D1: 海口 - 徐闻 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

August 21, 2020

D1: 海口 - 徐闻

I'm pretty pleased with my packing. Other than the truly ridiculous amount of weight that I've gained this Spring and Summer (less from the Covid lockdowns than from the "thank fucking god we can go out again" parties), I'm carrying too much weight but it's mostly not unreasonable items.

(The battery powered tent fan is also an oversized power bank; that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

I've got a bunch of comfort food as a stand in for the fact that, whenever Amsterdam to Haikou happens, I'll actually need to be carrying food on a regular basis and cooking stuff other than coffee.

I've already mentioned the camping hammock, the sleeping bag, and my goal of spending roughly 1 day in 5 sleeping rough (my realistic expectation is closer to 1 in 10). As well, I've got my autumn in the north weight warm stuff to try to eliminate the need for postal resupplies of anything other than luxuries as postal resupplies are another one of those things that won't be happening on that trip.

Despite this, everything fits inside four panniers and a handlebar bag, and I'm successfully out of my apartment and on the road by 10:30 this morning.

Although they require that I periodically lift my bike up over barriers intended to prevent ebikes and scooters from using them, I stick to the bike trails that link the Clock Tower with the Bund, Century Park, and Evergreen Park.

It's a lovely ride and, if I'm not at the dentist by the time I intended to be there, I also don't have a specific appointment other than "Friday".

The tooth can be saved but it looks like I'll be getting my first crown when I get back to Haikou. Serves me right for not getting the temporary filling from Thailand dealt with on the schedule that the Thai dentist told me I should.

After the dentist, Sarah and I have a nummy good-bye lunch at Little India of soft things that specifically don't require me to chew with the left side of my mouth (a task that is surprisingly difficult when you aren't specifically doing this because it hurts).

On the way to the Port, I stop at the little bike shop in the hopes of getting a front fender, a small water bottle to fit my seat-tube cage, and a patch kit. Two out of three aren't bad and he even provides me with zipties for my ridiculous helmet modification.

Taking the ferry with a bike has always been a pain in the ass. Being a foreigner doing something that involves paperwork in a space that rarely sees foreigners is also a pain in the ass. Add in post Covid paperwork and things take quite a very very long while.

From the info desk to the Port Precinct House where they do not "write me a certificate permitting travel" but instead have me follow an officer to the place where the passengers already on coaches that are going to cross the straits wait and get the police on duty there to make me a certificate. Then out of the Port towards the drivers' entrance only to be told that's the wrong entrance and back to a different drivers entrance where they glance at my papers and send me to a ticket window about 500m away.

Around this time Shenelle and cold cans of beer arrive which would have lengthened the process by forcing me to always walk between points instead of biking except for the fact that Sarah is still with me so I was walking anyways. Whatever annoyance I get from absolutely having to walk, beer and friends makes things a hell of a lot more bearable.

We go at least a kilometer through various gates and checkpoints whose response to us ranges from completely ignoring us to mumbling instructions to other locations.

Then, I've got a police check where he takes the stamped certificate I got from the police at the Passengers' Waiting Hall, takes a picture of me holding my passport next to my face, and checks my green code (a surprisingly honor system based way of checking to see if you've recently been near any Covid patients and if you are flagged for mandatory testing).

Then it's hugs goodbye and a trip to the nearest RoRo ferry in the process of boarding vehicles. They promptly send me back to the checkpoint I just went through for "car passengers" because I missed the part for "car drivers" where I exchange my "ticket to get on A Ferry" for a "ticket to get on A Specific Ferry".

By the time I've been sent walking back and forth through the hold and found where they want me to leave my bike, the leg is fucking killing me. On the way up to the Secret VIP Lounge (50y for an atrocious milk tea but it comes with the right to have cold air con, comfy couches, and toilet paper in the bathroom) I actually have to take a break to sit down.

The crossing is only a bit over 90 minutes but they count that "port to port" and not the two hours I spent waiting for the boat to start moving. Luckily, another one of the benefits of the Secret VIP Lounge is that it has scads of power outlets. Unluckily, I'd made assumptions on the basis of the number of vehicles already in the hold that we'd only be around 2 hours total and I hadn't taken my laptop up with me.

It's a good hour and change past sunset by the time I land in Guangdong. I contemplate staying at a hotel near the old port which I'd stayed at in 2014 but I've got a headlight now and, other than walking related pain in the bad leg, I'm feeling pretty fresh.

By the time I've gotten to Xuwen, I am actively aware that I absolutely should get something to eat before I go to a hotel because I was already actively hungry enough on the boat that the pot noodle some of the other passengers had smelled good and I've gone past that point to no longer feeling hungry which means Bitch Marian is likely to show up if there are any problems at all with my lodging.

Of course, since I haven't eaten, I'm also absentminded and mildly grumpy to the point of being picky and refusing all of the restaurants I pass. The inevitable refusal of my stay by my chosen lodging is met with a number of tried and true tactics including talking my way behind the desk "it doesn't matter that the scanner is 'broken' and you currently can't use it to register non-Mainland citizens, I know how to use the system without needing the scanner", and being really really LOUD in my refusal to accept that there is any legal rule or regulation regarding my not being allowed to stay (partly because there isn't, partly because when someone thinks there is, it usually means the police told them that and that means I need to get the police to show up).

I'm not proud of—in current internet parlance—being a Karen, but dammit, once I've run into a wall, if something other than "yelling until I got my way" worked, that's what I'd be doing. 

I do make a point of apologizing both to the police and the front desk women after the police have arrived; have toothlessly attempted to tell me some "for my safety" bollocks about hotels which are rated three star and up which I completely ignore cause I'm hangry and they're already on their way towards doing what I want; and have decided that my speaking fluent Chinese, having a green code, having a recent Covid test, having already registered myself on the system and uploaded my registration to the provincial PSB, having carried my bike and luggage upstairs, having taken their photos, having been in the country for 5 months, having already scanned the payment code and paid for my room, having specifically been through a CDC monitored centralized quarantine means... that the easiest, least confrontational, most peace-making solution is to just let me stay.

One of the things I really don't get about Chinese society is that when I do make the choice to apologize "I'm sorry I was so horrible and caused a disturbance, but I needed the police to arrive, and if I hadn't been a Terror you wouldn't have called them" is that everyone accepts this as a reasonable excuse.

I practically inhale the first packet of oatmeal which I make with dried blueberries, some walnuts, some cranberries, and almond powder so I make a second packet as well before doing my laundry and passing out.

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