D65: 璧山→八塘 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

November 10, 2020

D65: 璧山→八塘

The day started off unpleasantly urban. In the process of getting out of Bishan City, I figured I'd start by swinging by the local bike shop as it was recommended by a number of people on my TikTok. After substantial road works, a deep underpass, and a left turn across multiple lanes of traffic, they were discovered to not yet be open for the day. Considering that departure from the hotel took place on a Marian timescale (complete with making coffee), there really seemed no point in waiting around for them to open as, even if I were to ask the neighbors and even if they were to actually know, it seemed unlikely to be happening soon.

The positive thing that the Search for the Bike Shop brought me though was that it got me onto some parallel streets that weren't actively undergoing massive roadworks. Also, by the time I re-emerged at the main road at what is possibly one of the worst designed and implemented roundabouts I have ever seen, it had gone from something like 4 lanes in each direction to 2 and it wasn't long after that that it further dropped to being just a 2 lane road.

Although the only intermediate detour which I successfully found turned out to be less of a small local temple and more of a shopfront that apparently has a temple behind the pull down metal shutters, the day was uncharacteristically beautiful weather for Chongqing in the fall. Highlights included a sign which I identify as early 2000s by the material (but which others think is from the 1980s) marking a particular roadside village as a Village with Standardized Installation of Electricity and a concrete farm road with what I thought were duck footprints but which turned out to be chicken footprints and this is important because I had the best ever Chinese language pun about this and all the people who are capable of telling the difference between duck feet and chicken feet were as much laughing at my pun as laughing at me for being a city kid.

My stomach starts gurgling about an hour and a half after lunch and, having taken the very last Pepto chewable for an unknown amount of time before the next possible resupply from the US, I break into the bottle of Pepto liquid that my favorite restaurant owner graciously gave me as a trip gift. I'm not sure if the liquid form just works faster or if this is a substantially heavier dosage of bismuth subsalicylate but I'm feeling well enough to make it to someplace I can pop a squat without being seen.

One thing I do not like about the "toilet revolution" - as it is called - is that the increase (to nearly 100%) of plumbed indoor toilets means that there aren't outhouses I can run to in the event of needing to go while on the road. And if I'm some place with people, it seems like there's never anywhere convenient I can duck. (I've noticed that when I do find a reasonable thing to hide behind and do my business, there are almost always the remnants of other people coming to the same conclusion that this is a good place).

Having left the farm roads for a tertiary route that certainly was of some importance 20 or 40 years ago, I run alongside a protected forest area and through a few small towns. In one of the towns and also just quite randomly on a nothing important seeming wall out in the middle of the nowhere, two of the usual tile late 90s early 00s tile mosaic murals (that are most often about birth control policy but which can also be about morality, land use, and national defense) are the same design as my very most favorite tile mosaic mural from anywhere in China.

The most favorite mural was something that I was so disappointed in myself for not photographing on the 2012 trip that I specifically went back to that road in 2018 for the sole purpose of getting a photo of it. And was lucky enough that it was still there!

Thing is, it's the same design, but it's not the same artist. In fact, the two mosaics seen today are clearly different artists. This means I now have three or four designs in my propaganda collection that are blatantly the exact same design while clearly being made at different times in different places by different hands. Now, even more than before, I really want to do some proper research into these murals. (I should note that I've actually tried, found a total lack of information, and generally had the people who ought to know relevant information or where to find it be completely apathetic about such a boring topic.)

I happen to stumble across the local police station while looking for a good place to make a u-turn so I can head back towards the two hotels available in Batang and decide that I may as well simplify things by starting the evening out at the station.

Separate from generally being a bit confused that I would even bother with notifying them that I exist because only a moron would think that there was a snowflake's chance in hell that a person who arrived by bicycle had either been anywhere with Covid recently or somehow managed to escape quarantine restrictions on inbound arrivals, the police were absolutely lovely. An attempt to get me registered on their computer (with help over the phone from the Exit & Entry Adminstration) was eventually abandoned in favor of just photocopying the relevant parts of my passport. I offered my most recent NAT as well but, again, they thought that it was preposterous that I even think it necessary to offer.

So I went to the first of the two hotels a block away.

And had the hotel ayi freakout about my being foreign.

Calmed her down by showing her pictures of my bicycle leaning against a police car at her local police station and suggested that she call the police to confirm that they'd just talked to me and looked over everything and that everything was okay.

But, instead of calling the direct phone number on the poster on the wall above her own front desk, she called the emergency hotline.

Who also freaked out.

On the plus side, ayi's awareness of germ theory was weak enough that she was willing to hand me her phone so I could talk to the woman from the emergency hotline and explain that I wasn't a hotel guest "recently returning from overseas" (as many localities have their own quarantine requirements on top of the entry quarantine and many households prefer to have their quarantining family be in a hotel) but was actually an overseas hotel guest who lived in China and who had just been at the police station 200 meters away and had them look at all my paperwork and could she please just tell the ayi it was okay because, among other things, I really needed to use the toilet.

Today's ride: 44 km (27 miles)
Total: 3,087 km (1,917 miles)

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