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  1. #1
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    3 Day Tour in Eastern China

    Here is the travelogue my friend Jamie wrote. It was originally posted at
    http://www.0575bike.com/bbs/viewthre...extra=page%3D1

    Chinese celebrate May Day by having up to seven days holiday. ALL of China takes off at least three (and often seven) days. It seems all of China's buses, trains, aeroplanes, taxi's, hotels and restaurants are over crowded for this entire time. Well, they ARE!

    The best way to get about during this period seems to be by bike. When I was informed that Chinese biking veteran "Aaron" was organising a three-day tour around selected parts of Zhejiang, and he had one slot remaining open and it was specifically for a foreigner, I jumped at the chance. I e-mailed him, asking if he remembered me, and asked for an invitation on his bike tour. Of course he remembered me Aaron has an excellent memory for faces and names and he said he would be more than pleased for me to come along. All I needed to do was to meet him on the evening of 30th April at a restaurant in Shaoxing, around seventy kilometres from where I live.



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  2. #2
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    After an adventure and a half catching a train to Shaoxing, I met him, and enjoyed a splendid Chinese banquet. The Chinese certainly know how to eat: their diet is so incredibly varied that there simply must be something, somewhere, that anybody will enjoy. The banquet took three hours to consume.

    Our Route
    Day one – RED 120km
    Day two – YELLOW 110km
    Day Three - BLUE 87km


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  3. #3
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    The next morning we rode of to Shangyu, about 30 km’s in a straight line, but a tad over 60 km’s by the route we rode. None of the riding was arduous, although I certainly felt the hills a little more than I should have: I haven’t been riding in about ten months, and I could feel it. We mostly rode through paddy fields, tea plantations and forested areas, and past the graves of long since deperted emperors.



    Paddy Fields


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  4. #4
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    Bamboo Thicket


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  5. #5
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    China has had many, many dynasties, many capitals, and innumerable emperors. Their graves and tombs litter the countryside like old gold-diggings in western America and Australia. They’re everywhere.


    The site of a past emperor’s resting place.


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  6. #6
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    A Bridge at Shangyu – note the three “lanes”. Centre for motor vehicles, next for bicycles, and the outer for pedestrians.


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  7. #7
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    After stopping for a lunch of fried noodles in a local restaurant we moved-on up through a range of hills named “Si Ming Shan”. When I asked Aaron what was this in English, he replied “Four Brightness Mountain”. I wasn’t sure if this meant one mountain named “Four Brightness”, or, four mountains referred to as “Bright Mountains”. I asked Aaron for clarification and was surprised to learn that he didn’t know either. He said that the name was so old that its original meaning was lost in time, and it could be either meaning, or another meaning we hadn’t thought of. It is in these ways that one is constantly reminded that China has been settled for a long, long time.

    Restaurant for Lunch. This had windows


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  8. #8
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    Fried Noodles


    Noodles in Soup – not as filling as Fried Noodles


    Looking at the (almost) accurate map


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  9. #9
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    Heading Off To Si Ming Shan (visible in the distance)


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  10. #10
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    Si Ming Shan was quite a range. It took over five hours to climb it, mostly in lower gears or walking, over a distance of about 30 km’s. It was only 700 to 800 metres (2,200 to 2,500 feet) high above the surrounding plains, but the climb was unrelenting and therefore slow going. Besides, this was a holiday, so we took it easy, took lots of photographs, and stopped to drink iced tea. Once at the top, we then rode along the top of the range. This was another 30 km’s of climbing (Grunt!) and descending (Weeeee!) as we passed numerous peaks. At around 8:45 in the evening we came upon the town of Si Ming Shan (same name as the range), a smallish ‘hamlet’ of merely many thousands of souls. In China, a big city is over ten million, a large city over four million, a city one million, and anything smaller doesn’t really get a mention.


    Climbing a Hill


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  11. #11
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    Hills Get Steeper The Faster You Peddle


    The Road Winds its Way Up The Hill


    Not All Roads Are Good


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  12. #12
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    This was Chinese May Day Holiday, so all the good hotels were full (or over-full knowing the Chinese). We were unable to find a room with standard amenities. We had to settle for a room without heated shower. This was not to Aaron’s liking, so he was all for continuing our ride onto the next town, which he insisted was only another hour away and might have hot showers. I was a tad tired (“a tad tired” sounds so much more respectable than “exhausted”, which was much closer to the truth), and, I wasn’t so sure that “an hour away” was really going to be just that, because on more than one occasion I’ve been told we have only a few minutes more, only to find myself still huffing and puffing an hour or three later. (Chinese are often reluctant to be the bearer of bad tidings, and will occasionally say almost anything to stop the person listening from becoming upset.) So I put it to others in the party that we’d best stop at a known cold shower rather than a potential hot shower. Fortunately for me they agreed, and, more fortunately, Aaron did not appear upset at my manoeuvres. Aaron is one of the most level-headed people I’ve ever been fortunate enough to meet. I learnt later that Aaron truly believed the town was only an hour away.


    These are Kilometres, but feel like miles at the end of a day


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  13. #13
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    We checked into the ‘hotel’, which consisted of a series of rooms above a shop that functioned as a foyer/lobby, with a kitchen, toilet, and bathroom out the back. Our room had four single beds in a row, making it appear more like a school dormitory than a plush hotel room (which it wasn’t). Nonetheless, it was spotlessly clean, with fresh linen (I checked this!) and ceiling fans. It was ideal, except for the fact we had five people and only four beds. Having one of our party sleep in a separate bedroom with the owner’s son solved the problem. I am not able to imagine such an arrangement in Australia.

    The owner was aware that we didn’t want cold showers, so she heated vast amounts of boiling water over her wood-fired stove. This wood-fired was the reason for the kitchen being out the back and detached from the main building: in the event that the building caught fire it would not take the rest of the hotel up in flames. We each took our turn to cart our basin and insulated bottles of boiling water into the washroom to wash. By mixing the boiling water (It really was boiling hot!) with cold water we were able to create an immense amount of warm water. It was luxurious to be able to take our turn at pouring water over ourselves, lathering our bodies, scrubbing, and then rinsing it all off with an abundance of water. We all took too long because those waiting their turn always commented on the excessive time taken by the person who preceded them.

    The Chinese can be quite informal at times: one of the guys casually walked around the kitchen in nothing but his underpants. There weren’t any women around, so I doubt he was advertising for some action. No one commented.


    The Township of Shi Ming Shan – The hotel is just visible on the right


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  14. #14
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    We Begin Day Two


    Climbing Out of Si Ming Shan


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  15. #15
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    Next morning we set off along the rest of the range, which (at risk of sounding clichéd) is picturesque. There was an abundance of maple trees (Japanese maples, I think), which gave a rich red – almost burgundy – colour to the ridge-top valleys we passed through. The hilltops were vibrant green, so maybe this made the red appear ‘redder’ than it really was. Being higher than the surrounding plains, and being early in the day, the air was cool, so we made good time. Also came the easy decent – for which we had paid full price the day previous. Coasting down the roads, passing buses, lorries, and cars, it was easy to forget the other “up-hill” side of the range.


    Some Valleys and Peaks at The Top Of The Range







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  16. #16
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  17. #17
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    Maple – It looks a little like purple gunga


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  18. #18
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    Maple Orchards in Spring


    Farms on Top of The Range



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  19. #19
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    A tea plantation is visible in the background. Tea plantations are everywhere in Zhejiang.


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  20. #20
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    The Ride Down The Range – WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!


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  21. #21
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    In the lower slopes we entered the city of Xi Kou, the hometown of general Chiang Kai Shek (“Jiangjieshi” in Chinese), the leader of the nationalist Koumingtang party (“Guomingdang” in Chinese). Jiang has been partially re-habilitated in recent years. I don’t know if this is due to cross-straight rapprochement, a genuine re-assessment of what Jiang was about, or if they just want to cash in on the tourist potential of his old hometown. Whatever the reason, there were teeming multitudes visiting his hometown during the break, visiting his mother’s tomb, the first imprisonment home of General Zhang Xueling, or just following everyone else. The sidewalks were overflowing with vendors selling steamed corn-on-the-cob (steamed corn is sold in China much like fairy-floss or candy-floss is sold in the West), balloons, fruit, maple leaves, steamed chestnuts, or anything else that was edible or saleable. Jiang is good business in his old hometown.



    Selling What You Can to Whomever You Can


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  22. #22
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    During the wars, Jiang visited the old capital city of Xi’an, later made famous by the Terracotta Warriors (they’re worth seeing, almost as much as seeing Carlton Football Club play footy www.carltonfc.com.au). As soon as Jiang arrived he was held prisoner by the local general – General Zhang Xueling – whom Jiang had come to consult. Zhang insisted that Jiang form an alliance with The Communists against the Japanese, and held Jiang prisoner in Xi’an until Jiang agreed to do so. Later Jiang placed Zhang under house arrest. The first place Zhang was held under house arrest was in Jiang’s old hometown, Xi Kou. Needless to say, Zhang’s previous place of imprisonment was doing a roaring trade as we cycled past. Jiang never forgave Zhang for his actions in Xi’an, and he certainly knew how to bear a grudge. When the Goumingdang retreated to Taiwan Zhang was dragged along with them, where he was held under house arrest until 1988. He was released after the death Jiang’s son – indicating that the son was unforgiving as his father. Zhang moved to the USA in 1995, and died in Hawaii in 2001 at around 100 years old. 100 years is a long time to live – and it would seem even longer still being under house arrest for so many of those years.


    Cycling towards Xikou


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  23. #23
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    We cycled on through paddy fields and orchards next to a lake. Leaves harvested from the orchards are used to feed silk worms, so they are extremely important to the local economy. The fruit from these trees is a secondary crop. They are berries similar to blackberries and raspberries, but taste different again. We bought a bucket of these from a vendor on the side of the road and ate them sitting on the grass amongst the rice paddies. Our fingers were stained purple by the berries. Aaron told me how (as a young lad) he and his friends would creep into the orchards at night to snaffle some berries. I wonder if his fingers (and mouth) were stained.


    Berries For Sale – at about USD$1.8 per basket


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  24. #24
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    We Bought Only One Basket


    Eating Berries


    Stained Fingers


    All The Gone!


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  25. #25
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    Is there an atlas for all of china at the same scale as the map you show above? And that was a pretty good story, and I enjoyed the pics. Thanks

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