D14: 南韩村 → 罗庄 - A China Coddiwomple - CycleBlaze

June 14, 2022

D14: 南韩村 → 罗庄

This does not look good
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If I head straight south from where I am, I'll get to the city of Anguo which I visited in 2012 and 2018. Including a very nice bike shop owner, there is plenty to like about Anguo. Unfortunately, I already know it to be one of those places where at least one hotel's computer honestly didn't have a foreigner registration option¹. As well, the stretch of road after Anguo is really really dull and the only place for me to go after Anguo is a leather processing town where the fact of it smelling like a tannery will be offset by the guesthouses having cheatsheets² posted on the wall to tell them how to register foreign guests.

Instead, I'm going to head west.

Not counting the oh my god I didn't know it could get this good smoked pork belly huoshao I had two of for brunch, my first stop of the day is a gravestone. Not just any gravestone though, a 3 meter tall gravestone on the back of a turtledragon that once marked the start of the Spirit Road of the Duke of Jin. The tomb and all the rest of the statuary is missing. 

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I appreciated very much the can of chilled fruit juice. I appreciated less having it handed out the window of a moving car in these traffic conditions
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Keith AdamsThink of it as your own Tour de France experience, where the team car loads up a domestique with drinks bottles to be carried to the rest of the team, up the road.
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Marian RosenbergTo Keith AdamsThe Team Car usually passes to the riders' dominant hand and also isn't in the habit of trapping the rider on the shoulder. I was so sure I was going to crash
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Keith AdamsTo Marian RosenbergTrue.

Glad it worked out alright, anyhow.
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Appears to be the Duke of Jin
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My current lookup site (bytravel.cn) for info on historic stuff rather surprisingly doesn't have anything about the Site so I'll have to do a deeper dive into the internet later on to figure out who (or when) the guy is other than someone who was clearly quite important.

Before I've given up on trying to read the traditional characters carved on the gravestone (and just asked someone Chinese in my WeChat group to transcribe them for me) and while I'm still taking video to edit later, a truck pulls up and some guys get out with one of them asking if I'm also planning to check out the nearby ancient bridge³ and the other immediately starting in on me with "don't you dare be making any rubbings or leaving any graffiti".

Not to be casting aspersions on this national important cultural heritage protection site, but this clearly 16th century bridge that was "renovated" during the 16th century is not early 4th century
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From a video I watched about the Bridge, these lions seem to have been acquired elsewhere
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On the one hand, it annoys me that this fellow (who continued to be moderately hostile when he saw me an hour later at the bridge) jumped straight to the idea that I might be a vandal, on the other hand I suppose that might be a problem they've experienced. Besides which, even if it was something that showed up on Maps, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have known about the bridge if it weren't for them.

Bridges, particularly old bridges, are one of my "things". It started back when I had very poor Chinese and I realized that the signs warning drivers about how to avoid such and thus dangerous bridge that was about to be demolished or rebuilt had a wealth of information posted in a standard format. By the middle of the 2012 Tour, I was seeking out the dedication stone with the construction dates; and, by 2015, I was playing a game called Guess the Age. 

King of obvious why cars aren't allowed anymore
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Giving them my empty can for recycling, they were very interested in my Hat and it's safety features
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Sneaking a picture of someone sneaking a picture (also the first person this year to ask me what I'm selling)
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The better I got at identifying bridge related trivia before I found things that indicated whether or not I was right, the more I got into seeking out bridge related info. Furthermore, I came to realize that because bridges are such an expensive structure, they often come with a lot of period relevant decoration ranging from the Quotations of Chairman Mao to carved lions.

In this bridge's case, although most nearly everything dates to either the 16th or 18th century restorations, the lions are a mishmash of different kinds of stone and are half melted by centuries of weather into barely recognizable forms. It's incredibly cool.

hey hey, you fucking idiot! Don't you know you slow down when riding through crops spread across the road to dry? They might be slippery. You could crash.
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Unless you count 20 year old propaganda or an early 80s building with a Reform and Opening Up related slogan across the roofline, I don't get anything proper historical for the rest of the day. I do however get two flat tires⁴, a trip through a city that I'm really sure was recently (and potentially still is) an actually off limits to foreigners⁵ Closed Area, and a hotel check in that was so easy that I find myself pinching myself in disbelief.

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¹ To complicate and confuse things, it's the nice hotel whose counter I talked my way behind that definitively didn't have the ability to register me. The guesthouse for transient rural laborers which is owned by the family of a high school classmate of the bike shop owner, their computer had no problem with me.

Definitely not a Marriott
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Surely....?
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Rural Safe Electricity Usage series
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² In a complete reversal of the usual attempt to force Actual Business People into the shiniest and most expensive facilities as a way to show how beautiful and advanced China is, this town has realized that sometimes the people making a million dollars in sales really don't give a fuck so long as they have a bed and that saying "no, you can't stay here" is far more damaging to China's reputation than a $10 hotel room being small or unfashionable.

³ A national cultural heritage protection site officially dating to 309

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More statue peen for Jake
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⁴ The first of which causes me to run out of glue, the second of which makes me walk 3km

⁵ The random English, Chinglish, and pinyin all disappeared and the only other time I've seen that was passing through someplace where, had I gotten out of the car, I would have quickly been asked to leave

This lack of English makes me nervous
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Slogan refers to the Four Modernizations of Reform and Opening Up
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Nice old building
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Today's ride: 67 km (42 miles)
Total: 844 km (524 miles)

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