D47: 炉山→福泉 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

October 17, 2020

D47: 炉山→福泉

The Site of Interest which I'd marked as a place to go to in Lushan and which had looked all locked up last night as I passed it at about 8pm the night before while looking for lodging and food was still all locked up in the morning. What I can see over the wall when I stand on the stairs of a nearby shop is interesting enough that there are days where I'd actually go around and ask people if they knew how I could get inside. As I'm also in the middle of a multi-person video call with the Matts (who will be finishing their quarantine soon) and Jake the photographer and even Tristin who is now stuck in-I think-Turkey instead of Myanmar as it was the only country he could get a flight to once the Burmese stopped extending his visa, this is not one of those days.

Instead, I go looking for brunch.

I don't remember what the first noodle shop didn't have that was why I went somewhere else but the somewhere else I ended up at didn't have that either. What they did have, however, was goose noodles and, being as I'd never specifically had goose noodles, when I saw them advertised on the outside of the shop I had to go get that. Truth be told, they didn't taste all that much different from duck noodles. But, they were warm and filling and met the necessary requirements of fluid, salt, fat, and protein.

Heading out of town, there were tantalizing glimpses of an ancient city that was once on this site but isn't anymore. Place names like south gate reservoir or ceremonial arch road. I very nearly went on a detour looking for the ceremonial arch on ceremonial arch road but, for some reason, decided against it. As it turns out, if the person who commented on my TikTok is correct, the arch is no longer there so I don't really need to mentally kick myself.

It's a very hilly road to Fuquan. Remembering the hills from Fuquan eight years ago is actually part of why I decided not to go looking for the arch. I've found a place in my journals from that year where I say that I had the habit of standing up on the pedals and zig zagging my way across the steep bits and still biking because anything other than attempting forward motion, such as attempting to stop, would mean that I would fall off the bike. Unless I'm only referring to a handful of the shorter hills, I'm not entirely sure I believe myself as far too many pictures exist from the middle of climbs to have happened any other way than while walking.

In the intervening years since I was here last, this road has become a national road. This means its wider, has been regraded in places, and does a better job of avoiding the areas where people or livestock might be wandering across the road. This also means that it has gotten trucks. They're relatively well behaved trucks but they are trucks nonetheless and, whenever the opportunity is given to me, even though the maintenance is nonexistent and the paving is crumbling, I take the older road.

A stop about a third of the way down my big descent to check out the remaining gate in a thousand year old stone wall around a town that hasn't existed for at least three or four hundred years gets me a look at some lovely old farmhouses and the rare 1970s slogan that hasn't been erased by the local climate or human hands. 

The road bridge that had been at the bottom of the descent has been removed and replaced by a modern new bridge about 100 meters upstream while the historic bridge at the bottom has been cleaned of brush and is missing the 19th century Amitabha that was there 8 years ago. I'm unimpressed by the changes and, given that I've now go to go up a hill almost as steep as the one I just came down, I don't stick around to do much explorationing.

I probably could have avoided riding in the dark if I had just stuck to the main road heading into Fuquan and not tried, with my shreds of remaining sunlight, to find the road I'd left Fuquan on 8 years ago. However, I'm me and I'm stubborn and the main road was one of those super wide boulevards with streetlights and landscaping and straight lines and it didn't look interesting. This is why I was unable to properly complain when I got potholes, mud puddles and muck.

Judging from the photos of potholes, mud puddles, and muck 8 years ago, it looks like the road I was on may very well have been the same in more than a few places. If it was the part that ran between the river and the cliff (and it might not have been), it was too dark for me to tell if anything was the same.

First hotel that the GPS led me to was clearly a second floor entrance. Second had a different name on the sign. Third wasn't findable. Fourth came after I got some dinner in me and was pretty sure that they didn't want (couldn't have) foreigners. However, as the price was alright and they were on a street with at least three proper massage places, I wasn't interested in negotiating or going elsewhere. I was staying.

Per the usual, whether I'm being hostile or not, I start out friendly and by offering to show them that it can be done. You see, once I'm behind the desk, it's immeasurably more difficult to get me to leave by any method that isn't a room key. Also, for all that it's not fair to the people I'm dealing with, I've got experience in confusing and sweet talking and just steamrollering over complaints as I don't let them take the keyboard and mouse away from me.

The Wait for the Hotel Owner to show up had commenced and I was behind the desk on my own while the woman who worked there was complaining to friends (other guests?) when I noticed the box with the keys in it. Being as I'd already gotten a room number out of her, filled it in, and submitted my registration, I simply took my key, announced that I was going upstairs, and left.

The police showed up about 30 minutes later partly to try to convince me that this hotel doesn't know how to register foreigners (and therefore I should let them take me elsewhere) and partly to ask lots of Covid questions. Once that was done with (including the, I'm ashamed to say, discovery that I'd mis-entered information off of my passport) I went next door for a blissful foot massage where, as it was close to closing time and no other customers were around, I had both masseuses working on me at the same time.

Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 2,373 km (1,474 miles)

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