I was up, showered and off very early thinking I would find breakfast somewhere on the road as there did not seem to be anything open for breakfast as I left. I was treated to a beautiful peaceful morning along the river running next to Longmen ancient town.
I headed back to the Qiantang river and headed south west to continue on my way to
Qiandao (1000 island) Lake , about 118 km away, I was not sure if I would make it that far in one day, especially my first day navigating by myself.
After about 10 km I came across a long strip of road side food stalls serving workmen, road builders and a few locals. It may not look busy from the photo, but there were lots of people have breakfast and I was able to buy a hearty breakfast. Notice the heavy industry work going on in the background.
Today’s ride was very interesting, it was surprising how much building, road making and general development goes on outside of the major cities. I was expecting to find the air getting cleaner the longer I rode , but with all of the development I found the opposite.
I saw the best and the worst of China today, amazing old towns, free green tea and oranges as gifts in a small town restaurant while I sheltered from the rain, home grown Peking opera practise. The local retirees sat around while the Peking opera company rehearsed, and repeated their music and very high pitched singing. This stage was right next to a mini children’s amusement park with lots of noisy rides. It was also very hot under the blue tarps, all a bit overwhelming. I had pulled over and turned into this small country town because I had spotted a local market setup. I just kept walking along this market until I found this very interesting place to rest and have my morning tea.
All morning I saw endless new roads and breathtaking ambition for new multi high rise and flashy developments based on the boarding. I saw cement factories with dirty water gushing out the side fences into an open drain. Unofficial tips with huge mounds of silt flowing into local streams. Highway sidings with endless new grass and trees suddenly stopping at a crumbling house or a pile of rubbish. I saw many many new roads, not all of them connected very well. I found a lot of beautiful bike paths and one section of brand new road was not open yet, so I had a super clear flat new road to myself.
I had two worries during the day, the first was would my bicycle be safe while I went to the toilet, but I found this was not a problem because I was isolated enough/far enough into the countryside to take a wee next to the road and not be noticed by anyone. I later discovered that some locals don’t bother getting out of view or being out of town when taking a wee.
My second worry was would I be able to find a safe place for my bicycle while I had lunch. Today I was able to find a very public place to lock my bicycle near the restaurant window where I order lunch. Lunch was bit of a chinese fast food type place, I asked for fish and was given a super spicy dish, I think the locals thought it was a great joke. I enjoyed the fish and did not have any after effects, so all was good. I see a few of these pseudo western restaurants in my travels in China but normally avoid them. This one was very convenient on my first solo riding day in China.
It started raining in the afternoon, so I looked for accomendation in the large town of Jiande instead of pushing onto the lake. It is the last town on the river before turning west to the lake. It is actually past the turn off to the lake, I sussed out the route for the next day, but was a little confused because there just seemed to be a freeway heading into a long long tunnel, straight through a mountain in the direction I wanted to go and the only other road was a very small windy local road following a stream but seemed to to heading away from where I wanted to go. Anyway that was tomorrow’s problem.
I was wondering how I would be able to get directions to find a hotel, but as luck would have it, I spotted a large comfortable hotel as soon as I reached the business district of Jiande. I was not permitted to take my bicycle up to my room in the lift but I was able to bring it into the foyer and lock it (despite it being a mess from all of the road dirt and grit from the rain) . Also every hotel seems to have someone working or sleeping in the foyer overnight for added security.
Checking in was an experience because I found it hard to understand what was being said to me in Mandarin, I just hope it was not a dialect, it took a while to explain there was a 50 Yuan deposit for the key and I forgot I had to show my passport. It will be interesting to compare how I am going at the end of the trip.
After a shower I headed out to buy supplies and dinner. I was very interested to discover and shop in my first large western supermarket in China. It was very quite and sad compared to the fabulous wet markets I had been to in the past. I just hope this was not the end of wet markets in China.