Mojiang to Tongguan

42 Miles – 10.24.2010

As we’ve mentioned, the majority of our trip has been spent on the old 213 highway which is parelelling the newly built G85 expressway. This leg of our journey from Mojiang to Tongguan highlighted just how different two roads heading in the same direction can be. The G85 route is approximately 25 miles. Ours was 45 miles. The expressway took advantage of tunnels straight under mountains, while our road preferred to slowly climb over them. We’ll spend hours thousands of miles above the expressway, only to drop hundreds of feet below it just in time to have to climb back over a mountain. Our road is definitely more scenic, but those views must be earned.

The latter half of the day was spent climbing a mountain with mist and clouds clinging to the peaks. The vegetation is becoming more tropical, as is the weather as rain comes and goes quite often. At the top of the mountain, we met a rare person: a solo Chinese motorbike tourist. Foregoing the typical tour groups, this man of similar spirit was travelling cross country (and mountains) on his motorbike and was very excited to see us doing the same on our bicycles. He and Alison chatted for a moment about where we’ve been and where we’re headed until he parted our company with a friendly Chinese bon voyage of “All roads be safe.”

Speaking of meeting the locals, the responses we get vary from the annoying to the uplifting. This area is less accustomed to seeing foreigners so we’re stared at more often than in Shanghai. The two most common ways we’re greeted is either a friendly (and often excited) “hello” or, the less friendly option, the desire to state the obvious and declare “foreigner” in Chinese. One little boy on his bike called out “Hello, I am Kobe Bryant, what’s your name?” which was probably one of the best greetings we’ve received. The most annoying are the random car or truck honks in lieu of a hello as we’re climbing a hill.

As I’ve mentioned, the hill, mountain, and farmland scenery is often quite outstanding. But it’s becoming frustrating that amongst such breathtaking and epic backdrops, the towns are often rundown and unwelcoming… not to mention some horrific industrialization on the outskirts of cities. The landscape is something everyone should see, but it becomes difficult to recommend when places to stay in between are so bad (both the hotels and the settlements in which they are situated). Before reaching Tongguan, Alison stopped to ask someone if there was somewhere to stay nearby. The man said that Tongguan was close and it had hotels, but it’s “terrible and nasty.” So we aren’t the only ones frustrated by this.

~ by matthew on October 28, 2010.

One Response to “Mojiang to Tongguan”

  1. Hello Alison and Matthew Delighted that the trip continues well and that you are both in good heart. The climbs over the hills/mountains sound phenomenal. I need to have a look at the maps to see if you are nearing the border yet. Keep on writing I am enjoying the story of this adventure. Travel well. Lynette xxx

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