D39: 地坪→从江 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

October 6, 2020

D39: 地坪→从江

My usual criteria for indicating that I've left one province and moved on to the next is that I woke up in the new province. For this reason, today's entry is obviously "Guizhou". However, being as I ate my first meal of the day in Guangxi, and passed in and out of Guizhou at least once more before finally ending up in Guizhou for the night, it was a hard call as to whether or not I should consider it to still be Guangxi. After all, almost all of today's forward distance on a bicycle was achieved in Guangxi.

Since yesterday evening, I'm technically back into territory that I traversed in 2012, however this bit was done on a bus because the Sucking Mud of Doom led to my derailleur getting caught in my spokes and my wheel being all out of true and rubbing on my brakes and all sorts of other issues that made it prudent to consider taking a bus to the next town with a bike shop versus heading deeper into the mountains. I've tried to find things that I photographed while I was on the bus but, even though a portion of my trip by bus was done by boat (to get around a landslide) and even though the sign on the boat (which was normally a ferry for else-river) is for places I'm passing through, I can't find anything that matches in the slightest.

Since I stopped following a river valley downhill and started following a different river valley uphill, the terrain gods have smiled upon me and made it so that the grade is a relatively constant one as opposed to lots of short steep uphills followed by slightly shorter and less steep downhills. I'm still getting lots of climbing in but it's reasonable amounts. (I'm also not hungover and have recently rested because I took a combination laundry/work day but surely it's actually a change in terrain.)

Fulu [富禄] Township, where I have my brunch, appears to be having a Market Day. Whether its actually a specific Market Day versus just normal going to market is hard to tell. Certainly, an awful lot of people (mostly women) are extra dressed up above and beyond the normal "ethnic minorities in this part of China wear what to farm in?" but for all I know, that's always what they wear to go into town and go shopping.

I pick a pleasantly busy restaurant near the intersection with the alley where the town's market is located. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's good in that I have a view of everything. But it's bad because it's noisy and dusty and my food takes forever to arrive. There are the trucks that look too big to be going down this street (ever) trying to inch their way past stalls and people and vehicles, amazing clothing, interesting mixes of traditional and modern being worn by younger people, a stall selling speakers that - for some reason - is demonstrating them with loud chirping bird sounds. I'm a neurotypical normie and the muchiness of everything around me is still enough to be completely overwhelming my senses.

Although the rest of the ride to Congjiang is constantly and consistently pretty, coming on the heels of the Market in Fulu, it's rather prosaic. Also, this is like my fourth or fifth day of river valley scenery and while it's all beautiful, it's beautiful in the same way that the last 200 kilometers were beautiful and it's starting to blur together in identical bits of beautiful.

This river has far fewer hydroelectric dams than the other one and a lot more rapids which means that while I still don't know why the water is as green as it is, I'm increasingly sure that's not an algae bloom.

It's one of those days where a lot of people stop to take photos with me and a lot more people call out encouragement as they pass me in cars or on motorcycles. The most notable of the interactions with another person is a man who I saw in the Market selling duck eggs out the back of his van. He wants to take a photo of me with his toddler son but the toddler is having none of it. I give the Dad a drilled penny as a souvenir for the son nonetheless and, quite unexpectedly, get given duck eggs in return.

Lots of duck eggs.

When I gave him the coin, he asked for my WeChat and I didn't really want to give it out because an unfortunately large percentage of the random people on the road who manage to get my contact information end up being really annoying afterwards so I told him to search me on TikTok. It's easier to ignore someone on TikTok and, more importantly, if they turn out to be someone I want to talk to, I can still give them my WeChat.

I've crossed the 10,000 subscriber barrier by this point so I'm expecting to get a reaction from anyone who looks me up but I wasn't expecting the reaction I got. I suppose I should have. Because "here, let me give you some of my duck eggs in return for this cool gift you gave my son" turns into three dozen duck eggs. Which I suitably video'd myself being given (and of me hard boiling some of them) along with a nice long shot of his phone number off the side of the van.

There are multiple treatments that eggs can get between leaving a bird's cloaca and making it into a kitchen and, fortunately enough, Chinese eggs do not get the treatment that North American eggs get such that they require refrigeration. Also, these appear to be lightly preserved. They aren't anywhere near as salty as the salty duck eggs I buy with breakfast in Haikou but there is a hint of saltiness that makes me think they may have spent at least a few days soaking in brine. 

The words "咸" for salted and "鲜" for fresh are respectively pronounced "xián" and "xiān" so I'm really not sure if these are actually salted eggs or if duck eggs naturally have this much of an umami taste to them.

(Five days later, four of my last six meals were duck eggs and instant porridge from my panniers and I still have a ridiculous amount left.)

Although the hotel that I stayed at in Congjiang in 2012 does not show up on Maps, one of the phone numbers listed on their sign still works and the noodle shop where I have dinner finds out their location for me. They're a little bit uncertain about letting me bring the bike in which makes sense given that there's a long narrow hallway through their kitchen to get to the hotel rooms and there'd be no way to get anyone by if my bike were anywhere other than the room. "Yeah, it's cool, I know my bike fits in the room. It fit in the room last time." 

None of them are the grandpa who checked me in last time so it's understandable that I'm not at all remembered. There will be some confusion with how to get me registered on the phone app that they've got for hotel guests cause none of them has ever tried to do a foreigner on it before (understandable given what the rooms cost) but the fact that I've stayed at their hotel before gives them the confidence to power through figuring it out. Then, in the weirdest bit of kismet, I end up in the same room as 8 years ago. 

Today's ride: 62 km (39 miles)
Total: 1,974 km (1,226 miles)

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