D3: 雷州 → 湖广 - Insert Witty Title Here - CycleBlaze

May 20, 2023

D3: 雷州 → 湖广

Unexpected Furniture Series 2023-1
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There's some indication that the paifang I was looking for yesterday may no longer be extant. At the very least, one of the people in my WeChat discussion group found an article online that lists it among the paifang that used to exist on the Leizhou Peninsula but which no longer do. On account of the whole damn village having gone missing, though, I wonder if the author of the article couldn't find the paifang because they, like me, also couldn't find the place.

I don't know. I'm just dubious that something important enough to have made it into the Antiquities Atlas (only 35 years ago) and which was listed in the Atlas as being "in good condition" would have gotten so maltreated as to be completely gone.  After all, just within the immediate vicinity of my current location, I am aware of at least two valid-for-inclusion immovable antiquities¹ that aren't in the Atlas so it seems weird to me that something which is listed isn't there.

Not just using the road to dry crops, but using the motive power of the cars to help thresh
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Achievement Unlocked: First Outdoor Poo of the Tour
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Something tells me it's been a long while since they've done bridal makeup
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Along with a bidon dosed with one of the instant packets of Pocari Sweat that I have from one of my recent visits to Wuzhishan², I'm feeling like my morning coffee (which has been sweetened with Bailey's Irish Cream) is enough to tide me over until lunch, and the only reason I can come up with for having that idea is my forgetting how hellishly difficult it was to find food on this route three years ago.

No particular excitement heading out of town. Streets lined with mango trees, the realization of recognized villages, the sight of an old man with a hopefully-benign tumor covering half his face.

Amazing collection of telecommunications masts on top of this Post Office
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Basket weaving
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The degree of spalling in the concrete on this village gate makes me think 50s or earlier
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After a lovely twenty minutes spent watching some ladies doing basket-weaving, I stop at the same Matsu Temple I stopped at in 2020, am as disappointed by the nearby shop's selection of cold drinks and snacks as I was in 2020, and end up with a liter and a half of Coca-Cola. Then, just as three years ago, I skip the rest of the old buildings around the area because it's hot, and I kind of want to eat relatively soon now that I'm someplace familiar; I'm also, now that I'm here, remembering the starving need to find food that I had last time and I'm not really wanting to get as bad as that time.

I don't want to repeat the 'effectively an expressway except for not being limited access' Fast Road experience of 2020, so I meander the countryside in the hopes that something which looks like it ought to be where a ferry will be will have a ferry.
I score.
Big time. 

Not only does the ferry exist, but there's also a sign pointing to it, and it arrives with a pair of girls and a motor scooter as I come down the dirt singletrack to the boat ramp, so I don't even have to figure out how to inform the boatman I'm here³.

Finding the ferry. I particularly like that the reason given for "Strictly Prevent Smuggling" on the other sign specifically references it in terms of "protecting against the re-import of Covid"
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It's not very big
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This row of arcaded shophouses would have been much more interesting if I'd already eaten
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Thatched roofs covered with heavy plastic tarps
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There are no obvious restaurants in the village on the other side of the ferry crossing. Nor any of the other villages I pass through or by until I get to the town of Taiping at the edge of the Fast Road maybe an hour or 90 minutes later. By this point, it's gone on to the hottest part of the day, and I'm starting to get very cranky. Coming into town, I find myself audibly bitching at the audacity of the local populace for not having restaurants when and where I want one but only having convenience stores.

I will end up in a Fujianese Dumpling Shop soaking up their air conditioning and eating one of the trifecta of Tour Foods⁴ for tours in China. For some reason, Mike is still awake at this hour, so we try to do a phone call, but there's another person also on the phone in the same restaurant, and she's yelling so loud that Mike can hear her, so that's kind of a no-go. 

Choosing instead to use this period to intermittently work and eat with breaks to see if I'm actually still hungry or if my eyes are bigger than my stomach, I finish three steamer trays of dumplings, a bowl of wontons, and two full pitchers of water before getting to the point where I can consider getting back on the road.

Possibly hard to see in this photo but the words were originally decorated with broken glass and crockery
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More of those Giant Incense Sticks
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That's twice now I've made this historic stage my destination and twice now I've gotten distracted by the other buildings before it and decided I wasn't up for continuing to poke around the neighborhood by the time I got to it
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After five or six kilometers on the old road, I'll be forced onto the Fast Road in order to take a bridge over the Chengyue River. Despite nice wide shoulders, the volume and speed of the traffic is sufficiently stressful that I get off at the first possible turn. This leads me to the accidental discovery of a brick and concrete pagoda from the 1930s before an utterly hellish 5km stretch of Old Road where the traffic doesn't seem to have noticed that there's a perfectly good four-lane highway not that far to the north, and damn near every car, bus, or truck to pass me honks aggressively because I'm refusing to ride on a soft shoulder that has enough debris that I've already seen a rural trike dealing with a flat tire.

Very annoyed by the number of places that matched "built in 1933" in one paragraph with "nearly 200 years of history" in another paragraph.
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Having already informed the person I was planning on visiting in Zhanjiang that our visit will be on Sunday night, I turn off the Old Road towards Huguang - which is apparently a college town. The 'hotel' that I pick, like most of the hotels in this area, seems to be half a place to go for students to fuck and half a place to go if you can afford off-campus housing. Featuring shared kitchen facilities and for-pay washers and dryers, although the studio apartment that my room turns out to be is lacking a kitchen, it has an empty place where the kitchen was supposed to be installed. 

The hell that was the Fast Road⁵
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The Hell that was the not-Fast Road⁶
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Back on wibbly wobbly rural roads, I could feel the stress dissipating
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¹ The early Republican-era Changzhuyan Fortress and the bilingual Mandarin/Manchu stele seen in 2020 between the Ancestral Home of Chen Bin [陈瑸故居] and Leizhou
² This was at the same visit as when the team owner gave me the sunglasses.
³ It's definitely the kind of ferry where you have to call for the boat rather than the kind with a fixed schedule.
⁴ Dumplings, Fried Chicken Sandwiches, and Noodles
⁵ As per my 2020 journal, although it might have been Covid-related reductions in traffic, it's possible that the reason the road wasn't so bad that year was because I'd taken an extended-release codeine that day.
⁶ I'm not sure, but I think I have a picture of the same factory with uncomfortable traffic in front of it ... from 2008!

A decent but not great example of the Rural Trompe d'Loeil style. That balcony on the leftmost building doesn't exist.
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Ready-to-mix cocktails in the supermarket in CollegeTown
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It kind of looks like one of the roadhouses used up into the late 19th century for travelers to rest
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Today's ride: 59 km (37 miles)
Total: 323 km (201 miles)

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