D9: 清湖→良田 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

August 30, 2020

D9: 清湖→良田

Last night, as a way to help make myself fall asleep quicker, and because the massage only served to make me realize just how many sore spots I've got, I decided to take a codeine. On the one hand, I'm really only supposed to take the narcotics for a very specifically defined type of pain related to my bad leg. On the other hand, if taking the narcotics and then lying back in my dark hammock doesn't get me even the slightest little bit high, it means that I was actually in rather a lot of pain and my taking them wasn't actually wrong.

I have an incredibly poor night's sleep. The laptop and the camera keep moving around in the hammock with me and finding ways to poke me. Prior to deciding that it's used up all of the supposedly "good for 8 hours" battery, the tent fan falls on my face at least three times. And, I don't think I mentioned the pigs. 

Around 1am, and continuing until about 3am, a group of men pulled a truck up about 50 meters past the temple, left it idling, and started doing something that resulted in what sounded like a large number of very angry pigs screaming in annoyance. Mostly, there was oinking. Mostly, the oinking could be ignored. And then, every so often, just as I was starting to drift back asleep again, one of the pigs would start SCREAMING.

My urban upbringing can't imagine what would require a truck full of pigs to be loaded (or unloaded) just down the street from the town police station well after midnight, but whatever was going on, the pigs were not positively impressed by it.

Daylight woke me at around 7am but my magical superpowers of going back to sleep meant that I didn't actually get out of the hammock until past 9:00. Started the day off with most of a bowl of noodles for breakfast outside the hotel that I had stayed at my last two times in Qinghu. That I couldn't finish the noodles (after having missed both a proper lunch and a proper dinner yesterday) was the initial warning sign from my body that I would not be making it very far today. Since the main road and the first town aren't even 20 kilometers' distant, and since I really wanted to see how this road has changed since the last time I was on it, I was determined not to take a bus, but it really wouldn't have been that bad of an idea.

After breakfast I went to a nearby pharmacy to pick up bandaids. After getting the massage, the masseuse noticed that I had overscratched a couple of the bug bites on my bad leg and they had gotten infected. As my occasional habit of discovering half healed scabs has shown me, I'm nowhere near as good as I should be about doing wound checks on the bad leg. That multiple bug bites had gotten infected without my realizing it until someone else was looking at my leg means that I've missed multiple days of wound check. 

In fact, given the way that all the nerve signals in my leg are regularly scrambled, there's a decent chance that some of the past few days of my leg being a whiny bitch at me when I've tried walking instead of biking might have been related not to falling over at the traffic light in Leizhou but to my having skin infections - plural.

The masseuse had used some sterile acupuncture needles and Q-tips to drain the pus and the clean the wounds for me, and, after putting some antibiotic ointment on them had then left them open to the air to dry out a bit. Out in the wonderful fresh air of the countryside, however, every time I stopped moving, my leg was a veritable fly magnet. That didn't seem very good in terms of keeping the infection from coming back so I got bandaids.

In 2008, the road was dirt but not so bad.
In 2012, the road was paved and pretty damn good.
This time around, the road was a chewed up mess that in places I would have thought had never been paved if I hadn't been on it when it was very definitely a paved road.

I'd say I walked about a third of the distance, actually biked about a third, and coasted the rest. There were times when I should have had no problem biking up a hill even without shifting down but I decided that the likelihood of my making it to the top before other traffic wanted to use the perfect path between potholes was insufficiently good and I may as well just walk. At least, that's what I told myself. That I napped on and off for something like 5 hours after getting to the hotel in Liangtian and that I then slept 11 hours at night tells me that I may have been lying to myself.

Checking in at the hotel in Liangtian was amazingly easy. He wasn't exactly sure how to use the foreigner registration option on his own computer but he was aware that existed and perfectly willing to let me behind the counter to do it for him. It was after check-in, when he notified the police that I exist (because Covid), that was when things got frustrating.

I convinced him to let me have my room key so that I could go up to the room with some of my luggage, take a shower, and change into something less smelly before the cops arrived. Convinced him that I wasn't going to be trouble about coming back down and that everyone would really prefer to be dealing with a freshly showered me in clothing that hadn't been biked in.

During the frankly miserable experience of being a suspected Covid patient at the airport when I re-entered China in March, my mantra was that things that make me uncomfortable are not necessarily things which are being done unprofessionally. That having been said, these officers were exceptionally unprofessional - only one of them actually in uniform, one constantly fidgeting with his mask, and another with his mask on upside down (the metal nose piece under his chin). 

As none of the three thought to clip on a bodycam in the twenty some odd minutes it took for them to go 800 meters from the police station to the hotel, our whole encounter was mostly filmed handheld on Officer Upsidedown's phone. Given what I know about Chinese police and the sacred creation of bureaucratic chains of evidence, this just screamed unprofessionalism. Also, the impromptu substitution of an internet enabled device (a phone) for a bodycam simply isn't the way Things Are Supposed to Be Done.

I am willing to cooperate with any reasonable request and I'm willing to take into consideration the reasons why a request which seems unreasonable to me might seem reasonable to a person in authority. It's just that while biking, the usual requests that I get from people in authority are ones that past experience has already taught me they don't have the authority to be making. 

My breaking point for polite cooperation with this covey of cops came when they suggested that I might need to go somewhere and get tested for Covid. It's been less than 14 days since my most recent negative Covid test, I have a green code, I have been in China for the past 5 months, and mandatory two week quarantine has been a nationwide thing for all entries for the past 6 months. I feel that I could have handled the situation better and, should it come up again (which I'm sure it will), I'll just let them test me; I won't be paying for it unless there is some evidence that I have been somewhere which has recently had community transmission, but it's just a throat swab.

They finally left, letting me know that I should leave town as soon as possible, and that if I needed anything I should ask the hotel staff to get it for me rather than go wandering the streets. I went upstairs, ate some oatmeal, and took a series of very lengthy naps, before getting up to go get dinner at around 7:30.

No one from the hotel said anything about my leaving for dinner and I was reasonably sure that the officer who told me I shouldn't leave my room was talking out his ass but that didn't stop me from feeling a brief bump of nervousness when a police van pulled up at the restaurant next door on apparently completely unrelated business.

Today's ride: 17 km (11 miles)
Total: 445 km (276 miles)

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