D14: 平山→大安 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

September 5, 2020

D14: 平山→大安

Anything nice about today had a bit of gloomy pallor cast on it by the discovery around 2pm (in the middle of the "no, you can't consistently have signal" section of the day) that two people (who I was friendly with but not exactly what you'd call close friends) I know in Haikou were struck and killed by a drunk driver last night.

Since I'm the person who posts translations of what's happening in the Chinese news and I'm the person who runs the largest Foreigners WeChat Community Group (big enough that's its split into three groups) on the island, I was also the person that people kept asking questions of, and even if they were questions which I'd had the answers to, I'd get signal for just long enough to get a batch of messages and then the phone wouldn't let me respond to any of them.

Since my phone is dual SIM, I'm considering the possibility of attempting to pick up a card from the other mobile carrier but I'm not going to be in any real cities and getting a card from a county-level city seems unlikely to be successful.

Being as the road to Simian was not a truck route, it was a wonderful road to be on. Even the hugely steep mountain that I had to do to get back to the main road after Simian was still worth the time spent not on the truck road; it also made me more appreciative of the flat parts once I was on the truck road.

I'm not sure what caused my upset tummy. It could have been my lunch but it just as easily could have been the yogurt drink I had from the fridge. (One of the dietary things I'm supposed to be doing on bike trips--which I've completely neglected--is to ensure that I have a small quantity of dairy every day so that my lactose intolerance stays at a manageable level.) While descending on a crazy downhill, I had to stop and pull over to the side of the road, and jump over a crash barrier to shit my guts out.

The reoccurrence of stomach gurgles, and the news about Isaac and Dasha kept me from properly enjoying the small temple shortly before rejoining the main road. Once on the main road, although this was the part I had found extra double boring in 2008, my ever increasing levels of casual literacy and knowledge about what I'm looking at, as well as the fact that it was mercifully flat, and (unlike 2008) I was a good 30 kilometers less into my day than I had been, kept me from being too out of sorts over it being uninteresting.

I did make a point of swinging wide up to Da'an [大安] and Shenglin [盛林] with the intent that I would take little roads into Pingnan as neither my 2008 nor 2012 impressions of this road (before it became a National Road) wanted me to be on the main road. This plan was then completely spoiled by a sign telling me that Da'an had a recognized cluster of historic buildings and my getting to that cluster of buildings just as they closed for the day.

Picking the hotel closest to where I now was, I wasn't in any kind of mood to be dealing with any kind of no foreigners nonsense. As I was saying to some friends of mine shortly after all this went down "hotels currently have one chance to say 'okay, you can come behind the front desk and teach us' before I'm coming behind the front desk anyways". 

The police, when they showed up, were refreshingly easy to deal with. I was already behind the Front Desk with my registration completely filled out except for the room number and part of how I got the police to show up as quickly as they did was my solid refusal to budge and let them check anyone else in until after I was checked in. I'm uncertain as to whether or not they lost the customers who came after me to another hotel or if those guys just ended up going to dinner first.

Speaking in soothing, calming, de-escalating a crazy person voices the cops asked me what they needed to do to get me to stop sitting behind the Front Desk because, as someone who did not work for the hotel, I clearly wasn't supposed to be there. I smiled big at them and responded "all I need is for her to give me my room number so I can finish registering myself on the Public Security system. She didn't know how to do that so I tried to show her but once I had the registration all filled out, she wouldn't give me my room number."

"Well, how about you come out from behind the Front Desk and we talk about this over there."
"Sure, but don't let her reset my registration to check anyone else in until my registration is finished. This hotel's system isn't automatic and its a real pain to find all the correct info and fill it in by hand."

There was some periodic going out to the parking lot and talking on phones out of my earshot. During one of these occasions, while the junior of the two police was still standing there, the hotel manager started berating me about nonexistent regulations that he needs to follow, which I responded to with tried (and true!) statements about national laws that are nearly 20 years old at this point and was he really trying to tell me that his understanding of local law as a hotel owner was that there was a local law that somehow superseded a State Council decree?

Shortly after this, the junior officer wandered outside to talk to the senior officer and I'm fairly sure the reason that neither of the police said anything to me about "local regulations" was because they weren't sufficiently sure of those (frankly nonexistent) local regulations to risk being wrong around someone who confidently makes the sort of statements I was making.

When the two of them came back in, the senior officer asked me if I'd been to the closest city (Pingnan) possibly in preparation to strongly suggest to me that I'd be happier staying in a city at a hotel that knew how to take foreigners or something like that. Not sure. In any case, whether or not he was expecting a "yes" out of me, he definitely wasn't expecting me to say "once in 2008, and again in 2012". Then, they went outside again.

The next time he came back, I already had the laptop out and was working on updating this journal. It was a bit rude of me but I didn't even look up when he suggested that surely it would be easier if I let him take me to another hotel. "It would be easier if I stay at the hotel I'm already at. Especially as the hotel I am already at is closest to the historic site I'm planning on going to tomorrow morning. I shall stay here."

The time after that, he took my passport and went behind the desk, and via a torturous 20 minute long process where he reset the form and then insisted on asking someone on the phone about each and every step of the registration process (rather than just letting me show him!), registered me himself.

Today's ride: 56 km (35 miles)
Total: 717 km (445 miles)

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