D19: 南平→樟湖 - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

October 25, 2019

D19: 南平→樟湖

Every time I see interesting patterns in otherwise uninteresting architectural details it makes me think of Andy Peat and his excellent journals
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As I initially head out of Nanping, I find myself on the main road. It's a trucking route of the sort that appears to still have trucks and now that I'm now longer intentionally chasing traces of when I came this way with Joe and Anna, I have no intention of being on the main road if I can possibly avoid it.

I stop for a late breakfast that's really an early lunch at one of the first food places I see on the other side of the river. Despite the hour, it's absolutely packed with people. Despite the knowledge that no one is going to just walk off with my bike, because, by and large, no one even touches my bike, and years of experience tell me that even when I let other people try, they mostly can't ride it, I still find myself uncomfortably nervous walking through the crowd to the back of the restaurant so I can order from the dishes on the steam table. My bike with all the really important parts of my life (laptop, passport, wallet, crutch monkey) is approaching being out of my direct line of sight. Luckily a spot opens up at a table near the door so I can stare in the vague direction of my bike while I eat and look over map details.

The final version of this pano with the truck in it didn't stitch properly, but it's otherwise a really good picture of Nanping
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Straight up and through the hillside
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The higgledy piggledy way back down
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As of January 25th of this year, the level crossing that cars would have used to get from the lower city up to the new roads is now closed off and they have to go the long way around crossing and recrossing the Min to do so
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Switchbacks on a still under construction mixed use Greenway for the Jiufeng Mountain Park
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Based on the finished bits of greenway I used later on, I think they will have wooden decking down
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I was never this nervous with the Panasonic but, then again, most of the parts of that bike were given to me; this bike, on the other hand, not only is 50% more expensive, it was bought entirely with my money.

When I was planning things out, I'd decided that I was going to ride south on the northeast side bank of the Min until a bridge just south of the town of Taiping [太平]. I'm already on the south bank of the Min and getting over and around to the north bank looks fussy and complicated and involves either going back into the city or taking a crossing some 20km downstream. Since I'll end up doing a short stint on the National Road no matter what, I decide that I'll stick with the little roads on the south side of the Min.

Even though I've barely left Nanping; even though I'm still in the parts of Nanping that would be on the large map inset if I'd kept that part of the Fujian atlas; it's still surprisingly fussy and complicated to get down the hill so that I can leave the city in the proper direction. I'm on a New Road of the cuts through hills variety and it mostly connects to other New Roads. The old roads wander and wiggle in decidedly unstraight ways and, once I get myself back down the hill I just came up a meal earlier, it's actually kind of understandable why, now that earthmoving is a thing, the city is changing so dramatically.

Isn't that just the prettiest bridge?
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Old City crunched up against the mountain and a bit of railway track
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A wannabe fancy restaurant on piers just off of the Greenway and the fast road. If it had parking anywhere nearby, or wasn't likely to get closed in one of the various campaigns that periodically takes place against creative interesting buildings in floodzones, it could really be something special
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Railway bridge across the Min with a highway bridge behind it
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Old Train Tunnel on the Greenway
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Haven't seen a demonstration tower for elevators in a while but I suppose having buildings tall enough to need elevators is a fairly new thing in Nanping
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My next twenty some odd kilometers are the loveliest bit of flat riverside road you could possibly hope for. Perhaps one of the coolest bits is where Nine Peaks Mountain Park [九峰山公园] and the city bridges intersect. There's an old pedestrian and motorcycles only hanging bridge across the water as well as this loopety work of modern art style suspension bridge. I like it not because of all the bridges (though they are a factor) but because of the currently under construction greenway up into the park which involves a veritable roller coaster's worth of constructed switchbacks swinging out over the road and back onto the mountain so that anyone on wheels-whether a bike or a stroller or a wheelchair-can get up into the park.

A little while later, I come upon a mini plaza with marked distances to various Sites of (not much) Interest along the Greenway that I'd apparently gotten on to without trying. I didn't really need to go through the decommissioned train tunnel but I have a headlight now and I'm trying to get over my fear of tunnels so a tunnel that is absolutely guaranteed not to suddenly have any trucks is a good tunnel. Besides which, everybody knows tunnel goblins only infest car tunnels.

On a boardwalk section of the Greenway
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Check out these anti-flood debris protectors around the base of the bridge pillars. Also, look at the itty bitty old fallen bridge behind this monstrosity.
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As the water rises, they FLOAT
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Empty gravel barges
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I think, from the way this old building has raised up glass windows that it used to be a workshop of some kind.
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When I first saw this utterly enormous grave, I thought it must be something historic or someone important, but it turned out to only be from 2005. Not too much farther on, I came across a sign stating that a Public Graveyard had been established and that anyone privately erecting graves from this point forward risked having the gravesite demolished without warning.
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The Greenway alternated from being really much too narrow sidewalk to comfortably bicycle and much too narrow boardwalk to comfortably bicycle. Very pretty though and if it slowed me down for the day, so be it.

What with my actual breakfast being an early lunch, I thought I would get myself a late lunch in the town on the south side of the bridge from the new Nanping High Speed Railway Station but first there was no actual townness and then, when I did find my way to the central streets of the original town, I was cruising downhill at a good clip and didn't take the necessary time to think that it was going to be a good long while before I'd again come across food for sale.

I've got plenty of saved calories located around my waist and butt though so, as long I've got water, no real worries!

A small shrine that I stopped in to take a look at
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This one is rather unusual in that it has two figures of apparently equal importance. There are usually sets of three (either of equal importance or one main figure plus two attendants).
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Scholar Official
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Mother Goddess
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If someone posted their "temple goods for sale" poster inside my temple I would go out of my way to make sure not to buy anything from them.
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Even though the original train tracks would have long since crossed the river at this point, the road alongside the water remained one of those mostly flat types. Sure there were ups and downs and more ups and lots of those higgledy piggledy curves you get when you go around the terrain instead of through it but it was a remarkably enjoyable flat, truckless, road that was made that much better by the knowledge that I very nearly had accidentally ended up on the Truck Road.

In some small village that wasn't quite a township and definitely wasn't a town even if the population seemed to have been centralized and increased by relatively recent forced relocations, I came upon the most incredible wall paintings. A fair few of them were still the usual sort of propaganda you expect to find on rural Chinese wall paintings but quite a few more of them were real art. Everything from trompe l'oeil to portraiture, pictures of the Chinese countryside to things that looked vaguely European, even a bus stop that was decorated with a mermaid and jellyfish and had bits of the nearby trees painted so as to fit the whole theme.

Starting with a bit of Thomas Kinkade style
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Can't you just imagine this on a 500 piece puzzle sold at Walmart?
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Even the doors are painted
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Then a variety of large murals
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Showing different aspects of local life
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Some of them were pretty damn impressive
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Apparently done by Qiyizhai "Art For Villages"
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The advertisement came after the wall painting
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I had a little more riverside riding after that followed by a gnarly mountain of the get off and walk variety on my approach to the National Road which, unfortunately, when I got there, turned out to still require another couple kilometers of climbing, at a slightly less miserable grade, but now with bonus traffic! By and large though, it was the kind of truck traffic where they politely swing nice and wide to give me plenty of room so, while it's still really scary, it's only terrifying when I've stopped for some reason and need to find a gap large enough to get started again.

Crested the hill and got a water refill at the first not closed for good former truck service restaurant type place. It was starting to get plenty late by now though and my stomach had given up on complaining that I hadn't eaten. Also, even though I've now got a headlight, I'd still prefer as little night riding as possible as I don't really get the point of riding when you can't see the interesting things.

My favorites were mostly the hyperrealistic
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I've seen the "scene bursting out of a cracked wall" done a lot recently, usually not very well, and I think it's kind of tacky and dumb
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Particularly of cleaned up versions of real life
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The trompe l'oeil was nothing short of mindblowing
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Cat on a windowsill
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The window is real, as is the solid wooden shutter
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The pipes actually stick out from the wall but the shadows are painted on
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As is the sneaky rat
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Per the norm, the road information the restaurant owner gave me was wrong. Although I still had quite a lot more downhill to go before I got off of his mountain, there were no more mountains before the end of the day. Maybe all those many many mountains he was talking about would have happened to me the next day if I'd stayed on the national road. Who knows?

The town of Longxikou [尤溪口] shortly before the end of my day was nearly as prettied up as the place with all the amazing paintings and, rather like the place with all the amazing paintings, didn't seem to have much in the way of services to attract random visitors to admire the awesomeness. Sure there'd been a restaurant and a hotel in that first village but nothing more than that and even if it was only art students and the cost of paint, a lot of money was spent on making the place pretty.

I did mention a bus stop full of sealife didn't I?
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Including a helpful mermaid telling people to line up
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And seaturtles above your head
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And they aren't done yet!
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The next town down the road however showed not one but three places where I could spend the night so I kept going. A bit of riding in the dark including, after I turned off, riding through some invisible cloud of burning allergens that was so noxious it triggered the cough-until-I-vomit reflex so it seems like it was a good thing after all that I hadn't eaten.

Once in Zhanghu though, I nommed down the biggest plate of fried noodles and spent quite a while rehydrating before going off to check out my lodging options. Place #1, which I'd passed on my way to the first restaurant, was a proper hotel but it involved going back uphill, so I didn't want to go there. Places #2 and #3 were both what is called 民宿 (homestyle inn) and both turned out to involve going up to the second floor to find check in, so I didn't want to go there and went back to #1 only to discover that their check-in was on the third floor. This, in turn, led to my going back to #2 because I'd been able to reach them on the phone and confirm that they had a room.

I don't think there was a single part of the ride along the water that wasn't either beautiful, interesting, or both
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Heading away from the water and starting my climb, I start to also get some nice old buildings
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This cluster of houses without a single modern building was probably abandoned en masse
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Looking up at a bridge I've yet to cross on the National Road you can just catch glimpses of the older, narrower bridge behind it
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Nice mountains up here except for the whole up part
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They also, as it would turn out, had an elevator. And a washing machine. And, because the provincial public security and tourism bureaus are so gung ho about normalizing homestyle inns and being welcoming to foreigners (despite the behavior one might encounter at the local level), an astonishingly difficult to use mobile phone app with which to register me.

Construct a Harmonious Road
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Sure, it might still have lodging but I wouldn't want to bet on it
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This one, on the other hand is very definitely closed for good
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As part of Building a Characteristic Fishing Town, they had lots of things with this Carp
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I particularly liked the flag with the slogan "The Wise Fish Says: If Man has no dreams, how is he any different from a salted fish?"
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Catherine HastingsLess tasty, that's how.
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1 month ago
Marian RosenbergSalt fish can be pretty terrible and historical rumor has it that longpig tastes rather like pork...
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1 month ago
Set of stairs
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Today's ride: 64 km (40 miles)
Total: 1,271 km (789 miles)

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