Against my plan not to write blogpost until we arrive in Shanghai, I now find the time to do so. This actually doesn’t mean any good. I am sick, again. It seems that something doesn’t want us to get to Shanghai. First the bearings, then the pedals, now my condition.
It is the second day now that I am lying in a cheap hotel bed, I’ve been through headache, sore throat, and now heavy coughing. I could cry. Only 650 km to go and I am tied to my bed.
Paul is doing his best to make me fit again an I must say, I admire his patience with this patient. He is completely fit and could be heading towards city center Shanghai now already if I wasn’t sick.
Well, things don’t always go the way we want and in this case there is no choice, so actually nothing to be angry about.
Lets start from Wuhan.
This mega-city held us in its grip for nearly 10 hours before we had completely crossed it. Five of them where fumbling on a pedal screw, and the other five were pure riding through the city that is known throughout china for its murderous traffic. We slipped through cars-jams waiting at stoplights, drove on the sidewalk between pedestrians coming back from late-night -shopping, carried the bikes through tunnels an up stairs, went through parks and parking lots and arrived at the most beautifull skyline I’ve ever seen in my life. Well, I must admit, it doesn’t take much to top the best skyline I’ve seen before, so that was pretty easy, but still, the skyscrapers reaching up high in the dark, their colorful lights reflected by the water of the Yangtze kiang, was a real spectacle. As we stood on the bridge a few teenage girls came along and one after the other wanted a picture taken with us. As the session was over we drove on and slowly, after nearly 60km of downtown-traffic, got into somewhat more remote rural areas where we could put up our tent. Once again we made the same mistake as we had a few times before. We forgot to fill up water. So we had to go on, ask a building worker,who just came back from work, and he told us where to get some. Half an hour later we had put up the tent again, on a lawn of a “metallurgical company”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Our tent was actually no hidden at all, it was more or less on the salver but still, no one noticed us. Probably our tent just looked like a statue or monument to them.
In the night it started raining again, a heavy rainfall that came from a thunderstorm high above us. The drops hit the tent like little bombs. Still, this kind of rain is nice to have in a tent, it was so heavy that I knew I would be over soon.
In the morning my throat was sore. I thought it might be the dust from the city the day before. So no worries. We decided to clean out our bike-bags a little to save weight. At 10:00AM a row of about 15 objects lay in front o us. The trash bin next to us was half filled. I guess our bikes were about 5 kilo lighter afterwards. A women cleaning the street with a long broom came along and we offered her some of the more valuable stuff, against our assumptions she denied. We explained to her that we will throw it away and made sure that she understood that we don’t want nothing in return. She still denied. So a binocular, a knife, sunglasses, several bike tools and other stuff was left behind next to the bin in hope that someone would find it useful.
The cycling day hadn’t really begun before the next “obstacle” come in our way.
I actually do not know why I am always so happy when I find something expensive on the street. Maybe it’s because of the thought that I might get something in return when I return it, or because of the fact that I found it and not someone else who wouldn’t return it, maybe because I think I might be able to keep it, I don’t know. But in this case, the iPhone lying at my feet didn’t have any of the consequences I just described.
It lay in the middle of the road. I nearly ran it over. First I thought it is just a funny casing for a iPhone, black and white in the shape of a panda bear. As I lifted the “case” I noticed through the weight that it is still in there. I called Paul:” I found an iPhone”. He stopped and we looked at it. Everything was just like new, and it wasn’t locked. This was for the luck of the owner. We called the last number which was to be seen on the phone’s missed call list which probably should be the one were the rightful owner can be found and in deed. After a while we got a girl on the phone who spoke fluently English. She asked us where we found the phone and told us to wait, they would come get it in several minutes. About five minutes later a black very expensive looking car came towards us and braked with squeaking wheels. The tinted window at the backseat slowly went down like in a hollywood movie, but instead of a smoking “femme fatal “, a teenage Chinese girl appeared behind the glass and asked us for the phone in fluent English, simultaneously two men in balck suites from not exactly small and thin nature stepped out of the car to underline the demand.
I didn’t hesitate in handing the device over to the girl. She took it, the window rolled up again and the car drove of, stopped again, this time the front window went down, one of the suit guys handed Paul two bottles of water an they drove of. It all looked like we had made a forbidden deal here, as if something illegal was going on. I must say I had imagined the whole procedure to be different. Probably in a more thankful way. But maybe in china things are different. Paul had the thought that they were afraid we would oppress the girl and want money for the phone. So they came to this meeting loaded with wrong thoughts and bodyguards. Only after they realized that we just were honest finders and no thieves, their defensive way turned into a thankful gesture, giving us water.
Anyway, another hour of our riding time had vanished and so we decided to give our tired legs a rest and look for a place to sleep early. Again we ended up in a hotel, which turned out to be a good decision. I felt more and more sick, my throat burned. We went out to get some food anyway. In a restaurant I tried to explain to the waitress that I can not read Chinese but she brought me a Chinese menu again ad again. I stood up and pointed at other meals from other guests, but she always brought back the menu and insisted that I would choose something from its pages. I pointed at pictures of meals hanging on the wall but always got the same answer. As finally someone understood what I want it seemed that everything was sold out, only a dish that I knew from other restaurants, which consists mainly of bones, was available. In my tired and sick mood I fled out of the restaurant and had enough of this communicating with hands and feet, enough of that ” I-don’t understand-what-you-mean-face”, enough of that “no” we have heard so many times when entering a restaurant in order to eat. I just couldn’t hear all of this any more.I know its not their fault, but it can be very exhausting sometimes. So I went into a burger-restaurant, pointed at a Menu and 30 seconds later I had in hand what I was searching the whole evening.
Back in the hotel I fell into a deep sleep and when I woke up I felt even more sick than the day before. Still I stood up and prepared everything for leaving, assuming that it might get better when I distract from the symptoms. But at about 10 o’clock I told Paul that I had to go to bed again, take a nap before we go on. The nap extended to a long sleep and when I woke it was already noon. We decided to stay another day for I didn’t feel much better. The rest of my day consisted of eating fruits, ginger, garlic, onions, oliveoil and inhaling, drinking tea and doing all that things that seem to be helpful when having a cold.
The next morning I in deed felt much better, no coughing and sneezing any more, clear nose and even felt quite fit. So we left the hotel and slowly started to get back to serious cycling.
It turned out to have been a wrong decision. In the evening, not even 60 km further, I felt sick again. We went to a cheap hotel and I went to bed after eating lots of vitamins and stuff that is supposed to help. No chance, in the night I woke up several times with hard coughing, in the morning I felt worse than the day before and so, again, I had to stay in bed the whole day while Paul did some shopping for food and fruits.
I didn’t do much that day, from time to time when just lying around was to boring and I couldn’t sleep, I started doing things that we would have to do in Shanghai otherwise to get back part of the time we loose in this small village.
Again I went to bed early and slept long. Today I feel much better and my coughing has nearly vanished. We completed some of our Shanghai-tasks together and now I lie in the hotel bed, write the blogpost that I actually wanted to write when we arrived in Shanghai. It’s only 650 km to go, “come on, you lazy bastards, get on going” I think to myself and wonder what has happened to the two adventurers that rode through snow and rain nearly half way around the world. I guess we left them behind somewhere in the mountains where there was still adventures to have, or maybe they are already in shanghai, waiting for us to arrive.
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