Pictures and Stories About Bicycle Tour Adventures
China's Guangdong Provence
By Bicycle, Month 10, 2010
Arrive at Guangzhou (formerly Canton, China's 4th largest city), Visit 1 Day
Bicycle Guangdong Provence to Yangshou, 11 Days (many tales)
Fly to Xian, visit Terracotta Warriors, Bicycle 1 of 3 Days
All Night Train to Beijing, Great Wall, Bicycle 1 of 8 Days
Forgive my Western Keyboard; it does not have any Mandarin Pinyin accent capabilities.
Day 1: Touring China by Bicycle;
Bike from outside Guangzhou to Zhaoqing;
Bike along the Pearl River
Highlight of the Day: We are biking on a back road where over a hundred grade school kids are fresh out of school. For most of the kids we are the first Westerners that they have ever seen in person. The kids are excited to see us. Every kid, no matter their grade, in China has been taught rudimentary English and it now starts in pre-grade school. The kids were amazed and excited when we answered in Chinese.
Every single student knows the word Hello and shouts it at us cyclists, many with an excited hand wave. We at first said Neehow (Hello) but we realized that we should reinforce their knowledge, so we would quickly say 'Hello, Neehow, ZieJien' (Goodbye) because we were moving forward on the bicycles. Sometimes the kids would laugh if it was said just right along with a Hello and Goodbye wave.
Above Left: This is Vincent (Zhu Yongxin, our guide, friend, and travel advisor) picking us up at the airport and Terry.
Above Right: It's time to bike!
This is our Fearless Bus Driver (far Left), our Guide Vincent (far Right), and our Bike Carrier/Care-Taker. Each person is highly competent in their craft.
We must use rented bikes. One may only ship a bicycle into China with special permission of the government and it is a seldom granted privilege. The good news is that China produces about 80% of the world's bicycles.
Above Left: We were bussed out of the city and we are introduced to our tour bikes. Hi, my name is Java and I will flip you over my handle bars in two days, how are you? I reply to the bicycle, Henhow (Mandarin for I am fine) Xia Xia (She-ah she-ah - Thank you) for the Warning.
The temperature is 95 F or 35 C and the humidity is 98%. We don't know it yet, but it will never rain on us more than a light sprinkle for our entire tour! The high humidity limits visibility to 1-2 miles.
Above Right: We are the subject of roadside observation. Note that 2 of the 3 motorcycles in the background have ergonomically designed umbrellas. Note that the tractor in the back right has a cover over its cab and bed (that is high-faluten for a rice paddy tractor).
We are soon to learn that the Chinese are wonderful people and they are very happy to see and have Westerners in their country. The fact that we ride bikes (versus a tour bus) is a big plus.
Above Left: Weather Protection in Rain Country - a common sight.
Above Right: School is out and parents are picking up their children. All of the kids, on these bikes, know the word Hello and they are talking to us! We say Hello to young folks and Neehow to adults.
THIS IS SO COOOL!
BTW: In big cities, a lot of women wear high heels while driving these shielded scooters and note that there are 4 people on this scooter.
Above Left: Mud Village (like adobe), stays cool under the baking sun.
Above Right: River Village, nice homes, rather typical. Electrical power lines are everywhere today, it is difficult to take a pic without a power line. Our first glimpse of mountains in the area.
Above Left: Roadside Weed/Flowers (called Lantana - from Jean D and Mertie S).
Above Right: Fish Farm.
There is very little change in seasonal temperatures in this area but there are two seasons, Hot & Humid and Monsoon. While we were in China, two typhoons ran up the China coast directly for Japan, thus causing us to have humid but non-stormy weather.
Above Left: Water Buffalo - They are very timid and are used to working, especially in rice planting season. We are here just before rice harvest time, so the Buffalo get a break.
Later I would see a Buffalo and a mature boy in a field, each walking toward the other, like a pet dog heading toward his favorite adventure partner. The Buffalo quick stepped to the boy and even waged its tail, it was ready for attention and/or adventure.
Above Right: River Boat/Sampan, nearly as I can tell, the Flag Up means that they are working in that spot. Work can be fishing, dredging, or plant gathering.
Above Left: Duck Farm.
Above Right: This is a very common site, a farm tractor (aka rice paddy tractor). It is a work horse in the field and a rural mode of transportation. Sometimes we would see three adults in the front and five or six kids in the back. These devices detach the cab body and leave the front drive/motor/wheel assembly to pull a plow or planter in the field. These devices steer by holding a long swing arm attached to the front drive/motor/wheel assembly.
That's Terry on the right side (my faithful travel companion and wife of many years).
Above Left: We are cycling on top of a flood dyke wall and road here. The huge objects in the background are the base columns for a gigantic suspension bridge that will facilitate high volumes of road and boat traffic in all weather conditions.
There is construction everywhere (in China). It reminded me of when I lived in Japan, as a kid, in the 1960's, a country with construction everywhere on the verge of a colossus economic explosion - same feeling in China! While in China, they announced that they are creating the world's fastest super computer and the world's fastest train.
Above Right: Lady carrying plant cuttings to the market.
Later, I will save a wind blown hat from blowing into a rice patty/field, a good deed from a Westerner (and an Eagle Scout).
Sometimes no good deed goes un-punished - more later..
Above Left: Sometimes the visibility allows us to see close-by mountains. Have no fear; our opportunity to climb those hills will come.
Above Right: Lotus Plants. It is the end of the growing season; the roots are a food source, they are tuber like and are typically sliced into long thin slices (we will have some for lunch); and the flowers are beautiful (when in bloom).
Above Left: Our First Route challenge: The dyke road is closed for repair but no one is actually working on the closed road. Ricky, our Guide in training (in the Gold Helmet, 2nd from left) will ask this oncoming truck driver if he knows whether we can cross the dyke without running into construction issues. My interpretation of what the driver says in Mandarin, is 'sure, no problem'. We went over the dyke road with no issues and did not have to share the road with trucks (always a bonus!)..
Above Right: Road Closed but Not to Bicycles.
Above: Time for lunch! Those are banana trees just beyond the bikes.
Above Left: Green Bananas on a tree. When the bananas start getting ripe, the owners will put a blue colored plastic wrap around the bunches in order to protect the ripening fruit from birds, insects and animals.
Above Right: Chrissy demonstrates how to load food quickly, Sam and Gordon watch with approval.
One learns to use chop sticks or starves.
So far we have burned a bazillion calories and sweated gallons of water - no one is counting calories! Our support vehicle always has bottled water.
Coke and Beer become popular beverages because they are sanitary and are ALWAYS SERVED COLD.
Above Left: Sharon is passing a dish of lotus root (or bamboo chutes) to Linda and Reg. Note the cow on the road in the background.
Above Right: Gordon, have we seen any mud or puddles today?
Why yes we have.
That is our bicycle moving and storage truck in the background; the driver rides sweep, looking for bikers with bike problems (usually flats, sometimes a handlebar or seat position issue) and, most importantly, always has fresh bottled water to resupply our cage bottle(s).
Above Left: Ferry cross the Mercy (well maybe the Pearl River) - a refreshing ride.
Sam and I are hanging back; we are both thinking, how much air if we hit that ramp fast enough.
Above Right: Wayne, Sam, Lynn (drawing pad, just out of sight - Lynn and Sam both sketch as much as others take pictures). The Ferry/Barge is unpowered and uses a Tug Boat (on the right side) to power the craft.
Above Left: Dragon Boat Race (actually it is anchored and we are passing by).
Above Right: The Gateway (get it) for the city of Zhaoqing.
Every city or village has a gate. The top roof theme/design, as are most roofs of bigger buildings, is the Phoenix bird with its wings spread. The size of a gate is proportional to the prosperity of the town.
Above Left: Everything is explained in the sign.
Above Right: We are in the Tropics (south of the Tropic of Cancer). That is a cell phone tower on the left side, most older teenagers have a cell phone (actually, most cell phones are made in China).
Above Left: Roadside Tropical Weed/Flowers.
Above Right: Flower Close-Up.
Above Left: Our home for the night!.
Above Right: Group Photo Time!
The Gang (L-R Standing): Terry, Dennis, Chrissy, Jon, Lynn, Sharon, Linda, Sam, Reg, Siobhán (like Shivon), Glenda, Mary, Gordon, Regina, Wayne ('like John').
(Down Low, L-R): Mark, Inga, Iris.
Dennis and Terry (we - us) are the only Yanks, everyone else is Aussie, Scottish, or English; everyone is well traveled.
Photo by Vincent (Zhu Yongxin) our Guide, Leader, and Friend. Ricky is missing (Co-Guide, Working)