Saturday (T-3) - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

September 28, 2019

Saturday (T-3)


Unpacked from the box
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I'm not going to assume that everyone reading this journal has read my previous journals. For one thing, as a member of the exodus from That Other Site, the vast majority of them currently aren't online. 

In any case I feel I should introduce myself to everyone and tell people a bit about myself.

My name is Marian. I'm 38 years old. American. I've been living in China since 2002. 

I started out as an English teacher temporarily doing that "post college not sure what's next" thing that many native English speakers do because it's relatively easy work for relatively good money and a nice opportunity to take a step back and make decisions.

I moved to Hainan in 2004, started formally studying Chinese in 2005, volunteered to work at the inaugural Tour of Hainan road race in 2006, and have been a Chinese to English translator ever since. 

In 2011, in order to handle my Residence Permit and minor niggling things like taxes, I opened a translation agency as a Wholly Foreign Owned Entity under Chinese law. I still like to think of myself as a freelancer but, given the whole "having employees" thing and the "branch offices in other provinces", I'm rather clearly not a freelancer.

I went on my first bike tour in 2003, my first overnight bike tour in 2006, my first international bike tour in 2007, and my first multi-month bike tour in 2008. I've mostly toured in China but also Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and a bit of the US.

Because my job allows me to work remotely, I currently take a long tour about once a year. This year's trip is from Shanghai to Haikou meandering through Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau. I will take small roads. I will detour. I will wander. And, if past experiences are in any way an indicator of future events, I will get into arguments with the local police about hotels, my registering to spend the night at a hotel, and the 'license to accept foreigners'.

Arguments which I will win.

Possibly because there once were classes of hotels that foreigners could stay at and classes of hotels that foreigners couldn't stay at, there's this persistent misconception that a special license needs to be given for a hotel to accept non-Chinese. On the basis of way too much research, I can say that if such a license exists, it exists in a void where no forms exist to be filled out; no laws or government circulars mention it; no services exist to help a hotel get the license; and, no one has ever bragged on social media about getting one for their business.

I don't go out of my way to provoke the police into admitting they were wrong. In point of fact, I try very hard to resolve my hotel registration without bringing the police into the picture at all. However, unlike past trips, many of the places I will be going on this trip are ones where lots of foreign backpackers and no few cycle tourists have repeatedly reported hotels refusing to accept them and police forcing them to move along.

I'm not looking forward to this aspect of my trip.

Over the past 17 years, for times the police or other Chinese authorities have told me it is illegal for me to spend the night in a specific location, the Marian v. The Men in Blue score currently stands at 115 to 4 so I'm not especially worried that I'll actually be moved along. 

It's just that I'm not a huge fan of confrontation and every time I end up in one of these situations I'm always a little bit afraid that I'm going to lose my temper or say the wrong thing and make it into something a bit more serious. 

(This one time, in Guizhou in 2012, I blurted out "You are a police officer. Police officers should serve the people. They shouldn't lie. If you don't know the truth, then shut your mouth!" and it worked, but it still scared the shit out of me that I had let those words escape my internal monologue.)

After an incident last year where I was arrested and spent ~30 hours in custody over something which I did not do (but which, with the evidence they had, the police were absolutely correct in thinking I had done), I'm even less interested than I was before.

At the same time, when "you can't stay here" comes up, they often aren't giving me much a choice. I can sleep in a tent without telling anyone where I am; stay in the sort of dodgy love hotel that usually doesn't register their guests; let them drive me to some other county; be forced to stay at the most expensive place in town; or, put my foot down and make a fuss. As my mother's daughter, it's pretty obvious which one of those I'm going to choose.

I hope not to have too many of these altercations. I hope to entertain you with my writing about my travels. And for those of you who aren't also bikers, I hope to inspire you to go out and do your own cool fun things.

15 minutes later, it's still not quite ready to ride because the rear brake cable hasn't been attached but, if I had had the brake cable splitters, I could leave an airport by bike.
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Today's ride: 9 km (6 miles)
Total: 44 km (27 miles)

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