D3: 遵化 → 半墅山 - A China Coddiwomple - CycleBlaze

May 31, 2022

D3: 遵化 → 半墅山

A first sighting of the Great Wall
Heart 1 Comment 0

In a perfect world, I would have called today a Rest Day and slept in. However, even if my morning started with a knock on the door delivering breakfast and an apology from the hotel owner, I don't like staying extra nights at places where I had to get hostile in order to stay at all. Also, I don't have a remote control for the a/c, there's very little wind from the open window, and I thought it would be a silly waste of weight to carry my tent fan.

My regular strength painkillers are all in the miniature bag that's perfect for storing medications but which keeps not making it into the room with me so I go digging into my "cold storage" pannier¹ (where the bike pump, spare tubes, and denim shorts are) and get myself a codeine. Considering that I would later add an ordinary non-prescription non-controlled naproxen to the mix and still hurt it was definitely a day where I should have just stayed in bed.

Heart 0 Comment 0

The pain in my Achilles tendon is the bit that worries me but it goes away if I stop pedaling for a while or if I walk and most lasting injuries wouldn't. 

That, the throbbing ache in the weirdness that is my bad leg's nerve map, and the teensy tiny friction wounds I've acquired on my girl bits² are all reasons why I really shouldn't be riding but I've set myself to it and I'm nothing if not stubborn to the point of idiocy.

As part of my morning dawdle, I get a good twenty or thirty minutes chat in with the hotel owner with a fair amount of mutual apologizing because I don't want to be a bullying bitch but sometimes getting the police called on me is the only way to solve things. 

To combat the issue of conference rooms full of half empty bottles, there's a place to write your name
Heart 0 Comment 0

I only have a scant handful of episodes where I've returned to a hotel after an interlude of years, I'm more surprised by the number that have no recollection of me (surely a foreigner on a bike is weird enough to remember?) than the ones which do, and none of them were places that featured Extreme Hostility or Apologies; so, I can't say whether or not the nice chats with hotel owners along the lines of "no, really, if your computer system explicitly has software for registering foreigners, it's because you are allowed to register foreigners" makes any kind of difference, but I do it anyways.

Early 2000s facade on an older building
Heart 0 Comment 0

After first telling me the room is free and then finding out that I'd snuck downstairs last night and paid for my room while he was talking to the police, I get a bunch of bottled drinks thrust on me and, wouldn't you know, I end up needing the hit of fluid, fat, and sugar mid-mountain.

With the exception of a "Sheraton" hairdressers and my first donkeyburger of the trip, nothing particularly interests me about Zunhua. I'm sure, if I wanted to, there are Sites and whatnot to be finding but I was more concerned with getting to the next county and getting a rest day.

Sheraton hairdressers
Heart 0 Comment 0
Bonus Sheraton noodle shop from 2008
Heart 0 Comment 0

Mostly what I notice about Zunhua is the number of hotels that are cordoned off as Quarantine facilities (only photographed on my actual camera, who knows if or when it will be added to the journal). I count at least five just on my route and I'm not exactly making a point of wandering back and forth or anything.

The flat plains stop almost immediately upon leaving urban Zunhua and by god am I feeling how strongly I really should have made today a Rest Day.

Setting up your own power grid is illegal; it's dangerous to fish with electric shocks
Heart 0 Comment 0

On the plus side, I do get a few trickles of work that provide me with opportunities to stop and rest. As it is, I'm feeling really down over my inability to downshift and keep pedaling but I'm just too damn tired out.

The few interactions I have with people, although they almost always result in suddenly remembering to put a mask on at some point in the conversation, are otherwise quite pleasant. At the very least, there's no hostility.

The petrol station where I stop for a pee and to top off my water bottles even gives me some free popcorn that's supposed to be a random enticement for the drivers they aren't getting on account of the road block only a little more than a kilometer uphill from them.

Heart 0 Comment 0

First I see the Great Wall. It doesn't cross roads in very many places but the places where it does are inevitably the border pass between one county and the next.

I don't see anything that looks like the remains of a fortress but there's definitely some spurs and parallels that indicate that, back when this was still being used for it's original purpose³, it was more than just a single straight line.

Is that the Great Wall?
Heart 0 Comment 0

The bunnysuits try to convince me that the matching roadblock set up by the other county at the other end of the pass won't be letting me through but, after some consultation with superior officers (that very well may have been aware of me already and very well may have just been happy to get rid of me), let me through anyways and without even needing to get another Covid test.

They do warn me that 9 out of every 10 people they allow through get sent back by the other county and that I should expect this. I'm confident, however, in my ability to be persuasive when I need to be (and without yelling).

As I was leaving their district rather than entering, they decided I could skip being tested
Heart 0 Comment 0

I suppose I spent about 20 minutes at the second road block. As I sit there I watch numerous people come up the road block and get turned back and use their behavior as a lesson in what not to do. Among other things, even with a mask, people can tell when you are smiling. 

As well, the currently 'approved' method of intercounty travel (a test site at the expressway exits) doesn't work for me as it would be far too dangerous for me to ride my bike on the expressway.

Comparing the two counties, I find it interesting that this one has gotten an actual modular building instead of the tents the other one has. On the flip side, I also don't get Covid tested here because this county isn't collecting samples here.

After numerous levels of consultation, it is decided that I may pass (it would later be quite providential that I took this photo)
Heart 0 Comment 0

It won't be too long after this before the real mountain climb starts and I'm walking my bike. It's from this point on that the day just sort of blurs into constant low level pain that I really ought not to be able to feel given that I've had both a codeine and a naproxen.

When the media center sends me work, I am very very grateful for the opportunity to stop moving.

Why do I do this to myself?
Heart 0 Comment 0

Arriving in town, I started at the Police Station. "Hi, I am politely about to be a PGI⁴ because the Hebei Health Code doesn't support my name."

As previously noted, it doesn't support foreigners at all but "my name breaks the database" gets sympathy whereas "my existence isn't supported" makes people think there's something wrong with me as opposed to something being wrong with the programmer who got paid for this mess.

With the quite reasonable exception of wondering what rules I'd broken to have come over the mountain⁵, they were very nice to me.

My beloved Form—which had come in quite helpful at both road blocks on account of having all my necessary information in one place—continued to help things along. I was particularly pleased that the senior officer noted the contents of the laws someone (who may or may not be me) included at the bottom and made sure I knew them too. Lots of apologizing for the inconvenience in both directions (them to me, me to them), then a county-specific Form was downloaded, printed, and I was sent off to find a hotel and "just WeChat us when you get there"

Tonight's police were absolute dears
Heart 1 Comment 0

It was only once I left the police station that trouble started. The first hotel they'd suggested looked not open. The second one might have actually been closed. The third was initially passed up on account of a combination of second floor lobby and sex toy vending machines on the first floor. It was then passed on a second time three hotels later when I tried their posted phone number and got an "out of service" message. 

Number four told me, "for you we're closed". Five cost far too much for what they were offering, changed their mind when shown the police station's empty Form, and insulted me with a blatantly pretend call to the boss (it's normal to be able to hear at least some of the other end of other people's phone calls, right?). 

One of the officers behind the hotel front desk with me
Heart 0 Comment 0

Six came to meet me as I walked up to the door only to say "we're not open". Seven had it's lights off and looked pricy. Eight was obviously open, but said they were only doing wedding catering because the government won't let hotels be open..... except that wedding banquets get shut down much earlier than hotels and I already knew, from the government, that the hotels were open.

On account of a second floor lobby, I called ahead for the ninth, only to be refused in the middle of filling out the police station Form!

Heart 1 Comment 0

I've previously noted that one of the reasons I often jump straight into yelling at people is because yelling at people works and not yelling at people just drags on until I lose my temper and start yelling, at which point, yelling at people works.

The main takeaways from this episode were my offering them a choice between my sleeping in a room or on their lobby sofa and a fair amount of interrupting the daughter-in-law on the phone to say choice phrases like "telling lies is an embarrassment to your motherland", which is kind of how the police got called on me.... showed up, and walked with me to one of the only hotels I hadn't yet been rejected from and checked me in.

The hotel owner was on the phone with them to let them know where to find room keys and didn't even show up until after I had already registered myself on the computer. 

Checking for Sarah how dusty the TV is
Heart 0 Comment 0


¹ I am an insufficient number of days into the Tour to have things packed in such a way that I can manage without taking all the panniers up to the room. Doubly so on a night when I'm giving myself a room.

² Let's just say I have to be very careful when I pee.

³ To encourage people to pass through approved locations so that their goods could be taxed. (What, you actually thought the Great Wall was a defensive structure?)

⁴ Paperwork generating incident

⁵ A very reasonable suspicion on their part as, when at road block #2, I watched a pair of ladies who'd been turned back decide to hike cross country

Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 249 km (155 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 3
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Jean KnopsHi great to see you are on the road again. Keep it up. With Shanghai opening up now and you on the road, hopefully things lighten up going forward.
Reply to this comment
1 month ago