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.
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.
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.
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.
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!