D31: 全州→兴安 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

September 27, 2020

D31: 全州→兴安

Going to the Post Office to send stuff back to Haikou (stuff which mostly falls within my rule that this won't be an option when biking from Europe by being things that were acquired in Guangzhou or by being things which, if push came to shove, I'd be willing to just throw out but rather not) reminds me that I still haven't mailed my ballot. In fact, it's three days later as I'm writing this, I only need to mail it to the Consulate so that it goes with the other absentee ballots, and I still haven't done it.

I walk to the closest Post Office to be shown nearby on Maps only to discover that it's the Postal Bank and that they don't have a mail counter. Which is ridiculous. I get that the China Post Bank provides bank services rather than mail services but they're owned by the fucking postal service, there should never be a situation where a China Post Bank is not at least next door to an actual China Post. This is also when I discover that I took my pedals off before I left Quanzhou for Guangzhou and that I don't actually know which pannier pocket I tucked them into.

I know people quip that you always find something in the last place you look but I swear, I completely emptied two panniers and was about to start on the third (where nothing should be added or removed unless I'm fixing things) before I rechecked the first pannier and found them. 

Pedals on, I bike to another China Post that is practically next door to the McDonald's I talked myself out of getting delivery from last night (because for the same price as food with delivery surcharge I could have dumplings and a massage) thinking that as soon as I divest myself of the annoying to carry stuff (like the beautiful bamboo and stainless steel tea thermos that came in my goody bag) I'll treat myself to a wonderful protein and fat combo but, despite the current hour clearly being within the clearly posted hours of operation, this Post Office is closed.

Had Post Office number three also been closed, I was strongly considering heading back to the McDonald's while calling a courier company for pickup and having them do the pick up from the McDonald's. However, they turned out to be open.

Documents like the training materials from yesterday's class or the certificate I got must be mailed in a document mailer, aren't allowed to go in a package with the other stuff; it's a rule; a nationwide rule, she says. Like most "nationwide" rules, I suspect its a personal rule but I so rarely mail anything via any method other than by asking my assistant to do it for me, I'm unwilling to speak up. The package gets my jeans (now sporting a new giant tear), one of my t-shirts (since I have two new ones), and the tent fan as it's only actually been used three times as a fan, and isn't very reliable as a power bank (I'm assuming the reason it stops charging is that it gets too warm inside the pannier but it doesn't start charging again unless the item is un- and re-plugged).

Then, I'm off.

Today is basically the National Road all day which means not a whole lot of interesting. Me, being me, I manage to repeatedly get off the National Road and on to stretches of older road (that might also have once been National Road) for as much as 3 and 4 kilometers at a time as well as taking some detours to go look for things that I can't find and to find things I wasn't looking for.

The sky threatens rain but never does much more than enthusiastically spit at me. A few times I actually go so far as to put my camera away inside the dry space of the handlebar bag only to immediately encounter a rare bit of scenery and to take it out again.

Probably the day's best find came while looking for a minor site related to the Long March (there were some major sites as well, with museums and parking lots; I skipped those) was a likely former one room schoolhouse that's now being used to keep hay dry.

When the time comes to make the choice for my last 20 kilometers as to whether it'll all be flat or whether I'll cut a corner, end up a day's ride ahead tomorrow, and go for the mountains, I chose the flat and head for Xing'an.

Dinner eaten at the first likely looking place, a dozen better looking places reveal themselves once I turn the corner towards the cheap hotel I've decided on via the info on my online maps. The hotel, however, is rather uncertain about having foreigners, by which I mean they are rather certain about not having foreigners, particularly American foreigners cause Covid is so out of control in the US right now.

I'm having none of this.

"Your choices are to give me a room or to call the police and then give me a room. Not giving me a room is not one of the options you have available."

Police are called. Well, presumably the police. Or a police officer. Someone is called via WeChat voip. And this someone asks questions that are relayed back to me like "how long have you been in China?" and "do you have a Green code?" before she gives a dramatic defeated sigh and hands me a room key. 

The place is old enough (at least a decade since the train station whose plaza it faces on to hasn't had passenger rail) and cheap enough that the room I get might be representative of the quality of all their rooms and not a deliberate attempt to give me something worse, but it also might be a deliberate snub. Whatever. The rain has started for real, it's gotten quite chilly outside, and the hot water is both hot and high pressure.

Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 1,577 km (979 miles)

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