D44: 港口→霞涌 - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

November 23, 2019

D44: 港口→霞涌

There's this town near where I stayed called Pinghai [平海]. It showed up on my map as having a historical point of interest. The Chinese people who left reviews of the historical point of interest uniformly thought it was terrible and dull; that it was neither historical nor interesting. Although it turns out that they were right, many of the Chinese people who have left reviews for places which I thought were awesome also thought that they were terrible and dull.

In point of fact, now that I think about it, the average Chinese person who leaves a review in the mapping program I'm currently using either a) uses a lot of exclamation points while managing to effectively say nothing, b) complains or compliments something which has no bearing on the thing they are officially reviewing, or c) thinks it was terrible and dull.

I go to Pinghai for breakfast because, for some reason, I get the idea that the town will have cheaper breakfast than the beach street. It's entirely possible that this is true; I never actually check the price of breakfast on the beach street. It's just that the place I went in the town was rather pricey for what I ordered. I should have at least checked out the vegetarian buffet that I noticed near the uninteresting historical point of interest but it was up a flight of stairs and my passing fancy for Cantonese style Buddhist Vegetarian wasn't strong enough to take my bike up a flight of stairs (even if the current load and frame are light enough that I can do that). 

The temple down the end of the street from the uninteresting historical point of interest was actually kind of interesting. My interest in it, however, was abruptly cut short by some very rude behavior on the part of my digestive system and the sudden need to immediately find a bathroom and, as it would turn out, to also change my bike shorts.

From Pinghai to Xiawei [下围], I take what shows up on the map as the main road but which isn't the beach road in an area being developed for beach-y purposes and likely is not actually the main road. It's a perfectly pleasant bit of countryside road though and it will eventually take me back to the beach on the west and northwest side of the peninsula.

The gas station at the intersection charges me a shocking 8 yuan for a bottle of Coca Cola which, having already opened it as I came up to the counter, I have to pay. It tastes no different from any other Coca Cola I've had but the packaging is in English; it's imported American Coca Cola. Of all the things one could import into China and sell in gas stations for more than twice the amount as the identical local product, I can't imagine why this would be one, but it is, and for basically the same price as I'd pay for a convenience store Coke in the US too.

I think there might have been a traffic accident while I was in the gas station. I'm not sure. There's a frightful traffic jam when I get out but I never quite get what exactly caused it other than a bunch of idiots acting stupid and trying to overtake the long lines of stopped traffic in front of them as if the traffic in front of them weren't stopped for a reason

As a I filter my way through the stopped cars and buses and trucks and, once things get moving again, periodically pull over into a gap in stopped vehicles to let a clot come by, I do my best to be the kind of cyclist who is an ambassador for cyclists everywhere; smiling and waving at the drivers who let me in, indicating that I'm pulling over to let people by, stuff like that. Most of the drivers seem to react positively though, of course, there are always a few sourpusses.

The beach road on the northwest side is lovely with lovely views but, after a briefly promising bit near Xunliao Beach [巽寮海滩], the Greenways and bike lanes disappear and the road narrows. Then, on the north side of the island, at the expressway onramp, development more or less stops completely, all the traffic disappears onto the highway, and the road widens from barely a lane in each direction plus a bit of an almost shoulder to two full lanes and a paved shoulder in each direction.

My short sojourn on the National Road when I leave the peninsula is somewhere between uncomfortable and downright miserable made only worse by the really beautiful scenery that I can't take a moment to enjoy because of all the nasty and ill behaved drivers that I'm sharing the road with. I actually find myself appreciating the sections of roadworks as I can bike through the under construction areas and in those sections only have to deal with torn up pavement.

Soon enough the GPS sends me onto a rural road followed by a more rural road followed by the sort of farm road I really wouldn't have noticed if I wasn't using phone maps. It's apparently quite the popular route with local and semi-local cyclists most of whom pass me in one direction or the other without so much as a head nod or a hello but two Shenzhen-bound speed racers chat with me for four or five minutes as does a guy from Hong Kong who doesn't really speak Mandarin or much English.

I lose the speed racers when I deliberately ignore the GPS's instructions to go check out a oxbowed village road and get lost in an orgy of 1970s propaganda on the inside of what can only be described as a large chicken pen. The blackboard on one wall makes me think it might have been a school but there's only the one blackboard and I feel like there's lots of things that might have gotten temporarily announced on blackboards in places that weren't schools. Besides, the outside of the chicken pen looks much more like a government building (grain cooperative perhaps?) than a school.

I can't tell if the few people I talk to really don't know what this building used to be or if they really have no interest in talking to me about what this building used to be. I am, after all, a weirdo with a camera wandering around inside their chicken enclosure taking pictures of faded graffiti that's older than I am. If I were them, I probably wouldn't want to talk to me either.

It's on the verge of getting dark as I'm approaching Xiayong, but the roads have gotten big and boring and oh look, is that a Greenway through a park along the coastline? It is. Catch a glimpse of my first foreigner since Xiamen, also on a bike, clearly out for an evening ride, and as inclined to ignore me as most of the other cyclists I've seen today.

The Greenway is one of those stunning bits of bike specific road that are actually bike specific road built by someone who paid attention to what pedestrians and cyclists would like in a comfortably attractive mixed use trail versus one of those where someone followed their leaders' instructions on "make bike roads" by adding in a couple sharrows on what's really a sidewalk and barely even that.

I could do with a less steep descent where it suddenly ends in a hairpin curve that, for some reason, is currently covered with sand but the facilities at that end (such as apartment blocks and shopping centers) were still in the Field of Dreams stage of development so it's probably going to improve.

Found my first marked hotel before I found anywhere to eat so I kept going and going and going, turned down some random little roads in the hopes that they'd be more populated and, although they weren't at first, I eventually got to an urban village very much like where I live in Haikou. Or at least, it will be in another five or ten years when the city catches up with it and swallows it whole.

Had one of my best meals since entering Guangdong at a nicely busy food stall where I couldn't quite get them to understand "you are packed with local customers, I don't care what you make, it's clearly going to taste good" and ended up with a bog standard Beijing style scrambled egg and tomato for 12 yuan.

My next marked hotel had a "no vacancy" sign on the counter so the refusal by the hotel after that to even consider me might have been because it was Friday night in an area where people go on weekend holidays and not because I'm a foreigner. I stayed at the place two or three doors down from them where they photographed my passport info page but, so far as I can tell, didn't do anything registration related with that information.

Today's ride: 78 km (48 miles)
Total: 2,710 km (1,683 miles)

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