D7: 安铺→河唇 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

August 28, 2020

D7: 安铺→河唇

My leg was a whiny bitch this morning. Less of a whiny bitch than—for example—the morning in Leizhou immediately my falling over at a traffic light but still a whiny bitch. Enough of a whiny bitch in fact that, despite rather wanting to properly check out the old downtown (without Argentinians in tow), I decided to go straight for breakfast and biking as going through the old downtown would require walking and walking is definitely on the gimpy side of things.

Rather than the dyke road which I had planned to take, the GPS decided to send me along what it claimed were "farm roads" but which were actually connected groups of spread out modern village houses interspersed with patches of dead factories from—I’d guess—the 1980s (but could be the 1990s). This had the advantage that it took me through the town where a handful of someones on TikTok had suggested I stop and get a certain local specialty for lunch but the disadvantage that I never got any shade at all (and then, when I got to that town, I not only forgot to go looking for their specialty snack item but was also inadvertently standoffish to someone who approached me while I was buying fruit to let me know that she had seen me on TikTok).

Fat Marian and cycling in the south in August are not the best mix. From the little things like forgetting to eat because I didn’t eat and hunger went away again to the rubbed raw patches of sensitive skin, I hurt in all kinds of new and inventive ways. My muscle tone is definitely starting to come back and I’ve already lost a noticeable amount of stomach blubber, but—even surrounded by beautiful things—I’m cranky, and I don’t like being cranky.

From the town to the main road where I’ll turn to my first set of actually country roads for the day, I’ve got a great big mess of dusty lumpety roadworks to deal with. I’m sure there’s a logical reason behind why they go and punch a bunch of holes in pavement that they are planning on removing and then leave it (with the holes) for a few weeks but it’shell to ride over (or drive over for that matter). While mentally kicking myself for not realizing that the woman who had stopped to chatter at me might have been a good way to find yummy local lunch until after I’d gotten her to go away, I determine that as soon as I hit a shady spot with somewhere I can sit, I’m going to nom my way through a bunch of the plums I just bought.

That comes in the form of a literal corner store at the corner of the main road and the next country road. I’m vaguely aware that they have things other than a refrigerator with cold drinks but, even though I spend the next hour sitting there and making coffee and eating plums, I never go looking to see what those things are.

My UHT heavy cream might not require refrigeration but it also isn’t a fan of whatever temperature it gets inside my panniers on a day that’s in the mid 30s; I now have a sealed box full of melted butter. Milk fat is milk fat and I still put it in my coffee.

The fatty sweet coffee (and the three liters of water I drink while making coffee) is enough to get me back on my bike and continuing to move on down the road. It’s a very pretty road with lots and lots of short ups and downs which are starting to make me really really annoyed with the Rohloff twist shifter (first because twist shifter, but also because I still haven’t done anything to make it stay in place on the handlebars since the first day when the shim slipped).

I'm desperate for food and realizing it by the time I hit a patch of development zone a good five or six kilometers from Lianjiang City but which may as well be the City for the amount of traffic its got and I stop at a dodgy looking noodle shop across the street from a school. The noodles are excellent. The multiple unasked for refills of my water bottle even more excellent. And although they haven't specifically seen me online and therefore aren't doing it because of my newfound brush with Chinese social media fame, they proactively offer me a discount for letting them take a picture with me. I like them.

My only real "I actually want to go see this place" site for the day is a Relic Site just outside the town of Hechun but, when I get there, not only is it already too dark to see anything, it seems like there wouldn't be anything to see. There are glimpses in the darkening woods of hummocks that might be dirt covered former walls like that fort I stumbled across in Jiangsu in 2017 but, it's already approaching sunset, I haven't fidgeted my headlight into a position where it isn't half blocked by part of my front racks, there are lots of mosquitoes, and no indicator that I'm going to find much more than signs telling me all the many and various ways I can get in trouble if I so much as think about taking a shovel to the ground around here.

Things do not go smoothly upon my arrival in Hechun. I'd rather not write about the way the first hotel went because it wasn't pretty, and ultimately, I lost the argument. What particularly pissed me off is that they were so determined not to have a potential disease vector (i.e. me) stay at their hotel that even after looking over all of my bona fides regarding the fact that no one (even Chinese citizens) is allowed in the country without two weeks' quarantine and multiple Covid tests, that I've been in the country since March (back before the borders were effectively closed to all non-Chinese), and that I have a recent negative test, they offered (not that they had any intention of making good on this offer) to pay for me to stay at the hotel next door because that was a "proper" hotel and their place wasn't.

Their place was a family owned sort of thing that probably has their licenses in order but maybe doesn't but no one really cares because its a small town and they are three doors away from the police station. I wanted to stay there primarily because it was cheap but also because nothing else in town was any farther away from the railroad tracks and I figured if I was going to have trains, I may as well have trains cheaply. Also, the hotel's washing machine was in the room I looked at so I would have been able to easily do my laundry (some of the stuff I washed in Zhanjiang apparently wasn't completely dry before I put it back in the panniers and it smells really bad).

Needless to say, when the "proper" hotel next door gave me shit, I wasn't have any of it. At all. Not from the front desk clerk, not from her boss, and certainly not from the police.  

For those of you who haven't played along before, or who aren't familiar with the rules, one point is awarded for each category of government official who tells me to my face "you aren't allowed to stay here, it's against the law". On this particular occasion there were two 协警 (auxiliary police officers), and one 民警 (civilian police officer) who may have also been the 班长 (shift captain). There was also a presumably English speaking public security bureau officer on the phone who I think was from the Exit & Entry Administration.

Since the lady officer didn't show up in person, I don't get a point for her. One point for the two auxiliary officers and one point for the regular officer and the new score is: 125 to 6. In my favor, of course.

For a person in a position of authority to convince me that I'm not allowed to stay at a hotel but must, instead, stay at some other hotel (must, in fact, be driven to a specific hotel some 20 kilometers away), it's really quite simple... all they need to do is show me anything in writing with the specific rule, regulation, or law which they are referencing. Also, although not strictly necessary, it would be much appreciated if they would do me the favor of putting their name and badge number on this document along with today's date.

(The times I've stayed somewhere else are respectively: the time the military was involved, the time I didn't feel like arguing, the time the PSB paid the difference for me to stay somewhere nicer, the time the local police changed tactics from "no foreigners at our local truck stops" to "I wouldn't let my sister stay alone at our local truck stops", and two times with camping.)

The lady officer on the phone had a new tactic which I haven't encountered before. She suggested that, just like in my country, localities are allowed to make local laws which are separate from national laws and that I should be willing to accept local laws and regulations and not just insist that "national law" says whatever whatever. Because I'm a smart ass, I cheerfully agreed with her on this point, while also reaffirming that all legally binding local rules and regulations are, of course, in writing, and that it should therefore be no problem at all for her to find me this written rule.

Bear in mind, it's already a head fuck for everyone involved because the necessary behavior to get the police called on me (they won't come if I merely ask nice) involves being a screaming banshee bitch from hell and it's just not normal for people who are being screaming banshee bitches from hell to immediately calm down and start being quietly logical. Also, the subtle threats of legal coercive force are supposed to be flowing from them to me, not the other way around.

At two hours after the police showed up, I think this is my new record for the longest its taken me to get into my hotel room.

Today's ride: 57 km (35 miles)
Total: 377 km (234 miles)

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