D8: 河唇→清湖 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

August 29, 2020

D8: 河唇→清湖

I would not have thought that Hechun was a large enough town to have a branded convenience store of a brand that I recognized but it was and it did so—after a full divestment of responsibility on the part of the Front Desk for last night's having taken as long as it did and how I shouldn't possibly blame her for calling her boss to see if it was okay to follow the fucking law when it only meant that the boss was going to call the police and the police were going to call their superiors and how could she possibly know that just doing her not very difficult job in the first place would have been easier than setting into motion a situation which required me to be threatening a Public Security Bureau officer—I took the rare opportunity to buy a Coke 0 as a nice way to start my day.

I want to be explicitly clear on a number of points here:
- First of all, I've never had to find out what happens when you take down an officer's name and badge number and report them to unnamed higher authorities for making up nonexistent rules; the mere fact that I'm explicitly willing to do so has always been enough to make the nonexistent rules go away.
- Second, just because I've never done it doesn't make my willingness to do it any less of a threat; they are threatened by me, therefore it is a threat. I am threatening the police.
- Third, when it comes to following actually existing rules and regulations, I am somewhere between "bootlicker" and "coward"; in school, I was the teacher's pet; as an adult, I go out of my way to correctly pay my taxes. If there were any kind of rules that I could consult that would allow me to effectively know in advance where I am not allowed to go, I would happily follow those rules! Depending on the circumstances, I might seek out legal ways to officially get the rules changed, but I wouldn't ever just break the rules.
- Fourth, because following the rules is such an integral part of my personality, it really really bugs me when people make up their own rules just because they feel like it. That's not how rules work.
- Fifth, at the same time, as a functioning member of a society (even if it isn't the society I was born in), I understand that bending the rules or sidestepping the rules can be an effective way of getting things done, and I'm mostly not against this as long as the thing which is getting done is something which otherwise could have been done (although maybe more slowly) if we were following the rules in the first place.

Breakfast was dumpling soup of the sort that's about as Fujianese as KFC is from Kentucky. Unlike the place in Tiaofeng a few days ago, the owner wasn't even from Fujian Province. In any case, cheap and filling and it was one of those really small ones where the kitchen staff were sitting there stuffing home made dumplings while I ate.

When I'd made my plans for this bit of the day, I had myself traveling along the west side of the Hedi Reservoir [鹤地水库] as in 2008. The GPS gave me a potential route along the east side and since there seemed to be quite an excess of trucks on the west (an excess of trucks being defined as the ability to see more than one truck at a time), there really wasn't much of a choice needing to be made.

I seem to have potentially missed out on a few Sites of Interest that I would have previously missed out on with the only real loss being the chance to take a selfie of myself in the same spot 12 years apart. Really gorgeous day's ride on a traffic free road with only the oppressive excessive heat and my not yet quite healed saddle sores (how the hell do you get a blister on your butt cheek by the way?) to bother me. That, and my leg is still whining when I get off the bike and try to walk.

Had a good hour sit in the little town of Honghu [红湖] drinking water and eating salty seaweed and sesame crackers under a fan in a old style open fronted general store but, judging by how melted I was when I rolled into Shijiao [石角] maybe 90 minutes after that, I probably could have used a bit more time for the worst of the heat of the day to pass.

The only site of interest I could find in Shijiao was the Former Site of the Panlong Movie Theater [盘龙电影院遗址] and, I'm not really sure what I can say about it. I guessed it architecturally as being from the 60s or 70s; one of my respondents on TikTok explained why it had to be from the 70s; and another—who originally came from Shijiao—said it was built "approximately around 1980". I made no effort to go inside as it was beastly hot, definitely wasn't going to have cold drinks inside, and looked quite effectively boarded up.

From Shijiao to Qinghu, there were bits and pieces that I remembered. The missing town of Gucheng that had been on a few of the road signs and then never done me the decency of showing up back in 2008 resolved itself as being a wide spot in the road that—being as it only has one hotel in 2020—likely had nowhere to stay when I failed to realize in 2008 that I was in the process of passing through a place big enough to be named on signs.

Got to Qinghu and decided that, since tonight was definitely, totally, absolutely, 100% going to be camping, that I was going to start out by looking for a massage. Passed up on a couple of dodgier looking places before finding a most suitable looking place. That place tells me that her competition actually isn't dodgy at all though I still think the place next to the petrol station is a handjob joint.

I was reasonably well fed on ice pops and fruit and a few cold sweet drinks from throughout the day but I didn't realize that I'd somehow managed to skip both lunch and dinner until after my massage was over and I was automatically responding to "have you eaten yet?" (the Chinese equivalent to "how are you") with "yes, I already had dinner" ("I'm fine, thanks for asking").

The massage lady had a friend who likes to travel a lot (and has been to Russia on two separate occasions) who is friends with one of the police officers so she came by the massage place and then we went together to the police station where the officer very vaguely remembered my having been by in 2012.

He wasn't exactly what you'd call "thrilled" about my intending to camp and kept pushing the friend's possible solution of my staying in an empty dormitory on a third friend's company's premises but I was resolute in my reasoning that I need to get accustomed to occasionally sleeping outdoors again as a person with money enough to never need to sleep outdoors in China because I'm planning on a trip outside of China to places where there will not be hotels. Photocopied my passport and Covid test results so that I could be registered as having been a foreigner passing through, added my WeChat so I could I send him an exact location pin of where I ended up, and let me know that if I encountered one of the roving gangs of 10 and 11 year old boys that the town currently has a minor problem with while school is out of session, I should just yell at them to go away as the worst they have gotten up to so far is scaring their parents when they don't come home until morning.

I was going to follow the friend to a place that she thought would likely be good for me to camp when I noticed that the temple across the street from the police station had trees that were likely to be good for a camping hammock. Which it did. So everyone was happy. I got to camp; she got to help out the foreigner; and, while he might not have dissuaded me from my crazy "sleeping outside" idea, I was at least doing it in the safest possible patch of trees.

This being my first night in the camping hammock, I have learned that:

  1. My hammock didn't come with a rain fly.
  2. I need to find a better place to put the valuables than in the hammock with me. They have pointy corners and aren't very comfortable to sleep with.
  3. The tent fan only operates at the highest speed for about 3 hours.
  4. If you don't mount the tent fan very carefully, it falls on your face in the middle of the night and wakes you up.

Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 428 km (266 miles)

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