D55: 绥阳→泗渡 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

October 29, 2020

D55: 绥阳→泗渡

About that recent Covid test of mine, the one that should have been completely superfluous, well... it ended up coming in useful this evening. However, I should start at the beginning of the day.

There's quite a bunch of stuff I was actually somewhat interested in potentially going to see while in Suiyang but the morning rain yesterday combined with work had me missing all of it and, now that I'm ready to start moving again, once the detour back to the hospital to get another copy of my Covid results is done with, I'm not up for starting detours before I've even started moving forward.

In any case, Suiyang is one of those places that I've got marked as "worth coming back to". I know at least one truly excellent noodle shop (just down the hill from the hospital) for my beloved soft tofu noodles, my random choice in inexpensive hotel was fine with foreigners, and the 150,000 views on my TikTok video being genuinely surprised about the way in which people just randomly use crosswalks and cars stop for pedestrians in crosswalks probably means that a fair few people will recognize me and be nice to me.

I've got no problem whatsoever with taking advantage of this.

There's nothing truly spectacular about today's ride. Although it's not actively raining or mizzling or even misting, the sun has gone away again. This lush greens of the end of summer are being replaced more and more with yellows and oranges but, because this is a particularly rain-prone climate, the beautiful fall leaves are decorating the ground rather than the trees. 

There's a huge number of the demon-faced grinning statues (often with a knife grasped between the teeth) which are used around here to ward off evil spirits. Numerous commenters on my TikTok swear that these are common in other parts of China but the first time I saw them was in this part of Guizhou in 2012; and, while I did see 4 of them before getting to this part of Guizhou, I saw something like 8 of them today. Other than the one 19th century statue that was seen in 2012 and which was not there this time, they're all less than 20 years old though.

After a fairly lengthy detour in the town of Simianshan [四面山] to check out a historic bridge that's historicity is only obvious if a) you happen to read the very worn out inscription stones at one end of the bridge and b) you look at it from the modern bridge downstream. The bridge deck has been covered in concrete and macadam and it's even got modern (80s?) concrete safety railings. Underneath, however, it's an early 19th century stone arch.

Simianshan is also where I get the lunch that is probably the cause of the momentous Opening of the Pepto. I'd been trying to put this off since the unopened bottle of liquid Pepto I'd been given as a "be safe on the road" gift was another American's emergency treatment for an upset stomach (which can't be refilled until normal transit between the two countries restarts) but I've finished the very last of the pills I had and, even though I implicitly trust Dr. Tim in all things - including the prescription of locally produced medicine for major gastrointestinal upset - when I'm feeling truly miserable, I want to take something that's familiar to me.

I don't remember much of anything about the lunch other than my not being particularly impressed with what I ate. Something made with rice flour and bits of chopped meat (I want to say it might have been called 米皮) and wok-fried sliced potatoes that were basically home fries.

From Simianshan to Sidu, I was no longer on any kind of a main road. It got a bit hillier but I was basically following a river valley upstream and this meant that although I consistently gained altitude, I didn't have any really big climbs. 

The most interesting thing on the road to Sidu was probably the half demolished temple. Given the tendency of my posts of Chinese TikTok to be randomly delisted for issues like "failing to meet community standards" or "unsafe behavior" or (my personal favorite) "we suspect that the person in this video did not authorize you to use their appearance", I was sure that a video of the sort of demolition which only ever done by the government and to illegal buildings wasn't going to be approved to be posted. However, it was. It's still at less than 10,000 views though, so it might not have gotten enough attention yet.

(So far, I have relisted a completely unedited version of every video that I've caught being delisted. Despite the appeals for delisting generally failing, none of these have subsequently been delisted again. In one case, the relisted video has half a million views and over 10,000 likes.)

Got into Sidu, found me some soft tofu noodles for dinner, and was part of the way through eating them when the Stomach Gurgles started. Who knows why the restaurant sent me to the public toilet down the road instead of letting me use their bathroom. Could have been completely telling the truth about the bathroom being very small and my having a hard time fitting in it. Could be the kind of Chinese bathroom where the plumbing doesn't take well to anything other than fluids. Could be they recognized from my uncomfortable facial expression the fury which about to be unleashed and they didn't want to have to disinfect their bathroom afterwards.

In any case, down the road I ran...

...Leaving my fully loaded bike (with a laptop in one pannier, and my passport in the handlebar bag) leaning against the outside wall of a restaurant. Now, as it turns out, everything was still there completely unmolested when I got back 10 minutes later but I never leave my bike unattended and outdoors. Ever. 

Except this time when the options were literally "hurry to the toilet" or "shit my pants".

I was sad to leave my tofu noodles unfinished when I got back from the bathroom but my stomach was still gurgling.

Went looking for the closest hotel on the maps. Found a hotel even closer. Had a relatively pain free check-in process with the usual "nah, you can't use our computer" and my providing a detailed list of all the things to photograph to send to the police, then went upstairs to the room, asked for some extra rolls of tp, and proceeded to continue with emptying my body of apparently everything I'd eaten for the last 24 hours or more.

I've just showered off that greasy cold sweat you get sometimes with a stomach upset and put on a t-shirt to keep warm when there's a knock at my door. It's the police.

And this time, the designated officer who is going to talk to me not only has a mask on, not only has disposable rubber gloves on, he's wearing a head-to-toe bunny suit as well. The other officers with him, who are standing farther away, they've only got masks and gloves on.

On the one hand, I'm vaguely offended that - yet again - no one has applied logic to the situation of "traveling by bicycle", but I have to admit, they've generally got the protocol down pat. Don't want me so much as standing near them. Want me to put my passport down on the table and step away from it so that they can spritz it with disinfectant before looking at it (for this I'm like "yeah, here's my Covid test from yesterday and my passport has had a rough enough life as it is, it isn't getting sprayed with disinfectant again).

They stand around on the balcony near my hotel room door for nearly the next hour waiting either for a phone call from the Health Department or possibly for someone from the Health Department to show up before they just leave. Don't even say good bye to me. I only find out that they're gone because the hotel ayi knocks on my door to record my temperature and report it to them and they're no longer outside waiting on whatever they were waiting on.

(This is also, by the way, the time that I find out that my door lock doesn't work. Which is actually a blessing in disguise as it means I block the door with a chair, so the next morning when the hotel ayi repeatedly tries to enter my room and talk to me, she can't.)

Today's ride: 54 km (34 miles)
Total: 2,710 km (1,683 miles)

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