D51: Jianghong Town to Tandou Town - Tetchy Days in Vietnam - CycleBlaze

March 26, 2018

D51: Jianghong Town to Tandou Town

Three birth control PSAs on a wall: Boys & girls are the same, Girls are also our descendants; Promote the progress of society, control the birth rate; Control the birth rate, promote the progress of society.
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There's all sorts of little roads that go more or less south along the Leizhou Peninsula towards the tip, where I'll catch the ferry to Haikou. But those roads can't be guaranteed to be paved, will probably have intersections that don't show up on the GPS, and will not have signs telling me which way to go. So, I'm kind of forced to take the bigger roads. Not the big roads, mind you. Just the bigger ones.

AMaps is great about showing all the possible trails and is really good at telling me the shortest road like line between two points. It's not so great at showing me the names or numbers of roads. It's also not so great at showing the size or relative importance of roads. When zoomed out to a size where I can see the shape of the land, some S category provincial roads show up the same size as X category county roads or Y category farm roads.

I probably wouldn't have gone to Jianghong last night if I'd realized that it was a dead end road that stopped at the water. Sure, there are farm roads I can take that will take me back to the S290 but they are very navigation heavy farm roads and the amount I'm using it in China, my phone already needs a mid-day recharge to make it through til night fall. It's either 14km by the farm roads to end up in Jijia, 14km by the farm roads to end up 2km north of Jijia, or 14km of backtracking on the road I came in on to end up 16km north of Jijia.
Farm roads it is then.

I was going to take the more direct farm road route but I saw an Amitābha stone by the intersection with the less direct route and, unlike most of the Amitābha stones I've seen, it had an arrow on it and a place name. Here I am with hardly a day left before I get home after almost two months on the road and I've barely done any pointless detours of exploration. I had to follow that arrow.

I went 800 meters down the road. There was a four way intersection. Straight ahead was dirt. To my left was dirt. The concrete road turned right. There was another Amitābha stone but it didn't have an arrow. I waffled and hedged and turned back around. Then, out at the intersection, I waffled and hedged some more; I talked to someone on a motorcycle; I asked questions. And I turned back around.

If nothing else, I'd just follow the road through until I got to the S290. Which was a good plan and a good backup plan because, even though the guy on the motorcycle told me that there were lots of Amitābha stones, I didn't see another one for a half dozen intersections and another 3 kilometers. This time the stone had an arrow again and the arrow led me to a smaller concrete road. The next stone led me to a larger dirt road. A few stones later I turned on to a smaller dirt road. Then a stone told me which way to go when I got to a T intersection with another concrete road.

I followed the trail of Amitābha stone shaped breadcrumbs until, after 12km or so of riding, I got to the singularly most boring looking locked up rural temple complex I think I've ever seen. I figured the concrete road that ended at the temple probably went somewhere and since neither the concrete road nor the dirt road I'd approached it on showed up on the Maps, I figured I may as well follow it. It ended a while later at another dirt road.

I spent an hour and a half looking for THIS?
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For a bit, I tried to pick paths based on where the GPS said I was and the roads that were shown to exist. When that, inevitably, didn't work, I went with the navigation method of picking the trail that had the most tire tracks.

Eventually I came to a larger concrete road that merged on to the S290 nowhere near any of the routes that the GPS originally thought I was going to take. But, fine, whatever, I was on a main road and, now that I had experienced the countryside maze, I no longer had any plans of leaving said main road for the rest of the day.

Imagine my dismay some many hours later when, following the great big signs at the great big intersections, I randomly looked at my phone and found that I was almost all the way over to the expressway and the National Road that run down the center of the peninsula. Seems that the Provincial Road does some very odd wiggling back and forth and the GPS routing had, of course, shown me the straightest route. Luckily, I knew better than to plan my evening destination any farther than 10 or 15km ahead of "where I am right now" since the place that had come up as 54km away from Jijia at lunch time was actually 74km away by the main road.

Some unusual Lohans-on-tile seen in a soon to be renovated temple in Tandou
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And then I made it there anyways. With an hour to spare before darkness. But a choice to make. Either go 11km to a town that almost certainly has a ferry across the little harbor which will allow me to make it all the way down to the end of the peninsula without using the National Road or stop now. Stopping now not only had the advantage that four hotels were shown to exist in this town—of which I'd already seen one—it also meant that I could try to confirm that the ferry existed.

At dinner, I tried to confirm. I probably confirmed. But, sheesh, getting an answer to questions much more complicated than "does X go to Y" is really difficult. I got lots of answers. I just didn't get answers to the questions I was asking because the answerers were so determined to answer my question that they kept interrupting me to answer other questions that I hadn't asked.

"Tomorrow, if I go to Liusha, is there a ferry to Xilian?"
"Not any more. There are no boats after sunset."

"Tomorrow, if I go to Liusha, is there a ferry to Xilian?"
"When you get there it will be too late."

"Tomorrow, if I go to Liusha, is there a ferry to Xilian?"
"The hotel in Liusha is expensive."

"Tomorrow, if I go to Liusha, is there a ferry to Xilian?"
"It looks like it's going to rain again."

"Tomorrow, if I go to Liusha, is there a ferry to Xilian?"
"You want to turn left to go to Liusha. It's about 12km."

"Tomorrow, if I go to Liusha, is there a ferry to Xilian?"
"Wushi is a much better place to go fishing than Liusha."

And it wasn't like it was just one group of people. I tried this in more than one location and while I would eventually puzzle out that the location of the probable ferry does in fact (at least maybe) have a ferry, I got the same interruptions and the same sorts of answers again.

Went to the hotel closest to where I had dinner. It was also the cheapest looking of the three hotels whose existence had been confirmed. They let me behind the counter to register myself on the computer. 

Today's ride: 97 km (60 miles)
Total: 2,858 km (1,775 miles)

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