2017 Hangzhou to Huangshan Cycling tour – arriving

After my wonderful experience touring in China in 2014 I have decided to come back for another two weeks touring, starting again in Hangzhou, but this time heading west to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). I am so looking forward to beautiful bamboo groves, ancient cities and some mountains.

In the 10 weeks prior to my leaving, I continued my daily bicycle commute to work and completed longer rides on the weekends, culminating in a 110km ride with an average speed of 25 km, I was home by lunch time. Over the 10 weeks I rode approximately 1200 km, I considered myself fairly bike fit but not super fit.

I followed my tried and tested trip preparations, booking a hostel this time and packed my bicycle in a box as I had learnt in my previous trips. I chose a hostel that I liked the look of, in the tourist pedestrian area I had stayed last trip. The trouble was it was not accessible from the road. So I carried a picture of the nearest landmark, the Drum Tower to show to a taxi driver.

Sights of Hangzhou

On my last trip to Hangzhou I had seen hundreds of large taxis, able to carry my large bike box, especially at the airport, so I had assumed I would be able to get off my flight in Hangzhou and easily find a taxi to show my picture to. I was mistaken, on approaching the taxi rank all I saw were the small normal sedan taxis, like the green one below.

As I stood considering my options, a man approached me and offered to drive me, I asked him if he had a big van, he said yes, I showed him the picture of the Drum Tower, he nodded and said “GuLou” Drum Tower, I asked him the price, I had checked before arriving the average taxi price, and he gave me a price about double the going rate but still only about $20, so I thought for about a second and said sure. I was actually quite relieved. He dropped my off exactly where I wanted. On my next trip I pre booked a van, so as not to rely of this sort of luck.

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The airport was full of green taxis not big enough to take my bike box this time,but I was approached by an unofficial taxi driver with a van luckily. I happily took this option even though it was twice the price of a normal taxi.

I had landed in Hangzhou at 1.10pm, my goal for the day was to get to my hostel, assemble my bicycle and buy a local phone sim. I completed my tasks and I had a working mobile for data and voice but for some reason my trusty maps.me mapping application was playing up and would not sync up to my GPS. A fellow guest at the hostel helped me load up baidu maps so at least I had one mapping application working. There was one problem though, baidu maps was in chinese, so I had a few problems matching the baidu maps with maps.me once baidu had positioned me. Maps.me started working again a few days later, but for the next couple of days my navigation ability was impacted but not lost, I made do.

I give myself plenty of time to get ready for my rides, the goal for my second day in China was to buy food, and as I had my bicycle lock confiscated at the third airport security search, I needed to buy a bicycle lock. I located a bicycle shop across town and using my baidu maps/maps.me combined I managed to navigate to the store eventually. I passed some lovely parks on the way.

On the search for a new bicycle lock

When I arrived at the bicycle store I was greeted with a locked grill. As I sat pondering if they would open on a Saturday, luckily another customer cam and sat down beside me, he informed me they would open in 15 minutes, at 10.30am. I am not sure if I would have waited that long if he had not showed up.

In the afternoon I visited a Traditional Chinese Medicines Museum that was very near my hostel. I had intended to visit on my last trip but ran out of time. It was interesting and it was not not just a museum, it was very much a working medical practice and dispensary.

Traditional Chinese Medicines Museum
Traditional Chinese Medicines Museum

That evening I was invited to visit my kind hosts from my last trip, Maggie and her parents, they had moved and I was in for a big surprise. It was a big evening, Maggie was having a farewell party as she was moving to Perth to live with her Australian partner and her baby boy!

Caught up with my old friend and previous host
Maggie, with her parents and her baby boy.

2017 Hangzhou To Huangshan Cycling Tour – Arriving

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