A night train for a Tolkienian border-town named Zamyn Uud, an electronic cathedral in the middle of nowhere as a “gate”, a rusty truck to reach Erlian bus station, a whole night lying on the cot of a night bus to Beijing, loosing my sight on the contours of Inner Mongolia and trying to combine the dots of the stars, under the tender and reassuring look of my first Chinese moon.
This, the first impact with Great China.
Then a glimpse of Beijing and Guilin, and a slow ride between Guanxi‘s green mystic pinnacles.
17 October, Beijing (China) | Day 138 🇨🇳
In the beginning it was a night train from Ulaanbaatar to Zamyn-Uud.
Then a local bus to cross the Mongolian – Chinese border after
hours at the controls, loaded like a tartar donkey.
Then a night bus from Erlian, where I laid on a piece of metal dressed as a mattress, only
with a book and the moon, until 3 in the morning.
At that time then, finally, the bus arrived to Beijing and perched at the station waiting for the day, allowing a few extra-sleep fractions in the middle of a monstrous city
that was already beginning its loud morning yawning.
So shortly before 7 I decided it was time to stop thinking about my tiredness and, instead, to start cycling.
The dawn, suddenly, to my amazement, instead
of red – as I would have expected more easily – turned pale yellow.
And, while I was watching at its reflections on the water courses languishing near
the Temple of Heaven, I no longer felt tiredness of any kind.
19 October, Beijing (China) | Day 139 🇨🇳
The day of the Summer Palace, where for centuries the Chinese Emperors
have been coming to “escape” during the hottest months.
I visited it already, 2 years ago, when I was guiding a small business group
which very quickly became a beautiful big group of friends.
The sky was mouse-grey, and we only had a little time to walk around.
Today I had plenty of time, but still the sky was mouse-grey.
Maybe it’s always like this nowadays.
Still I didn’t figure out if it is the devastating pollution of the third-millennium China, or whether it is the ghosts of ancient warriors who rebel even today for the rape suffered
by their wonderful capital, in the recent decades.
However, after I went up, down, aside and along Lake Kunming during 4 hours, after I was stopped a dozen times by various local characters, all interested in taking a picture with a funny-white-faced man, I have officially been awarded as the most colorful character of the whole act.
“Beautiful sky today … isn’t it, dear?”
“Well, if you call it sky, yes, my love. But I guess the last time I saw the real sky here was in 1983 …”
19 October, Beijing (China) | Day 140 🇨🇳
“Have you ever been to Jingshang Park? From there you can have a magnificent view of the Forbidden City and all over Beijing! And, oh the sunsets there!”
Ok, after wandering for hours in the old city’s hutongs, completely by chance, I found the place.
Too bad I could barely see clearly only my shoes.
Ah … these low clouds!
“Pablo, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Okay, great, you know what I mean.”
“Good. Are you ready then?”
“Ready for what Bill? I’m sorry but … what are you thinking about? ”
“The same you do, stupid!”
“Oh, yea, ok … Sure!”
20 October, Beijing – Guilin (China) | Day 141 🇨🇳
Beijing was only an intermediate step. Too big, too chaotic, too polluted … I knew I would have stayed there just long enough to organize my trip towards the South, by train.
However something alarmed me.
Shortly before entering China I came to know that
bicycles – even folding ones – are not allowed on Chinese trains.
What to do then?
Take a flight? No way.
Do it all by bike? Yes, sure…
Send my bike with a courier? I didn’t trust the drunken courier who asked me 380 Yuan to deliver it to Guilin.
So I said myself: “Vieri, you’re in China. Ordinary people here travel with 34 different sacks and bags each … so try it too!”
So I did it.
And I discovered that a Brompton dressed as rice pack, on Chinese trains, is also free to blow raspberries.
21 October, Guilin (Cina) | Day 142 🇨🇳
I came to Guilin to start pedaling again.
Tomorrow I will, at least for one day, to get to Yangshuo (will tell you why once I’m there).
And, after Ulaanbaatar and Beijing, to return to a less-polluted air. And at the average of 25 degrees Celsius.
And start finding out what real China is.
Or, at least, what I always imagined it may be.
22 October, Guilin – Yangshuo (China) | Day 143 🇨🇳
The last time I cycled 80 km, on this trip, I was still in Estonia.
It was September 1st. I left Salacgrīva and I had lunch in Pärnu, then I took a bus to Tallinn.
The streets were as fresh and beautifully panoramic as they could be in Northern Europe.
Today I did again a similar distance. I started from Guilin, I had lunch with a rusty muffin in a place called BaiSha and I ended up in Yangshuo. I’m half roasted by sun and dust, and the streets were a continuous mixture of stones, sand, holes and asphalt.
So after nearly two months, briefly, I came back on pedaling, at least for one day. I did it following more or less the course of Li River, in the Guangxi region, in Southern China.
I do not know yet if all of this is a complete bullshit or something absurdly cool, but I’m having fun and I think in the end, that’s it.