D10: 永昌→杜泽 - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

October 15, 2019

D10: 永昌→杜泽

Packaging fake flowers
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I went to sleep uncommonly early last night and stayed asleep for quite a long while. My regularly scheduled 3am wake up call to go the bathroom had me waking all the way up as the room I was in didn't have a toilet. There was a urinal for men but no toilet. The rooms with toilets all had rock hard beds though and, having been reassured that there was a toilet which I could use, I wasn't too put out by the lack of a toilet. That is, until it was 3am and I'd stumbled into the bathroom attached to my hotel room and realized there was no toilet.

Awake me is willing to concede that it's okay to pee in the shower. Asleep me is somewhat less certain. Asleep me needed to become awake me before I was sure it was okay and once asleep me had become awake me, well, I'd already had 7 hours of sleep and it was only because it was 3am and there was nothing much else to do that I got myself to go back to sleep.

I then stayed asleep until around 8:30 when the loud booms of a funeral procession woke me up. Trucks, I can sleep through. Explosions, not so much. But hey, at least funeral processions have moved away from using actual explosives to something more like an air cannon so it's merely unnervingly loud as opposed to unnervingly loud and smoky.

Morning funeral procession
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An old gas pump in one of the villages I passed through
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I do like the way they only demolished the parts of the building that were in their way for building a newer better building
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The majority of today will be spent on wiggly little back roads with the GPS telling me when to turn and when not to turn. In places like Zhejiang where the country roads are numerous, the potential byways and turnings uncountable, and my current paper map not up to the level of display I want, so long as I'm aware of the limitations and set my destination sufficiently close to me, it's just more convenient to have the GPS telling me what to do.

Near a village that had shown up as possibly having some Notable Old Stuff, I see a small traditionally styled building down the entry road from a paifang type ceremonially entrance gate and go down to take a look. It turns out to be public toilets. 

The sky is beginning to show some texture
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The paifang that caught my attention
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However, the village does have some Notable Old Stuff and some of that Notable Old Stuff isn't locked up tight. I'm not sure that I would consider the roadhouse to be one of the Top Ten Traditional Roadhouses in China (if only because I was unaware that anyone had ever made a list of the still existing traditional roadhouses) but, as large empty buildings with benches go, it was large, and empty, and had benches.

I'm certain that had I been traveling along this road a hundred or a hundred and fifty years ago, I absolutely would have availed myself of its features as my limited experience with the ruins of roadhouses seems to indicate that they were built to provide a resting place for travelers in places that didn't have quite enough traffic to rate an inn but which had too much traffic to really expect the locals to just let people stay overnight.

Inside the road house
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A roadhouse near the border of Guangxi and Hunan. Photographed on the 2008 Tour.
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A while later I came to a nice old mansion with the doors wide open to let air and sunlight in as family members used it as a workshop for making fake flowers. They let me come in and gawk at the rafters for a while and eventually invited me to lunch though it was not quite a quarter past 11 and I turned them down as much for the wanting to spend my lunch time staring into space and digesting as for wanting to spend it continuing to argue with Lenovo.

It took quite a few hoops to be jumped through, but they've now acknowledged that my international warranty exists. Why there needs to be a special registration process for China or that the existence of such special registration process isn't written anywhere, is beyond me. I just want them to agree to some method of fixing my laptop that doesn't involve my spending five days in a row in the same city because Hangzhou didn't order the parts when they first said they would. 

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What's truly fascinating about this bunch of carvings is that only the human figures of people who would have been wealthy were vandalized. All of the animals and spirits and the few peasants have been left untouched.
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They invited me to lunch and I should have taken them up on the offer but I wasn't feeling sociable
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Instead, after all this back and forth, not only are they refusing to come up with a solution, they are also telling me that the water damage to my laptop will invalidate my 3 year Drops and Spills International Warranty and that they not only expect me to spend the time sitting around (advance ordering of parts being a complete impossibility) they also expect me to pay for the repairs.

It's been a year since I bought the laptop but I'm potentially seeing a partial chargeback with American Express in my future.

After lunch, the sun comes out and the riding gets better, though no more interesting than it's been for most of my time in rural Zhejiang. I get a single open temple with some of the best bad art I've seen in an age but that's it.

Temple of the Five Spirits
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Spirit of Wind
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Grain Spirit
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Earth God
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Rain God
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God of Wealth
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Another pagoda that I didn't visit because I couldn't figure out how to get up to it without leaving my bike and luggage in an overly exposed place
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The lone time that I get some truly spectacularly beautiful scenery, I've also got truly spectacularly annoying road works where the road alternates between fairly decent concrete and giant pieces of gravel in 100 meter stretches. I suppose what's happened is that they tore up all the bits where the concrete had been chewed to pieces or where they needed to widen but it's still a great big frustration.

I'm stopped to let me wrists and arms and shoulders rest for a while and to take a picture of a nice old bridge of indeterminate age (relatively fine stone work that hasn't had much weathering so likely to be 18th century or later) when two Chinese touring cyclists on their first tour show up. 

This is not going to be fun to ride on
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Lovely scenery otherwise though
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This is the only time I actually have to get off and walk though
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Despite them going in the other direction from me and planning on camping, I don't think I've ever been so excited to meet two strangers as I was to meet these two. They aren't traveling the National Roads. They aren't taking a route that everyone knows. They are winging it. Making decisions as they go. Researching a day in advance. Thinking they'll go north until it gets too cold for their (frankly inadequate) gear and then try going south. They are wonderful brave people who haven't even made it a whole week yet but who are actively trying to go a half year.

And they've never ever toured before.

They let me know that the shortest route from here to where I think I'm going for the night will continue with the gravel concrete gravel concrete interludes so I take a long loop to the south and back up again on somewhat more developed farm roads.

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Traditional monowheel wheelbarrow
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This gets me some trucks but its still the sort of roads where the trucks are expecting all kinds of distractions ranging from bicycles to dogs and are alert to avoiding me. While I can't say I like the dust they kick up or the heat of an engine from one that passes a little closer than I feel safe, I don't mind the trucks on roads like this. It's the fast roads where I mind them.

Duze has the potential to be pretty. In fact, it seems like the kind of sleepy mountain town that fills up with tourists on hot summer days. Currently, it is neither hot nor summer and everything is kind of dead though. There are three very cheap hotels and one expensive one. I pick a cheap one at random and find it and the owners quite to my liking.

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Today's ride: 63 km (39 miles)
Total: 698 km (433 miles)

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