T - 0: Friday 海口 → 唐山 - A China Coddiwomple - CycleBlaze

May 27, 2022

T - 0: Friday 海口 → 唐山

Getting my panniers and handlebar bag strapped together to become one 16kg piece of luggage
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Possibly because I somehow managed—despite going back to yesterday's coffee shop—to go more than 24 hours with my only caffeine consumption being a bottle of Coke Zero (which hardly counts), I woke up a bit past 7am. 

This gave me plenty of time to hump my stuff downstairs, to figure out an uncomfortable and slightly dangerous way of distributing my stuff across a Share Bike, and to head to my favorite laobacha for what will be my last dimsum meal until I reach Guangdong in about 2 months.

If I had wanted refills on my CNY 6 mug of iced coffee, it would have been free.
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Laobacha 老爸茶 (meaning grandfathers' tea) are a chaotic usually open air restaurant that comes from the same socioeconomic and cultural roots as a Singaporean kopitam. The savories are mostly Cantonese dimsum and the sweets are recognizably European style food that has been filtered through more than a century of localization.

I particularly like laobacha for the astonishingly cheap coffee. Not counting the fact that I eschewed the opportunity for a free refill, the giant mug of iced coffee that I got is probably the cheapest brewed coffee you'll find anywhere in China. It's not fabulous coffee but I've paid substantially more¹ for substantially worse. 

Brewed using something called a coffee sock
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Alongside the economic development that has happened in China since Reform and Opening Up began—but particularly since Starbucks entered the Chinese market at the turn of the century—coffee has increasingly become an item well within the reach of the average Chinese person. While tea is still the preferred beverage, most Chinese (even if it's only a packet of Nescafé 3-in-1) have not only tasted coffee, but have had at least a cup or two this year.

Because Hainan is a tropical island with deep cultural and economic ties to Southeast Asia, coffee has been an ordinary part of the average Hainan lifestyle for a lot longer than the past 10 or 15 years of breakneck economic development. In Xinglong—at the organic coffee garden—their ‘history of Hainan coffee’ exhibit even has pictures of Zhou Enlai inspecting the coffee crop.

However, I'm not going to be in Hainan for the next mumblety many days and the only coffee I'm going to have access to for most of that time will be the coffee I make for myself. Therefore, even if my froufrou microroastery produced imported Beans will make a substantially better cup, it was important to have that last drink of someone else's coffee.

Names must be between 2 and 20 characters. I am able to get in to facial recognition on my abbreviated name but the system then recognizes that it doesn't match my ID.
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Quick and easy trip to the airport followed by a check-in process so convenient that I'd honestly be willing to pay more in the future to intentionally get flights departing at this time instead of early morning. 

The only real hiccup is my inability to sign up for a Tangshan specific Code on account of failing the Real Name verification match to my ID when entering an abbreviated name, and also failing to get that far when entering my full name as the input field is limited to a max of 20 characters².

On the plus side, this means the airport has already called to inform the Tangshan Public Security Bureau that "Marian is coming" and this will hopefully mean a simplifying of other potential headaches.

Unaccompanied luggage
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Even knowing that a substantial part of the weight is the 10 cans of tuna and large thing of mayonnaise³ I've chucked in rather than leave them in my apartment all summer, I'm still kind of surprised at how heavy my stuff is. However, because I already shipped two panniers and the bike, I'm well within my fairly generous luggage allotment.

The interesting part of the morning comes when a security guard discovers that the bag sitting next to my chair belongs to neither me nor the other woman in the handicapped waiting area. We are then asked to move to other seats as a just in case (has there ever been a bombing in a Chinese airport?) though I'm disappointed to say that all they end up doing is swabbing it with explosives' detection paper before picking it up and moving it by hand rather than with their Robot.

I'd really been hoping they were going to use their Robot
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¹ An episode in March 2004 involving a CNY 38 cup of coffee made undrinkable on account of the milk curdling on contact with the hot coffee is one of my formative experiences regarding not staying at theoretically nice hotels.

² This is why, back in the day, my very first Tax License had my name spelled out in my Scope of Operations.

³ It's a squeeze bottle, it's safe

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