D57: 廉江→杨柑 - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

December 9, 2019

D57: 廉江→杨柑

By the time we get to the hotel in the evening, I'm thinking I really need to do this 'riding with other foreigners' thing more often. Myf telling stories about the 2015 Tour where he would sometimes get 5 and 10 kilometers ahead of me and have a quiet peaceful chat with people until I showed up and the crowd of admirers formed, that had given me some idea of what it was going to be like but even so, I really had no idea.

Since Ivan and Catalina don't speak Chinese, I'm translating for them but whether it's because they are completely unlike 2016's Special Snowflake (who chattered so much that she made me look quiet) or because we are in an area that I know relatively well, or because I'm just sooooo thrilled to be able to talk in English after so many days on the road, I don't really mind translating for them. Besides which, the things that people ask of or about them are kind of funny (like the person who asked if Ivan is my son).

Half of the dishes we got at breakfast were free tastes provided by the restaurant. The entirety of our definitely not cheap lunch of roast goose and various stir fried veg, and beer was comped by the restaurant in return for a photo with us. Some guys stopped them just past a traffic light and gave them bottles of water. Three separate groups of people tried to invite us out to dinner. At one of the primary schools where I had us stop so I could look at an old building, the staff came out and took a group photo with us. 
Everyone loves us.

I'm not saying that I didn't gotten my fair share of positive unsolicited attention from strangers this trip when I was alone. There was both a free lunch and a free dinner in my first week. A good handful of randoms have pulled over by the side of the road to take a picture with me. People have waved out of windows as they drove past. But a single foreigner is easier to miss than three foreigners and I'm neither as obviously foreign as the two of them (particularly the two of them together) nor as good looking and we've had nearly as much attention in one day as I've had all tour.

We started the morning off by biking to Anpu [安普] from Lianjiang along what may have been marked as a county road (and which still had number stones for a county road) but which was rather a large, straight, dull sort of thing with a few too many cars and trucks to be truly enjoyable. Just eating up the kilometers. 

Having given up on getting them to ride in front of me so they could regulate our speed, I rode in front of them and kept looking back to make sure I was going slow enough.  At the same time, whenever they got up close to me, they slowed down to match my pace so I couldn't go too slow either.

More propaganda for my collection, a surprise old building that was seen because I stopped to let them know we had a possible farmroads detour we could take up ahead only to have the GPS crash when I used my phone's camera to take pictures of the old building and, subsequently, refuse to show the detour again. (To get multiple options to appear, they generally need to be within a 10% variance of the shortest route. Now that the start point had changed, the farm road up ahead was no longer recognized as an equally valid route.)

This was probably all for the good though as it meant that we were passing a very crowded goose restaurant on the outskirts of Anpu when they were still at peak customer level and it was easy to decide "we need to stop here and eat lunch now". Then, sated with food, our ride into the town of Anpu (which is apparently one of the Top Ten Historic Towns in Guangdong Province) was quite pleasant despite roadworks that rivaled the ones we'd had leaving Lianjiang in intensity, dustiness, and unpleasantness.

The first point of interest in Anpu was locked up. The second was an amazing Guandi Temple that we almost missed seeing because it was hidden behind a temporary stage set up for Yue Opera. Given their newness to China, If we'd been anywhere but Anpu, I might have suggested that we go get a hotel now and spend the rest of the day exploring Anpu's historic parts. But Anpu is a town where just last year the police not only showed up at the hotel and said "you can't stay here", they extended the here to the entirety of Anpu on the grounds that foreigners aren't allowed to stay anywhere but cities; they followed me to my hotel room after I checked myself in; and, they so thoroughly refused to back down that I had to pull out the "do you know who I am?" card.

I'm reasonably sure that if I hadn't just waved my connections in his face, that my immediate follow up behavior of putting my hands on the officer's shoulders and firmly pushing him out of my room would have—in most places and at most times—counted as assaulting an officer. However who I am, who I can show that I am, who I can show that I am connected to, well... let's just say that while I never ever want to go so far as to actually find out which of those connections will support me in an altercation, no one else wants to find out either.

So we finished up at the Guandi Temple, we spent another fifteen minutes watching the shop across the street from the temple make traditional charms, and we left in search of a pagoda I had seen from the opposite banks of the Yingzai River [营仔河] on my way in to Anpu last year and which showed up on AMap as a historical site. Of course, it not only turned out to be not very historical, it also turned out to be locked.

But, it got us onto the dyke which got us on to some farm roads that allowed for us to stay on farm roads all the way down to Paojie [炮界] and a defensive tower that had interested me last year so it wasn't a complete loss.

Other than getting lost somewhere I'd been lost before Paojie was a great success. A large crowd of locals happily pointed us towards the tower I had found and were relatively willing to take us over to the tower I hadn't found if we still wanted to go that way. But, the sun was starting to dip towards the horizon and we still had another dozen kilometers and change to go before Yanggan so we turned down the offer to keep riding. Besides which, it's close enough that I can come back some other day.

Today's ride: 70 km (43 miles)
Total: 3,607 km (2,240 miles)

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