Huanian to Yuanjiang

53 miles – (10.20.2010)

Day four was our most ambitious yet. We set off with the goal of making it to Yuanjiang which we believed to be 45 to 50 miles away. The trip was significantly more difficult than expected; it involved 3000+ feet of elevation gain along with the sun making it’s first serious appearance since we arrived in Yunnan.

The ride was gorgeous. No more (well, very little) construction, beautiful vistas of mountains and rivers, and pretty farmland. Despite the views, the highlight was a woman near the top of our steepest ascent that provided us with very cold water. She was impressed by our planned destination (which should have been a warning) and, along with the water, provided hope of downhill roads shortly ahead.

It was a long and laborious journey but we did manage to crawl into Yuanjiang before sunset and stumble into the first hotel in sight. Pushing ourselves past our limits floored us for another day off the bikes, but the impressive 53 miles almost makes it worth it.

And moving on to something other than a play by play of our rides…

Eating in this part of China has proven to be more challenging than expected. No restaurant here has a menu and Alison only earns strange looks for asking for one. Instead, Alison (since I can’t speak Chinese) is led back to the kitchen and presented with their fridge. Inside is often a large amount of random green vegetables of varying states of freshness and a small selection of very disturbing meat products to choose from. It’s generally almost enough to turn me vegetarian, though we usually risk one of the less terrifying meat choices. Also, to define “restaraunt” – it’s usually only a single small room with three or four child-sized tables and stools. Even in Yuanjiang, a city of at least 100,000, we haven’t been able to find a single decent sized (and decent quality) restaraunt.

Hotels have been a grab bag in terms of quality, but they’re generally welcoming and sufficiently clean for our tastes. No night has been completely miserable, though only one has actually had hot running water (and it wasn’t the most expensive one). The one we’re in now offers a very nice room with warm water and a computer with an internet connection for only $12.

We went to get our laundry done this morning (I’m completely out of clean clothes) and they claim it won’t be done until 5 pm tomorrow. We’re going to try our luck and see if we can get it in the morning, otherwise we’re stuck in Yuanjiang another day. With about 170 miles behind us, it wouldn’t be that bad but we’re eager to continue on.

Pictures from this leg can be found here

Other pages updated: Pictures, Maps, Food

~ by matthew on October 21, 2010.

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