D56: 泗渡→桐梓 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

October 30, 2020

D56: 泗渡→桐梓

You'd think after the first time in the morning that I told the hotel ayi that there was no reason for her to be coming into my room that she'd get the message. But no. There were two more times after that. And not a single knock at the door either. Just straight up trying to barge into the room, getting stymied by the chair blocking the door, and only saying anything after I asked what she was doing.

"Oh, I just wanted to know if you were spending another night."

A question that was already answered the first time you tried to come into my room. Also a question which doesn't require you entering my room at all.

When I've left and am downstairs putting the bags back on my bike, she hurriedly runs down the stairs to point a infrared thermometer at my forehead and ask where I'm planning on spending the evening. Okay, so it's not entirely that she's has no concept of other people's personal boundaries, it's also that she's been asked to provide some information on me. 

But, sheesh... I actually minded the police substantially less than I mind this woman. They may have been a bit overprepared for dealing with me but they were doing a pretty good job of "following a protocol" and when it became apparent that the protocol was completely unnecessary for me they were good humored about it, and then continued to appropriately follow the protocol up until they'd been cleared not to.

My stomach is still kind of gurgly so I hold off on breakfast until the next real town some 10 or 12 kilometers down the road.

Today features a bunch of "places I've been before" like a Guanyin temple that was harder to access and had more open doors 8 years ago and the top of a mountain pass that has apparently been a strategically important site for all of recorded history. There was another temple that I was going to visit but, by the time I'm done with the Ye Olde Street in that town (a street I somehow completely missed last time), I'm ready to actually get some distance under my belt for the day.

Both the video I take being interested in the tomb of a revolutionary martyr who died shortly after the battle for that pass and the video I take of myself reading out loud a Maoist slogan on the old street in Banqiao Town [板桥镇] are deemed by the TikTok algorithm as "failing to meet community standards" which is increasingly seeming to mean "random people complained" because, as with all of the other videos that failed to meet community standards, reposting it with absolutely no edits beyond a caption "WTF, why was this taken down?" is fine.

I'm not really surprised that I had to walk my way up the mountain pass. I managed to ride the whole way 8 years ago but 8 years ago the Tongzi Bike Club had my panniers in someone's car. And I still wrote that I zigzagged back and forth. I am surprised by the touring cyclist I meet coming up as I'm coming down. He's got a homebrew trailer and solar panels and must be humping close to 50kg worth of weight as he's purely camping and cooking. He's on his way south having started in Guangzhou and biked up to Manzhouli on the border with Russia. He said that before the days started getting short and before he got into the crazy mountains, he was averaging 100km a day on a moving day, but these days he's closer to 40.

Other travelers that I meet on the mountain include a short caravan of offroad vehicles towing offroad RV campers. They're all actually from Wuhan and although they had the RVs before this year, after difficulties with travel once the city was opened and they had documents to prove that they were healthy, they are exclusively staying in the RVs because it's just not worth the hassle or the questions.

A fruitless trip to the bike shop (which may or may not be the bike shop I visited 8 years ago) is followed by a long search for a hotel as every place the GPS sends me either looks depressing from the outside, has an obvious upstairs lobby, or doesn't appear to exist at all. Eventually, and quite unintentionally, I end up next to the train station exit where I somehow manage to get the only hotel on that strip to have an elevator. (Though my bike doesn't fit in the elevator).

I'm out getting food when the police arrive to question me. Especially compared with the over prepared police in Sidu, it's hilarious.

"No, I don't have my passport, it's up in the room. If you wait down here, I'll go get it."
"We'll go up with you"
[Realization that elevator is very very small.]
"We'll take the stairs."
"No, really, I can't get my papers and meet you down here."
"It's fine."
[Up in the room.]
"So, when did you come to China?"

Now, I know that the actual question here is "when did you most recently enter China" but I'm a literalist and a bit of an asshole. I insist on answering the question that is actually being asked of me and not the question that is intended.

Therefore, lacking an actual prepared list of questions to ask me or any kind of procedure, once I had given him the date of August 2002, he continued from there with "where did you arrive" and "where did you stay" and made it through to early 2004 before he realized that the answers he was diligently writing down in his notebook to the questions he was asking me probably weren't at all right.

So, we started over with "what are you doing in Tongzi" and went down another winding path of questions and answers and his finding out way more about me in ways that had absolutely nothing to do with Epidemic Prevention Work or contact tracing. 

By the time he's decided that he's spent enough of everyone's time asking questions, the body language of him and the other officer has gone from "how far away from you can we stand and still be inside the same room as you" to something that approaches friendly. They take their leave and I take a shower and go to bed.

Today's ride: 44 km (27 miles)
Total: 2,754 km (1,710 miles)

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