D4: 调峰→雷州 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

August 24, 2020

D4: 调峰→雷州

Detective Zeng liked some of the photos I posted on my WeChat Moments today. This should mean nothing to me. Lots of people I know clicked like on some of the photos I posted on my WeChat Moments today - an average of about 15 per posting in fact (which is nothing compared to what my new TikTok account is getting but those people are strange strangers who want to watch my poorly made videos about lunch). Seeing his name in the message pop up list for my WeChat Moments, however, makes me uncomfortable.

Unlike Facebook, which allows you to see all the people who have 'liked' or commented on a given post, WeChat only allows you to see likes and comments by people you know in common. This means that when Coach Li comments on a post of mine, Mr. Q and Jack Liang can both respond to his comment but Jack won't see Mr. Q's answer and my assistant Tyra won't see that any of them have said anything at all. When people who have diverse friend groups make a popular post, it's fairly common for "I didn't know you also know [person]!" to show up in comment threads. 

Some government officials with whom I socialize openly follow me on social media. Most of them, however, will send me a private message about [whatever it is I'm currently doing] rather than put it out there where other people can see them. Until I started writing this entry about how uncomfortable I am, I couldn't think of a single police officer with whom I have a positive relationship who has commented or liked my posts. Now that I'm putting things down on paper, I keep coming up with exceptions to the rule; I realize that I'm not just "probably" overthinking things; and, it's most likely that this isn't some sneaky way of letting me know that he's watching me.

I missed dinner last night because I was too tired to go back downstairs (via elevator) to go looking for food. I was also too tired to even make instant oatmeal using the kettle in the room. I was that wiped out.

I breakfasted in the room but skipped making coffee as I figured that the combination of 14 hours of sleep and insufficiently good water meant that I really didn't need the caffeine boost. That having been said, if the supermarket downstairs from the hotel had had Coke Zero, I still would have gone for the fizzy caffeine.

First stop of the day was a partial fix to my handlebar bag. One of the screws that holds part of the mechanism in place to keep the bag mount from sliding downwards until the bag hits the stem is missing. However, because this is a well used and abused bag, the piece that missing screw should be holding in place is sufficiently crimped by the formerly present screw that it's not fallen out completely. My fix isn't a perfect one - the bag still slides - but it's much better than what I had. 

The next two issues (neither of which I'm touching at a place like this) are to get my Rohloff shifter to stay in place on the handlebars and then to see if the briefly noticed inability to shift into 14th gear is or is not a function of the entire twist shifter twisting.

I leave Tiaofeng via a lovely bit of country road through sugar cane and pineapple and patches of banana with great big windmills silently spinning far above my head. When the road turns dirt, the GPS sends me through a village before putting me on a rutted trail through the banana groves that was probably 25 meters less unpaved distance than going straight would have been. I only sound like I'm complaining though, I actually loved every moment of it.

The reappearance of something that might be called civilization calls for celebration in the form of a warm bottle of Coke (nothing in the chilled up overnight and now unplugged chest freezer is caffeinated) and topping off my water bottles with slightly rusty tasting boiled water from a thermos.

A little while after that I'm back on a proper road of the sort that goes somewhere. It's not quite a town though and the only restaurants are the "大排档" overpriced random vegetables in a not very cold display fridge type places that also don't have fixed price menus. We have a few of these still left over in Haikou so people obviously go to these places on purpose but I really don't understand them as they are consistently lower quality and higher price than... well... everything.

The night in Tandou, two servings of dumplings and an extra serving of diced brisket cost me 18y. The nearby 大排档 that I'd checked out before finding the dumpling shop wanted to charge me 25 for a meatless eggplant dish.

Today's lunch in Leigao [雷高] is dumplings. Many days' lunch will be dumplings. On tour I basically live off of the trifecta of Chinese fast food: dumplings, noodle shops, and fried chicken sandwiches. I watch the shop owner struggle with the math off of his own menu (my order was complicated) and I know I end up paying too much but I also went through a good four or five liters of brewed chrysanthemum and sweetleaf tea, and I refilled my water bottles from the drinking water dispenser so I'm uninclined to mention his math issues.

If I hadn't been in an exhausted grumpy hurry to find myself lunch and to refill my fluids, I would have detoured to see the Stone Creek Zen Temple [石溪禅庙] whose pagoda I saw peeking up over a hill in the distance as I was approaching the main road. It's been on my Leizhou Peninsula To Do List since 2014 but I always have a good reason for skipping it.

I'm sunburnt, my nether regions hurt, loosening my shoes so that they don't pinch my toes means that I've got hotfoot where the most recent pedicure removed my calluses, my bad leg is whinging, and the Ancestral Home of Chen Bing [陈瑸故居] which I just went out of my way to visit on the way in to Leizhou was a total bust with nothing of any interest to see. 

It's not a bad place. It's just not a good place to go out of one's way to visit. The uncles and aunties have taken over the manicured gardens of this Patriotic Education Base and made it a comfortable place for playing cards; the local children are running around barefoot. On a day when I'm not so wiped out, perhaps after I've ridden off 10kg of body weight, I still think I would find it completely and utterly uninteresting.

I'm having a not very easy time of it facing into a headwind on a perfectly straight beautifully paved and traffic free road that goes from the village where the Ancestral Home is located to Leizhou. It could be worse, I could be two roads to the south where the roads actually connect to and from useful things. I'd still have the headwind and the sunburn and the sore muscles and the sore bum but I'd also have it on a narrow bumpy road with trucks and cars.

I stop to stretch my legs and take a picture of an odd little boxy pavilion on the other side of the irrigation canal when I notice that there's a stele inside the pavilion. If I squint in the just right way, it looks like the left half of the stele might even be carved in Manchu. This calls for Explorations.

Failing to notice the bit ten or fifteen feet away that was actually made for crossing the canal, I gingerly make my way across on the not-at-all narrow balance beam that's only an issue because my legs are basically rubber. It's not much of a jump from off the concrete lip to the ground on the other side but it hurts because everything hurts. When getting ready to re-cross back to the side where my bike is, I'm actually thinking of sliding across on my ass when I see the footbridge which I should have taken the first time.

As best I can tell on the basis of the huge grave mound, the old stone altar, and the near nonexistent signage in any modern language, this is the grave site of the Chen Bin whose Ancestral Home I just visited. This is also the first time I've seen a stele with Manchu on it anywhere south of Hebei.

Approaching Leizhou and really wanting nothing more than a few liters of fluid, some salty greasy food, and for the day to end, I see two medium sized marker stones by the side of a very tiny modern bridge. The words are on the water side of the stones so, after rudely leaning my bike against the stones (which are from the Guangxu and Qianlong eras) I stop to try to puzzle them out. 

I've seen all sorts of roadside pavilions and markers commemorating the people who donated to build a bridge or a road and, in recent years, have been commenting on how this practice has been declining owing to a stronger central government that does things like build and maintain roads before the local village has to pass the collection plate around. This is the first time I've found a historic marker of that nature though!

I'm sitting there being exhausted and finishing up posting to TikTok my visit to random stones by the side of the road when a local guy on a motorcycle pulls up and starts chatting with me mostly about the stones and random historical things around Leizhou and biking and all sorts of stuff. I can tell how bonked I am by how I simultaneously find him interesting, engaging, and fun, and how I also want him to just go the fuck away and stop bothering me already!

Once he's left, hopefully without too bad of an impression of me, I get back on my bike, finish the ride into the city, crash into myself at a traffic light, and achingly find my way to the hotel I stayed at in December with the Argentinians only to get the No Foreigners Allowed treatment which results in an incredibly shitty and uncontrolled temper tantrum on my part which - in terms of being loud and disagreeable - is completely indistinguishable to an outside observer from a night when I'm intentionally trying to get the police to show up.

The police aren't called but the hotel owner is, and I've got a room key and a room, and have carried my bike and bags up to the second floor before the delivery food I ordered even arrives.

Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 186 km (116 miles)

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