the Macau border.

But at the border I am rejected on my bike, so all discussions with an overseer and with one of the border policemen are of no use. The bicycle is not considered a vehicle, I am supposed to load it as it is, like hundreds of other pedestrians, through a large check-in, control and customs hall. The Gonbei port looks like a huge station building and a friendly policewoman explains to me when I ask that I can go through there with my bike.
Even in front of the building, travelers are divided into several corridors, at the end of which all luggage is examined. So unload all bags and put them in the scanner, the bike is of no interest. Then it goes into the large hall, where the passport or ID card control is mainly automated. But not for foreigners. In front of the control counter, I have to push my bike through the narrowly fenced-in corridor, as well as a few hundred meters behind again on the Macau side. My passport and visa are examined, the computer then takes a while to allow the official at the counter to stamp the exit stamp in my passport.
Then comes the Chinese customs, again I have to unload the bags and put them in the next scanner. But there are no complaints.

On the other side of the large hall there is not even a stamp in the passport, just a slip of paper. Then suddenly I’m in Macau – a small bus station, the sun is now pushing harder through the clouds again.
I sit on a bench, take off my thin jacket. A wall of unadorned eight- to fourteen-story apartment buildings rises in front of me, between which the narrow street disappears, on which I plunge into the narrowness of this city shortly thereafter.
Now I have to get used to one-way streets, to sudden changes of direction and sudden climbs behind the next corner – and to left-hand traffic. That is still the slightest problem, but the one-way regulation combined with the narrowness of the streets slow me down several times.

The narrow buildings directly along the streets, where often only a narrow footpath offers minimal distance, makes the city very confusing. I get a brief overview in a side street that leads steeply up a hill about 500 meters behind the border to a small park and the remains of an old Portuguese fort. The ‘Fortaleza da Mong Ha’.
All around very different high-rise buildings and in the distance the silhouette of the ‘Macao Tower’ and the casino ‘Gran Lisboa’.

It is less than 2 kilometers to my hotel here in Macau, the Guia Hotel, which is located halfway below the lighthouse of the same name at a further elevation, a little further south, but because of the one-way streets it takes me about half an hour to get there.

Guia Lighthouse, located in the central part of Macau
Posted in China

Big cities on the Pearl River

On the banks of Jiang River in Zhongshan

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.

Gui Feng Shang Scenic Area

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.

Posted in China

On chinese roads patience is necessary

Traffic jam at a roadcrossing in Dianbai

In general, road traffic in this country is somewhat problematic. Twenty years ago, there were still relatively few individual private cars, and taxis alongside buses were the main means of transport in the city centers. Meanwhile, the streets of cities are overflowing with mostly large cars. In addition, small motorcycles and electric mopeds or simple mopeds are also very widespread.
On trunk roads, traffic is usually only very dense in the vicinity of larger cities, especially out of town, where long phases of traffic lights usually lead to long traffic jams. However, there is often an alternative for many of the overland connections, but sometimes it’s still under construction, and a network of motorways also carries a large proportion of long-distance and especially heavy goods traffic. I only see that sometimes in the distance, bicycles are of course not allowed there.

Sign post to Wuchuan and Guangzhou

The overland connections are usually very easy to drive, often with two directional lanes plus hard shoulder, if the surface is not too old and extended and the hard shoulder is no longer usable, the surface is bumpy overall and you have to pay more attention to the road surface than to traffic.
But that happens rather rarely and I had it really unpleasant so far only on a section of the G325 between Yangjiang and Enping for a few kilometers. However, since there is the G15 as a parallel expressway at a distance of only a few hundred meters, the traffic on this section was manageable.
Otherwise there is practically always a wide hard shoulder so that as a cyclist I theoretically always have enough distance from the traffic. But unfortunately it’s not always that simple.

As soon as traffic stops somewhere, some clever driver comes up with the idea to try on the right side of the shoulder to see if it can’t go on, only to find out that it just doesn’t work and then slowly roll back into the lane, unless someone else has quickly moved up. So the hard shoulder is blocked even if this action had not previously pushed aside the two-wheeler that was just rolling at the same height. Thoughtfulness is not widespread.

The inner cities are totally annoying, especially in smaller towns. Rule number one: when I come, I have right of way and I always announce that I am coming with a loud horn. No matter if moped, tricycle, car, mini truck, truck, mini van, or whatever. The worst are buses, because they are also still right :). Or something like that.

No country where no more and more useless beeps are honored than here. Sometimes it’s so – ahhh, disgusting; not because they mean me as a little cyclist and want to blast me from the street, but because this is obviously the official language of all road users. It is also believed to be the cause of many early hearing loss.

The second principle is also very simple: don’t pay attention to others, just drive. So far I’ve only seen a slight collision between two e-mopeds and drove myself a pannier because the guy coming from an angle to the right just kept it on like I did. I had to get used to a really defensive driving style here. Because the next driving principle is the swarm principle (i.e. at least the mopeds with each other): always stay at the same height and if the gap arises, it is best to go straight in, or even better, bypass it. The ones behind you keep the distance if they themselves are in the worse position.

I don’t know if there are really rules. Mopeds and other two or three-wheelers (sometimes also cars and small trucks that want to go to the next turning point) always drive in both directions on both sides of the road. The oncoming people usually (but not necessarily) on the outside – so they push something like left-hand traffic on the shoulder. No real problem, you can see each other in time, but it does mean that if a car or small truck also blocks the right side of the road (another common peculiarity), or maybe there are several vehicles there, because a dealer there is offering particularly nice fruit – preferably the cars stand next to each other also slightly in the right lane – then you always have to reckon with the fact that if you just pass this narrow point, a two-wheeler will come towards you and force you even further into the lane, or just slows down. So I can never just want to drive my pace, I always have to expect to have to stop or avoid the next moment. Sometimes I’m stubborn, but I quickly learned that I couldn’t get very far in this way here in this country.

The larger streets usually have a barrier between the two directions of travel, both in the city centers and outside, provided that the street has more than one lane in each direction. Turning over or simply turning to the left is only possible on gaps in this barrier, which is often also available with a pedestrian crosswalk, with a small step within the barrier that cannot be crossed by vehicles. Every few hundred meters there are gaps for turns, even for larger vehicles. These are always dangerous spots when a car wants to turn there, does not dare to block the left lane, or turns leisurely into oncoming traffic and brakes it briefly with a honking horn to quasi thread it itself. Therefore, only 40 km / h are allowed in urban areas, sometimes less, sometimes never more than 80 km / h outside – but nobody adheres to them.

Der Anteil an Fahrrädern im Straßenverkehr ist offenbar sehr gering in den Städten, eher werden sie noch von älteren Leuten genutzt, die damit vermutlich groß geworden sind, auf dem Land sehe ich sie öfter. Dafür gibt es in den größeren Innenstädten viele Leihfahrräder, oft auch als Pedelecs, die man mit einer App ausleihen kann. Es gibt dafür verschiedene Anbieter (meist Moo Bikes) und in manchen Städten stehen die meist ziemlich einfachen Dinger überall herum, genau wie zuhause.

The proportion of bicycles on the road is apparently very low in the cities, rather they are still used by older people, who probably grew up with them, in the countryside I see them more often. There are many rental bikes in the larger city centers, often as pedelecs, which can be rented with an app. There are different providers (mostly “moo bikes”) and in some cities these mostly pretty simple things are everywhere, just like at home in Berlin.


Posted in China

Surprising encounter and the way to Taishan

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.

So ungewöhnlich beladen fährt nur ein Radreisender

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.

Durchgangsstraße in Yangjiang

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.

Parkanlage in Taishan

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.

Posted in China

Romantic coast and lonesome landscapes

Offene Müllbeseitigung in der Nähe von Xige

Really lonely areas are naturally rare in this densely populated country, especially where even the smaller towns are growing permanently. Of the one-child policy, China has been saying goodbye for some time, the young families need housing and even in the countryside and in the villages is being rebuilt, albeit on a smaller scale.

After I leave Wuchuan, I stay for the next few days near the coast, have two times accommodation directly by the sea, in some fairly remote places, but in Yangxi again in the middle of the city. The length of the daily routes varies between 45 and just under 70 kilometers. Because of my one day late arrival to Hainan I renounced the scheduled break in Shapa Bay, and after the meanwhile about two weeks that I am on the road now, I finally find back to my original schedule.

Even in Wuchuan fireworks can be heard from time to time during the night. Not very close to the hotel, but quite clear and it seems to be common, so always late at night to start, when tired cyclists want to sleep. It’s not as enduring as the night before in Xiashan.
This city I leave first in a northeasterly direction, want to avoid the G228 as a developed long-distance connection and drive a wide arc through the east of Wuchuan lying, again a bit more rural region.


In one of the smaller towns, I drive directly past the open market, the soup pots there is already heated properly over the gas flame, but I have a longer break for a noodle soup not before I’m in the larger city of Dianbai. The day is sunny and warm, the thermometer climbs quickly towards 26° C. Later in the afternoon it drops to just under 30° C in the shade; Values ​​that I last had in the south of Hainan.
Dianbai is located on a large bay, almost an inland lake, which has only a relatively narrow access to the sea. The Chinese Navy operates here, among other things, a large shipyard site and on the streets at lunchtime, from time to time members of the military in their gray-blue-white camouflage or everyday uniforms are to see. But at lunchtime always many people are on the streets, doing errands or going out to eat. On a promenade on the shore of a small freshwater lake, some people are now sitting here in the shade of tall trees talking and relaxing, or playing cards, which seems to be very popular, and that strikes me again and again in other places.

Diskussion unter Bäumen

I have to turn around the Bay of Dianbai completely in order to reach my todays destination in the southeast. Unfortunately, eastwards out of the city there is only the freeway, which I have to follow for a few kilometers with its unpleasant traffic, before I turn south on the edge of Danchang at a 90° angle and onto a less important side route. At the village of Xige I almost reached the eastern side of the narrow mouth of the bay. The road runs here on a dam that holds back the seawater from the abundant fishponds in this area.
On the side towards the sea, some fishing boats are lying in the water, in an improvised workshop, two men are busy to maintain or repair a boat engine. Many gear parts are distributed on the floor but rather come from earlier repairs. Nearby, a garbage dump is smoldering, the smoke following the wind to the west. So exemplary almost everywhere in public space people are busy picking up the surrounding street garbage, or sweeping leaves, so often the collected garbage is also simply ignited in the ditch.


Starting from the slightly larger spot Hengshan then leads a cul-de-sac up to the sea and the hotel, in which I had reserved a room in advance. Lying by the sea, it is a well protected property. It’s the second time after the Hai Bin Resort in Xiashan that I stay in a fenced and secured hotel area. It’s maybe because of the cooperation with a Wyndham luxury resort, that I also pass by on the driveway through the spacious grounds.
In the house, which might once have been created as a holiday home deserving party members decades ago, I get a large room equipped with a comfortable seating and otherwise a little worn furniture, in which more than just one bike would find space.


The next day I have to drive back the approximately 2 kilometer-long spur road to the next village, in order to continue my way in an easterly direction.
The hotel does not offer anything, so I just make a coffee and eat two bananas for breakfast; then start going soon. Shortly before I come to the G325 after about 12 kilometers in Mangang, I want to look for a restaurant. There should be no problem finding something edible.
Surprisingly, the small nest Hengshan at the first intersection not only has its own small post office, this post office is even open on Sundays. At least the official who had sold me some stamps the day before picks up the written postcards there at his desk.

Once again, it is cloudy in the morning and it remains the daytime rather cloudy, even if in the early afternoon from time to time the sun comes through the clouds. The clouds do not really clear up until the late afternoon. However, it will not be as warm as the day before. Due to the constant wind, it is sometimes rather unpleasantly cool.
Somebody burns some of the crop residues in a field, maybe there is also garbage, and the smoke spreads over kilometers in the landscape, causes a slightly hazy view.


Between individual villages, sometimes the area is loose covered by pine trees, without one could speak of forest. I only see larger, contiguous forests on mountain slopes in the distance, otherwise fields with corn, vegetables on smaller plots, outside the villages people also practice duck breeding here. Somewhere the already finished grilled ducks have to come here, that some of the street kitchens present fat shiny in vitrines. Apparently they are kept at larger ponds by the hundreds together in one age group. Sometimes the ducks are young, with bright plumage, probably a few weeks old, sometimes they are already fully grown, enjoy themselves on the water or rest lazily on the dry land. These ‘duck farms’, often spacious areas with a huge pond, are often right on the path, the animals can’t be disturbed by passing vehicles. But if I stop by bike at the fence that prevents the animals from disappearing and which often is low (mybe they can’t fly, because they never learnt it), then they obviously feel threatened and move in large numbers to another corner of the area.


In the city market, these animals are sometimes seen in mobile enclosures as living goods, just as little they know as they expect, like the chickens who often fumble between the street and private properties foraging. Well fed, almost too fat, they obviously lead a good life before they come into the pot. I’ve never noticed chicken farms here in Guangdong, but I saw a few in Hainan. Always under dense, shady trees, a low wooden house for the eggs and plenty of open space around it for hundreds of happy chickens who could walk around on this relatively large area as they wanted. Once upon a time, soft music came out of a loudspeaker on such a chicken farm, delicate singing to calming music, which probably did not lead to larger eggs either. Maybe it was just an attempt of a chicken breeder.

Shapa Bay is also a rather dreamy nest with some smaller hotels directly on a beach promenade, a small amusement park and a few restaurants, which, due to their size, obviously expect whole busloads of guests. Each presents its range of crustaceans and fresh sea fish in large aquariums right next to the entrance, as is evidently common in fish restaurants in southern China. You can see that sometimes even in larger cities. Only the demand is apparently low at the moment. There are only a few guests at the tables in the evening, and some of the restaurants are not even open.


But at dusk, some locals meet to dance together on a small square on the beach promenade. The music for this event comes from a somewhat desperate sounding loud speaker and gives the happy get-together a nice touch of improvisation.

So far I’ve been really lucky with the weather. It wasn’t always sunny, but I still had no real rain. This morning, however, there is a clatter on the balcony when I wake up. I don’t know how long it rained at night, when I start the next stage towards Yangxi with only light rain, then in the morning, the streets are soaking wet and there are puddles on the sometimes not very flat concrete, I don’t know, how deep they really are. First in Laifuyuan, a neighboring town of Shapa Bay about 5 kilometers away, I’m watching out for breakfast, because Shapa Bay itself died out this morning. Even the bakery where I got cake yesterday afternoon is closed.

Even though the by-road is not too far from the coast until Shangyang, the landscape gradually becomes more mountainous and forested, and the clouds hang low on the slopes long after the rain. Apparently forestry is practiced here in addition to the land and the trees are quite young, mainly eucalyptus, but isolated here are also young pines in between.

In the wide valleys, however, rice cultivation or what is left of it after the last harvest, remains dominant.

As I do not have a really long distance to Yangxi today, just under 50 kilometers, I take some time off with a longer break and slowly roll through the small but hectic city of Shangyang at noon. People come from their work in the surrounding businesses or from the fields with their mopeds to eat in the city. I’ve seen this in other cities already before. As a consequence the small restaurants are now busy, too and also many students now have a longer break as well, and they besiege tea shops or small fast food restaurants.

In the village of Shidingxin, about half an hour later, I see a small food stall next to a small two-wheeler workshop, with a delicious scent of something that initially remains hidden in the dark of the roof. A table under the canopy is free, I’m hungry now too, and the dough patties made in a large cast iron pan are now just the thing. In the meantime, even the sun comes through the clouds and quickly heats up the air again.

It is not very far to Yangxi from here. I drive into the city coming from the south, first pass one of the older suburbs, with narrow streets and older houses, before I reach the center, where the streets are as usual wide and full and I have to use the universally used secondary lane.

A young man with his racing bike, who stops behind me at a pedestrian traffic light where I have to wait, tries to get in touch with me. He’s a student who lives here in the city, as he slowly explains to me in awkward English. He is interested in my bike and takes a picture with his smartphone. He cannot accompany me for too long, after a few road crossings he turns in his direction and I continue to follow my direction.

Here in Yangxi I find a quietly located room in a small hotel in the middle of a residential area, whose small restaurants in the area I am later spoiled for choice.

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From the south of Guangdong to Wuchuan

I say goodbye to Florence on 12.02. in Xuwen, after we cycled about 13 km from Hai’an Ferry Port to Xuwen – much later in the evening than expected, but the rush to the ferries was enormous and buying a ticket complicated, at least for me as a foreigner. The quiet crossing took one and a half hours, but no ship was available for the early afternoon, and even the 5:00 p.m. ferry left the port more than an hour late. The waiting people in their cars in the huge harbor area, who actually had their respective ticket with a confirmed date, sometimes waited half the day, as Florence had inquired of a family. So we were lucky that we were able to pass the bikes on all queues. Nevertheless, we had to wait a little while directly at the ship until we were allowed on the deck with the wheels and allowed to park between two lorries.

In the suburbs of Leizhou

I leave Xuwen the next morning in cloudy skies and mild 23° C with also a slight northeast wind. It is almost too cool after the much higher temperatures of the last days in Hainan. I leave the busy main road to the north already at the next intersection, take a detour first in an easterly direction along the high dam of a water reservoir, to come on a branch line out of the city. Many different long-distance bus routes take their starting point in Xuwen and run to various cities in Guangdong, as well as the neighboring provinces, and now in the early morning many seem to start. I have to take care several times with such a bus on the roadside, while driving by, on the somewhat disoriented people who are just about to load suitcases and scurry around.
Just as little as e.g. a bus turning on the road does not pay attention to the traffic, the passengers make it even less.
After a few kilometers, I turn into a branch line, which is only used by a few cars and small trucks. I dive straight into the rural Guangdong, which is at least here at its southern tip very much influenced by agriculture. No large areas in monoculture but alternate plantations of e.g. Bananas, sugar cane, pineapple, lettuce, sometimes pumpkin. In between are smaller and larger villages, where the sugarcane is currently being collected centrally. Harvested by hand on the fields, mini-trucks transport them to these collection points, from where they are then transported to the next sugar mill with big trucks. Two of them (mills) I see during the day.

The first sugar mill I see on the edge of Tiaofeng, in the center of which I get a nice portion of chard very similar vegetables with tofu and rice from a friendly cook, relatively late at noon. Sometimes it can be that easy. The simpler and more open the kitchen, the easier I can show what I would like to eat, because without the help of Florence, I now have much more problems articulating myself. I drove about 60 km until then, 35 km will be added later, with now less and less cloudy skies and perhaps 26° C, which later still increase a bit after the sun finally comes through the clouds.
After a few kilometers out of this town, a vehicle behind me is honking – which is not unusual – but does not overtake. But instead it is rolling on the left next to me, the side window open. As I turn to see why the dark car is not passing by, a young woman abruptly holds out a half liter bottle of water. I look a bit dumbfounded, but grab and take the offered bottle, although my own bottles are quite well filled. I shout something like ‘谢谢’ as the car gets faster and disappears from my view immediately after the next turn.

I stop and stow the bottle, must grin inside. Recently I had something like that about a year ago, when I was cycling in Malaysia, and back then it was an isotonic drink, not just plain water, but I do not want to be so petty.
The landscape is a bit rippled and offers different shades of green by the different and ever-changing nature of the vegetation, often a narrow strip of young eucalyptus trees defines an agricultural area, but eventually the sugar cane is dominant. For the sometimes in terraces created salad and vegetable areas at the edge of small villages, there is a branched system of narrow, concrete irrigation channels. Again, the necessary field work is apparently done by hand.

The area becomes ever flatter farther north. I come closer to the coast again and the meandering Nandu River and a few kilometers from the town of Leigao, in the distance on a secluded elevation, a huge radome is to see. The dark green hardly stands out from the environment. The nearest major military port is also not very far away, but I can’t get there until the next day. In the area of Nandu River, the road runs about three kilometers on a dam, although the coast is still more than two kilometers away. As in Hainan many basins are created for fish farming, but apparently not all are currently in use, because I often see the ventilation not in operation.
On a larger flat area between the river and the foothills of the city of Leizhou, there are paddy fields between some villages that have now been harvested and where water buffalo graze cattle that evidently enjoy the warmth of the afternoon sun.
Entering Leizhou, I come to a farm road that leads into a neighborhood with narrow streets, lots of old buildings and lots of small shops and street vendors. All of a sudden, I find myself in the hustle and bustle of another big city, arranging myself at the first traffic light in the crowd of waiting two-wheelers and try not to miss the already pre-booked hotel.

The City Comfort Inn offers a breakfast buffet in its small restaurant in the morning, so I do not have to go out and find something to eat. Rice porridge, roasted tomatoes with some scrambled eggs, sweet potato, broccoli and sweet pastries; unfortunately there is no coffee.
I let myself a bit more time with the onward journey, since today I do not have much more than 60 km in my plan. Nevertheless, the day will be exhausting, as I drive mainly in a northeasterly direction and mostly against the wind.
The traffic is as hectic as yesterday in the late afternoon. To get out of Leizhou, I first have to go back to the center, always nice in the wide side lane, where the local buses stop and where people drive with their e-moped in virtually all directions, not just straight ahead in the intended direction of travel. That’s how I have to be careful. At the post office at the main intersection, I drop a few postcards and then take the main road in an easterly direction, past a lake in the middle of the city, on whose forecourt a surprising number of people stroll and where children play. After about 4 km I turn off into a narrow side street and roll through the buildings behind the main road.

House next to house, of simple concrete mostly, sometimes also built of bricks and in different sizes. After about 500m there are market stalls on the right and left side of the street. Very small stalls, the fruits or vegetables often lying on the floor on a small tarpaulin. Meat lies uncooled on sturdy wooden tables, which also serve as cutting pad or as a work bench.
When I stop briefly, I am looked at in disbelief. Shortly behind this by-road, I’m already out of the city and roll along rice fields, as I did yesterday in the afternoon. Somewhere, a farmer with his small mud tractor is in the process of plowing in the remains after the harvest, as long as one can speak of it on the muddy ground.

The quiet by-road soon leads to a better developed highway, and this runs after a short time parallel to the heavily used S373, crosses it twice, until it ends abruptly at a bridge over a narrow river. When the S373 was built, it probably did use the old route at this point, but until then rebuilt in parallel. This detail was not visible on the map and the parallel guidance continues several hundred yards after. But from this point I have to go back first, then change to the expressway, change back to the other road at the next opportunity, and repeat this game again later.
At the next river crossing, about 12 kilometers further, the S373 then heads east and I follow this road. Soon I recognize the proximity to the overseas port of Yanjiang by the many industrial facilities near the road. A huge chemical plant is threatening and exudes unpleasant odors and sounds that I do not want to stay long.

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Long march back to Haikou

Improvisierte Weide in der Nähe von Shenzhou

We follow our route further along the coast in a northerly direction. In the morning, we first have the accompaniment of another cyclist who has stayed with us in the cyclist station. He happens to come from the area where Florence lives and so they have a lot to talk about for a while. The track remains flat for the day and till the end of the tour – rarely the profile is slightly wavy.
After leaving the X435, which heads east from Shenzhou Island across a fairly new bridge, there is hardly any traffic around us. We continue our journey near the coast and after a few kilometers, the road runs parallel to a longer stretch of beach.

Before that we pass an area with many larger bassins for fish farming, as we already saw in last evening, when we came from the other direction. The motorized paddle wheels, with which the water is ventilated, we also have seen several times in the coastal area, yesterday, and these pools remind me strong to the south of Thailand, where I had seen such in even greater numbers. Also with more paddle wheels per pool. There it was prawns, here are fish the size of carp, which are brought with nets from one of the basins and squeezed into water-filled styrofoam boxes. Then they are loaded on small trucks. On the other side of the road stand several water buffalos on a kind of pasture, a larger group of these animals, which one sees otherwise sometimes stand alone in humid lowlands or on harvested rice fields.

We can’t get directly to the beach, a narrow strip of coniferous forest of about 100 to 200 meters shields the coastline from the road and only every few hundred meters there is a narrow access. Partially a bit hidden and neglected – amazing that hardly anyone is to be found, where the beach itself is natural and a few kilometers long. However, this place is also a few kilometers away from the next block of hotels.

A good opportunity for a short break in the shade under the trees, because the sky is only slightly cloudy, the sun heats the air in the morning quickly back to about 28 – 29° C. On the beach lies a grounded fish trawler, which was apparently washed in rough sea here. Storms are probably not uncommon in the South China Sea.

According to the map, the road continues to lead us always close to the coast on a narrowing headland, bordered on by a large lake on the landside, which flows successively after some kilometers as Long Wei River into the sea. The road should lead consistently over this relatively wide river, but ends there abruptly on a quay wall. A motorized floating pontoon commuting over the water makes the ferry here. Not suitable for cars, but full of motorcycles chugs the thing on the rather quiet river, past a variety of swimming fish tanks and fishing boats.

Ferry ponton at Longwei River

Near the village of Hele our new companion, of who Florence once complained that he would ask too many questions, leaves us again. His English, however, is only rudimentary, so that he could barely talk to me during the short time. He wants to go back to Wanning, which is a little further inland at the intersection of several highways and which we have now widely traveled, and from there with a bus to Haikou and further home. No problem on the bus with his folding bike.

In the smaller cities there is always a busy life and the traffic gets confusing. Many shops and small stalls on the street offer food, fruit, housewares, there are often also some food stalls and many people look more on the goods or the offer, and no one is regarding its own environment. Since I am often slowed down, I have to constantly keep my eyes open in all directions, because a motorized two-wheeler likes to start just when I’m at the same height, or just around the corner, when I pass the junction. Rarely does anyone stop immediately, just because a bicycle comes along. But because of the fact that I just have to swim with the traffic and that I can safely ignore the many horns around me, I got used to this in the meantime.

Pagode of the monastery Bo’ao

If our neighborhood near Shenzhou was an idyll, Bo’ao is quite a hotspot again. The city is home not only to the ‘Boao Forum for Asia’, an NGO that organizes national conferences, but here you also can find the largest Buddhist monastery in Hainan, on the outskirts of the city, which also has an apparently popular museum attached to it. The visitors come in any case in large numbers sometimes with buses there.
We reach the city in the late afternoon after more than 90 km drive and find relatively quickly a cheap guesthouse in a quiet side street near the old center.

The next morning we get the already mentioned noodle soup with the Muslim brethren. The back wall of the small guest room adorns a mural of a large mosque. The sky is cloudy as we sit on the wheels and drive off, at about 24° C.
From the old town center of the town of Bo’ao there is not much left, the development of the north-facing street quickly changes into more modern architecture and high-rise residential buildings. But we leave the exit road quite quickly and continue with slight tailwind northward through the village settlements along the coast to Tanmen, and later we continue along the bay between Changpo and Huiwen.


Tomatoes are cultivated on fields next to the road, and the fruits are predominantly the size of cocktail tomatoes. In addition, zucchini-like fruits are grown, which grow like tomatoes on climbing plants and are quite large.

Hainan is a very green island. Where land is not used for agriculture or for structures or buildings, nature seems to quickly overgrow what is not part of it. That sometimes is evident on the roadside, where behind the ditch nothing except vegetation comes, but this is rarely the case in the coastal area. There is virtually no sign of any wildlife, except for some snakes that were too careless on the road. It seems that there must be a lot of snakes, but I didn’t see any alive.

In Wenchang we want to jump again with a ferry over the local, about half a kilometer wide river, as the bridge of the long distance road S201 would rather bring us a detour. Florence wants to ride a bit through the ‘Coconut Forest’, which extends a little further south on the opposite bank. But we have to look for the ferry when the road to the harbor ends surprisingly in the midst of a covered market.

On the quay wall there are two barges, or better, two small boats waiting for customers. One is ready to take off and the owner of the other boat – Ms. Wang, as the name tag on her oily pullover tells us – gives us sign that we have to wait until there are enough passengers together, but she will take us to the desired spot further south on the opposite side and settle us down the bank – for even 10 yuan more she would bring us at once. I think that’s a very good price, in a quasi private trip, so we unload the luggage, bring the wheels and bags over the bow on the partially covered boat, while the boss refueled the machine in the rear. A single-cylinder engine, similar to those used for universal single-axle tractors in local agriculture.

On Wenchang River

She sets out with us and skilfully maneuvers the boat between the larger fishing boats and various other ships that are anchored, begins to telephone heavily and soon heads for a point on the opposite bank. It takes about 10 minutes to land between several similarly sized boats. We’re not supposed to get off here, but instead more people are coming in, six friendly locals who seem to be the cause of the phone call.
The journey continues for another 10 minutes, now along the shore in a southerly direction, to another pier where Florence and I alight. The other passengers can be chauffeured even further and wave us goodbye when we leave.

Through narrow and quiet, all-concreted forest roads we continue through the lush vegetation, as far as Dongjiao. Coco palms stand close to this narrow street and the sloping palm trees overhang it often, the crowns full of coconuts. It is certainly only a matter of time and then statistics, when the next nut falls on a vehicle and how many people have been harmed by it. A bicycle helmet is unlikely to be able to do much justice to down dashing nuts, I think, as I drive under the many threatening nuts.

From Dongjiao it is still about 15 km, which we mostly drive along the developed long-distance connection along the coast. The terrain is slightly profiled and the climbs are almost dead straight. Shortly before the branch to Longlou then a well-secured museum on the roadside, and in the distance towards the coast, I can see several high, rectangular halls, assembly halls for space rockets. I did not really realize that Hainan also has a spaceport. Later, at a crossroads in town, I see a model of a ‘Long March’ rocket standing beside the crossing.

Longlou is more of a sleepy nest. But the guest house we find in a side street is relatively new and the spacious room offers enough space to even tenter the clothesline and hang up the last of all wet things. I leave the air conditioning in dehumidifying mode and the next morning everything is actually dry.

Ein Modell des Typs ‘Long March’ at a street corner

From Longlou to Haikou there are still just over 100 km, which we tackle the next day and, thanks to the slightly gusty wind from the east, travel faster than expected. Even if we do not choose the direct route along the S201 trunk. However, there is not much variety along the route, but the weather does hold through and the rain back, even if the clouds gradually increase and later in Haikou even unpleasantly cool wind comes up.

About 40 km from the city center we make a little late lunch break in the afternoon, as the sun comes through the clouds for a long time, in the town that actually falls under the administration of the Greater Haikou. But until then it went well, I didn’t want to interrupt too early, the now hunger is strong. There is once again noodle soup with royale, and as there is also on display some baked goods, for dessert, a little too sweet, we take some fluffy pastry.

A short time later, the traffic is also much denser and around the airport, that we have to pass directly, is due to construction sites dense traffic jam. Haikou is just a big city and as soon as we reach the inner city area, we leave the wide roads on the left and drive for several kilometers on a promenade, which stretches north along the banks of the Haikou River. Unfortunately, it ends abruptly because of a shoreline site and we have to drive along the road.
But it’s not far to the Banana Hostel, the river makes a 90° bend and separates the northern part of Haikou, the actual inner city, as an island from the rest of the city, the vast majority. We use the third of the bridges over the river, where lanes for two-wheelers are available. A nice tour around the island Hainan ends after about 677 kilometers.

Tomorrow we will travel to Hai’an on the mainland by one of the many ferries, where I will continue my journey through a part of southern China towards Macau, while Florence then goes home with a night bus.

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Diversity along the east coast of Hainan



The days are sunny and warm, the daylight lasts till 7 in the evening, and in the morning the sun rises already at 7 (am) over the horizon. We develop a dayrythm, that lets us meet for breakfast at about 8 o’clock, and round about half past 9 we are already on the road. Often we get noodlesoup in the morning, sometimes porridge or steamed dumplings.

Xincun, Shenzhou, Bo’ao and Longlou are the stops on the way around the island, back to Haikou. Beach sections, cliffs, small mountains, agriculture and fish farming, markets and villages are just as much a part of it, as are some hectic inner city centers and views of construction investments, of which I can’t see nor explain the actual benefits, in this large number of emerging buildings.
There is advertising everywhere for the (probably to buy) apartments made, but who buys them? Right now, due to the Chinese New Year – high season in Hainan – the streets are clogged in the larger cities with large, new sedans and luxury SUVs of all major European (especially German) and Japanese car companies, but the already available big hotels and resorts are even not properly utilized. At least that’s my impression.
Although this part is only a marginal phenomenon for my trip, but can’t hide and is of course firmly linked to the development of Hainan. This aspect then provides a great contrast.

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In Xincun there is breakfast in a street kitchen that also has few small tables on the walkway directly in front of it. One of them currently is available. I take noodle soup with some leek vegetables, and with an egg cooked directly in the soup, Florence prefers the meat insert. Since people cook with little salt here in China, and as salt shakers are never available in restaurants (one seasons usually with soy sauce), I had bought a salt shaker the evening before in a supermarket with a large household department (actually a small tin for toothpicks, as there were no salt shakers at all, together with a bag of sea salt, the remaining contents of which I had given the restaurant in which we later ate). So I salt the soup and try to compensate in this way for my now increased salt requirements.
The next morning in Shenzhou, e.g., we have breakfast somewhere when being already on the way, as there’s nothing available at the biker station, where we could sleep in tents. A day later in Bo’ao it’s a small mulslim restaurant, where we get noodle soup and where people can watch noodle making, take off the dough, outside the door. So every morning is different.

The laundry that we hung on the hotel roof in the evening did not dry overnight. It gets too cold at night and the humidity is just too high near the coast. Florence tries to dry her clothes with the hair dryer, then we soon leave the small town, that is quickly filling up with day tourists and we head north along the G223, away from the coast, because there is only a motorway that runs and with bicycles may not be driven. Presumably also because of the existance of this motorway, the traffic on the smaller highway remains pretty quiet throughout the day.

In Lingshui we cross the Lingshui River and after about 25 km the road leads into the mountains. In the wider area there are elevations of up to 400 m, the road itself winds over a few kilometers twice with up to 8% slope up to about 200 m, in the midday heat of about 30° C, and it is a demanding matter. We are not the only cyclists to do this route. On the first climb three people sit with mountain bikes and light day luggage in the shade of the slope, repairing one of their wheels. Just before the height I roll slowly past a family with two boys. The father is already waiting upstairs. I stand by and wait for Florence, who pushes her bike the last few meters up.
Then a long descent follows over several kilometers, which makes it easy to forget the short effort of the two climbs before. We are now rolling through the district of Wanning and through a still rolling landscape with wooded slopes.
In the village of Nanqiao then we have a lunch break, and a few hundred meters further fireworks are ignited.

Although the Chinese New Year is back already a few days, fireworks are always burned down, sometimes the firecrackers are heard like a dull rumble in the distance, in the towns and villages, through which we come. The scraps of paper of the chains of firecrackers lie scattered around in front of some houses picturesquely. And at many refuse collection points the remains of the fireworks from New Year’s night still pile up. The boulder chains can be several meters long, are rolled up in huge packages, and people seem to enjoy laying out such chains along the road and obscuring viewers’ passages.

Later we come back to the coast, which (partly a cliff) offers beautiful views and changes further into a coastal plain with agriculture and especially simple fish farming in large, shallow pools, which are powered by motorized paddles constantly with oxygen. Of course, also here in the background we see apartment skyscrapers near the beach.
The island of Shenzhou is connected to the mainland by two short bridges and here about 18 floor residential buildings are concentrated on the shore, while the sea side is decorated with a beach park and with the beach.
In the middle of the complex is a kind of center with restaurants and a supermarket, where we fill up our water- and fruit-supply in the evening, and where we have breakfast the next morning in a glorious sunshine.

For the night, however, we take, like some of the cyclists we met along the way, lodging at a bicycle station on the mainland, a bit hidden on the ring road, where in addition to shared rooms some tents are available. For the evening, the chef cooks personally for everyone and conjures up about 14 different prepared treats, mainly vegetables, on the round table.
As is customary in China, everyone attacks with his chopsticks everywhere and tastes of (almost) every dish – a happy jumble and the best way to get to know a wide range of Chinese cuisine.

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Public transport and the Sanya coastline

From Nadao we take a bus to Sanya, because the other west coast has not much to offer, and another day with less distance, after the long journey and the not yet fully digested first day with almost one hundred kilometers distance, does quite well ,
We are early at the bus terminal to buy the tickets, because there will only be two connections for today. There is already a lot of hustle and bustle in front of the ticket vending machines and there is already a long queue in front of the only counter that is open, so it takes about 20 minutes to get tickets for the 11 o’clock bus. Whether we can take the bikes, we don’t get a confirmation.
Then once breakfast, the hotel had offered to cook rice porridge, which quickly makes you very full. Half past 10 we are back at the bus terminal. There is hectic operation at the driveway, people are brought by taxis or picked up, local buses stop in the secondary carriageway, where mopeds circulate in both directions and also a fruit merchant offers his goods. So we have to be careful when entering the small forecourt.

Local busses in Nadao, partly electrically driven

For the ticket purchase I already had to present my passport, whose number with my name was then printed in the ticket, and now when entering the waiting hall, the ticket is compared with the passport by a police officer, the luggage is illuminated, but the bike is allowed as it is through the metal detector. Safety is apparently taken seriously in public transport, as I already had noticed the day before yesterday at the station of Lingao, where we first wanted to ask for the transport of the bikes. But bicycles are not allowed in high-speed trains, which are used exclusively in Hainan. We also had to park them far away from the station building, the local police had not even let us on the forecourt with them.

The door to the outside, where the bus is waiting, will open 10 minutes before the scheduled departure. It’s a small bus with maybe 35 seats, but we’re lucky with the wheels as few of the passengers stow their luggage in the cargo hold. So handlebars cross over and with some skill we get the two bikes pushed into the hold of the bus. They then each cost 40 Yuan extra, which will be collected directly by the bus attendant, additionally to 78 Yuan for the simple passenger one-way ticket.

one of the several skylines of Sanya

Nadao is not a big city, but nevertheless the bus hangs in the three-lane traffic jam and comes slowly out of the city. The road is uneven and the rider has a rather rough way of stopping the car every few meters. Quickly some people get sick and soon a sour smell moves through the interior. That can still be cheerful, where the ride is just beginning, I think. For a while, I wonder if I even rummage a small plastic bag out of my bag – just in case. But the bad feeling passes again. The affected people later throw their small black plastic bags forward in the corridor of the bus, which stops sometimes at the edge of the road, where a companion of the driver then transported the garbage outside.
In general, the bus stops several times after we are long out of town right on the freeway. Under a road bridge at the edge of the road, or at an exit, where people are still boarding. Each time, the companion brings out a mini-folding chair from the top shelf, on which the passengers can sit down in the small open space in the front bus area. The security is obviously relatively far interpretable.

A beach with the view of Sanya

The journey ends after about four hours on the edge of Sanya, at the bus terminal West. From there it is still about 15 km to the center, for which we take our time in the afternoon sun. The city on the southern tip of Hainan extends over a promontory in a southerly direction and from a distance you can see the long skyline while you just reached the bay of Sanya. Sandy beach and a beach park stretch over many kilometers along the coastline and in about 50 to 200 m distance runs a busy road, where soon the first hotel buildings line up on the side facing away from the beach. Soon one hotel or resort follows the next, partly set back from the road and often luxuriously designed. For a while I feel reminded of Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. In many places, there are small parking lots on the edge of the beach park, all crowded, and at the driveways caution is required, as the cars partially block the road, because apparently they do not really know where to go. Uniformed guards make sure that at least not on the street is parked.


Sanya is located approximately at the southernmost point of the island and from here we drive along the east coast back to Haikou in the following five days. Not always directly on the coastline, sometimes even quite inland, if the route that we follow takes its way with as few inclines through the partly mountainous landscape.

Apparently, many people want to head southeast out of the city, and after crossing the two bridges over the Sanya River, we’ll be swimming with heavy traffic past a naval base along the G224, around a 400-meter-high mountain, and away from the more densely populated area.
Soon there is traffic jam on this arterial road, which forms a branch in the direction of a popular bay with adjacent nature reserve. Behind the branch, which doesn’t interest us, we are almost alone on the wide road, then.

In the Bay of Haitang we finally get off this freeway, which, nicely nestled between two wooded hills though – but it’s nicer to follow narrow roads with less traffic. Also along this bay the government obviously is investing into the future and diligently concreted. Roads and paths are already there, green strips and rows of palm trees, which are watered consuming, but the actual construction areas are still not really developed – over many kilometers. Only in the northern area can be seen more high-rise lines near the coast, in addition to an imposing hotel tower in hinted sail form.

Inland, villages lie in the heat of the early afternoon. It has about 28° in the shade and we are looking for a small restaurant in the center of one of the villages. The street leading into it seems to have been newly created, posters tell about it (at least I get it translated) that with the demolition of the old substance the place has become much more modern. Opposite a store / restaurant row, in the shade of which we order rice noodle soup with vegetables and peanuts, there are modern, two-storey terraced houses, freshly whitewashed and probably only completed recently.

For a few kilometers back to the highway, as rivers and the Hainan spanning highway must be crossed twice, then it goes quickly back to the rural, coastal Hainan. I had already noticed the chili cultivation before, at the village of Dapo some people in the field are busy with the harvest. The plants are apparently very different, depending on when the plants have been set, because in other chili fields I had seen the low bushes also blooming. These here carry long, narrow fruits, which soon pile up in large sacks on the roadside.

In Xincun it is time to search for accommodation, which doesn’t work at the first guesthouses we ask for and which are a bit off the main road. Either fully booked, or simply closed. Although Xincun is a larger nest, it is nicely off the peninsula of Monkey Island, to which a cable car passes, and is therefore popular with day visitors. So while we arrive, we notice a bit of life and noise in the central street of the place. Most traders and street kitchens, however, dismantle or pack in as early as dawn.

Posted in China

In the northwest of Hainan

On the edge of the center of Haikou

It is few visible that Hainan province has been recognized as a non-developed region, still about 25 years ago. Haikou and Sanya are big cities, that are booming as other cities in China do, too. Maybe the activity in building construction is even higher here, as the province still has a special status as a region of economic development. Tourism is a growing sector, too, that also still is pushed by the government. The Chinese adopted this island already as their tropical paradise.

Now, in the beginning of February are lots of tourists here and also people who come home to their families from all provinces, because of the upcoming Chinese New Year. I recognise this not only of the traffic.

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The coastal highway that goes from Haikou to the west first consists of six and later still of four lanes, and the multi-purpose lane right beside the main road becomes a bike lane, once out of the city. A nice separation – which is not respected consecuently. Even it should be used only in one direction, people with their motorbikes as well as with their cars go in and out and drive in both directions. No-one gives a penny to this behavior, but everyone uses the horn instead, to give signal that one is coming.

A behavior that I have to get familiar with, as well as with the obligation of the cyclist to use pedestrian road crossings. But finally it is much more relaxing to use the main road with the bicycle, instead of this multi-purpose lane.

After we have left the harbour area and two nearby military facilities, we were passing several beaches and parc areas along the coast, which has been few visible because of fog that came in from the sea. The air above the warm seawater has a high humidity, when it’s touching the cooler landmass in the morning. Later the sun came through the mist and pushed the temperature to warm 28° C. From time to time we have a short break to drink some water or to eat some fruits. To protect my skin from getting burned by the intense sun, I also renew the sunscreen two times per day.

We reach Lingao, our destination for today, in the late afternoon after a journey of 98 km along some beach resorts under construction and several villages far from the main traffic routes. Sometimes the landscape is dominated by agricultural plantations. Besides rice-fields in the plains we pass mainly vegetables and strawberries, on higher plains we see pineapples, bananas and eucalypthus-plantations.

Lingao is a province town in the northwest of Hainan, in about 12 km distance from the coast. Dense and vibrant in its center is it a city under construction, where some roads get more space for more traffic, and where the peripherils are constructed in a regular order. Leaving the city to the north brings you quickly into ghost town like districts, where the roads still lead into nowhere and 20-floor buildings are still under construction and inhabited by no-one. Even directly on the coast a complete small town is erected from scratch and put – in the real sense of the word – into the sand.

At the end of a peninsula is located a small parc area with a monument that reminds to the liberation of Hainan from the Japanese occupation in World War II, not far from a fishermen village.

The night before Chinese New Years day is getting loud and stuffy. Already during the complete day firworks were burned everywhere, in the near as well as also far away. But at midnight a constant and terrible noise began, in the street and in the nearby sorroundings. The explosions are much louder than of german fireworks and quickly the dense smoke is roaming not only through the streets, but also upstream between the buildings, so I close the door to the balcony and keep it closed for the rest of the night. No sleep for the next hours and I’m also still hanging on my jet lag.

From Lingao we continue south, first along one of the busiest country roads, over a highway that leads around the island and after about 18 kilometers on a side road and then along some dirt roads through a bit hilly landscape with a partly dense vegetation. From an artificial reservoir go some water-feeding channels which apparently feed a wide branched irrigation network. Around the village of Nabao is located other agricultural land, which is apparently supplied in this way with water.

It is now time for a longer break, after about 40 km route and also the hunger is coming up. Here in Nabao we find a small street kitchen where we get served bread on a spit and spinach vegetables, marinated in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce. It’s also the only alternative on this early afternoon.
Here in town, as well as again along the previous route, can be heard firecracker sporadically. The burning of fireworks has not ended with the New Year’s Eve, but apparently only started and in many places chains of firecrackers be sold in large, red and yellow decorated packaging on the street.


Nadao we reach after 67 kilometers through this varied but sometimes hilly landscape, the afternoon heat is already a bit behind. The traffic is manageable on this holiday, the bus terminal, which we pass, is closed. The city is the seat of the provincial government, whose representative building is located on the edge of the city center in the midst of a large, guarded park.
Later, in search of a downtown restaurant, we also walk by this park and a young man speaks to me in very broken English. He would run an international language school and is looking for a new English teacher – asks me if I don’t want to stay the same. But I can only disappoint him.